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Monitoring Movements in Development Aid

Recursive Partnerships and Infrastructures

Casper Bruun Jensen

Publication Year: 2013

In <I>Monitoring Movements in Development Aid</I>, Casper Jensen and Brit Winthereik consider the processes, social practices, and infrastructures that are emerging to monitor development aid, discussing both empirical phenomena and their methodological and analytical challenges. Jensen and Winthereik focus on efforts by aid organizations to make better use of information technology; they analyze a range of <I>development aid information infrastructures</I> created to increase accountability and effectiveness. They find that constructing these infrastructures is not simply a matter of designing and implementing technology but entails forging new platforms for action that are simultaneously imaginative and practical, conceptual and technical. After presenting an analytical platform that draws on science and technology studies and the anthropology of development, Jensen and Winthereik present an ethnography- based analysis of the mutually defining relationship between aid partnerships and infrastructures; the crucial role of users (both actual and envisioned) in aid information infrastructures; efforts to make aid information dynamic and accessible; existing monitoring activities of an environmental NGO; and national-level performance audits, which encompass concerns of both external control and organizational learning.Jensen and Winthereik argue that central to the emerging movement to monitor development aid is the blurring of means and ends: aid information infrastructures are both technological platforms for knowledge about aid and forms of aid and empowerment in their own right.

Published by: The MIT Press

Series: Infrastructures


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

As is always the case, this book is the result of many kinds of conversations with many different people.
For their critical and constructive comments at workshops at Osaka University, at the University of Copenhagen, and at the IT University of Copenhagen, we thank our colleagues in the Environmental Infrastructures research project: Anders Blok, Shuhei Kimura, Atsuro Morita, Osamu...

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pp. xiii-xx

This is a book about emerging aid information infrastructures constructed to enhance modes of creating accountability and of ensuring effectiveness in aid development. It is about technologies developed to monitor organizations, practices, or projects involved in aid and to make information accessible and transparent to a broad range of global users. It is also about...

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1. Infrastructures and Development Aid: Fields, Fractals, and Frictions

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pp. 1-30

Infrastructures are crucial to the operations of modern society and its organizations. They are also tricky analytical objects. The historian of technology Paul Edwards reminds us that infrastructure was originally a military term designating “fixed facilities” (2003, 186). Infrastructure was seen as the basis on which, or the means by which, a society or an organization...

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2. Recursions: Partnerships, Infrastructure, and Ethnography

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pp. 31-50

In the previous chapter, we made note of the fact that the notion of partnership emerged at a particular historical moment, crystallizing in the Pearson report. (See Power 2003, 132.) The Pearson report conceptualized aid in terms of partnership. Although at the time “partnership” referred mostly to governments, the report also had profound implications for how people...

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3. Inventive Frontiers: Aid Information Infrastructures and Their Users

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pp. 51-70

Development aid is continuously changing its policies and concepts, yet many argue that it continues to fail to meet its goals—to build infrastructures, modernize, alleviate poverty, ensure gender inclusion and equity, and so forth. (See, e.g., Easterly 2006.) Why this is the case (and, indeed, whether this is the case) has been a subject of academic and policy discussions...

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4. Development Loop: Technological Politics for Transparency

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pp. 71-92

In the preceding chapter we characterized the AidData conference in Oxford as a diagnostic event. It offered us an entry point from which to begin tracing the contours of the aid transparency movement, and it allowed us to characterize its emerging publics. Among the half-imagined, half-real users making up this constituency we identified several figures, among them the...

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5. Weedy Infrastructure: Monitoring Environmental Partnerships

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pp. 93-120

In previous chapters we described some inventive initiatives that aim to create better platforms for knowledge about aid activities and projects— knowledge that is meant to be beneficial not only to aid organizations but also to policy makers and to various publics. A study of these endeavors, however, didn’t get us in touch with any actual aid development projects...

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6. Wormholes: Loops of Auditing and Learning

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pp. 121-146

How is the monitoring work carried out by the National Audit Office in central Copenhagen related to the monitoring work of NatureAid? Among other things, the civil servants, the environmentalists and the people living in and around threatened natural reserves are connected through a flow of documentation through which they seek to account for the progress...

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7. Monitoring Movements

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pp. 147-166

In this book we have examined the problematic landscape of monitoring in which aid infrastructure, partnership, accountability, and transparency co-evolve. Polymorphous ethnographic engagement with monitoring practices has been central to this endeavor. Thus, we have aimed to characterize ways in which new ontologies of aid emerge through monitoring and...


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pp. 167-172


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pp. 173-188


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pp. 189-192

E-ISBN-13: 9780262317016
E-ISBN-10: 026231701X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780262019651

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 5 figures
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Infrastructures
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OCLC Number: 859038384
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Monitoring Movements in Development Aid

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Economic assistance -- Information technology.
  • Economic development projects -- Evaluation.
  • Information technology -- Economic aspects.
  • Infrastructure (Economics).
  • Economic development.
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