The Personal and the Professional in Aid Work: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Personal and the Professional in Aid Work

1st Edition

Edited by Anne-Meike Fechter


182 pages

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This book considers how the personal and the professional dimensions are related, and how they matter for aid work. The contributions to this edited volume are based on the assumption that all actors are relevant in development, including national and international aid workers. A key question which the book explores is why the personal so often remains un-acknowledged in development studies, even though its salience for aid workers is well-documented. One possible reason is an implicit narrative of aid work as altruistic and self-sacrificing, which renders it inappropriate to devote much attention to the experiences of development professionals themselves. In order to redress this, this book critically considers the kind of difference they make, and aims to understand how they respond to the challenges of their work. The book explores their efficacy as human beings and employees with individual subjectivities, social and cultural beliefs and practices, and documents how these shape their involvement in development processes.

This book was published a sa special issue of Third World Quarterly.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: The Personal and the Professional: Aid workers’ relationships and values in the development process 2. Fellow Travellers in Development 3. Befriending the Field: culture and friendships in development worlds 4. Aid Relations and Aid Legitimacy: mutual imaging of aid workers and recipients in Nepal 5. Professionalisation Trends and Inequality: experiences and practices in aid relationships 6. ‘Living Well’ while ‘Doing Good’? (Missing) debates on altruism and professionalism in aid work 7. ‘Struggling to Do the Right Thing’: challenges during international volunteering 8. Is the Non-unitary Subject a Plausible and Productive Way to Understand Development Bureaucrats? 9. A Moral Economy? Social interpretations of money in Aidland 10. Effective Aid: the poetics of some aid workers’ angles on how humanitarian aid ‘works’

About the Editor

Anne-Meike Fechter is Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Sussex. She has previously studied corporate expatriates (Transnational Lives: Expatriates in Indonesia, 2007); her current work focuses on aid workers as mobile professionals. She is co-editor of Inside the Everyday Lives of Development Workers: The Futures and Challenges of Aidland (2011).

About the Series


THIRDWORLDS will focus on the political economy, development and cultures of those parts of the world that have experienced the most political, social, and economic upheaval, and which have faced the greatest challenges of the postcolonial world under globalisation: poverty, displacement and diaspora, environmental degradation, human and civil rights abuses, war, hunger, and disease.

THIRDWORLDS serves as a signifier of oppositional emerging economies and cultures ranging from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Middle East, and even those ‘Souths’ within a larger perceived North, such as the U.S. South and Mediterranean Europe. The study of these otherwise disparate and discontinuous areas, known collectively as the Global South, demonstrates that as globalisation pervades the planet, the south, as a synonym for subalterity, also transcends geographical and ideological frontiers.

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