Places of Poverty and Powerlessness: INGOs working ‘at home’.

Conference paper


Pickering-Saqqa, S. 2017. Places of Poverty and Powerlessness: INGOs working ‘at home’. EADI, Globalisation at the Crossroads, Rethinking inequalities and boundaries. Bergen, Norway 21 - 23 Aug 2017
AuthorsPickering-Saqqa, S.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

The search for sustainable transformatory development practice, which distances itself from colonial binaries and representations has been the focus of decades of scholarship (Friere 1972; Ferguson 1990; Cooke and Dar 2008; Dogra 2012; McCourt and Johnson 2012). Recent research suggests that INGOs are central in this regard, whether in their governance structures (Fowler 2012), the way they fundraise and advocate (Yanacopulos 2016), manage and disseminate knowledge (Narayanswamy 2016), engage with others (Moyles 2012) or re-think their approach to programme design (Crooks and Mouradian 2012). This paper moves these debates forward by providing empirical evidence of the value of domestic programming in this ‘project’. Drawing on three case studies of Oxfam GB, Islamic Relief and Oxfam America, the paper finds evidence of INGOs’ search for a programme strategy, which moves minimising the violence of ‘othering’ from theory to practice.

The paper is based on a larger research project, which considers the three INGOs’ decisions to establish domestic poverty programmes. It uses data collected in 2010-2011 from 41 semi-structured interviews with INGO staff and partners and corporate and archive documentation. A three-dimensional approach to power (Gaventa 1980) is used to explore the factors that drove the decisions and what this reveals about their conceptualisations of development, drawing tentative conclusions about what this means for a transformative development practice.

Findings indicate that these domestic programmes incorporate dimensions of a development practice, which: make visible a theory of poverty as powerlessness, distances it from the violence of ‘othering’ and is grounded in an ethic in which everyone matters. These findings point the way forward to an approach to development in which its spaces, actors and practices are challenged and opened to new interpretations. If development practice and intervention design can incorporate considerations of the invisible power of myths and symbols, an ethical transformatory, decolonized development practice may be possible.

KeywordsINGOs; power; ethics; othering; transformation
Year2017
ConferenceEADI, Globalisation at the Crossroads, Rethinking inequalities and boundaries
File
Publication process dates
Deposited24 May 2018
Accepted01 Feb 2017
Completed22 Aug 2017
Accepted01 Feb 2017
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