EASA2018: Staying, Moving, Settling

International intervention professionals - Aid workers on the move
Date and Start Time [TBD] at [TBD]
Sessions [TBD]


  • Andrea Steinke (Freie Universität Berlin) email
  • Berit Bliesemann de Guevara (Aberystwyth University ) email

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Short abstract

People employed in the aid system often share patterns of movement with refugees, soldiers, entrepreneurs and anthropologists themselves. Our panel seeks to assemble contributions dedicated to (re-)establishing international intervention professionals as subjects of ethnographic inquiry.

Long abstract

In 2016, more than 663,000 people worked for the United Nations, the International Red Cross, and the major INGOs on an international assignment in countries of humanitarian and development intervention (Aid Worker Security Database 2017). Within the confines of "aidland" (Mosse 2011) this group of people is commonly referred to as "expatriates". These "mobile professionals" (Fechter and Walsh 2010) constitute a transnational network of privileged work migrants, a "community of practice" (Autessere 2014). They are often driven by a common set of values, a particular perspective on modernity (Stirrat 2000) and share similar backgrounds, education and trajectories (Goetze 2017).

While especially anthropologists often share time, space and historicity with those intervention professionals, the need to address their individual (Sending 2017) and collective characteristics as crucial aspects of humanitarian and development intervention has received little attention from the discipline in the past.

We would like to invite contributions that address (but need not be limited to):

• the trajectories of international aid workers through various sites of intervention;

• their conceptions of the sites of intervention, their working sites, etc.;

• the specific "socialities" (Eyben 2011) and network dynamics between international aid workers and donors, their national colleagues, HQ seniors, beneficiaries and/or anthropologists, researchers and consultants;

• the way international aid workers deal with contingencies, failure and deviations from policy protocol and the ways in which their contextual experiences inform policy change.

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