The anthropology of "emerging donors" and the uncertainty of developmental futures (EN+FR)
Patty Gray (Maynooth University)
Ela Drazkiewicz (Slovak Academy of Sciences)
Friday 13 July, 11:30-13:15 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

We invite papers exploring how anthropology can unpack the phenomenon of "emerging donors", attending to the ways this undermines certainties about the norms of international development assistance and cooperation, such as who belongs in categories of donor and recipient, and how aid may be given.

Long abstract:

The twentieth-century development paradigm conveyed great certainty about both the modernizing potential of developmental schemes and the intended targets of such schemes, even as it was deployed to address global uncertainties such as poverty and hunger. What has lingered into the twenty-first century is a conviction that particular geographical locations and populations are in need of development, while particular other geographical locations and populations are destined to deliver aid. Yet the defining moment of global development at the start of this century is the phenomenon of "emerging donors", countries whose governments have begun to actively pursue programmes of international development assistance and cooperation, sometimes in defiance of global norms about who may give and how such giving should proceed. In this context, the dominance of the "global North" is seemingly challenged by "south-south cooperation", while some eastern donors have been accused of providing "authoritarian aid" that "undermines democracy". It is partly because development studies has for so long tended to look from the perspective of the ("Western") donor and from deep within assumptions of the manifest dominance of "Western" notions of global capitalism that these "emerging donors" appear to be a novelty; but there is a much more complex and rich story to tell, one that anthropologists are particularly well-suited to tackle. We invite papers that explore the changing global configuration of donors and recipients at any level, and particularly those that unpack the discourses of development in order to get to a critical anthropology of the practices underneath.