Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-viii

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Introduction: Engagements and Entanglements in the Anthropology of NGOs

Steven Sampson

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pp. 1-18

In 1992, I took a few weeks leave from my university existence in Copenhagen to work as a European Union (EU) consultant in Romania. I had been invited to join a team of Danish environmental engineers and management specialists, our task being to provide “technical assistance” to Romania’s new Ministry of Environment as part of EU aid to Romania. I was the only person in Denmark with any social science knowledge of Romania, having done ethnographic fieldwork there in the 1970s and 1980s, and I had written about Romanian affairs in the Danish press. And I spoke fluent...

Part I. Changing Landscapes of Power

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Introduction to Part I: Dilemmas of Dual Roles, Studying NGOs, and Donor-Driven “Democracy”

Mark Schuller

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pp. 21-25

The five chapters in part I offer ethnographically rich understandings of the dilemmas faced by anthropologists and other social scientists studying what Bernal and Grewal (2014a) call the “NGO form.” The five chapters all discuss a multiplicity of state forms and postcolonial histories. Given this diversity, the appearance and relative empowerment of NGOs in what Vetta calls the “associational revolution” and Bernal dubs “NGO fever” have distinct and contradictory meanings within the different contexts. This ambivalence is woven into the following chapters, from the liberally quoted interlocutors...

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1. Anthropologists’ Encounters with NGOs: Critique, Collaboration, and Conflict

David Lewis

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pp. 26-36

The abbreviation “NGO” is a by-product of the creation of the United Nations system as a club of governments in 1945 and was originally intended to designate nongovernmental observers of UN processes. However, the term NGO was not commonly used until the 1980s when NGOs, as well as the idea of the NGO, suddenly rose to prominence. This ascendancy took place within the broad reshaping of Western economic and social policies along lines that were informed by neoliberal ideology and more narrowly within the formalized world of the international development industry. It was here...

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2. NGO Fever and Donor Regimes: Tanzanian Feminist Activism within Landscapes of Contradictions

Victoria Bernal

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pp. 37-55

NGOs have opened new spaces for women’s activism and created new local and transnational linkages while presenting new configurations of power and terrains of struggle. In particular, I argue that donors have come to constitute another regime with which activists must contend due to the ongoing necessity of appealing to donor priorities and complying with donor funding requirements. Such conditions create a landscape of contradictions, where the boundaries between state and nonstate, grassroots and global, altruism and self-interest, and Western and postcolonial feminisms are at times shifting...

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3. Habits of the Heart: Grassroots “Revitalization” and State Transformation in Serbia

Theodora Vetta

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pp. 56-74

During the turbulent 1990s and particularly after the overthrow of President Slobodan Milošević in 2000, Serbia experienced its own version of the so-called associational revolution, that is, a spectacular proliferation of NGOs. Like other cases of the postcommunist world, “civil society” as a political slogan, with NGOs as its main carriers, acquired an axiomatic status (Hann and Dunn 1996). The Western international community treated local NGOs as key symbolic operators of a distinct ideological field. Within a hegemonic analytical framework of “dictatorship versus democracy,” NGOs acquired...

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4. Reformists and Revolutionists: Social Work NGOs and Activist Struggles in the Czech Republic

Hana Synková

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pp. 75-93

In the Czech Republic, two types of organizations provide social services in the areas inhabited mainly by a Romani1 population: Amaro,2 which claimed cultural proximity to their clients as the basis of their expertise; and People in Need, which bases their expertise on professionally educated staff. In this chapter I show how, despite some ideological differences, these two social work organizations gradually came to resemble each other, to the extent that they could be criticized by activists of being the same thing. I show why identity-based organizations, compared to mainstream NGOs, have...

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5. Leveraging Supranational Civil Society: Critiquing Czech Gender Equality Policy through Academic-NGO Collaboration

Karen Kapusta-Pofahl

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pp. 94-110

In 2004 a multisectoral coalition of gender experts from academia and NGOs in the Czech Republic attempted to advocate for improvements in implementing and monitoring gender equality policies in the wake of their entrance into the European Union (EU). In this chapter, I analyze this collaboration that worked to incite what Keck and Sikkink (1998) call a boomerang pattern of influence—appealing to the authority of the EU to pressure the Czech government to improve its efforts at promoting gender equality. Due to the ambiguous and contested relationships among these various actors...

Part II. Doing Good Work

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Introduction to Part II: Life in NGOs

Inderpal Grewal

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pp. 113-121

The chapters in Part II grapple with the internal and external struggles, contestations, and changes that take place within NGOs. While the context, history, and region in which an NGO is situated cannot be ignored in favor of understanding practices and processes within it, the relationship between the outside and the inside, between external forces and internal issues, is important to examine. This relationship is the focus of the following chapters.

The politics and practices of “doing good” can be understood not only through historical context but also through the relationship between state...

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6. Faith Development beyond Religion: The NGO as Site of Islamic Reform

Nermeen Mouftah

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pp. 122-141

Cairo, Egypt, September 2011. The branch office of Life Makers, an NGO, pulsed with energy. When Ahmed, a twenty-three-year-old engineering student, showed up for work at noon, rail-thin and looking as though he had not slept, I mistook him for any other volunteer. He slipped into an office, and some minutes later I was told that the director of the Life Makers’ Giza branch was ready to meet with me. In that first conversation, Ahmed, who turned out to be the director, explained what he looks for when he interviews potential volunteers. The concerns he brought up in our first...

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7. Interdependent Industries and Ethical Dilemmas: NGOs and Volunteer Tourism in Cusco, Peru

Aviva Sinervo

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pp. 142-162

In Cusco, Peru—a city where the yearly tourist population exceeds the local residents threefold (DIRCETUR 2007; INEI 2008)—the popularity of volunteer tourism has been increasing steadily throughout the last decade. Volunteer tourism is a growing global industry wherein tourists combine travel, leisure, sightseeing, cultural exchange, and language training with opportunities to assist local communities as unpaid laborers (Wearing and McGehee 2013). Volunteers in Cusco work in a variety of sectors, including construction, health care, community development, and formal education. Yet the...

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8. Rebuilding Justice: Jewish Philanthropy and the Politics of Representation in Post-Katrina New Orleans

Moshe Kornfeld

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pp. 163-180

Taking one exchange between a group of activists and a mainstream Jewish philanthropic agency as its core example, this chapter traces intra-Jewish discourse about politics, antipolitics, and representation. I examine the consequences of the World War II-era development of a representative (i.e., political) function for Jewish philanthropic organizations. Considering the of­ten explicitly political nature of Jewish philanthropy, I analyze intra-Jewish discourse that emerged when the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans claimed that its aid to non-Jewish Katrina victims was politically neutral....

Part III. Methodological Challenges of NGO Anthropology

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Introduction to Part III: How to Study NGOs Ethically

Erica Bornstein

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pp. 183-193

Anthropological loyalties usually lie with those we research, and our disciplinary guidelines articulate responsibilities to our informants.1 Some of these social obligations are forged in the practice of ethnography itself: the processes through which we build bonds of trust and friendship are not taken lightly; the relationships are hard-earned. How does the ethnography of institutions such as NGOs differ from studying other social groups? Nonprofit organizations such as NGOs offer ethnographic challenges that may be unique to the nonprofit sector due to the institutional orientation of our...

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9. The Ethics and Politics of NGO-Dependent Anthropology

Katherine Lemons

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pp. 194-211

NGOs are a significant part of work for many, if not most, anthropologists. This is especially true of those whose work touches on women’s perspectives. As Victoria Bernal and Inderpal Grewal have succinctly put it, NGOS are “now well established as an institutional form across the globe, especially in relation to questions of women’s welfare and empowerment” (Bernal and Grewal 2014a, 1). This is in part because feminist NGOs were included in the UN conferences on women in 1975, 1985, and 1995, rendering NGOs recognizable as institutions capable of responding to “grassroots” needs and to informing policy debates (Bernal and Grewal 2014a, 11–12). This chapter...

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10. The Anthropologist and the Conservation NGO: Dilemmas of and Opportunities for Engagement

Amanda Woomer

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pp. 212-229

Conservation organizations face some of the world’s most critical issues—including climate change, wildlife trafficking, clear-cutting of rainforests, clean water scarcity, and more—issues that have both widespread and longterm impacts. In response to the urgent need for action, conservation scientists and anthropologists alike have called for increased collaboration between the two fields to develop an expanded consideration of the sociocultural, economic, and political backdrop of conservation, which in turn could contribute to the development of more effective and sustainable...

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Conclusion: A Second Generation of NGO Anthropology / Christian Vannier and Amanda Lashaw

Christian Vannier and Amanda Lashaw

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pp. 230-236

The scholarship in this book represents a second generation of critical NGO anthropology. Together, contributors to this volume react to and build on a set of conversations that began in the 1990s and examine the symbolic and material power of nongovernmental and nonprofit agencies as institutional actors and distinct social worlds. As Steven Sampson and David Lewis describe in the introduction and chapter 1, respectively, first-generation research grew from diverse anthropology subfields. Critical analyses converged around processes that seemed to capture some distinctive effects...

References Cited

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pp. 237-262

Contributors

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pp. 263-266

Index

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pp. 267-272