Building the Humanitarian Imaginary

“Building the Humanitarian Imaginary,” unpublished paper (2009)

“All of the great challenges that confront the 21st-century city — from class, race and environmental issues to the continuing duel between history and modernity — are crystallized in New Orleans.”  (Ouroussoff 2008)

“Best practice” in contemporary humanitarian reconstruction is very clear on the need to integrate the end user, or “beneficiary”, into the process of rebuilding their community (Humanitarian Accountability Partnership 2007).  What is envisaged is a coordinated, well regulated, planning process wherein survivors meaningfully contribute to not only building back their community, but “building it back better.”  What is enacted, is often quite different: reflecting the way in which external humanitarian actors think about disaster and recovery rather than the particular circumstances or needs of the affected populations (Wall 2006).[1]  The following article examines why experimental, top-down and utopian design projects continue to be plague post-crisis contexts.  By looking at three recent examples of post-crisis design solutions, this article argues that reconstructive responses following a crisis have a tendency to be biased toward the “spatial imaginaries” of external humanitarian actors due to the characteristics and context of the post-crisis setting.  This privileging of the spatial epistemology of external actors over local victims occurs in two main ways.  First, the necessary focus, following most large-scale disaster needs to be on the rebuilding of the material foundations of the society that were destroyed.  However, this means that architects, engineers, and urban planners occupy a significant, yet generally un-explored position within post-crisis reconstruction. Their approach tends toward positivistic, solution driven, and physically locatable outputs which will influence the way in which the reconstruction unfolds. This bias is further compounded by the tendency of post-crisis sites to attract a certain type of “green-field” or “utopian” thinker from within these disciplines.  These thinkers tend to be looking not for solutions to aftermath of the disaster at hand, but rather, for an opportunity to experiment with universal design solutions, to push forward a particular social vision or to experience the affect and sensation of a post-disaster setting.  This article will explore the existence and implications of these tendencies and look at the ethnical implications.  It will first trace the recent history of how post-disaster reconstruction developed in tandem with experimental design approaches and explore how architects, engineers and artists continue to be drawn towards post-crisis sites.  The article then explores three recent case studies – two following Hurricane Katrina and one following the 2006 earthquake in Jogyakarta.  By looking at the relationship between the post-disaster context and the experimental design objectives of the three projects, ethnical considerations are raised which may prove instructive for the way in which humanitarian approaches to reconstruction understand local participation.

 

The Appeal of Post-Crisis Reconstruction to Architects and Engineers

The post-crisis landscape has long held allure for architects and designers.  Over the years, a wide range of super-star architects have put forward their proposals for post-disaster housing. For example, Corbusier’s iconic Maison Dom-ino (1914-15) was originally intended as a “solution for the rapid reconstruction of regions such as Flanders, which had been heavily damaged during WW1” (Stohr 2006: 36). Between 1939 and 1945, Finnish architect, Alvar Aalto designed a movable temporary emergency shelter, designed to house war refugees that “could be trucked to the site and house four families with a shared central heating unit’ (Stohr 2006: 37). “Prouvé also developed a number of prefabricated shelters, including a metal-frame tent, demountable barracks and schools for war refugees that he called ecoles volantes” (Bergdoll et al. 2008; Stohr 2006: 39). And while, not strictly designed for post-disaster response, during the 1940s Buckminster Fuller designed the Dymaxion Deployment Unit – a form of “emergency accommodation for troops in various locations during WW2” (Crain 2008; Hays 2008; Stohr 2006: 38).    More recently, Studio Libeskind was involved in the design of a Master Plan for Unawatuna – a beach side community in Sri Lanka, devastated by the Tsunami.[2] According to Rybczynski (2005), in response  to post-crisis needs architects “have proposed a variety of ingenious shelters, including prefabs, inflatables, geodesic dome kits, sprayed polyurethane igloos, and temporary housing made of cardboard tubes and plastic beer crates…not only are these often untested “universal” solutions generally prohibitively expensive, their exotic forms are usually ill-suited to local conditions.”[3] Throughout the 2000s, groups such as Engineers without Borders, Architecture for Humanity and Architects without Borders have all developed response projects to various humanitarian disasters, and have grown in membership, and geographic and functional reach throughout the 2000s.[4]  According to the head of the U.S. chapter of ASF, post-crisis work attract a certain type of person, a person who relishes operating within constantly changing circumstances, in a “climate of chaos”.[5]  The volunteer model of these organizations also means that the members who come to help a post-crisis situation will generally not stay for more than a few weeks or months, and tend to be students, or young professionals with limited experience.  While they will be familiar with the failures of grand planning or utopian design schemes, and will be aware of the need to consult with end users, they will also be aware of the status within architecture and urban design of the iconic building, or the Master Plan.  And as constraints to planning within in a “typical” project brief will preclude grand or utopian design experiments, the freedom of the post-disaster canvas is very attractive indeed.[6]

From a planning perspective the after-math of a disaster is often seen to present a tabula rasa, an opportunity to build from the ground up rather than supplement existing developments (Schaper 2005), however the reconstructive or “greenfield” potential of a post-disaster site may be drastically over-estimated.  While in some cases, like the Asian Tsunami, a disaster may offer completely new cartographies to be mapped, they will also throw up entirely new sets of development challenges such as environmental contamination, the need for large scale repairs to basic infrastructure and emotional and psychological damage of the populations. Perhaps more important than the physical “greenfield potential” of a post-disaster site is the regulatory vacuum that often occurs. Even where authorities are highly competent, organized and present, the multitude of humanitarian actors (broadly defined) who arrive in a disaster site, the often overlapping and unclear channels of responsibility, and the overwhelming need of local populations provides a window where reconstruction standards and norms may be lowered, unfamiliar or unenforceable. Communities will be panicked and ready to listen if someone with resources and skills presents them with a “solution”.  All these conditions make a post-disaster context fertile territory for amateurs, students, or ad hoc organizations who are mobile, have low overheads, and have a revolutionary or extreme vision that may not be easily implemented within the context of “normal” life.  Similarly, issues of accountability are also an issue.

These problems are widely recognized and institutional endeavours are moving towards putting aid industry wide standards in place, for example, the SPHERE Project, or the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (Dufour 2004; Wilson 2004).  However, without enforcement mechanisms, participation in these standards remains voluntary, and unlike to reach those actors most in need of it:  the very small, the occasional, the ad hoc who won’t be aware as well as the largest and most well established who have no incentive to participate.  Even where regulatory frameworks and consultative approaches are prioritized, the planning phase may  overlook the spatial reality of the post-disaster context, a context that makes such an idealized, and sanitized process difficult to realize. In the first instance, not all disasters are the same and accordingly vary with regards to type, severity, scale and location making it extremely difficult to provide guidance for all eventualities.  Even when groups are aware of the guidelines, and are trying to adhere to them, it may not be easy to correctly identify the affected community as populations may have moved or died. Property ownership may be difficult to ascertain as  records may be absent or destroyed, or property may have been destroyed or pre-disaster community boundaries shifted.  Further, the “local” community may have a diminished capacity to participate in the reconstruction of their communities. Emotionally, post-disaster trauma and stress may mean that are less likely to be able to meaningfully contribute to decisions and deliberations, or be able to understand the long term implications of their decisions.  Another common complaint is consultation fatigue, where the most “important people” such as planning officials, local government representatives, are rendered ineffective due to the constant demands upon their time from a never ending parade of well meaning groups wanted to solicit their opinions, or obtain their blessing.   Another interesting trend in post-disaster reconstruction is the use of process of a design “charrettes” to bring together stakeholders in an intense, planning process which maps out the key elements of the post-crisis plan.  As with any meeting, those who define the agenda, tend to wield an unequal amount of power, and this tends to be the case with charrettes.  Since the people most familiar with the process tend to be urban planners, architects and engineers, they may disproportionately influence the outcome.   All these factors contribute to the dominance of a particular spatial epistemology that gravitates towards abstract, model-based solutions.

In his history of conflict between African American workers and the plantation owners of the Mississippi delta, Woods (1998) uses the dialectical existence and development of two world views as an explanation of the conflict between the two groups.  The Planter epistemology that he describes, is an all encompassing weltanschauung through which the plantation owners perceived not only their own interests, but those of their African-American slaves. By contrast, the slaves operated according to what Wood calls a “Blues Epistemology” which interpreted their reality and defined potential solutions according to a narrative of suffering, enduring and (eventual) salvation.  The two logics were not only incompatible, but served to ensure a disconnect in the way in which the two groups understood, define and approached the issue of slavery.  In the context of post crisis situations, a similar disconnect of epistemologies occurs between those “external” humanitarian groups who come to assist, and those people who have experienced the disaster and its aftermath.  Any solutions to a given problem, or again, even how the problem is framed and identified, will be shaped by each groups’ spatial epistemology. For example, architects, engineers, or urban planners are taught to understand, use and believe in an established set of norms, rules and axioms unique to a given society or grouping.  They will likewise be taught, respective, a certain way of conceptualizing, approaching and identifying a problem.   Their design challenges will be formulated in relation to the perceived ills of a particular era (Ravetz and Turkington 1995).  For example, Howard and Unwin’s 19th century Garden Cities presented a rural, idyllic, quiet and organized alternative to the industrial, dirty and disorganized built environment of industrial capitalism (Kostof 1999).  Le Corbusier’s Radiant City put faith in modernist technologies and planning principles to transcend the misery, confusion, dirt and revolutionary potential of Parisian slums (Le Corbusier 1967; Scott 1998).  Costa and Nieyermeyer’s plans for Brasilia were in response to the perceived “corruption, backwardness and ignorance of the old Brazil” (Mehaffy 2008; Scott 1998: 119).  So, when designing for a group that falls outside the group epistemology, assumptions will be made regarding the needs and nature of the second group.   Historically, these ideas of what is required in a given circumstance are drawn from within the planners own society, and parallels will be drawn between the social ills of the planners immediate or known context, and the problems that he/she encounters in the new environment.

Similarly, if we consider the way in which the way the Anglo-American “humanitarian imaginary” has developed it is necessarily based on idealized assumptions regarding social organization and community. And while nominally “global” in its claims, the practice and lived experience of international humanitarianism firmly locates itself in institutions, donors, and regimes of the Global North/West (Duffield 2001; Rubenstein 2007).  Accordingly, its concerns and claims vary with the pre-occupations of the institutions and academies of the North/West (Pupuvac 2005).  The post-Cold War world has seen a pre-occupation with themes such as  “human security”, “good governance”, “poverty eradication” but pre-existing conditions of established, lived, society, means that experiments in socialized medicine, small scale farmers cooperatives, or the education of ex-combatants will be curtained by actually existing conditions, even when they are designed as though they were operating, largely, from a blank slate.

The idea of a “humanitarian imaginary” draws on Taylor’s on “social imaginaries” which he describes as “the ways in which people imagine their social existence, how they fit together with others, how things go on between them and their fellows, the expectations that are normally met, and the deeper normative notions and images that underlie these expectation” (2002: 106) .  It is both factual and normative, “carried in images, stories and legends” and shared by large groups of people, not just the elite (Taylor 2002: 106).  It is also carried in the lived experience, and built environments of societies (Bourdieu and Nice 1977) and practices of the “everyday” (Certeau 1988).   While “metatopical” in its locale, it is highly reliant on examples and practices, which may be referred to and called upon to legitimate its larger claims (Taylor 2002).  In their work on the nation, Jones and Fowler look at the importance of local spaces in the reproduction of the nation. They argue that this (re)production is done in several ways including that “localised places” are used as “‘metonyms’ of the nation” and come to represent, “in a generic and abstract sense…national messages, symbols, and ideologies.” (2007:  336)  Citing Jackson and Penrose  (1994) they “stress the potential for localized places to be key sites for generating ideas and sentiments that can ultimately reproduce the nation.” (Jones 2007: 336).   If we take these arguments to the level of the supra or international, we begin to see the potential of place(s) in the (re)production of international scale and in specific aspects of the “international” as a collective concept.  Read in this way, the reconstruction of a place, following a natural disaster, is not only of value for those that are the immediate recipients, but also for those that can claim it as an exemplar of a humanitarian, or social ideal.  This is similar to the majority of urban planning which has been inspired by utopianism  (Harvey 2000; MacLeod and Ward 2002)  and, likewise, constrained by existing physical and regulatory frameworks, or democratic and consultative norms.  So, like Levittown in the 50s or Letchworth before that, the contemporary post-crisis setting provides an environment where various ideas of the ideal society, family and even individual are proposed, contested, and championed. It has become the key site where idealized aspects of the “international” are be introduced and tested.  And because of the nature of the post-crisis site, as discussed earlier, these aspects tend to embody a particular spatial epistemology, which undermines the larger humanitarian project of deconstructing power asymmetries.

The next section looks at three specific aspects of the humanitarian imaginary which can be located in the reconstruction site a) the idea of community in the use of New Urbanism & participatory design processes in post Katrina Mississippi; b) the idea of global ecology in the green building projects in New Orleans; and c) the idea of resilience in the use of Eco Domes in post-earthquake Jogyakarta, Indonesia.  Each of these aspects is a constitutive part of  the “humanitarian imaginary” – either constructing what the “international community” should be like, or constructing what the “other”, “the victim” is supposed to want.

 

THREE CASES:  BUILDING THE HUMANITARIAN IMAGINARY

Imagined Communities:  New Urbanism and the post-Katrina Gulf Coast

In his now famous book, Robert Putnam (2000) describes the decline of social bonds within late 21st century America.  Similar concerns over social exclusion have also been on the policy and academic agendas in the U.K. (Bauman 2008) and the E.U. (Council of the European Union 2004).   Within international humanitarian discourse, the importance of civil society promotion (and creation) and associated concepts such as social inclusion and democratization have, since the late 1980s, become almost paradigmatic concepts in the fields of development policy and practice (Howell 2001).  In the area of post-conflict reconstruction, the 1990s rapprochement of the field of development and relief meant that work on post-crisis reconstruction had, as one of its central tenets, the importance of the “community” and community involvement in the planning process.

In the immediate aftermath of a large scale disaster, this community orientation may be inadvertently emphasized by virtue of the difficulty in coordinating around a central plan. For example, in post-tsunami Sri Lanka and Aceh, small aid agencies made bi-lateral agreements to construct a defined, geographic area.  This would often include a community centre, place of worship, school and a number of houses. The unit of a community becomes demarcated by externally defined, largely spatial parameters:  available land, available resources, and preferences of the contractor, architects, and builders.[7] It became a place based concept which reinforced the one-to-one correspondence between identify, territory and rights (Cresswell 2004). In the case of post-Katrina reconstruction, the theme of community has become central to the reconstruction. This section will investigate one particular approach to community which has been dominant in several communities in Mississippi:  New Urbanism, and in particular the use of the form of the “Katrina Cottage” in the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast.

The architectural movement called “New Urbanism” (NU) originated in the US, in the1980s in response to the problems identified with suburban sprawl. NU is best known for its “model towns”:  planned neighbourhoods based on strict urban planning principles such as densely backed, walkable neighborhoods with mixed use and mixed age buildings.[8] NU promotes the notion of “natural variety”, tradition and that architectural and planning decisions take into account, and respect, the essential qualities of a place.  Two of the best known New Urbanist developments are the towns of Seaside, California, and Celebration, Florida.  Both Seaside – used as the backdrop for the 1998 movie, The Truman Show, and Celebration – commissioned by the Walt Disney Corporation – perpetuate through their urban layout and architectural choices, a neo-traditional aesthetic of small town America, where, “women call in their kids to do homework and old men sit outside the general store.”[9] Through a call for a return to so called traditional social relations by way of urban and architectural design New Urbanists, have been accused of perpetuating an imaginary idea of the US and their critics have seized upon what they perceive to be an exploitation, of  “a yearning for an imaginary small-town America” (Hales 2005; Risen 2005).

Within mainstream architectural and urban design practice, NU has historically been regarded with a large degree of distrust.  Although the principles of walkability, sustainability, “beauty” and “tradition” are, on the surface, positive principles, when embedded within the larger economic and social realities of late-capitalist societies, “less-positive” dynamics emerge.  As identified by (MacLeod and Ward 2002), without proper transport links, they can become enclave communities which reinforce class and race divisions rather than alleviate them.  There is also the danger that rather than reversing sprawl, New Urbanism is merely replacing the grid like suburbia of the 1940s and 50s America with the 21st century version of the picturesque enclave  (Hayden 2003).  There are also considerations of whose tradition is being promoted, and whose version of “beauty” or “nature” triumphs.  Given these strong reservations, it is worthy of note, that New Urbanism has found new life along the post-Katrina Gulf Coast.

In 2005, Republican Governor Haley Barbour invited the Congress for New Urbanism to facilitate a six day “mega charrette” of approximately 200 architects, designers, and urban planners.  Dubbed the Mississippi Renewal Forum, it was a planning meeting where many of Mississippi’s coastal communities damaged by Katrina, were introduced to the tenets of New Urbanist planning approaches and designs  (Snyder 2007).  In six days, the participants came up with recommendations for the entire Gulf Coast by applying New Urbanist zoning principles, and in particular the idea of Smart Code (or Smart Growth) which provides detailed codes covering all aspects of the built environment.

Three years later, the Master Plans have largely been shelved.  The “attempts to insinuate the Smart Growth ideology in South Mississippi after Katrina”[10] have been restricted to a few isolated neighbourhoods in select cities.  While the ongoing saga of the role of New Urbanism in the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast is a fascinating and lively thread which I explore elsewhere, within the context of this article, the focus will be restricted to unpacking the factors which allowed New Urbanism to dominate the reconstruction discourse in the months following Katrina and what have been the implications – both for the towns and cities of South Mississippi and for the NU movement. To do so, the article will concentrate on one particular form which has become a metaphor for the debate – the form of the Katrina Cottage.

The Katrina Cottage is a small cottage-like permanent structure that is intended to provide affordable, “dignified’ shelter for victims of Hurricane Katrina, specifically to replace the ubiquitous FEMA trailer that have been the government standard in emergency shelter.[11] Originally designed by New York architect, Marianne Cusato, the term referred to a 308 sq ft. (see Fig. 1), one floor, downsized “Mississippi-style coastal cottage, complete with an inviting porch.”[12] To ensure elements of local vernacular Coastal style, inputs were solicited from the affected communities and “fine tuned” by local architects.  It has since been upgraded to the status of a “movement” with different spin-off cottages being built, promoted and championed.

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Insert Figure 1 about here

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The original “KC 308”(Fig. 1)  is 308 sq. ft. (420 sq ft., including porch) house composed of two main rooms arranged in a row:  the living room (13’11” by 8’8”) and, behind it, across the rear of the house, the bedroom (7”0x13”3’).  A small kitchen, lavatory and storage space occupy one side of the house and can be accessed off the living room. According to its website, it can be built with wood or steel framing and “are finished with fiber cement siding and a metal roof.”[13] It is engineered to withstand hurricane force winds.  Key principles of the design include that it is based on local vernacular, that it is easily and quickly erected (estimates of building time range between 7 days and 6 weeks), affordable, and can be easily modified.[14]While certain elements such as the pre-fabrication, and purported ease of construction, make it potentially good choice for post-disaster housing – other purported benefits such as its affordability and adaptability are relative virtues – dependent upon other variables of the potential occupant such as secure land tenure and  access to credit (costed at between USD 30 000 – 100 000 plus building costs, it is not cheap). Following the unveiling of Katrina Cottage II – a roomier version of the first referred as ‘The Cabin’ – in the Chalmette Louisiana, Walmart parking lot, other models have been developed including the Tiny House, the Thin House and the Double House.[15]  They vary in terms of floor space, number of floors, different layouts and cost.  They are intended to fit a range of budgets and locations.[16]

An important part of the promotional material for the cottage is its growth potential.

The initial cottage is considered to be a “Kernal House” – which can either be expanded upon, through architectural additions, or converted into a garden shed, or guest cottage at the back of the lot once the real house is built.  Images on the Lowe’s website have included time lapse animation of the cottage being transformed from an isolated structure on the corner of an expansive, leafy, yard dominated by a new, expansive structure, many times larger than the original cottage.  In the same way, the advice for “Using the Cottage:  Building for the Future”, previously found on the CusatoCottages.com website, implied limitless room for expansion, in the new borderland of the post-disaster setting.  What is omitted from these sketches, is one of the most pressing problems associated with reconstructive work – that of property rights and ownership.  In many cases, those people who lost their homes cannot return easily to their original place:  either it has been destroyed, or is being rezoned within the larger scheme of redevelopment.   While in the minds of architects and planners, the transition between temporary and permanent is seamless, in reality this has not been the case.  In the wake of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trailer scandals (Keteylan 2008), the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) managed to get find a way to use federal grant money for the production of Mississippi Cottages, under their Alternative Housing Pilot Program.[17]  However, the time lag in disbursements and production meant that by the time to cottages were ready to go out, MEMA had almost come to the end of the three year window provided for the use of federal disaster funds. Even for those people who had already been lucky enough to receive a cottage, there was the very real risk that the cottage would have to be returned to MEMA because it did not meet the civic zoning requirements, which had classified the cottages as mobile homes.  In Waveland and Gulfport, residents launched civic lawsuits and won the right to keep their cottages as “permanent shelters”.  However this doesn’t mitigate the “not-in-my-backyard” syndrome which has been dominant in the cottage debate, with nearby residents fearing that the presence of the cottages will drag down their own property value (Swope 2009).

It is common for intra-community conflict to arise in the wake of new urban development schemes.  That it should arise from an urban planning movement that is defined by it’s contribution to community creation, points to constraints and possible contradictions in the way in which community can be imagined following a disaster.  Take, for instance, “Cottage Square” – the model town square which is being built in The City of Ocean Springs as a “living museum to the Katrina Cottage movement” (Swope 2009).  It is meant to lead by example by demonstrating by what a walkable, “scaleable”, in-fill site would look like as an alternative to the sprawl that has dominated building trends along the Gulf Coast since WW2.  But while the development, is meant as a model for a reconfiguration of the entire urban fabric along the Gulf Coast, by using it first in the context of post-hurricane reconstruction raises certain ethical issues, the most obvious is the potential creation of ghettos of post-disaster homes.  So far, Cottage Square is only occupied by a few commercial properties associated with the Katrina Cottage movement, but as envisaged, it would be an “old-fashioned” community.  However, take away the pitched roofs and the picket fences and its not clear how this development is truly any different than a trailer park.  If  residents are opposed to isolated cottages of survivors being inserted into the their neighbourhood, how would an entire cluster fare?  If the people who were disproportionately in need of new, donated residences are the same people who were too poor to buy the insurance that would have replaced their homes, then the development of Cottage Squares filled with the poorest hurricane survivors will be tantamount to creating council estates without formal state support.  Similarly, although the ideas behind NU are laudable, when judged against environmental criteria, the formalism of walkable neighbourhoods, ignores the realities that require many people to commute, in cars, to and from their jobs.

It is easy, but perhaps slightly unfair to critique the isolated development of a single Cottage Square as it is meant quite literally, as a “model village” for the redevelopment of the Gulf Coast at large.  The 11 Master Plans that were developed within the context of the MRF, redrew the entire coastline.  Drawing strongly on their experiences with Seaport, Florida, and their success in rebuilding after Hurricane Andrew, the NUs envisaged the full blown application of Smart Code and Transept planning along the coast.  They also identified the regions key economic drivers, and put forward plans that would bring the previously off-shore, floating casinos, inland, and convert much of the beach-front property into tourist friendly promenades, condominiums and golf courses (McKee 2005).  These changes “roiled” residents who felt their entire way of life was being altered through changes to their built environment.  As quoted in the New York Times, one Biloxi resident said “are you trying to turn this into a Sin City, or what?” (McKee 2005)

NUs strongly denounce such claims, pointing to the strict planning and building codes which may go so far as to specify the pitch of a roof or the shape of a window (Lewis 2006).  And while these codes can be seen as necessary to ensure a particular aesthetically and socially desirable environment, they were also perceived by some as a cynical attempt to increase profit margins by allowing a new, higher density of building to take place.  According to one interviewee, “The idea of Smart Codes was readily accepted by folks whose lives and property had been destroyed as well as by some rather unscrupulous developers who saw a way around the zoning laws that limited density therefore limiting profit.”[18]  Why the Smart Code and NU was so popular to the people of Mississippi brings us back to the form, and ultimately, the idea of the Katrina Cottage.  Over and over, in the promotional material for the KCs, the image of small town Americana is presented as the “future” of any city which adopts their approach.   The return to a time, as rephrased by one interviewee, when “we had storefronts in primarily residential neighbors [sic], when business owners lived above their shops.  We walked and rode bikes everywhere.  We were never more than a few blocks from a little store where we could get an RC cola and a moon pie.”[19]  He goes on to say that “I would love to see us move back in that direction, but it is not going to come easily.”[20]

This “return” to a Golden Age Americana, is something that the NUs are repeatedly criticized for.  The critique generally has three tracks.  First, there is the argument that the period  in question, of “small town” Americana, never really existed, not as such.  Instead, what is “remembered” is both a nostalgic amalgam of small town sensibility and post-WW2 economic prosperity.  Such a pastiche picks the pieces that are comforting and familiar (e.g. moon pies) and whitewashes those aspects of small town Americana which are less palatable to a 21st century social sensibility such as racism, and restrictive gender roles. The second argument, is that NU fails to address the underlying economic issues that led to sprawl in the first place such as the demand for affordable housing and the incentives for construction and manufacturing companies to mass produce prefab homes. This argument has been deployed with regards to the original Seaside development which has seen the original, popular cottage development replicated along the Florida Coast.  It is also worth noting that although they cite Jane Jacobs and her idea of promoting an organic and vibrant street culture, as a key inspiration, the presence of local street life is directly related to the availability of time, which is at least partially economically dependent.  In the current system of socio-economic organization, for the vast majority of the population, the car remains a key instrument for living: required to get to and from work, the commute allowing for little time to wander down to the corner shop to buy and ice-cream.  It is the economic organization of everyday life that structures our space, not the other way around.  NUs will counter that spatial organization can influence behaviour and encourage physical engagement with local environments.  However, the vast majority of their developments have been in mid to high income areas.  And some, like Seaside and the re-visioned Biloxi waterfront, are primarily for seasonal residence, tourists or temporary visitors. The ironic outcome is that the people who will occupy Biloxi, Seaside, Celebration, or Niagra-on-the-Lake or other NU developments are merely passing through an old town setting. Using their vacation to immerse themselves in the childhood they never had. What is for sale is a façade of community, which appeals to the aesthetic and affective needs of its users to feel “at home” which meshing with the underlying capitalist processes which seek higher profit through higher density and urban in-fill and the chance to rezone residential areas for mix-use purposes.

Since the initial flush of excitement and support for a NU approach along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the process has been quietly downgraded from large scale, civic Master Plans to a few small developments currently under negotiation. However, this hasn’t stopped the recipients of the Mississippi Cottages from fighting, as mentioned earlier to keep their cottages by buying them from the government having them classified as permanent dwellings.    Nor has it stopped the Lowe’s company to continue to promote the “Katrina Cottage”  on its website and Marianne Cusato to change her marketing tack away from Hurricane survivors and towards survivors of the economic crisis.  Marketed as “the new economy home:  adaptable, sustainable, beautiful…within your means”[21] it markets the same dream that was being sold to Hurricane Katrina survivors.  That despite catastrophe, the pastoral, American dream is within your grasp.  From a profit perspective, the opportunity of Hurricane Katrina, provided a testing ground to set up the production of the Cottage on a much larger scale.  And although it was surely not Cusato’s intention to use the post-Katrina space to experiment with housing solutions for the nation, this has proved to be the outcome.  But doing so, has not only lent more credibility to the paradigm of the single family home and social ideal, but has provided NU  with the opportunity to gain knowledge, and experience within an initially uncontested space.  Nor is there any formal follow up mechanism or process by which the original designers of the cottages or the plans can nurture or support the Smart Codes or Master Plans they initiated.

 

A Shot-Gun Reconstruction

That, at least at present, the most lasting aspect of the NU post-Katrina push has been, effectively, the production of a re-vamped FEMA trailer is not surprising.  The focus on form, in the reconstruction of place is a common feature of post-crisis reconstruction, as envisaged by external humanitarian forces.  Place, as famously defined by Agnew can have at least three basic meanings (1987):  as a location, as a locale, and as a sense of place. By location, Agnew means the physical, geographic co-ordinates of a place.  By locale, he is referring to the “material setting for social relations” (Cresswell 2004: 7).  Within the context of reconstruction, as it applies to already established human settlements, the first two are incredibly contentious and generally beyond the either the ability or time frame of external humanitarian actors to engage with.[22]  This leaves the third – “a sense of place” – as the primary focus for reconstructive efforts.  As we have seen with the NU rebuilding, a recurrent theme in the recreation of a “sense of place” has been the creation of styles and forms which evoke a particular aesthetic experience.  More narrowly, the focus within the context of Post-Katrina reconstruction, both within the NU’s work in Miss. and within the reconstruction of Louisiana (broadly), and New Orleans (in particular) has been on one form in particular:  that of the “shot-gun house.”

As described by Fred B. Kniffen, in his paper, “Louisiana Housing Types” , the shotgun house is composed of “one room in width and from one to three or more rooms deep, with frontward-facing gable.” (as quote in Upton and Vlach 1986: 59)   The number of rooms varies, but is usually two or three, with the entrance on the gable end, leading to a front porch.  The roof is pitched, and the construction tends to be of timber frame with a façade of horizontal siding.  While the doors tend to form a straight line, this is not always the case, and examples of the type with one of the door ways offset have been documented  (Upton and Vlach 1986).  While currently occupied by all classes of society along the Gulf Coast, the shotgun house has historically been associated with poor, black communities.[23]  The traditional shot-gun house resulted from the size of the lots resulting from the Louisiana Purchase – long narrow lots.  In order to save on building costs, and to maximize space, no hall way was build. Instead, the rooms followed on, one from another so that if you shot a gun from the front of the house, you could shoot a dog out the back. Vlach traces this history to the presence of free Haitian slaves in New Orleans, at the turn of the 19th century and their use of maison basse building techniques.  He shows the similarity between the floor plans of tradition Haitian homes (Fig 2)  and the shotgun house of New Orleans (Fig 3).

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Insert Figures 2 & 3  about here

Figure 2 – Traditional Haitian Maison-Basse Plans {Upton, 1986 #260@65}

Figure 3 – Traditional New Orleans Shotgun Types {Upton, 1986 #260@66}

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But Vlach’s inquiry doesn’t end in Port-au-Prince.  He is interested in demonstrating that the Haitian maison basse has an even older architectural genealogy, based simultaneously in West Africa, and with Caribbean Amerindian populations and their bohio house type – a type strongly resembling a shotgun house (see fig. 8 in Upton and Vlach, 1986: 73).  According to Vlach, the shotgun house represents an “architectural response to slavery” where African slaves from the Awarak sugar plantations, “maintained their own African house form by making one morphological change (shifting a doorway [from the long end to the garret end of the house]), adapting one secondary feature (a front porch), and learning a new technology.” He goes on to say that “Africans in Haiti did not drift aimlessly in a sea of alien experiences.  Their response was to make sense of their new environment by transforming it so that it resembled a familiar pattern” {Upton, 1986 #260@76}.

Likewise, within the NU project, the search for patterns is a re-current theme (Alexander et al. 1977).  And in the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast, the use of “pattern books” which detailed place appropriate, vernacular styles and approaches has been an important element of the process.   For example, the Gulf Cost Emergency House Plans (Mouzon 2006), lays out 17 different Katrina Cottage plans including guidance on the use of interior and exterior space, and explanation of what constitutes vernacular versus classical architectural style. Similarly, the Louisiana Speaks:  Pattern Book, put together under the direction of the CNU affiliated, architecture firm, Urban Design Associates, fastidiously documents the stylistic and ornamental requirements for “the” five “Louisiana Architectural Styles”:  the Louisiana Vernacular, the Louisiana Victorian, the Louisiana Classical, Louisiana Arts and Crafts and Modern (Urban Design Associates Not Specified). It is worth considering that within the Louisiana Speaks pattern book, the “shot-gun” house is not even given it’s own description; considered simply to be a subset of “creole-influenced” Louisiana Vernacular.  So why is it, that the idea of the “shot-gun” house has become almost interchangeable with the idea of post-Katrina reconstruction?  In addition to the Katrina Cottage movement,  other prominent philanthropists have independently adopted the shot-gun houses as inspiration.  For example, work done by MIT Professor, Lawrence Sass, used the shot-gun as  a model for digitally prefabricated houses or, as they became known “Instant Houses” {Bergdoll,  #872}.  The objective of the project, commissioned as an art installation by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, was to create a low-tech, low-cost, easily reproducible and buildable shelter, that could also be adapted to its local vernacular surroundings.  Drawing his inspiration from Venuturi and Scott Brown’s distinction between buildings as “structures which articulate their programmatic content in sculptural form” (or “ducks”) and “mundane structures dressed up in decoration that articulates their programmatic content” (or “sheds”), Sass and his team chose to build “sheds” {Bergdoll, 2008 #872@198; Venturi,  #884}.  This means that the basic form of the house is a pre-fab “196-square-foot one-room shotgun house” that can be put together in a matter of days using  minimal tools and at a relatively low cost {Bergdoll, 2008 #872@196}.  Only, given that the main form of the house is a standardized monocoque shell (effectively a one room box with a pitched roof)  the “shot-gun” effect comes exclusively from the addition of a pre-fab facade that replicates one of four “vernacular” architectural styles identified by Sass and his students in four areas of the cities.  One house was chosen near the Garden District, another in the French Quarter, and two others in the Marigny.  Similarly, as will be discussed further, below, Brad Pitt’s Make it Right project has taken the form of the shotgun as its central theme and inspiration.

There are several potential, inter-connected answers to the predominance of the post-Katrina focus on shot-gun housing.  The first, is admittedly, that the shot-gun house is, next to Mardi Gras beads or a jazz band, one of the most iconic, emblematic visual images associated with New Orleans.  And, in the post-Katrina reconstruction, New Orleans dominated media and humanitarian agendas, largely due to the high profile atrocities that occurred when the levees broke.  However, the elevation of the shot-gun house as the icon of the reconstruction, ignores major aspects associated with its form. In addition to the history of poverty and racial inequality associated with it, within the context of New Orleans, the best preserved and maintained, are also those that can be found within those areas which are targeted towards tourists.  When previous visitors to New Orleans, recall their experience, they may think of the Creole cottages of the Faubourg and the French Quarter.  They remember the B&B that they stayed in, or the walking tour that they took. The places that are occupied by the same class of people who have come to help rebuild:  touristic and temporary.  The focus on the “form” of the shot-gun house, and in the case of Sass, of the mere façade, emphasizes the inability of these “external” humanitarian actors to tackle the underlying structural causes of the disaster.  Rather than seeing the disaster as part of the ongoing existential condition of a particular place, they see it as a one-off and potentially all transformative event.  They see it as an event, as a moment, when for the people who live there, it is a lifetime. Indeed, even prior to Katrina, “blighted” houses were a major problem in New Orleans.  The vacant houses both a symptom of and contributing factor to urban decay, and just beyond Bourbon Street, one of the highest urban crime rates in America.  And while the “String of Pearls” – the cities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast – had more peaceful pre-Katrina profiles, their socio-economic situation was also difficult, with unemployment at over 7%, significant immigrant populations, and disproportionate economic dependence on the gaming and casino industries, with their associated social ills.  As described by one of the key players in the MRF, the Katrina Cottages were “camels’ noses under the tent of neighborhood, district, and regional (re)design according to New Urbanist principles”[24], a redesign that would tackle the pre-Katrina Mississippi sprawl in a way that would be affordable to communities but also attractive to investors and gaming tourists.

A second, and related, explanation for the overwhelming focus on the form of house as a key plank in the reconstruction was demand.  When people have nowhere to live, it becomes the overwhelming priority.  However, the appeal and popularity of the specific forms of the Katrina Cottage and other “new-shotgun” designs needs a further explanation.  As discussed, in Mississippi, the presentation of the cottages as a “dignified” and safe alternative to the FEMA trailers, caught the publics imagination and residents of a number of Coastal cities have been suing the cities to keep them.  This raises the question of what is “more dignified” about the Cottages than the trailers.  One possible response, is that even though the “options” that are presented within the context of discussions about the Katrina/MEMA cottages was that the residents felt that they were consulted on what was important the them:  their heritage, their sense of home.  And yet, as we have seen, the  Cottages are not necessarily architecturally coherent, within the context of Mississippi Coastal architecture – past or present.  Their new residents won’t have lived in this before.  Yet, the form of the house, and it’s presentation on the Lowe’s online ‘model cottage gallery’ accompanied by white picket fencing, rocking chairs and bushes appeal to iconic dreams of “home”.[25] But the focus on ornament and façade both conveys both the possibility of a new life(style) for its inhabitants, and obscures, or downplays the class and racial divides that tend to affect the groups which are most in need of the cottages.[26]  The heritage that is being preserved is not their own, but the simulacrum developed within the NU charrettes. There was room for consultation, because, in the end it is focused at a level that won’t address the underlying issues of who is most affected in the event of a disaster.

It is well established that “natural” disasters are anything but:  disproportionately affecting the uninsured, the renters, those on social benefits (Davis 1978; Oliver-Smith 1996).  This is supported by work documenting the uneven swathe of damage caused by Katrina: those who lost the most were exactly those people who could least afford to do so (Giroux 2006; McFarlane 2004; Smith 2006).  With persistent ambiguity over insurance claims, property rights and ownership, the dream of re-establishing oneself on a clean lot remains, for many, exactly that. The post-Katrina introduction of even more stringent zoning requirements by FEMA, has meant that the cost of building has increased still more {Moule, 2005}.  The NUs, opposed FEMA’s regulations both on cost, but also design/aesthetic grounds, which aligned the NUs, in places like Biloxi, with residents who couldn’t afford to make more changes to their houses.  This alignment is crucial in that it brought together the “external” NUs with local residents by unifying them against the federal state body that so many residents felt abandoned in the immediate aftermath of Katrina.  But it is important to recognize that although “external” to the area, the NUs were in Mississippi at the behest of Governor Haley Barbour, a politician who is, according to Woods (1998: 275) strongly aligned with the Plantation Bloc ideology which Woods considers to be “based upon the relentless expansion of social inequality” {Woods, 1998: 1 #808@1}.  By focusing on the form of the single family home and on the idea of “’timeless spaces” where citizens lived in complete harmony with one another” the underlying structural socio-economic which contribute to the systematic oppressions of certain social groupings are obscured (Lipsitz 2007).  Lipsitz {, 2007 #888} discusses this process in the context of the spatialization of race.  He claims that “the contemporary ideal of the properly-ordered prosperous private home” is a “spatial imaginary” that excludes those structurally disadvantaged social or racial groupings who, through necessity, rely on a spatial imaginary that “revolves around solidarities within, between, and across spaces” (Lipsitz 2007).  In the context of the Katrina Cottage debate, the focus on the house has potentially undermined these spatial networks by inserted lone family units into unwelcoming neighbourhoods. For people who need to recover from a disaster, the form of a house is not sufficient when your neighbours are petitioning to have you evicted, or the zoning regulations have been bent so that they don’t meet the basic FEMA disaster – risk levels.   Within the context of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the KC movement has also paved the way for increased profit margins for developers through appeals for higher densities, inland casinos and seafront shopping arcades, all under the guise of “community affordability”.  It may be that community becomes community only for those that can afford it.

For the originator of the KC – Marianne Cusato – the reconstruction has also provided the opportunity to pioneer a prototype that is now being rolled out, by Loews, across America as an affordable solution to the credit crunch.  For other NUs, the involvement in the reconstruction of LA and Miss has provided an opportunity to observe and understand what makes a community tick.  For example, one of the key figures in the NU movement, Andres Duany is himself setting himself up an office in the Faubourg-Marigny district, to try and get a sense of what contributes to the street culture and spirit that makes New Orleans so special.  How he will replicate, commodify and distribute this sense of community remains to be seen, but it seems inevitable that what is sold will need to be a sanitized version of whatever he finds since, that same vibrant street culture that makes New Orleans so exciting also contributes to one of the highest urban crime rates in the U.S.   An aspect of urbanity that is less marketable to the target consumers of NU communities.

A third explanation for the overwhelming focus on the house, was the way that it was portrayed in the wake of the disaster.  The infamous aerial photographs of post-Katrina New Orleans,  showed only roofs of the houses peaking out like islands, from the waters that surrounded them.  “Historic Green” an environmentally oriented reconstruction coalition directly equates the destruction of architectural heritage and history with the destruction of people and family.[27]

Similarly, the now famous, post-Katrina photos by Robert Polidori, concentrated on the “house as victim”.  Damaged, destroyed, lifeless his photos concentrated on the destruction of the built environment rather than people.  And since, as has been well documented, the violence that occurred in New Orleans, was of an undeniably racial nature, the form of the house provided a neutral, “de-racialized” form that could be addressed and repaired…unlike the underlying social and race relations.  While New Orleans has a rich and multi-racial history, it has also been affected by deep divisions in wealth and privilege.  The disaster brought these to the fore.  The focus on the form of the house, brought the debate back into the comfortable common ground of home, place, security, while forgetting that for many people affected by the disaster, this imaginary is indeed a dream.  The next section, will examine another prominent aspect of the humanitarian imaginary, within the context of Gulf Coast rebuilding:  sustainable, or “green” architecture.

 

Eco building & the culture of celebrity in New Orleans

As a shared, social imaginary, the humanitarianism increasingly includes environmental or ecological considerations. International bodies lobbying for improved environmental standards, conduct and accountability are myriad and international conferences and institutions are a prominent part of the international imagination. According to Hedren and Linner {, Forthcoming #685@210}, utopian thought is a necessary condition for the politics of sustainable development.  They define modernist utopia as including “notions of fixed truth, fixed territoriality and fixed final goals for politics.” And within this “green utopia” the development of a “green house” looms large in the imagination of architects and planners.  Human settlements – buildings – are one of the largest consumers of energy and the largest emitters of carbon dioxide and waste. As one of the largest sources of carbon emission, the individual house is being targeted by architects and urban planners as the site where significant gains could be make in the area of the environment. A “green” house refers to a residence which minimizes negative impact on its environment while maximizing energy efficiency throughout the building’s life cycle.  This implies improved living quality for its residence and neighbours and often includes such elements as harmonizing building style with local context and use of local materials. Were green building standards to be adopted on all new buildings, and retrofitted on existing ones, even in only OECD countries, the world would be well on its way to meetings its environmental targets.  The reasons why this is not already done is attributable largely to cost & cultural and manufacturing path dependence.  However OECD governments are in the process of establishing green building codes which specify standards for energy efficiency for buildings. And, for those who can afford it, green building holds both a philosophical (i.e. socially conscious) and aesthetic appeal.  Picking up on both realized and anticipated increases for green buildings, architecture firms in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Europe are positioning themselves in a “green light”.  Nor is this light local or even national.   Graft – one of the firms involved in the Make It Right (MIR) project (discussed below) – describes one of its recent domestic projects as a “genetic bastard” melding (or “grafting”) together different cultural approaches to space, building, light and aesthetics and by implication…common ecological concerns (Graft 2003).  However, as “green” houses are often relatively expensive to build or retrofit, they have not seen the uptake that their advocates would like.  As discussed above, the space of a post-disaster zone presents the opportunity to implement innovative solutions in a relatively low level of resistance and restriction.  This section will examine a high profile case of  “green” urban design plans that were implemented post-crisis, when they otherwise might not have been.

The push towards a “green” reconstruction in New Orleans has been remarkable. Dozens of groups have been focussed on ways to ensure that the reconstruction of New Orleans will be “green” – although the precise way in which this concept has been interpreted has varied. In March 2009, “Historic Green” brought together a “architects, engineers, planners, landscape architects, interior designers and contractors” to “work hand in hand with neighborhood [sic] residents on their historic houses, parks, playgrounds, and community centers.”[28]  It seeks to capture and catalyze the many “green” building projects that are going on in New Orleans, post-Katrina including a push for the Holy Cross neighbourhood to be carbon neutral by the year 2010 and climate neutral by 2030. According to their website, “[n]owhere else in the world, perhaps, is this more possible than the Lower Ninth Ward”.  Other environmental non-profits feel the same way.  Global Green[29], a non-profit organization based in Santa Monica, is building an “ultra-modern, low-income mini-neighbourhood of five houses, 18 apartments and a community center” (Los Angeles Times 2007).  According to the spokesperson for the organization, the intention is to “demonstrate to the residents of New Orleans and the South that these kinds of buildings can be built” (Los Angeles Times 2007).  Perhaps the highest profile of the green reconstruction projects is the one being done by the Holywood actor, Brad Pitt, under the auspices of his foundation:  “Make it Right”.

“Make it Right” was Pitt’s response to what he saw as the lack of progress on rehousing displaced populations in New Orleans, LA, following Hurricane Katrina, in particular the population of the Lower 9th Ward, of New Orleans. Historically, one of the poorest residential areas of New Orleans, the Lower Ninth was decimated by the break in the levees caused by the storm surge following the hurricane. To address this damage, in June 2007, Pitt invited 14 architecture firms to tour the Lower Ninth and develop plans for single family homes.  No home could cost more than USD 150, 000, or be more than 40 ft wide to conform with the lot sizes.  Also, as the Lower Ninth is in a zone which is in danger of flooding, all the houses had to be raised at least eight feet off the ground (Clarke 2009).  The focus on the project is environmentally sustainability, through the use of “cradle to cradle”[30] technology.  Geothermal energy and solar roof panels are expected to provide each house with at least 75% of its energy (Clarke 2009). MIR draws on the expertise of internationally recognized environmental experts including William McDonough and Partners.  While it is far from the only “green” rebuilding project in New Orleans, it is by far the most prominent with coverage across major media outlets.[31]  The aim is to built 150 new single family homes which will serve as a “catalyst”  for redevelopment in the Lower Ninth Ward and possibly beyond (Clarke 2009).  As of October 6th, 2008, six prototype houses had been built.

Of the 14 firms, 4 were from New Orleans, 4 from across the U.S., and 5 others international.  In general, all 14 firms used the form of the traditional “shot-gun” house as inspiration as part of the MIR mandate is to remain “true to the culture of New Orleans.”[32]  In response to initial complaints that the houses did not have front porches – an integral aspect of New Orleans urban culture – the designs were modified to include them (Clarke 2009). Of the architects involved, Shigero Ban Architecture is the firm with the most previous experience in designing post-disaster housing.  It has worked with the UNHCR in Kobe after the 1995 earthquake; in Gujurat after the 2001 earthquake; in Sri Lanka after the 2004 Tsunami; and in China after the 2008 earthquake (Pollock). Ban is perhaps best known for his work on the ideas of “temporary architecture” and the use of paper tubing to create temporary spaces and shelters.  While not explicit in the MIR designs, I suggest that a “necessary temporariness” is implicitly present in the reconstruction of the MIR houses. Within the humanitarian imaginary, the idea of emergency, and the corresponding idea of response, is repeatedly romanticized (Calhoun 2004).   A significant part of this romanticization revolves around the ideal of the temporary, the mobile, the ephemeral and can be seen by the plethora of design competitions for temporary or mobile dwellings. Examples include the 2008 Architecture Biennale  held in New Orleans (Smith 2008), the MoMA exhibit on pre-fabricated houses, the work by Architects for Humanity on temporary and mobile post-disaster housing.[33] In architectural theory there is an almost romantic interest in the concept and manifestations of temporary shelter – from the Mongolian Yurt, to the bivouac. [34] As Witold Rybczynski, says, “Architects in the past have proposed a variety of ingenious shelters including prefabs, inflatables, geodesic dome kits, sprayed polyurethane igloos, and temporary housing made of cardboard tubes and plastic beer crates…not only are these often untested ‘universal’ solutions generally prohibitively expensive, their exotic forms are usually ill-suited to local conditions.[35]

The temporariness is explicitly and ironically highlighted within some of the designs.  For example, the German firm MVRDV, prominently highlights the inevitability of future catastrophe through their brief for “concept BENT” (see Fig. 4).

Insert Fig. 4 about here

By designing a house which is “built to flood”  highlights a key aspects of rebuilding in the Lower Ninth:  that the original cause of the flooding, the inability of the levees to withstand the storm surge has still not been adequately addressed (Liu 2008a).  Their design proposes five variations on the classic shotgun typology – all designed to be completely or partially above the water line, in the case of the assumed inevitability of the next flood.  The descriptively named “floating house”, “tilted house”, “house on a ramp”, “house on a lift” and “bent house” envisage the ability for life to continue in the midst of flooding.  Describing “The Bent House”: “[t]he centre of the house contains the kitchen and bath – it is the lowest level.  Stairs lead to a living rooms on the one side, and bedrooms on the other.  The bedrooms and living room are above floodwater level. This means that escape would be possible to both the front porch and the rear porch.”[36] Indeed all the designs were required to include, as a safety feature, an escape hatch on the roof that would permit residence to move up onto their roofs, should they find themselves trapped by rapidly rising waters, as was the case in 2005 (Clarke 2009).  In the case of MVRDV, the design was chosen to explicitly show the contraction of rebuilding on a known flood plain.  Similarly, the architecture firm Morphosis, designed a “lightweight concrete foundation anchored by two pylons, like a pier, which would buoy the house if floodwaters rise”, like a boat (Pogrebin 2007).

The MRVDV design has been criticized for mocking the very people that it has been commissioned to assist[37]  however Winny Maas, one of the designs involved in the Make It Right proposal insists that the consciously ironic design is meant to convey empathy with the ongoing plight of the 9th Ward residents (Frey 2008).  But empathy implies shared under-standing. To what degree to such international architects empathize with the concerns of evacuees?  While MIR insists that all residents will have the opportunity to both choose their specific design and to personalize it with options, the question is raises as to who exactly is the “client” in this type of project?  Is it the former citizens of the Lower Ninth Ward, the 150 families who were lucky enough to be chosen to get one of the model homes?  Is it Make it Right and Pitt?  Is it the government, the Ward, the larger community that is “New Orleans”? These questions, which must be asked about the MIR project, are the questions that must be asked about the reconstruction of New Orleans at large, and of reconstruction in general. The degree to which “partnership” can exist within the context of a post-disaster reality will be examined in the last section.

As has already been discussed, perhaps the over-riding concern expressed about the MIR project, is the choice to rebuild in the Lower Ninth at all.  While not alone in their decision to do so, many government reports and prominent firms, and politicians have forward the argument that the Lower Ninth (and other low lying areas of New Orleans) is simply not a safe place to build.  The “why” of this is sometimes framed in terms of class or race {Giroux,  #456; Dyson, 2006, xii`, 258 p.} but the fact that the area consists of reclaimed land that in danger of a repeat flooding is widely-accepted.[38] Pitt’s decision to build back in the Ninth Ward resulted from the requests of the people that he spoke with on his visit to the area in early 2006 to “make it right”, to help them build back on the sites of their former houses.  However the tabula rasa quality of the Ninth Ward did not go unremarked upon by the actor turned architect.  As quoted in the New York Times, “If you have this blank slate and this great technology out there, what better test than low-income housing?” (Pogrebin 2007).  The “great technology” in questions refers, in part to the Cradle-to-Cradle technology pioneered by William McDonough and Partners (McDonough and Braungart 2002).  While the technology itself has garnered significant international kudos, McDonough’s attempted implementation has received someone unfavourable attention.  In a PBS documentary, Lesle {, 2008 #681} describes the results of McDonough’s attempt to build an entirely “green” village in Huangbaiyu, China.  Using exclusively “Cradle-to-Cradle” technology, William McDonough and Partners, in conjunction with the Portland Based China U.S. Center for Sustainable Development (CUCSD) Tongji University and the local Benxi Architectural and Design Institute attempted to build a model “eco-village”.  As McDonough’s firm admits the “outcome has been a disappointment” [39] with as of January 2008, only two of the 42 model homes occupied (Lesle 2008). While McDonough blames overly high expectations, the local and national context, and general management issues, others have pointed to a lack of understanding of the needs and wants of the intended beneficiaries as the major flaw.  The intent was to raise the living standards of 400 families by moving them to the new bungalows but once the bungalows were built villagers were reluctant to move in. The reasons for this are still not clear, but Anthropologist Shannon May has suggested that part of the problem may lie in the quality of consultation that was undertaken.  While villagers were ostensibly consulted it is not clear whether they truly understood what they were consenting to, or whether the correct people were involved.  May cites the desire to be “polite” to the visiting contractors as one possible flaw in the process {Streeter}.  It is possible that the lessons from Huangbaiyu will be drawn upon in the MIR process, however the spatial bias is such that problems with previous projects are often not adequately analyzed, or at least, not by the same people or institutions that did them in the first place.   This may partly explain the tendency to repeat or recycle previous design schemes.  Returning momentarily to the idea of the Katrina Cottages, according to Wytold Rybczynski {Rybczynski, 2005}, after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, the city of San Francisco  “built 6,000 two-room temporary wooden huts” which he refers to as “cottages” some of which are still in existence today.  Part of this repetition of humanitarian solutions is no doubt, need based.  In the wake of a natural disaster people have lost their homes and therefore need new ones.  But through this work, we see that despite repeated negative experience with certain design solutions, these “solutions” are repeated advocated, implemented and often discarded.  And each time, the solution is presented as new, progressive and problem based. For within the “humanitarian imaginary” they represent, as material metaphors, ideal elements of society which have yet to implemented and yet to exist.

It is also worth considering in more depth, the location in which the majority of these green proto-types are being established. As last as August 2008, 85% of addresses in the Lower Ninth remained vacant or unoccupied (Liu 2008b).  It remains, largely a blank slate in which to experiment with these new technologies.  And while the intention is to implement affordable green technologies, the question remains as to whether it will be affordable enough for its former residents.  The use of a primarily black, impoverished parish to test technologies to be marketed to middle to high income home owners and contractors interested in green technologies raises difficult ethical questions.  While the intention to rebuild to a high building standard is an admirable one, it remains to be seen whether these technologies will be able to be rolled out to more than the few model homes. To provide assistance to a few, while failing to provide for others, is considered by humanitarian professionals to be a fundamental mistake in the provision of humanitarian assistance.  Unless there is sufficient assistance for all, or, at the least a fair and

transparent method of distribution, no aid should be allocated.  Both MIR and Global Green have been careful to ensure that they adhere to the second criteria in the allocation of their model homes, however this may not be sufficient to introduce conflictual dynamics into the community if the expectations that the entire parish will eventually be rebuilt fail to materialize.

The drive to rebuild the Ninth Ward also raises the question of where the government is in the whole process and how Pitt’s celebrity status influenced the rebuilding?  It is clear that in the context of the “green building” of New Orleans his status has been instrumental in catalyzing and mobilizing resources, and people.  That nearly four yeas after Katrina, the green effort still holds the media’s attention is testament to Pitt’s star power.  Other groups such as Global Green have also linked up with celebrities to get their message out.  Among other groups who are working on the green reconstruction, some clearly link their work in NOLA to work elsewhere.  For example, in the mission statement of one “sustainable design consultancy” the goal is to “impact on the integration of sustainable practices in the US and throughout the developing world.”[40] The next section will look at one of these examples, in the context of the “developing world” and how a third aspect of the humanitarian imaginary has influenced the direction and outcome of post-disaster reconstruction there.

Technological Salvation and the Domes of the World

The ability to “solve” the problem of a disaster through technological solutions is evident in all the responses already discussed. This technological salvationism also runs throughout the current approach to disaster recovery.  The assumption from the leading agencies such as the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), and leading donors such as the World Bank and UN Development Programme is that through the application of international standards, building and planning codes will be improved to a standard to minimize the impact of disasters.  However, this fails to address the well known problems of enforceability or the underlying cause of poverty and vulnerability.  While there is much work done on targeted interventions which support the “most vulnerable”, organizations which have followed this route have quickly found themselves on the slippery slope of needing to tackle the most basic and overwhelming of social problems such as poverty, discrimination, human rights, and enforceability of regulations.  This encourages the retreat to narrow technological responses, and  ultimately, the fetisization of technological responses (Crain 2008). The next section will look in depth at the re-occurrence of one of these forms – that of the dome house and suggest that it’s continued appeal is due to those aspects of the humanitarian imaginary that it evokes – namely ideals of resilience and the solution of technology.

On May 27,, 2006, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake rocked the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta and the surrounding areas.[41] One of the hardest hit sectors was private housing (World Bank 2007) but donors and the Indonesian government were quick to build upon lessons from the ongoing Sumatran 2004 tsunami response to ensure that both donors and government worked together quickly and efficiently to meet the victims’ needs.  The preferred model of both donors and government was “owner led” where owners are given a cash grant, initial assistance to build the roof, foundation and other fundamentals immediately, and then provided with ongoing financing and advice to complete the work themselves. However, not all donors followed this approach.  The village of Ngelen, Prambanan, in the Slemen regency of Yogyakarta Special Province, Indonesia[42] has been rebuilt in a  as the first “model community” of “monolithic ecodomes” through a joint scheme by Domes for the World, World Association of Non-Governental Organizations (WANGO) and Emaar Properties.

According to the Monolitic Dome Institute (MDI)’s reports, and interviews with residents in May 2008, the new site was chosen in conjunction with the earthquake survivors and local and regional government officials.  Initially WANGO approached the Domes for the World Foundation – the non-profit arm of the MDI – to provide low cost housing to survivors of the Yogya Earthquake.  Emaar Properties – one of the world’s  largest construction companies, based in the UAE –  was willing to provide 1 million USD in funding.  The DFTW used local labourers, paid “above market wages” and oversaw the construction themselves.[43]

The relocated village of Nglepan – now called “New Nglepen”  – consists of 71 houses, 6 communal toilet, laundry and shower facilities,[44] a mosque, a kindergarten, a clinic, and a community center.[45]  It is built on a treeless plain, down the mountain from where the original village was built.[46] It’s original plan had two main roads running along the length of the village, transected by 5 cross roads (Saraswati 2008).  The village was built with infrastructure including electricity and running water for each dome house. Six independent septic systems and six new wells have been drilled.  Each house has light fixture and electrical outlets.[47]

The development started on October 10th, 2006 and was completed in March 2007 (Saraswati 2008) with the cosmetic touches begin put on in the following months.[48]  The domes are made of concrete, through a process pioneered by the MDI.[49] Once finished the MDI claims they far surpass any established international requirements for hurricanes, fires or earthquake resistance.  They are impervious to bugs and tend to remain cooler than other buildings, making them attractive for hot climates.  It is also relatively cheap to build.  MDI estimated that the New Nglepen domes were built for 200 USD per square meter including all infrastructure and local paid labour.  Habitat for Humanity estimate their cost at 148 USD per square meter which excludes infrastructure and labour costs.

The individual domes are 7 meters in diameter, two stories high with a total area of approx 38 square meters. They have a door at the front and the back.  The first floor is divided into roughly 4 sectors:  a kitchen area in the front, two bedrooms (one on either side) and an unspecified area at the back where the stairs lead up to the second floor.  The second floor consists of a wooden floor which covers most of the area of the dome and can be used for living, sleeping, working or eating.  It has a small railing which allows the occupant to look down into the kitchen.  There is an air-vent at the top of the dome, which monitors surveys have indicated, let in rain.  There are small windows are regular intervals, with shutters which close. There are vents over the doors and windows.  The domes are white and some residents have put brick and straw awnings above the door for shade and protection from rain.

The interior design was done in conjunction with Gadjah Mada University in Jogjakarta and was modified from the original plan.  Originally, the plan was to have a single living space occupying half the floor space of the first floor with the other half split into two rooms. However, this was culturally unacceptable (Schefold et al. ; Waterson 1990), as the kitchen is seen as an unclean area that should be hidden from guests, either outside or at the back of the house.  And so, the living space (or “guest room”) and the kitchen were positioned across from each other with the bedrooms creating a gate-way between the two halves of the rooms (Ikaputra 2008). However, this did not solve the problem, as the front entry still leads directly into the kitchen. Further the uneconomical use of space has arguably created a cramped feeling on the bottom floor and aggravated the already difficult issue of finding furniture and storage options for a round house.  These observations seem to be supported by surveys of the residents which indicate that 77% of the 49 families surveyed wanted to add a new kitchen in addition to the old one (Ikaputra 2008).  Other design issues included the absence of awnings and porches – both traditional tropical design features and limited space for livestock or cars (a frequent complaint).  However residents had put significant effort into planting flowers, vegetables and decorative plants.

The standard practice in humanitarian assistance is to foster ownership of a given project in the target community. According to the logic, this ensures that the end recipients have a stake in the project, mediates against inappropriate solutions, and encourages sustainability. In the overall Jogjakarta reconstruction, the dominant model was “owner driven”.  Home owners whose houses had been destroyed or badly damaged were provided with cash grants which partially covered the costs of rebuilding or repairing their house.  They could choose how to spend the money, and a common model was to rebuilt as a community through the process of gotong royong which roughly translates as communities working together, for free.In the case of New Ngelepen, the local residents were not necessarily involved in the building of their respective houses.  The houses were built by local labourers, paid at slightly above market wages.  While the residents have themselves invested in “dressing up” the domes (Ikaputra 2008)  by attaching awnings, planting flowers, and having murals painted, its not clear to what degree they feel the homes are “their own”.  Residents are given “rules” to maintain the house by the developer (Saraswati 2008) and concerns over ambiguous land titling were repeatedly voiced.

At the handover ceremony in May 2007, the village of New Ngelepen was described as a future “monument to the May 27, 2006 earthquake, an interesting tourist site to visit and a cultural site that will always remind us of the spirit of life.”[50] Whether or not the residents or their neighbours concurred was not addressed. However, interviews in May 2008 with the residents highlighted the tension between their desire to live a normal life and the need for tourism as both a justification of their strange living conditions and as a much needed source of revenue.  From the perspective of post-traumatic recovery, the continued reliving of the experience through visitors, tour groups, government representatives and others could make it difficult for the residents of the community to forget about the trauma of the earthquake.

The current level of contentedness amongst residents is difficult to ascertain.  The few independent surveys done and ethnographic field research carried out May 2008,   indicate a moderate level of contentedness with the standard of living.  Complaints include an uncertainty as to the ownership of the land and what will happen when the government lease period of three years is up.  Lack of economic opportunities was another complaint.  The lack of space for livestock was a commonly voiced concern.  Tourism was often cited as an economic opportunity and several of the homes had set up the front room as a small “warung” or shop – selling packets of seeds, and t-shirts and CDs for the Domes of the World Foundation.  It was not clear if these were authorized by the foundation themselves.  There was some indication that the neighbouring settlements were less than happy with New Ngelepen’s existence, feeling both put upon by the extra traffic and commotion yet excluded from the assistance and attention garnered on the community.

Throughout the reports and promotional literature on the domes there is very little discussion of the community that is being re-housed. Rather, the discussion is overwhelming from the perspective of the “donor” and the opportunity to introduce such novel and technologically superior.  The MDI founder – David B. South – does not hide the experimental or “trailblazing” aspects of their work on domes.  He claims to have been inspired by the geodesic domes of Buckminster Fuller, but felt they “wasted too much material and could not be built big enough for what I wanted.”[51] Even in his U.S. based work, there is a strong stated humanitarian element to his work.  MDI promotional material outlines projects which provide low cost dome shelter to low income families in the U.S.[52] as well as the desire to help people in “emerging” countries.[53]   The question is worth raising why the MDI had not previously built such a community in the U.S. or Canada. While part of the problem is due to climate, another part is the willingness of humans to participate in a lived experiment. Any discussion or critique of the ethical dimensions of the realization of this humanitarian desire in the town of New Ngelepen has been largely absent.  Ikaputra (2008) and Saraswati (2008) both raise the concern that the dome shape may be culturally problematic, but neither question the ethics of using a community of people to test the viability of a dome community in a tropical location.[54]   Similarly, the overt objective of the Make it Right project is to provide a catalyst for further green development – both in New Orleans and beyond.  And while the desire to provide “World Standard” green housing solutions to those that have lost everything is admirable, what are the additional burdens to their residents of become a living example of green living?   The degree to which this raises ethical dilemmas, hangs upon the degree of real choice that the target beneficiaries received.

 

ETHICAL IMPLICATIONS

This section returns to the issue raised at the beginning.  While it is standard practice for communities to be involved in the reconstruction of their homes and communities after a disaster {Humanitarian Accountability Partnership, 2007 #687; Wilson, 2004 #233} subtle issues come into play in its implementation such as cross cultural communication difficulties, post-traumatic stress, and power imbalances.  The last point, has been insufficiently investigated within the context of post-crisis studies.  While all three cases emphasized the degree to which local communities had been involved in the design process basic imbalances remain at the heart of the consultation process. For example, when interviewed, residents of the razed community of Ngelpen said that their options were either to receive a dome for free, or to receive no home. Whether or not this was true, it was the impression of the community, making the “choice” of the dome house, strictly constrained.  Similarly, in the context of the Ninth Ward, the overall uncertainty of housing options, and the general lack of visible  progress meant that if you were offered anything, novel or not, you would be likely to take it.   These imbalances of consultation run throughout the post-crisis consultation process.  For example, the level of expertise, the foreign or celebrity status[55] of the philanthropists, the times and language gaps involved in the consultation, the over-demand for shelter solutions vs. the perceived under or slow supply on offer all contribute to a process which is arguably biased in the direction of the “external actors”.    In the case of the Gulf Coast Reconstruction Forum which paved the way for several Mississippi Communities to begin to adopt Smart Code and other New Urbanist planning tools, the charettes were organized and held by New Urbanists, de facto biasing the outcome from the beginning – a fact that may not have been obvious to the average Hurricane victim attending a design charettes.  One of the most controversial aspects of choice, is the choice of where to build the community.  As discussed, in the case of the Ninth Ward, the return of former residents was and remains controversial.[56] Much of the debates are couched in distrust and fear that the government or authorities cannot be trusted to protect the rights of those that would be moved – either re-housed, or compensated. By initiating the building process, Pitt effectively forced local and civic government to accept that the rebuilding would take place. In much of the discussion over reconstruction, there is an assumption that the affected communities should and can return to the pre-disaster state. Where, for residents of the reconstruction sites, the disaster and the consequent reconstruction are part of a continuum of their lifetime, for external actors, the disaster and the reconstruction represent an event, temporally disengaged from the longer existence of the place. The disaster is privileged as a unique event, and the response as an exception, obscuring the more permanent or entrenched dynamics which make the event into a way of life for certain sectors of the population {Hughes, 2007 #663; Rubenstein,  #407}.[57] It is worth noting that following Katrina the concern of many people wasn’t that they had “lost their place” necessarily, but rather, as shown by the now famous photographs of Robert Polidori (2005) it was the damage to the accoutrements and instruments of living:  photographs, family records, clothes & toys.  But by focussing, as all three examples do, on the form of the house as a technological solution, the deeper, structural inequalities are missed.  Consider, once again, the form of the “Shot-Gun” which has been so inspirational to the re-visioning of the Gulf Coast. While the language and imagery used to market both projects is one of Rockwellian Americana, DIY attitude and Progress, the form of the shot-gun house alludes to a less publicized historical narrative of the US – that of slavery and its legacy of racial inequality. In the context of New Orleans, the spatial dimensions of this legacy were shown by the unequal impact that the hurricane had on its inhabitants with inner city, black populations being disproportionately affected both by the hurricane itself and by their lack of financial insurance against such an eventuality.  “Katrina revealed how topographical gradients were proxies for race and class gradients in New Orleans, with largely white neighborhoods situated on higher, drier ground.  Simple put, white privilege underlay the spatial location and racial composition of communities most vulnerable to flooding” {Bakker 2005: 797}.[58] It is ironic then, that the solutions offered not only draw upon a local, vernacular architectural form but that they subsume a subaltern architecture beneath a veneer of arch-typical middle class America.  The provision of an architectural form, which arguably embodies a legacy of subjugation, as the solution for the structurally disadvantaged groups hit by the hurricane, contains within it a double message.  Superficially, the ornamentation and presentation of the cottage – the picket fences, the rocking chair, the flower bushes – offers the promise of a better life. The plans showing the growth potential emphasizing the need to work towards embedding the cottage within a larger landscape of success; of using the cottage as the stepping stone to a larger house, and a permanent, grounded, home.  The promise of the ornament, is counterpoised to the threat of the form – the shotgun house – which evokes the memory of slavery, of structural poverty and entrenched discrimination.  This suggests that unless the necessary actions are made to improve the cottage, the fate of previous generations of shotgun owners is theirs to repeat.

 

Conclusion:

This essay has discussed the spatial bias existing in the planning exercises which occur when humanitarian organizations come in to help.

 

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[1] For example, disaster affected populations may be presented with a set of pre-fabricated options from which to choose, none of which reflects their needs or concerns, but does nominally represent a participatory process.

[2] At the time of writing, the plans for this were stalled at the design stage, and were no longer listed on Studio-Libeskind’s site. http://www.daniel-libeskind.com/projects/show-all/ Accessed December 12, 2008

[3] See also Davis, Ian. (1978). Shelter After Disaster. Oxford: Oxford Polytechnic Press.

[5] Interview, April 17, 2009.

[6] Presentation by Ian Ball, B. Eng., for Engineers without Borders, Leiston Abbey, U.K., November 25th, 2008.

[7] For example see World Bank. (2006). Sri Lanka Tsunami, On the Road to Recovery:  Salzburg Village in Galle Sri Lanka. World Bank.

[8] Associated movements include the Smart Growth Movement, the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU), The Guild Foundation.

[9] www.newurban.guild.com (last accessed June 29th, 2007)

[10] Email correspondence, Respondent 7-a, April 17, 2009.

[11] See http://www.cusatocottages.com/index_content.html (last access date June 30, 2007)

[12] Ben Brown, “Katrina Cottage Unveiled:  Affordable cottage a hit at builder’s show” (Orlando Florida, January 11, 2006) on www.mississippirenewal.com/info/dayJan-11-06.html (last accessed on April 5th, 2007).

[14] The description from the Lowe’s website describes the cottage as “Designed to be functional, efficient and affordable, the cottage is a permanent residence constructed of quality materials.” http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=pg&p=2006_landing/Katrina_Cottage/KatrinaCottage.html (accessed April 19, 2007)

[15] See http://www.katrinacottages.com/plans/index.html (last accessed June 30, 2007)

[17] http://mscottage.org/ last access April 27, 2009.

[18] Interview, April 17, 2009.

[19] Interview, April 17, 2009.

[20] Interview, April 17, 2009.

[22] It is well established that natural disasters disproportionately affect the residents of those areas which are more hazard prone and therefore less insurable.  Most major disasters eventually raise the question as to whether the place that was devastated by a disaster should be rebuilt in the same location, or whether new restrictions should be put in place which limit future settlement.  Inevitably, in the absence of an autocratic and omnipotent state, the ability to a) change legislation and regulation to alter future building codes; b) enforce this legislation; and c) afford the social cost of widespread social change means that a more common post-disaster outcome is that people tend to rebuild in the same areas that they occupied prior to the disaster.

[23] Consider, for example, artist Robert Polidori’s photograph of the double shotgun type:  “2732 Orleans Avenue” {Polidori}

[24] Interview, April 17, 2009.

[26] Further research is required on the genealogy of the 1906 SF Earthquake Cottages.  See http://www.outsidelands.org/shacks.php [last accessed August 1, 2007] for more information.

[27] http://www.historicgreen.org/index2.php last accessed April 24, 2009

 

[29] http://www.globalgreen.org/ last accessed April 24, 2009

[30] “Cradle to Cradle” technology is a service mark of William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart referring to environmentally sound building technology.  See McDonough, William and Michael Braungart. (2002). Cradle to cradle : remaking the way we make things. New York: North Point Press.

[31] other examples include Rebuild Green (see http://www.rebuildgreen.org/ourvision.htm last accessed January 8, 2009) and the New Orleans chapter of Global Green, an NGO that Pitt was originally involved with (MIR website http://www.makeitrightnola.org last accessed on January 8, 2009).

[33] In the reconstruction of shelter after a disaster, the line between temporary and permanent is blurred.

[34] For example, see the work of Japanese architect, Shiguro Ban.

[35] Rybczynski, Witold. (2005). There’s No Place Like Home:  The Historical Problems with Emergency Housing. Slate.

[36] Taken from the MVRDV website http://www.mvrdv.nl. Last accessed on January 11, 2009.

[37] See “Brad Pitt’s Make it Right Homes Now Under Construction” on Life Without Buildings, September 9, 2008. http://www.makeitrightnola.org/mir_SUB.php?section=mir&page=designs&mySub=mvrdv  Last accessed January 11, 2009.

[38] Other sections of the city lie lower but no one has talked of abandoning them and the nearby Jackson Barracks has received 250 mil USD for rebuilding Clarke, Gerald. (2009). Brad Pitt Makes it Right in New Orleans. In Architectural Digest. New York: Conde Nast Publications..

[39] See http://www.mcdonoughpartners.com/projects/huangbaiyu/default.asp?projID=huangbaiyu  Last access date January 11, 2009.  The eco-village of Huangbaiyu is the subject of a forthcoming PhD thesis by Shannon May.

[41] The exact location of the earthquake was 7.962°S, 110.458°E, 20 km (10 miles) SSE of Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia according to U.S. Geological Survey. (2006). Magnitude 6.3 – JAVA, INDONESIA. In USGS: USGS.

[42] Located at approximate 7.47°S and 110.30° E.  On Google maps it is located in two different locations.

[43] http://www.dftw.org last accessed January 5, 2009.

[44] In bahasa Indonesia these are called:  MCKs for mandi (bath) cuci (clothes washing) and kakus (water closet). 

[45] As of May 2008.

[46] The original village was completely destroyed by the earthquake and subsequent landslide and was recommended for relocation based on safety.

[48] A concrete slab floor, reinforced by steel rebar, is surrounded by a combination ring-beam footing. Vertical steel bars are embedded in the outer ring and are later attached to the steel reinforcing of the dome itself. An “airform” is placed on the ring base and blown up with blower fans to create a balloon-like casing which will be the shape and size of the finished dome. The fans run throughout construction of the dome. A grid of vertical and horizontal rebar placed over the exterior of the “airform”. The vertical bars are placed directly against the “airform” and the horizontal bars are placed over them. Then, concrete is applied to the exterior of the “airform” to embed the rebar and can be trowelled smooth.  After the concrete has set, the “airform” is removed from the inside and re-used. If any rebar is still showing on the inside it’s brushed with a wire brush to remove any loose material.  A final coat of concrete may then be applied to the inside surface.  http://www.dtfw.org/projects/newngelepen/final_summary last accessed January 5, 2009.

[49] As explained on http://www.dftw.org last accessed January 5, 2009.

[50] Sleman Regent, Ibnu Subiyanto as quoted in the Jakarta Post, May 2, 2007 taken from Relief Web data base http://reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900sid/JBRN-72THAH?OpenDocument&query=yogya%20quake%20survivors%20receive%20dome accessed January 5, 2009.

[51] Http://static.monolithic.com/thedome/geodesic accessed January 5, 2009

[52] see http://www.domeliving.com accessed January 5, 2009

[53] http://static.monolithic.com/pres/thirdworld  For more work on Fuller see Crain, Caleb. (2008). Good at Being Gods. In London Review of Books. London: Nicholas Spice, Hays, K. Michael and Dana Miller ed. (2008). Buckminster Fuller:  Starting with the Universe. New Haven: Yale..

[54] The question of culture appropriateness relates to all three examples. With regard to the dome houses, whether the house is culturally appropriate is skirted around in the promotional literature.  From a shape perspective, a dome is not a traditional Javanese, nor even broadly Indonesian dwelling form, although climatically it is not inappropriate.  The problems surrounding house layout were discussed before, and more generally then houses are quite small to serve as permanent dwelling. In the promotional material, the impression of deep poverty is implied, and yet Indonesia qualifies as a middle income country, and the Island of Java is one of the richest in the archipelago.  While the one house for one family is appropriate for the central Java context, it is worth noting that one of the founding principles of WANGO is promotion of “the family”.

[55] For work on celebrity philanthropy see Dieter, Heribert and Rajiv Kumar. (2008). The Downside of Celebrity Diplomacy:  The neglected complexity of development. Global Insights 14:259-264, Duvall, S. (2007). “Ambassador Mom”:  Angelina Jolie, Celebrity Activism, and Institutional Power. In Annual Meeting of the International Communication Association. San Francisco, CA, Richey, Lisa Ann and Stefano Ponte. (2008). Better (Red) than Dead? Celebrities, consumption and international aid. Third World Quarterly 29(4):711-729, Traub, James. (2008). The Celebrity Solution. In The New York Times. New York, Zoonen, Liesbet van. (2005). Entertaining the citizen : when politics and popular culture converge. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

[56] for more information on the Right of Return for post-crisis victims see Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions. The Pinheiro Principles: United Nations Principles on Housing and Property Restitution for Refugees and Displaces Persons. COHRE..

[57] On the relationship between spatial and temporal binaries see Massey, Doreen. (2006). For Space. London: Sage..

[58] See also Smith, Neil (2006). There’s No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster. Social Science Research Council  Cutter, Susan. (2006). The Geography of Social Vulnerability:  Race, Class and Catastrophe. Social Science Research Council

Policy reports

Before returning to the academy to write her PhD and pursue a career as a scholar, Lisa  spent six years working for the UN, in Bratislava, Kigali and New York.  During this time she contributed to several policy reports:

Rebuilding State Structures: Methods and Approaches

The Inflexibility Trap

MDGs: Reducing Poverty and Social Exclusion

Building Crisis Management Capacity in Civil Society in South East Europe

Post Tsunami Aceh-Nias Settlement and Housing Recovery Review

The State We Are(n’t) In

“The State we are(n’t) in: Liminal subjectivity in aid worker autobiographies,” chapter in Berit Bliesemann de Guevara (ed.) Statebuilding and State-Formation: The Political Sociology of Intervention, London: Routledge, 2012, pp.230-245.

 

Amongst the many problems attributed to international statebuilding, the mismatch between ‘the international’ and ‘the local’ is high on the agenda. How to ‘bridge’ the so-called local-international divide (Donais 2009) or how to balance top-down with bottom-up approaches (Mac Ginty 2010) are familiar debates. However, these categories are not without problems. Where does the local end and the international begin? What of hybrid cultures and practices? What is striking is the persistence of the categories themselves within statebuilding discourse and even amongst critical theorists: despite the recognition that the categories of local/international are unhelpful and potentially deleterious to attempts to improve statebuilding, they continue to be used and remain the dominant way of understanding and theorising statebuilding activity (Heathershaw 2008; Pouligny 2010; Richmond 2009).

It is the tenacity of this conceptual apparatus, and in particular the persistence and implications of the category of the so-called international, that are under investigation in this chapter, which focuses on the production and dominance of this distinction – both conceptually and practically.  I argue that the persistence of these categories can only be understood through an examination of international statebuilding practice in ‘the field’, as it is through these practices and their accompanying spaces (the offices, compounds, workshops, projects) that the categories of local and international are (re)produced despite rhetorical attempts to move beyond them. Using three examples of humanitarian memoirs (Cain 2004; Minion 2004; Olson 1999) to provide insight into various aspects of statebuilding (humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping missions, elections, reconciliation, judicial reform) from the perspective of the so-called international, I identify a structural process which drives and helps explain the persistence of the international and the local in international statebuilding.

Drawing on the work of Victor Turner (1969, 1975, 1977) and Arnold van Gennep (1960), the chapter suggests that the process of going to the field is a highly structured, codified, and predicable ‘rite of passage’ and the act of being in the field, as a statebuilder (and an aid worker more broadly), creates a unique and liminal space (van Gennep 1960). The processual and structured experience of going ‘to the field’ has very little to do with ‘the local’ but rather is focussed almost exclusively on ‘the international’. This analysis suggests that the embodied, practical aspects of international assistance in the context of statebuilding are a key contributing factor to the persistence of conceptual and actually-existing divides which are at the heart of processes of state-formation as defined in this volume.

 

Statebuilding as (International) ‘Rite of Passage

Van Gennep describes a rite of passage as a tripartite process consisting of, first, separation from an initial or equilibrium state, followed by a liminal or marginal state, and concluding by a reaggregation (or re-incorporation) with the original society (Bowie 2006). Each stage has its own set of accompanying rites (van Gennep 1960). Of the three stages, the liminal is distinct from the other two and involves spatial, temporal, social and moral separation (Yang 2000). In contrast to ‘normal society’, the liminal state is a one of anti-structure, where established hierarchies and rules are inverted or suspended and transformative processes take place. Here, work and play blur, experimentation and novelty are encouraged, and carnivalesque and ludic qualities manifest (Turner 1977). The initiates are considered as simultaneously sacred and polluting to society at large and must be kept separate and distinct: confined to designated spaces and identifiable by new or bizarre clothes, masks, or face paints and possibly made to adopt new homogenising behaviours or languages. Stripped of their previously defining characteristics such as clothes, insignia, or property they may form strong and rapid bonds of solidarity with the other initiates (Turner 1969: 95). Such ties of friendship or communitas often endure throughout life (Turner 1977). Once the transformation is complete, the initiate may return to society, to be reintegrated in his/her new role. In the following, I will first give a brief overview of the memoirs looked at in this study and discuss their representativeness, before interpreting them in more detail in the light of the ‘rite of passage’ literature.

 

Brief Overview of Each of the Memoirs

In Cruel Paradise (CP; Olson 1999), Leanne, a nurse from Canada, receives an offer to work for Medécins sans Frontières (MSF). She is deployed to run a feeding centre in rural Liberia during the first Liberian civil war. After being evacuated back to Winnipeg nine months later, due to increased hostilities, she is almost immediately redeployed to Bosnia where she meets Rink, a logistics officer with whom she starts a romantic relationship. Based in the Republika Srpska, their team is responsible for providing non-partisan medical supplies to hard to reach areas such as the infamous Bihać enclave. After being evacuated again, in June 1995 (after seven months) she rejoins Rink in Burundi, where she is in charge of renovating and managing a 70 bed hospital in the north of the country. Dissatisfied with the MSF programme in Burundi, she and Rink hand in their resignations after only three months to join their friend working in Goma, Zaire (now DRC), ‘where nobody in their right mind wants to work’ (Olson 1999: 153). In mid-may they leave Zaire, fearing for their lives. After a brief time in Canada, France and Holland, they join the international medical NGO Merlin and are deployed to a series of countries as short-term consultants: Rwanda, Angola, Albania, and finally Liberia. After coming full circle, they return to Holland to resume (in their words) normal life. The narrative spans from December 1993 to May 1997 (three and a half years).

In Emergency Sex (ES; Cain 2004), three interweaving narratives tell the stories of Andrew, an Australian doctor; Ken, an American law student come human rights advisor; and Heidi, an American social worker come UN secretary come elections monitor come jack of all trades. They meet on their first mission, in 1993, in Cambodia. After overseeing the country’s first democratic elections they immediately depart for new missions. Heidi and Ken go to Mogadishu (‘the dish’), Somalia, as part of the UN Peacekeeping Mission, Operation Restore Hope, while Andrew goes to Haiti with UNMIH to document human rights violations in prisons and hospitals. After the UN (and US) withdrawals from both Somalia and Haiti in early 1994, the authors rotate missions once again. Ken takes an assignment in Rwanda, collecting evidence on the genocide for the UN Criminal Tribunal in Rwanda (ICTR); Heidi joins the next UN mission in Haiti; and Andrew goes to Bihać in Bosnia-Herzegovina to ‘set up a forensic team to investigate massacres’ (Cain 2004: 223). Unable to work due to continued fighting, Andrew is almost immediately redeployed to Rwanda to collect forensic evidence by exhuming mass graves. Ken leaves Rwanda to meet Heidi in Haiti. Heidi, in turn, has fallen in love with a Haitian man and plans to stay in Haiti when the UN mission leaves. But in November 1998, her partner dies in an accident and she returns to New York to start her life ‘anew’ (Cain 2004: 295). Ken takes his last mission in Liberia documenting human rights abuses in the middle of the first Liberian war. From 1999, they all return to New York. Andrew gets married to another expat aid worker and decides to move to live in Cambodia.

In the case of Cruel Paradise and Emergency Sex the characters had several tours or postings whereas the third book, Hello Missus (HM; Minion 2004), documents two subsequent missions in East Timor by the Australian freelance journalist, Lynne Minion. Lynne arrives in East Timor just prior to the official hand over of the new country’s administration from the UN transitional administration, UNTAET. Although she has no job, she does have one powerful acquaintance: the then Foreign Affairs Minister and Nobel Laureate, Jose Ramos-Horta, who helps her get a job working as a UN advisor to the local TV station. After East Timor receives its independence in May 2002, she is offered a job as media advisor to the then Prime Minister, Dr. Mari Alkatiri. But her contract takes a long time to finalise, leaving Lynne to occupy herself with a series of unsuitable romantic liaisons, moving from house to house in an effort to find sanctuary. When her contract finally comes through, she is given neither a job description nor a place to work; crammed behind a child’s school desk in the lobby of the perpetually absent ‘Prime Miniature’ (as she calls him)’s office. Stonewalled, and eventually sacked from her advisory position due to her affiliations with Ramos-Horta, she is preparing to depart when the December 2002 riots break out. Following the riots, she decides to return home for good, although not before initiating yet another relationship with a peacekeeper, this time a Serb. The book ends with Lynne flying up and out of Dili, her ‘capacity built’.[1]

To ensure a wide range of coverage and balance, the texts were chosen for analysis based on several criteria.[2] The authors represent a cross section of organisations: both United Nations and international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) on a variety of scales (big and small). The three narratives span the full spectrum of so-called statebuilding activity: from the sectarian humanitarian aid that would lay the foundations of the future of the former Yugoslav Republics of Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Croatia to the spate of UN missions in the 1990s (Cambodia, Somalia, Haiti) to the post-independence support to the newly independent nation of East Timor. The protagonists are both men and women, and all the authors use their real names and claim that their stories are based on real events. The time period ranges from 1991 to 2004 – 13 years in total – and, though short, nonetheless captures the ‘long decade’ of increased multilateral activity following the fall of the Berlin Wall. While the choice of these novels as the subject of analysis can be critiqued on the basis that they, through their very existence as a personal post-mortem, are biased in an ‘anti-aid’ direction, they are nonetheless valid for the significant population that they represent.[3] They are also some of the most readable and best-known examples of a much wider genre of aid memoirs that, to date, has received minimal critical attention. Equally, the books analysed in this chapter are also some of the most controversial of the genre. I learned about two of them (Cain 2004; Minion 2004) whilst in ‘the field’ where the books and their authors were regarded with a mix of disdain and jealousy. The books were madly read, circulated, and then dismissed not on the grounds that they were untrue, or misrepresentative, but that they broke the code of the field.

 

The Rite of Passage in the Memoirs of Aid Workers

Within the experience of statebuilding, an important structural divide exists between the physical space of headquarters, which are physically located in a (usually) First World location and the location that is being assisted in the field (see also Schlichte and Veit in this volume). The historical structure of international aid is such that traditional donor countries are primarily located in the Global North. The field by contrast, is where the projects or interventions are located – where the state is being built. While headquarters define policy, the objective of their policy can only be reached by undertaking a physical voyage to the space of the beneficiaries: the field. The three books in question all have a narrative structure that details this processual experience and simultaneously replicates a rite of passage. The characters all have a sudden departure to far off lands in an attempt to escape unstable, boring, and/or unfulfilling lives. An unsteady (but pleasantly exciting) beginning is followed by a steady descent into increasing political, personal, and institutional chaos. The characters become exhausted and frustrated with their persistent inability to have a significant or positive impact on their surroundings. They reach a crisis point where the characters feel the need to make a decision regarding their future, at which point all but one of them choose to return to the First World (not necessarily home) to resume so-called normal life and to write their memoirs. In the case of one of the books – Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures – the chapters are named according to increasing levels of UN security classifications moving from Condition Alpha (safe) to Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo (evacuate immediately)…and finally Return to Normal (Cain 2004). This emphasises both the anchoring effect of the ‘home country’ in terms of the trajectory and also the framing of the series of ‘local’ experiences of the field in terms of international concepts.

 

Rites of Separation: Leaving ‘Home

According to Turner (1969: 94) the separation phase ‘comprises symbolic behaviour signifying the detachment of the individual or group either from an earlier fixed point in the social structure, from a set of cultural conditions (a “state”) or both.’ In all the memoirs studied, clearly identifiable rites of separation take place. The pre-departure state is characterised by a frustration with the inauthenticity or superficiality of the authors’ own western culture. In ES the characters are openly dissatisfied with the perceived amorality of western society and bored with a normal existence. When presented with the chance to leave, they jump at it. In both ES and CP the departures are whirlwind, rapid and unexpected. In Ken’s case (ES), after a 15 minute interview with a human rights organisation he is told that he has a week to ‘get shots, a visa, and on the plane’ (Cain 2004: 33).

The inoculation of the aid worker against the unknown of the field is a common theme and includes the vaccination of the aid worker against fabulous, rare, and potentially deadly tropical diseases, often without consideration for the real risk of coming into contact with, for example, rabid monkeys. Prophylactics are taken. Packing is done, often in a hurried and badly conceived manner. For example, Lynne, after a boozy going away lunch, packs bikinis, frocks, hipster slacks, and a tiara: ‘just because I’d be living in a Third World country I didn’t have to look as though I was living in a Third World country’ (Minion 2004: 3). MSF HQ warns Leanne about the impact of stress such as drinking, risk taking behaviour, and mood swings: ‘[w]e were also warned about the dangers of beginning relationships between the national and expat teams, primarily because in case of an evacuation, only the expat staff leaves, and bringing the national staff along is out of the question’ (Olson 1999: 13-14).

The narrators admit an almost complete lack of knowledge about where they are going, or even where the missions are located. ‘To say that I was a bit naïve when I first started working as an international relief worker would be an understatement of monumental proportions! I knew nothing,’ said Leanne (Olson 1999: 9). ‘I was probably the only Canadian who didn’t really have a clue about what was happening in Bosnia…’ (Olson 1999: 77). Similarly, in ES Heidi signed up for the UN mission as a secretary, ‘without a second thought, didn’t even know where Cambodia was’ (Cain 2004: 29), while Ken admits to having thought about Somalia exactly once before landing there (Cain 2004: 109). The field is romanticised, compared with Hollywood movies (The Killing Fields) or the Discovery Channel (Cain 2004: 30). Admiring the idea of living in a war zone, Ken says ‘[t]here are none of the subtleties and nuances of ordinary life; you’re at the core of every feeling…And that’s how I want to feel’ (Cain 2004: 13). These passages emphasise the role of affect and imagination, which underpins both their decisions to leave, and their initial preparations. Such fantastic or clichéd understandings are normal and expected when beginning a new experience, but in the context of a rite of passage, they will fail to be challenged.

The transition from one stage of a rite of passage to the next requires traversing a threshold. This may be, quite literally, a passageway, a stairway, or a door through which initiates must pass and is itself the quintessential liminal place. While in the threshold, initiates are suspended between two states: neither here, nor there. These transition states are often guarded by gatekeepers who determine who is allowed to enter into the next phase. The sacred status of the aid worker is communicated through dress (for example, the uniform of the MSF t-shirt, the ‘Smurf blue’ of UN peacekeepers). This makes the uniforms attractive to expats and locals alike, as they confer a degree of inviolability to the wearer. As liminal, sacred, and inviolable beings, the aid workers are allowed to pass through border zones that would, without the blue passport and the international law that it represents, be off limits. The characters are clear as to the symbolic significance of these thresholds. Ken, leaving Mogadishu, says ‘[w]e deplane and walk together across the tarmac, the UN has a special landing field in Nairobi just for us. But when I leave their company and cross the threshold of the main terminal alone, I’m a regular civilian again, a tourist’ (Cain 2004: 199). This emphasises the hold and almost magical power that the space of the field has over its international inhabitants.

 

The Liminal Space of the Field

Once the characters have crossed the threshold, they pass into ‘a cultural realm that has few or none of the attributes of the past or coming state’ (Turner 1969: 94). They are amazed at how the degree to which the new countries differ from their previous situations: extreme poverty, razed buildings, all alongside the comparative luxury of the international community. Says Lynne upon first meeting members of the international community in Dili, ‘these humanitarians have eclipsed my most affluent fantasies’ (Minion 2004: 15). Badly or inappropriately attired in the clothes/attitudes from a former life, they quickly make an effort to assimilate – in Heidi and Ken’s cases more in keeping with the international jet set aesthetic of the UN; in Lynne’s case more in keeping with what her third space patron, Ramos-Horta, feels is appropriate. Taken literally, this shedding of clothing corresponds to Turner’s description of the liminal state (Turner 1969: 103). By creating a tabula rasa the neophyte’s or initiate’s individuality is erased and she or he becomes part of the larger group of expats. Leanne joyfully exclaims after five months in Liberia, ‘I felt like a real expat. I was an actual relief worker, and I was loving it’ (Olson 1999: 47). Describing her experience in Cambodia, says Heidi, ‘[w]e’re foreign and free and obnoxious and have dollars, so stay out of our way. We’re immortal and nothing can touch us’ (Cain 2004: 76). These types of behaviours emphasise the strong social boundary formation that occurs amongst internationals in ‘the field’ and point to the open acceptance of views that would not be accepted in their home countries, and that they would certainly not say aloud, and likely not even espouse.

The freedom to express such views is attributable in part to the close-knit living situations which lead to the formation of rapid and close bonds with their expat co-workers: ‘[h]as it been six months already? Already? I love these people. I don’t even want to think about saying goodbye’ (Olson 1999: 68). Within the space of ‘us’ of the expat community, privacy is at a premium, and ‘there was no such thing as a personal private relationship’ (Olson 1999: 51); everything is shared, including bathrooms (Cain 2004: 213). Speaking of the situation in Banja Luka, Olson says, ‘[w]e have our little community here of MSF, ICRC and UNHCR, so it’s nice to be back in my little family again’ (Olson 1999: 108). This space also presents the opportunity to remake oneself in ways that would not be possible within their normal societies. Lives prior to the field are downplayed and previously important markers like ‘career or money or…social class, the currency of social intercourse at Harvard’ disappear (Cain 2004: 15). Among the expats, distinctions of race or background fade away.

For some of the initiates this is shocking. One Bangladeshi UN worker is horrified by the lack of funeral rights for Muslims in the field (Cain 2004: 73). In all the memoirs, drugs and alcohol play a prominent role and are frequently mentioned as a tool that gets them through the horrors they face. As a group they are separated from their previous lives through distance, both physical and emotional, and from their immediate surroundings. They are separated from their families and friends ‘at home’ by a ‘distance of experiences, of time, of tragedy’ (Olson 1999: 9-10). Their inability to speak the local languages also creates a barrier between them and the local population, and security concerns (ostensibly) precipitate the maintenance of physical barriers.

While Leanne insists that ‘[n]othing about this kind of work is typical’ (Olson 1999: 10), it is this unpredictability that structures the novels and characterises its authors’ experiences. The bizarre, the heterotopic, the unpredictable, the anachronistic, and the politically incorrect are recurrent themes. All the characters express their amazement at the dreamlike or surreal quality of their life and work conditions in the field. Part of this is attributable to the places where they work, war zones, refugee camps, prisons, but also because they are witness to violent events while remaining untouched and outside of the structures that created these events. Leanne often speaks of being ‘in a dream’ or ‘on holiday’ (Olson 1999: 110) while Ken insists that ‘none of this is real’ (Cain 2004: 132). They often use imaginary nicknames to refer to their situations, for example Blue Lagoon for Banja Luka.

In contrast with their previous lives, the spaces of work and play blend into one. In Cambodia, parties at Ken and Heidi’s house become a place to exchange information on the political situation in the country. Conversely, their spaces of work become the places in which they celebrate. Leanne describes the unreal experience of spending New Year’s Eve on the frontline of a war, wearing ‘bulletproofs and drinking champagne to the sounds of shelling a few hundred meters away’ (Olson 1999: 102). This feeling of unreality lends itself to ludic, verging on bacchanalian activity. Exclaims Ken,

 

[w]e’re on the roof of our mansion in the middle of Indochina, no parents, no boss. Everything everyone does is funny and perfect…we’re young and immortal and together and drunk and stupid and in Cambodia.

(Cain 2004: 37)

While not ascetic in the way sometimes described by Turner (1969: 106), by engaging in bacchanalian and politically incorrect behaviour, the laws of western society (as the characters know them) are suspended. Heidi, normally socially conscious and anti-elitist, goes to the beach in Cambodia with her fellow UN secretaries to float

in inner tubes in the steamy waters of the Gulf of Thailand. We signal to the waiters, who wade out to us fully clothed, carrying trays of beer and cigarettes already lit…We decide this must be what it’s like to be rich, to be entitled.

(Cain 2004: 76)

While in their normal lives she would condemn conspicuous consumption, here she partakes.

Part of the significance of such activities is that they occur in places that are simultaneously ‘cutting edge, dangerous, lonely, urgent’ (Olson 1999: 175). In this context, experimentation, trickery and ignoring laws of normal society become the norm. Working on human rights law Ken muses, ‘I’m not actually a licensed “lawyer” in the US, but who’s splitting hairs about that in Cambodia?’ (Cain 2004: 32). Similarly, Leanne comes to accept that if one were to play by the rules of normal society, nothing would get done. She ‘learned to lie with impunity, cheat, steal, negotiate with and manipulate anyone, to beg, borrow, stretch facts…We developed quite a ruthless reputation but, considering the circumstances, one could say that necessity drove us to it’ (Olson 1999: 118). What ‘drove them to it’ seems to have been the juxtaposition of First World goals with Third World circumstance. For example, Heidi describes trying to set up polling stations in a mud field beside pigs (Cain 2004: 82), while Ken attempts to collect human rights abuse testimonies in a context where he does not know the language and can offer no protection to witnesses. The quality of pushing the boundary creates a euphoric atmosphere amongst initiates: ‘[i]t was terrifying, it was exciting, it was insane. We were living on the edge – and you should have seen the view!’ (Olson 1999: 10).

Another way in which the structure of normal life is suspended is through sexual relations. Prostitution is openly accepted as part of the landscape (Cain 2004: 76). Two of the three female characters engage in a string of emotionally or physically promiscuous relationships. Both women are excited by the ‘smorgasbord’ of men. Crows Heidi,

[w]ith so few women available, the men have to try harder, offer more of themselves. …In the permanent emergency of the mission, I suddenly don’t have to play by the boys’ rules. Which only proves that the boys’ rules were bullshit to begin with.

(Cain 2004: 133)

However, they both find themselves being bound by yet another set of rules. According to Turner, ‘[i]n liminality, the underlying comes uppermost’ (1969: 102), and in ES Heidi describes her need to have sex in the face of death as a way of re-engaging with bare life. Heidi and Lynne also both find themselves in inverted sexual positions compared to their normal lives. Stripped of their normal human agency as independent beings, they become pure women. In Heidi’s case, she fights against this by trying to use sex to assert herself. In Lynne’s case, she allows herself (and admittedly enjoys) becoming a classic ‘Dili Princess’, wearing a tiara to serve dinner to her male, expat housemates.

While initially, the characters express an exuberance with their jobs, they all eventually descend into despair. This transition occurs as they begin to realise that they are all in a state of ineffectual limbo, where none of their efforts have any impact, and where they seem to be constantly waiting for someone else to take action. Lynne’s entire time in Timor is spent waiting: first for the Independence celebrations working in an office where she is not wanted (hated, according to her colleague); then waiting for a job in the PM’s office promised to her; then waiting for the PM to give her work to do. This leads to a sense of temporariness and uncertainty. ‘[E]veryone keeps a bag packed for emergency evacuation if we need it’ (Olson 1999: 47); ‘I feel like a yo-yo’ (Olson 1999: 98), complains Leanne.  People arrive and leave incessantly.

The state of constant movement is also reflected in the characters’ inability to affect any change. Andrew sighs, ‘[m]y dreams of being useful here are vanishing’ (Cain 2004: 173). The characters see that their activities are directed towards their own liminal state, the space occupied by the international community: ‘all they [the UN] do is bring supplies into their own UN bases for their own staff, and certainly nothing gets to the population’ (Olson 1999: 94). Many of their jobs are by definition observation posts, documenting the situations they are put in. And while, ‘we do some essential work now, the minute we leave it will all fall apart’ (Olson 1999: 151).

This results in frustration, followed by despondency and cynicism in the narrators: ‘I managed to convince myself to believe in this work again. But I don’t. It’s a lie. We are the only beneficiaries of our righteousness’ (Cain 2004: 226). The liminal situation loses its appeal, the narrators begin to crave private space and isolation. This is often preceded by a period of getting sick, when their inoculations, both medical and emotional, can no longer protect them from their surroundings; or by an evacuation where it becomes clear that their presence in the Third World can only be temporary. Discussing the UN’s evacuation from Haiti, Andrew says: ‘[n]ow that they’re at their most vulnerable, we’re abandoning them,…flying out, clutching our precious blue UN passports and bags full of Haitian art’ (Cain 2004: 174). Leanne ruminates, ‘[w]hen things get really bad and we are needed the most, that’s the time when we have to leave’ (Olson 1999: 61).

Ultimately, the characters break down, psychologically, physically, and make the decision to return home. Says Leanne: ‘I just wanted to go home…Frankly, I was sick and tired of the whole thing’ (Olson 1999: 192). ‘I’d been at aid work for nearly four years and was beginning to feel too far removed from “the real world”. I didn’t know if we could truly ever return to the world but it was time to try’ (Olson 1999: 234). This juxtaposition between the surreal world of the field and the ‘real’ world of home is indicative of the anchoring influence of the country of origin.

 

Rites of Re-Aggregation: Returning to ‘Normal

When the characters do try to return to their previous ordinary lives, they find the re-aggregation difficult. Heidi concedes,

[w]e’ve all tried to make new friends here in New York, and to reverse the alienation we feel from our peers. But the conversation doesn’t usually go far once I say we lived in Somalia for two years, or Ken says that Andrew dug the graves of Srebrenica.

(Cain 2004: 286)

Similarly, Leanne complains that upon return, ‘I found out that my friends and family, for all their good intentions, shared little interest in what I had to say’ (Olson 1999: 9). They try to relocate normalcy as ‘civilians’ (as they call themselves) and find it difficult. Observes Leanne, ‘[w]e led one life that our regular friends and family saw and one that we saved for our friends from the field. We couldn’t seem to get the two lives to merge’ (Olson 1999: 221). This is arguably due to the fact that they have been irrevocably changed by their experiences in the field. In all three memoirs, the liminal phase is described as a transformative and quasi-religious experience. ‘Life as an international relief worker changed me profoundly,’ states Leanne (Olson 1999: 9). Even where it is not overly religious, there is the voiced desire on the part of Ken and Andrew to be part of something bigger than themselves (Cain 2004: 10). This tension in the re-aggregation stage is both predictable and provides insight into the types of people who are attracted by this type of work and the types of challenges that they face. It is of course important to consider that the aid workers who wrote these memoirs are not necessarily indicative of all internationals who engage in statebuilding. It may be only representative of a small, disgruntled or marginalised group who decided to vent their frustration in literary format. But even if this is so, it still represents a significant vocal minority, whose views are remarkable in their consistency. It is also in keeping with van Gennep’s rite of passage. The act of writing such a memoir is the ultimate act of transgression and betrayal for those who remain in the field. By telling the story as they see it – ‘the story of what it’s really like to be an international aid worker’ (Olson 1999: 10) – they break the unwritten code of the field, they separate themselves out from its communitas, from its liminal state. Such an act is the ultimate rite of separation and can only be done by someone who, at least temporarily, feels that the passage is complete.

 

The States in Between, or What van Gennep Tells Us About Statebuilding

This approach holds several lessons for statebuilding efforts and attempts to go beyond the local-international divide. First, it identifies the strong, anchoring influence of the aid workers home country. So far, discussions about bridging the ‘local-international’ divide have been spatially focussed on the country of intent – that is, where the statebuilding is physically taking place. In this reading, the activities, processes, and people associated with the international community in the field are seen as part of the ‘international’ elements of statebuilding and are juxtaposed to those activities, processes, people that are deemed to be ‘local’. Here, the state of being ‘liminal’ or in-between implies being between the workers’ home country and the ‘local’ environment. However, from the perspective of the memoirs, the space of the field is liminal not with regard to its physical surroundings, but with regard to the country of origin. That is to say, that the experience of being in the field is liminal in a temporal sense – as a transformative experience between the before and after of living a ‘normal life’ in the so-called First World. This is in keeping with Duffield’s idea of an ‘archipelago of aid’ where the international space of ‘the field site’ is more closely networked through transport and communications links to its country of origin than it is to its surrounding physical geography or ‘the local’ (Duffield 2009). In the context of statebuilding this implies that to talk of bridging the gap between the international and the local both risks applying conceptual frameworks that only exist within the international, and over-estimates the ability of the international to look towards (and recognise) the local, rather than continuing to gaze in towards itself.

Second, an analysis of the liminal space of ‘the field’ contributes to social boundary formation and highlights the close-knit emotional bonds that are created between members of the international community. Understanding this as an expected part of a rite of passage provides insight into the persistence of seemingly irresponsible or culturally inappropriate behaviours. Affective and emotional bonds are further reified through the material and spatial practices of exception, practiced by the international community. As international workers, they are protected by international accords of immunity, which translate not only into different laws, but different lifestyles within the compounds. It also helps explain the noticeable absence of ‘local’ people within the spaces of the international. In the context of the memoirs, the pages are peopled largely with other ‘ex-pats’. Even when the project or intervention is intended to be for an entire population, such as the independence celebrations for East Timor in 2002, the beneficiaries end up being excluded: linguistically, culturally, and physically. Lynne describes how the grandiose celebrations to celebrate the handover of the UN transitional administration to the Timorese, in May 2002, was aimed almost exclusively to the international community. She says, ‘despite the dark skins of some of the visitors, the host country has very few of its own in attendance, other than those who carry the trays’ (Minion 2004: 114). The impact of these structured spaces is that it reinforces established ways of being, and ultimately of thinking and doing. In each one of the novels, the ‘logic of the mission’ is theirs, not the local community’s (Cain 2004: 174). This is a potentially devastating point as it emphasises the structural aspect of the international habitus of statebuilding and raises the question of whether it is indeed possible to move beyond it.

Even those individuals who speak the language of the place they are going to, or stay in a country for long periods of time, may find themselves rejected by the very populations that they have come to assist. Local populations may consider aid workers as potential contaminants to the larger society or a threat to local elites, and accordingly push the aid workers back into their spatial and social categories. A theme in the narratives is the characters’ repeated attempts to break out of the ‘expat bubble’ only to be met with resistance both from other expats and from the local communities. During Lynne’s time in East Timor, the bars and restaurants frequented by the expats are quite literally kept offshore where boats have been converted into floating bars. As late as 2008, the international community is kept on permanent stand-by, by the refusal or inability of the Timorese government to provide long-term working visas for internationals. Heidi, on ‘rest and relation’ near Mombassa, tries and fails to escape her tourist hotel to find the ‘real Kenya’ (Cain 2004: 95). Lynne attempts to enter into the daily routines of her Timorese patrons, but is met with a lack of understanding as to why she, a malae,[4] would want to.

But the exclusion may not only be on behalf of local populations. According to Douglas (2002), liminal figures by Turner’s definition are ‘almost everywhere regarded as “polluting” and “dangerous”’, and this seems to be supported by the aid workers’ experiences, the third issue to highlight. As Andrew exhumes bodies in Gisenyi, Rwanda, he thinks to himself, ‘I have my UN passport and my air ticket out. But I don’t smell so good, I have human flesh under my nails, and I spend my days arguing with priests and governors about corpses and money’ (Cain 2004: 246). Sitting on the plane back to Winnipeg, Leanne remarks, ‘[n]o one wants to sit next to a skinny orange woman who has obviously been out in the bush too long’ (Olson 1999: 58). Such experiences need to be taken into consideration when trying to understand what it means to be an international, working in challenging conditions. Issues such as staff composition and turnover may be as important in the success or failure of statebuilding missions as constitutions and elections.

 

Conclusion

The analysis of aid workers’ memoirs offers three sets of conclusions. The first offers insight into the persistence of the category of the international (and its perceived inverse of the local) in statebuilding discourse. The application of van Gennep’s rite of passage suggests the need to consider whether the practices of the international are part of a structural process that has very little to do with the so-called local. To attempt to engage in ‘rapprochement’ or ‘bridging’ is to over-simplify the essential qualities of these states and to ignore that they are driven by different incentives, with different time frames, and different objectives. Further, to understand the space of ‘the field’, the space of statebuilding, as liminal implies that ‘the international’ is not hermetic by accident, but that this has been an important part of the experience of ‘going to the field’ for the aid workers carrying out the task and therefore an important (and overlooked) part of statebuilding. The implication of such a discrete and resilient international space has implications for the epistemology of statebuilding. If the experience of the local is only conducted from within the spaces of the international – the compounds, the conference rooms, the hotels and Humvees – then what is understood as ‘local’ can only be an ‘international’ concept.

A second set of conclusions can be drawn with regard to the methodological need to go beyond established qualitative and quantitative research methods for understanding the experience of statebuilding. As encouraged by Carr (2010), Lewis et al. (2008), and Schaffer and Smith (2004), life memoirs offer insight into the processes of aid work which is easily missed by other methods; into what Pouligny has called the intangible dimensions of statebuilding (Pouligny 2010). By reading across memoirs, as done in this chapter, there is the further opportunity to identify recurrent structures, themes, tropes and absences offering yet another level of insight into the process. Further work needs to be done to understand the impact of these novels on their readership – both in terms of attracting the next generation of international civil servants and aid workers and in terms of influencing how those in the countries of origin think about the liminal space of the field.

A final conclusion is that the practice of statebuilding is not an accident or incidental part of the process, but is actually co-constitutive of the process itself. A positive reading of this conclusion would be to highlight the need to look as much at the way in which statebuilding is done, as the stated objectives. Change the process and we will change the result. This is the approach endorsed by organisations, which endorse professional standards and codes of conduct for aid workers. But a more pessimistic reading would point to the structural quality of the process of statebuilding and ask whether it is possible to separate thought from action, agency from structure. As long as statebuilding continues to be an internationally driven endeavour, it will be based in the structures and habitus of the international, raising questions as to the possibility of either bridging or going beyond the categories which continue to plague its intended success.[5]

 

Acknowledgements

 

The author would like to thank Berit Bliesemann de Guevara, Ellen Smirl and Anna Stavrianakis for their helpful comments on this chapter.

 

References

 

Bowie, F. (2006) The anthropology of religion: an introduction, 2nd edition, Oxford: Blackwell.

Cain, K. (2004) Emergency sex (and other desperate measures): A true story from hell on earth, hardcover edition, New York: Miramax Books/Hyperion.

Carr, E.R. (2010) ‘The place of stories in development: creating spaces for participation through narrative analysis’, Development in Practice, 20(2): 219-26.

Donais, T. (2009) ‘Empowerment or Imposition? Dilemmas of Local Ownership in Post-Conflict Peacebuilding Processes’, Peace & Change, 34(1): 3-26.

Douglas, M. (2002) Purity and danger: an analysis of concept of pollution and taboo, London: Routledge.

Duffield, M. (2009) Architectures of Aid, Cambridge: University of Cambridge.

Eade, D. (1997) Capacity-building: an approach to people-centred development, Oxford: Oxfam.

Gigliotti, S. (2007) ‘Genocide Yet Again: Scences of Rwanda and Ethical Witness in the Human Rights Memoir’, Australian Journal of Politics and History, 53(1): 84-95.

Heathershaw, J. (2008) ‘Unpacking the Liberal Peace: The Dividing and Merging of Peacebuilding Discourses’, Millennium – Journal of International Studies, 36(3): 597-621.

Kenny, S. (2005) ‘Reconstruction in Aceh: Building whose capacity?’ Community Development Journal, 42(2): 206-221. 

Lewis, D., Rodgers, D. and Woolcock, M. (2008) ‘The Fiction of Development: Literary Representation as a Source of Authoritative Knowledge’, Journal of Development Studies, 44(2): 198-216.

Mac Ginty, R. (2010) ‘Hybrid Peace: The Interaction Between Top-Down and Bottom-Up Peace’, Security Dialogue, 41: 391-412.

Minion, L. (2004) Hello Missus: A Girl’s Own Guide to Foreign Affairs, Sydney: Harper Collins.

Olson, L. (1999) A Cruel Paradise, Toronto: Insomniac Press.

Pouligny, B. (2010) State-Society Relations and Intangible Dimensions of State Resilience and State Building: A Bottom-Up Perspective, European Report on Development, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies: European University Institute.

Richmond, O. (2009) ‘Becoming Liberal, Unbecoming Liberalism: Liberal-Local Hybridity via the Everyday as a Response to the Paradoxes of Liberal Peacebuilding’, Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 3(3): 324-44.

Schaffer, K. and Smith, S. (2004) ‘Conjunctions: Life Narratives in the Field of Human Rights’, Biography: an interdisciplinary quarterly, 27(1): 1-24.

Smillie, I. (2001) Patronage or partnership: local capacity building in humanitarian crises, Bloomfield, Conn.: Kumarian Press.

Turner, V.W. (1969) The ritual process: structure and anti-structure, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

— (1975) Dramas, fields, and metaphors; symbolic action in human society, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

— (1977) ‘Chapter III: Variations on a Theme of Liminality’, in S. F. Moore and B. G. Myerhoff (eds.) Secular ritual, Assen: Gorcum, 36-52.

van Gennep, A. (1960) The Rites of Passage, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Yang, G. (2000) ‘The Liminal Effects of Social Movements: Red Guards and the Transformation of Identity’, Sociological Forum, 15(3): 379-406.

 


[1] The term ‘capacity building’ is often used within development discourse to refer to the transfer of skills in a particular area from external technical advisors to local beneficiaries (cf. Eade 1997). For critical perspectives see (Kenny 2005; Smillie 2001). Here, Lynne is using the term facetiously.

[2] It is worth highlighting that this is not the first attempt to use fictional narratives to deepen understandings of development processes. Lewis et al. (2008) look at a range of texts that document the impacts and experience of development from a wide range of perspectives. Similarly, Carr (2010) has looked at the potential for using narrative to better understand different perspectives, and Schaffer and Smith (2004) and Gigliotti (2007) have looked specifically at the human rights memoir to understand the process of bearing witness.

[3] Turner himself encourages the use of ‘oral narratives of personal observation and experiences’ in his study of the rites of passage of pilgrims (Turner 1975: 167).

[4] Malae = foreigner (usually white).

[5] Cf. also Goetze and Bliesemann de Guevara in this volume.

Doomed to Rewrite?

“Doomed to Rewrite? Aid autobiography as history and practice,” unpublished paper (2011)

This [unfinished – eds.] article looks at the genre of aid workers’ autobiographies from an historical perspective. It makes the case that (a) these types of memoirs constitute an identifiable genre with a respective lineage that can be traced from Dunant’s diaries on Solferino (Rieff, 2002) to de Waal’s blog on Darfur; (b) that these texts are a precious and under-examined resource for development and humanitarian studies.  They document the embodied experiences of the Western tradition of humanitarian intervention and in doing so provide valuable insight into patterns of possibility and constraint and to identify the significance of affect, perspective, and position in constructing our conceptual categories of aid, intervention, and humanitarian assistance.  Finally, (c) the article asks what do recent trends in technologies of publication and dissemination tell us about the role of the individual vs. the collective in contemporary humanitarianism.

1: Life writing, memoir and where it fits in.  Similarities and Difference.

Memoire, life writing, auto-biography

INTRO

Autobiography, life-writing, life-narrative, personal memoire are just a sampling of the terms that are used – often inter-changeably – to refer to the textural representation of one’s personal experience. They differ from in objective from diaries in that they are intended to be read, circulated and discussed by others.  In form, they vary widely – from little more than a descriptive chronology of events – to polished and possibly embellished stories of events and encounters.  According to Epstein, “memoir is a  hybrid form that may draw on the lyric voice of poetry, the narrative drive of the novel, the urgency of eyewitness testimonial, the desultory description of travel writing, the factual comprehensiveness of serious reportage and historiography, and the introspection of the personal essay” {Epstein, 2006}. Arguably as long as there has been writing, there has been memoir: early examples of the genre might include Augustine’s Confessions (357 AD), the writings of Hildegard of Bingen, Saint Teresa of Avila and Jean-Jacques Rousseau {Hampl, 1999; Epstein}.  But interest in the individuals’ first person of particular experiences has, in recent years, appeared to increase as reflected by such indicators as presence and position on books sales charts [need cite]. Schaffer and Smith go so far as to refer to a global “memoire boom” in the last decades of the twentieth century {Schaffer, 2004@1} and if blogs and associated textual self-representations of everyday activities such as ‘tweets’ are included, it can be claimed that as a textual form – memoirs are at an all time high.

As an object of  academic study, ‘autobiographical studies’ emerged in the United States in the 1970s {Marcus, 1995} with the ‘biographical turn’ {Roberts, 2010@1} and came into their own as a “critical literary genre” in the 1980s {Moss} when feminist writing in particular became interested in what these unofficial and personal texts revealed about the ‘hidden’ history of women and other sub-altern groups {Jelinek, 1980; Jelinek, 1986; Olney 1980; Olney; Olney; Olney; Jouve}.[1] Represented within the form are an almost limitless array of “memoirists” and types of memoirs: travellers, soldiers, doctors, teachers, call-girls and… humanitarians.  And while some of these forms have received sustained academic attention, becoming considered as sub-genres in their own right, the humanitarian memoir has yet to reach this status.

This article is the first attempt to identify the genre of the ‘humanitarian memoir’ with a respective lineage that can be traced from Dunant’s diaries on Solferino (Rieff, 2002) to de Waal’s blog on Darfur.  As a precious and under-examined resource for development and humanitarian studies, these texts document the embodied experiences of the Western tradition of humanitarian intervention. Doing so both reveals the significance of personal, affective experience in the trajectory of modern day humanitarianism and provides insight into trends and tendencies which are often obscured through more traditional approaches to investigating the topic such as policy reports and official accounts of particular events.  Countering claims that humanitarianism as a project has become more collectivist in its approach {xxx; Keck & Sikkink}, this article also highlights the importance that individual humanitarian agents or subjects have played in the narration and construction of Western understandings of humanitarianism. This is particularly striking when one considers the distinction between the “I” of Western humanitarian donors and agents in contrast with the unidentifiable “they” of the recipient masses.

Literature Review

To date, there has been little to no attention paid to humanitarian memoir as a specific sub-genre. Throughout the twentieth century those select lodestars such as Dunant’s Memoir of Solferino were analysed for the histories they described, rather than as textual artefacts offering insight into the conditions of their production and authorship.  While many other diaries, newspaper serials or pamphlets were produced and even formally published and distributed during nineteenth and twentieth centuries, they have quietly faded into obscurity over the years. More recently, despite the wide-spread awareness of texts such as “Emergency Sex” by academics, they have yet to be scrutinized in their own right rather than used to provide colourful examples for other arguments {cite}. This is particularly surprising given the prominence that the form of the memoir has played in establishing and perpetuating the humanitarian project {Dunant; Barnett; Fox}. Their lack of presence in the academic literature, may be explained by a variety of potential factors.  For example, disciplinary norms which bracket those texts which are considered worthy of scrutiny often exclude texts which are considered to be insufficiently rigorous, empirical or objective [cite from alan o’leary].  But it may also be that until recently, humanitarian memoirs had not achieved the critical mass necessary to be considered as a textual genre in their own right.  This is changing.  The exponential growth of humanitarianism as a field over the last two decades {cite DFID} have seen both the supply and demand of these accounts increase.  As I’ll discuss below, advances in social media have increased the velocity and reach of accounts by humanitarians of their experiences which the demand for such accounts has been fuelled by the overall increase in individuals who [to paraphrase Helen Epstein] want to satisfy their curiosity about how other humanitarians live, contextualize their own experiences and normalize or measure how it was different from the norm {Epstein}.

From an academic perspective, it is possible to identify a range of texts that exhibit similarities to the memoirs in question. It is worth investigating these briefly both to demonstrate how humanitarian memoirs have been hitherto miscast or misidentified, and secondly to identify those themes which are necessarily part of the humanitarian memoir:  authorship, humanitarianism as topic, processual narrative, and setting.  Each of these can be identified in other types of literatures, but it is their co-presence that identified the humanitarian memoir as a distinct and identifiable genre.

First, there are those texts that are authored by individuals who are working in the sphere of humanitarianism, broadly speaking, but where the intent of the text is not about humanitarianism, per se, but about issues of similar concern such as violence, under-development.  Of these, the relationship between life narrative and the concept, instruments and organizations of human rights has received particular attention. Work by Schaffer {2004} and Schaffer and Smith has looked at the role of life narratives and ‘personal witnessing’ in “the formulation of new rights protections”{@4};  in fuelling and sustaining human rights campaigns; and in creating the discursive space for local movements to speak on a global stage {Whitlock [in S&S]; S&S@6}. They consider the degree to which the production of human rights life narratives have contributed to how suffering in understood and institutionalized within the human rights community. In particular, personal narratives of individuals who have experienced a deep trauma or injustice have historically been crucial in alerting ‘the global community’ to both the acts themselves and the impact that these acts have upon their victims.[2] Associated with this are those auto-biographies of individuals who, having worked on particular cases or in specific institutions, decided, at the end of their tenure, to reflect upon their achievements.  Examples here include writings by John Humphrey, the First Director of the UN Division of Human Rights about his role in xxx {see Humphrey; Curle} and the ICTY chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte’s book about her suspicions of organ trafficking during the Kosovo war. As a vital part of the humanitarian memoir is the experience of going to and returning from the so-called field {Smirl, 2011}, such texts more closely resemble the elite memoir as a literary genre.

OUTLINE:

1: Life writing, memoir and where it fits in.  Similarities and Difference.

Memoire, life writing, auto-biography

Similar work:

a) Colonial Officers

b) Travelogues, picturesque travel writing,

c) Human Rights Memoire

d) the Development novel (Lewes)

e) The elite auto-biography (Dallaire; Rose)

f) the autobiographical narrative in war (Woodward)

Why is the humanitarian novel different?  Does it deserve its own sub-genre.

– Yes, because of number

– Yes, because of the object of its attention? Because of its purpose?

– Yes on normative grounds because of what the establishment of such a typology tells us about humanitarianism and brings to the fore the important role that memoire – and with it, personal, embodied, deeply normative element that is humanitarianism

2:  Evolution of the Genre

Typology:

1 – The Witness (Barnett’s de-ontological humanitarians)

Who: – Dunant, Nightingale; MSF (Doctors)

What:

Why:

For who?:

Impact:

2 – The Diarist

– Tells it like it is (Norris)

– Roberts, Jebb?

3 – The Whistle-blower

– Disgruntled employee exposee (Hancock)

– The Tell-all (Emergency Sex)

– aims to shock

4 – The Fly on the Wall

– Ironic (Dangerous Passions, Things ex-pat aid workers like)

– Moralizer (Shotgun Shack; Texas in Africa; View from the Cave)

– “Modest Witness”? – Haraway

– Diarist – p. 7 Redfield

– Political Economy

3. What this tells us about humanitarianism

– particularly important when current trends in humanitarianism are seeking to establish scientific approaches to the management and implementation of aid

– important to recognize how important personal experience in shaping perceptions

– and there is a move (back) towards the individual – also perhaps the anonymous or hidden individual – in shaping (contra Redfield)

– how the books may have an impact in influencing the humanitarian community at large

– tells us a lot about how aid work has changed.

– “Humanitarianism is a creature of the world it aspires to civilize” {Barnett, 2011@9}.

Reveals a series of tensions:

– the balance between fiction/non-fiction

– between remembering/forgetting (the constant reinvention of itself – Easterly)

– between public/private (using information/suffering for the collective gain

– between the individual/collective

[1] Also of interest, was the relationship between autobiography and identity.

[2] See S&S@15 for a full list of different types of subaltern testimonies of suffering.  

The Political Life of Things

In December 2010, Lisa and Beth Lister, a Sussex student who’d been working with her, gave a talk on “Drive-By Development: Thinking Through the Sports Utility Vehicle in Humanitarian Assistance” at a workshop on “The Political Life of Things” at a workshop at the Imperial War Museum. You can listen to a podcast of the talk here:

Home Away From Home

“Home Away From Home: The role of the single family dwelling in the construction of a ‘humanitarian imaginary,'” unpublished paper (2008)

The elementary moment in reconstruction after a large scale disaster is the re-housing of populations that have lost their homes and possessions. And despite the historical and social specificity of the built form of the house, it is dramatically under-theorized in a post-disaster context. Through its material, built form and through its visual representations, the reconstructed house is a site where and through which global categories and frameworks are constructed and reproduced. This paper looks at how it is both defined by and contributes to the (re)production of the space of the international and in particular, to an international ‘humanitarian imaginary’.

In their work on the nation, Jones and Fowler look at the importance of local spaces in the reproduction of the nation. They argue that this (re)production is done in several ways including that ‘localised places’ are used as “‘metonyms’ of the nation” and come to represent, “in a generic and abstract sense” “national messages, symbols, and ideologies.” (2007:  336)  Citing Jackson and Penrose (1994) they “stress the potential for localized places to be key sites for generating ideas and sentiments that can ultimately reproduce the nation.” (p.  336).

If we take these arguments to the level of the supra or international, we begin to see the potential of place in the (re)production of international scale and in specific aspects of the ‘international’ as a collective concept.  An important narrative in stories about international, or cosmopolitan identity is that of international humanitarian assistance:  the imperative, or expectation that those actors capable of assistance those in need should do so.  Drawing on Charles Taylor’s concept of a ‘social imaginary’ and Craig Calhoun’s subsequent elaboration of the ‘social imaginary of emergencies’  the idea of an international ‘humanitarian imaginary’ is embodied, in part, in the built form of the reconstructed house.

The first part of this paper, provides a brief genealogy of housing in the context of reconstruction, and begins to unpack some of the cultural and historical assumptions associated with this practice.  It problematizes the predominance of the single family dwelling as the dominant building typology through an examination of two case studies:  Hurricane Katrina and the Katrina Cottage; and the houses built in and around Banda Aceh, after the 2004 South East Asian Tsunami. Through recourse to contemporary architectural theory, I suggest that while the built form, the materiality of the house, is indeed a vital aspect of reconstruction, it may not be for the reasons that are immediately apparent, but rather for what it represents to the various actors involved in its reconstruction and use. As such, the act of rebuilding a home becomes not only an act of place making – but also an act of place taking and giving, and is inseparable from the interactions and contestations that this involves.   

SECTION I:  The built form of the house in post-disaster reconstruction

After a large scale natural disaster, there is an inordinate focus on the reconstruction of single family dwellings, or ‘houses’. In the context of a large scale reconstruction, the success or failure of the reconstruction effort is popularly judged according to the number, speed, and arguably, quality of houses built. Media accounts of the reconstruction of the Indonesian autonomous province of Aceh, one of the hardest hit areas after the 2004 South East Asia Tsunami, focused almost exclusively on progress in housing construction.  Progress reports and representations of the Tsunami response by the large international aid agencies such as Oxfam, and Care, give prominent focus to the built form of the house – both visually and in their choice of monitoring indicators. But is this focus on externally provided houses – particularly when separated from discussion of location, infrastructure, water & sanitation, livelihoods, and subsequent use – the best way to approach reconstruction?

It is true, that shelter is a basic human need:  third only in importance to water and food.[1]  As described in the Sphere Standards:

Shelter is a critical determinant for survival in the initial stages of a disaster. Beyond survival, shelter is necessary to provide security and personal safety, protection from the climate and enhanced resistance to ill health and disease. It is also important for human dignity and to sustain family and community life as far as possible in difficult circumstances. [2]

The right to housing is enshrined in a variety of international documents. According to Cornelis and Vitale (2005), “The strongest reference to housing rights in the international legal context is the right to adequate housing as enshrined in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article II (I) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).” In their 2002 publication, UN-HABITAT and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) assert the legal importance of ‘adequate housing’.

Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the right to adequate housing has been reaffirmed and explicitly recognized in a wide range of international instruments as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and joined the body of universally accepted and applicable international human rights law.[3]

Therefore, it is possible to argue, in the context of international humanitarian law, that after a disaster, there is the international legal obligation on the part of the international community to ensure adequate housing for the affected populations.[4] But the provision of shelter – as seen by the persistent derision directed at the FEMA trailers – is not the same as the provision of houses, nor should the provision of houses necessarily by assumed to translate into the particular form of the single family, detached house.[5]  According to the head of shelter from the International Federation of the Red Cross, instead of asking, as the media did in June 2005– “why had only 10 000 units been built in 6 months?”, the question that should have been asked was “why are we building so many houses, so quickly?”[6] 

The most commonly observed approach to the reconstruction of permanent houses is a small, single story, house with 2 or three rooms:  most often one living/bedroom, a kitchen and/or an adjacent living area/bedroom. They are constructed from a small range of materials – usually cinder block, brick or concrete. In Aceh, the same design proposals were seen over and over despite consultations with the target communities and a lack of initial guidelines from the government. (Fig. 1 & 2))  The designs were remarkably similar – at least in external appearance –  to approaches seen in other post-crisis settings including those as geographically diverse as Kosovo, and Rwanda. 

Figure 1 – Banda Aceh, June 2006 [missing – eds.]

figure 2

Figure 2 – Meulaboh, June 2006

Dynamics of International Relief and Reconstruction

Part of the focus on housing can be accounted for by the dynamics of the international institutions and organizations, whose objective is to provide assistance to countries to rebuild after large scale disasters. These include both large international and multilateral agencies such as the United Nations and the World Bank, as well as the international development arms of OECD governments and Non-Governmental Agencies.  While the institutional arrangements and development literature, attempt to demarcate between those organizations whose objective is primarily humanitarian relief (UN Organization for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance; International Federation of the Red Cross) and those organizations who are tasked with assisting with long scale development (UN Development Programme, the UK’s Department for International Development), in reality, many humanitarian agencies continue working well into the reconstruction phase of post-disaster work.  This is partly because the distinction between relief and reconstruction is itself an artificial one – with many ‘temporary’ solutions becoming permanent and many development interventions starting while a society is still operating in a relief framework.  It is also partly due to the rhetoric of the international aid community itself, with many programmatic discussions in the 1990s and early 2000s advocating for the closing of the ‘relief to development’ gap.[7]

In the case of housing, the path dependence of the initial relief operations is particularly strong:  many temporary or semi-permanent shelters becoming effectively permanent dwellings  and the post-disaster displacements resulting in long term social restructurings.[8]  This blurring of the relief and development functions can be demonstrated by looking at the agencies that are involved in the housing sector – for example, in the case of Banda Aceh, two of the largest agencies involved in the building of permanent houses are the IFRC and Christian Relief Services (CRS).  The mandate of both agencies is primarily relief, however after the Tsunami, various bottlenecks in the relief effort meant that even the provision of temporary shelter was massively delayed.   With people still living in tents, 6 months after the Tsunami, it no longer made sense to provide temporary shelter or even transitional houses.  Instead, both the IFRC and CRS undertook the construction of thousands of permanent housing units.[9]

The dominance of ‘relief actors’ in the provision of permanent housing after a disaster may partially account for the dominance of the single family detached housing model as the dominant approach to reconstructed housing. Within the context of humanitarian assistance, the dominant mode of shelter is that of the tent.  While many architectural attempts have been made to provide alternative forms of emergency relief, the dominant typology of international assistance remains the tent.[10] Even if established in a ‘row formation’ which allows for an adjustable length – this implies that the dominant unit of social organization is the nuclear family.  If we translate the type and logic of the tent to a more permanent dwelling, the detached, single family dwelling becomes an obvious choice – so much so, as to be largely unproblematized, as a form, throughout the relief community.

Both Fred Cuny (1983) and Randolph Kent (1987) trace the genealogy of natural disaster relief to the provision of relief from the damaged inflicted by conflict, beginning with Henri Dunant’s establishment of the ICRC in 1863 following the human suffering that he observed at the Battle of Solferino (1859). During and after WW1, the Red Cross movement “remained the single most important landmark in the evolution of humanitarian relief” however, Kent identifies the contributions of two other organisations as being particularly significant during this period. The Commission for Relief in Belgium and the American Relief Administration (in conjunction with the European Children’s Fund and the European Relief Council) provided basic assistance to war affected Europeans and with the end of WW2, the plight of millions of refugees gave rise to the creation of international response mechanisms through the newly created United Nations (Kent:  37).[11]

As emergency assistance moved from an ad hoc form of international activity to a more professionalized, structured activity[12] the provision of emergency shelter grew in importance. Following both the first and second wars, the relief effort included the large scale reconstruction of houses to replace those that had been destroyed, and to provide new housing for displaced persons. And while high profile architectural contributions offered innovative design possibilities, in the main, most humanitarian NGOs relied on engineers to “design and oversee the construction of projects.” (Stohr: 40) Standards were developed for the design of temporary and transitional shelter, as well as accompanying components such as water and sanitation, layout of settlements, and guiding principles of interaction with the affected populations.  However, until the mid 1980s, “the approaches and techniques used in relief operations”  were still based on those that had been developed to assist European refugees and displaced persons after World War II.  These included the establishment of large camps, located far away from the people’s original place of residence; the reliance on “temporary measure and goods supplied from outside the affected region” including food, blankets, tents, and clothing.  Most importantly, “because the relief agencies operated in close cooperation with military occupation authorities, the approaches were often regimented and relied heavily on military-style planning and logistics for operation.” (Cuny: 18).

According to Cuny, the provision of relief after-WW2, informed the direction of relief services globally: 

In the late 1940s, the relief agencies operating in Europe began to expand their services into the trouble spots of the Third World:  India, Palestine, and Korea required the agencies’ help in dealing with refugees.  The agencies continued to use the techniques that they had used in Europe and adapt them to needs in the developing countries.[13]

In the 1950s, the demand for their services was magnified by rapid withdrawal of colonial powers, which left the newly independent states with fledging government and civil infrastructure, unable to cope with natural disasters – either in terms of expertise or resources.  Unlike the national governments, relief agencies were able to take a direct operational role, without concerns of breaches of sovereignty. (Cuny:18)  Most importantly, the “response pattern used by the relief agencies for natural disasters was virtually the same as that developed for use with refugees. There are many differences between war and refugee relief, and relief and recovery needs after a natural disaster.” (Cuny: 19)

The ‘WW2 paradigm’ continued to dominate until the 1980s, when various groups began to undertake significant and focused work to improve the international response to emergencies.  These included the re-examining camp layouts:  moving away from traditional military grid systems and towards more organic forms of social organization.[14]

Such proposals were in response to the recognition that temporary solutions often last years, if not decades and that relief should be designed in a way that enables long term, positive development.[15] However, despite advances in camp design, and attempts to modify the design of transitional shelter, the single family dwelling or ‘hut’ typology (Hayden, 1984) remains the dominant form of reconstructed housing.

SECTION II:  Theoretic importance of home and house in reconstruction sites

The concept of ‘home’ has now been extensively discussed in various literatures.  To be ‘homeless’  in Western society means that you are unable to be a functioning member of society.  Without a fixed physical address – a home – it is almost impossible to hold down a job, to receive education or medical care.  On a symbolic level, ‘home’ represents an emotional or spiritual grounding:  a place where a person can feel comfortable, safe, and a part of their surroundings – be that a family, a community or a country.[16]  While no architect, or development planner would be so delusional, nor arrogant, as to claim that the reconstruction of a house is all that is required to re-establish a home, there is an assumption in the discourse of post-disaster reconstruction that while not sufficient, such an aspiration is both realistic and desirable.  The conflation of ideas of shelter-housing-home can be seen in the slogans that are deployed by many of the organizations, for example:  “Building Houses Rebuilding Communities” (UN-HABITAT, 2005); or “A Place to Stay, A Place to Live” (Oxfam Briefing Note, 2005).

Beyond this initial logical slippage, is the already identified near automatic assumption that the reconstruction of housing means the reconstruction of a single family dwelling – an architectural form termed by Hayden as that of the ‘primitive, sacred hut.’[17]

For many Europeans, and for many settlers in North America who came from Europe, the archetypal house is a hut with a peaked roof, a strong door, and small windows to resist snow, wind, and rain.  The house may be constructed of wood, if it is near a forest; or stone, if it is near a quarry.  One large hearth provides a warm, bright place, the center of nurturing activity.  The archetype can be elaborated in its English, French, German, Scandinavian and American versions.  As ham, domus, bauen, or log cabin, the image has been analyzed, romanticized, sanctified, psychoanalyzed, celebrated, and copied.[18]

Theorists such as Bachelard, attribute the tenacity of form of the primal hut to its archetypical nature – locating within its form the embodied solution to the isolation of the human condition. (Bachelard, 1994)  Others, such as Claire Cooper and Carl Jung see the house as the symbol of self:  the attic representing the mind, the basement the unconscious.[19] Still others, such as Martin Heidegger, and Mircea Eliade link the building of a domestic dwelling to the construction of a temple and ultimately to an entire world view.[20]   Within the American context, the detached house has even more overt spiritual dimensions, for example, Catherine Beecher, an 19th c. minister and social commentator, considered the home to be a space for ‘domestic ministry’ and experimented with designs that incorporated areas for both living and worship. (Hayden, 2003: 41)

Such domestic ministry also carries a strongly gendered association. Beecher goes on to say that “a woman, nurturing her spouse and children, could create a ‘model family commonwealth’ in her suburban home.” (Hayden, 1984: 23)  The binary association of the female to the realm of interiority, the private and that of the male to the exterior, the public, has a long and well documented history.[21] In the West, no other built form so clearly articulates the patriarchal structure of the nuclear family than the single family dwelling. “Post-war propaganda told women that their place was in the home, as nurturers; men were told that their place was in the public realm, as earners and decision makers.[22] This ideal, gender-based division of labor [sic] described women’s and men’s economic, social, and political relationships to the private and public realms as distinctly different.” (Hayden, 1986:  42)  The result was “a spatial prescription for married suburban bliss that emphasized gender as the most salient feature of every citizen’s experience and aspirations”; (Hayden, 1984:  42) a spatial prescription that, 60 years later, continues to dominate as the preferred mode of housing across the US and, as concurrently, as the preferred mode of re-housing after a large scale disaster.

In his brief history of the ‘Home’, Rybczynski traces the genealogy of these spatial prescriptions to the emergence of the contemporary single family dwelling in 17th c. Netherlands.  “The emergence of the family home reflected the growing importance of the family in Dutch Society….The publicness that had characterized the ‘big house’ was replaced by a more sedate – and more private – home life.” The emergence of what Rybczynski terms ‘domesticity’ is bound up with “family, intimacy, and a devotion to the home, as well as with the house embodying, not only harbouring – these sentiments.”[23] (Rybczynski, 1988:  59)

As industrialization began to transform the old cities of Europe, and the emergent ones of the New World, the desire for a retreat from the chaos and pollution of the inner city drove more and more of the emergent ‘middle classes’ to seek affordable, private solutions further afield.  According to Hayden, “[b]y the mid-1830s, American architects were designing developments of single-family detached houses with gardens on the outskirts of cities.” (Hayden, 2003:  47) By the mid 20th c., the “American dream of single-family ownership” was firmly entrenched within the American psyche.  (Hayden, 1984:  13) She continues, “[s]ingle family suburban homes have become inseparable from the American dream of economic success and upward mobility.  Their presence pervades every aspect of economic life, social life, and political life in the United States…” (Hayden, 1984:  14)

The ownership of a house remains the dominant life goals of the majority of Americans and Western Europeans. As a symbol, it represents achievement, stability and security.  It is culturally preferable and seen as superior to other arrangements for living.  It is also the primary locus of consumption. Under U.S. President Hoover, private, single family homes were established as a “national goal to promote long term economic growth and recovery from the depression.” (Hayden, 1986:  34) Not only did they provide a excellent potential for consumption with their endless possibilities of modern appliances, furniture and garden accoutrements, they also provided a locus upon which the capitalist worker, and his wife, could focus their energy, and see the material results of their labour.  The connection between home ownership and national stability was clearly and overtly articulated in the policy of the time. Perhaps the strongest testament to the success of this rhetorical strategy is the complete absence, within American public discourse of alternative living arrangements, despite the inability or unwillingness of large portions of the American public to achieve the ‘dream’ of the house ownership.

Such embedded assumptions are rarely foregrounded – and particularly not in the context of emergency reconstruction.  These issues will be examined through two examples of reconstruction – first a case where a particular vision of society is communicated through the built form of the detached single family dwelling and second, a case where the generic form of the house is replicated as the dominant reconstructive form via the reconstructive process.

i) The Case of post-Katrina Housing:  the Katrina Cottage[24]

The Katrina Cottage is a small cottage-like permanent structure that is intended to provide affordable, ‘dignified’ shelter for victims of Hurricane Katrina, specifically to replace the ubiquitous FEMA trailer that have been the government standard in emergency shelter.[25] Originally designed by New York architect, Marianne Cusato, the term referred to a 308 sq ft., one floor, downsized “Mississippi-style coastal cottage, complete with an inviting porch.”[26] To ensure elements of local vernacular Coastal style, inputs were solicited from the affected communities and ‘fine tuned’ by local architects.[27]  (Fig. 3 & 4)

figure 3

Figure 3 – KC1 308 – Bunkhouse  (www.cusatocottages.com)

The “KC 308” is 308 sq. ft. (420 sq ft., including porch) house composed of two main rooms arranged in a row:  the living room (13’11” by 8’8”) and, behind it, across the rear of the house, the bedroom (7”0x13”3’).  A small kitchen, lavatory and storage space occupy one side of the house and can be accessed off the living room. According to its website, it can be built with wood or steel framing and “are finished with fiber cement siding and a metal roof.”[28] It is engineered to withstand hurricane force winds.

Key principles of the design include that it is based on local vernacular, that it is easily and quickly erected (estimates of building time range between 7 days and 6 weeks), affordable, and can be easily modified.[29]

figure 4

Figure 4 – KC1 – 308 – Bunkhouse (www.cusatocottages.com)

When speaking of traditional Gulf Coast architectural forms – for example, ante bellum –  the choice of a ‘cottage’ is not an obvious one.  The term itself is a rich one, and one more commonly seen in the North East States of the US and Canada than the deep south.  It is a term that is generally used to refer to a small, single story, dwelling intended to house a single family often for vacation purposes or as a second home.  In some parts of the US such dwellings may be referred to as ‘cabins’.  It is more likely to be seen in rural or peri-urban than urban areas and carries with it a variety of associations.  These range from ideas of ‘leisure’, ‘casualness’, ‘coziness’, ‘nostalgia’ – as described in the lifestyle magazine ‘Cottage Life’ to the  ‘pre-fab’ or ‘temporary’.  These associations vary strongly accordingly to the location where it is used, the term ‘cottaging’ in the UK, for example, referring to a particular sexual acts performed in a public lavatory.  All this is to say that a ‘cottage’ is not an obvious choice as either a permanent, not a ‘vernacular’, housing solution, along the Gulf Coast.  Interestingly, the term ‘cottage’ for post-disaster housing is not new.  According to a post-Katrina article in Slate, Wytold Rybczynski tells us that after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, the city of SF ‘built 6,000 two-room temporary wooden huts’ which he refers to as ‘cottages’ and some are still in existence today.  (Rybczynski, 2005 and 2006)

While certain elements such as the pre-fabrication, and purported ease of construction, make it potentially good choice for post-disaster housing – other purported benefits such as its affordability and adaptability are relative virtues – dependent upon other variables of the potential occupant such as secure land tenure and  access to credit (costed at between USD 30 000 – 100 000 plus building costs, it is not cheap).

However, its popularity, as a form, has proved sufficiently popular for it to have been picked up by Lowes’, the US building supplier, for distribution.  Follow the unveiling of Katrina Cottage II – a roomier version of the first referred as ‘The Cabin’ – in the Chalmette Louisiana, Walmart parking lot, other models have been developed including the Tiny House, the Thin House and the Double House.[30]  They vary in terms of floor space, number of floors, different layouts and cost.  They are intended to fit a range of budgets and locations.[31]  For example, models which fall into the  Thin House type “are between 500 and 1,600 sq ft., and are 16′ wide or less, measured to the eaves.”[32] Both Katrina Cottage IV, and VI are ‘thin cottages.’

An important part of the promotional material for the cottage is its growth potential. The initial cottage is considered to be a ‘Kernal House’ – which can either be expanded upon, through architectural additions, or converted into a garden shed, or guest cottage at the back of the lot once the real house is built.  Images on the Lowes website include time lapse animation of the cottage being transformed from an isolated structure on the corner of an expansive, leafy, yard dominated by a new, expansive structure, many times larger than the original cottage.

The dream of building a enclave of one’s own from scratch, is a deeply engrained part of the American identity.  For in the mid 1800s, work by such authors and amateur architects as Andrew Jackson Downing, and A.J.Davis provided written and visual guidance on “how to convert an ordinary farm into a gentleman’s estate or “Country Seat”.” (Hayden, 2003:  27)  Through their work, they “suggest that in the borderlands, buying a farmer’s land and turning it into a suburban property was what men and women of this era – and indeed every succeeding decade – needed to do.”[33] (Hayden, 2003:  27)

In the same way, the advice for “Using the Cottage:  Building for the Future”, found on the CusatoCotages.com website, implies limitless room for expansion, in the new borderland of the post-disaster setting.  What is omitted from these sketches, is one of the most pressing problems associated with reconstructive work – that of property rights and ownership.  In many cases, those people who lost their homes cannot return easily to their original place:  either it has been destroyed, or is being rezoned within the larger scheme of redevelopment.  Significant work has been done to document the uneven swathe of damage caused by Katrina: those who lost the most were exactly those people who could least afford to do so.  With persistent ambiguity over insurance claims, property rights and ownership, the dream of re-establishing oneself on a clean, lot remains exactly that.

The images of the mansions on these web pages also raises obvious questions, such as where the income necessary for the reconstruction will come from if the residents have lost their jobs.  And if the Cottage is truly meant to be temporary, why is a trailer not sufficient? Is it becomes what is being sold is less about the form of the cottage, and more about the possibility for a new life(style) that it represents.[34]

The Lowes online ‘model cottage gallery’ is careful to present the images of the cottages accompanied by white picket fencing, rocking chairs and bushes.[35] However, the form of the cottage itself bears a striking resemblance to a less bourgeois tradition.  In his 1976 article, John Michael Vlach explores the historical origins of a vernacular Louisiana housing type – the shotgun house.  As described by Fred B. Kniffen, in his paper, “Louisiana Housing Types” , the shotgun house is composed of “one room in width and from one to three or more rooms deep, with frontward-facing gable.” (as quoted in Vlach:  59)  The number of rooms varies, but is usually two or three, with the entrance on the gable end, leading to a front porch.  The roof is pitched, and the construction tends to be of timber frame with a façade of horizontal siding.  While the doors tend to form a straight line, this is not always the case, and examples of the type with one of the door ways offset have been documented.  (Vlach in Upton & Vlach, 1976)

In order to demonstrate the historical linkages between Louisiana’s shotgun house and earlier, African architectural traditions, Vlach traces the genealogy of the house.  In contemporary Louisiana, the shotgun house is most commonly associated with poor, black communities; its presence in visual representations of post-Katrina New Orleans, so ubiquitous as to be unremarkable.[36]  Vlach traces this history to the presence of free Haitian slaves in New Orleans, at the turn of the 19th century and their use of maison basse building techniques.  He shows the similarity between the floor plans of tradition Haitian homes (Fig 5)  and the shotgun house of New Orleans (Fig 6). (Fig 5 & 6) plans in Upton & Vlach:  65 and 66).

figure 5

Figure 5 – Traditional Haitian Maison-Basse Plans (Upton & Vlach, 1986:  65)

figure 6

Figure 6 – Traditional New Orleans Shotgun Types (Upton & Vlach, 1986: 66)

When we compare these plans to those of the Katrina Cottage, the are strikingly similar both in the layout, dimensions, and intended room use.  (Fig. 5).  The similarities in layout – rooms arranged in a row, with the entrance placed on the gable end, leading off a porch – is evident by looking at the respective plans.

figure 7

Figure 7 – KC3081 Floor Plan (www.cusatocottages.com)

While the average dimensions of the initial Katrina Cottage (KC 308) had a shorter length than the examples of shotgun houses that Vlach found in Port-au-Prince or New Orleans, they are identical with regards to width.  They are also similar with regard to intended room usage:  multi purpose space at the front, sleeping quarters (reached through the multi-purpose space) at the back.  The observed variations, or ‘sub-types’ are also similar between the shotgun house and the Katrina cottage with frontal ornamentation of (the appearance of) two doors (see KC 612)[37] or the addition to the shogun house of extra rooms on the side (similar to KC 576).

But Vlach’s inquiry doesn’t end in Port-au-Prince.  He is interested in demonstrating that the Haitian maison basse has an even older architectural genealogy, based simultaneously in West Africa, and with Caribbean Amerindian populations and their bohio house type – a type strongly resembling a shotgun house.  (see fig. 8 p. 73 in Vlach).  According to Vlach, the shotgun house represents an “architectural response to slavery” where African slaves from the Awarak sugar plantations, “maintained their own African house form by making one morphological change (shifting a doorway [from the long end to the garret end of the house]), adapting one secondary feature (a front porch), and learning a new technology.” He goes on to say that “Africans in Haiti did not drift aimlessly in a sea of alien experiences.  Their response was to make sense of their new environment by transforming it so that it resembled a familiar pattern.  Cultural contact did not necessitate an overwhelming change in architecture; what was needed was rather an intelligent modification of culture.  The shotgun house form is the result of this kind of mental transposition.” (Vlach: 76)

If we accept that the Katrina Cottage draws upon a shotgun legacy, Vlach’s observations have relevance in the post-hurricane landscape of the Gulf Coast. While the language and imagery used to market the cottage is one of Rockwellian Americana and a DIY attitude, the form and type of the cottage is one that draws upon the less publicized historical narrative of the US – that of slavery and its legacy of racial inequality. In the context of New Orleans, the spatial dimensions of this legacy were shown by the unequal impact that the hurricane had on its inhabitants with inner city, black populations being disproportionately affected both by the hurricane itself and by their lack of financial insurance against such an eventuality.

“Katrina revealed how topographical gradients were proxies for race and class gradients in New Orleans, with largely white neighborhoods situated on higher, drier ground.  Simple put, white privilege underlay the spatial location and racial composition of communities most vulnerable to flooding.” (Bakker 2005)[38]

It is ironic then, that the solutions offered not only draw upon a local, vernacular architectural form but that they subsume a subaltern architecture beneath a veneer of arch-typical middle class America.

The irony runs deeper still. According to the New Urban Guild’s website, The Katrina Cottage has been designed using the concepts of ‘Living Traditions’ and ‘Most Loved Places’. According to the New Urban Guild website, ‘Most Loved Places’ are “the places in every region which have been valued the highest and loved the longest.”[39] A living tradition is “something that resonates enough with the average citizen that they want to repeat it on their house, on their shop, or in their town.[40] The implication of these concepts is that people will turn to, and value, classic architectural forms, such as the antebellum architecture of the Gulf Coast.  The provision of an architectural form, which arguably embodies a legacy of subjugation, as the solution for the structurally disadvantaged groups hit by the hurricane, contains within it a double message.  Superficially, the ornamentation and presentation of the cottage – the picket fences, the rocking chair, the flower bushes – offers the promise of a better life. The plans showing the growth potential emphasizing the need to work towards embedding the cottage within a larger landscape of success; of using the cottage as the stepping stone to a larger house, and a permanent, grounded, home.  The promise of the ornament, is counterpoised to the threat of the form – the shotgun house – which evokes the memory of slavery,  of structural poverty and entrenched discrimination.  Suggesting that unless the necessary actions are made to improve the cottage, the fate of previous generations of shotgun owners is theirs to repeat.

Hayden distinguishes between two aspects of the built form:  the building program and the architectural form:

The building program is the implicit or explicit statement of spatial requirements to be fulfilled within the constraints of available sites, budgets, and technologies; it can be simple or detailed, but it will usually define the building type (such as detached one-family house, or thirty-unit apartment house) and the intended activities such as eating, sleeping, or parking the car.  A program will also usually specify what kinds of spaces are to be provided for these activities, such as kitchen, dining room, bedroom, or garage; how large these spaces must be; and what sorts of daylight, mechanical systems, and other equipment are necessary.  At the same time that the building program conveys the economic, social, and technical requirements for built space, the architectural style chosen for a building conveys the cultural requirements.  The choice of style may be made by the client or by the designer; it can be as enduring as any religious dogma or as fleeting as high fashion.[41]

She goes on to say, “The one thing that architectural style cannot do is transform the building program.  So if the basic social model of home is outdated, or the basic economic model of home is not appropriate, then architectural design cannot save the situation.  Architects cannot make outmoded family etiquette modern; they cannot make false economic definitions of private and public work equitable.  Because architectural style and building program represent form and content (or, if you will, cultural superstructure and material base), architectural styles and building programs often conflict in industrial societies.[42]

Within the context of reconstruction, the focus is generally on the built form of the house – with the larger building program receding into the background either as part of a larger reconstruction effort that downplays the importance of space (focusing instead on issues of economic regeneration, and livelihoods, abstracted from their material base) or due to the piecemeal nature of the reconstruction effort.  By presenting the choice of a better life as one that lies with the individual – the structural aspects, and governmental failings are obscured. The focus on the built form of the house obscures the larger issues of why the disaster happens, which groups are disproportionately affected, and highlights instead micro-issues of ornament, façade, and layout. The packaging of the solution to the reconstruction effort in the form of a single family dwelling on private (seemingly limitless) property draws the attention away from larger context; one, where, a second Katrina is more likely than the eventual conversion of the Katrina cottage into a children’s play cottage in the corner of an expansive property.  Just as the single family dwelling has come to represent, and even embody the value of the individual over the value of society, the Katrina cottage places the burden of reconstruction on the individual, as the form of the house implies a permanence that a wheeled trailer does not.

[F]or the first time in history, a civilization has created a utopian ideal based on the house rather than the city or the nation.  For hundreds of years, when individuals thought about putting an end to social problems, they designed model towns to express their desires, not model homes.[43]

But isn’t the Katrina Cottage ‘better than nothing?’; better, as many of the disaster victims themselves have said, than the FEMA trailer?  Perhaps.  At the very least, Lowes franchising of the design demonstrates at least a temporary demand for the cottage[44] although whether this demand is partly a result of the fascination with the Katrina disaster, or a love of the cottage itself, is unclear.  There is even discussion of the adoption of the design by Habitat for Humanity, for use in its overseas housing projects.[45]  It is also remarkably similar to models made nearly a century earlier.

In 1906, “Earthquake refugee cottages, or “shacks” were built by the Department of Lands and Buildings of the Relief Corporation to house refugees from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire.”  According to the Western Neighbourhoods Project, a nonprofit historical organization based out of San Francisco:

5,610 cottages were constructed to house over 16,000 San Franciscans in 11 refugee camps in locations including Dolores Park, Washington Square, Precita Park, Portsmouth Square, and today’s Park-Presidio Boulevard. Union carpenters built three main sizes of cottages between September 1906 and March 1907. Cottages had cedar-shingle roofs, fir floors and redwood walls. All were painted green to better blend into the parks and public squares in which they were erected. When the camps began closing in August 1907, refugees hauled cottages to private lots, and often cobbled together two or more to form larger residences. Of the 5,343 moved from the camps only a handful are certified to still be standing.[46]

figure 8

Figure 8 – Preserved San Francisco Earthquake Shack

( http://www.outsidelands.org/shacks.php)

Pictures of the preserved cottages (see Fig 8) show a remarkable resemblance to contemporary Katrina Cottages…perhaps reflecting a nostalgia for a time when disasters were manageable, and refugees respectful and grateful.

ii) The case of post-Tsunami Banda Aceh

In June 2006 – one and a half years after the Boxing Day Tsunami – driving into the harbour area of Banda Aceh gave one the impression of driving into a fairground.  A single gravel road snakes through kilometre after kilometre of buildings in all stages of completion.  The carnival quality is due to the rainbow of colours that the buildings are painted and the variety of designs and placement.  Some houses are low long bungalows, others are built in a vernacular manner.  Some are elevated on stilts with staircases running up the side, and balconies wrapping themselves around the façade.  Some have been built on hills of gravel, while others are nearly sitting in tide pools. And in which ever direction you look, you are met with competing logos, flags and billboards – most in English, all proudly taking responsibility for their section of the building patchwork.

Housing – or ‘shelter’ – makes up the largest sector of the largest reconstruction budget ever seen, and has become the primary focus of government as well as the implementing agencies and organizations.  Out of an overall reconstruction portfolio of US $4.9 billion, US$1.1 billion – or just under 25 percent – has been allocated to housing.  The next highest sectors are transport, health sector, education, and community infrastructure, in that order. (Ivaschenko et al., 2006:  78)

What is remarkable about the Achenese example, is perhaps less the amount of money allocated to housing – it is, after all, a vital component of a reconstruction effort where 500, 000 people were displaced – but rather the number of actors involved in, specifically, the reconstruction of housing and the high visibility of the reconstruction endeavour.  According to the 2006 World Bank report – over 300 NGOs were involved in the reconstruction of houses – many with little or no prior experience in this sector. The scale, & high international profile of the disaster, and the commensurate high levels of money, meant that the numbers of independent, international NGOs was particularly high.[47]

Most concentrated in easily accessible areas – such as the capital, Banda Aceh – and, typical of post-crisis situations, many failed to go through the official coordination channels, meaning that their presence, and contributions, were initially unrecorded with either the government or the central coordinating body – the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, one of the few International Agencies who had kept international staff ‘in country’ after the collapse of the 2003 peace talks.[48]  But while the reconstruction effort attracted a large number of small, independent NGOs the majority of the housing reconstruction was undertaken by a few major players. These can be divided into three main categories.

On the government side, the BRR is tasked with directing housing reconstruction.  Overall, they are the largest reconstruction player with a portfolio “about twice as large portfolio as the next major  player (Red Cross).” (Ivaschenko:  80).  The Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency[49] is the new government agency, created to oversee the reconstruction effort.[50]  Its head had a Ministerial rank, and the agency both builds houses and oversees the building by other agencies.[51]

On the side of the international community, the overall reconstruction effort was ostensibly coordinated by the UN – first by UN OCHA, and then by the Office of the Resident Coordinator (UN ORC).  The UN, however concentrated strictly on coordinating, documenting and supporting the relief effort, leaving the physical reconstruction projects to be carried out either by the World Bank or by the large bilateral (national donors).

A third category of reconstruction actors are the large, international non-government organizations (INGOs) such as the Oxfam, Christian Relief Services, Habitat for Humanity.  The “massive global public fundraising that followed the tsunami” resulted in international NGOs having “unprecedented budgets.  Some NGOs such as CARE, Save the Children, and various national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies each have over US$100 million to spend.  This makes them larger than some donors or UN agencies” . (Burke & Afnan:  39). And, unlike UN Agencies, whose criticisms, though multiple, are usually indirect, International NGOs are answerable to private donations.

The prominence of the disaster and its aftermath on Western news outlets, contributed to a record level of donations from individuals who had participated in the mass donation campaigns, and were eager to see the visible (and quick) impact of their aid dollars.  And what is more accountable, countable, and visible than houses?  Houses are easily identifiable symbols of reconstruction – emotionally satisfying to Western audiences. In the mind of Western audiences a Western house is a powerful, visual symbol of progress, and economic and social stability.  For example,  in the US, housing starts are an important indicator of economic growth (Hayden, 1986:  38) and private home ownership has at various times, been promoted as an explicit government policy to ensure social stability and encourage a more conservative political environment. They are particularly useful if the organization in question needs to spend large amounts of cash, quickly, as they involve large building contracts including materials.

The construction of housing is also attractive become it is perceived by humanitarian organizations as relatively non-technical.  It is also adaptable – allowing you to build as many units as you have money for.  While high profile projects such as schools and hospitals are quickly ‘cherry picked’, the need for new houses is seemingly limitless and sells well to audiences (the donors) back home as an obvious human need.[52]

Much has been written on the slow pace of reconstruction.  For our purposes, this means that by the time the international agencies and NGOs were ready to build, the need and demand was for semi-permanent or permanent housing rather than temporary. In addition to predictable construction bottlenecks (discussed below), the reliance of implementing agencies on national funding cycles and systems means that continued delays in the delivery of aid, makes temporary and even transitional shelter redundant for large proportions of the population:  by the time the relief programmes are delivered, it is time to start building permanent shelter or temporary or transitional shelter becomes permanent through lags, and path dependence. It is also possible that there is a transfer of knowledge between international NGOs and aid agencies. People with similar functional knowledge, i.e. in post-disaster reconstruction, are moved from one zone to another bringing with them experience, knowledge, and contacts from previous disaster zones, meaning that this dominant mode of reconstruction remains largely unproblematized.[53] In the case of international development, the inertia associated with any large organization, is amplified by a rapid staff turnover, limited funds for managerial development and often poor, or antiquated systems of record keeping. This means that experiences learned, and mistakes made are quickly lost (or covered up) and therefore, have a high likelihood of being repeated. 

In Aceh, guidelines for reconstruction were set by the government – by the BRR.  The BRR is the donor supported, government agency responsible for reconstruction. Initially created under another name, it was quickly re-established in its current guise after allegations of corruption and mismanagement.  BRR developed guidelines for reconstruction based on previous building codes, but initial problems with the set up of the government agency meant that there were delays in actually issuing the guidelines. The rough ‘design guidelines’ were that the house should measure not less than 36 sq. m (not including bathrooms) and should be “constructed in accordance with applicable Indonesian building codes concerning building materials to be used and electrical and mechanical systems to be provided.”[54] But these were not issued until approximately March 2005 and the final versions were not issued before June 2006.  Further, the issue of translation added another level of interpretive difficulty, with many of the official documents being issued primarily in Indonesian.  In the time spent waiting for these guidelines many agencies went ahead and started building houses.

However, this was before the dynamics of a reconstruction effort of this scale were properly understood.  As reconstruction began, the bottlenecks that would hamper reconstruction efforts for the next year and half, began to become apparent.  Shortages of labour and building materials resulted in massive and rapid inflation far above any that had been factored into the cost projections for the houses, reducing the number of projected modules that the agencies could build and leading them to try and reduce unit cost, resulting in smaller, less fancy houses.[55]

Now instead of competing on design or grandiosity, the benchmarks for competition began on number of units, rapidity, quality of materials and location.  Arguably, another type of competition – although one less easy to quantify – was ‘loyalty’ or allegiance from a specific community. 

The basic design was supposed to have in keeping with government guidelines – leaving little scope for major community input.  It is hardly surprising, given this constraint, that the housing designs are all very similar.

Housing Designs

A survey by UN-Habitat of the housing designs by the various organizations operating in Aceh revealed an over-riding basic typology with certain key, recurrent variations. Although the BRR guidelines were not yet official, when the plans were designed, the guidelines, as expressed at various working groups and through consultation, was that the houses were to be 36 meters square, excluding terrace area.  The majority of floorplans were roughly square, with a pitched (or double pitched roof).  They all had two doors (a front and a back) and most had two bedrooms (kamar tidur), a living area (ruang tamu) and a kitchen (dapur).

Where they varied was largely to do with the placement of the Toilet (W/C) and Bath/Sink (Kumar Mandi).  In some plans (such as the one’s by the NGO SOS Children’s Villages)[56], the WC/KM was directly inside the house (Fig. 9) where in others, it was placed outside the back (Fig 10); built as a separate small building (Fig. 11); or simply non-existent.  Informal interviews conducted in June 2006 with beneficiaries, contractors and workers for NGOs and multilateral organizations raised the location of the WC/KM as being a concern for some beneficiaries.  Certain people said that having the mandi inside was in violation of Islamic laws,[57] it may have been more in terms of local norms, as the houses planned by PKPU, a Jakarta based Islamic NGO, also included an interior WC/KM in their plans.

figure 9

Figure 9 – SOS Children’s Villages Design (courtesy of UN-Habitat)

fig 10

Figure 10 – Houseplan Yayasan Social Kreasi (courtesy of UN-Habitat)

fig 11

Figure 11 – Houseplan Oxfam (courtesy of UN-Habitat)

There were also complaints that the houses did not provide for a sufficiently private area for female members of the household.

Such cultural preferences seemed to be only marginally reflected in the planning, although ornamentally it is possible to identify a vernacular touch in the choice of bright house colours (a typically Acehnese style) and occasionally, in the presence of an apparently ‘Islamic’ influenced pediment and entrance columns (see Fig. 12).

fig 12

Figure 12 – House PKPU (courtesy of UN-Habitat)

And while there were a few plans put forward for multi family dwellings, the predominant approach remained that of the single family dwelling.  Given the similarity across the donors, it is worth noting the degree to which some of the buildings, and settlements, appeared to convey the worldview of their donors.

For example, the houses built by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) houses were identifiable by their standardization.  USAID houses were uniform, square, and tended to be on the small side.  They were constructed of and were built in long, perfectly straight lines.  18 months after the disaster the houses observed in Banda Aceh, were not yet completed, and none were occupied, but the lines and grids of houses were immediately identifiable as a USAID product.  At that stage there was no ornamentation, and the houses, looked as though no one had worked upon them for some time:  the grass was growing long through the foundations, and frames, and there was no construction going on. Still, proudly displayed – clear and well maintained – were banners with the USAID logo.

This was contrasted with the much lauded houses contributed by Turkish Relief.  Their houses were built on significantly larger plots of land, and the houses themselves, although only slightly larger, had some structural variation in shape:  they had a small porch and a triangle over the front door, complete with an Islamic Crescent.  Pink in colour, they had a front window approximately 1 m sq, into the front, multipurpose, living room with glass.  The Turkish houses were much remarked upon as being particularly well made.  The BRR also built some of their own houses.  Informal site interviews highlighted problems of poor and slow construction.[58]

Interesting, although most likely coincidental, the design put forward by Habitat for Humanity – had more of a shotgun feel – with the bedrooms one behind the other – and the dimensions being 5 m across by 10 m deep.  (See Fig. 13)

fig 13

Figure 13 – Aceh Barat, Habitat for Humanity

Also telling, was the way in which different donors built the houses – the process and management of construction and the approach that they took to the site. For example, Catholic Relief Services, frustrated with inability to locate a reliable and ‘non-corrupt’ contractor, made the decision to establish an in house team of architects, designers, engineers sourced from across Indonesian and overseen by their American core team.  This meant that the output in terms of design, architecture and implementation, will be closely managed by the CRS.  It also means that the houses will be composed, designed and monitored at arms length, from within a physical compound, a microcosm of the ‘Western world.’

In the case of Aceh, there is also the need to mention one type of “temporary shelter”:  the ‘barracks’ which are long, thin buildings, normally used to house soldiers, with a long thin balcony running along the front.  Immediately after the disaster the Indonesian army built these to house large numbers of displaced persons quickly.  And while, initially there was fear that this was to be used as a population control strategy by the military, this fear remained unrealized.  When it became clear, that there was no ulterior motive to the building of barracks, other donors – including GTZ – replicated this form of temporary housing.  These barracks were still being used 1.5 years after the tsunami – housing large numbers of families who are increasingly treating them as permanent, rather than temporary houses including decorating them with plants, and other ornamentation. From a public health perspective, this raises concerns over the lack of sanitary facilities such as running water, and toilets.  Water is supplied to the barracks from tanks, and many families live side by side, with little or no privacy.  The locations of these barracks may also have an impact on the social structures of Banda Aceh, as they were built in what was, immediately post tsunami, considered to be ‘temporary’ locations.  One group of barracks is concentrated directly beside the wind ravaged, and yet unreconstructed, stadium.  If this grouping of ‘temporary’ barracks persists, how will this play out in terms of developing a (new) community?

The idea that temporary shelter can (and should) be convertible into permanent housing is the physical manifestation of the idea that the humanitarian response should meld seamlessly into long term development planning (the ‘relief to development’ continuum)  In Aceh, the International Committee for the Red Cross experimented with a type of ‘transitional’ shelter which was supposed to be easy to put up and could be used also as semi-permanent housing.  But the uptake of these structures was not great – many remained unlived in, 1.5 years after the disaster – deemed unacceptable by the local populations.

The idea behind the development of the cottage was in response to a similar type of reluctance by the end user to a transitional solution.  Various reports claimed that the FEMA trailers were not aesthetically desirable, not sufficiently comfortable and even that they led to an increase in crime in the neighborhoods in which they were located (Fornoff, 2005). Reluctance of permanent residents to have them located in their neighborhoods can make post-disaster planning difficult.

SECTION III:  The house in international humanitarian Identity

The history of international development, of which humanitarian response is a part, is a history of (often failed) social experiments[59]; the idea of the hinterland, the margin, the reconstruction site as a unique space where innovative and unexpected events may occur is a well developed theme.[60]   In these spaces, the lack of oversight, accountability, or continuity makes them particularly open to the implementation of progressive or avant-guard practice; to the implementation of designs and forms of the built environment which will better the human condition.

Similarly, within the Western architectural imaginary, the ‘reconstruction site’ has always occupied a prominent place. By virtue of their seeming blank slate quality, their lack of restrictions, the phoenix-like potential – they are perceived as sites of enormous potential for those architects wishing to push the boundaries of architectural practice (viz. Diller & Scofidio).[61]  Over the years, a wide range of super-star architects have put forward their proposals for post-disaster housing. For example, Corbusier’s iconic Maison Dom-ino (1914-15) was originally intended as a “solution for the rapid reconstruction of regions such as Flanders, which had been heavily damaged during WW1.” (Stohr: 36) Between 1939 and 1945, Finnish architect, Alvar Aalto designed a movable temporary emergency shelter, designed to house war refugees that ‘could be trucked to the site and house four families with a shared central heating unit’. (Stohr: 37) “Prouvé also developed a number of prefabricated shelters, including a metal-frame tent, demountable barracks and schools for war refugees that he called ecoles volantes.” (Stohr: 39) And while, not strictly speaking for post-disaster response, during the 1940s, Buckminster Fuller designed the Dymaxion Deployment Unit – a form of ‘emergency accommodation for troops in various locations during WW2.” (Stohr: 38)  More recently, Studio Libeskind has been involved in the design of a Master Plan for Unawatuna – a beach side community in Sri Lanka, devastated by the Tsunami.[62]

Significant theoretical and practical work has been done on the concept of temporary shelter.[63]  In architectural theory there is an almost romantic interest in the concept and manifestations of temporary shelter – from the Mongolian Yurt, to the bivouac. As Witold Rybczynski, says (drawing on Davis), “Architects in the past have proposed a variety of ingenious shelters including prefabs, inflatables, geodesic dome kits, sprayed polyurethane igloos, and temporary housing made of cardboard tubes and plastic beer crates…not only are these often untested ‘universal’ solutions generally prohibitively expensive, their exotic forms are usually ill-suited to local conditions.”[64]

And while there is a particular fascination with the way in which the temporary influences the permanent the designs remain (as described by Rybczynski) largely  utopic.  Peter Kraftl (2007) claims that architecture is fundamentally linked to utopia, and outlines, how historically, the most common type of utopia has been linked to ideas of comfort and home.  In the context of global geopolitics, the domestic is held as a realm of relatively stability against a backdrop of “disease, famine, war and death”. (Campbell 2007: 358)

However, in the approaches that we have considered, ideas of comfort and home have been bound up in ideas of nostalgia, the ‘traditional’ or ‘the vernacular’, but as we have seen from the built form of the Katrina Cottage, and from the process of reconstructing post-Tsunami Banda Aceh, these ideas are themselves have been informed by the history of intervention and reconstruction.  Indeed they embody and reproduce, as part of the humanitarian imaginary, the nostalgia/utopia of humanitarian intervention and salvation first, in the belief that it is possible to control first place, and ultimately time.

i) The nostalgia of place

The marketing of place – of utopic space – is a key part of reconstruction.  For example, if we consider New Urbanism – the urban design movement which the designers of the Katrina Cottage espouse:  it originated in the US, in the1980s in response to the problems identified with suburban sprawl. New Urbanism is best known for its ‘model towns’ – planned neighbourhoods based on strict urban planning principles such as densely backed, walkable neighborhoods with mixed use and mixed age buildings.[65] New Urbanism promotes the notion of ‘natural variety’ and that architectural and planning decisions should follow a transect approach to planning, respecting the essential truth that different areas have different qualities – different flora, fauna, and social norms.  They identify 6 different ‘context zones’ ranging from the rural to the urban.[66]  According to the website of the New Urban Guild, “the list of things that change along the transect is far too long to fully include here [in the principles for transect planning].”  Readers are advised to “[j]ust look around you; you’ll see it in all the great old places.”[67]  What we will see are the essential qualities of a place that should be respected during the design, planning and development process.

Two of the best known New Urbanist developments are the towns of Seaside, California, and Celebration, Florida.  Both Seaside – used as the backdrop for the 1998 movie, The Truman Show, and Celebration – commissioned by the Walt Disney Corporation – perpetuate through their urban layout and architectural choices, a neo-traditional aesthetic of small town America, where, “women call in their kids to do homework and old men sit outside the general store.”[68] New Urbanists have been accused of perpetuating an imaginary idea of the US and their critics have seized upon what they perceive to be an exploitation, of “a yearning for an imaginary small-town America”[69] and the explicit call for a return to so called traditional social relations through urban and architectural design is evidenced by the above quote.[70]

While green neighborhoods, sustainability, walkability are all principles that are hard to dispute within the current ethical climate of Western society, the level of social control and the homogenous implications of the planning designs – largely white, economically middle class – sit uncomfortably with main stream architectural and urban design practice.  It is interesting then, that New Urbanism has found new life along the Gulf Coast.  Starting with the Mississippi Renewal Forum, of 2005, many of Mississippi’s coastal communities decided to rebuild using SmartCode planning – the transept approach developed by Duany, William Wright and Sandy Sorlien. Two years later, “most of Mississippi’s coastal communities, with the notable exception of Biloxi, are embracing the SmartCode.” (Snyder, 2007)

Consider the tension identified by Hayden with regards to form versus programme – can changes to the programme be made through the base. If suburban sprawl is the result of underlying, structural dynamics, can local, largely aesthetic decisions reverse these trends? Is it possible to imagine reversing capitalist trends through local planning decisions, when the social and economic relations that underpin ownership, employment, family relations, and ultimately place, are driven.  Surely, they can only be temporary enclaves in the sea of progress, Looking at the dubious legacy of Celebration, Florida, where – according to Hayden, it seems likely that the original community (Phase I) provided the marketing hook for future, replica villages, suddenly New Urbanism rather than reversing sprawl, is merely replacing the grid like suburbia of the 1940s and 50s America with the 21st century version of the picturesque enclave.  (Hayden, 2003).

And indeed, the enclave model is one that is aspired to – evoked not only through the design and aesthetic, but also by the romantic, pastoral rhetoric of the movements’ propaganda.[71] The marketing material for the Katrina Cottage is rife with a similar nostalgic, aspiration – promising not only a chance to rebuild and recovery, but to regain a sense of place and belonging that was arguably lost long before Katrina ever hit.[72]

ii) Time

In much of the discussion over reconstruction, there is an assumption that the affected communities should and can return to the pre-disaster state. Andrio Adiwibowo, a lecturer on Environmental and Natural Resource Management Policy at the University of Indonesia, suggests that donors are more likely to provide assistance to disasters which have an end which can be defined.  Describing the lack of response to an ongoing, catastrophic mud volcano, in Eastern Jave he says,  “International donors responded quickly when the tsunami struck Aceh and Nias and the earthquake rattled Yogyakarta and Central Java, but disappointingly, they have never come to Sidoarjo.  Perhaps from a donors perspective, the Sidoarjo disaster is not “attractive”. Once the mud is spilled, you cannot un-spill it.” (2007)

In disaster literature, and practice there is a recognition of the complexity involved in defining a disaster as a discrete event.  Still, the formal engagement with the situation, defines a ‘starting point’ at which the disaster is brought into public awareness and creates a before and an after.  This distinction allows for a romanticization of the pre-disaster situation. As discussed above, this may be done through the largely arbitrary use of such terms of ‘traditional’, ‘vernacular’ and ‘authentic’. These terms often serve as a modifier for existing, pre-formulated design solutions. For example, in the case of the designs put forward after the Tsunami, a housing design would become ‘vernacular’ by the addition of a specific ornament, or a coat of paint in a ‘traditional’ colour, whereas post-Katrina, ‘Traditional Mississippi style’ seems oddly synonymous with ‘has a front porch.’  The romanticization of a pre-disaster state, through a focus on design solutions obscures pre-disaster dynamics – which as we saw so starkly in the case of Katrina – inform the severity and demographic impact of the disaster. Consider the advertised virtue of the Katrina Cottage as its ability to ‘take a swim.”[73] “Even if it’s completely submerged in a flood, you simply remove any furnishings that have absorbed water, hose down the interior, and replace the electrical switches.”[74]  This neglects the  larger issues of why it is necessary for certain people to rebuild in locations where their houses must be submergible.

The issue of mobility is intertwined with how external vs. local’s perceive the reconstruction in terms of time.  Where, for residents of the reconstruction sites – the disaster and the consequent reconstruction are part of a continuum of their lifetime, for external actors, the disaster and the reconstruction represent an event, temporally disengaged from the longer existence of the place. The disaster is privileged as a unique event, and the response as an exception, obscuring the more permanent or entrenched dynamics which make the event into a way of life for certain sectors of the population. There is also the issue that certain actors have the ability to move more or less easily, back and forth, to and from the reconstruction site.[75] Here, Massey’s discussions of the hierarchies/binary of spatial versus temporal considerations come into play – and suggest that different actors – the external versus the local – respectively privilege a spatial versus a temporal approach to reconstruction.  (Massey, 2006)

Because of the power dynamics identified above – skewed in favour of external actors –  it is possible that the reconstruction project, may be biased toward a spatial approach, at the expense of a more nuanced one that also incorporates a temporal element.  From a development perspective, this can be seen in the lack of continuation, oversight, evaluation or follow up.[76]  All the focus is on the built product, the physical outcome.  It is also seen in the broader dynamic of international reconstruction work which sees each reconstruction site as an event, one in a series of reconstructions – creating a network or horizon – between reconstruction sites, rather than seeing the disaster as part of the continuum of the place in which it occurred.

Conclusion:  External vs. Local and the Humanitarian Imaginary 

The problematique of attributing spatial or geographic attachment of a certain group of people to a specific place is notoriously difficult. All people are a unique amalgam of places, traces and experiences derived from a range of geographies and locales.  However, in the context of a reconstruction site, it is possible to differentiate between ‘local’ and ‘external’ actors.  External actors can be defined as those organizations that are brought to a reconstruction site through the political economy of humanitarian assistance:  they would not be in the reconstruction site, had it not been for the event of the disaster. In the context of a disaster, this binary could also be described as the relationship between donor and recipient; saviour/victim; capable/incapacitated and so on.  These categories are reified within the institutional structure of disaster response where they are given geographic attribution:  North-South, or the ‘West and the Rest’.[77]

Many authors distinguish between international (external) and local actors with respect to their physical and economic relationship to the reconstruction process.  The claim is often made that those actors who do not have demonstrable ties to the damaged area should not have a voice in the reconstruction, or their voice should be weighted to reflect their origin and physical relationship to the site.  In some ways this makes perfect sense – those people who are the ‘beneficiaries’ of the reconstruction should have more of a say in the design of the response.  In others, it is a conservative approach which assumes that place may be geographically discrete, and that identification with place implies primary rights to that locale.  It neglects the interdependencies of that place or the layers of ownership.

However, post-colonial scholars have critique such a binary narrative for its failure “to acknowledge the ways modernity is constantly in negotiation and constructed not only vis-à-vis the West but within non-Western places.” (Besio, 2007: 72) Through her work on tourism in Northern Pakistan, Besio (2007) problematizes the attribution of geographic origin to particular modes of thought.  While a superficial reading of the interactions of western travelers to northern Pakistan would seem to suggest a modern/non-modern split between travelers and local resident, she suggests drawing on the work of Timothy Mitchell and Chakrabarty (2000) that the categories are much more nuanced.  In the same way, it is important to recognize the iterations of identity construction that are going on in the process of reconstruction.  For example, in Banda Aceh, designated recipients of new houses were reluctant to accept homes made of more resilient and less dangerous materials such as cinder block, insisting instead on brick houses – an option which is much more likely to cause bodily harm, in the case of an earthquake – based on its status value.

Such unexpected demands, and expectations of the reconstruction process are consistent with Neil Smith’s observations of post-Katrina New Orleans where, he warns, the reconstruction programmes may interweve with pre-existing class divides  in unexpected ways. (Smith, 2006)

In practice though, in a post-disaster context, the money or expertise of the external actors – their power  –  allows them a voice in a discussion that they would not normally have a right to participate in:  how to reconstruct the built environment of a society.  Inevitably, those actors who are not normally physically located in the area, the normative framework from which they are operating is (at least partially) representative of/constructed by the societies, and communities where they are regularly located; as well as by their own needs and incentives and their perceptions of the needs and incentives of the recipients.[78]

The built form of the house is a particularly important site for the construction and negotiation of categories which our central to humanitarian intervention and to the (perceived) utopia of reconstruction.  When contextualized by their history – that is, more likely than not, a previous experience with disasters and an endemic, structural proclivity to experience them in the future – the futility of the utopia of reconstruction; and the vacuity of the term itself –  is highlighted.[79] [80]

The site of the house becomes less an example of comfort, and security, and instead, becomes imbued with qualities of the uncanny, the unhomely.  Kraftl puts forward the hypothesis that this unhomeliness is inextricably bound up with more traditionally positive definitions of the word, not only in a binary, mutually constitutive way, but also that “aspects of the comforting, homely utopian…can be powerfully anxiety inducing and unsettling.” (Kraftl 2007:136)   That these tensions are embodied within a reconstruction site are consistent with the idea that although  the struggle for security may be a key concern of modernity (Bauman 2000) “homelessness and homesickness are equally important in the spacings and desires of modernity.” (Kraftl 2007: 35) Theorists such as Beck (1992) have famously argued that the uprootedness of contemporary, global society makes the idea of a perfect home attractive but since such a utopia can never be achieved, the best that can be attained is a model version.   And while the reconstruction site provides a place that ‘can’t fight back’ Grosz, as quote in Kraftl (2007: 126) argues that “utopias ‘in’ space – if conceived by architects separately from time – are bound to produce architectures of direct control and political inflexibility…”

This tension is manifest in international development thinking, where, according to Pupavac (1995), “international development now offers so little materially to populations globally, its continuing existence may perhaps better be understood as addressing the therapeutic needs of the international community to feel a sense of moral purpose.” Combined with the tendency for external actors to experiment with utopian futures, or recreate nostalgic pasts, reconstruction sites provide a key geographic locale for the othering of a Western, humanitarian identity. The portrayal of reconstruction sites and their occupants as chaotic, incompetent, disabled, disorganized, corrupt, needy simultaneously sustains the superiority of those external actors who are assisting, and justifies introduction and use of various techniques of governmentality:  monitoring, oversight, reporting, management structures.

Shock and outrage have been the reaction when the same problems have occurred in the reconstruction process in New Orleans, as have been seen elsewhere – incompetent, slow, or corrupt contractors; disputes over land ownership and tenure, the janus faced nature of the ‘victims’ who may try to play the system for their benefit.[81] Such behaviour and attitudes have been understood to be those of poor, disaster victims in places far away, not contained within the geographic confines of the West.[82]  The built form of the house is thus important both through its positive contribution to the creation and reinforcement of a Western humanitarian identity by offering ‘concrete’ examples of social ideals, AND through the neo-Orientalist role which physically locates the needs, inadequacies, ineptitude and simplicity of the victims of the disaster in a specific, external geographic local – the reconstruction site. It is in these sites, that the West looks to both reassure and define itself.

 

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Perry, Rex “Katrina Cottages.” Review of Reviewed Item. Cottage Living, no.  (2006), www.cottageliving.com/cottage.

Rybczynski, Witold. Home : A Short History of an Idea. London: Heinemann, 1988.

———. 2006. The Katrina Cottage:  Cute Beats Cutting-Edge When It Comes to Temporary Shelters.  In, Slate. (accessed July 31, 2007).

———. 2005. There’s No Place Like Home:  The Historical Problems with Emergency Housing.  In, Slate. (accessed July 31, 2007.

Scott, James C. Seeing Like a State : How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, The Yale Isps Series. New Haven ; London: Yale University Press, 1998.

ShelterCentre. “Shelter after Disaster 06b.” Paper presented at the Shelter Meeting 06b, 16 November 2006.

Smith, Neil 2006. There’s No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster.  In, Social Science Research Council http://understandingkatrina.ssrc.org/Smith/. (accessed May 31, 2007).

Snyder, Mike. “Mississippi Communities Hope to Avoid Sprawl in Rebuild.” HoustonChronical.com, June 3, 2007 2007.

Stohr, Kate ed. Design Like You Give a Damn:  Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crisis Edited by Architecture for Humanity. London: Thames & Hudson Not Specified.

UN–HABITAT. “Building Houses, Rebuilding Communities:  Un-Habitat Post-Tsunami Reconstruction Effort in Indonesia.” edited by UN–HABITAT Regional Office for Asia & the Pacific, 3: UN-Habitat, 2005.

UN–HABITAT/OHCHR. “Housing Rights Legislation – Review of International and National Legal Instruments.” Nairobi: United Nations Housing Rights Programme, 2002.

UNDRO. “Shelter after Disaster:  Guidelines for Assistance.” New York United Nations 1982.

Vidler, Anthony. The Architectural Uncanny : Essays in the Modern Unhomely. Cambridge, Mass. ; London: MIT Press, 1992.

Wilson, David ed. The Sphere Project:  Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response The Sphere Project 2004.


[1] Depending on the climate, a human being is physically unable to survive for long without the protection from the elements afforded by a shelter. In addition to meeting the immediate needs of its users against the elements, shelter also provides protection by providing a barrier to its inhabitants from wild animals, or aggressive humans.  Depending on the quality of its construction, it also secures its inhabitants against pests and vermin, and allows for a higher degree of hygiene and sanitation for its inhabitants by separating different human functions from one another.

[2] David  Wilson, ed., The Sphere Project:  Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (The Sphere Project 2004).

[3] UN–HABITAT/OHCHR, “Housing Rights Legislation – Review of International and National Legal Instruments,”  (Nairobi: United Nations Housing Rights Programme, 2002). As quoted in Tom Cornelis, Antonella Vitale, Transitional Settlement:  Displaced Populations (Oxford: Oxfam and Univeristy of Cambridge shelterproject 2005).

[4] Beyond emergency shelter guidelines, UNDRO, “Shelter after Disaster:  Guidelines for Assistance,”  (New York United Nations 1982).no official international standards exist for the reconstruction of permanent houses after a disaster.  These guidelines are currently under review.  See ShelterCentre, “Shelter after Disaster 06b” (paper presented at the Shelter Meeting 06b, 16 November 2006).

[5] In a relief situation, the distinction between temporary, transitional (semi-permanent) and permanent housing refers to the length of time that the building is intended to be used for, and therefore, is also indicative of the types of building material used, as well as potentially, site location.  Typically, temporary housing refers to tents (or some variant) while permanent refers to buildings made out of brick or concrete.  Transitional is more ambiguous and all three categories are ultimately dependent upon the geographic situation.

[6] Interview, February 15th, 2007.

[7] For more on distinction between relief and development see Simon Chesterman, You, the People : The United Nations, Transitional Administration, and State-Building (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

[8] See Witold Rybczynski, The Katrina Cottage:  Cute Beats Cutting-Edge When It Comes to Temporary Shelters (Slate, March 31 2006 [cited July 31 2007]).

[9] Both agencies used different modalities, however.  The IFRC primarily outsourced their housing contracts to other NGOs and developments agencies, whereas the CRS used Acehnese engineers, architects and builders to build the houses.

[10] For an excellent overview of various architectural models for emergency shelter see Kate  Stohr, ed., Design Like You Give a Damn:  Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crisis (London: Thames & Hudson Not Specified).

[11] In 1943, 44 states signed a convention to create the UN Relief and Rehabilitation Agency which was replaced only a few years later (1946 – 1947) by four separate functionalist agencies – The UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF, created1946), The International Refugee Organization (IRO, 1948), The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO, 1945), and the World Health Organization (WHO, 1946).  Out of these, only the WHO had a ‘clear cut reference to the principle of universal emergency assistance.  Stephens, as quoted Randolph C. Kent, Anatomy of Disaster Relief : The International Network in Action (Pinter, 1987).38.

[12] See Chapter 2 ,  Ibid. for an overview of the development of international response from WW2 to the late 1980s.

[13] Frederick C. Cuny and Susan Abrams, Disasters and Development (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983).

[14] C.f. Tom Corsellis, Antonella Vitale, Yasemin Aysan, Ian Davis, “Exploring Key Changes and Developments in Post-Disaster Settlement, Shelter and Housing, 1982-2006:  Scoping Study to Inform Revision of ‘Shelter after Disaster:  Guidelines for Assistance’,”  (United Nations/OCHA, 2006), ShelterCentre, “Shelter after Disaster 06b”.

[15] See James C. Scott, Seeing Like a State : How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, The Yale Isps Series (New Haven ; London: Yale University Press, 1998). and work by James Ferguson, Global Shadows : Africa in the Neoliberal World Order (Durham, N.C. ; London: Duke University Press ;, 2006).  for examples of large scale development schemes gone awry.

[16] Witold Rybczynski, Home:  A Short History of an Idea (London:  William Heinemann Ltd, 1988)

[17] This is contrasted with two other dominant programmes:  “the industrial strategy produced the program for high-rise mass housing treated aesthetically as an efficient machine for collective consumption; and the neighborhood strategy produced the program for low-rise, multi-family housing treated aesthetically as a village with shared commons, courtyards, arcades, and kitchens.” Dolores Hayden, Redesigning the American Dream : The Future of Housing, Work, and Family Life (New York: W.W. Norton, 1984).

[18] Ibid.

[19] Clare Cooper Marcus, House as a Mirror of Self : Exploring the Deeper Meaning of Home (Berkeley, Calif.: Conari Press, 1995).  See also Anthony Vidler, The Architectural Uncanny : Essays in the Modern Unhomely (Cambridge, Mass. ; London: MIT Press, 1992).

[20] cf. Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return : Or, Cosmos and History, Bollingen Series 46 ([Henley-on-Thames]: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982).  and Martin Heidegger’s seminal essay “Being, dwelling, thinking” reproduced in Barbara Miller Lane, Housing and Dwelling : Perspectives on Modern Domestic Architecture (London: Routledge, 2005).

[21] Recent artwork by Geraldine Pilgrim, challenges the binary categories of female/male; inside/outside by bringing elements of the outside ‘in’ (a young girls bedroom has trees growing in it) and  a sitting room is overwhelmed by snowdrifts of teacups – disrupting the domestic calm of the interior through the introduction of the outside.  See also work by Suzanne M. Spencer -Wood in Barbara Miller Lane, Housing and Dwelling : Perspectives on Modern Domestic Architecture (London: Routledge, 2007).

[22] Hayden considers the promotion of the detached house as the overt decision of American capitalist interests to move women away from their war time roles as factory workers, and back into the domestic sphere – removing any their emergent power as wage earners while encouraging their increased consumption. “Developers argued that a particular kind of house would help the veteran change from an aggressive air ace to a commuting salesman who loved to mow the lawn.  He would also assist his wife to forget her skills as Rosie the Riveter and begin to enjoy furnishing her dream house in suburbia.” Hayden, Redesigning the American Dream : The Future of Housing, Work, and Family Life. 42.

[23] The value attributed to domesticity can also be seen in, England, in the 1800s.  Throughout the 1800s there was an increased emphasis amongst the British upper classes, on the house as a center for both leisure and for private contemplation.  The material expression of these social trends was the rise of the picturesque with its emphasis on rural retreats and organic, romantic form; as well as the return to neo-classical forms of construction, favoured by the 16th c. Venetian architect Palladio and his latter day enthusiast, Inigo Jones.  These trends coincided with an increased emphasis on the value of privacy – on the importance of private space. “The desire for a room of one’s own was not simply a matter of personal privacy.  It demonstrated the growing awareness of individuality – of a growing personal inner life – and the need to express this individuality in physical ways.” Witold Rybczynski, Home : A Short History of an Idea (London: Heinemann, 1988). 111.

[24] Acknowledging that the ‘New Urbanist’ response to Katrina is but one of many competing visions of what a reconstructed Gulf Coast should look like, it is illustrative of the recurrent themes observed across reconstruction sites. It has also engendered significant support from communities along the coast and is being considered by many as their dominant planning approach. Duany Plater-Zyberk also has a planned development for Mostor for the resettlement of war refugees. http://www.dpz.com/projects.aspx

[25] See http://www.cusatocottages.com/index_content.html (last access date June 30, 2007)

[26] Ben Brown, “Katrina Cottage Unveiled:  Affordable cottage a hit at builder’s show” (Orlando Florida, January 11, 2006) on www.mississippirenewal.com/info/dayJan-11-06.html (last accessed on April 5th, 2007)

[27] Brown

[29] The description from the Lowe’s website describes the cottage as “Designed to be functional, efficient and affordable, the cottage is a permanent residence constructed of quality materials.” http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=pg&p=2006_landing/Katrina_Cottage/KatrinaCottage.html (accessed April 19, 2007)

[30] See http://www.katrinacottages.com/plans/index.html (last accessed June 30, 2007)

[33] I explore this theme of the reconstruction site as borderland, in my other work.

[34] Further research is required on the genealogy of the 1906 SF Earthquake Cottages.  See http://www.outsidelands.org/shacks.php [last accessed August 1, 2007] for more information.

[36] Consider, for example, artist Robert Polidori’s photograph of the double shotgun type:  “2732 Orleans Avenue”

[37] see KatrinaCottages.com

[38] See also Neil  Smith, There’s No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster (Social Science Research Council 2006 [cited May 31 2007]); available from http://understandingkatrina.ssrc.org/Smith/. Susan Cutter, The Geography of Social Vulnerability:  Race, Class and Catastrophe (Social Science Research Council 2006 [cited May 31 2007]); available from http://understandingkatrina.ssrc.org/Cutter/.,

[39] New Urban Guild

[40] There are a host of problematic assumptions contained within these definitions including the pre-existing equality of a society’s citizens to travel to, experience, ‘most loved places’ and therefore to equally define its living traditions.

[41] Hayden, Redesigning the American Dream : The Future of Housing, Work, and Family Life. :99-100.

[42] Ibid.: 100.

[43] Hayden, Redesigning the American Dream : The Future of Housing, Work, and Family Life.18.

[44] The cottage has been in demand not only as a ‘permanent dwelling’, but also, according to the Lowes website, for use as a mountain retreat, vacation cabin, or guest house. http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=pg&p=2006_landing/Katrina_Cottage/KatrinaCottage.html (last accessed on July 10, 2007)

[45] This would be very interesting, and worthy of further investigation.

[47] This was even more the case in Sri Lanka, where the easy accessibility of affected areas and the familiarity of the Island as a popular holiday destination meant that many more Westerners actually came to help with the reconstruction.

[48] after the collapse of the 2003 peace talks, most international agencies and NGOs left Aceh, “as the government made it increasingly difficult for them to operate.” Adam and Afnan Burke, “Aceh:  Reconstruction in a Conflict Environment:  Views from Civil Society, Donors and N.G.O.S,” in Indonesian Social Development Paper (DFID, 2005).: 3.

[49] Badan Rehabilitasi dan Rekonstruksi

[50] It has also served a key role in the peace process by providing jobs to high ranking GAM officials.

[51] Leading to accusations of conflict of interest by various donors.  (From interviews, June 2006)

[52] For work on media representations of disaster see David Campbell 2004 and Moeller 1999.

[53] According to Stohr, ARH, p. 40 – While some of the nascent humanitarian NGOs employed architects in their relief work following WW2

[54] Taken from Attachment B, Regulation of Executing Agency Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency and the Lives of the People of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam Province and Nias Island, North Sumatra Province [sic] On Policies and Administration of Housing and Settlement Assistance for Victims in the Post-Disaster Area (2006) DRAFT.

[55] “Since the tsunami, prices in Aceh have increased more sharply than the national average. The  most dramatic increase is in Banda Aceh where year-on-year inflation in June 2006 was almost 30  percent, down from 41 percent in December 2005. The increase in prices has been mostly driven by  increases in transport costs that in turn have been the major determinant in the increase in the cost  of construction materials (year-on-year inflation of brick, wood, and sand was 83 percent, 124  percent, and 164 percent respectively by December 2005).    Labor costs also increased significantly in 2005; up 40 to 50 percent across all categories of  construction workers. On a less pessimistic note, since January 2006 prices for both material inputs  and labor have remained relatively stable at the high 2005 levels but they have not increased  significantly since then. The impact of inflation is readily shown by the fact that BRR has increased  the average unit cost of new houses from its original estimate of Rp. 28.5 million to Rp. 53 million-  an increase of some 85 percent.” Oleksiy Ivascheno, Ahya Ihsan and Enrique Blanco Armas, “Aceh Public Expenditure Analysis:  Spending for Reconstruction and Poverty Reduction ”  (The World Bank Group 2006).111.

[56] SOS Children’s Villages are an example of an NGO whose mandate does not normally include the reconstruction of houses for families.

[57] The Islamic Code of Qadaahul Haajah has strict prescriptions regarding personal hygiene including that one should be out of sight of people when going to the toilet.

[58] It should be noted, that the responses given, may have been to some degree slanted to what the interviewee thought that I wanted to hear, since, I, the interviewer, was white, and by appearances from ‘an NGO’.

[59] Cf. Scott, Seeing Like a State : How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. or works by James Ferguson.

[60]Cf. Kevin Hetherington, The Badlands of Modernity : Heterotopia and Social Ordering (London ; New York: Routledge, 1997).

[61] There is also an argument to be made with regards to similar ‘far off’ architectural opportunities in the architects imagination, e.g. Corbusier’s Chandighar, Rem Koolhaus in Beijing,

[62] A fascination can be identified, in architectural desig with the temporary structure, the emergency shelter.  This can be seen in the popularity of Shuguru Ban’s designs and the attention given to the design proposals for post-Katrina reconstruction at the 2006 Venice Bienalle.

[63] For example, see the work of Japanese architect, Shiguro Ban.

[64] Witold Rybczynski, There’s No Place Like Home:  The Historical Problems with Emergency Housing (Slate,  2005 [cited July 31, 2007).

[65] Associated movements include the Smart Growth Movement, the Congress for New Urbanism, The Guild Foundation.

[66] The six ‘context zones’ identified on the New Urban Guild website are Natural, Rural, Suburban Neighborhood [sic.], General Urban, Urban Center [sic] and Urban Core.  www.newurbanguild.com (last accessed June 30th, 2007)

[67] www.newurbanguild.com (last accessed June 30th, 2007)

[68] www.newurban.guild.com (last accessed June 29th, 2007)

[69] Linda Hales, In Mississippi, the Reshape of Things to Come (washingtonpost.com) (Washington Post,  Oct. 15, 2005 [cited April 5 2007]).

[70] For a discussion on the pros and cons of New Urbanism see Dolores Hayden, Building Suburbia : Green Fields and Urban Growth, 1820-2000 (New York: Pantheon Books, 2003)., ch. 10 “Nostalgia and Futurism”

[71] Stephen Graham, Cities under Siege:  Katrina and the Politics of Metropolitan America (Social Science Research Council 2006 [cited May 31 2007]); available from http://understandingkatrina.ssrc.org/Graham/. identifies a possible ‘anti-urbanism’ in the reconstruction of New Orleans.

[72] The New Urbanist approach to post-disaster reconstruction should be compared to

[73]Rex  Perry, “Katrina Cottages,” review of Reviewed Item, Cottage Living, no.  (2006), http://www.cottageliving.com/cottage.  In other descriptions, it has been referred to as ‘The Cottage that can go for a swim.” – from the April 2006 issue of New Urban News (www.newurbannews.com)  (last accessed on April 5th, 2007).

[74] Perry.

[75] The issue of mobility is an interesting one in two respects: first, in the role that it plays in transitional and temporary housing and the However, With the rise of mass produced housing, the interpretation of ‘one’s own’ began to emphasize the need for aesthetic detailing, which emphasized the ‘sacred hut’ quality as well as en element of grounding.  The distain with which mobile homes and caravans are regarded within popular culture, may be partly attributable to their cultural associations with certain class behaviours, but it may also be due to the antipathy with which nomadic or transient behaviour is regarded.

[76] An article in the Jakarta Post, describes the policy [he does not specify whose, although the implication is that of the Indonesian government] of “visiting, donating and forgetting that has been applied to victims of the Aceh tsunami and the Yogayakarta earthquake.” Andrio Adiwibowo, “One Year Later, Still Stuck in the Mud,” Jakarta Post, June 1 2007.

[77] C.f. Chesterman, You, the People : The United Nations, Transitional Administration, and State-Building.

[78] Granted, that no matter how small the locale, multiple identities, values, and visions would enter into considerations of the reconstruction.  Even if the individuals and organizations were geographically located in the reconstruction site, the complexity of their identifies, histories and external geographic allegiances would mean that the reconstruction would, inevitably, incorporate elements of external (to the reconstruction zone) considerations, values, and expectations (viz. Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Rendell (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988).

[79] For example, the occurrence of a level 4 or 5 hurricane in New Orleans was regarded as an inevitability by its residents.  See Karen  Bakker, “Katrina:  The Public Transcript of ‘Disaster’,” Environment and Planning D:  Society and Space 23 (2005).

[80] The idea of a utopia has always embodied an aspect of impossibility – Thomas More’s original definition of a utopia as “simultaneously the ‘good’ place and ‘no’ place – in a sense, somewhere perfect whilst being unachievable.” More as quoted in Peter  Kraftl, “Utopia, Performativity, and the Unhomely,” Environment and Planning D:  Society and Space 25 (2007).Kraftl 2007:121)

[81] Dan Baum’s regular column in the New Yorker has been excellent at revealing these tensions.

[82] Arguably, this incomprehension, was responsible for the visual distancing (othering) – in the footage of the immediate post-disaster situation the faces chosen to be broadcast, were of poor, black, New Orleans residents.  And they were geographically contained within a specific, seemingly separate geographic locale – the superdome. That the superdome was not physically cut off from the rest of the city – connected, as it were by a bridge – was arguably not communicated through the media coverage.  Likewise, the resonance with the ‘thunderdome’ and the chaotic, apocalyptic imagery from Mad Max was hard to miss.

Building the Other, Constructing Ourselves

“Building the Other, Constructing Ourselves: Spatial Dimensions of International Humanitarian Response,” International Political Sociology (2008) 2, 236-253

Humanitarian reconstruction after a large-scale natural disaster has become a key site of international politics; a site where global assumptions, relationships, and responsibilities are negotiated, solidified and questioned. While post-crisis response strategies and institutional practices have strong spatial and material characteristics, these are rarely considered as significant—either to the reconstruction effort, or to international politics more generally. This article identifies and examines the ‘‘auxiliary space’’ created by the everyday practices of international aid workers and asks whether its effects may lead to unanticipated and potentially transformative outcomes not only for the reconstruction effort, but also for global North-South relations at large. The article concludes that post-crisis reconstruction sites may offer both cautionary and emancipatory potential for the evolution of international relations.[1]

This is the accepted version of the following article: ““Building the Other, Constructing Ourselves: Spatial Dimensions of International Humanitarian Response,” International Political Sociology (2008) 2, 236–253, which has been published in final form at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1749-5687.2008.00047.x/abstract

Internationals and locals are from two different worlds.

– Azwar Hasan, Founder and Chairperson of Forum Bangun Aceh

We created a world.

– International employee of a multilateral development bank, Aceh.[2]

In the analysis of humanitarian response, debate among theorists and practitioners centers on the inefficiency of particular response modalities, or the lack of preparedness of affected communities (Birch and Wachter 2006). Missing from these discussions are considerations of how post-crisis humanitarian interventions have become a key site in the negotiation of international political relations. The event of a large-scale natural disaster offers a unique possibility to view the way in which the international community conceives of itself and its role in the ‘‘international’’ (Calhoun 2004). It also provides insight into assumptions that underpin global North-South relations—both on the part of the donors and on the part of the so-called beneficiaries. This article examines this encounter by foregrounding the aspects of humanitarian assistance which despite being the most tangible, are the least remarked upon in the policy and analysis of the global North: the spatial and material practices of the international aid community. The highly visible bodies and physical environments of aid workers are almost completely overlooked in any analysis of post-crisis reconstruction or emergency response. It is not considered how these bodies and environments may be an essential aspect in international political affairs and to the way particular categories and relationships are constructed. This politicization of the bodies of aid workers and the acknowledgment that the presence and associated practices of the international community are themselves transformative can be seen in the Myanmar government’s statement, following Cyclone Nargis (2008), that they were willing to accept aid money but not the aid workers themselves (Mydans 2008). It highlights that while the normative international claims of humanitarian assistance may be framed in terms of ethically neutral discourse, the delivery mechanism belies an implicit politicization. A politicization that is regularly airbrushed over in the international community’s accounts of its own activities.

This article explores these claims with reference to the post-tsunami reconstruction in Aceh, Indonesia. Based on participant observation and in-depth interviews with international aid workers, government officials, and local NGO representatives in Aceh, Indonesia, over a period spanning from May 2006 to December 2007, this article proposes the production of an ‘‘auxiliary space’’ of reconstruction which needs to be taken into consideration in any post-crisis humanitarian intervention. The larger theoretical claims are further supported by field work on the 2004-tsunami response in Sri Lanka (June 2006 and December 2007), and the international presence in contemporary Timor-Leste (May 2008). Turning the frame of analysis back upon the spaces and practices of the international aid community, and at the material and cultural aspects of the delivery of aid (Certeau 1988) calls into question the programmatic claim that it is possible to ‘‘do no harm’’ (Anderson 1999) and problematizes such operational distinctions as ‘‘relief’’ and ‘‘development’’ planning.[3] Most importantly, it reveals how the practices involved in post-crisis reconstruction by the international humanitarian community are inseparable from the production and reconstruction of global relations and identities (Barnett 2005). In a context where the visible presence of the international community and aid agencies is growing— recently with the piloting of United Nation (UN) integrated missions, in certain countries—there is an urgent need for such an examination.

In the context of this article, this is done in three steps. First, the article looks at the material and physical accoutrements of the international community including the procurement and use of vehicles and spaces of living and working; then it proposes that these aspects are essential, although underexamined, aspects of any intervention (Pandolfi 2002, 2003). While vernacular and autobiographical writings are rife with well-established visual tropes of the white UN Land Rover and the gated humanitarian compound (Cain 2004), they remain largely untheorized. Theoretical work by Yacobi (2007), Elden (2006), and Hyndman (2000, 2007) has drawn attention to the unique spheres created by NGO and humanitarian agencies; however, any causal impact this auxiliary space may have has not been seriously examined (Yamashita 2004). Recent work by Heathershaw and Lambach (Forthcoming) applies a spatial lens to post-conflict situations and identifies several ways in which such an approach can be helpful both in understanding policy failures in post-conflict settings, and in contributing to the overall debate on post-conflict reconstruction, statebuilding, peacebuilding and associated themes. This article argues that the application of a spatial lens is useful to humanitarian reconstruction more broadly (Hyndman forthcoming; Kleinfeld 2007; Le Billon and Waizenegger 2007), and that it is possible to identify characteristics of ‘‘auxiliary space’’ which are common across post-conflict and postdisaster reconstruction sites alike. These characteristics are derived from the spatial and material practices, techniques and approaches used by the international community in post-crisis settings (Certeau 1988) and contribute to how the international community is perceived by its beneficiaries, and to how the international community itself conceptualizes the reconstruction effort. They may lead to unexpected or unanticipated consequences. Contained within the ‘‘auxiliary’’ approach is the overwhelming assumption that places can be ‘‘reconstructed’’—that space is malleable and static and that the production of space can be disconnected from the techniques and processes used to produce it.

This assumption is explored in the second section which looks at two ways in which priorities and approaches of ‘‘auxiliary space’’ influenced the direction of the post-tsunami reconstruction of Aceh in terms of what was built, where and how. The type and quality of response strategies were significantly informed by the personal trajectories, narratives and resultant imaginaries of the international aid workers themselves. In particular, the inordinate focus on the reconstruction of the form of the single family dwelling and the perceived ability to distinguish a space of disaster from a space of conflict are looked at (Elden 2005; Helmig and Kessler 2007). The article suggests that many of the programmatic problems that have been identified need to be understood in the context of competing fields or spaces of reconstruction which are adopted, used and adapted by the groups and individuals for which they are intended (Bourdieu 1990).

The article concludes by pointing to two possible outcomes that require further examination—one potentially emancipatory, and one cautionary. Just as the process of reconstruction creates new houses, spaces, and social relations, so too do the means of reconstruction—the physical presence of the aid workers has its own impact on social relationships and identity formation. On one hand, there is the need to recognize that the presence of aid workers is itself political, both through its overt influence over political dynamics in the country and implicitly through the differential modalities of movement, living, bargaining, and interacting which are used by the international community and which may create or reinforce perceptions of global inequalities. On the other hand, the spaces that are created may also provide emancipatory opportunities for both donor and recipient to forge new relationships, new routes, and new identities.

Introduction

Within international politics, a ‘‘container’’ approach to space remains the dominant assumption (Helmig and Kessler 2007). The ‘‘territorial trap’’ (Agnew 1997) assumes that physical geography and political territory are coterminous and can be mapped out, carved up, bordered and defended. In few situations are these assumptions as visible as in the reconstruction after a large scale disaster. A tabula rasa approach to post-disaster reconstruction is in evidence by the similar approaches used in planning adopted in places as diverse as Sri Lanka, Pakistan, New Orleans, and Ecuador. To challenge this assumption leads us in two potential directions: first, the problem of ‘‘fit’’ between international solutions to local circumstances, that is, project design; second what happens in the physical and material encounter between international aid worker and local beneficiary.

The Problem of ‘‘Fit’’

The counter-intuitive impacts of restructuring space and the built environment are well documented. Scott (1998), Ferguson (2006), and Hodge (2007) all look at the way in which large-scale development schemes have backfired. In the area of humanitarian response, work by Edkins (2000), Keen (2008), Duffield (2001), Chandler (2006), and Marriage (2006) have demonstrated how the implementation of humanitarian interventions produce unintended and often negative consequences for the very people for whom the intervention has been designed. In de Certeau’s (1988) terms, this is because the very creation and attempted imposition of a top down strategy necessarily entails the appearance of ‘‘tactics’’ that will be deployed by those whom the strategy is intended to assist. These tactics are inseparable from any strategy, and will arise wherever one is imposed. They allow the user of a space to adapt it to his ⁄ her own needs. This changes the way in which the strategy operates, and potentially disrupts the attainment of its intended objectives. In a context of post-disaster reconstruction, tactics are manifest by the intended beneficiaries in the way in which they use, adapt, or reject the houses, infrastructures or trainings that are provided for them by donors.

The Effect of ‘‘Auxiliary Space’’

While specific human subjects deploy the tactics, they are as much a relational product of strategy and environment as they are of human design (Bourdieu; Bourdieu and Nice, 1977). The way in which subjects respond to the imposition of a particular structure is informed by, and inseparable from their personal experiences, social and class conditioning, and past-and-present environment. In the context of post-crisis reconstruction, particular approaches will therefore be informed by previous experience as well as current circumstances. This implies that if the physical circumstances, or habitus of the international community in country is circumscribed, then this will have an effect on how they interact with their intended beneficiaries (Newman 2003). While ideas of the reciprocal causal relationship between subjects and their environments have been common currency in other, more spatially oriented disciplines, development studies, and practice have not, in the main, stressed the importance of spatial concerns in shaping human subjectivities and their social and material practices. Doing so has several implications for the reconstruction effort. First, in terms of project design and delivery—the proposed strategy will be influenced by the particular experiences of its implementers—both in design and interpretation. In their work on the protests of Sudanese refugees toward the UNHCR, Moulin and Nyers (2007) discuss how sited categories such as ‘‘global political society’’ obscures the non-representational reality of how these categories are interpreted and played out on the ground. Second, subtle yet particular socio-cultural biases may manifest in the programmatic approach adopted, as arguably informed the focus on housing and home in post-tsunami Aceh. Third, the particular unique space of the international aid community may invoke further tactics on the part of the intended beneficiaries, thus changing the direction of the overall reconstruction effort.

‘‘Auxiliary Space’’ and the Culture of Reconstruction

The rapid arrival of thousands of humanitarian workers, following the 2004 ‘‘Boxing Day’’ tsunami, has frequently been referred to as a second tsunami. The largest post-crisis reconstruction effort ever seen led to approximately $US 7.7 billion being pledged for post-tsunami reconstruction and hundreds of humanitarian agencies descending upon the province in a matter of months. According to Telford, Cosgrove, and Houghton (2006), the number of International NGOs (INGOs) peaked at around 170 in mid-2005. This was in addition to 430 local NGOs that were also identified. In December 2007, the official government database had identified 841 ‘‘Donors and Partners’[4] and according to Barron (2007) they initially numbered in the ‘‘thousands.’’ The Government of Indonesia (GoI) stated that 133 countries provided assistance, and during the emergency phase, ‘‘16,000 military troops from different countries were deployed in what has been described by observers as one of the largest non-war military missions since the Second World War’’ (BRR 2007a). (The peak number of NGOs and individual donors remains disputed.) What remains completely overlooked in the programmatic literature are the bodies and material circumstances which compose the agencies, and organizations. Viewed from a spatial perspective, the metaphor of the aid tsunami is remarkably accurate. The physical occurrence of a tsunami is the visible result of unseen events (an earthquake) miles away from the damage that takes place. Its footprint is narrow, circumscribed, arrives quickly and retreats shortly afterwards—leaving an uneven, unpredictable, and remade landscape in its wake.

Similarly, work and progress on a post-crisis reconstruction are intimately linked to its site of origin—geographic and functional priorities dependent upon domestic or institutional agendas of organizations based elsewhere (Drury, Stuart Olson, and Van Belle 2005). Evocative of the auxiliary forces of a Roman army, international humanitarian workers are drawn from a wide range of locations and brought together in a foreign land to promote shared values and cosmopolitan norms. While differing in their approach and personal relationship to the particular location, they all have the shared objective of assisting and supporting the reconstruction after a large-scale disaster. Common to this post-crisis space are the three themes of mobility, securitization, and links to the place of origin. Running through all three of these is the fourth theme of exceptionalism.

Mobility

The ability to leave at will—mobility—fundamentally distinguishes the international community from its intended beneficiaries who are generally unable to leave after a few weeks, months or even years, and if they do so it is often in an illicit capacity (Bauman 1998). This applies both to the ability of internationals to arrive and leave a post-crisis site and to their ability to negotiate the space of the disaster itself. In Aceh, the geography of the disaster—long and narrow— meant that the reconstruction site was relatively easy to physically get to from Jakarta. However, the difficulties in moving up and down the approximately 300 km of damaged coastline, led the UN to set up a parallel transport system including almost daily flights to and from certain coastal cities (Calang, Meulaboh). These flights were used to transport (primarily international) staff to and from projects. Throughout the reconstruction effort, the transport of staff—- both of internationals working in country, and visiting experts, consultants, and staff from headquarters—constituted a major part of the UN’s activities. One Acehnese interviewee felt that the constant arrival and departure of international staff was tantamount to tourism, and commented that this money would be better spent on concrete reconstruction work rather than on transport, salaries, and per diems. It also meant that NGOs with fewer resources tended to concentrate their activities around the provincial capital, Banda Aceh.[5]

The theme of mobility is closely related to the theme of securitization where the conditions of movement of international staff around a reconstruction site will often be dependent upon the level of risk that various agencies are willing to expose their staff to. Differential measures of risk with regards to local and international staff are reflected in the operating procedures of various organizations. In the case of largest international organizations such as the UN and Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF), locally recruited staff members are only evacuated in the most exceptional of circumstances and only if the threat is a direct consequence of their employment by the organizations. While for internationals, disasters and other risks are an exceptional circumstance to be temporarily manage and remunerated with hazard pay, the uncertainty that characterizes the live of the inhabitants of many disaster prone regions is a normalized part of their existence (Beck and Ritter 1992; Giddens 1999).

Securitization

The archetype of international securitization is the walled and gated compound: an enclosure containing an assortment of offices, storage, medical, and sometimes living and leisure facilities. This can be seen most clearly in countries that are perceived to be highly insecure, where the experience of the international worker in the country will be physically circumscribed. It is highly securitized and may have an extra buffer zone or checkpoint. There may be watchtowers on the walls where guards can be located. It can also have other oversight mechanisms such as security cameras, or barbed wire on top of the walls. Compounds secure the vehicles, materials, and delivery systems that are used to interact with the target beneficiaries and provide communications networks when others have been destroyed, or are not working. The form will vary in terms of scale and level of securitization, and on the level of resources that the particular organization invests in staff security.

The compound must also provide bodily security to the aid workers who are increasingly targeted by elements of the populations they intend to assist (Boone 2008). With the increased targeting of humanitarian aid workers, both the UN and INGOs have invested more resources into ensuring the physical safety of their staff (Report of the Secretary General 2000, 2003). However, as the humanitarian community becomes increasingly physically separated from their intended beneficiaries, such securitization inevitably comes into conflict with the need to have an open and easy dialog with one’s beneficiaries. With the advent of the integrated UN mission, such analysis is increasingly important; however, much analysis concentrates on the programmatic impacts (Eide, Therese Kaspersen, Kent, and von Hippel 2005).[6]

While the extreme separation of staff from their environments is only seen in the most non-permissive of reconstruction and development circumstances—situations which are arguably not ‘‘post’’ anything (Heathershaw and Lambach forthcoming)—even where the security considerations are not extreme, there is a spatial separation between international staff and their local environments. From the perspective of an organization, it is necessary to provide an environment in which staffs are able to carry out their tasks to a speed and level of efficiency required by their donor governments and funding agencies. This means high-speed communications systems and a common working language. In a development context, it may also be required for hygiene standards to be maintained at a level where foreign nationals are able to function and remain healthy—food and water may be flown in or provided to a standard that reduces exposure to local pathogens and meets country of origin standards. Power generation facilities will also be required in most developing contexts. The degree to which such material and logistical support systems are required will depend upon the pre-existing infrastructure and the level of security and inevitably contribute not only to a physical circumscription. In countries that are deemed to be highly insecure, or dangerous, the staff of international agencies will be restricted in their physical movements.

One way of ensuring mobile security is the wide spread use of what has by now become a development cliche´: the white Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV). While its large frame, and on-road visibility do offer a level of physical safety to their occupants, the protection that it offers has historically derived from its symbolic value. Its form is a mimetic of international humanitarian presence, in many countries better recognized than the symbol of the ‘‘blue helmet.’’ But recent experiences in many countries have shown that the form of the white SUV has become more of a liability than an asset. In some countries, it is not uncommon for international agencies to use local cars or taxis to transport staff instead of official, branded, vehicles to make both staff and vehicles less visible.

Work on the social impact of the SUV in America suggests that the rise in the SUV parallels a model of citizenship that values safety and inviolability of person above all else (Campbell 2005; Mitchell 2005). Similarly, the material practices of the international community may be seen to constitute an ‘‘attempt at self imposed exclusion from the wider neighborhood, as well as the exclusion of others’’ (Atkinson and Flint 2004) reinforcing the observations from local residents that ‘‘the objectives of the international community are different from those of the community they are assisting.’’[7] Edensor (2004:117) describes how cars ‘‘are part of the mediated imaginaries, mundane geographies and everyday practices that inhere in the formation of national identities.’’ The SUV’s large petrol guzzling body has increasingly become a symbol of the excess of the ‘‘West’’ and the exceptionalism with which it regards itself.[8] Such ‘‘self-imposed exclusion’’ may also be related to a personal limited of geographic places that may be deemed risky or insecure, particularly by those internationals who are there on a short-term mission, and therefore are limited in their ability to assess the situation. For most international agencies, the level of security is highly subjective, influenced by political and institutional factors (Lowenheim 2007).[9] It may be tied to the global political concerns of the agency, and may not be directly correlated to the material circumstance of a particular location, again emphasizing the linkages with country of origin rather than location.

Links to Site of Origin

Experiences of host governments have proven that the activities, and priorities of NGOs and multilaterals are remarkably difficult to coordinate and are both strategically and temporally more closely linked to their respective places of origin than to the host government’s (Collier 2007). As the source and location of primary funding, it is in their ‘‘space of origin’’—the country or institution that they are ordinarily based—that field missions are approved and results are assessed.[10] The creation and oversight of contracting, procurement, and assessment all happen in the space of origin, as does the recruitment and retention of staff. Employees’ career paths are tied to their points of origin, or through short-term contracts tied to particular events or disasters. Current debates and policy models at headquarters will inform strategy and approaches where programmatic operating procedures are often based on ‘‘best practice’’ or ‘‘lessons learnt’’ from previous reconstruction efforts, and may be implemented in a new situation with minimal adaptation to local circumstances.

In the case of post-tsunami Aceh, the larger organizations flew in their crisis response teams from headquarters and quickly transported those field staff who had been working on ‘‘similar crises’’ (Telford et al. 2006). This had two effects. First, while the locale of the reconstruction may change, its basic attributes do not, and similar spatial and material circumstances which accompany the aid industry will inform the people who work in them ‘‘hopping’’ from one disaster to the next. From an institutional perspective this is logical. To accomplish a quick and efficient intervention, you need people who are experienced with the instruments and processes of humanitarian response. You do not want to be re-inventing the wheel at every new disaster. However, from a political perspective, the reification of a mobile space of response means that certain assumptions regarding reconstruction become increasingly difficult to challenge and will develop into the ‘‘de facto’’ way of doing things in a particular context; the implications of which are not questioned. It creates an environment where ‘‘you can forget where you are and sip your latte.’’[11] That the priorities of the donors were at spatial and temporal odds with the location can be seen in the frequent complaint from the government and local NGOs that the timing of the reconstruction was problematic.[12]

While many development theorists have criticized the programmatic inefficiencies that result from such disjunctures, this article argues that the discrepancies have a further impact—they are embodied in the material practices of the international aid community. For example, the temporal structure of the in-country workday, including holidays and working hours, will be strongly influenced by the country of origin. Local customs such as prayer and fasting may come into conflict with competing temporal demands such as fiscal and reporting deadlines from headquarters. The length of time that staff spends in country is also significantly different from the local environment with work being carried out by staff who come for either very short periods as consultants (a few days or weeks) or for slightly longer, but still temporary assignments of 6 months to 2 years. To remain in a country longer than a few years is unusual in most agencies and particularly in the case of emergency relief and reconstruction; the demand for such skills is high, and workers are often quickly moved on to the next emergency.

The occurrence of ‘‘burnout’’ amongst this group of individuals is also very high. Other spatial exceptions include common dress codes, in keeping with the business practice and cultures of the point of origin, which may be at odds with local customs, for example, women baring their heads. Depending on which aspects of the space are in question, they may also be the location of potentially exceptional cultural practices such as the consumption of alcohol.

For all three themes, it is worth noting that to talk of the international community as a homogeneous entity is itself an abstraction. Within the aid community there exists, in many large-scale reconstruction sites, a ‘‘tiering of aid’’ between the Multilateral Organizations, INGO, and small scale NGOs.[13] Often these three groups create their own spheres of dialog and interaction—functionally separate from the others, although similar in the characteristic described. This tiering only serves to reinforce the overall theme of exceptionalism, as the more ‘‘elite’’ or prominent the international body, the higher the likelihood that it will have resources to invest in securitization, mobility and links to the space of origin. Such practices focus the international community inward, and bound their experience—both spatially and temporally. But also to disparities in the ability to produce knowledge that is recognized as such by the international community (Siapno-De Araujo forthcoming). The next section will look at how this circumscription contributed both to a particular understanding of the beneficiaries, and to particular choices regarding the built environment. It will first look at the inordinate focus on the built form of the single family dwelling and second, at the assumption that it is possible to separate out natural from political spaces of disaster.

Siting the Reconstruction

The Central Role of the Single Family Dwelling

In the reconstruction of post-tsunami Aceh, the building of new, permanent houses has become a key indicator of recovery. The number of completed houses, as well as required houses has been the source of much debate, and has changed in light of updated beneficiary information and increased costs. By the third anniversary of the tsunami, in December 2007, over 100,000 houses were completed, and the government was continuing to build toward the target of 120,000 (AFP 2007). Of the houses that have been built, many remain unoccupied because of either questions over ownership, land tenure, problems with quality of construction, or lack of adequate infrastructure. The tone between donors and beneficiaries was marked by frustration, mistrust, and sometimes outright anger (World Bank ⁄DSF 2007). Interviews within Acehnese civil society and government offices blamed both the international community and their government-sponsored institutions for the slow pace of construction, misuse of aid funds, and unfulfilled promises. The  internationals in turn, have blamed beneficiaries, government, and contractors for corruption leading to resentment by some internationals toward the very people that they had been brought in to assist.

Prior to the tsunami, there was almost no international presence in the province. Due largely to the protracted guerilla campaign by the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) against the GoI, few agencies maintained a presence in the province and of these even fewer maintained international staff. Consequently, relatively little was known about Aceh as a province. This element of the unknown contributed to the fascination that many aid workers felt coming to this place (Kenny 2005) and may have added to reported perception of ‘‘disaster tourism’’ by local interviewees. Upon arrival, the sheer scale of the disaster was overwhelming to many less experienced NGOs and more experienced players alike. Added to this was the previously unheard of US$ 7.7 billion in aid pledges that needed to be spent. In addition to this, the GoI pledged an additional US$2 billion. Rather than begging for funding, they were begging for beneficiaries. In this setting, large building projects, which would show results quickly and use up relatively large amounts of cash, were very attractive to the donor community. So, by December 2006, World Bank figures show 1,424 projects and programs in the housing sector alone—over 757 more than the next nearest sector—transport (World Bank 2006).

Within the humanitarian aid community, the idea of ‘‘home’’ is an elusive concept. The ethnoscape of the humanitarian aid worker is the topography of nomads (Appadurai 1997; Deleuze and Guattari 2004). The concept of home is held up as an archetype of stability and comfort. Arguably, within a globalizing concept in general, the idea of home or neighborhood has come to occupy almost a sacred status. Houses have the added benefit that they are seen to be relatively non-political: they are a basic human need. But for the international community to physically rebuild permanent houses for an entire province is an unusual approach. Normally, reconstruction is done through either cash transfer or concentrates on the temporary or transitional phases of an emergence. The commitment that all earthquake and tsunami-affected families ⁄ households would be entitled to reconstruction or rehabilitation assistance can be traced to the central government directive of January 2005 (Steinberg 2007). In the initial reconstruction strategy of January 2005, the unit of a 36-square meter house was used as a costing estimate, and the reconstruction of houses took up only 12 pages of a nearly 200-page document (AFP 2007). But as the international community experienced increased pressure to show visible results, and tsunami-survivors became increasingly vocal about their need for houses, many NGOs turned to the building of housing as the easy way out.

But the reconstruction of a place proved to be neither as politically nor as technically easy as it was first assumed. Even well-established NGOs were not experienced in the area of construction and had little to no experience designing and implementing full-scale construction projects. In addition to the technical expertise and land right issues, you are dealing with families, with communities.[14] When reports of houses being allocated to ineligible persons began to surface, for example people who had not lost their house in the tsunami, ex-combatants, or people who had more than one house, donors were initially shocked. Interviewees expressed almost a personal sense of betrayal in their descriptions of events. Part of this is due to the way in which the idea of the ‘‘local’’ was imagined by the internals—both in terms of their circumstances and their desires.

Imagining Circumstances

Aceh’s long history as a rich and cosmopolitan place was not visible in the aftermath of the  tsunami. Instead of a multi-ethnic port city that had lain within a vast trade network and that had resisted Dutch colonialism for many years (Siegel 2003), the influx of aid workers knew the province only as a poor, conflict-ridden, and isolated place and consequently, one that should be grateful for what it received. Tsunami survivors were simultaneously constructed as beneficiaries, recipients, victims, and sometimes culprits (Bhabha 2004; Said 1995). Attempts to shift institutional thinking toward a more nuanced, ‘‘client’’ oriented approach were undermined through the continued interpretation by the international aid-workers of a disaster zone as a flat space, and its inhabitants as inherently ‘‘local’’—a term that typical of development circumstances has often been conflated with traditional ways and a vernacular aesthetic (Ferguson 2006).[15]

It was this understanding that led to an overemphasis on the ornamental and stylistic aspects of building. Lengthy discussions were held with beneficiaries on whether the houses should be built in the vernacular style, whether they should have a balcony, where toilets and kitchens should be placed, and what the color of the paint should be. Particular emphasis was placed on involving the communities in the design of their houses; however, the guidelines had already been largely specified by BRR, so changes to the design could only be minor. While many NGOs initially tried to provide larger houses, inflation and other complicating factors such as technical difficulties forced some organizations to scale back their original designs and meant that even the 36-square meter houses were often built to a substandard quality. Some donors were surprised when recipients ultimately seemed most concerned about the overall size of their house compared to their neighbors and whether it was built of concrete or brick.[16]

Within Acehnese society, the role of the house is traditionally complex. According to John Siegel (2003), a typical, traditional Acehnese village ‘‘consists of clusters of houses owned by sisters and aunts (mother’s sisters) with the compounds often sharing a wall and a fence. The size of the clusters depends, of course, on the size of the families and the availability of land’’ (Siegel 2003:52). It is not uncommon for an entire family to live together in one house. Post-tsunami—in the case that the house that was destroyed was a large one, accommodating several generations—there was no provision available within the BRR guidelines for anything except the standard 36-square meter house.

Desires

Three years after the Tsunami, the government agency responsible for investigating corruption in the reconstruction of houses had identified 1,000 cases of ‘‘cheating’’ involving 5,000–10,000 houses and as many as 50,000 individuals. According to a BRR official, entire villages colluded to gain extra houses. Such behavior is held up by internationals as a prime example of the corrupt and dishonest nature of Acehnese society, and have subsequently used this as an explanation for slow project delivery and mismanagement. It has also been used as an excuse to increasingly deploy interventionist and un-participatory methods and to terminate projects. Officially, the approach adopted by the international community was one based on local ‘‘ownership’’: where the community that is being assisted invests their own resources in to the process, and is therefore vested in seeing the outcome and maintenance of the project (Kenny 2005). Many NGOs pursued this approach to the reconstruction of housing, but the sheer scale of required coordination across different legal jurisdictions, issues with property rights, coordination with water, sanitation, roads, and in some cases electricity made it inappropriate for many of the smaller and medium sized NGOs which were not able to marshal the necessary commitment from various constituencies.

Ultimately, many NGOs were forced to abandon the approach and bring in large-scale construction companies that were neither participatory, nor particularly concerned with the impressions, needs, and requests of the beneficiary. Some were cited by interviewees as overtly corrupt, adding to the negative impression of the reconstruction experience. The low quality of the houses, and associated problems meant that the beneficiaries were unhappy—some complaining openly to the media, government or directly to donors; others threatening particular agencies; and many others simply refusing to live in the houses. In December 2007, there were reports of recipients storming donor offices demanding houses and of beneficiaries burning down houses that they considered to be unsafe (The Times 2007). This reinforced the impression that recipients are ungrateful, corrupt, and potentially violent. The resultant level of disgust with Acehnese society was expressed by one aid worker, who claimed that Acehnese culture is based exclusively on the principle of exchange, and is lacking in ‘‘western emotions’’ such as gratitude or love.[17] Such a claim sits uneasily against analysis that blames donor practices for the rise of an ‘‘entitlement culture’’ in Aceh (Barron 2007).

Mapping the Reconstruction

The perception of reconstruction space as flat space, empty space, smooth space (Lefebvre 1991) contributes to an approach to reconstruction, seeks to catalog, and report upon the reconstruction site according to the logic of its space of origin (UN-HABITAT 2007; UNORC⁄BRR 2007). As already mentioned, a major and widely recognized difficulty with the reconstruction effort in Aceh, was the lack of coordination between donors. This is a common problem in all humanitarian and development settings and the general solution on the part of donors is to increase the amount and quality of information. Internationally, it has led to the promotion of a ‘‘cluster system’’ to coordinate donor activity which is currently promoted as a ‘‘best practice’’ in humanitarian responses. This means that the reconstruction effort is divided up into different ‘‘sectors’’ with a different ‘‘lead’’ agency heading the relief and reconstruction effort in each one. When viewed from a spatial perspective, one effect of this system is to carve up the effort into functional areas that treat areas such as ‘‘water and sanitation’’ as distinct from ‘‘shelter.’’ Such distinctions are understandably necessary from a programmatic perspective; however, they also reinforce the perspective that it is possible to divide up a reconstruction effort into geographic and functional areas, and inevitably lead to a ‘‘silo’’ mentality where different sectors pursue endeavors which are out of sync with other, necessarily complementary, areas.[18] The response of the international community to coordinate problems is typically the identification, or creation of more or new data about what is essentially a political problem. In the case of Aceh, consultants and financial advisors were brought in to improve oversight mechanisms which included the establishment of a database to record and track all manner of donor activity.[19] An inordinate amount of attention was placed on the mapping of the disaster through Geographic Information System technology, attempts at coordination ultimately relied upon the production of reports, matrices and face-to-face and word-of-mouth contact through working groups.[20] Easterly (2002) has claimed that there is an incentive for aid agencies to spread the risk of failure by engaging in collaborative endeavors. Such collaborative endeavors may also lead to a shared culture of response between donors, who will regularly see each other at meetings. The regular turnover of staff may also mean that any institutional memory is regularly erased, encouraging a constant re-mapping of the situation.

Such a lack of institutional memory, and a tendency toward spatially oriented categories led to a distinction in the allocation of post-tsunami funds between donor funds and mechanisms which could be used to assist victims of the tsunami and those which could be used to assist communities that were affected by the long-running civil conflict (Helmig and Kessler 2007). Until the tsunami, Aceh had been the site of a long running battle between Acehnese pro-Independence supporters and Indonesian forces (Aspinall 2007; Kell 1995; Reid 2006). August 2005 (6 months after the tsunami) marked a peace agreement (the Helsinki Accord) between the GAM and the GoI. Money and resources were allocated with the demobilization and reintegration processes, but nowhere near the amount that had been allocated for post-tsunami reconstruction. The two types of post-crisis assistance were, by and large, kept financially and programmatically apart (Barron 2007). Separate institutions were created to oversee the respective processes, and use of largest pooled fund of post-tsunami money—the ‘‘Multi Donor Fund,’’ worth US$ 673 million—although espousing a conflict sensitive approach, could not be used on post-conflict projects.[21]

Ignoring years of policy analysis on the need to adopt conflict sensitive approaches to development (Burke and Afnan 2005), post-tsunami projects and programs initially adopted a largely ‘‘conflict blind’’ approach. It was considered to be relatively easy to distinguish between tsunami affected areas and conflict afflicted ones, and the two issues were seen to be programmatically separable. However, in some areas, such as Bireuen and Aceh Utara, there was significant overlap, creating tension between two categories of individuals who were receiving different levels and quality of support (World Bank 2008; UNORC⁄BRR 2007). Even in areas where the two categories of beneficiaries are not overlapping or contiguous, people move. The ‘‘search for beneficiaries’’ on behalf of NGOs may have contributed to this, as did their demand for reconstruction materials and labour (International Crisis Group 2007). The appearance of ex-combatants, looking for homes in areas designated for tsunami victims has also caused social problems. While the ex-combatants were unhappy that they were receiving fewer resources than their tsunami-affected compatriots, the tsunami victims, were uncomfortable living beside ex-combatants who have been associated with a rise in robbery and extortion in certain areas (Barron 2007; International Crisis Group 2007).

Contributing to this has been a ‘‘lack of fit between internationally derived assumptions about the aims of reconstruction and the context and needs of post-conflict Aceh’’ (Barron 2007). While occasions were provided to discuss the appropriateness of particular approaches to local conditions, they had no sustained impact. Instead, he observes that the use of individual compensation approaches in the reintegration of ex-combatants may be (re)producing the very conditions that made conflict likely in the first place: decreases in social cohesion, the hardening of conflict-era group identities, the aforementioned development of an entitlement mentality, and the perpetuation of a lack of trust of communities toward the state. Barron attributes the problem of ‘‘lack of fit’’ to a focus by the international community on implementation and modalities of the reintegration program rather than aims. However, his paper suggests that the space of these discussions—the context, delegates, timeframes and constraints— informed the discussions in such a way as to bias the discussions toward outputs that are in keeping with international assumptions about the nature of the ‘‘local.’’ As seen from the discussions of auxiliary space, such ideas of the ‘‘local’’ are strongly shaped by the bounded presence of the international and what the humanitarian imaginary considers to be local, both in country and in the space of origin.

Work by Heathershaw and Lambach (Forthcoming) has identified the tendency to oversimplify in-country relationships and allegiances through the overreliance on categories of ‘‘local’’ and ‘‘international’’—a problem that is observed across reconstruction sites. In Aceh, when the Agency of the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction for the Region and Community of Aceh and Nias (BRR) was set up in April 2005 by Presidential Decree, it was supported by international donors as a way of ensuring local ownership over the reconstruction process. In practice, it was staffed almost exclusively by Javanese and has been seen by some as a way for the GoI to ensure oversight over the reconstruction of one of its three daerah istimewa or ‘‘special territories.’’ Many of the employees—substantive and administrative staff alike—came to Aceh exclusively to work at the Bureau and when interviewed, expressed a distain for life in Banda Aceh. With the expansion of the Bureau’s mandate in early 2006 from coordination and oversight to include project implementation, conflict of interest issues arose and the Bureau was accused of graft and irregular contracting and procurement procedures which were exacerbated by the often poor quality of houses built (Afrida 2006; Guerin 2006; Sijabat 2006). The resulting BRR antipathy needs to be read through the lens of contemporary Acehnese politics and the push and pull over various government and parastate institutions, both at the local and national levels. A more nuanced reading that takes into consideration the overlapping and possibly competing fields at play in a reconstruction site, allows one to consider the various interpretations and behaviors of individuals who, in one field, may be beneficiaries, but may in other, be operating according to quite different parameters. A final section will examine this in more detail.

Implications and Conclusion

The Emancipatory Space of Reconstruction

This article has so far discussed the unanticipated ways in which the restructuring of space has resulted in negative unanticipated outcomes. However, the analysis also suggests that the new spaces that are created may also exhibit some emancipatory potential. In the discussion of home, we have seen how many of the aid workers may themselves occupy a liminal space with regards to their own countries—simultaneously longing for home, and yet estranged from it. They not only simultaneously benefit from the privilege and insurance that their nationality of origin confers upon them, but also wish to distance themselves from the most mundane elements of static existence. And while they are brought to these spaces through the impetus of their sites of origin, and offered a relative degree of wealth vis-a`-vis their host populations, they are still subjected to the spaces and timings of their temporary homes such as unexpected power cuts and national holidays. While the article has discussed the ways in which two-dimensional ideas of beneficiaries are often embodied within reconstruction strategies, the many aid workers interviewed espouse nuanced and complex attitudes toward their beneficiaries. Many expressed the desire to find a way to engage with the communities in a way that allowed them to live ‘‘not as a colonist, a soldier, or an aid-worker’’ but as the people they actually are (Meek 2008). However, as discussed, the way in which post-crisis space is reconstructed, makes these types of liminal experiences difficult to obtain.

The post-tsunami reconstruction and its ‘‘auxiliary space’’ also presented new and potentially conflicting opportunities and experiences for the beneficiaries. In light of Aceh’s cosmopolitan heritage, the arrival of foreigners was not seen as particularly threatening by the majority of the population, but rather as a source of interest and for some, of opportunity. The movement of delegations, consultants, and in-country staff created a demand for drivers, fixers, translators, local administrators, restaurants. Some of the financial benefit of this apparently filtered down into the wider economy. Particularly in Aceh, there was a visible economic boom—with the number of scooters, and SUVs having increased exponentially in the last 3 years. One government official commented, on the ‘‘current donor-aided construction-driven economic boom’’ (BRR 2007b), ‘‘when you drive through Banda Aceh in the evenings it looks like Paris: people sitting on the sidewalks, in cafes.’’[22]

For Acehnese living, working, and studying abroad, the event of the tsunami drew them back to assist their families, friends, and communities in rebuilding their lives. But the auxiliary space of humanitarian response also provided the opportunities for them to remain working in Aceh by providing salaries and working conditions comparable to what they would experience abroad. Under the circumstances of reconstruction, it also provides a microcosm (or space of exception) in which ‘‘western’’ behavior and attitudes are encouraged. For example, in post-tsunami Aceh, the bar within the World Food Programme (WFP) compound become known as a place which allowed ex-patriot staff and like-minded Acehnese to drink, dance, and relax in the context of an otherwise strict Muslim society. However, to certain elements within Acehnese society, the compound became a site of suspicion, and in June 2006, the compound experienced a nighttime raid where Syari’at police were reported to have shined lights onto sleeping staff within the compound (Deutsch Presse Agentur 2006). It is not clear whether the threat posed by the compound was one of exceptional space—an unregulated space nested within the space of Aceh—or if it was one of subversion—of the corruption that could be carried out upon the Acehnese subjects that came into contact with it. However, it raises the possibility that the binary distinction between ‘‘us’’ and ‘‘them,’’ ‘‘local’’ and ‘‘international’’ is as instrumental to elements within Acehnese society as it is necessary as a strategic framework for the international community. However, it is also possible, that after such a large scale trauma, the new, ‘‘auxiliary space’’ and material practices present an opportunity to dramatically restructure space, to fundamentally reorient  the direction of a particular society, and offer a visible and tangible hope that spurs the ‘‘beneficiaries’’ on to a better life. Such a window of opportunity was frequently cited in post-tsunami Aceh, as the arrival of an ‘‘army’’ of aid workers was considered to be a major contributing force to the resolution of the long running conflict between the pro-Acehnese independence GAM and the GoI. The physical presence of so many internationals and the accompanying media attention was seen by many as the necessary impetus for the resolution of the conflict (Le Billon and Waizenegger 2007; Renner 2006). In this way, ‘‘auxiliary space’’ may have allowed for a reconsideration of options and relationships between the combatants.[23]

While in the case of Aceh, the outcome of increased international presence has so far been positive, it needs to be considered for its wider impact. Arguably, attribution of causal impact to the international community has contributed to a hardening of the Government of Sri Lanka’s post-tsunami policy stance vis-a`-vis international involvement in domestic politics. Likewise, the 2008 post-cyclone Nargis position of Myanmar’s government was structured along geopolitical lines. Initially, they were willing to accept aid but not the aid workers to deliver it (Mydans 2008), and subsequently expressed a willingness to accept assistance only for other South East Asian countries (Mydans and Cowell 2008). Such outcomes offers insight into the degree to which host governments view the bodies and material presence of the international community as political and emphasizes the need to consider the built forms and material practices and in particular, the role of an ‘‘auxiliary space’’ as an integral part of the international humanitarian response. It is only by understanding that the way in which we do things is as important as what is done that we will be able to move beyond the existing categories of north ⁄ south; donor ⁄ beneficiary; savior ⁄ saved that dominate and constrain current international politics.

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[1] The author would like to thank Tarak Barkawi, Josef Ansorge, Alex Anievas, and two anonymous referees for their comments and suggestions. Thanks to Mary J. Hunter and Arran Gaunt for their support. Research funds for this article were provided by the Smuts Foundation. The themes explored in this article are part of a doctoral dissertation at the University of Cambridge, Centre for International Studies entitled ‘‘Post-Crisis Built Environments of the International Community.’’

[2] Interview, Banda Aceh, 17 December, 2007.

[3] In the context of this article, ‘‘humanitarian intervention’’ is used to refer to the spectrum of international response following a large-scale disaster, as in practice there is significant blurring and overlap between the categories of ‘‘relief’’ and ‘‘development,’’ particularly from the perspective of the beneficiaries.

[4] Statistics provided by BRR.

[5] The requirement of the GoI for aid workers to register with the military or face expulsion if caught outside the main cities of Banda Aceh and Meulaboh, compounded the concentration in these areas c.f. BBC. January 11, 2005 Indonesia Restricts Aceh Aid Work BBC.

[6] For work on the impact of military bases see Enloe, Cynthia H. (1989) Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making

Feminist Sense of International Politics. Updated ed. with a new preface. ed. Berkeley, Calif.; London: University of

California Press, 2000; Cooley, Alexander. (2005) Base Politics. Foreign Affairs 84(6): 79–92.

[7] Interview, Banda Aceh, 19 December, 2007.

[8] And as much as the vehicles have become the target of displeasure with the international community, so too are they sought after by government ministries as a requirement of international assistance.

[9] The higher the risk rating, the higher the level of financial compensation and benefits earned by staff, which may incentivise some staff—particularly in peacekeeping missions—to maintain a higher security rating. Interview, Dili, May 23, 2008.

[10] While there is a stress in the programmatic literature on downward accountability, the key stakeholders remain those organizations and individuals who fund the intervention

[11] As one NGO worker cynically quipped. Interview, Dili, 20 May, 2008.

[12] It is worth noting that such complaints ran both directions, and that some donors felt that the GoI’s strict

imposition of reconstruction ‘‘phases’’ was unhelpful to a coherent reconstruction effort.

[13] Interview, Dili, 19 May, 2008.

[14] Interview, Banda Aceh, 13 December, 2007

[15] Interview, Banda Aceh, December 14, 2007 & Dili, 19 May, 2008.

[16] Although the general consensus was that the preference of brick over other materials was based upon social prestige, one interviewee felt that the preference was based, in the context of a long-running civil conflict, on the need for the physical security that brick provided. Interview, Banda Aceh, 13 December, 2007.

[17] Interview, Banda Aceh, 14 December, 2007.

[18] The institutional dynamics of aid are such that each ‘‘sector’’ may quite quickly move from being strictly an implementer of the overall project to having its own institutional incentives to expand into other areas ‘‘outside’’ its sector leading to mandate creep.

[19] Certain donors, such as the World Bank, have continued to collect and process their own data leading to disputes over which reporting figures are accurate.

[20] Certain donors, such as the World Bank, have continued to collect and process their own data leading to disputes over which reporting figures are accurate.

[21] Originally named the ‘‘Multi Donor Trust Fund,’’ the ‘‘Trust’’ was dropped from the title, according to one facetious interviewee, because there was no trust left.

[22] Interview, Banda Aceh, 18 December 2007.

[23] The tsunami itself is also pointed to as an event of religious significance which led to a realization on behalf of all the parties, of the futility of violence.

Spaces of Aid

“Spaces of Aid: The spatial turn and humanitarian intervention,” Paper presented at the BISA Conference, December 15, 2009, Leicester

Since the mid-1990s, international, non-governmental and multilateral actors have increased their organizational awareness of physical security concerns in the field (UN Secretary General, 2000). Where humanitarian presence was historically protected through appeals to international legal and moral norms of neutrality and immunity there is an increasing focus on the need to physically protect and control the space of intervention –  from the space of the body, to vehicles and their trajectories, to the living and work environments of both staff and beneficiaries (Van Brabant, 2000; Smirl, 2008). Such considerations have become necessary as humanitarian actors work in increasingly more complex and violent aid environments, leading to the paradoxical outcome that the international aid workers become increasingly enclosed, guarded and cordoned off from the very populations they were mobilized to assist (Stoddard, Harmer et al., 2009).

Current work on humanitarianism is now concerned with the implications that this may have on the politicization of humanitarian space through the built environment. However, this work fails to adequately theorize the mechanisms by which this politicization occurs. This paper seeks to address this by

  • first, examining what a spatial approach to humanitarian intervention might look like;
  • second, how such an approach can contribute to a better understanding of the significance of current trends toward humanitarian enclavism;
  • third, widening the debate out from the specific form of the compound to demonstrate that the tendency towards enclosure is a pervasive feature of humanitarian engagement in the field regardless of securitization.

Methodologically, this paper draws upon interviews with aid workers and security officials and a review of security manuals from ECHO, the IFRC, DFID and the UN.  It is supplemented by photographic and archival research and as a theoretical examination of the spatial turn in humanitarian intervention it is intentionally wide ranging – drawing on a variety of cases from Ache, East Timor, Rwanda, Darfur, and Sarajevo.

Before beginning it is necessary to undertake a few definitions.  In the context of this paper, the term humanitarian refers to the full spectrum of international assistance from relief to development.  The expression “in the field” is used to refer to the site of the humanitarian field mission, or offices of a given humanitarian agency based in a country which is being assisted. While th term ‘the field’ is itself inherently spatial – a phenomena I address elsewhere – I leave it unproblematized in the context of this paper.  Similarly, while acknowledging the inherently spatial nature of terms such as the ‘local’ and the ‘international’ in some cases these are the most clear designation for categories of people for normally reside in what is considered ‘the field’ (in the case of the former) and those that work in the mobile space of international organizations (for the latter).

Part I – The framework:  lessons from other space(s)

In The Production of Space Henri Lefebvre famously lays out a tri-partite framework for examining space (Lefebvre, 1991).  His intent is to demonstrate the role that space and place play in the production of capitalist subjectivities and processes.  However, the impact of this framework has gone far beyond a narrow Marxist analysis and has been used to explain the production and reproduction of identities, subjects and social relations regardless of the initial ontological assumptions.

In The Production of Space and subsequent works, Lefebvre urges the reader to critically interrogate the seemingly unproblematic nature of space as inert place in contemporary epistemology.  By analysing the causal role that space as place in the reproduction of accepted ontological categories, insight is gained into the various functions that space and place play in the establishment and maintenance of power relations more generally.

Lefebvre lays out a model of conceived, perceived and lived spaces. Conceived space (or representations of space)  is “conceptualised space, the space of scientists, planners, urbanists, technocratic subdividers and social engineers…all of whom identify what is lived and what is perceived with what is conceived” (Lefebvre, 1991, 38). Perceived space (or spatial practice) is the space of everydayness.  It is how a place is commonly used in routine existence and contains the “routes and networks which link up the places set aside for work, ‘private’ life and leisure” (Lefebvre, 1991, 38).  Lived space (or representational space) is the space of “the imagination which has been kept alive and accessible by the arts and literature” (Shields, 2004, 210).  It is

space as lived through its associated images and symbols, and hence the space of space of ‘inhabitants’ and ‘users’…This is the dominated – and hence passively experienced – space which the imagination seeks to change and appropriate.  It overlays physical space, making symbolic use of its objects (Lefebvre, 1991, 39).

This tri-partite model (or triple dialectic) has proved useful for subsequent theoretical explorations of the nature of space.  For example, David Harvey, lays out the categories of space as absolute, relative and relational (Harvey, 2006).[1]  A third spatial theorist who is well known for his work on spatial trilectics is Ed Soja who translates Lefebvre’s framework into a First Space which is known, mappable (analogous, according to Soja, to Lefebvre’s perceived space); a Second Space with is imagined (analogous to Lefebvre’s conceived and lived spaces); a Third Space which brings together spaces which are both real and imagined (Soja, 1996).

In the context of humanitarian intervention, the use of a similar tri-lectic proves to be of great heuristic value.   Drawing upon insights from Lefebvre, Harvey and Soja, it is possible to identify three distinct spaces of relevance to humanitarian intervention.

The ‘first space’ or espace conçu is identifiable in the abstract spatial constructions of humanitarian assistance.  It can be seen in the neo-liberal, technocratic categorization of countries according to levels of poverty, conflict, volatility.  The way in which poverty and instability are mapped onto geographic locales and conversely how these geographies of humantarianism form the basis of further categories of intervention, assistance and international relations.  The most obvious example of the conceived space of humanitarian intervention is the distinction between first and third world countries.  Although this distinction has become refined and adapted to more nuanced categories such as HIPC, LICUS or LDCs, the spatial logic remains the same.  The underlying categories used to define the problem and need of global humanitarianism are based upon the spatial ontologies of OECD countries.  Nor is conceived space purely restricted to the macro-level.  Within international organizations, the established mode of service delivery is through technocratic tools and approaches which rely upon the conceptual belief that the spaces of assistance are as they are constructed within the humanitarian imaginary.

The perceived space of humanitarianism is how humanitarianism is experienced – the sensory experience of providing aid.  While it is possible to conceive of the sensory experience including a wide range of embodied experiences such as global conferences, meetings with beneficiaries, and so on., the field mission is the exemplar of perceived humanitarian space.  This is because the physical distance between the source of humanitarian assistance – first world capitals – and the place where the assistance is being delivered – the third world field site, or mission – restricts the experience of humanitarianism to the interface between those individuals who physically travel to deliver assistance and those individuals who receive it.

Lived humanitarian space encompasses both perceived space and conceived space – looking at how the representations of humanitarian assistance are represented and woven into histories and  experiences.  In the context of humanitarianism, examples of lived space are the experiences that individuals have with each other through the process of work, projects, social interactions, publicity.  Here, Soja’s idea of Third Space (as well as its subsequent uptake by post-colonial theorists such as Bhabha (Bhabha, 1990), Spivak (Spivak and Harasym, 1990), Khan (Khan, 1998)) points to the role that a hybrid space between so called reality and imagination plays in interrogating, building and contesting conceived as well as perceived spaces.

The next part of the paper will examine this framework in three material contexts of humanitarian intervention:  the humanitarian compound, the SUV or land-rover and the Grand Hotel.  Doing so allows for a better understanding of  the precise way in which the spatiality of humanitarian intervention is significant.

 

Part II – The Humanitarian Compound

Since the early 1990s there has been a consistent tendency toward an increased physical securitization of ‘the field’.  Three specific trends can be identified: the introduction of standardized security regulations and building codes within the UN, the rise of the UN integrated mission, One Office approach and tendency for governments to co-locate humanitarian, development and political field offices, and the increased stress on standardized security protocols for field staff in a wide variety of organizations. Among these tendencies, the built form of the humanitarian compound stands out as a key example of this tendency.

But what exactly is a compound?  As an exemplar, a humanitarian compound is a securitized, walled space which contains buildings for both working and living.  It will be guarded, and entry will be controlled – usually through a system of identification.  It will contain the food and NFIs to be distributed, as well as vehicles.  It will be self-contained – having independent generation, water and food supplies for staff and it will be networked to other parts of its organization through independent communication channels at a velocity that it much higher than the majority of its immediate physical surroundings.  This is not to say all aid agencies work and live in compounds however the trend within aid work is towards increased physical securitization of staff and assets, driven (according to Duffield (Duffield, 2009)) by the need for insurance.  Through the homogenizing and securitized nature of the compound, the person who is the ‘object of development’ can only be permitted into the confines of the compound if they meet the requirements of the ideal beneficiary (Mitchell, 2002). And the more that the compound is securitized and separated from those its supposed to be assisting, the more the ideal beneficiary will become abstracted: in Auge’s terms “a spectacle of the real” (Augé, 1995).

This enclavism exists even when the precise physical conditions of the compound are not present. In the terminology of Tilly and Collins, the institutional conditions in the field effectively create reified social groupings (Tilly, 2005; Collins, 2004).  There will be minimal contact between these groups and local populations. And contact that does take place will be highly codified, taking the form of “fact finding missions”, prearranged meetings or consultations. Consider the ECHO’s advice to staff on “relations with the local population” (European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office, 2004a, 21). As part of an effective security strategy, managers and staff should “spend a considerable proportion of their time meeting and talking with a representative variety of local people” including “random visits to homes in a variety of geographical areas…; visiting people living away from major towns and away from major roads….[and] visiting areas inaccessible to vehicles, on foot if necessary” (European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office, 2004a, 21).  They admit that “There is a tendency for busy humanitarian staff to visit people near easily accessible towns and routes far more than those in areas off the beaten track”.

This tendency is almost inescapable in a context where staff are simultaneously being told and trained to minimize risks, to only walk on “well used roads” (European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office, 2004a, 29), to be “suspicious of anything out of the ordinary”, to “walk alone or drive alone” and to always “know where you are going” – all quotes from the same EC manual.  While understandable as a security strategy, the cognitive implications of this advice are significant.  Combined with an intensification of security trainings which emulate car jackings and stress the danger in the everyday, aid workers gravitate towards the same secure housing estates, and familiar bars, restaurants, hotels and gyms. In Goffman’s terms, the “ex-pat” enclave exhibits characteristics of a “total institution” which structures the aid workers existence in the field and mediates their understanding of their local surroundings and the people they are supposed to be assisting (Goffman, 1991).  In Lefebvre’s terms, it will shape their perceived space and inevitably what is considered to be normal, to be safe.  This is supported by lessons from gated communities which seem to suggest that increased physical separation, does contribute to a fear of what lies outside the gates.

Lessons from gated communities

Since the 1960s the defensive architectural technique of the gated communities (GCs) have been studied as an identifiable and prevalent settlement type (Blakely and Snyder, 1997).[2]   Atkinson and Blandy (2005) define GCs as a “housing development that restricts public access” symbolically and/or physically,  “usually through the use of gates, booms, walls and fences.  These residential areas may also employ security staff or CCTV systems to monitor access.  In addition, GCs may include a variety of services such as shops or leisure facilities” (Atkinson and Blandy, 2005, 177).  Most importantly, they represent an attempt by their residents to disengage with the wider social processes in an attempt to increase security, safety and comfort.  They are “residential enclaves [that] in all times and places share a basic characteristic of setting themselves off from the urban matrix around them, through control of access, and the solidification of their perimeters” (Luymes, 1997, 198).  Work on GCs in the UK reveals startling similarities with international humanitarian compounds.  Acknowledging the immediate difference – that the compound is established with the purpose of accomplishing a particular labour outcome, while the GC is established primarily for residential and associated purposes such as increased social cohesion and quality of life –  comparisons may offer insight both in terms of material form, and in the ways it affects their residents’ understandings of their local environments.

For many internationals, the experience of working in the field will have an effect much like that of Atkinson and Blandy’s description of the inhabitants of so-called GCs in the UK, US, and Canada.  Consider Atkinson and Flint’s description of connected “fortified residential and work spaces” which resemble  “a seam of partition running spatially and temporally through cities” (2004, 877).  Residents of GCs restrict their movement to a small and secure number of places…”elite fractions seamlessly moving between secure residential, workplace, education and leisure destinations” (Atkinson and Blandy, 2005, 180).  Similarly, for many humanitarians in the field, movement is restricted between office, home and target project.  Contact is often limited with the aid recipient, and when it exists it is highly codified interaction – often within humanitarian or government space.

Significant research has been undertaken on the relationship between the form of a GC and the perceptions and behaviours of its inhabitants.  The results raise similar questions for the inhabitants of humanitarian enclaves.  In particular, three findings are applicable to this discussion.  First, Low (2001, 2003) found that the process of living in gated communities may have actually increased residents’ fear, even though fear of crime and personal insecurity are cited as a major reason for moving to a GC (Blakely and Snyder, 1997).  The first way that this would occur was through the general, overall increased attention to security which heightens residents’ awareness of anything that might seem abnormal.  By surrounding themselves with constant reminders of the possibility of crime such as CCTVs, guards, and gates, residents begin to frame their existence in terms of secure versus non–secure situations.  As applied to the case of international humanitarian assistance, a similar impact could be seen from the introduction of system wide, standardized training programmes for staff; the mainstreaming of security concerns into programme design; and the introduction of increased physical security measures.

A second way in which GCs increase their residents’ fear, is through heightening the residents’ distinction between the space of the GC, which is safe, and that which lies outside the gates and is unsafe and threatening.  Residents of GCs expressed the feeling of being threatened “just being out in normal urban areas, unrestricted urban areas” (Low, 2001, 54).  The process of gating a community is by definition about identifying those that belong and those that do not.  The category that is used to define this belonging is spatial.  Those that are outside are against us; those that are within, are with.  Rationally, there is a recognition that not all the people who live outside of the humanitarian enclave are enemies.  However, looking at the impact that gating has on its inhabitants, even within a normal civic setting, raises serious concerns as to the potential impact of humanitarian enclaves on the humanitarians who reside in them.

A security expert in Banda Aceh felt that within expat communities in the field a “siege mentality” can develop, where “you don’t speak the language, don’t read the local press so are completely isolated from what is going on around you.  This can mean that you have the impression that everyone is incredibly nice, or that everyone is out to get you.”[3]  He went on to say that, in an immediate post–disaster situation internationals are particularly isolated; they “really don’t have any contact with the local community.”[4]  In this context, an event that is actually part of the “normal chaos” happens, such as kids throwing stones at a passing car, or a mugging of international staff, it is seen as a huge aberration warranting (and requiring) stringent security measures.  [5] And unlike most other places, where the longer you stay, the more comfortable you become, in an expat situation the situation is “highly charged” and because as a Westerner you are “highly visible” even in a neutral or positive way, you begin to think that everything is about you, and you may interpret things in a skewed way.  [6]

At the time of the above interview, in June 2008, there had been an increase in recorded incidents of crime (World Bank/DSF, 2008) which many expats in Aceh were anecdotally interpreting as proof of increasing anti–foreign sentiment amongst the Acehnese.  However, my informant proposed that this crime increase could actually be seen as evidence of things in Aceh “returning to normal”; that people were no longer in a state of “post–tsunami shock”.  [7] Further, prior to and during the tsunami, crime figures were not published making any statistical increase using an artificially low crime rate for its starting point.  However, within the ‘gated community’ of the ‘expat bubble’, anecdotal experience quickly turns into fact, resulting in increased security measures on the part some international organisations.

A third way in which the spatial arrangement of the gated community affects its residents’ perceptions is through path dependence.  Low observed that once residents started to live within GCs they were unlikely to move out again (2001, 47).  This is supported by Merry (1981) which found that a lack of familiarity with ones’ surroundings is an important contributing factor to residents’ perception of danger.  Again, as applied to trends in humanitarianism, the more that humanitarians tend to enclose themselves, or adopt defensive or deterrent security strategies, the less likely they will be to revert to acceptance strategies.  Even if the fear is not supported by empirical evidence, over long periods of time it my lead “people to unnecessarily secure themselves, remove themselves from social activities, and increase levels of distrust of others” (Wilson-Doenges, 2000, 600).[8]

This reinforcement of shared beliefs among physically proximate communities is supported by those who argue for a geographic basis for culture; for example, Wagner and Mikesell (1962) stress the importance of the “habitual and shared communication [that] is likely to occur only among those who occupy a common area’” in the formation of a cultural identity (as quoted in Cresswell, 2004, 17).  Within this cultural identity are shared models of self and also shared models of the other.  By increasingly using the compound epistemology as the basis for envisaging and understanding the place that they are in, both possibilities of thought and possibilities for action are shut off: dismissed as non–options or worse, simply unimaginable.  If we consider Tuan’s (1977) view that as human subjects we get to know the world through our perception and experience of places, if the perceptions and experiences of humanitarian workers are confined to compounds, then there is little chance for humanitarians to get to know the world that they are assisting.  If the objective of the humanitarian assistance is to better understand, relate to, assist, and capacitate the ‘other’, is this not completely at odds with such practices of enclosure?  If experience of space and place are fundamental to a human’s understanding of the world, what is the impact of humanitarian enclavism on its inhabitants’ fear of what, or who lies outside the gates?

Beneficiaries at the gates

Indeed, over the last ten years, there has been a significant increase in the perceived risk of “the field” so much so that the EC said that “the increased fear of attack can itself be considered a significant challenge in humanitarian agencies’ efforts to maintain the security and well being of personnel” (European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office, 2004b, 1).  This fear is amplified by the rapid turnover of these agencies which sees new recruits constantly arriving with little knowledge of their new posting beyond the security manual they’ve just received.  It is further exacerbated by the fact that so much of aid work is now done by short term experts or consultants who fly in and out and rarely venture far beyond conference rooms and the hotel bar.

Whether this fear is well-founded is a matter of debate.  Figures on aid worker fatalities are notoriously incomplete with no comprehensive records kept until approximately 1997.  An analysis of the most comprehensive study of aid worker fatalities found that when controlled for the six outlying contexts of Afghanistan, Darfur, and Somalia aid work has become marginally less dangerous for internationals since 2003 decreasing from 2.7 fatalities per 10,000 to 2.3.  However, it is worth noting that the figures were never that high to begin with. As a comparison – the UK rate of fatal or serious vehicle accidents for 2002 was 5.9 per 10,000.

It is not possible to say whether this decrease is the result of increased securitization.  However, there is no doubt that a security spiral is taking place, where fear leads to increased securitization leads to more fear.  Nor is this necessarily fear vis-à-vis the “other” – it may be fear of being punished for violating security regulations, as was the case for the security officers following the UN bombings in Algiers, Bagdad and now Kabul.  In may also be fear of losing staff – for example, in Darfur, the restrictions on staff mobility have led IOs to improve the quality and security of the compounds to entice staff to stay longer than a typical 6 month tour.  Perhaps most worrying is the implication that this has for  national staff, whose fatality rates have clearly and significantly risen in the last 10 years.  Either, the increased securitization campaign on the part of the international community is working for its internationals, and were it not in place we would be seeing similar increases in the rates of international casualties OR, and more likely, the increased securitization is resulting in increased use of remote management and outsourcing which transfers the risk to the very people that these agencies are supposed to be assisting.  I say more likely, because a closer look at the figures shows that the largest group of humanitarian targets are truck drivers. This would support the argument that the targeting of humanitarians needs to be seen primarily in terms of opportunism and predation.  This is also supported by post-mortem reports of Iraq and Algiers which show that in terms of real security, most humanitarian installations remain soft targets, and could be easily attacked – but aren’t.

More generally, the question needs to be asked as to how this security spiral is being translated into the conceived space of the humanitarian imaginary. In the context of aid policy it is often based upon “lessons learnt” or “best practice” collected from field offices around the world.  However, the previous observation that aid workers are increasingly limited in their lived space of the field raises the question of who’s lessons and what practices these reports are based upon. If they rely primarily on the “non-lieux” of the compound, on the flying visits of the consultants and experts, on the “field work under fire” this implies that the entire way of thinking about the humanitarian “problem” is fundamentally flawed and that our humanitarian imaginary is imaginary indeed.  Further the decline of lived or third space where new imaginaries may be developed,  while there is ,simultaneously, a rapacious demand from headquarters for demonstrable outputs encourages conclusions based on the severely restricted perceived space of the aid workers.

Two possible critiques of these observations of the significance of increased humanitarian enclavism need to be addressed.  First, there is the possibility that this is an extreme case that applies only to a small number of highly securitized environments.  Second that in any situation there will be social boundaries.  That is, even in the context of a geographically proximate location such as a city neighbourhood, there will be spatially distinct social groups.  Their perceived (or relational) spatial relationship to the same geographical area will be radically different dependent upon their unique spatial trajectories, their gender, ages, mode of transport, temporal demands (do they work the night shift, or work from home?), do they have pets or children which mean that they are aware of the local public spaces? What is their religion? Do they use the church or the mosque? Do they shop locally or drive to the superstores? Are they recent immigrants? Do they speak the language? In other words, spatial divisions are not restricted to the context of humanitarian intervention in dangerous places. They will occur in any area where distinct groups use the same space for different ends.

These divisions become problematic when a) the use of this space by one group of users impedes upon other users of the space in a way which is problematic for the second group (for example, the installation of bollards and set back in residential civic areas by the US government to ensure the safety of their embassy staff); b) and/or the perceived spatial experience of one group of users is influenced in a way that falsely or negatively constructs their view of other users of the space.

In the context of humanitarian intervention, this unequal use of space has been a constant feature of most interventions. Given the time frame, I’m not able to include a discussion on the impact of spatial divisions on the host community.  Some excellent work has already been done in the context of the social and economic impacts of peacekeeping missions on their surrounding communities – work that needs to continue. However, in taking this forward, there is the need to move beyond a positivist lens.[9] And while it may be impossible to move beyond the epistemological constraints of perceived space, it is possible to recognize it as a constitutive part of the aid experience not only in the context of increased securitization, but in the context of any humanitarian intervention.

To demonstrate this, I will now turn to two examples of how this has been the case with reference to two dominant tropes of international involvement in ‘the field’:  the SUV and the Grand Hotel.

Part III – Des espaces des autres

Sport utility vehicles

The white sport utility vehicle (SUV) has become a symbol of international humanitarian presence; in many countries better recognised than the symbol of the blue helmet of UN peacekeepers.  To humanitarian workers, it represents physical safety both in terms of its large frame and on–road visibility, and in terms of the protection that has historically been derived from its symbolic values of neutrality, impartiality, and universality.  However, to the Third World it has arguably come to represent the petroleum fueled inequality that has led to a situation where a self appointed few behave in a way which damages their surroundings and others.  More recently, the SUV may also be seen as a symbol of hybridity and the co–option, by local power brokers, of Western elite dominance.

While the white SUV has become a ubiquitous part of aid work, any theorization of how its material form is co-constitutive of the humanitarianism is sorely lacking.  The lack of reflexivity over its use is reflected in the absence of any history of why or how it has become the dominant mode of transport in the majority of humanitarian field operations.

Consider that in the late 1970s, Land Rover held 80 percent of the aid market (Wernle, 2000).  While this translated into merely 40,000 to 70,000 vehicle sales per year, their importance “goes far beyond the numbers” (Wernle, 2000).  As late as

the early 1980s, Land Rover was the vehicle of choice of aid organisations such as the United Nations, Oxfam and the Red Cross.  There was even an old saying that, for 70 percent of the world’s population, the first vehicle they saw was a Land Rover (Wernle, 2000).

By 2000, Land Rover’s share had fallen to just over five percent, with new entrants such as Toyota, Nissan, and Mitsubishi taking over Land Rover’s share (Wernle, 2000).

The form and design of the vehicle, however, has remained remarkably unchanged since the introduction of the iconic Defender model in 1948.  It is still a four by four, all terrain vehicle, based on model of a jeep (Campbell, 2005).  It has a  gross vehicle weight of approximately 3,500 kg, a strong, rigid chassis often with an integrated front grill and all terrain tyres.  It sits high off the ground and can pull a load equal to its own weight.[10]  In the context of humanitarian aid it is almost always painted all white, and bears the logo of the agency that owns it.  The jeep itself was developed in response to the requirements of troop movements during the Second World War (Campbell, 2005).  As the jeep’s heir, “[f]rom the outset then, the SUV has been marked by the military” (Campbell, 2005, 956).[11]  Nor has the potential of this history been lost on the marketing teams of Land Rover and its competitors.  Advertising and promotional material continues to emphasise the capacity of the SUV to protect its passengers from the dangers of the passing environment (Campbell, 2005; Glover, 2000; Bradsher, 2003).  In the original 1940s and 1950s development context, Land Rover did present one of the few vehicular options for development agencies to transport staff in areas with poor or sometimes non–existent roads.

Just as the vehicles are associated with safety and refuge (Glover, 2000, 364), they are also intentionally linked in their promotional material with ideas and images of adventure, individualism, and frontierism.  Speaking of SUV names (and therefore of marketing strategies), Glover says that a common theme is “the Western frontier, those most mythologised and culturally laden of times and places” (Glover, 2000, 362).  Likewise, according to Campbell, consumers of SUVs felt that through their purchase they expressed “a rugged individualism” emphasising their connection to untamed nature and the idea of the frontier (Campbell, 2005, 957).

This is significant for the context of humanitarianism in two ways.  First,  with regard to potential viewing audiences in the First World, the image of a brand such as Land Rover or the Toyoto Buffalo being used in humanitarian contexts will add to the appeal of their eventual purchase.  As quoted in Automotive News, a management consultant named Ken Slavin, being interviewed for a report on Land Rover said,

[w]hen you have disasters, you need 4x4s [sic.].  There’s nothing better for a 4×4 vehicle than to be seen with an emblem that says United Nations or Oxfam or the World Wildlife Federation.  That’s worth a whole lot of money to any manufacturer (Wernle, 2000).

This is supported by Koshar’s research which demonstrates that “a car’s notionally unique national qualities depend in part on how motoring nations from other nations regard it as both artifact and image once it travels, literally and figuratively across national borders” (Koshar, 2004, 123).[12]

The second way in which the association of the SUV with frontierism, rugged individualism, and adventure is significant is with regard to the aid workers who use them.  In so far as the aid workers can be seen to be part of the international community, and sharing a habitus of advanced stage capitalism in their countries of origin, they will have common symbols and mythologies.  Particularly with regard to OECD nationals, to step up, into a (white) Land Rover, is to simultaneously step into the myth of the First World aid worker assisting Third World populations in need.  Linking it to the tri-partite framework, to step into the Landrover will also influence the users perceived space of ‘the field’.

The experience of being inside a Land Rover, or inside an automobile more generally, has been the subject of sustained attention in the area of the phenomenology of car use (Sheller, 2004; Dant, 2004; Thrift, 2004).[13] These theorists look at how the experience of being in an automobile – either as a driver or a passenger – has affective, and ultimately epistemological and ontological impacts.  Work by Miller (2001) and Michaels (2001) has proposed the car as social–technical hybrid with driver and vehicle operating as a co–constitutive assemblage.  In line with Sheller (2004) I argue that the experience of being in a car, or in this case a Land Rover, “orient[s] us toward the material affordances of the world around us in particular ways and these orientations generate emotional geographies” (Sheller, 2004, 228).[14]  These emotional geographies (or in Lefebvre’s terms perceived and lived spaces), shape the way in which the aid worker see themselves in a place.

In the most basic of terms, it changes the experience that the aid worker has of the physical environment and climate.  Instead of being exposed to heat, rain, dust, the aid worker can ride along in a climate controlled environment.  Likewise, it changes the noisescapes of a place, enclosing the rider in a sonic envelope (Bull, 2004).  It may allow the passengers to move at a higher velocity than the majority of other people around them, introducing a level of inequality of movement, and possibly making movement for those on foot, bike, motorcycle, horse, or even lower, older cars more dangerous.  This may also introduce an affect of privilege and/or guilt for this inequality.

Work on the social impact of the SUV in America suggests that the rise of the sports utility vehicle parallels a model of citizenship that values safety and inviolability of person above all else (Mitchell, 2005; Campbell, 2005).  Similarly, the material practices of the international community may be seen to constitute an attempt at self–imposed exclusion from the wider neighbourhood, as well as the exclusion of others (Atkinson and Flint, 2004), reinforcing the observations from local residents that “the objectives of the international community are different from those of the community they are assisting.”[15] Just as the white Land Rover (or SUV) is associated with certain affective and symbolic resonances to the people who use it, it may evoke other, quite different things to those for whom it is meant to assist.

Globally, the SUV’s large petrol–guzzling body has increasingly become a symbol of the excess of the West and the exceptionalism with which the West is seen to regard itself.  The vehicle is also a constant reminder of the underlying economic driver of much global conflict: unequal access to oil.[16]  In El Fasher, Darfur, home to one of the UNAMID ‘supercamps’, the introduction of hundreds of humanitarian Land Cruisers (or Buffalos, in this context) has led to the streets being widened to avoid traffic jams.  The example of Darfur, also points the destabilisation of the myth of the SUV as safe haven.  As of August 2009, “due to a spate of carjackings” all Toyota Land Cruiser (Buffalo) vehicles have been withdrawn from use by UN personnel (UNAMID, 2009).  This phenomenon is not restricted to Darfur, and increasingly SUVs are seen as valuable both for their re–sale price and as fighting vehicles for rebel groups who would cut off the Buffalo’s top and attach a gun.[17]  The increased frequency of carjackings is forcing aid agencies to look to other, less conspicuous modes of travel, such as local taxi drivers and minibuses.  More dramatically, these trends are rendering car travel, as a mode of transport, effectively unusable outside of urban centres, and in Darfur, travel by helicopter between cities and towns, has become the norm for aid staff.  Nor is the co–option of vehicles restricted to SUVs.  In April 2007, the New York Times leaked a UN report that said the Sudanese government had been intentionally painting its planes white with UN insignia in order to ship arms to Darfur (Hoge, 2007).

What it is important to note, is that while carjackings have increased, they have not been associated with an increase in violent attacks against humanitarian workers.  In general, the transaction is a purely monetary operation, with the vehicle being taken away and the passengers returned unharmed.  However, returning to Latour’s idea of hybridity (Latour, 2005) and Miller’s  proposal of the car as an assemblage of worker and vehicle (Miller, 2001), any assault on a SUV is seen as an assault on the aid worker, and ultimately, on the larger humanitarian norms the vehicle has come to represent.  Rather than an assault on the hybrid form of the Land Rover/aid worker, the capture of the vehicle is a bid for what it embodies: wealth, excess, greed, military might.  It is a clear statement that what is wanted from the international humanitarian community is not their assistance, but their material assets and the associated power.  Nor can this desire be interpreted in a simple, linear manner, which sees rebels groups or government militia capturing humanitarian assets in order to replicate Western material modes of existence.  Rather, these actions need to be interpreted as a local response – a ‘making do’ – to the already, existing, structuring material space of humanitarian assistance informing “a new range of strategic military initiatives” (Hoffman, 2004, 212) in contemporary Third World conflict.

However, from within the perceived space of the Land Rover, and the humanitarian enclave these types of encounters tend to be read against the conceived global spaces of the war on terror, and the perceived targeting of aid workers in general.

The Grand Hotel

In the context of aid work, a second ubiquitous humanitarian space is that of the so-called, grand hotel (Denby, 1998; Sandoval-Strausz, 2007).  Technically, the term is used to refer to a large, luxury hotel, usually dating from the nineteenth century and having colonial heritage  (Henderson, 2001; Stewart, 1988).  But in the context of humanitarian work, it will usually refer to one or two large hotels in a given city or town which are used for the majority of diplomatic conferences, summits, press briefings, retreats, and negotiations.  They will often be left over from previous regimes such as British colonialists in Singapore  (Henderson, 2001), or the Portuguese in East Timor.  What makes it architecturally recognisable will be both the grandeur and scale of its physical form and its multi–functionality.  It will usually have bars, restaurants, conference halls, travel agents, shops, swimming pools, and health clubs.  And while these may not be well maintained, at some point they would have been the height of luxury in their respective milieus.  In the context of international humanitarian assistance, the grand hotel may be the only structure with adequate facilities from which to live and work.

The space of the grand hotel provides the setting for a remarkable number of political acts and performances.  Particularly in the context of humanitarian assistance, the space of the grand hotel is central to both formal, high politics, and to the politics of the everyday: the informal meetings, chance encounters, and daily rituals of both local political classes and visiting elites (de Certeau, 1988; Bourdieu, 1990; Vesely, 2004).  Not only is it implicated in local power structures and contestations, but, in the event of social and political collapse, it often provides sanctuary and enclosure for guests and local populations alike.  As a site of perceived inequality and amorality it may equally be the target of outrage, vandalism and violence (Sandoval-Strausz, 2007).  But despite its centrality to international political interactions and events, outside of cultural (Jameson, 1990) or tourism studies (Pritchard and Morgan, 2006) it remains largely unexamined.  Although its iconic or emblematic status is regularly invoked in the context of a particular conflict, with the sole example of Hoffman’s  radical ethnography of the Brookfields Hotel in Sierra Leone (Hoffman, 2005), I have come across no work within international relations or development studies that seriously engages with the object of the hotel and its central role in international humanitarian intervention.[18]  The present study begins this investigation, although it only provides an initial overview of a larger work on the topic, which is currently under preparation.[19]

In the context that aid workers can also be considered to fall into the related category of tourists or travellers, the hotel, as a temporary shelter, is a necessity.  In the literature of tourism and travel studies, this is the way in which the hotel is most commonly considered: as a networked space of flows (Castells, 2000); a transit space (Pritchard and Morgan, 2006); a non–space (Augé, 1995).  The necessity for frequent refurbishment, novelty, and (re)branding meant that high–end hotels also presented the opportunity for famous architects to experiment with ultra- (or post-) modern designs.  This arguably significantly influenced the framing of the object of the hotel in cultural theory (McNeill, 2008; Davis, 2006; Jameson, 1990).

While the 1990s theories on hyper–modernity and globalisation have since been amply critiqued for their hyperbolic claims regarding the ontology of a new age, certain aspects warrant a re–examination.  In particular, the much (ab)used work of Marc Augé deserves a second look.  Augé assigned the term non–lieux to

contemporary topographies characteristic of what he calls ‘supermodernity’ – namely those urban, peri–urban, and interurban spaces associated with transit and communication, designed to be passed through rather than appropriated, and retaining little or no trace of our passage as we negotiate them (O’Beirne, 2006, 38).

These ‘threshold spaces’ made up a significant part of the humanitarian field experience.  For Augé, these are not “just spaces to be analysed but manifestations and above all agents of a contemporary existential crisis, a crisis of relations to the other, and by extension a crisis of individual identity constituted through such relations” (O’Beirne, 2006, 38).[20]

This crisis of relations to others is particularly relevant in the context where the ‘other’ (or in the humanitarian context, the beneficiary) only makes select appearances within the non–space of the hotel: as subservient waiters, porters, maids, or prostitutes.  In the ethos of contemporary hotel management, staff should neither be seen nor heard, melting seamlessly into the décor, effectively erasing themselves from the interior landscape.  Katz claims that, in the context of twentieth century US and European hotel construction, hotels

came to resemble cities in microcosm, vertical cities housing laundries, valet services, barbers, gymnasiums, travel offices, drug stores, libraries [sic.], music rooms, baggage rooms, automobile fleets, libraries, swimming pools, clothing stores, banks, florists, gift shops, screening rooms, medical services, convention halls, newsstands, mail services, roof gardens, and ballrooms – to name only the respectable services that hotels provided.  Like the self–contained superblock, the privatized space of the metropolitan hotel could be said to have turned its back on the city (Katz, 1999, 137).

As claimed by Ibelings, while the 1950s and 1960s saw the global spread of these big, architecturally similar hotels (Ibelings, 1998),[21] many of which are still in use in the Third World capitals under discussion, by inhabiting these non–spaces, the international humanitarian community may be seen as turning its back on its constituents.  However, the nature of the work is such that the beneficiary is at the centre of the imaginary and if the beneficiary is absent, then s/he must be invented.  Inside the non–space, says Augé “[t]here is no room…for history unless it has been transformed into an element of spectacle” (Augé, 1995, 103): into a meeting, conference, or workshop where the problem can be distilled into so–called action points and plotted into a matrix.

The significance of the hotel as metaphoric stage for a wide range of humanitarian gatherings has been vastly under–emphasised.  As a touristic enclave, hotels are “‘purified’ spaces, which are strongly circumscribed and framed, wherein conformity to rules and adherence to centralized regulation hold sway” (Edensor, 2001, 6).[22] Moreover, the rules and regulation are geared towards the international clientele immediately creating a power–imbalance between those that are framing the discussions and those have been invited to attend.  As security becomes more of an issue for the international community and mobility increasingly restricted it is likely that the necessity of the hotel as a venue for conferences will not diminish in the near future.[23] Nor are the ‘performances’ necessarily restricted to official gatherings.

The hotel lobby has long been regarded as a key site of social, cosmopolitan interactions (Berger, 2005; Kracauer and Levin, 1995; Cocks, 2001) and in the context of the field its significance is amplified.  This is the place where local and international businessmen, journalists, politicians, aid workers all come to unwind and to interact (George, 2004; Courtemanche and Claxton, 2003; Minion, 2004).  Information is exchanged, alliances publicized, and rumours spread.  A further examination of the significance of these networks is undertaken elsewhere, but for the purposes of this chapter, I will now turn to how these non–spaces are seen by those outside the hotel.

As Tomlinson rightly points out, these non–spaces are only non–spaces from the perspective of the visiting travellers; for the hotel’s employees and the local residents they are real spaces (Tomlinson, 1999).   From an external perspective – that is, not only from a perspective of someone standing ‘outside’ but also from the perspective of someone who is not a user of these spaces – the grand hotel is important in a number of ways.  First, it may represent a space of opportunity: a place of potential employment; a locale to sell souvenirs;  or from which to offer taxi rides.  Second, it may be seen as a place of safety.  In the context of Hotel Timor, in Dili in 2008, one of the three internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps in the city had grown up outside the hotel’s front door.[24] To the IDPs, proximity to the hotel was thought to confer safety.[25]  Similarly in the context of the Serbian siege of Sarajevo, Martin Coward quotes from testimony before the US Congress in which gunners on the hillside overlooking Sarajevo apologized to BBC journalist, Kate Adie, for shelling the Holiday Inn where the foreign correspondents were known to live, “explaining that they had not meant to hit the hotel, but had been aiming at the roof of the National Museum next door” (Coward, 2002, 30).[26] During the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Hotel des Milles Collines became a refuge of last resort for internationals and Rwandan civilians alike as they attempted to barricade themselves against the Interhamwe’s machetes (Dallaire and Beardsley, 2003).[27]

The imagined safety of the hotel is the by–product of the association with not only international humanitarian law and humanitarian conventions, declarations, and resolutions but also because of the hotel’s association with inequality and privilege.  These same qualities can also make the hotel a target, as seen most recently with the bombing of the Taj Hotel in Mumbai (Biswas, 2008).  What is being attacked, precisely, is a matter of debate.  While it is sometimes seen as a direct targeting of the symbols of foreign interests (Wharton, 2001), it could just as likely be seen as the targeting of domestic political dealings (Donais, 2002), or in its embodiment of the  “essential common ground of togetherness” (Iveson, 2006, 80).[28]  A hotel may also be seen as the site of immoral or amoral behaviour, which also contributes to it being perceived as a predominantly masculine space.  More mundanely, as a high, often centrally located and well built structure, it may offer a valuable strategic acquisition from the perspective of local military actors.

In summary, the hotel contributes to the shaping of humanitarian relations in the field in myriad ways and deserves additional research attention.  In the context of this thesis, its impact is most noticeable in the way in which it shapes the perceptions and understanding of the local situation for the aid workers it houses.  For the people that pass through it, it is a temporary non–space, but for its host community, it is a part of everyday lived and perceived spaces.  Considered in tandem with the SUV and other material forms of humanitarianism, the hotel creates a material landscape of humanitarian intervention.  From the perspective of the internationals, this landscape is temporary, but from the perspective of local people, it has become the permanent topography of assistance.  The people in the hotel rooms, in the cars, in the offices will change but the built environment stays the same.  If anything is symbolised by the compounds, the cars, the planes, perhaps it is first and foremost the repetition of the ritual of assistance.  While the internationals each experience the field as a new, albeit enclosed, experience of the ‘other’, the material and spatial rituals of the interaction never change.

Conclusion

The preceding paper has looked at how a spatial approach to the field helps to theorize the relationships and identities that are formed through humanitarian intervention in its current material guise.  By looking at the humanitarian compound, the SUV and the grand hotel – all key material spaces of humanitarian intervention – it becomes clear that a crucial aspect of the Spatial Trilectic is being squeezed.  The absence of a mutually constituted ‘third space’ points to the problematic impact of increased securitization upon the way in which humanitarian policy is understood and formulated.  Nor is this restricted to the case of overt securitization.

In all three cases, the spatial modalities restrict or eliminate the possibility for a third or lived space but to differing degrees. While the example of the hotel seems to offer the potential for the most degree of lived space due to its openness and potentiality of hybrid spaces.  However, upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that the hybridity is a limited one, which although open to people beyond the aid community such as national or civic politicians and other local power brokers and stakeholders, remains firmly closed to beneficiaries of aid, who are left to be imagined and represented within its confines in the same way as within the compound and the SUV.   Arguably, it is the increasing elimination of the possibility of lived space that is contributing to a antagonistic spatial relationship at the field level, and ultimately, at the level of international policy.

It is important to point out what this paper is not advocating.  It is not calling for humanitarian workers to fling open their compounds and walk into the far–flung regions of the world to live at one with the ‘other’.  In fact, it implies the opposite.  Highlighting the material constraints, which are necessary for the practical application of contemporary humanitarianism to function, simultaneously identifies why humanitarianism is fundamentally flawed in its conception.  To go to another, to tell them what they need, and to do so from a position of superior material power, can only be a form of domination.  As long as the material power is so much superior as to be unassailable, so great as to be completely overwhelming, humanitarianism may be seen to function.  Those who are overpowered will accept what is being offered without question, without retort.  But as the power differential lessens and the mechanisms of control become visible, those being dominated may begin to exert their own desires, opinions, and approaches.  This implies that the current displays of material force and securitization by humanitarianism cannot be read as extensions of Western power, but rather as its absence.  The need to retreat to the compound – both figuratively and physically – implies that an urgent and fundamental rethink about the objectives and possibilities of humanitarian assistance is required.

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[1] While the first category maps clearly onto Lefebvre’ category of conceived space:  space as abstract, mappable, divisible and static, the other two categories are complements rather than substitutes for Lefebvre’s framework.

[2] There is an extensive literature on gated communities including those in the ‘developing world’. See the Special Issue of Housing Studies 20:2 (2005) and the special issue of Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. Within this literature there are well established debates regarding whether it is possible to speak of a universal form of gated community, and authors such as Atkinson and Blandy caution against making universalist claims that ignore local history and context. Atkinson, Rowland & Sarah Blandy. 2005. Introduction:  International Perspectives on the New Enclavism and the Rise of Gated Communities. Housing Studies, 20(2), March 177-86.

[3] Interview,  June 10, 2008, Banda Aceh.

[4] Interview.

[5] Interview.

[6] Interview.

[7] Interview.

[8] See also Blakely, Edward J. & Mary Gail Snyder. 1997. Fortress America : gated communities in the United States. (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press) ; Taylor, Ralph B. 1988. Human territorial functioning: an empirical, evolutionary perspective on individual and small group territorial cognitions, behaviors, and consequences. Environment and behavior series (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) .

[9] The integration of lessons from the spatial turn could lead to a very different aid epistemology – one that moves away from cause and effect and moves toward a recognition of the mutually constitutive nature of humanitarianism.  Instead of thinking about aid as a factor that is introduced into a host nation that produces an outcome, which may be mitigated, there is the need to think about the humanitarian relationship, or condition as “always, already there”.  For example, work by anthropologist Danny Hoffman has looked at the way in which methods of warfare evolved in Liberia following UN intervention in Sierra Leone.  While initially the change in tactics were in response to the UN presence in Sierra Leone, they can no longer be understood within an international or humanitarian frame, but need to be understood in term of local contexts of meaning. They have evolved in ways which do not map onto local-international scales or according to pure humanitarian logics.

[11] See also Shapiro, Michael J. 1997. Violent cartographies: mapping cultures of war. (London: University of Minnesota Press) .

[12] See also Edensor, Tim. 2004. Automobility and National Identity: Representation, Geography and Driving Practice. Theory, Culture & Society, 21(4-5), 101-20.

[13] On ‘automobility’ and the sociology of mobility see Urry, John. 2007. Mobilities. (Cambridge: Polity) ; Featherstone, Mike. 2004. Automobilities: An Introduction. Theory, Culture & Society, 21(4-5), 1-24; Featherstone, Mike, N. J. Thrift & John Urry. 2005. Automobilities. (London: Sage) .

[14] See also work on the sociology of emotion Hochschild, A.R. 1983. The Managed Heart:  Commercialization of Human Feeling. (Berkeley: University of California Press) ; Hochschild, A.R. 1997. The Time Bind:  When Work Comes Home and Home Becomes Work. (New York: Metropolitan Books) ; Hochschild, A.R. 2003. The Commercialization of Intimate Life:  Notes from Home and Work. (Berkeley: University of California Press) ; Bendelow, G. & S. Williams. 1998. Emotions in Social Life:  Critical Themes and Contemporary Issues. (London: Routledge) ; Katz, J. 2000. How Emotions Work. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press) ; Goodwin, J, J Jasper & F Polletta. 2001. Passionate Politics:  Emotions and Social Movements. (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press) ; Ahmed, S. 2004. The Cultural Politics of Emotion. (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press)

[15] Interview, Banda Aceh, 19 December, 2007.

[16] And as much as the vehicles have become the target of displeasure with the international community, so too are they sought after by government ministries as a requirement of international assistance.

[17] Interview, August 13, 2009.

[18] Martin Coward deals with it obliquely in the context of his theory of “urbicide” Coward, Martin. 2002. Community as Heterogeneous Ensemble:  Mostar and Multiculturalism. Alternatives, 27(1), 29-38; Coward, Martin. 2009. Urbicide : the politics of urban destruction. (New York: Routledge) ; Coward, Martin Philip. 2001. Urbicide and the question of community in Bosnia-Herzegovina. [electronic resource]. (University of Newcastle upon Tyne).

[19] Smirl, Lisa. (In progress). Do not disturb:  the affective significance of the “grand hotel” in international politics. Journal of Architectural Theory and Practice, (Special Issue on Gated Communities).

[20] See also Augé, Marc. 1998. A sense for the other: the timeliness and relevance of anthropology. Mestizo spaces (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press) ; Augé, Marc. 1994. Pour une anthropologie des mondes contemporains. (Paris: Aubier)   De Certeau also used the term non–space, although with reference to the space of tactics. There is the potential for an interesting comparison between these two authors use of the concept de Certeau, Michel 1988. The practice of everyday life. trans. Steven Rendell (Berkeley: University of California Press)

[21] See also King, Anthony. 2004. Spaces of Global Cultures; Architecture, Urbanism, Identity Architext Series (London: Routledge) ; King, Anthony D. 1990. Urbanism, colonialism, and the world-economy: cultural and spatial foundations of the world urban system. International library of sociology (London: Routledge)  and Wharton, Annabel Jane. 2001. Building the Cold War: Hilton International hotels and modern architecture. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago) .

[22] See also Sibley, D. 1988. Survey 13:  Purification of Space. Environment and Planning D:  Society and Space, 6, 409-21; Schmid, Karl Anthony. 2008. Doing ethnography of tourist enclaves: Boundaries, ironies, and insights. Tourist Studies, 8(1), April 1, 2008, 105-21.

[23] Likewise, the continued use of short-term consultants and experts guarantees their place within auxiliary space.

[24] The other two were outside the main hospital and across from the UN’s Main Base: Obrigado Barracks.

[25] It also potentially offered positive externalities like running water, or leftover food.

[26] Killing Memory:  The Targeting of Bosnia’s Cultural Heritage. 1995,  cited at http://www.h–net.org/people/editors/show.cgi?ID=124286 accessed on August 14, 2009.

[27] See also Harrow, Kenneth W. 2005. ‘Un train peut en cacher un “autre”‘: narrating the Rwandan genocide and Hotel Rwanda. Research in African Literatures, 36(4), 223-32; Hitchcott, Nicki. 2009. Travels in Inhumanity: Veronique Tadjo’s Tourism in Rwanda. French Cultural Studies, 20(2), May, 149-64.

[28] See also Coward. Community as Heterogeneous Ensemble:  Mostar and Multiculturalism. ; Coward. Urbicide : the politics of urban destruction.

Plain Tales from the Reconstruction Site

“Plain Tales from the Reconstruction Site: Spatial continuities in contemporary humanitarian practice,” chapter in Mark Duffield and Vernon Hewitt (eds.) Empire, Development and Colonialism: the Past in the Present (London: James Currey, 2009).

 

The idea of a ‘pure’ or natural disaster is a pervasive one. The occurrence of an ‘Act of God’ appears to be the one instance where international intervention is beyond criticism: the blamelessness of the victims translates into an ethical imperative for action on the part of the ‘international community’ to alleviate the resultant suffering (Edkins, 2000). While it is possible to point to many instances of critique of political interventions (Mamdani, 2007; Pugh, 2005; Chandler, 2006) and others who critique the efficacy or appropriateness of certain modes of disaster relief (Duffield, 1991; Edkins, 2000; Keen, 1994; De Waal, 1997), there are few authors who problematized the basic premise that the international community has a responsibility to provide assistance to those affected by a natural disaster (Bankoff, 2001; Hewitt, 1995). Yet authors such as Smith (2006), Davis (2000), and O’Keefe (1976) stress that while natural hazards exist, the severity of their impact on human settlement is determined by human decisions: where and how to build; access to preventive measures; the existence and knowledge of escape routes.

While a direct, and unique causal link between geography and social development (Landes, 1998; Diamond, 2005) is highly disputed, the link between underdevelopment and increased risk of natural disasters is well documented. According to Ian Davis (1978: 11), ‘the study of disasters is almost by definition a study of poverty within the developing world.’ Even within high income countries, those groups which are structurally impoverished, or underprivileged, experience a higher vulnerability to disasters (Cutter, 2006; Giroux, 2006). Still, such nuances

fail to stop the idea of a ‘pure’ natural disaster from being held up as an ethical rationale for intervention. This chapter challenges this assumption by pointing out that despite the perceived ethical neutrality of post-disaster intervention, particular spatial and material approaches may have similarities to previous colonial practice. Focussing on the way in which the international community moves through and lives in the post-disaster reconstruction sites illuminates power relations and dynamics generally obscured by more abstract discussions over the ethics and modalities of international intervention. The first section of this chapter places contemporary humanitarian intervention within a longer continuum of global North-South relations and looks at why a spatial approach provides a useful heuristic for our examination of colonial continuities. The second section examines two particular examples of such continuities, mobility and separation, in some depth, juxtaposing observations and interviews with contemporary development and humanitarian practitioners with personal accounts from previous Anglo-Indian colonial administrators as described in the classic text, Plain Tales from the Raj, by Charles Allen (2006).[i]

A Spatial Genealogy of Response: Locating the Humanitarian Imaginary

According to Craig Calhoun, the idea of an Emergency Imaginary is an important part of the Western social imaginary (Calhoun, 2004; Taylor, 2005; Castoriadis, 1987). According to Calhoun (2004: 7) the ‘notion of “emergency” is produced and reproduced in social imagination, at a level that Charles Taylor (Taylor, 2002) has described as between explicit doctrine and the embodied knowledge of habitus.’ Calhoun goes on to say that the ‘production of emergencies, and the need to address them, has become one of the rationales for assertion of global power’ (Calhoun, 2004: 9; Klein, 2007; Duffield, 2007). An important part of the discourse is the perceived unusual nature of the emergency: ‘”[e]mergency” is a way of grasping problematic events, a way of imagining them that emphasizes their apparent unpredictability, abnormality, and brevity, and that carries the corollary that response – intervention – is necessary. The international emergency, it is implied, both can and should be managed’ (Calhoun, 2004: 6).

An important part of this emergency imaginary is the ability to locate the emergency, the event, in a particular geography or spatial imagination (Hewitt, 1995). The ‘assertion of global power’ that Calhoun points to must be asserted over someone or something – it must be asserted from some position of (perceived) security, and over another place of (perceived) insecurity. The ‘common practices’ that underpins Charles Taylor’s understanding of a particular social imaginary happen somewhere – they are locatable, they are grounded. One specific, yet underexamined way in which this is done is in the day-to-day material and spatial practices of international humanitarian workers who come to a disaster or reconstruction site. This is important because although humanitarian policy and discourse expresses the desire to frame individuals and communities affected by disaster in terms of empowerment rather than victimhood, the material practice and spatial dynamics of intervention may work against this. Despite an increasing focus in humanitarian literature on ‘downward accountability’ to ‘clients’ (beneficiaries) the material practices of aid delivery demonstrate disturbing continuities with previous colonial approaches. While such continuities can be observed across the spectrum of relief to development assistance, this chapter focuses on the particular space of the reconstruction site. This is due both to the privileged position of the emergency within the larger humanitarian imaginary and because the immediacy of its conditions strips away the rhetoric that couches the majority of longer-term development practice, allowing the material and spatial practices to be brought to the fore.

The term ‘reconstruction sites’ refers to geographic locations that have or are being physically reconstructed, with external assistance, after experiencing a crisis that overwhelms the ability of the affected society to respond. ‘External assistance’ refers to the provision of physical and/or financial resources by individuals and agencies that normally reside outside the geographic boundaries of the reconstruction site and have been brought there specifically by the event of the disaster. The precise geography of the reconstruction site will differ depending on whose perspective we are considering. The mapping of disaster is often one of the easiest and best executed aspects of a post-disaster intervention (Davis, 1978). Careful attention is paid to the location and categorization of victims, beneficiaries, types and location of damaged buildings and infrastructure. But the lens of analysis is rarely, if ever, turned back upon the implementing actors. While there is widespread informal acknowledgement amongst development practitioners that the rapid influx of hundreds, or thousands of foreign workers has feedback effects (Collier, 2007) these are dramatically underexamined. This is partly explained by the fact that the reconfiguring of space and the reconstruction of the built environment are not seenas political and socially transformative in themselves, but just a basic, and largely neutral component of a reconstruction process (Graham and Marvin, 2001).

However, the dissemination of work by Bourdieu (1990; 1977), Lefebvre (1991), and de Certeau (1988) highlighted the subjectivity and relativism in the designation and construction of particular physical and social spaces. This work contributed to and coincided with two major disciplinary shifts in the social sciences at large. First, in those disciplines which were already engaged with ideas of space and materiality such as geography and urban planning, it led to an re-examination and problematization of the ontological pre-eminence of an independent materiality that could be mapped, designed, shaped and built. Second, in disciplines such as anthropology and sociology, it contributed to the recognition of the need to consider space and materiality both as a potentially causal variable in the societies under examination, and also as an inextricable part of the embodied experience of research, and of the construction of knowledge itself (Crang, 2000).

The 1990s saw the application of the ‘spatial turn’ to a wide range of enquiry from discourse analysis (Ó Tuathail, 1996) to economic geography (Barnes, 2003). However, it did not have a significant impact on development or humanitarian studies, nor, by extension on post-crisis relief or reconstruction which focused on the level of the individual and its aggregate – society. Issues of governance, local livelihoods, civil society, capacity building, human security and anticorruption filled the agenda in the 1990s and 2000’s (Pupuvac, 2005) an agenda that assumed the solution, liberal, democratic peace, had already been found and only the instruments required perfecting (Paris, 2006; Hoogvelt, 2006).

This overlooks the way in which post-disaster reconstruction evolved. From its modern post-WW2 inception, international humanitarian assistance was conceived in spatial terms (Slater, 1997). The categories and binaries by which it defined itself as an activity were fundamentally geographic: 1st, 2nd and 3rd worlds; developed and underdeveloped countries; the global North/global South. Direct links to the process of European de-colonization can also be found (Duffield, 2007). Fred Cuny (1983) attributes the rise of disaster response as an industry within the global north to the rapid, post-1945 decolonization process which left the former colonies without either the human or financial capacity to respond. The ‘apolitical’ international system of NGOs and multilateral agencies was seen as preferable to the reassertion of control by former colonial powers. However through the application of spatial considerations, it is possible to see how contemporary material and spatial practices of humanitarian response may continue to invoke and reproduce colonial power relations. If the social imaginary is interlinked with the material practices of the everyday, it is necessary to consider the impact of the material expression of particular places and practices (Bourdieu, 1990; Certeau, 1988; Merleau-Ponty, 1962).

An initial application of the ‘spatial turn’ to the realm of post-crisis reconstruction points to several areas which are immediately problematized. First, the need to consider that the space of a reconstruction site is not a tabula rasa, and that what is produced is immediately and inextricably politicized and used in different ways by different groups, for different ends (Lefebvre, 1991). Second, space is relative and relational. Spatial and material designations, mappings and representations of needs and responses, may not be in keeping with other scalar designations or social categories such as the idea of the ‘local’, in the policy designs of the international community; or the programmatic separation of certain categories of beneficiaries such as post-conflict vs. post-disaster (Scott, 1998; Ferguson, 2006; Escobar, 1994).

Third, that knowledge is embodied – predicated upon ‘cognitive (mental) and physical (corporeal) performances that are constantly evolving as people encounter place’ (Hubbard et al., 2004: 6). These ‘geographies of embodiment’ are therefore implicated in the subsequent production and reification of categories of class, gender, and in the case of humanitarianism of donor/beneficiary and of saviour/victim. In the case of post-conflict reconstruction, this embodiment will be the result of the social and cultural environments that humanitarian workers have come from (their countries of origin) as well as the environments that they find themselves

in during the reconstruction process. According to Bourdieu (1990), it is impossible to separate subjects from their habitus (the practices and games of their surroundings) either present, past, and possibly future (Massumi, 2002). This means that the responses of particular individuals, and agencies are conditioned as much by previous experiences both of their place(s) of origin, and of previous reconstruction sites as they are by the immediate emergency they are responding to. Further, as discussed below, the precise material circumstances experienced while in a reconstruction site may also be significant.

These linkages point to the fourth insight of the spatial turn for post-crisis reconstruction: that the presence of international humanitarian agencies in the country of intent, must always be read contrapuntally with their space of origin (Inayatullah, 2004; Said, 1995). The activities, practices, and places of the international community in reconstruction sites are as closely networked to their spaces of origin as they are to their proximate physical environments (Castells, 2000; Sassen, 2000; Appadurai, 1997) and may need to be considered as particular, embodied instances larger global processes (Beck and Ritter, 1992; Harvey, 2001). As such, their representational consequences need to be taken into consideration. How are these international practices and spaces understood and interpreted by the groups and individuals in their immediate physical surroundings? Does this impact or effect the tactics (Certeau, 1988; Scott, 1998) that may be used in their interactions with the international donor community?

A fifth area of consideration is how are the spatial and material circumstances of humanitarian relief workers related to temporal considerations? How do differential spaces effect the way in which the time of response and intervention is conceived (Massey, 2006). The differential rates of mobility and speed between the international community and the target population are rarely examined, yet lie at the heart of some of the most problematic aspects of the ineffectiveness of humanitarian assistance. While the previous discussion has focussed on the applicability of the spatial turn to contemporary post-crisis reconstruction, the foregrounding of space and materiality also highlights the continuities of contemporary practice with previous modes of colonial governance and the unequal practices associated with it. In particular, two major continuities can be identified: mobility and separation. The next section will look at these two continuities in more depth.

 Spatial Continuity A: Mobility

A key feature of contemporary humanitarian intervention is the mobility with which aid workers move to and from, and between response and reconstruction sites (Telford, 2006). The nature of an emergency requires the rapid deployment of staff. The relatively short period of time that is required for the response and post-crisis reconstruction; the frequency of disaster events and the scarcity of qualified professionals means that staff are only present in one place for a limited time: anywhere from a few weeks to, at most, a few years. Likewise, within contemporary development practice, the (necessary) introduction of transport networks dedicated to the movement or international staff and associated goods creates a parallel space of movement, maintaining physical difference between the individuals who have come to assist, and those that are being assisted.

These differential spaces of travel and movement are important in several ways. First, they are significant in that they are securitized and separated, either literally or symbolically. This will be further explored below, under the theme of separation. Second, a key aspect of humanitarian assistance and post-crisis reconstruction is timing as the space of response and reconstruction necessarily has a higher velocity than its surroundings (Virilio, 1991). Long debates have taken place on the so-called ‘relief-to-development’ continuum i.e when humanitarian assistance ends and long term development assistance begins. While the current consensus in policy circles is for the need to link the two to ensure that humanitarian assistance is sustainable in development terms, an unavoidable distinction remains: humanitarian assistance must arrive as soon as possible after an emergency in order to achieve its stated aims of saving lives. The introduction and use of parallel transport systems for staff, and parallel delivery systems for food and nonfood-items (NFIs) such as tents, medicine, blankets is justified on the grounds that a slow humanitarian response invalidates the rationale for providing assistance. But the ends of timeliness and efficient delivery require certain sacrifices at the level of process, i.e. it may be deemed necessary to bypass national systems in the delivery of aid. For example, in the case of the of the international humanitarian response to the 2004 tsunami, the World Food Programme (WFP) instituted nearly daily flights up and down the coast of Aceh to transport humanitarian staff and equipment. This was justified on both the basis of need (efficiency) and staff security. However, the perception among some Acehnese, was that particularly in the post-emergency stage of the recovery effort, the WFP travel department operated more as a tour operator than a development agency, ferrying consultants, visitors from headquarters, and well-off disaster tourists from disaster site to disaster site. The flights cost exponentially more than domestic carriers, and therefore were out of reach for the average Indonesian. They were also temporary, and will not leave a sustainable transport infrastructure behind, to be used by the Acehnese, upon the departure of the international community. In the larger picture, the timeliness of delivery is also an important proof of the technical superiority and ability of the global North to respond to and manage emergencies.[ii]

The differential rates of mobility also emphasize the different metrics that are used to assess the risk conditions of humanitarian staff versus those of the target communities. While within the emergency imaginary, a disaster is a unique and unusual event, which can be gone to, managed, and left, for the populations that are being assisted, risk (or the potential vulnerability to similar disasters) is part of the fabric of daily existence. But for the humanitarian (and development) aid workers, the ability to leave the reconstruction site at any point, is always an option; a condition of their employment. Many medium term, high risk postings also contain the guarantee of regular periods when staff are expected to leave their place of work and go to another physical location to relieve the pressure of living in confined and dangerous surroundings. This emphasizes the feeling of impermanence of location amongst the staff, and the emotional and cultural distance from their immediate physical environment. It also highlights the centrality of travel and movement to the experience of humanitarian assistance.

While often identified as a feature of contemporary globalization (Bauman, 1998; Appadurai, 1997) such impermanence and mobility has a much longer history (Hirst and Thompson, 1999). Significant work has been done on the pivotal role played by ideas and experiences of travel, under colonialism (Pratt, 1992; Gowans, 2006; Kearns, 1997). As heard in Allen’s testimonials, constant travel also characterized the life of colonial administrators and their families: ‘[F]requent transfers and movements over great distances were recurrent themes in the “Anglo-Indian” experience: “As official people we were constantly on the move”’ (Allen, 2006: 57). Allen’s interviewees describe the boat voyage to India as central part of the colonial experience: a space where professional and social networking took place and where relationships and partnerships were formed and solidified (see also Gowans, 2006).

Striking comparisons can also be drawn between contemporary and colonial experiences of arrival: ‘[r]eceptions varied according to status and connections. Those of high degree or with connections were garlanded and their luggage seized by chaprassis in scarlet uniforms. Some were met by shipping agents and shepherded through customs. Others had less auspicious introductions’ (Allen, 2006: 54-55).[iii] Such a scene could equally describe the arrival of international aid workers to a reconstruction site. Those who belong to a high level international agency such as the United Nations (UN) or the World Bank are often quickly guided through customs by their agencies’ operations staff, whisked into a large, radio equipped sports utility vehicle (SUV) and driven away in power-locked and air conditioned security, while those who are from a smaller organization or travelling as individuals may face long queues at the visa window and frustrating negotiations with local cab drivers.

Regardless of the hierarchical position of the agency or organization in question, an underexamined aspect of the reconstruction effort remains the types of individuals that it attracts. Across generations and cultures, the idea of unknown and the ‘other’ is appealing to certain segments of a population. The idea of a reconstruction site has been imbued with poetic, often romantic notions (Kenny, 2005). According to Ian Davis, the process of rebuilding after a disaster combines preoccupations of social awareness; advanced technology; mobility and impermanence (Davis, 1978) and may attract individuals that seek a life that is perceived as more adventurous, unpredictable and emotionally and professionally fulfilling that one than could be found in their country of origin (Cain, 2004). This allure of the foreign was clearly seen in the types of NGOs and aid personnel that arrived in South-East Asia after the 2004 tsunami (Kenny, 2005). Such desires are also found in the descriptions of the types of individuals who were drawn to the colonies. As described by the Prince of Wales in his opening address to the 1886 Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London, ‘the Colonies…are the legitimate and natural homes, in future, of the more adventurous and energetic portion of the population of these Islands’ (British Parliamentary Papers, 1886). Indeed, within the person of the aid worker, the embodied links between colonial administration and contemporary humanitarianism can be clearly identified. Duffield (2007: 59-60) describes how during the 1950s and ‘60s the ‘expanding overseas voluntary sector’ relied on ‘people who, through colonial administration, military service, missionary societies or the business world had come of age within the Empire.’ While the types of individuals who were attracted to the overseas voluntary sector were initially different from the previous colonial administrators in their desire to give something back, the subsequent merging of NGO and donor processes has meant, once again, a reintegration and exchange of state and non-governmental personnel, through, among other things the merging of career paths (Duffield 2006: 64-65).

On a psychological level, continuities also exist between the two groups over their conflicted emotions surrounding ideas of ‘home’. British colonists in India were, on one hand, living far away from their official domicile. ‘”We never thought of England as home,” recalls Nancy Foster. ‘It never occurred to us that our home wasn’t India’ (Allen, 2006: 35). On the other hand, their ‘home’ in the colonies was the bi-product of employment, and therefore subject to uprooting at any moment. This contributed to a feeling of impermanence (Ibid: 87; see also Blunt, 1999). ‘For instance, flowers grew very beautifully in the north of India but you knew when you planted some daffodil bulbs that you’d never see them come up’ (Allen, 2006: 87). For some countries, rapid rotation of the diplomatic corps was a precautionary measure against their ‘going native’ and losing their emotional ties to the metropole. While no such official policy is behind contemporary development practices, the institutionalization of certain programmatic approaches and categories (for example, the categories of ‘relief and response’ or ‘rapid reaction teams’) means that the individuals occupying these positions will find themselves quickly rotated from job to job, from emergency zone to emergency zone. The feeling of impermanence may also account for the iconic role played by the ex-pat hotel in both colonial and contemporary post-crisis setting (Wrong, 2000; Dallaire and Beardsley, 2003; Allen, 2006).

The impact of this constant mobility is two fold. First, rapid staff turnover may lead to the impression on behalf of ‘local’ interlocutors and staff that the international agencies are not truly committed to fostering a long term relationship with the beneficiary country. It may lead to short termist programming, a lack of institutional memory, and a disproportionate amount of resources going into staff recruitment and relocation. Secondly, this rapid mobility from one disaster site to another makes it difficult for the international staff to engage with their surroundings, leading staff members to more easily turn toward their fellow aid workers than towards their physical surroundings. The institutional structure of international relief and development also creates conditions that promotes collusion amongst aid agencies at the field level, by encouraging them to spread the risk of non-delivery among themselves and concentrate on promoting collective successes rather than individual failures (Easterly, 2002).

While Easterly concentrates on the negative economic consequences that this has on the inefficient delivery of aid, the sociological impact of such behaviour is also worthy of attention. By creating an environment that encourages intensive networking through frequent meetings, coordination and information exchange, the emotional and intellectual worlds of the international community are arguably defined more by the needs and demands of the international community than by local beneficiaries. Although current policy agendas of international relief and development organizations include the need for increased feedback and input from the target beneficiaries of the aid, it is worth considering the material and spatial circumstances of the way in which this feedback is sought and collected. While participatory planning processes have long been an integral part of humanitarian assistance, they are problematized when we take into consideration the physical, and material circumstances in which the processes are held which may themselves account for the identified inability of beneficiaries to provide feedback (Ibid: 244). In the same way that the location of peace talks may influence the outcome of a fragile negotiation, so could the location of consultative meetings for the coordination of particular relief sectors, or aid frameworks.

Spatial Continuity B: Separation

The previous section has looked at the common theme of mobility in both the colonial and contemporary development settings. The differential rates of movement between humanitarian aid workers and target beneficiaries will influence programmatic choices such as where and how to build, and who to assist. Intensified by the notion of an “emergency” of which the ethical imperative for action may justify normally inappropriate decisions, this leads to a situation where response strategies are determined, in part, by a temporary and short termist logic. This creates one type of separation. However, within the reconstruction site there also exist built forms of separation between the aid workers and the beneficiaries: forms that evoke colonial patterns and practices. In this section, two particular forms will be examined: the space of the home and the space of the vehicle.

 The space of home

The living conditions of humanitarian aid workers are often compared informally to architectural and visual typologies of the fortress, the compound, the camp, the cantonment. But how applicable are these allusions? Can comparisons be drawn with colonial approaches to the built environment?

The particular physical type of building will depend significantly upon the circumstance of the particular reconstruction site. Where the built environment has been seriously damaged or destroyed, temporary accommodation may be provided in the form of tents, the few remaining hotels, or rental of select, often premium properties. Where security is of immediate and significant concern, the built form of the compound may be used. While the camp, or compound, is by no means the only type of physical experience of the international community in a reconstruction zone, it is an evocative one – a place that often becomes the focus of ‘ex-pat’ meetings and leisure activity, whether or not it is truly representative of the international sentiment at large. Authors such as de Chaine (2002), Ek (2006) and Edkins (2000) have pointed to the physical, bounded structure of the international compound (or ‘camp’) as having unique and potentially affective properties on the bodies their contain and exclude (Clough and Halley, 2007). Descriptions of the US Green Zone in Iraq increasingly point to the implications of conducting a ‘reconstruction’ from within a walled compound however the analysis is not taken beyond the point of journalistic or anecdotal observation (Chandrasekaran, 2006). This is particularly surprising when we consider the instrumental role played by the colonial home under British Imperialism.

According to Blunt and Dowling (2006: 150), the space of the Anglo-British colonial home was important in the reproduction of the ‘domestic, social, and moral values legitimating rules.’ It was partly through the example, of what a quintessentially British household was supposed to be, that the civilizing mission was to be achieved (Gowans, 2006). British superiority was to be defined by the degree to which its civility and order differed from the chaotic and unregulated space of the native, and vice-versa (Said, 1995). Allen (2006: 63) describes the British section of Calcutta as ‘a world apart’ with residential areas reflecting social divisions of the colonial administration. ‘There were the old parts of central Calcutta where the old palatial burra sahibs’ houses had been built, left as a legacy to those who came on afterwards, and around them came the new buildings, blocks of flats where the young sahibs lived when they first came out. But as you became more senior and you wanted tennis courts and more servants, you moved into what was called the suburbs. Ballygunge was the second stage, and Alipore, built under the wing of the Belvedere, which had been the old viceregal lodge and which therefore contained that air of sanctity, was the final stage’ (Ibid: 63-4).[iv]

Even within the colonial cantonment, racial demarcations ‘reproduced on a domestic scale the racial distancing that underpinned colonial urbanism’ (Blunt and Dowling, 2006: 152). However, the space of the colonial home had at least three further functions. First, the placement of particular settlements, or hill stations was useful for purposes of oversight and control of populations (Duncan and Lambert, 2004). Second, the adoption of ‘European models of household organization and domesticity’ was a central part of assimilationist strategies (Ibid: 392). Finally, the linking of metropole to the colonies was a key part of the domestication of empire. Not only did this involve bringing the colonies ‘home’ through exhibitions, scientific studies and even the import of exotic plant species (Duncan and Lambert, 2004; Blunt, 1999) but, through the transference of architectural styles, aesthetic trends, and legal and educational systems, also brought the metropole to the colonies. In this way, the space of the home played a central part of colonial governance, and nation building. However, its exclusivity and racial segregation may have also ‘provoked racial antagonisms between rulers and ruled, and ultimately contributed to the decline of the British Empire’ (Blunt and Dowling, 2006: 150). In a contemporary humanitarian context, this resonates with the rental of the most expensive houses in a reconstruction site by internationals, at greatly inflated prices.[v] Similarly, while the names, locations, and political economy of particular hotels, restaurants and clubs, may be meaningless to new humanitarian arrivals, they may evoke a material legacy of previous colonial patterns of domination (Sudjic, 2005; King, 1990; Vale, 1992).

The space of the vehicle

The separate living spaces of humanitarian workers can be seen to extend to the realm of the vehicle. Few visual images are as evocative of the international community as the white UN SUV. It can be observed across reconstruction settings, often in a caravan with several others, parked outside a particular office complex, bar, or restaurant. Even in countries where it is not necessary, it is often used.

The form of the SUV has been extensively analysed within a North American and European context (Bradsher, 2003). Edensor (2004: 117) describes how cars ‘are part of the mediated imaginaries, mundane geographies and everyday practices that inhere in the formation of national identities.’ Work on the social impact in the United States of the SUV suggests that its rise parallels a model of citizenship that values safety and inviolability of person above all else (Mitchell, 2005; Campbell, 2005). If we apply this to a humanitarian context, the material practice of the international community may be seen to constitute an ‘attempt at self-imposed exclusion from the wider neighbourhood, as well as the exclusion of others’ (Atkinson and Flint, 2004: 178) reinforcing the observations from local residents that the objectives of the international community are different from those of the community they are assisting.

Such a delimitation from the wider physical context, is also found within colonial experience. A description of the ‘highly hierarchical’ railway carriages, that reflected the social structure of British India reads thus: ‘[a] four-berth carriage had been reserved for us with a self-contained toilet compartment with a shower…. Furthermore, the windows, which were in triplicate – glass, venetian blinds and gauze – were also latched, so you were in a pretty impregnable position. We asked what would happen if anybody else tried to come into our compartment and were assured that nobody would turn up. No Indian would dare to attempt to come into our compartment so long as he saw more than one European therein.’ (Allen, 2006: 59) This allowed its travellers to ride comfortably, undisturbed and separate from the surroundings they were there to assist. More broadly, the very possibility of travel was imbued with notions of freedom versus ‘unfreedom’, distinctions which continue to resonate within contemporary humanitarian practice (Grewal, 1996).

Implications

This chapter has discussed how continuities exist in the material and spatial practices of the international community with previous Anglo-Indian colonial experiences. The initial examination indicates two ways in which this might be significant. First, even where no obvious barrier exists between the international community and the intended beneficiaries of the assistance, the material practices and spatial dynamics create a bounded microcosm of international activity. Such separation inevitably affects the way in which the international aid workers interact with and understand the target community. This will influence perceptions of what types of response strategies are needed, and, through path dependence and ‘lessons learned’ what types of interventions are used in future reconstruction sites.

Second, particular material and spatial arrangements have an observed impact on the individuals that they are intended to assist. The tropes of the white SUV, the ex-pat hotel, the UN transport planes have become clichés, but their persistence, denigration and targeting, indicates their importance in the overall impression of humanitarian intervention. By reinforcing ideas of exclusivity, transience and inaccessibility neo-colonial categories of us-them; local-international; north-south are reinforced and perpetuated.[vi]

How exactly particular material forms or designated places (Cresswell, 2004; Agnew, 1997) are implicated in and related to larger categories of space (Lefebvre, 1991) is the subject of much study. Contemporary theories of cultural geography emphasize the importance of materiality and lived experience in the construction of such abstract, scalar, concepts as the international. For example, in their work on the nation, Jones and Fowler (2007) look at the importance of local spaces in the reproduction of the nation. They argue localised places can become “’metonyms’ of the nation” through their abstract and generic representation of national messages, symbols, and ideologies (Ibid: 336). Citing Jackson and Penrose (1994) they ‘stress the potential for localized places to be key sites for generating ideas and sentiments that can ultimately reproduce the nation’ (Jones, 2007: 336). But what happens if we extend this to the category of the ‘international’? How do particular practices of the international community contribute to creations of larger ideational categories? The classic texts of post-disaster intervention point to the military spatial heritage of humanitarian relief and reconstruction: the tents, the conception, layout and organization of refugee and relief camps. (Kent, 1987; Cuny and Abrams, 1983; Davis, 1978) However, they do not include an examination of older continuities – those that may exist between the built forms of colonial occupation and contemporary relief efforts.

Conclusion

In the current processes and practices of international assistance, the lived experiences and built environment of the international community are rarely examined despite their contributions to the humanitarian imaginary. They may also be an important aspect of the way in which the international community is understood and interpreted at the local level. In this way, although many theorists have cautioned against drawing historical continuities where none exist (between development and colonialism), this analysis suggests that these parallels may be stronger than hitherto suggested and worthy of further sustained examination. The material and spatial practices of these groups will not only inform the immediate and long term direction of the reconstruction project, but may, ultimately, contribute to the larger social imaginary – both in terms of how the international community sees itself, and how the international community is viewed by others. It is within reconstruction sites and other humanitarian spaces that particular key relations are crystallized, produced and reproduced.

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DUNCAN, J. S. & LAMBERT, D. (2004) Landscapes of Home. IN DUNCAN, J. S., JOHNSON, N. C. & SCHEIN, R. H. (Eds.) A companion to cultural geography. Malden, Mass.; Oxford, Blackwell Pub.

EASTERLY, W. (2002) The Cartel of Good Intentions: The Problem of Bureaucracy in Foreign Aid Policy Reform, 5, 223-250.

EDENSOR, T. (2004) Automobility and National Identity: Representation, Geography and Driving Practice. Theory, Culture & Society, 21, 101-120.

EDKINS, J. (2000) Whose hunger? : concepts of famine, practices of aid, Minneapolis, Minn.; London, University of Minnesota Press.

EK, R. (2006) Giogio Agamben and the spatialities of the camp: an introduction. Geografiska Annaler, Series B, 88, 363-386.

ESCOBAR, A. (1994) Encountering development : the making and unmaking of the third world, Princeton, N.J. ; Chichester, Princeton University Press.

FERGUSON, J. (2006) Global shadows : Africa in the neoliberal world order, Durham, N.C. ; London, Duke University Press

GIROUX, H. A. (2006) Stormy weather : Katrina and the politics of disposability, Boulder, Colo. ; London, Paradigm.

GOWANS, G. (2006) Travelling home: British women sailing from India, 1940-1947. Women’s Studies International Forum, 29, 81-95.

GRAHAM, S. & MARVIN, S. (2001) Splintering urbanism : networked infrastructures, technological mobilities and the urban condition, London, Routledge.

GREWAL, I. (1996) Home and harem : nation, gender, empire, and the cultures of travel, Durham, N.C. ; London, Duke University Press.

HARVEY, D. (2001) Spaces of capital : towards a critical geography, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press.

HEWITT, K. (1995) Sustainable Disasters? Perspectives and powers in the discourse of calamities. IN CRUSH, J. (Ed.) Power of development. London, Routledge.

HIRST, P. Q. & THOMPSON, G. (1999) Globalization in question : the international economy and the possibilities of governance, Cambridge, Polity Press.

HOOGVELT, A. (2006) Globalization and Post-modern Imperialism. Globalizations, 3, 159- 174.

HUBBARD, P., KITCHIN, R. & VALENTINE, G. (2004) Key thinkers on space and place, London, Sage.

INAYATULLAH, N. A. D. L. B. (2004) International Relations and the Problem of Difference, New York, Routledge.

JONES, R., CARWYN FOLWER (2007) Placing and scaling the nation. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 25, 332-354.

KEARNS, G. (1997) The Imperial Subject: Geography and Travel in the Work of Mary Kingsley and Halford Mackinder. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

KEEN, D. (1994) The benefits of famine : a political economy of famine and relief in southwestern Sudan, 1983-1989, Princeton, N.J. ; Chichester, Princeton University Press.

KENNY, S. (2005) Reconstruction in Aceh: Building whose capacity? . Community Development Journal, 42, 206-221.

KENT, R. C. (1987) Anatomy of disaster relief : the international network in action, Pinter.

KING, A. D. (1990) Urbanism, colonialism, and the world-economy : cultural and spatial foundations of the world urban system, London, Routledge.

KLEIN, N. (2007) The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Allen Lane.

LANDES, D. S. (1998) The wealth and poverty of nations : why some are so rich and some so poor, London, Little, Brown and Company.

LEFEBVRE, H. (1991) The production of space, Oxford, Basil Blackwell.

MAMDANI, M. (2007) The Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency. London Review of Books. London.

MASSEY, D. (2006) For Space, London, Sage.

MASSUMI, B. (2002) Parables for the virtual : movement, affect, sensation, Durham, NC, Duke University Press.

MERLEAU-PONTY, M. (1962) Phenomenology of perception, Routledge & K.Paul.

MITCHELL, D. (2005) The S.U.V. model of citizenship: floating bubbles, buffer zones, and the rise of the “purely atomic” individual. Political Geography, 24, 77-100.

Ó TUATHAIL, G. (1996) Critical geopolitics : the politics of writing global space, London, Routledge.

O’KEEFE, P., KEN WESTGATE AND BEN WISNER (1976) Taking the naturalness out of natural disasters. Nature, 260.

PARIS, R. (2006) At War’s End: Building Peace after Civil Conflict, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

PENROSE, J. & JACKSON, P. (1994) Constructions of race, place and nation, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press.

PRATT, M. L. (1992) Imperial eyes : travel writing and transculturation, London, Routledge.

PUGH, M. (2005) Peacekeeping and Critical Theory IN BELLAMY, A. J. A. P. W. (Ed.) Peace Operations and Global Order. London and Oxford, Frank Cass and Routledge.

PUPUVAC, V. (2005) Human Security and the rise of global therapeutic governance Conflict, Security & Development, 5, 161-181.

SAID, E. W. (1995) Orientalism, London, Penguin.

SASSEN, S. (2000) Cities in a world economy, Thousand Oaks ; London, Pine Forge Press.

SCOTT, J. C. (1998) Seeing like a state : how certain schemes to improve the human condition have failed, New Haven ; London, Yale University Press.

SLATER, D. (1997) Geopolitical imaginations across the North-South divide: issues of difference, development and power. Political Geography, 16, 631-653.

SMITH, N. (2006) There’s No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster. Social Science Research Council

SUDJIC, D. (2005) The Edifice Complex: How the Rich and Powerful Shape the World, London, Allen Lane – Penguin Group.

TAYLOR, C. (2002) Modern Social Imaginaries. Public Culture, 14, 91-124.

TAYLOR, C. (2005) Modern Social Imaginaries, Durham and London, Duke University Press.

TELFORD, J. A. J. C. (2006) Joint Evaluation of the international response to the Indian Ocean Tsunami: Synthesis Report. London, Tsunami Evaluation Coalition.

VALE, L. J. (1992) Architecture, Power and National Identity, Yale U.P.

VIRILIO, P. (1991) The aesthetics of disappearance, New York, Semiotext(e).

WRONG, M. (2000) In the footsteps of Mr Kurtz : living on the brink of disaster in the Congo, London, Fourth Estate.


[i] Empirical work for this chapter is based upon open-ended interviews with subjects working in and on the postcrisis reconstruction in Aceh and Sri Lanka. The themes are part of a doctoral dissertation at the University of Cambridge, Centre for International Studies entitled: Post-Crisis Built Environments of the International Community. For their comments and suggestions, the author would like to thank Mark Duffield, Vernon Hewitt, Tarak Barkawi, David Nally and Arran Gaunt.

[ii] This is part of the reason why the inability of the U.S. to respond to Hurricane Katrina was so disturbing. It drew into question the ability, and therefore the legitimacy, of the U.S. to respond to overseas emergencies.

[iii] Allen translates “chaprassi” as “office servant” or “messenger”.

[iv] Allen translates “burra sahib” as “great man”.

[v] According to Allen’s interviewees, bachelors would typically live in a shared household with a cook, and basic rented furniture. Such themes can be easily translated into the social divisions in contemporary development practice, with young, unattached emergency workers living in shared, rented accommodation, while heads of station, and senior staff of bilateral and multilateral agencies will be put in large, often grand houses suitable for diplomatic functions; their furniture shipped by their agency from a previous duty station.

[vi] For example, the representative significance of the form of the white SUV can be seen in its violent targeting in a variety of humanitarian and developmental contexts. In certain situations (Afghanistan) non-governmental organisations (NGOs) purposefully defaced their white SUVs to make them less conspicuous. Elsewhere, development organizations have recently foregone the traditional white SUV in favour of local taxi cabs (Darfur), and mini busses (Liberia).

Complex Humanitarian Emergencies

“Complex Humanitarian Emergencies” – MA option taught at the University of Sussex

This course looks at the emergence and development of the phenomena known as “complex humanitarian emergencies” and their role in North-South relations. While this is a contemporary term, the course looks at it in historical perspective. Using two in-depth case studies and small group exercises, it critically examines the following themes: the origins, evolution, and foundational principles of humanitarianism; distinctions between key concepts (catastrophe; natural vs. manmade disaster) key actors (governments, the UN, NGOs, private sector, military); key historical events; technologies of response (camps, food-drops); the role of the media; cultures of aid.

It incorporates the following themes and approaches:

  • Challenging established frames of references and concepts (what is a CHE? Is it a North/South phenomena?)
  • Providing both a strong empirical focus through case studies, and up to date policy approaches with critical theoretical approaches.
  • Focus on the lived and embodied experience of complex emergencies: how camps experienced by the beneficiary? What is it like to ride in a white Landrover? And how have these experiences shaped the way in which big ideas such as humanitarianism have been shaped, understood and transmitted.
  • Uses a wide range of source material: from aid worker biographies and blogs, to novels such as David Eggers’ Zeitoun to maps and objects both in terms of what they represent and how they are used.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course a successful student should be able to:

Describe, understand and evaluate the concept of complex humanitarian emergencies both in contemporary terms and in historical perspective

Have a knowledge of the actors, institutions, legal frameworks, funding mechanisms and procedures relating to a complex humanitarian response

Understand and evaluate the competing theoretical claims and perspectives relating to complex humanitarian emergencies

Advance academically formulated ideas about the utility of the concept and the process as a mode of international political interaction.

Be able to conceptualise the idea of CHE beyond conventional North-South frameworks and to problematise its continued use within international humanitarian discourse.

COURSE OVERVIEW

SECTION ONE – FOUNDATIONS

Week 1 – Background Reading

Week 2 – The origins and evolution of humanitarianism

Week 3 – Principles, Professionalization and Organization

Week 4 – Humanitarian Space, Securitization, Remote Management, Logistics

SECTION TWO – CASE STUDY 1 – HAITI & CHEs

Week 5 – Haiti as complex humanitarian emergency

Week 6 – Haiti before and after

Week 7 – Essay Preparation Week

SECTION THREE – CASE STUDY 2 – DISASTERS & NEW ORLEANS

Week 8 – New Orleans as state of exception

Week 9 – The picturesque and the disaster imaginary – Rebuilding New Orleans

Week 10 – Cultures of Aid – Codes of Conduct

COURSE CONTENT

Week One – Background Reading (no class)

Try to read one of these prior to starting the course.

Keen, D. (2008). Complex emergencies. Cambridge, Polity.

Higate, P. and M. Henry (2009). Insecure spaces : peacekeeping, power and performance in Haiti, Kosovo and Liberia. London, Zed.

Samantha Power (2008). Chasing the Flame New York, Penguin.

 

Week Two: The origins and evolution of humanitarianism

This week looks at the emergence of a humanitarian ethic from Henri Dunant‟s revelation on the battle field at Solferino through to the creation and use of legal instruments.

Guiding Questions:

 What are the philosophical and guiding principles and ethics that underpin humanitarianism? How have they evolved?

 What are the key moments, documents and decisions?

Weiss, T. G. and C. Collins (2000). Chapters 1 Main Actors, Humanitarian challenges and intervention. Boulder, Colo.; Oxford, Westview Press.

Calhoun – The idea of emergency (2010) in Fassin and Pandolfi (eds) Contemporary States of Emergency (New York: Zone)

Rieff, David “The Hazards of Charity” in (2002) A Bed for the Night New York: Simon & Schuster.

Ranciere, Jacques (2004) “Who is the subject of the rights of Man?” South Atlantic Quarterly 103(2/3):297-310.

Slim, Hugo “Not Philanthropy But Rights” – on rights based humanitarianism http://www.odi.org.uk/events/2001/02/01/2103-rights-based-humanitarianism-proper-politicisation-humanitarian-philosophy-hugo-slim-revised-may-2001.pdf

Please have a look at online

1. Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Charter http://www.un.org

2. Geneva Conventions http://www.icrc.org

3. Refugee Convention http://www.unhcr.ch

Additional sources

Curti, M. (1957). “The History of American Philanthropy as a Field of Research.” The American Historical Review 62(2): 352-363.

Bass, G. J. (2008). Freedom‟s battle : the origins of humanitarian intervention. New York, Alfred A. Knopf.

Crossland, James (2010) “Expansion, Suspicion and the Development of the ICRC: 1939-45” Australian Journal of Politics and History 56(3): 381-392.

Cowan, J. K. (2007). “The Supervised State “ Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 14(5): 545 – 578.

Edkins, J. (2003). “Humanitarianism, humanity, human.” Journal of Human Rights 2(2): 253-258.

Weiss, S. S., Hans-Joachim, and van Meurs, Wim, Ed. (2009). Diplomacy, Development and Defense: A Paradigm for Coherence, Bertelsmann Stiftung. (not yet available, awaiting delivery)

Rozario, K. (2003). “”Delicious horrors”: Mass culture, the red cross, and the appeal of modern American humanitarianism.” American Quarterly 55(3): 417-455.

Davis, M. (2000). Late Victorian Holocausts : El Nino famines and the making of the Third World, Verso.

Hutchinson, J. F. (1996). Chapters 1 Champions of charity: war and the rise of the Red Cross. Oxford, Westview.

Lester, A. (2002). “Obtaining the „due observance of justice‟: the geographies of colonial humanitarianism.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 20: 277-293.

Skran, C. M. (1995). Chapter 3 in Refugees in inter-war Europe : the emergence of a regime. Oxford, Clarendon Press.

 

Week Three: Principles, Pragmatism and Organization

This week looks at the development of pragmatic humanitarianism in response to the Goma crisis. It examine the various systems of coordination, accountability and resources mobilization that have been developed.

Guiding Questions:

 Who are the main actors? What are the conflicts between them? How do they coordinate?

 How is funding obtained?

 Has development become a profession; has it become more principled?

 How does a pragmatic approach compare to last week‟s approaches?

Linda Polman – Chapter 1 in (2010) The Crisis Caravan. New York: Metropolitan

The Humanitarian Charter: http://www.sphereproject.org/content/view/24/84/lang,english/

and The Sphere handbook: http://www.sphereproject.org/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=27&Itemid=84

Darcy, James (2004) “Locating Responsibility: The Sphere Humanitarian Charter and Rationale” Disasters 28(2): 112-123 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.0361-3666.2004.00247.x/pdf

Collins and Weiss – Chapter 2

Barnett – Humanitarianism Transformed

UN General Assembly Resolution on the creation of UN OCHA http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/46/a46r182.htm

IASC standing committee on Clusters

http://reliefweb.int/rw/lib.nsf/db900sid/EVOD-76JH4V/$file/Full_Report.pdf?openelement

On Funding: http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/lib.nsf/db900SID/AMMF-75MGSC/$FILE/Tufts-July2007.pdf

Codes of Conduct

IFRC code of conduct: http://www.ifrc.org/publicat/conduct/code.asp

The Humanitarian Accountability Partnership http://www.hapinternational.org/

An example of a CAP/Cluster approach in action (not in pack)

http://ochadms.unog.ch/quickplace/cap/main.nsf/h_Index/CAP_2010_Zimbabwe/$FILE/CAP_2010_Zimbabwe_SCREEN.pdf?OpenElement

Additional Reading:

Brauman, Rony (2004) “From Philanthropy to Humanitarianism: Remarks and an Interview” The South Atlantic Quarterly 102(2/3): 397-417.

Brauman, Rony (2006) “Global Media and the Myths of Humanitarian Relief The case of the 2004 Tsunami” CRASH Papers

Clements, Ashley and Edwina Thompson (2009) “Making Tough Calls: decision making in complex humanitarian environments” Humanitarian Exchange Magazine Issue 44 http://www.odihpn.org/report.asp?id=3025

ODI working paper on complexity http://www.odi.org.uk/resources/download/583.pdf 10

HPG Principles in Practice http://www.odi.org.uk/work/projects/details.asp?id=1206&title=humanitarian-principles-practice

Kent, R. C. (1987). Anatomy of disaster relief: the international network in action. London, Pinter.

MSF grey archive on Rwanda Refugee Camps in Zaire (available in Global Resource Centre)

Failure of Humanitarian Action in Rwanda Panorama http://www.spokenword.ac.uk/record_view.php?pbd=gcu-a0a7e0-a

 

Week 4: Humanitarian Space, Securitization, Remote Management, Logistics

The week examines the emerging concept of „humanitarian space‟. What it means, how it‟s been constructed – legally, figuratively and materially.

Guiding Questions:

 What is humanitarian space?

 Who is it for?

 How is it constructed?

 What are the implications for humanitarianism?

Inter-Agency Standing Committee (2008). Background Document: Preserving Humanitarian Space, Protection and Security. New York, UNICEF. http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/48da506c2.html

Abild, E. (2009). Creating Humanitarian Space: A case Study of Somalia. New Issues in Refugee Research. Oxford, UNHCR.

Fast, Larissa – “Mind the Gap” (2010) in EJIR

Van Wassenhove, LN (2006) “Humanitarian Aid Logistics: Supply Chain Management in High Gear” The Journal of Operational Research Society 57(5):475-489.

Agier, Michel (2008) Chapter 3 in On the Margins of the World Cambridge: Polity.

Additional sources

Hyndman, Jennifer.

Garro, H. (2008). Does humanitarian space exist in Chad? Humanitarian Exchange Magazine. London, ODI. http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/lib.nsf/db900sid/EGUA-7NPSWS/$file/odi_dec2008.pdf?openelement (pp. 39-41)

Wagner, J. G. (2005). An IHL/ICRC perspective on „humanitarian space‟. Humanitarian Exchange Magazine. London, ODI. http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/lib.nsf/db900sid/AMMF-6RLDKP/$file/odihpn-gen-dec05.pdf?openelement (pp. 24-26

Lischer, S. K. (2005). Dangerous sanctuaries : refugee camps, civil war, and the dilemmas of humanitarian aid. Ithaca, N.Y. ; London, Cornell University Press.

Debrix, François. (1998) “Deterritorialised Territories, Borderless Borders: The New Geography of International Medical Assistance” Third World Quarterly, 19(5):827-846

Principles pragmatism: NGO engagement with armed actors http://www.worldvision.org.uk/upload/pdf/Principled_pragmatism.pdf

Gibson, T. (2006). “New Orleans and the Wisdom of Lived Space.” Space and Culture 9(1): 45-47.

Burkle, F. (2009). “Sovereignty, Endurance, and the Elusive Search for Humanitarian Space in North Korea ” Prehospital and Disaster Medicine 24(3): 161-165.

Yamashita, H. (2004). Humanitarian space and international politics: the creation of safe areas. Burlington, VT, Ashgate.

Tomaszewski, B and L Czárán, Geographically Visualizing Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) Information

Click to access 152_Geographically%20Visualizing%20Consolidated%20Appeal_Tomaszewski2009.pdf

Thurer, D. (2007). “Dunant’s Pyramid: thoughts on the “humanitarian space”.” International Review of the Red Cross 89: 47-61.

Week 5 – Haiti as complex humanitarian emergency: What happened up to 30 days after the event. This week is devoted to understanding what happened when the quake hit. Who did what, what was the sequencing? We will work together as a class to develop an up-to-date bibliography and a timeline of events.

MSF archive http://www.dwb.org/news/allcontent.cfm?id=208

See http://www.noula.ht/ for events (in French!)

 

Week 6 – Haiti 2 – Before and After

This week continues the case study looking at the context of Haiti that informs current and continuing events. It will be used to pick out key humanitarian themes such as clusters, logistics, responsibility, camps, media to coordinate, distribution, infrastructure. We will continue developing the case study.

Muggah, Robert (2010) “The effects of stabilisation on humanitarian action in Hait” Disasters 34(S3):S444-S463

Zanotti, Laura (2010) Cacophonies of Aid

Additional Resources

Lucchi, Elena (2010) “Between war and peace: humanitarian assistance in violent urban settings” in Disasters 34(4): 973-995

Week 7 – Essay Week

This week should be used for you to pick the object that you want to investigate for your final essay, identify primary material, decide upon a theoretical framework, and establish an initial bibliography and outline. You are encouraged to come to my office hours to discuss your proposed outline.

Week 8 – New Orleans as state of exception

This week looks at the concept of ”natural disasters” as distinct from CHEs and ask whether the distinction holds. It will look at how one of the highest profile disasters unfolded and how its exceptional nature translated into the way in which it was managed. Through this, the symbolic, metaphoric and actually existing space of the “camp” will be examined. Again, as a class will exploring time line of events, and the response.

Eggers, David – Zeitoun

Hayley – on Camps

Klein, Naomi – Chapter from the Shock Doctrine

Possible Presentations: – timeline of response (who did what, when)

– What is a “disaster”? – legal definitions.

Additional

Brinkley, Douglas The Great Deluge

Dyson, Michael Eric (2006) Come Hell or High Water . New York: Basic Civitas

Piazza, Tom City of Refuge ( a novel)

Williams, Stewart (2008) “Rethinking the Nature of Disaster: From Failed Instruments of Learning to a post-Social Understanding” Social Forces 87(2):1115-1139.

Oliver-Smith, A. (1996). “Anthropological research on hazards and disasters.” Annual Review of Anthropology 25(1): 303-328.

Harada, T. (2000). “Space, materials, and the “social”: in the aftermath of a disaster.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 18(2): 205-212. 13

Smith, N. (2006). “There’s No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster.” From

http://understandingkatrina.ssrc.org/Smith/.

Spike Lee’s documentaries: When the Levees Broke and If God is willing and the Creek don’t rise

Trouble the Water (another documentary)

Week 9 – The picturesque and the disaster imaginary – Rebuilding New Orleans

This week looks at the way that disaster (and CHEs) are imagined and how this influences the response. It will continue with our case study of New Orleans to examine the ways in which “outsiders” contributed to the rebuilding of the city, and the resulting implications. Through this we will access the wider discussion of the place and role of „disaster‟ in society at large.

Ophir, Adi “The Politics of Catastrophization: Emergency and Exception” in Fassin and Pandolfi (2010) Contemporary States of Emergency (New York: Zone)

Solnit chapter (to be distributed)

Kingsley, Karen “Rebuilding New Orleans” http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/jah/94.3/kingsley.html

Presentation – “Representing Katrina”.

Additional Reading

Lots of articles by Demond Shondell Miller

A special issue of Space and Culture here: http://www.spaceandculture.org/2005/12/30/disastrous-social-theory-lessons-from-new-orleans/

Bianchini, Stefano et al. (2005) Partitions: Reshaping Hearts and Minds London: Routledge.

Brusma (2007) Katrina: The sociology of disaster

Rozario, K. (2007). Introduction in The culture of calamity : disaster and the making of modern America. Chicago ; London, University of Chicago Press.

Campbell, D. (2007). “Geopolitics and visuality: Sighting the Darfur conflict “ Political Geography 26: 357-382.

Simpson, Edward (2005) “The Gujurat Earthquake and the political economy of nostalgia” Contributions to Indian Sociology 39(2):219-249.

Week 10 – Cultures of Aid – Codes of Conduct

This week will look at the cultures that spring up around aid workers and how they represent and understand themselves. It will look at the idea of the “memoire” (bringing us back to week 1 and H. Dunant’s memoire) and how this has been instrumental in self understandings of humanitarianism. How does the memoire in question square with the standards and principles examined in previous weeks? Whither local populations?

Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures

Dawes, James (2007) chapter on “Storytelling” in That the World May Know (Cambridge: HUP)

Presentation: The role of Aid Blogs in contemporary aid work

Additional Readings:

Huggan, Graham (2009) Extreme Pursuits: Travel Writing in an Age of Globalization Ann Arbor: U of Mich Press.

Lewis, et al. “The Fiction of Development” (2008) Journal of Development Studies 44(2):198-216.

Gigliotti, Simone (2007) “Genocide yet again” Australian Journal of Politics and History 53(1):84-95.

Kay Schaffer & Sidonie Smith (2004) “Conjunctions: Life Narratives in the Field of Human Rights” Biography Vol. 27

Pandolfi, M. (2003). “Contract of Mutual (In)Difference: Governance and the Humanitarian Apparatus in Contemporary Albania and Kosovo.” Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 10: 369-382.

Pouligny, B. (2006). Peace operations seen from below: UN missions and local people. London, Hurst & Co.

Edkins, J. (2000). Whose hunger?: concepts of famine, practices of aid. London, University of Minnesota Press.

Debrix, F. and C. Weber (2003). Rituals of mediation : international politics and social meaning. Minneapolis ; London, University of Minnesota Press. (See chapters by Campbell, Dillon and Weber).

Richmond, O. P. (2009). “Becoming Liberal, Unbecoming Liberalism: Liberal-Local Hybridity via the Everyday as a Response to the Paradoxes of Liberal Peacebuilding.” Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 3(3): 324 – 344. 15

Rajaram, P. K. and C. Grundy-Warr (2007). Borderscapes : hidden geographies and politics at territory’s edge. Minneapolis, Minn., University of Minnesota Press ; [Bristol : University Presses Marketing, distributor].

Heathershaw, J. (2007). “Peacebuilding as Practice: Discourses from Post-conflict Tajikistan.” International Peacekeeping 14(2): 219-236.

Special issue on spaces of post-conflict state-building in the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 2(3) 2008

Eggers, D. (2008). What is the what : the autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng : a novel. London, Penguin.

Malkki, L. H. (1995). Purity and exile : violence, memory, and national cosmology among Hutu refugees in Tanzania. Chicago ; London, University of Chicago Press.

Malkki, L. H. (1996). “Speechless Emissaries: Refugees, Humanitarianism, and Dehistoricization.” Cultural Anthropology 11(3): 377-404.

Ek, R. (2006). “Giogio Agamben and the spatialities of the camp: an introduction.” Geografiska Annaler, Series B 88(4): 363-386.

Salter, M. B. (2003). Rights of passage : the passport in international relations. Boulder, Colo; London, Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 22(1) 2004 is a special issue on complexity and networks.

Coward, M. (2006). “Against anthropocentrism: the destruction of the built environment as a distinct form of political violence” Review of International Studies 32: 419-437.

Hansen, T. B. and F. Stepputat (2005). Sovereign bodies : citizens, migrants, and states in the postcolonial world. Princeton, N.J. ; Oxford, Princeton University Press.

The object(s) of humanitarianism

“The object(s) of humanitarianism: object based learning in taught post-graduate courses,” paper presented at the International Studies Association Conference; Montreal, Canada, March 2011

Abstract

International Relations (IR) tends to focus its  research on representational forms of knowledge: historical accounts of events as told through archives, news media, interviews.   While these approaches are well established within UK higher education, emerging pedagogy stresses the significant contribution that objects can make to students’ intellectual development. Based on a graduate course at Sussex University the paper suggests that object based learning has unique contributions to make to teaching complex humanitarian emergencies and the related disciplines of conflict, security and development and international relations.

How does one teach ‘complex humanitarian emergencies’ to graduate students, who have little to no experience with the phenomena beyond what they see on television? How does one do this in a way which is both ethically sensitive to the concepts and events under examination and conveys the realities involved (death, injury, destruction, corruption).  Is it possible to both offer a philosophical critique of the concept and processes while imparting students with the ‘skills base’ that is increasingly in demand at the post-graduate taught (PGT) level in England?  It is these questions that I began to wrestle with when asked to develop a course on ‘complex humanitarian emergencies’ in the context of our new taught Masters programme on Conflict, Security and Development.  With a research background in the spatial and material aspects of humanitarianism, I decided to mobilize new techniques in student engagement such as “inquiry-based learning” to introduce the students to an “object oriented approach” to the subject.  The rationale for this was based on the following two hypotheses:

  1. The current composition of UK PGT classes requires modification of typical text based seminar approach

An increasing proportion of university level education in the United Kingdom is delivered through taught post-graduate courses (PGT). In International Relations these courses are typically one year long and are taught through a two or three hour seminar format which typically includes a combination of lecture/discussion/small group work.  The size of the classes varies between 10 to 25 students however increased student demand in the past few years and attempts to reduce costs has seen a trend towards the higher end of this spectrum.  [need stats]  In addition to larger class size, other pedagogic challenges include a wide variety of class composition:  students come from all over the world (representing all continents); wide variety of ages (from students who have just graduated from under-graduate courses to mature students); an fairly even split between genders; and an increased recognition of the pervasiveness of learning challenged students such as those with dyspraxia, dyslexia and autism.

2.       The study of complex emergencies (narrowly) and international relations (broadly) would benefit from an introduction of this pedagogic approach by challenging existing narratives of causality and agency.  The introduction of objects also allows highlights the affective and ethical issues which are often obscured in traditional text based teaching methods.

International Relations, like many humanities and social science subjects has typically been taught through representational methods include the use of abstract models and historical narratives.  The established PGT format, described above, relies heavily on texts which tend to be circulated in advance to students in order that they form the basis of discussion during the seminar.  While the discipline’s traditional perspectives  – i.e. realism, liberalism and even marxism –  are concerned with the material aspects of statecraft – for example economic resources; populations; borders; weapons arsenals; government institutions the pedagogic approaches have focused on the representational and epi-phenomenal aspects such as power; ideas and norms.  This tendency towards representation was amplified from the 1990s onwards when interest in discursive and constructivist approaches gained new prominence.  Recently, interest in materiality has seen a small but influence group of scholars foregrounding issues around objects and things (Debrix and Weber 2003; Higate and Henry 2009; Salter 2008; Venturi et al. 2007).  Another group of scholars has been interested in matters of ‘practice’ in International Relations (Pouliot 2008; Richmond 2009).  But these theoretical approaches have not translated into changed pedagogic approaches, and in the main they are still defined and discussed largely through representational means. This is not to say that all approaches to International Relations Pedagogy are the same – the papers on this panel attest to this. In various sectors of the discipline there have been attempts to incorporate more experiential and active learning techniques.  But approaches such as simulations, field trips and problem or case based learning approaches are still generally seen as supplements to the established text based techniques rather than the centerpiece.[1]

This paper is an analysis of recent experiment in using object based approaches to teaching and learning in a PGT environment.  It argues that while an incorporation of object-based learning seems to have pedagogic benefits based on student feedback, further research is needed.  It is also unclear whether a partial incorporation of an OBL approach may be confusing for some students who are used to a textually based approach.

1 – Best Practice in Learning

Contemporary pedagogy stresses the need to ensure that students reflect upon the material in a way that ensures absorption and comprehension of the material (Cowan 2006).  Approaches to reflective learning, also stress the importance of presenting materials in ways which allow students to reconsider and challenge their pre-existing assumptions and frameworks regarding the material (Moon 2004). While it is more than possible for reflexive methods to be deployed using texts (Cowan 2006) educators will still encounter the challenges which derive from a reliance on texts in a PGT environment namely:

  • Students will different cultural backgrounds will struggle more or less with texts which tend to reflect the Eurocentric nature of the discipline.
  • Students with different learning needs (autistic, dyslexic) may find themselves relatively disadvantaged in a learning environment which privileges textual pedagogies.
  • Students who do not have English as their first language and often find the traditionally dense academic articles which are assigned as PGT reading difficult to comprehend. As ESL students are an increasing proportion of our PGT student cohorts this consideration needs to be taken seriously. Personal experience suggests that ESL students will often ignore or skim read those articles they find inaccessible, resulting in in-class discussion being dominated by those students who are most comfortable with the texts.

Current best practice in pedagogic approaches stresses the role that multi-dimensional learning approaches can have in improving comprehension and retention (Moon 2004).  In particular, the need to distinguish between verbal and tacit knowledge highlights the different ways in which students learn.  Say Phillips and Tinning quoting Hooper-Greenhill, “verbal knowledge is primarily textual and is characterized as ‘knowledge through the written, spoken or heard text’” (Phillips and Tinning 2011: 57). In other words, the type of knowledge that forms the nucleus of PGT teaching in the social sciences and humanities in the UK.  Tacit knowledge on the other hand, “is experiential and involves encounters through the senses and the body producing ‘powerful “gut reactions”, mobilizing feelings and emotions” (Phillips and Tinning 2011: 57). The mobilization of emotion can itself be an important aspect of comprehension and retention (Moon 2004) in two different ways. First, a students personal emotional state during the teaching experience will influence whether they are comfortable and able to absorb information. Students who are frightened are less able to learn and less likely to retain information.   Secondly, it will have an effect on the level of comprehension itself by involving a range of senses – vision, touch, hearing, kinesthetic – not only eyes (Phillips and Tinning 2011; Rodaway 1994).

Particularly in the area of international relations, the core disciplinary concepts contain a strong affective element. Consider the study of conflict. While some branches of conflict studies approach the subject from a largely empirical perspective – measuring number of casualties, frequency of events (Collier and Sambanis 2005; Gleditsch et al. 2002) an equally influential perspective stresses the need to engage with our basic conceptualizations of violence, civil war, conflict in order to not only measure and observe but comprehend the motivations, experience and dynamics of ‘conflict’ (Kalyvas 2004; Scheper-Hughes and Bourgois 2004). For example, Thomas (Thomas 2010) says that within IR our conceptions of violence lack in nuance and specificity – instead using the term to stand in for any act of bodily aggression that is considered to be non-legitimate.

It is strange, too, that so many of the concepts that occupy the discipline are essentially affective in nature. While, concepts such as security and power occupy the pages of our journals, the embodied and affective aspects of these terms remains under-examined. Even in the theoretical spheres of bio-politics – the concern with the body qua its visceral embodiment – our teaching methods and engagement with the terms remains squarely verbal, determinedly textual.  I argue that not only would a change in teaching methods to a more tacit approach improve student learning with regards to these abstract and multivalent concepts; but that this approach may force a reconsideration of the anemic manner in which these terms are traditionally deployed within the discipline.  By considering the tacit, visceral, embodied meaning and aspects of conflict, security, power, development one may find their interpretations of given events being challenged; possibilities for action opening up or shutting down; and even the focus of study shifting.  For example, the famous study of trench warfare during WW1 found that the majority of soldiers were physically unable to shoot their targets (Collins 2008). The horror of the situation overwhelmed their rational brain and their automatic bodily functions took over. Many urinated or defecated in their trousers; others fired over-head; still more ran.  Recognizing the visceral, embodied experience of conflict raises questions over the accuracy to capture the central issues through an abstract or quantitative approach.

A sustained engagement with the human element of conflict also raises ethical issues with regard to the way in which the subject is studied.  In my own experience of PGT courses on Conflict, Security and Development and Complex Humanitarian Emergencies it is far to easy to slip into a discourse which obviates the recognition that the events under consideration involve human casualties – death, trauma, suffering.  A purely textually or verbally based engagement arguably facilitates an approach which see ‘conflict’, ‘insecurity’, ‘emergency’, ‘under-development’ as abstract concepts to be critiqued, hypothesized, proven or rejected without a tacit recognition of the constituent human elements.

In order to address these concerns, in Spring 2010, I designed and taught a class which adopted an ‘object based approach’ to the topic of complex humanitarian emergencies. The course, was designed around four ‘object oriented’ aspects:  overall theoretical orientation, the object lesson, in class presentation and end of term paper.  The next section will review each of these approaches in turn.  Following the course, two forms of student feedback were elicited. First, the official university anonymized feedback through the online system (Annex x); second, using Study Direct, Sussex University’s virtual learning environment I established an online anonymous short answer survey that allowed me to solicit more targeted answers than the generic university feedback forms (Annex x).  The final part of the article will describe how I modified the course for my Spring 2011 session and present my initial thoughts on the these modifications.

2. The Course

The course ran for nine weeks between January and March 2011.  The class was comprised of 24 students:  10 male and 14 female students of ranging between early twenties and mid forties in age, and from a range of disciplinary backgrounds. As this was an elective, the students can be identified with reference to their programme of origin – which included the MA in Conflict, Security and Development, the MA in Anthropology of Violence; MA Human Rights; MA International Relations; and MA anthropology of Development and Social Transformation.   As described in the syllabus:

This course interrogates the concept of “complex humanitarian emergencies” (CHEs) as a modern form of humanitarian response.  As such, it is interested in what CHEs reveal about the underlying tensions in the stated objectives of humanitarian intervention.  To examine these questions, it applies an often neglected theoretical lens to the study of CHEs – that of spatial and material theory. The two main questions are:

1.  What does attention to the material and spatial practices of humanitarian response reveal about the underlying tensions in the stated aims of humanitarian intervention?

2.  How do the material and spatial practices influence the way in which subjectivities and power relations are constructed both locally and in global terms?

It will use a wide range of historical examples and media to problematize the idea that CHE is a purely modern concept.

It did this both by investigating material and spatial approaches, i.e. those approaches attentive to objects, and by adopting ‘object oriented’ learning approached. Each will be examined in turn.

i) Overall Theoretical Approach

The overall theoretical approach was one which introduced the students to a variety of theorists who adopt a variety of spatial and material approaches including:

  • Lefebvre (1991) and Harvey (2006) as applied to ideas of ‘humanitarian space’
  • Bourdieu (1990), de Certeau (1988) and Butler (1993) on ‘performance, practice & the everyday ‘ in international response
  • Low (2003), Brown (Venturi et al. 2007), Weizman (2007) and Hyndman (2000) on ‘spaces of enclosure, spaces of separation: the camp, the border’
  • Latour (2005), Dant (2004) & Auge (1995) on ‘moving in the field: assemblage and networks’
  • Coward (2005), Pandolfi (2003) on ‘state of emergency?’ how the material culture and built environment of humanitarian response may be considered as a quasi state.

Each of the weeks brought together the theory with material aspect of complex emergencies:  camps, tarpaulins, food drops, SUVs, categories of people, organization logos, ration cards.  The students read the readings, so visual knowledge was still a key learning modality, but with this knowledge as background, the seminars – 1h50 minutes per session – foregrounded the objects of aid in the following three ways.

 ii) The Object Lesson in Historical Perspective

‘Objects lessons’ were a well established pedagogic approach within the nineteenth century practice of using objects in teaching. Usually attributed to the pedagogic philosophy of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi,[2] the approach involved using objects to engage students’ full range of senses in the process of learning. According to Carter, “[i]n his teaching and writing he [Pestalozzi] emphasized the concept of Anschauung, which may be understood as ‘sense training.’ In Pestalozzi’s model, children were first to develop sensation, then perception, notion and finally volition, learning and how to act morally based on an individual view of the world” (Carter 2010: 8).  Associated with Anschauung was the implication that knowledge was not absorbed in a linear or ‘brick wall’ fashion (Moon 2004) but rather holistically and through a variety of sensory channels including affect and emotion.

Pestalozzi’s approach proved to be very attractive to certain educators particularly in the U.S. and England who after visiting Pestalozzi’s school in Yverdon, Switzerland, “adopted his basic notion that children should learn from experience and observation as opposed to memorization and recitation. They employed these notions to develop entire curricula or to solve specific pedagogical problems in the teaching of subjects like music, mathematics, or drawing” (Carter 2010: 8).  Pestalozzi’s approach focused on educating the whole person; treating his students as people not subjects (Pestalozzi 1801).  This was very much part of what has become known as ‘progressive education’ – a trend that began in Europe, Great Britain and America during the late  nineteenth century and persists in various guises to the present day. Progressive education stresses the value of experiential knowledge over rote memorization and became associated in the late nineteenth century with such names as Francis Parker and John Dewey (Reese 2001).  It also stressed the need to foster a loving and kind relationship with the student.

Pestalozzi and his acolytes such as Elizabeth Mayo in England promoted the ‘object lesson’ as a key part of progressive education (Reese 2001: 13; Schultz 1995).[3] By focusing on ‘things’ rather than words, students were thought to be able to approach learning in a more organic and intuitive fashion.  The object lesson was “typically organized around specific everyday objects and substances, listed and detailed at length in the many object lesson manuals published throughout the century.”[4] For example, Mayo’s Promethean Lessons on Objects: Graduated Series designed for Children between the ages of Six and Fourteen Years offers a series of graduated series – one to five; each cumulative series intended for more advanced pupils  (Mayo 1863) Series one contains such objects as glass, Indian rubber, milk, rice and chalk.  Series Two contained Ïan uncut Lead PencilÓ, ÏA Wax CandleÓ, and ÏA KeyÓ; Series Three ÏA QuillÓ, ÏA Piece of Honey CombÓ and ÏA Laurel LeafÓ. By the Fourth Series students the ‘objects’ included the senses such as ÏSmellÓ and ÏTasteÓ as well as Spices such as ÏClovesÓ and ÏNutmegÓ and Liquids such as ÏInkÓ and ÏForeign White WineÓ.  By the Fifth Series a wide range of household items were represented – including some that had been used in previous lessons such as ÏHornÓ and ÏGlassÓ.  The Fifth Series also included groups of objects entitled ÏOn The MetalsÓ and ÏOn EarthsÓ.  In this way, more abstract concepts such as location, chemical composition, distinctions such as ‘foreign’ and ‘domestic’ and political and economic inter-relationships (such as empire) could be explored through accessible concepts.

Nor was Mayo alone in her documentation of the process of Object Teaching.   Dozens of similar manuals sprang up throughout the nineteenth century in both Europe and America.  The approaches were broadly similar, and differed in the degree of direction with regard to the employment of the technique.  For example, Calkins’ (Calkins 1882) provides minute instructions to teaching on how to use the technique with student’s including questions that they should ask for different ‘objects’.  Consider this suggested approach for examining a cat.

What does the cat do when she is happy?

Children. She  purrs.

Teacher. How does the cat show that she is angry?

C. She wags her tail, and makes a noise.

T. How does the cat tell you that she is hungry ?

C. She mews.

T. How does she tell you that she wants you to open the door for her to come in or to go out ? […] (Calkins 1882: 184).

Pestalozzi’s approach borrowed from two major and overlapping philosophical trends of the nineteenth century: naturalism (or romanticism) and empiricism. On one hand, Pestalozzi’s approach emphasized careful empirical observation of the objects in question. Through the application of one senses, a variety of information and data could be identified and comprehended that was not possible in the context of textual approaches. While it focused on ‘everyday objects’ – salt peter, India rubber, sage – these objects did not themselves appear to have been imbued with any type of enchanted or extra-material quality (Bennett, 2001).  Says Professor S. S. Greene in his ‘Report on Object Teaching’ for the meeting of the National Teachers Association of 1865, knowledge is not “in the object, but in the mind. The object neither embodies nor in any way expresses them. It merely serves as the occasion to call them into consciousness” (Greene 1865: 5). Unlike the early to mid-twentieth century focus on everyday objects for their phenomenological impact (Adorno and Jephcott 1974; de Certeau 1988; Kracauer 1995; Lee 2002; Simmel et al. 1997), the use of objects in the Pestalozzian sense was primarily as pedagogical instruments or tools which could engage and direct a students senses to have a more complete understanding of the thing and through the thing, to a more complete understanding of nature. While it is possible that those adherents with more naturalists or transcendentalist tendencies may have spoken of particularly natural objects with an almost agential reverence, in the main, the object was seen as a tool to clarify thoughts which originate only in the mind and therefore feel squarely within Cartesian mind-body thinking.

An understanding of nature was in turn thought to organically foster moral recognition within the students of what constitutes right and wrong, and ultimately would bring them closer to God. There was also a clear association both in Pestalozzi’s own work and in his adherents in the explicit connection between object teaching and religious and moral training (Greene 1865). Interwoven with romantic, humanitarian notions of the child and childhood, there was also an implication that children through their privileged epistemological position were somehow closer to God and that an object based approach to learning was a better fit with their pedagogical level.  Reese argues that “American advocates of the new [progressive] education drew as they pleased from a large corpus of romantic writings, domestic and foreign” including Emerson, Rousseau, Thoreau, as well as Pestalozzi and his German student Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852) (Reese 2001: 10).

As evidenced from the Object Lesson manuals, it was rarely the objects themselves that were used in teaching although educators were encouraged, where possible to bring the actual ‘object’ into class.  One common tool were Object-Lesson Cards, first published in the early 1860s by Oliver and Boyd of Edinburgh (Carter 2010: 9). Describing a set from the 1880s, Carter says

“[e]ach of the lesson cards measures roughly twenty by thirteen inches and includes actual specimens of ‘raw and manufactured materials’ along with a short essay detailing the chosen plant and is connections to the commodities displayed. A boll [sic.] of cotton resides next to brightly colored calico; oak park connects to a square of tanned leather; a cypress leaf is displayed beside a pencil…by redefining cookies, straw, or macaroni as the subject of a classroom exercise, as part of a network of meaning, these pedagogical tools attempted to transform children’s daily experiences into learning opportunities” (2010: 8)

But according to some this was not object teaching: “But what is object teaching? Not that so-called object teaching which is confined to a few blocks and cards to be taken from the teacher’s desk” (Greene 1865: 10).  Such an approach only “exchange[d] an unknown term for another equally unknown” (Greene 1865: 10). Instead, it is an approach that “works from the well known to the obscurely known, and so onward and upward till the learner can enter the fields of science or abstract thought” (Greene 1865: 11). Pestalozzi and Froebel’s methods and pedagogic influence had long lasting effects on contemporary Anglo-American education, most notably in the spread of Froebellian kindergartens (Tarr 1989: 117).

While the ‘object lesson’ tended to be primarily geared towards younger learners, in 1889 Emerson E. White told a local graduating class that “The theories and methods of methods of Pestalozzi and Froebel have permeated elementary schools and science and other modern knowledges, have entered the universities and are working their way downward through secondary education” (White as quoted in Reese 2001: 10). Although the influence of object learning is generally no longer an explicit aspect of secondary or university education, its pedagogic inspiration can be found in a variety of approaches that fall under the object based approach.  For example, inquiry based learning “is an approach to learning that involves a process of exploring the natural or material world, and that leads to asking questions, making discoveries, and rigorously testing those discoveries in the search for new understanding” (Foundations 2000).  A variety of scholars are also interested in the value of the museum and the objects it houses in teaching and learning (Hooper-Greenhill 1999; Leinhardt 2002; Paris 2002; Phillips and Tinning 2011; Schwartz 2008).

iii) The Object Lesson in 2010

The object lesson for this class took place from 11:00-12:50 on February 4th, 2010 in the Mass Observation Archive of the University of Sussex Library.  The MOA “specializes in material about everyday life in Britain. It contains papers generated by the original Mass Observation social research organization (1937 to early 1950s), and newer material collected continuously since 1981. The Archive is in the care of the University of Sussex and is housed in the Library in Special Collections.”[5] It is particularly concerned with the opinions of everyday people – their experiences and observations.  The Mass Observation project was concerned with collecting ephemera: “paper items (as posters, broadsides, and tickets) that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectibles.”[6] In conjunction with Fiona Courage, the Curator of the Mass Observation Archive, students were introduced to the idea of using objects to do research, particularly in the context of an archive, as many of them were unfamiliar with the concept.  As Fiona expressed it in her introduction, “the aim, the objective of today is that you will leave with some idea of how you can go about researching an object.”[7]  Myself and Fiona had previously gone through the archive for objects which we felt had relevance to the topics under consideration in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies.  As the archive is only concerned with Britain, we were reliant upon objects from and relating to the Second World War and the year following it.  While the majority of them were paper based, Fiona succinctly explained to the students that “what I want you to get the feeling for is that the document is an object, its not just the information that’s contained within it that’s important, it’s the object itself: it’s what it’s written on, it’s how it’s written, it’s what it smells of, it’s what the marks are…coffee stains…what does that tell you about that item?”

She illustrated what this means, by showing them, first, a transcribed copy of a poem by Rudyard Kipling[8] called “Ballad of the King’s Jest”.  You contrasted a verbal approach to knowledge with a tacit approach by first, demonstrating how, on strictly verbal grounds, the first version of the poem would be interpreted based on the language, the prose, the linguistic meaning of the poem. She then took out the original manuscript and put it on the overhead projector (Figure 1).  Based on the manuscript she asked the students what he was feeling when he wrote the poem.  Based on the fluidity and erratic placement of the text on the page students suggested that Kipling was ‘inspired’ when he wrote the poem, that the text came easily and quickly to him. Fiona also pointed out that the prose started out quite calmly on the page, but towards the end is crammed tightly in order to fit on the page. She also remarked that while people consider him to be a genius, the crossed out words and moved others around indicate that “he made mistakes too…he changed his mind too.” It offers insight into the writer and the writing process that the printed page can’t.  Similarly, a coffee stain on the page may give insight into how the manuscript was treated over the years and indicates that the manuscript was possibly not considered to be a terribly important document at certain points in its history.

Students had been assigned randomly to groups through seating arrangements – tables with pairs of chairs had been distributed around the room, and students had sat down at them as they came in. We then distributed one or two pieces of ephemera and/or objects to the tables. Students were then asked to begin by asking themselves two questions:  1) what is it? 2) where is it from? Students were encouraged to look beyond the text and to consider the thing as an object.

One group had been given a gas mask.  They asked themselves questions about how it was made; what materials had been used; the design. They tried it on, smelled it, looked at the wear marks.  Doing this led them to question the age of the mask.  A second group had been given a poster from a charity ball in 1885 for ‘needy and necessitous upholsterers and upholsteresses’ in London. This discussion around the poster raised issues of class, social literacy, spatial location of upholsterers in London, and most importantly for the course, issues relating to nineteenth century notions of charity.  A third group had been given a charity appeal for Belgium refugees in London, from a religious organization in 1916. This highlighted a variety of issues from the significance of charity appeals as early as 1916. Something that may have been seen by students on the course as a relatively recent way of conducting humanitarian affairs was given history depth. The brochure also gave insight into the geopolitical relations between Belgium and London during this time, and the plight of refugees. That European refugees were a significant problem in England during the first World War problematized the students framing of refugees as primarily a contemporary and North-South issue. Another group had a hand-written letter dated 1940 which describes the everyday lives of ambulance drivers for a religious charity, located in Buckhurst Hill, Essex.  The letter describes how they were accommodating refugees from East London. The discussion revolved around the issue that unlike the previous piece of ephemera – the charity appeal – the hand written artifact provided an intimate sense of the everydayness of accommodation and treating refugees.  Returning to the gas-mask, Fiona revealed that it had actually been purchased at a museum, emphasizing the point that in the context of object based research it is essential to carefully consider the object, and not jump to conclusions regarding its origins or intended use.

After all groups had a chance to present and discuss their objects, we then asked them to consider how they would go about finding more information about them. This was intended to prepare them for their final research paper. “How would you build your research project up from the information that you have.”  Several of the groups suggested looking at national and local archives; unions or guilds such as the upholsterers. Another suggested going through the Charity Commission to find records of historical charities. Others suggested interviews.

iv) In Class Presentation

All students were also asks to give in-class, not contributory presentations on respective weeks.  The way in which the seminars were structured, was that I would introduce the theoretical frameworks under consideration for that week.  This ensured that all students were comfortable with the main theoretical points under discuss. Groups would then present on that week’s theme in a way that applied that week’s theory to aspect of complex humanitarian emergencies under discussion.

For weeks five, eight, nine and ten you have been assigned to a group through Study Direct.  As a group you will be assigned an object or theme, which will be sent to the respective groups via Study Direct.  As a group have the choice to develop a short presentation on how that’s week readings do (or do not) apply to the object in question.  If, as a group, you decide that would prefer to use a different object that is more appropriate for that week’s readings, you are encouraged to do so.  However, there needs to be a clear link between the object and that week’s reading, and you will need to clear your choice with the tutor in advance.

You will need to meet in advance of the seminar to develop a presentation of between 15 and 20 minutes on the object in question. You may use Study Direct to have virtual discussions if it is difficult to meet, and I am happy to add other electronic tools such as a group wiki.  Please let me know if this is desirable.

The presentation should include a power point presentation, ideally with visuals, and all members of the group should be involved in some way.  Roles should be detailed on a slide at the end of the presentation (e.g. Power Point:  Jane Doe; Archival Research:  Dogs Body; Presenter #1 Austin Karl; etc.).  At the end of the presentation, the group should reserve 2-3 minutes to present their reflections on the exercise itself:  how they found the material, what difficulties they encountered, what surprised them. The presentation will be posted on Study Direct after the seminar.

This exercise is intended to not only develop critical analytic skills, by actively bringing together theoretical frameworks with empirical objects, but serves as a preparatory exercise for the final essay.

So, for example, the group in Week Eight presented on the issue of Women’s Safety in Camps, choosing the object of ‘camp’ and relating it to the theoretical perspectives on borders, bordering and enclosure as discussed by Garry Marx, Jennifer Hyndman and Charlie Hailey. Week Five’s group looked at how performativity and considerations of ‘audience’ help us to understand violent or ‘inappropriate’ behaviour of peacekeepers (with reference to Somalia).

v) End of Term Paper

Both the ‘object lesson’ and the presentation were intended to prepare students for their final contributory assignment: a 5000 word essay. Students were asked to:

identify an object or artefact that you would like to investigate as central to complex humanitarian emergencies. This might include the object of the Kalashnikov gun, the UN laissez-passez (passport), the food drop, the field hospital.  Other possibilities are listed at the back end of the syllabus.  You may investigate this object with reference to a variety of media and methods.  The essay should investigate how the object is involved in humanitarian emergencies (broadly speaking) and what it tells us about some aspect of complex emergencies. This could include historical, symbolism, or political economy approaches.  The paper may use the object to reveal some hitherto under-investigated aspect of humanitarianism and/or to develop theories presented in the course. You may want to include diagrams or other visual aids such as pictures, photographs.  These do not add to the word count.[9]

In order to ensure they were adequately prepared for the assignment and they understood what was being asked of them, an entire week (Week 7) was set aside to have an essay writing workshop. In addition to a presentation that I gave on common mistakes and how to avoid them (Annex x), students were asked to prepare and bring to class a one page outline of your essay comprised of a research question, basic outline and short bibliography by Thursday, February 25th.  Students were assigned to pairs and asked to assess each others’ outlines according the following criteria.

  • Is the research question well formulated?
  • Is there a clear argument?
  • Is the structure logical and does it work to support the argument?
  • Is the bibliography appropriate?
  • Is the project viable in a 5000 word essay format?
  • What elements/issues need to be included for a well supported argument?
  • What pitfalls do you anticipate?

Based on these criteria they were asked to assign a mark to the outline.  Marking sheets were distributed in class (Annex x).  Students were asked to include a short paragraph, prior to the essay’s main body which describes how the feedback you received influenced your work (see sample attachments). The essays as completed ranged in quality along a normal spectrum. Several outstanding essays were identifiable including an examination of tunnels as spaces of resistance; and the social life of blue tarpaulins.

3. The student response and observations

Student feedback was solicited through two different methods. The first method was via the online feedback system as carried out through the university.  The course received very positive feedback on average with the overall experience receiving a mean rating of 4.1 out of 5.0.[10] On the overall approach of the course students commented positively:

“Good discussions, engaged and conscientious teaching, introduced me to intellectual field to which I was previously unknown [sic.].”

[on things s/he liked about the course] “Combine theory and practice.”

“…providing useful, career-applicable skills to disaster and conflict.”

“the course was both relevant and interesting to current affairs.”

“Fascinating subject.”

“Very new and exciting material to which I had not been exposed. It caused me to rethink and research areas that are now becoming more and more important to me…”

“The professor conducted the class seminar well, enabling students to express themselves, yet also making them see other aspects to the discussion. The class group works actually are meaningful.”

But they also had some complaints…

“We can understand more the meaning of space and non-spaces by more practical approach than philosophical.”

“Perhaps not all students followed the material and spatial approach as much as was required to obtain full learning experience, hence the stress on these approaches should perhaps be lessened.”

“…relevance of readings unclear and felt like being taught a rigid obscure methodology on CHE…”

“I thought the course would be much more ‘hands on’ but it turned out to be way to [sic.] abstract and way too theoretical.”

“At times, I got lost in the theory…and how it related to what we were talking about.”

A not insignificant contributing factor to the negative responses, may have resulted from the unavoidable truncation of the course.  Due to snow, the university was shut and the course started later than intended.   As a result, the first week – where the basic conceptual and historical apparati of ‘complex humanitarian emergencies’ was explained – but rushed through and meant that students might have been lacking in the basic concepts before exploring more abstract concepts.

In order to gain a more focused understanding of students’ responses to ‘object based learning’, I also conducted my own online survey after the course was done, but while students still had access to the VLE. The full survey is available as an Annex however it is worth considering these responses in some depth with regards to how students related to the approach.  Eight out of 24 students responded: 5 men, 3 women; all under the age of 35 and from a range of nationalities and disciplinary backgrounds.

When asked how they would define an ‘object based approach to learning’ all eight chose “foregrounding the material aspects of a particular issue (for example, focusing on camps when studying refugees.” The majority (5/8) felt that focusing on objects and materiality was “a little bit different” than the approach to learning adopted in their other courses.  Said one anthropology student,

“anthropology has a strong thread on materiality, and so there were definitely theoretical similarities between my other classes and this one, for example Auge was not new. However, CHE certainly had a greater focus on objects – be them, as noted above, refugee camps, spatial zones, automobiles etc, and it used video/multimedia such as powerpoint than my other classes which, very often, were dominated by discussion of anthropological theory and ethnographic accounts.”

Another said, “it greatly brought out an emphasis on structure over agency. To some extent, conventional IR seems to place greater emphasis on agency.” And a third, “Studying objects placed the perspective of the interpreter/student on a more or less equal footing with that of the object’s constructors or original users – laying the ground for a critical examination of both perspectives from a third or more position(s).”

One student eloquently explained the benefit offered by an object centred approach by contrasting it with more orthodox approaches to social science and humanities pedagogy:

“Although it is important to note that many courses eventually focuses on objects (i.e. History -> Discovery of America -> Gold as the most important material which resulted in the indiscriminate actions against native Americans), the main innovation brought by is related to the process of learning: instead of going from the concept to the object, the course focused on the object before explaining the particular concept.  According to me, this approach gives you more time to form your own idea so that as soon as the final concept emerges in class you have already unconsciously built your opinion about the matter.”

Students were of mixed opinions as to whether focusing on objects changed the way that they thought about the issues addressed in the course such as disasters, complex emergencies, and humanitarian response. One student felt that the approach was very similar to anthropology where “objects and the relations that actors have to and around objects are a core area of analysis which provides a tangible way to untangle otherwise complex power relations.” However another said it “opened my eyes for how strong a material focus emergency interventions take.”

They found the best (or most useful) part of focusing on objects to be rendering “the theory more tangible” – an aspect that was highlighted by two students.  Said one respondent, “as someone rather averse to high-level, abstract theory, focusing on objects seemed to me to provide a way of understanding in more ‘real’ terms issues, such as considering places/spaces as central to understanding experiences – so, thinking about the camp and then, from that, thinking about what it means to be inside/outside the space.” Another commented that “it brought to light some unconscious taken-for-granted manifestations of power relations” and another felt that the course “offered a most informative and practically a new way of looking at developmental issues. The abstract nature of the course also made it quite challenging and interesting.”

My observations

Overall, I thought the course went well and this was reflected in the high scores that the students gave it in the official assessment.  However, the course as it was formulated was perceived to have been deficient in two main ways.

1. The weighting of the course did not sufficiently engage with ‘first principles’ of humanitarianism – at least in a way which was graspable by non-specialists in such a short period of time. Says one respondent, “There is plenty of  “orthodox” critique of CHEs that students weren’t exposed to at all; things like mandate conflicts, organizational structure, the nature of  “crisis”, funding imperatives, professionalism, government-NGO-public relationships, agency coordination – these would have been good practical areas for them to think about that would significantly contribute to the humanitarian field for those who would eventually go in this direction.”

2. Perhaps there was a need to manage expectations. Although the course description clearly laid out the parameters that would be adopted in the course (and according to feedback the majority of students agreed that it had delivered what it promised), one or two students felt that what they were taught would be “cast aside if they did go into humanitarian fields.” Part of this, I believe, is the result of a changing PGT landscape in Britain where students want to leave with clearly identifiable and transferable skills.  The ability to engage critically with a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives is not seen as one such skill.

It is clear from the feedback and from observing individual participation in class that students with an anthropological background were familiar with related concepts such as material culture, ethnomethodology and were therefore much more comfortable exploring humanitarianism using spatial and material culture. I think that their expectations are also quite different. Unlike International Relations or Development Studies students, there is less of expectation that course content be ‘policy relevant’.

With regards to my starting assumption that such an approach might help students from a range of cultural and linguistic backgrounds, I am not sure this was the case. As part of my VLE survey, I asked my respondents whether English was their first language.  2 out of 8 of them were non-native speakers.  Of these two, one of them felt that the use of objects to complement textually based approaches did make them think about the concepts of the course in a different way while the other was not sure. On engaging students from a variety of backgrounds, one student said, “From a sociological point of view you could see how different our backgrounds were: ranging from the person already used to the field to the scholar sitting in the library, everyone brought something in class, either academic or practical. As a result, our discussions were always interesting.”

I do think that perhaps a stronger focus on the object qua object would have helped solidify the methodology. As it stood, the objects under consideration where still considered from a primarily visual and text based perspective. Ideally, the various theories would have been tacitly matched to environments or objects which they could directly engage with. Interestingly, even the object lessons as described in the nineteenth century still relied on textually based, visual knowledge.   Overall, it seems to have been a love-it-or-hate-it course (a ‘marmite’ course in object terms!). At least one student was very vocal about his dislike of the approach and feeling that overall the course was “a fairly useless experience.” Whereas others said that there was no part that they considered to be deficient. Asked what was wrong with the course one student responded: “un, dunno – I really liked the approach.”

4. Resultant modifications

The course was an interesting experience. On one hand it was a truly rewarding experience. The students who did ‘get’ the approach really ran with it and produced outstanding work.  The discussions were dynamic and animated. However, the comments from students regarding the need to make the course more attentive to mainstream approaches to and concerns in humanitarianism, as well as the absence of any similar course in the department led me to significantly modify the course for the Spring 2011 session.  In the new course, issues of space and materiality are now only brought up as selective complimentary readings (for example, in the study of Humanitarian Space).[11] This issue of the ethics of researching CHE is dealt with in the week on ‘Representing Disasters’. I have retained the essay workshop as the uniform feedback from students is that it is worthwhile and useful. However, I have modified it slightly so that students now have two rounds of peer review in order to ensure that they are not putting too much weight on one other student’s opinion.

The course is still in progress, however it will be completed and feedback available for comparison by Summer 2011.  My sense based on comments from students is that I may have gone too far the other direction and that the course may now be much too mainstream and atheoretical.

5. Conclusion and Reflection on the place of object based learning in IR

Based on my experience designing and teaching the CHE course both in Spring 2010 and again in spring 2011, I feel that the integration of an object based approach has tremendous potential value both for CHE specifically and IR more generally.  Through this evaluative paper I have found support for some of my initial hypotheses and a lack for others.  My hypothesis that an object centered approach would help me reach those students who are less comfortable with the traditional PGT format is inconclusive.  It is clear however, there is the feeling amongst students that there is a need for more engaged and directed teaching of PGT classes: “in contrast to other course in this so called ‘taught’ MA, I felt properly engaged.” Because students are so un-used to an object centered approach, it seems unlikely that they will grasp such an approach immediately unless they have been previously exposed to it.  This can be seen in the way in which those students with anthropology backgrounds quickly grasped the conceptual approach.  This is not to say that the approach is not useful, only that teaching it as a single week module at the post-graduate level may have difficult reaching all students.

Another consideration in that, as discussed, although the attention was placed on ‘the object’ and the built environment, the techniques used were still quite visually oriented.  The inclusion of even more radical approaches of object teaching including field trips and role-playing might have made the approach more easily accessible to those students unfamiliar with it.

It is, however, worth recognizing, that in the current higher education context of fee increases and the widespread perception of rampant job insecurity, students are increasingly demanding courses that deliver what they perceive to be transferable skills.  While critical enquiry does obviously fall into this category, students taking my complex humanitarian emergencies course are preoccupied by the concern that the knowledge that they receive and develop in their PGT courses will be clearly recognized as valuable by potential employers. As instructors, we shouldn’t shy away from engaging with radical methodologies or theories based on student demand, but do need to find a way to manage student expectations of an increasingly skills based curriculum, with the value of challenging them and encouraging them to question their basic assumptions regarding ‘complex humanitarian emergencies’ and international relations more generally.

For those students who are open to exploring a broader approach to knowledge, an object-based approach is undoubtedly a useful and positive complement to more orthodox curriculum.  Not only does it problematize established narratives of humanitarianism and international politics but it also calls into question more fundamental assumptions regarding epistemology, ontological and causation. Instead of seeing complex humanitarian emergencies as a problem to be solved, is allows for an intimate and enchanted engagement with people, places and issues under examination.[12]

References

Adorno, Theodor W. and E. F. N. Jephcott. (1974). Minima moralia. Reflections from damaged life. Translated … by E. F. N. Jephcott: London: NLB.

Augé, Marc. (1995). Non-places: introduction to an anthropology of supermodernity. London: Verso.

Barnard, Henry. (1874). Pestalozzi and His Educational System. Syracuse C.W. Bardeen.

Bennett, Jane. Vibrant matter : a political ecology of things. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

Bennett, Jane. (2001). The enchantment of modern life : attachments, crossings, and ethics. Princeton, N.J. ; Chichester: Princeton University Press.

Bennett, Tony. (1995). The birth of the museum : history, theory, politics. London: Routledge.

Biber, Edward. (1831). Henry Pestalozzi and His Plan of Education. London: John Sauter

Bourdieu, Pierre. (1990). The logic of practice. Cambridge: Polity.

Butler, Judith. (1993). Bodies that matter : on the discursive limits of “sex”: Routledge.

Calkins, N.A. (1882). Manual of Object-Teaching. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Carter, Sarah Anne. (2010). On an Object Lesson, or Don’t Eat the Evidence. The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth 3(1):7-12.

Collier, Paul and Nicholas Sambanis. (2005). Understanding civil war : evidence and analysis. Washington, D.C.: World Bank ; [London : Eurospan, distributor].

Collins, Randall. (2008). Violence : a micro-sociological theory. Princeton, N.J. ; Woodstock: Princeton University Press.

Cowan, John. (2006). On becoming an innovative university teacher : reflection in action. 2nd ed. Edition. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Coward, Martin. (2005). The Globalisation of Enclosure: interrogating the geopolitics of empire. Third World Quarterly 26(6):855-871.

Dant, T. (2004). The Driver-Car. Theory Culture and Society 21(4/5):61-79.

de Certeau, Michel (1988). The practice of everyday life. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Debrix, François and Cynthia Weber. (2003). Rituals of mediation : international politics and social meaning. Minneapolis ; London: University of Minnesota Press.

Down, Robert. (1975). Heinrich Pestalozzi. Boston: G.K Hall.

Foundations. (2000). Inquiry

Gleditsch, Nils, Peter Wallensteen, Mikael Eriksson, Margareta Sollenberg and Havard Strand. (2002). Armed Conflict 1946-2001: A New Dataset. Journal of Peace Research 39(5):615-637.

Greene, S.S. . (1865). Report on Object Teaching. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: National Teachers Association.

Harvey, David. (2006). Space as a key word. In Spaces of Global Capitalism:  Towards a Theory of Uneven Geographical Development. London: Verso.

Higate, Paul and Marsha Henry. (2009). Insecure spaces : peacekeeping, power and performance in Haiti, Kosovo and Liberia. London: Zed.

Holman, Henry. (1908). Pestalozzi. London: Longmans, Green, and Co. .

Hooper-Greenhill, Eilean. (1999). The Educational Role of the Museum. London: Routledge.

Hyndman, Jennifer. (2000). Managing displacement: refugees and the politics of humanitarianism. London: University of Minnesota Press.

Kalyvas, Stathis N. (2004). The Urban Bias in Research on Civil Wars. Security Studies 13(3):160-190.

Kracauer, Siegfried. (1995). The Mass Ornament: Weimar essays. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Krusi, Hermann. (1875). Pestalozzi: His Life, Work, and Influence. Cincinnati: Wilson, Hinkle & Co.

Latour, Bruno. (2005). Reassembling the social: an introduction to actor-network-theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lee, Benjamin and Edward LiPuma. (2002). Cultures of Circulation:  The Imaginations of Modernity. Public Culture 14(1):191-213.

Lefebvre, Henri. (1991). The production of space. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Leinhardt, G. (2002). Learning conversations in museums. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Low, Setha M. (2003). Behind the gates: life, security, and the pursuit of happiness in fortress America. London: Routledge.

Macleod. (1891). Talks about Common Things. New York: Teachers Publishing Company.

Mayo, Elizabeth. (1863). Lessons on Objects: Graduated Series designed for Children between the ages of Six and Fourteen Years. New York: Charles Scribner.

Monroe, Will. (1907). History of the Pestalozzian Movement in the United States. Syracuse: C.W. Bardeen

Moon, Jennifer A. (2004). A handbook of reflective and experiential learning : theory and practice. London: Routledge Falmer.

Pandolfi, Mariella. (2003). Contract of Mutual (In)Difference: Governance and the Humanitarian Apparatus in Contemporary Albania and Kosovo. Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 10:369-382.

Paris, Scott ed. (2002). Perspectives on object-centered learning in museums: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Pestalozzi, Johann Heinrich. (1801). How Gertrude Teaches her Children

Phillips, Murray and Richard Tinning. (2011). Not just ‘a book on the wall’: pedagogical work, museums and representing the sporting past. Sport, Education and Society 16(1):51-65.

Pouliot, Vincent. (2008). The Logic of Practicality: A Theory of Practice of Security Communities. International Organization 62(2):257-288.

Reese, William J. (2001). The Origins of Progressive Education. History of Education Society 41(1):1-24.

Richmond, Oliver. (2009). Becoming Liberal, Unbecoming Liberalism: Liberal-Local Hybridity via the Everyday as a Response to the Paradoxes of Liberal Peacebuilding. Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 3(3):324-344.

Ricks, George. (1893). Object Lessons and How to Give Them. Boston: D.C.Heath & Co. Publishers

Rodaway, Paul. (1994). Sensuous geographies : body, sense, and place. London: Routledge.

Salmon, D. (1891). Longmans’ Object Lessons. London: Longmans, Green, and Co.

Salter, Mark B. (2008). Politics at the airport. Minneapolis ; London: University of Minnesota Press.

Scheper-Hughes, Nancy and Philippe I. Bourgois. (2004). Violence in war and peace : edited by Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Philippe Bourgois. Oxford: Blackwell.

Schultz, Lucille M. . (1995). Pestalozzi’s Mark on the Nineteenth-Century Composition Instruction:  Ideas Not in Words, But in Things. Rhetoric Review 14(1).

Schwartz, J. P. (2008). Object lessons: Teaching multiliteracies through the museum. College English 71(1):27-47.

Sheldon, E.A. (1862). A Manual of Elementary Instruction for the Use of Public and Private Schools and Normal Classes; Contains a Graduated Course of Object Lessons for Training the Senses and Developing the Faculties of Children. New York: Charles Scribner.

Silber, Kate. (1965). Pestalozzi: The Man and His Work. 2nd Edition. London: Routledge.

Simmel, Georg, David Frisby and Mike Featherstone. (1997). Simmel on culture : selected writings. London: SAGE.

Tarr, Patricia. (1989). Pestalozzian and Froebellian Influences on Contemporary Elementary School Art. Studies in Art Education 30(2):115-121.

Thomas, Danielle. (2010). Why don’t we talk about ‘violence’ in International Relations? Review of International Studies.

Venturi, Robert, Denise Scott Brown, Kester Rattenbury and Samantha Hardingham. (2007). Learning from Las Vegas. Abingdon: Routledge.

Weizman, Eyal. (2007). Hollow Land:  Israel’s Architecture of Occupation. London: Verso.

Willson, Marcius. (1864). A Manual of Information and Suggestions for Object Lessons in a course of Elementary Instruction. New York: Harper & Brothers


[1] For a discussion of the use of museums as learning objects see Bennett, Tony. (1995). The birth of the museum : history, theory, politics. London: Routledge..

[2] For more information on Pestalozzi see Barnard, Henry. (1874). Pestalozzi and His Educational System. Syracuse C.W. Bardeen, Biber, Edward. (1831). Henry Pestalozzi and His Plan of Education. London: John Sauter , Down, Robert. (1975). Heinrich Pestalozzi. Boston: G.K Hall, Holman, Henry. (1908). Pestalozzi. London: Longmans, Green, and Co. , Krusi, Hermann. (1875). Pestalozzi: His Life, Work, and Influence. Cincinnati: Wilson, Hinkle & Co, Monroe, Will. (1907). History of the Pestalozzian Movement in the United States. Syracuse: C.W. Bardeen , Silber, Kate. (1965). Pestalozzi: The Man and His Work. 2nd Edition. London: Routledge.

[3] It is possible, of course to go further back than Pestalozzi for the use of natural objects in teaching. Schultz points to John Amos Comenius as “one of the first educational theorists to argue that…a child’s education was most profitably begun not with general principles but with concrete objects and/or illustrations, that is, with the senses” Schultz, Lucille M. . (1995). Pestalozzi’s Mark on the Nineteenth-Century Composition Instruction:  Ideas Not in Words, But in Things. Rhetoric Review 14(1)..

[4] For a sample of these object manuals see Calkins, N.A. (1882). Manual of Object-Teaching. New York: Harper & Brothers, Macleod. (1891). Talks about Common Things. New York: Teachers Publishing Company, Ricks, George. (1893). Object Lessons and How to Give Them. Boston: D.C.Heath & Co. Publishers , Salmon, D. (1891). Longmans’ Object Lessons. London: Longmans, Green, and Co, Sheldon, E.A. (1862). A Manual of Elementary Instruction for the Use of Public and Private Schools and Normal Classes; Contains a Graduated Course of Object Lessons for Training the Senses and Developing the Faculties of Children. New York: Charles Scribner, Willson, Marcius. (1864). A Manual of Information and Suggestions for Object Lessons in a course of Elementary Instruction. New York: Harper & Brothers

[5] http://www.massobs.org.uk/index.htm (accessed March 3, 2011).

[6] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ephemera (accessed March 4, 2011).

[7] The session was recorded and posted on the VLE environment.

[8] I had not been aware that she was going to use Kipling as an example, and the use of Kipling in a course which stressed the interdependencies and historical legacies of North-South relations was not lost on one of the students who, when asks if they’d ever read any Kipling responded, “Yes, White Man’s Burden”

[9] Those students who were uncomfortable by an object focussed essay, or who felt this might disadvantage them in some way were given a second option of taking a more traditional approach and identify a research question that they would like to investigate.  For example:  Is the history of humanitarianism inextricable from the military?  What are the origins of the refugee camp?  Is humanitarian space a useful concept?  The questions that will be raised in the seminars should help you formulate your questions.

[10] The response rate was 83.3% (20 / 24 students).

[11] I have included a week on the “the Ethics of Researching Conflict” in my MA course on Conflict, Security and Development.

[12] In the future, it is possible that I will run two different courses – one on materiality and spatiality in the context of international relations broadly, and one on complex emergencies from a more orthodox perspective.

Spatializing Communicative Ethics

“Spatializing Communicative Ethics: Politics and Legitimacy in Peace Negotiations,” unpublished paper (2010), co-authored with Naomi Head (Aberystwyth); for presentation at ISA conference, New Orleans

This working paper draws attention to the significance of the “space” of peace negotiations.  It argues that the material and spatial circumstances surrounding peace negotiations add an additional dimension to theories of communicative legitimacy.  This raises two issues: first, should spatial and material factors be considered as potentially decisive mitigating factors in the outcome of negotiations? Second, what would a theory that incorporated spatial and material considerations and communication look like and how would it contribute to our current understandings of power within international relations?  The paper will consider three instances during the Kosovo negotiations prior to the use of force by NATO in 1999 to demonstrate the influential role that these factors played in shaping both the interactions between parties and the outcome of the various talks.  The paper suggests the need for spatial, material and communicative factors to be recognised as central to both the analysis and outcome of peace talks and calls for the development of a new model which does so.[1]

Introduction

This is a working paper in the very early stages.  It is a first attempt at mapping out a new research agenda bringing together theories of spatiality, materiality and communicative ethics.  We believe that this is an underexplored area in International Relations as a discipline and in related spheres such as peacekeeping, peace negotiations, humanitarian intervention and international development.

Drawing on the case of Kosovo we identify three key moments in the peace negotiations which took place at different points prior to NATO’s bombing of Serbia in 1999.  These three moments reveal different uses of space and allow us to identify elements for further research.  While it may seem evident that space has been used for symbolic and political purposes, by analysing the material and spatial conditions surrounding the negotiations which have largely been under-theorised, we can explore its impact on formal and informal negotiations which take place within the international sphere by state and non-state actors.

1) Communicative Ethics and the Case of Kosovo

Kosovo is an appropriate case study because negotiations failed to prevent the use of force for humanitarian purposes by NATO in 1999 which took place without the authorisation of the Security Council.  It was, therefore, a highly contested intervention and one which was identified as ‘illegal but legitimate’ by the Independent International Commission on Kosovo.[2]  Whilst NATO did not justify its actions in the language of humanitarian intervention per se, it was argued that the use of force was indeed the last resort due to the failure of negotiations.  Although justifications are usually offered in deliberative forums such as the UN Security Council, the presence of power and interests, and the concerns over the legitimacy of the decisions taken mean that we need to be able to challenge these claims.  Moral reasons dominated the justifications offered for the intervention in Kosovo, but there were problems with the consensus that the interveners claimed existed.  This suggests that it is worth subjecting the nature of the communication which took place to closer analysis.  In order to critically analyse the dialogue which took place within the United Nations Security Council and during the negotiations at Rambouillet in February 1999 prior to NATO’s military intervention in Kosovo and Serbia, we need to be able to adequately theorise concepts of communication and legitimacy.

Communicative ethics draws on the critical theory of Jürgen Habermas to develop a framework which can be applied to particular moments of dialogue. [3]  It builds on the ‘linguistic turn’ in social and political theory which has been taken up by theorists in critical international theory.[4]  For Habermas, as indeed for other critical thinkers, including some post-structuralists, the politics of speech is preferable to the politics of force.[5]  Embedded in the critical theoretical project of the Frankfurt School and its later adherents is a belief in the emancipatory purpose of critique.  Habermas’ account of discourse ethics requires that moral agents should challenge the boundaries drawn by accounts of the sovereign state which are given moral significance in terms of our responsibilities towards others through the requirement to include all those who may be affected.  Habermas’ work, particularly his discourse ethics, has been understood to offer a way in which to turn a critical eye on the problem of justification in contemporary international politics.  By conceiving of communicative ethics as a principle of legitimacy rather than as a means for institutional design, we can thus avoid some of the difficulties raised by critics of constructing a Habermasian politics.  The ‘ideal speech situation’, which is central to discourse ethics (although not intended to be a concrete reality) offers a position from which we can evaluate social practices and assess the legitimacy of norms.  The ideal of complete participation permits us not only to examine the legitimacy of real moments of participation, but also operates as an emancipatory device.[6]

Drawing on Habermas’s concept of discourse ethics and in the spirit of critical theory, communicative ethics it is intended, inter alia, to reveal empirical moments of exclusion, coercion, misrecognition, reflexivity (or lack of) on the part of actors, and the degree of coherence within the justifications offered and between words and actions.  By doing so, it not only challenges claims to legitimacy which actors attach to their moral and legal justifications concerning the use of force for humanitarian purposes, but offers a framework with an emancipatory aim.  Whilst legitimacy is most commonly conceived of through a moral or legal lens, communicative ethics is intended to offer a deliberative dimension to legitimacy.  Communicative ethics, therefore, is able to highlight the nature of communicative distortion present within decision-making processes in the Security Council and during peace negotiations.  In terms of Kosovo, it is able to challenge traditional interpretations of the intervention through its focus on the quality of communication and the consequent implications for legitimacy.  It challenges the justifications of last resort and it highlights key moments of illegitimate dialogue (contra the claims of the respective actors) which directly led to the use of force.

For the purposes of this analysis, humanitarian intervention is taken to mean the use of force by states across another state’s borders without their consent for humanitarian purposes.  However, we recognise that the variety of practices which fall within the rubric of humanitarianism are far wider than this and many do not involve the use of military force.

2) Space as an analytical and theoretical tool

An examination of the quality and nature of communication in peace-negotiations lends itself to emerging work in the area of humanitarianism[7]and critical peacekeeping[8] which looks at how the material circumstances and underpinnings of interventions and responses are inseparable from the overall intervention.  The infrastructure, modes of service delivery, daily work and life rituals of national and international officials, and the movements and patterns that take place are all part of the spatial practice of humanitarian action. This both shapes the perceptions of those who are doing the intervention and those that are being performed upon.  Similar considerations can be raised in the context of peace negotiations.

Work on the spatial turn in social theory[9]stressed the significance of considering space and spatiality as integral to any social science analysis.  Most notably, within sociology, the need to recognise the mutual constitution of the material world and social relations was brought into mainstream discourse. The impact was twofold. First, the idea of materiality structuring perceptions and dispositions was recovered from Marxism and revised within neo-marxist frameworks. Theorists such as Giddens and Bourdieu agreed that consciousness was structured by material circumstances but wanted to simultaneously explore the possibilities of individual agency and non-determinism.[10]   Second, it drew attention to the degree to which space and spatiality is determined by the practices, patterns and movements of its users and “creators”. Theorists such as Lefebvre, and later Harvey, were interested in elucidating the multiple, overlapping and unclear terrain upon which discussions about space had taken place. For example, in The Production of Space, Henri Lefebvre famously lays out a tri-partite framework for examining space.[11] He lays out a model of conceived, perceived and lived spaces. Conceived space (or representations of space) is “conceptualised space, the space of scientists, planners, urbanists, technocratic subdividers and social engineers…all of whom identify what is lived and what is perceived with what is conceived.”[12] Perceived space (or spatial practice) is the space of everydayness.  It is how a place is commonly used in routine existence and contains the “routes and networks which link up the places set aside for work, ‘private’ life and leisure.”[13]  Lived space (or representational space) is the space of “the imagination which has been kept alive and accessible by the arts and literature.”[14]  It is space as lived through its associated images and symbols, and hence the space of space of ‘inhabitants’ and ‘users’…This is the dominated – and hence passively experienced – space which the imagination seeks to change and appropriate.  It overlays physical space, making symbolic use of its objects.[15]

This tri-partite model (or triple dialectic) has proved useful for subsequent theoretical explorations of the nature of space.  For example, David Harvey lays out the categories of space as absolute, relative and relational.[16]  A third spatial theorist who is well known for his work on spatial trilectics is Ed Soja who translates Lefebvre’s framework into a First Space which is known, mappable (analogous, according to Soja, to Lefebvre’s perceived space); a Second Space which is imagined (analogous to Lefebvre’s conceived and lived spaces), and a Third Space which brings together spaces which are both real and imagined.[17]

Soja’s work was well received within the realm of post-structural/post-colonial studies both of which were interested in the ways in which space – and the related categories of identity – were malleable and constructed.  Work on hybrid or ‘third spaces’ became commonplace as normative frameworks by the likes of Bhabba, Appadurai and Spivak who advocated their potential as emancipatory locales/conditions.

At the same time, work by Thrift, Latour, and Miller expressed interest in the potential of a re-examination of the constraints and possibilities for social theory offered by an object centred approach.[18]  In contrast to the idealist, or subjectivist position of post-structural/post-colonial theorists, non-representational theorists were interested in the limiting e/affect or structural influence that the material world has on individual action.  Evoking the work of Bourdieu and Giddens, there is the recognition of cognition of a co-constitution of the material/structural world and the subjective experience of it.

Returning to our initial observation, however, by and large these debates and theoretical expositions have largely passed by the realm of humanitarian and development studies and by extension, peace negotiations.  In fact, the area of enquiry which takes the material and spatial conditions most seriously with regard to their impact upon social relations is the study of diplomatic relations, although, generally, they are approached from an under-theorized position.[19]  This paper begins to rectify this omission by concentrating on the application of a spatial approach to the realm of peace-negotiations and in particular to examining how such an approach may contribute to an improved understanding of the quality, and ultimately legitimacy, of communication therein.  In the context of this paper, both spatial and material theoretical approaches are considered.  This consciously broad brush approach allows us to begin to identify which approaches are worthy of further enquiry.

Now we turn to the three examples whereby illegitimacy has been identified within the negotiations and explore the relationship between illegitimate communicative practices and the possible effects of particular spatial practices.  This will enable us to identify factors which bear closer investigation in terms of their impact on peace negotiations.

a) London Conference, 1992

Having declared independence in October 1991, Kosovo struggled to achieve recognition from the international community.  Ibrahim Rugova, leader of the dominant political party in Kosovo, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), and soon to be the elected President of the Republic of Kosova, was not invited to the July 1991 European Community Conference on Yugoslavia (ECCY) which ended the fighting in Slovenia and marked the beginning of Europe’s efforts to broaden the search for a Yugoslav settlement.  According to the Brioni Joint Declaration, the Kosovo Albanians had no choice but to remain within Serbia, given that it established that the principle of the right to self-determination was limited to Yugoslav “peoples”.[20]  A request for recognition by the ECCY in 1991 was refused, as were requests to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe to be allowed to express their views.[21]  At the same conference the European Community (EC) chief negotiator excluded the issue of Kosovo altogether in his attempt to keep Milošević on board.  Despite Kosovo’s status as a constitutional entity under the 1974 Yugoslav Constitution, it was not invited to participate in the peace process.[22]  In a move which firmly established the exclusion of Kosovo from the international agenda, the ECCY defined Kosovo as an ‘internal’ problem for Yugoslavia, thus preventing it from facing further international scrutiny and involvement.[23]

The exclusion from the international community of states that Kosovo was experiencing in the context of international negotiations was played out in more than metaphorical terms. At the London Conference of August 1992 which was set up to address the ongoing conflict in the former Yugoslavia, the Kosovars were only semi-invited by the chair, Lord Carrington, who wrote a few days prior to the start of the conference to say that ‘If you are planning to be in London at the time of the conference’, then it would be possible to have some meetings, but it would not ‘for practical and other reasons, be possible to grant your delegation access to the Conference chamber.’[24]  The Kosovar delegation, therefore, was not permitted to physically enter the chamber or to represent themselves through oral participation.[25]  Instead, they were put in a salle d’écoute – a small side room with a live video link.  It also seems that the delegation was not officially hosted by the Conference.

In addition to the spatial restrictions, there were also linguistic factors as the official languages of the conference were English, French and Serbo-Croat – Albanian was not included.  Whilst this is perhaps not surprising given the political situation and the subordinate position of Kosovo on the international agenda, when considered in the context of the repression of the Albanian language experienced in Kosovo by Serbia, it reinforces the convergence of nation and language central to notions of sovereignty and territory.[26]  Language remained an important divide within Kosovo – between Albanian and Serbian – and was used or repressed for political purposes on many occasions.  Kosovo’s main Albanian–language daily newspaper, Rilindja, was closed down in 1990 and many other institutions, cultural and otherwise, were closed down or merged with their Serbian counterparts.  Education and the right to teach in Albanian and shape the local curriculum was also a highly politicised issue, with Albanian teachers and lecturers being sacked and the Serbian curriculum imposed on schools. This was compounded by the closing down in 1991 of companies that published textbooks and teaching resources in Albanian.[27]

Ironically, in the letter of invitation that also described the expected spatial restrictions, Carrington remarks that ‘We are thus making strenuous efforts to ensure that the views of the Kosovo Albanians are heard’.[28] However, while mentioned in the overall picture concerning ethnic minorities within the former Yugoslavia, the concerns of the Kosovars were not seriously discussed at the conference.  A working group on Kosovo was established, but at Milošević’s insistence, it was only to deal with issues on minority rights.  The group produced a ‘joint Serb-Albanian statement aimed at normalising the divided Kosovo educational system, but the agreement collapsed after the Serbs arrested the rector of the Albanian underground university.’[29]   According to Weller, ‘[w]orse than the lack of progress on the education issue may have been that the mere existence of the Special Group gave the impression that the Kosovo problem was now being addressed in some way by an international forum’.  No agreement was actually reached until 1996 and nothing concrete ever emerged afterwards.[30]  Mertus concurs that despite overwhelming evidence presented over a number of years from reliable sources that conflict in Kosovo was looming, international policymakers failed to treat Kosovo seriously.[31]  The price of the working group on minority rights was the dismissal of the issue of Kosovo’s legal status and any hope of inclusion for the Kosovo Albanians in the peace process.[32]  The de facto failure of the conference raises the possibility that a different approach, which took spatial and communicative considerations into account would have altered the outcome of the conference for the Kosovars.[33]

If we accept that spatial and material factors are potentially decisive mitigating factors in the outcome of negotiations, then it is possible to argue that the communicative and spatial exclusion enacted upon Rugova was co-constitutive. Most obvious was the issue of Rugova’s physical separation from the core proceedings.  His inability to participate, and by extension, the inability for the Kosovars to participate has a series of implications.  The first, concerns the physical distancing it imposed. The direct implication of this was that the Kosovar position was not represented during the talks. This ensured that the Kosovars had to watch the fate of almost everyone else in the former Yugoslavia being discussed, except their own. Of course, as already mentioned, the exclusion of Rugova also needs to be read in the context of accommodating Milosovic; there is no question that the need to negotiate with Milošević was far higher on the agenda of the international community than Kosovo was.

On a metaphorical level, Rugova’s absence echoed both Milosovic’s attempts to cleanse the Serbian space of Kosovar Albanians, and the ‘invisible’ status that Kosovo held within the community of international sovereign states.  According to Dovey, such an organisation of space mediates social interactions, “particularly the visibility and invisibility of others [and] becomes crucial to effective practices of coercion”.[34]  Unlike naked force, coercion may operate “under the cover of voluntarism” and has long been closely linked to spatial forms of organization.[35] At its most effective such an exercise of power is concealed from the subject who, “‘framed’ in a situation that may resemble free choice,” does not consider that there is any need to resist.[36] Such observations provide a possible explanation for Rugova’s subsequent reference to his ‘inclusion’ in the talks to indicate that diplomatic progress was being made and that the Kosovars were better represented at international summits than previously.[37]

Crary discusses how the rise of 19th century filmic technologies created a novel form of subjectivity that was governed through the act of observing, rather than being observed.[38] Rugova’s position of viewer rather than participant of the conference, likewise implies an inversion of a traditional Foucauldian perspective. Instead of a situation where the viewing of the conference participants by Rugova might have constrained their behaviours or pronouncements, Rugova’s position as passive viewer eliminated any possibility of his altering or changing events.  The effect of this was to disempower the Kosovars still further.  Moreover, these power relations would have been made more acute by Milošević’s awareness of the relative impotence of the Kosovars within the international community. Understanding that international attention was focused on the ongoing conflicts in Bosnia and Croatia, and aware of his own centrality to any peace negotiation, he used this to influence the exclusion of Kosovo from the agenda.[39]

In conclusion, in terms of the legitimacy and long-term success of the conference, the spatial factor is highly relevant, not least in terms of its psychological impact on Rugova, but also in terms of providing clear signals as to the way in which Kosovo was viewed by more powerful Western states.  Thus, the spatial element allows us to do two things:  first, it enables us to develop narratives of representation, of ‘self’ and ‘other’ in relation to Kosovo and the West; and second, it allows us to reflect upon material and affective constraints on participants.

b) Heathrow Airport, 8 October 1998

On 8 October 1998, a key meeting took place in a VIP lounge at Heathrow Airport.  The meeting brought together former British Foreign Secretary, the late Robin Cook, Hubert Védrine, his French counterpart, Klaus Kinkel, the German foreign minister, Madeleine Albright, US Secretary of State, Richard Holbrooke, Igor Ivanov, the Russian foreign minister, as well as representatives of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Austrians in their capacity as current EU chairmen, and other ministers and aides. The question was the use of force and the need – or not – for a Security Council mandate.

As it was not a public meeting, it is difficult to ascertain exactly what was said. However, it is known that the decision was taken to reduce the number of people present from approximately 50 people crammed in the VIP lounge to include only the foreign ministers and a few other key actors as named above.  Reports of the meeting indicate that the Russians threatened to veto the use of force if it was put to a resolution in the Security Council (as wished for by the French and British) whereas if the Security Council was boycotted, then they would simply make a lot of noise but would not prevent NATO from acting. [40]  Given that one of the most controversial factors of the intervention was the fact that military force was used by NATO (a regional defense organisation) without a Security Council mandate, this meeting clearly represents a significant step in the process which allowed the Security Council to be bypassed.

This meeting raises concerns when considered in context of communicative inclusion.  It was a deliberately exclusionary meeting as it only consulted key (Western/Contact Group) figures which firmly closed the door to other interested parties and located control over the decision-making procedures and the agenda firmly in the hands of the powerful few.  In addition, neither the interests of the Albanians or Serbs were directly represented and there is little indication of reflexivity concerning whether or not this was an appropriate forum in which to decide such a crucial question. Similar to the situation at the 1992 Conference, the physical inclusion of Kosovar representatives was not deemed necessary.  Even if the decision to exclude relevant parties had been justified in terms of efficiency (and such justifications were not offered), this indicates a strategic and manipulative attitude both to dialogue and the need for inclusion and fair deliberation to achieve legitimacy.   It successfully prevents further public dialogue and allows strategic action to dominate while remaining unacknowledged and unjustified in a public forum such as the UN Security Council or General Assembly. Politically, it served to enable the argument to be made for the use of force without being subjected to a public process. It is worth, therefore, considering the physical context in which the meeting occurred:  Heathrow Airport.

An emerging literature on airports highlights their particular spatial and material (architectural) characteristics.[41]  Salter divides contemporary theories about airports into two broad categories – those concerned with airports as spaces of governmentality[42] and those, drawing on work by Latour, and/or Deleuze and Deleuze and Guattari which approach them as assemblages or networks.[43] Both groups consider the space of the airport to be significant in its own right. As a space, its primary function is to move individuals and objects from one place to another.[44]   And while it serves as a node, or bridge between different places, it is simultaneously separate from all of them.  The space of the airport operates according to its own temporal logic – that of flights, of destinations, of simultaneous time zones.  There is no “night” in an airport – it is always open, always available for the movements of its users and operators.  It is heterotopic in its makeup – the site of multiple languages, currencies, dress and customs.  As such it is potentially dislocating and destabilizing for its users who must operate according to the logic of the airport or miss their flights, be deported or expelled.[45]

Since its inception, the airport was a site of privilege as only the wealthy had the wherewithal to travel:  “the history of flight has, of course, been a history of difference and class inequality.”[46]  The rituals of the airport were geared to providing a luxurious aesthetic experience with a range of departure lounges, ‘clubs’ and memberships. While the ability to access air travel has now been extended to a wide range of individuals, the pleasurable, luxurious, sensuous possibilities promised for those who can afford it continues to be an integral part of airlines’ marketing campaigns.  The airport’s historical legacy is also one of patriarchy – with gender roles being written into the rituals and performances of passengers and employees alike, the most obvious being the clichéd interaction between the solo, predatory, male business traveller and the attractive, highly sexualised female flight attendant.  Similarly, as a consumption space, it is marked by a focus on luxury items, and historically on exorbitant gifts to be given by the male business traveller to his waiting spouse: perfume, whisky, watches and sunglasses. Obviously in the context of our discussions, Global War On Terror concerns had not imposed themselves onto the architecture of airports to the degree which they have today. However terrorism was always a concern as evidenced in the architectural plans of airports: one-way mirrors, controlled zones, concealed holding cells.

What is significant for our purposes, it that the space of the airport is a historically unequal space.  Divisions between types of individuals are written into its functionality.  According to Adey, “the metaphor of the filter achieved material form in the shape of the airport terminal itself”:  sorting locals from globals, legitimate passengers from potential terrorists, business class from economy.[47]  Not only is such filtering justified based on security concerns, but, within the space of the airport, it is considered to be beyond question.  Consider that many of the barriers or sorting devices that are used to move people through the various areas are permeable, termporary:  cordons, movable walls, tape marks on the floor.[48]  Yet the majority of individuals conform to the expected spatial practice without question.

Turning back to the example in question, it is worth asking how such an important meeting was deemed to be legitimate when held in such a forum.  Whilst the reason for the meeting of foreign ministers and diplomats in the airport was no more sinister than because their schedules made it a matter of convenience to do so, there is some importance in the fact that the decision taken here was done so in a forum that was unaccountable and lacked transparency.  The decision taken was a crucial step towards permitting the use of force by NATO without the authority of the Security Council and the question that is raised by its location is reinforced by the lack of criticism that it has received in the literature.  While Judah offers a narrative description of the proceedings, little attention is paid to this elsewhere.  This poses the question as to whether there is something about the nature of the airport that mirrors the kind of private ‘conversations in the corridors’ where the real decisions are often made in contemporary politics.  Whilst we cannot know whether this move would have received more criticism had it been made in a bar or a café, this raises a fascinating counterfactual which places an emphasis on the need to recognise the significance of space.  It also raises questions as to how the physical space may shape expectations of what is considered to be acceptable practice in particular places, and by extension, contribute to the shaping of parameters and expectations of communication.

c) Rambouillet negotiations

The last negotiations prior to NATO’s intervention took place at Rambouillet, a château outside Paris, beginning 6 February 1999.  Whilst the negotiations at Rambouillet were the most substantive of those held over Kosovo there were significant differences in the attitudes of the parties towards engaging in dialogue conducive to compromise.  The negotiations at Rambouillet were comprised of two parts.  The diplomatic part was based on the basis of draft proposals for Kosovo’s future already worked out by the international community’s negotiators (Christopher Hill (USA); Wolfgang Petritsch (EU); Boris Mayorski (Russia) ).  The other half was the credible threat of force provided by NATO who had issued a statement to this effect on the 30 January 1999.  It was believed by the international community that, on the one hand, the threat of force would be enough to persuade the Serbs to sign an agreement, while on the other, the threat of the withdrawal of political and military support would force the Kosovars to sign.

While the Kosovo delegation submitted detailed comments on the formal documents presented to it at Rambouillet, eleven days passed before the Serb/Yugoslav delegation submitted any written comments, during which time they remained at the château.  During this time, Kosovo’s submissions had not received any feedback.  What triggered participation by the Serbs in the form of a written response to the documents was a trip by Christopher Hill (the US negotiator) to speak to Milošević in Belgrade.  Following the Yugoslav/Serb submission on Milošević’s instructions, a revised draft was produced by the international negotiators, which not only reintroduced the issue of the legal status of Kosovo (a key condition of the Kosovar agreement to come to Rambouillet was that Kosovo’s legal status would not be determined), but also introduced a number of proposals responding to Milošević’s demands, including a second parliamentary chamber which further entrenched the concept of national communities and a veto mechanism for all national communities which would have effectively paralysed legislative action in Kosovo.[49]  In the attempt to ensure that the Serbs would sign, some argue that significant compromises and attention were granted the Serb delegation, thus skewing the effective opportunity of the Kosovo Albanians to guide the development of the settlement.[50]  The Kosovo delegation questioned the fairness of a process which rewarded the Serbs for their obstruction of the talks:[51]

“If the consent of the delegation of Kosova is sought, the unilateral changes imposed, apparently as a result of talks outside of the Conference, must be reversed.  There cannot be a process of obtaining concessions from the Kosova delegation first, through the process of regular proximity talks which this delegation has constructively supported from the first day of the conference, and of then imposing a second set of unacceptable concessions as a result of separate negotiations between the Contact Group and Belgrade in which the Kosova delegation has no involvement [bold added].”[52]

The above quotation helps to identify some of the ways in which spatiality shaped communication in the context of the negotiations.  First, we need to consider what the significance, symbolic, historical and political, is of using this château.  Rambouillet has a long history linked to French politics, having been the haunt of kings, emperors and politicians for many centuries.  It was initially established in 1367 as a fortified manor and still retains its pentagonal bastioned footprint.[53] In 1783 it was purchased by Louis the XVI who built a decorative dairy – ‘la laitiere de la reine’ – for his wife, Marie Antoinette. With the French revolution (1789) it became a public good, and remained so until Napolean I included it in his liste civile (government owned properties at the disposal of the heads of state).  It was the last place that he visited on his way into exile in 1815.  In 1896, President Felix Faure used it as his summer residence and it has since been reserved as such for all subsequent Presidents of the French Republic.  In the 20th century it has also played host to heads of state, government and international conferences. It was here that the first G6 conference was held in 1975, hosted by Valerie Giscard D’Estaigne.[54]

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http://www.rambouillet.com/rambouillet/gb/rambouillet.htm

So within the French psyche, the place of the chateau has been equated with the power of the sovereign – both monarchs and presidents – and can be seen as drawing on the continuity of France not only as a recent republic but as an ancien regime. The significance of the château is also closely linked to European politics more broadly including state formation and culture.  Robin Cook, then British Foreign Secretary, observed:

“This château has not always been so peaceful.  The castle which stood at this site has been attacked three times by the English.  However, today Britain and France preside jointly over these talks – a symbol of the strong partnership which we have forged.”[55]

While on one hand, this observation may seem ominous – evoking the violent history of site – it may also be read as hopeful, as England and France, once enemies, are now diplomatic partners.  In that sense it was seen as an appropriate and symbolic venue to try and enable the Kosovars and Serbs to cease fighting and work out a settlement.

We now need to explore the spatial and communicative practices which took place during the negotiations themselves; that is how the delegates used the space and how it may have contributed to shaping their actions, and ultimately to the outcome of negotiations.[56]

A venue such as Rambouillet is conceived within diplomatic spheres as being an ideal venue for high level, sensitive negotiations as it provides the opportunity for delegates to address sensitive issues in privacy and without fear of being observed or reported upon (by the media, by other parties). Such a removed context also forces the delegates to interact with one another in informal ways, in order to foster mutual understanding and recognition that will carry over into the formal negotiations.[57]  As such, the space of the chateau was intended as an effectively closed sphere, where the attentions of the delegates were turned inward, to focus on one another, to improve their communication with, and understanding of one another.  In fact, the practices that were enacted succeeded in retaining a spatial partition that both replicated and reinforced the political divisions which characterized their respective positions.

Although the conference was intended to be segregated with the outcome based on those people physically present, there are a number of factors which indicate that ongoing lines of external communication were vital to both parties: Hill’s trip to Belgrade to see Milošević, despite the supposed competence of the Yugoslav delegation; the external Western advisors brought in for the Kosovar delegation due to their lack of expertise in legal and diplomatic matters; the link with the KLA fund-raisers in the USA who put pressure on the Kosovar delegation by telephone to sign the agreement, and the Kosovar insistence that they would sign the agreement but needed to consult with people at home more fully. In particular, the use of mobile phones by the delegates is worth noting.  Although mobile phones were technically not allowed, they were used by both delegations and other key figures and served to shape the delegations’ decisions and enabled communication with key actors who were not physically present at the château (such as Milošević on the Serbian side, Adem Demaçi, a senior Kosovar figure, and members of the KLA Homeland Calling Fund diaspora in Germany and the USA on the Albanian side). The initial idea had been to segregate the delegates and indeed ‘their passes were marked in such a way that the chateau guards would block their way if they tried to leave.  In fact, such seclusion proved impossible, thanks to mobile phones’[58].

Accordingly, although the space of the chateau was intended to evoke a diplomatic heritage of a safe, secluded, bounded space, in which participants could interact as equal elite power brokers to shape their joint and respective futures, the reality was rather different.  The seclusion of the space was shot through with uncertainties introduced by the intrusion of external voices and presences.  Further, the status of the ‘elite’ participants within the guests was far from equal.  The Kosovars, did not all have passports and, following problems with their departure from Kosovo as a result of Serbian intervention, had to be issued travel documents by the French.  The movement and placement of the participants within the château itself was similarly unequal.  One lawyer commented that:

“the Albanians found themselves lodged in small rooms, under the eaves, ‘without en suite facilities.’  Meanwhile everyone was furious when Italian diplomats, there as part of the Contact Group, the EU and the OSCE delegations locked up shower rooms and toilets for themselves and kept the keys. […] Both delegations were given formal conference rooms.  The Albanians were given ‘a fabulous marbled salon,’ while the Serb room right above, ‘was not so splendid.”[59]

Nor was this grievance allowed any opportunity to be resolved through informal means:

“Although they had sat next to each other during the opening speeches, neither would have to endure this painful ordeal again, apart from the odd ceremonial appearance.  The large dining area was divided into two inter-connecting rooms with two buffets so the Serbs and Albanians neither had to eat nor queue together. […] It is of course a cliché that the real work in international conferences is actually done in the corridors rather than around the negotiating table.  Rambouillet proved the exception to the rule.”[60]

Another exception was in the overt lack of privacy of the negations.  As mentioned, a key premise of such high level negotiations, is that delegates have privacy. At Rambouillet, this was not the case:

“Each room was equipped with a very obvious video camera and outside the chateau was a large lorry with blacked-out windows and cables trailing from it.  Not unreasonably, the delegates assumed that nothing they said was private.”[61]

These spatial and material conditions contributed to a dynamic of increased physical separation, and importantly, the symbolic enactment or performance of this separation:

“Members of both delegations ignored each other when they passed in the corridors. […] To the irritation of the Albanians and others, they [the Yugoslav delegation] tended to congregate in carious public parts of the chateau and gossip, a fact which earned them the nickname of the ‘tea club’.  Even more irritating was the fact that they would keep much of the rest of the chateau awake by late-night carousing and the singing of Serbian songs which induced the negotiators to complain.”[62]

It is worth considering the role that the use of shuttle diplomacy played in shaping the outcome of the negotiations.  Shuttle diplomacy, as opposed to face to face dialogue, was the method adopted throughout the negotiations and its spatial aspect informed the nature of the communication and, arguably, helped to influence the failure to come to an agreement.  The use of proximity talks, or shuttle diplomacy, at Rambouillet instead of direct talks may have been a more likely means through which to arrive at an agreement, but not necessarily a more effective means of achieving peace as it does not offer the parties a chance to understand the legitimacy behind the actions of the other. Consequently, the enforcement of the settlement is likely to be more difficult as the agreement is founded on a threat of force and coercion rather than reflecting genuine persuasion, empathy and understanding.

4)  Conclusion

The three factors which we have identified as being relevant to an analysis of the impact of spatial and material factors on communicative actions are:

1. Space sets the parameters for what is considered to be acceptable communicative behaviour

2. Space needs to be taken into consideration in terms of potential coercive power

3. Space needs to be investigated further in terms of how it conditions and shapes expectations and responses.

The attempt to map out a new research agenda serves to broaden the understanding of communicative legitimacy to incorporate spatial and material practice.  Such a research agenda would have practical and theoretical implications.  Practically, it lends itself to the developing an awareness of the need to take into account a wider range of factors which impact upon peace negotiations.  Theoretically, it contributes to work by Bourdieu and Giddens which recognizes the interplay between structural and subjective concerns.  In addition, it makes a theoretical contribution to work on communicative ethics and deliberative legitimacy in International Relations, indicating that they would benefit from an increased awareness of spatial and material practices.  While it might not be possible to claim that they are decisive in determining communicative legitimacy, there are clearly embedded spatial and material practices within the sphere of dialogic interaction which need to be taken into consideration.

Finally, it also raises theoretical questions concerning whether linguistic (representational) and material/spatial (non-representational) approaches are compatible.  While the preliminary analysis presented here suggests that they offer complementary critical approaches, it is also clear that they need to be carefully balanced.  This is an area which requires further research – going beyond the scope of this paper, but fitting into a wider research agenda.  This approach also contributes to the emerging work on ‘practice’ in international relations and to developing a kind of critical diplomatic theory given that the questions of space and communicative practice tend not to be questioned in the diplomatic literature.


[1] This research was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [PTA-026-27-1979].

[2] Independent International Commission on Kosovo, 2000, The Kosovo Report, Oxford, Oxford University Press

[3] Jürgen Habermas, 1984, The Theory of Communicative Action: Reason and the Rationalization of Society (Vol.1), London, Heineman Educational Books; 1987, The Theory of Communicative Action: The Critique of Functionalist Reason (Vol. 2), Cambridge, Polity Press; 1990, Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, (Trans. Christian Lenhardt and Shierry Weber Nicholsen), Cambridge, Polity Press;  Naomi Head, 2008, ‘Critical Theory and its Practices: Habermas, Kosovo and International Relations’, Politics, 28(3), p.150-9; Richard Shapcott, 2001, Justice, Community and Dialogue in International Relations? Cambridge, Cambridge University Press; Kimberley Hutchings, 2005, ‘Speaking and hearing: Habermasian discourse ethics, feminism and IR’, Review of International Studies, 31

[4] Andrew Linklater, 1998, The Transformation of Political Community: Ethical Foundations of the Post-Westphalia Era, Cambridge, Polity Press

[5] Andrew Linklater, 2007, ‘Distant Suffering and Cosmopolitan Obligations’, International Politics, 44

[6] Head, 2008

[7] Duffield, Mark, 2009, Architectures of Aid Lecture, University of Cambridge; Smirl, Lisa, 2008, ‘Building the Other, Constructing Ourselves: Spatial Dimensions of International Humanitarian Response’ International Political Sociology, 2(3), September, 236-53

[8] Richmond, O. P. (2009). “Becoming Liberal, Unbecoming Liberalism: Liberal-Local Hybridity via the Everyday as a Response to the Paradoxes of Liberal Peacebuilding.” Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 3(3): 324 – 344; Higate, P. and M. Henry (2009). Insecure spaces : peacekeeping, power and performance in Haiti, Kosovo and Liberia. London, Zed.

[9] Thrift, N. J. 2008. Non-representational theory: space, politics, affect. International library of sociology, (London: Routledge); Crang, Mike and Nigel Thrift. 2000. Thinking Space. Critical Geographies, (London and New York: Routledge); Soja, Edward W. 1996. Thirdspace: journeys to Los Angeles and other real-and-imagined places. (Oxford: Blackwell).

[10] Giddens, Anthony. 1984. The constitution of society: introduction of the theory of structuration. (Berkeley: University of California Press); Bourdieu, Pierre & Richard Nice. 1977. Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge studies in social anthropology vol. 16, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

[11] Lefebvre, Henri. 1991. The production of space. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell).

[12] Lefebvre, 1991, p. 38.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Shields, Rob. 2004. Henri Lefebvre, in Phil Hubbard, Rob Kitchin & Gill Valentine (eds.) Key thinkers on space and place (London: Sage), p. 210.

[15] Lefebvre, 1991, p. 39.

[16] Harvey, David. 2006. Space as a key word, in Spaces of Global Capitalism:  Towards a Theory of Uneven Geographical Development (London: Verso).

[17] Soja, 1996.

[18] Thrift, 2008; Latour, Bruno. 1993. We have never been modern. (New York and London: Harvester Wheatsheaf); Miller, Daniel. 2005. Materiality:  An Introduction, in Daniel Miller (ed.) Materiality (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press).

[19] Berridge, Geoff. 2005. Diplomacy : theory and practice. 3rd ed. edn., (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).

[20] The main reason for Kosovo’s lack of republic status was the Yugoslav constitutional distinction which determined that nations, not nationalities, should have republic status. This was a distinction which the EC and the international community used to its advantage to enable it to draw the line between legitimate statehood and secession.

[21] Letter from Dr. Rugova to Lord Carrington, Peace Conference on Yugoslavia, 22 December 1991 where he requests that ‘the Republic of Kosova be recognised as a sovereign and independent state.’ Marc Weller, 1999a, The Crisis in Kosovo 1989-1999, Vol.1, Cambridge, Documents & Analysis Publishing Ltd. p.347.

[22] Alex Bellamy, 2002, Kosovo and International Society, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, p.22-4.

[23] The Kosovo Report, p.57.  The London Conference on Former Yugoslavia of August 1992 transformed the European Community Conference on Former Yugoslavia into the ICFY (International Conference on Former Yugoslavia), with co-chairs from the UN and the EC (David Owen and Cyrus Vance).

[24] Tim Judah, 2002, Kosovo: War and Revenge, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2nd edition, p.92-3.

[25] Louis Sell, 2002,  Slobodan Milosevic and the Destruction of Yugoslavia, USA, Duke University Press, p.108.

[26] Rules of Procedure, London Conference: http://sca.lib.liv.ac.uk/collections/owen/boda/lcrule.pdf, accessed 21 January 2010.

[27] Denisa Kostovičová, 2005, Kosovo: the politics of identity and space, London, Routledge.

[28] Letter from Lord Carrington to Rugova, emphasis added. Weller, 1999a, p.86.

[29] Sell, 2002, p.109.

[30] St Egidio Education Agreement, 1 September 1996, Weller, 1999, p.93

[31] Julie Mertus, 2000, ‘Reconsidering the Legality of Humanitarian Intervention: Lessons from Kosovo’, William and Mary Law Review, 41, p.1743-4

[32] Bellamy, 2002, p.31

[33] Certainly the conference cannot be considered a success for the Kosovars and neither was it for the wider situation in the former Yugoslavia which was the actual focus of the conference (notably the conflict in Bosnia).  However, we are not making claims concerning the spatial and communicative practices of the other delegations at the conference.

[34] Dovey, Kim. 1999. Framing places: mediating power in built form. Architext series, (London: Routledge), p.13.

[35] Dovey, 1999, p. 12; In latin, the root of coerce is ‘coercere’ meaning ‘to surround’, Dovey, 1999;   See also Weinstein, M. 1972. Coercion, Space, and the Modes of Human Domination, in J.  Pennock & J. Chapman (eds.) Coercion (Aldine: Atherton).

[36] Dovey, 1999, p.13; See also Wrong, Dennis Hume. 1995. Power : its forms, bases, and uses. (New Brunswick, N.J. ; London: Transaction Publishers).

[37] Letter from Lord Carrington, Chairman, Conference on Yugoslavia to Dr I. Rugova, 17 August, 1992, Weller, 1999a, p.86; Interview with Rugova, from La Question du Kosovo, Entretiens realisés par Marie-Françoise Allain et Xavier Galmiche, Paris, Fayard, 1994, p.170-71.  .

[38] Crary, Jonathan. 1990. Techniques of the observer : on vision and modernity in the nineteenth century. (Cambridge, Mass. ; London: MIT Press).

[39] It is worth noting that there is a substantial literature on the use of CCTV in surveillance in society, in courtrooms and its impact on juries and witnesses.  However, there is much less on its impact in IR and conflict resolution.

[40] Judah, 2002, p.183

[41] Augé, Marc. 1995. Non-places: introduction to an anthropology of supermodernity. (London: Verso); Gordon, Alastair. 2008. Naked airport : a cultural history of the world’s most revolutionary structure. University of Chicago Press pbk. ed. / with a new epilogue. edn., (Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press ; Bristol : University Presses Marketing [distributor]); Salter, Mark B. 2008. Politics at the airport. (Minneapolis ; London: University of Minnesota Press); Tomlinson, John. 1999. Globalization and culture. (Chichester: Polity Press); Pearman, Hugh. 2004. Airports : a century of architecture. (London: Laurence King); de Botton, Alain. 2009. A Week at the Airport:  A Heathrow Diary. (London: Profile Books ).

[42] Salter, Mark B. 2008. Politics at the airport. (Minneapolis ; London: University of Minnesota Press).

[43] Latour, 1993; Deleuze, Gilles & Félix Guattari. 2004. A thousand plateaus: capitalism and schizophrenia. (London: Continuum). For more on this approaches see select chapters in Salter, Mark B. 2008. Politics at the airport. (Minneapolis ; London: University of Minnesota Press).

[44] For more on the distinction between place and space see Cresswell, Tim. 2004. Place: a short introduction. Short introductions to geography, (Oxford: Blackwell).

[45] For an argument which considers the opportunities for power to be mediated rather than exerted in the context of airports see Lisle in Debrix, François & Cynthia Weber. 2003. Rituals of mediation : international politics and social meaning. (Minneapolis ; London: University of Minnesota Press).

[46] Peter Adey, “Mobilities and Modulations: The Airport As A Difference Machine,” in Salter, 2008, p. 154.

[47] Adey in Salter, 2008, p. 156.

[48] Adey in Salter, 2008, p. 150.

[49] Weller, 1999a, p.403.  See Interim Agreement for Peace and Self-Government in Kosovo, 2nd Draft, 18 February, 1999, Weller, 1999a, p.434-441.

[50] Marc Weller, 1999b, ‘The Rambouillet conference on Kosovo’, International Affairs, 72(2), p.250.

[51] Letter from Delegation of Kosova to Contact Group Negotiators, Rambouillet, 17 February 1999, Weller, 1999a, p.433.

[52] Kosova Delegation Statement on New Proposal for a Settlement, 18 February 1999, Weller, 1999a, p.444-5.

[53] On Rambouillet see Blecon, J. 1994. Cailleteau, Pierre Known as Lassurance, Architect at the Chateau of Rambouillet (Yvelines). Bulletin monumental, 152(3), 366-67; Boutterin, J.M. 1942. Les pieces d’eau et le rondau du domaine de Rambouillet. Revue des beaux-arts de France, 1942-1943, 1, 303-06; Boyer, Marie-France. 2008. The Princess’ Folly. World of interiors, 28(3), 170-77; Constant, M. 1988. The ‘Palais du Roi de Rome’ at Rambouillet. Monuments Historiques, 156, April-May, 105-05; Dauphinee, Elizabeth Allen. Rambouillet:  A Critical (Re)Assessment, in Florian and Zidas Daskalovski Bieber (ed.) Understanding the War in Kosovo; Gosselin, Louis Le on The odore. 1930. Le chateau de Rambouillet : six siecles d’histoire. (Paris: Calmann-Le301vy); Hamon, Francoise. 2005. Le palais du Roi de Rome: Napoleon II a Rambouillet [by] Jean Blecon. Bulletin monumental, 163(3), 276; Hamon, F. 2005. The Palace of the King of Rome. Napolean II in Rambouillet. Bulletin monumental, 163(3), 276-76; Heitzmann, Annick. 1990. Laiteries royales, laiteries imperiales:  Trianon et Rambouillet. Histoire de l’art, 11, Oct, 37-45; Liot, Thierry. 1998. Des communs peu communs. Vielles maisons francaises, (172), April 84-85; Stated, Not. 1954. Le chateau de Rambouillet rajeuni pour ses hotes d’honneur. Plaisir de France, (188), March, 24-31; Waltisperger, Chantal. 1992. Famin a Rambouillet:  ‘l’architectrue toscane’ en pratique? Bulletin monumental, 150(1), 7-20.

[54] See Gosselin, Louis Le on The odore. 1930. Le chateau de Rambouillet : six siecles d’histoire. (Paris: Calmann-Levy).

[55] Judah, 2002, p.203.

[56] It is worth considering the members of each delegation from the perspective of equality: the Albanian delegation contained the most important Kosovar politicians of the last ten years.  It included Ibrahim Rugova, Bujar Bukoshi and Fehmi Agani for the LDK and the government-in-exile, Hashim Thaçi and Xhavit Haliti, two of the founders of the Kosovo Liberation Army, and Rexhep Qosja, a respected nationalist writer and leader of the United Democratic Party, Veton Surroi, the highly respected editor of Koha Ditore, and Blerim Shala from Zëri.  Thaçi, not Rugova, was elected as the formal leader of the delegation, indicating the dominance of the KLA over the LDK (Judah, 2002, p.200).  There was a decided contrast with the Serbian delegation which contained no ranking politician or diplomats, because the one man who made the decisions, Milošević, had remained in Belgrade.  It was led by Ratko Marković, and included Nikola Šainović, a Yugoslav deputy premier, Vladen Kutlešić, a constitutional lawyer and a Serbian deputy premier, Vladimir Štambuk, a lawyer, and a number of politically inconsequential unknowns sent by Milošević to support his claim that he wanted a multinational Kosovo – he sent representatives of the Roma, Turks, Slav Muslims and an Albanian who belonged to a tiny pro-Serb party.

[57] Berridge, 2002.

[58] Judah, 2002, p.203-6

[59] Ibid.

[60] Ibid.

[61] Ibid.

[62] Ibid.

The Gift of Home

“The Gift of Home: The key role of housing reconstruction in the Acehnese peace process following the 2004 tsunami,” unpublished abstract (2011)

Contemporary aid and development policy has consciously distanced itself from the idea of assistance as ‘gift’ both overtly within academic literature (Kapoor; Kothari) and implicitly through policy positions which emphasize the need for local communities to be active participants in their own relief and development trajectories (DFID, OCHA). But particularly in the area of post-disaster assistance, the paradigm of apparently selfless giving is still a fundamental part of the humanitarian imaginary and business model where both private and public donors are implored through media messages and charity advertisements to do the right thing: give.  Based on the case of the reconstruction effort in Aceh following the 2004 tsunami, this article argues that instead of hampering the relief effort, it was the overt espousal of the idea of the ‘gift’ that enabled the reconstruction to become a success – although not in the way it was originally envisaged.

Drawing on fieldwork carried out between 2006 and 2008 and over a hundred interviews with donors, contractors, beneficiaries and local officials, this paper argues that initially, from within the humanitarian imaginary, the house was viewed as the Maussian ideal of the gift while from the perspective of other parties concerned (Government of Indonesia (GoI), the Aceh and Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Board (BRR), the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka or GAM), the Aceh Transitional Committee (Komite Peralihan Aceh or KPA), contractors, and the beneficiaries themselves) it was viewed as a commodity.  While initially, this epistemological disjuncture contributed to problems – most notably in the reconstruction of 120 000 houses for tsunami affected families – it also enabled a practical re-negotiation of the housing projects. The result was that the ‘success’ of the reconstruction process in Aceh came not from the ‘gift’ of the house but instead from the resultant ‘commodity’ of peace which the practices surrounding the houses enabled.

Drive by Development

“Drive by Development: The role of the SUV in international humanitarian assistance,” unpublished paper (2011)

“There was even an old saying that, for 70 percent of the world’s population, the first vehicle they saw was a Land Rover” (Wernle 2000).

“A Land Rover is less of a car than a state of mind” – Car and Driver Magazine 1964 

The white sports utility vehicle (SUV) has become an inextricable part of aid and development work. Not only do they underpin the majority of aid and development activities – either through the transportation of staff, goods, or equipment – but they have become symbolic of the act of doing aid both for better and for worse.

An analysis of peacekeeping expenses between 2002 and 2009 showed that total expenditure on Motor Vehicles/Parts & Transportation Equipment amounted to $891,807,651 and between 4.5 and 9.7% of total expenditure depending on the year (Figure 2).  In 2009, this made it the 6th highest budget line for total peacekeeping expenses, however, when related expenses such as fuel are taken into account, it is likely that it is closer to third after construction, and air transport.  While peacekeeping operations are notorious when it comes to their fleets of land rovers, they are by no means alone in their reliance on SUVs as a primary form of transport. Most UN agencies, and the majority of INGOs are equally reliant upon the vehicles. Yet despite their prominence both programmatically and physically in the context of aid work they are considered to be an incidental and generally unremarkable.

When compared to the attention that car usage has received in other disciplines the complete absence of discussion over the SUVs ubiquity in aid work is striking.  While there are occasional grumblings regarding the purchase and transport costs of the vehicles and difficulties with re-sale or disposal of the vehicles, these are restricted to the logistics or operations side of aid work.  When compared to the centrality of automobiles and automobility in Anglo-European social theory, the lack of any discussion of the political-economic, sociological, psychological or spatio-material implications of its pervasive use is puzzling.  Why, when car and more specifically, SUV use has been the subject of such extensive social enquiry in other contexts and disciplines, should it have avoided scrutiny in the context of aid and development work.

My work on the SUV serves to rectify this gap, however it’s not meant as merely an academic hole filling exercise. Rather, what initially started as a quixotic sideline of my more broader work on the spatial aspects of aid has quite quickly revealed itself to be, I feel, an enormously productive approach to thinking through the major aspects of humanitarianism broadly speaking. In particular it has led me to the following set of arguments:

1. There has been a co-evolution between technologies of aid and development (in this case the SUV) and the content of aid and development practice.  While the way in which aid is done is usually seen as irrelevant to what is done – so for example, using land rovers as part of staff transport in a micro-finance scheme is seen as extraneous to the project content: advisors; training sessions; credit funds – my work shows how the way in which do aid is influenced by the how we do it.  Likewise, the SUV as a central feature of contemporary metropolitan experience, has been influenced in its design and marketing through its use in the periphery which in turn, has effected the ways in which the object has been designed, distributed and used in the context of aid work.

2.  This challenges the story that we in the humanitarian ‘North’ tell ourselves about development as an encounter “between autonomous and sovereign selves” and challenges the very premise of development as linear, progressive trajectory – as something that can be directed from donor capitals and enacted across the Global South.

3.  This disruption not only dispels the possibility of enacting development the way it is meant to be done, but can also be helpful in examining the seemingly inexplicable ways in which aid relations ‘on the ground’ change, shift, move, are challenged, supported.

4. Forces us to recognize the micro-political of everyday actions – looks at how global political relations are mediated through objects, encounters.  This is not a new recognition but it is one that has been generally applied at the national level with regards to citizenship and demos. Interesting to see what happens when we extend these ideas to the realm of aid work, and ultimately the international.

Now before I turn to the body of the paper, I need to clarify a few concepts, definitions.  First of all, I’m sure that some you are already have internal conversations regarding the flexibility with which I use the terms aid, development, relief, humanitarianism. This is not an accident. In some cases in the paper, I will make clear indication as to whether I’m referring to project based, long-term development aid or short term relief aid.  I use the word ‘aid’ to refer to both. Likewise, while in policy circles humanitarian refers to the strictly emergency phase of a response – I am using it to refer to the broader enlightenment project of helping those in need through established institutions or organizations. I am, however, often quite fluid in my use of the terms for several reasons. First, the lines between long term development and short-term relief are increasingly blurred institutionally, organizationally, in terms of personnel and policy. This is part policy, part accident.  Second, with regard to my discussion of the comment about development containing an implicit narrative of the triumph of man over his own destiny; over nature – this discourse is increasingly also present with strict aid circles.  Disaster and emergency response is increasingly embedded within narratives of prevention, mitigation, minimizing vulnerabilities and complex emergencies point to underlying structural or  root causes which can be minimized and even eliminated.

The methodology for this paper is very much a ‘mixed methods’ approach combining archival research with secondary sources and some preliminary interviews of people who either worked on or with Land Rovers in general or in the specific development contexts under review.  These were obtained through a snow-ball approach i.e. people who knew people.  Theoretically and empirically, I am still working through approaches and moments, so what I am going to present today are really the building blocks of my bigger project, from which an article needs to be extracted. Although I’ve tried to develop a line of argument, I’m intentionally kept the piece quite broad to solicit feedback on the best approach to take in the article that is struggling to emerged. Particularly, as this is turning out to be such an inter-disciplinary project, I welcome advice on theories or approaches that I may have overlooked or omitted.

The structure of the article proceeds in two phases:

1 – an examination of the theoretical approaches that I have been pursuing to explore the phenomenon

2 – an overview of the empirical trajectory that I have uncovered focussed around the object of the Land Rover.

Part 1:  Theorizing the SUV

Thinking about or through ‘the car’ has been a pet project of social theory almost since the object’s inception.  Theorists such Adorno and Benjamin were interested in understanding how the object facilitated systems of capital both materially and symbolically. This theme was to be picked up again by those interested in structural Marxism and became a trope in the writings of Barthes, Baudrillard, Althusser and Lefebvre during the 1960s.  It was during this period that sustained examination was undertaken on the object of the car.  Lefebvre, considered the “motor-car” to be “the epitome of ‘objects’” (Lefebvre and Rabinovitch 1971:101).  Fast forward to the 1990s and a renewed interest in automobilities was adopting a larger phenomenological approach to the subject, but also building upon political economy approaches which had been part of the sub/urbanization discussions of the 1980s and concerns and considerations around car use and energy security of the late 1970s. Within these approaches there was a small, but significant subgenre that was interested more narrowly in the emerging predilection amongst North American suburbanites for large, gas guzzling vehicles whose safety and security features went far beyond the requirements of ferrying lil’ Jimmy to and from soccer practice. But in very rare cases were these discussions taken outside of the metropole and into the realm of international development or even the ex-colonial periphery at large. Notable exceptions include Green-Simms and Higate and Henry’s work.   From this broad work on cars, Matthew Patterson identifies three broad approaches to theorizing the automobile:  Automobility theory (that i’ve already mentioned), ecology and global politics.

But if widen our lens to include those theories which look not only at the object of the car, but the car as objects, we suddenly find at our disposal a much wider repertoire of theory that can be drawn upon.  This includes work on objects and materiality; science and technology studies and actor network network theory.  While this may seem like a very heavy toolkit, it is one that at least, initially is helpful is thinking through how the SUV may be implicated in both the development of individual subjectivities – both of aid workers and so called beneficiaries – but also with regard to the global relations of aid.

This is the part that I am currently working on – trying to figure out how I want to position the paper, and what makes most sense.  Given time frames I haven’t been able to include the most recent work that I’ve been looking at by people like Mol on the Zimbab Bush Pump; Latour’s Aremis and his ideas of scripts and mediation or things and Bennett’s work on vibrant matter and distributive agency.  So I’m going to present the framework from the first draft, even though I am quite sure that this will be discarded in favour of something new.

Working from the micro to the macro, I suggest that at least three sets of theoretical considerations are useful for this project:

1.  affect and interiority of SUV use (being in the car);

2.  Seeing through the car: the SUV as instrument of seeing and way of knowing

3.  the economic and symbolic circuits of car production, distribution and (re)use (car as assemblage).

Having positioned the argument theoretically, the article will then turn to a select genealogy of SUV use in aid work, focussing on the iconic vehicle: the Land Rover.

Although, the way in which these cars are received by their host populations (the citizens of the beneficiary country) is a crucial part of the dynamic, this article is written primarily from the perspective of the primary user of the vehicles – the aid workers.  Understanding this trajectory is a key initial step in the process of understanding contemporary dilemmas associated with the vehicles’ use and future work intends to engage more explicitly with how the vehicles are used and understood by host populations.

1. Being in the car – affect and interiority

The first set of issues surround how aid workers experience the vehicle and what types of emotional or affective implications it may have. Although the focus of this paper is on the SUV and the related form of the 4×4, Automobility theory, which looks at the experience of being in a car more generally – either as a passenger or driver – is relevant (Featherstone et al. 2005; Flink 1988; Urry 2007), identifying a series of ways in which the SUV has affective impact on its passengers.

First, theories which relate to the interior space of the car help understand the various ways that car use impacts on the emotional and cognitive experiences of its passengers.  The attributes of commonly used SUV models such as Range Rovers, Toyota Land Cruisers or Ford Kijangs include air conditioning, sun tinted windows, stereo systems and communications technology for liaising with the home base. This creates a sonic envelope – encasing the passenger(s) and driver in a different soundscape to their surroundings (Bull 2004) – allowing them to block out the representative noises of their environment and/or to create a soundtrack to accompany the passing land and city scapes.  This envelope will also be linked through radio contact to the space of the office base.  When working in tropical countries, the interiority of the LR also offers shelter, from sun, sand, rain and most importantly heat: the climate controlled vehicle a non-representative oasis of cool.  That is not to say that it is necessarily comfortable – not all vehicles are top of the line, the roads are rough, the engine is loud – but relatively speaking it is a more expedient and comfortable way of travelling than that available to the majority of the surrounding population.  Inevitably this creates a physical distance from surrounding environments and populations, particularly where rates of car use are relatively low.

By providing respite from everyday demands (Bull 2004:249), the aid worker may also have unrealistic expectations about the general living conditions of the place they have come to assist. The hermetic space of respite – where engines hum and radios crackle – may help the aid worker to ignore the pedestrian difficulties encountered by the majority of the populations: the unreliable public transport, the lack of childcare, the prevalence of disease flare ups such as malaria, the power cuts, the financial disruptions. In his discussion on cars, Baudrillard considers cars to be an extension of home – something that is even more the case in the context of working in a foreign context. {cite} Merriman compares the space inside a car, and the accompanying space of transit, to Auge’s non-space: a space between places, a space of transit, outside of the time (Augé 1995; Merriman 2004).  Particularly in the context where you are being driven, there may be a moment of nothingness where you may gossip with your co-passengers, listen to music, or contemplate the blurred passing scenery – perhaps recoiling form the children or beggars who run to the windows displaying wounds – sometimes to mirrored glass.  This non-space of the car bears little or no-resemblance its surroundings.

This disjuncture between inside and outside is also reflected in the physical presences of many SUVs or 4×4 as common models used in aid such as, mean that they are highly elevated off the ground – one needs to literally heft oneself up and out of the surroundings and into the space of the vehicle. This vantage point is remarkable, sitting in the SUV you look down upon and over your surroundings, a sense accentuated by the relative absence of similar vehicles and the prevalence of foot traffic, bicycles, or motor-bikes in the majority of development situations.  There is a sense of security through visibility – you are seen and can see.  Although as will be discussed, it is this same visibility that is increasingly putting aid workers under threat. The actual velocity of movement can also be seen as affectively fraught, motion and emotion being co-constitutive – perhaps invigorating, perhaps soothing (Sheller 2004) – but contributing again to a sense of being in-between, ungrounded, ambulatory.

As aid agencies have become more professionalized and rationalized in their labour forces, it is not uncommon for aid workers – particularly those who are visiting experts or on short term contracts to be driven by a local driver. This contributes to a sense of not knowing where you are going and renders the landscape unknown, mysterious, strange.  The ritual of being driven in an SUV, through unknown landscapes may also create a sense of inter-changeability of development or aid contexts: that they are similar in how they are interacted with, and in their unknown-ness. Within the vehicle, being driven creates an implicit hierarchy of ‘international aid staff’ being transported by local drivers although this may also confer power upon the driver – to take the best roads; to not be selling out his/her passenger; to not run out of petrol; to know how to fix the vehicle should things go wrong. A satirical aid blog “Things Aid Workers Like” comments:

Expat aid workers who have limited contact with real live “locals” will often take what their driver says as the “voice of the people.”  This “local voice” can go so far as to influence decisions an aid agency makes with regard to an entire country. Because they are such great sources of cultural information, it may be a good idea to include the driver in focus groups or run new strategy ideas past him for quick informal “vetting.” Drivers make expat aid workers feel like they are friends with a local and have “insight into local perspective,” another thing that expat aid workers like.[1]

A final area where the affective experience of being in a car needs to be considered is with regard to what Miller, Gilroy and others have describes as ‘car cultures’ (Gilroy ; Miller 2001).  These are the affective bonds which develop between people – either individuals or groups – and their cars.  They may invest large amounts of time on their vehicle – fixing it, upgrading – or may overly identify with their vehicle. Car cultures are remarkably strong when it comes to SUVs and in particular land rovers – a point I’ll return to later.

2. Seeing through the car: the SUV as instrument of seeing and way of knowing

A second way of understanding the role of the car in aid work, is with regards to its role as instrument of seeing and knowing.  As already mentioned, the trajectories and narratives of development and car use are inseparable. Post-WW2 development was focussed on a linear modernization narrative – pointing both to the endemic growth potential of so called the third world and its ability to adopt and adapt technological transfers from the first world.  This narrative was constructed by, in good part, the visiting experts – the colonial and commonwealth officers, researchers, and emerging breed of aid workers – who went to the newly invented ‘field’ (Gupta and Ferguson 1997) and discovered, collected, named and analyzed its components (Escobar 1994; Kothari 2005).  An instrumental and constitutive part of these modernization practices were the 4×4 and the concurrent development of roads: enabling factors in the penetration of territory and in the multiplication of collection practices on the part of researchers and aid workers.[2]

The perceived technological superiority of the car versus local modes of transport also reinforced the transformative logic of the modern development project within aid and development circles. An embodiment of enlightenment philosophy’s valorisation of the power and potential of the atomistic individual, the automobile is also the direct and pre-eminent product of the industrial age – of Fordist modes of production, mechanisation, Taylorist rationalisation and petroleum driven dominance.  Chella Rajan calls the car “the (literally) concrete articulation of liberal society’s promise to its citizens” (Rajan 2006:112-13). In the context of development, the SUV could be seen as global liberal society’s promise to the world’s poor.

But the impact of the SUV is more than purely symbolic or metaphorical. A bi-product of the use of the motor vehicle was that it perpetuated a hierarchy of mobility where it was seen as a necessary and normal that aid workers enacted development through short, penetrative missions and engaged with their host landscapes in increasingly hermetic ways.  As a result, the short term mission has come to dominate planning and policy aspects of aid and development (Lewis and Mosse 2007; Stirrat 2000), as alluded to n the acknowledgments of an ECHO report:

“The consultants would like to thank the many people who took time to share their knowledge, experiences and opinions in interviews and consultations for the Security Review, and via the web forum. In many cases, the organisations where interviewees worked lent drivers, recommended other interviewees and gave assistance in setting up meetings and organising accommodation and transport” (European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office 2004:v).

This tendency is recognized by development agencies as problematic and widespread – for example, The EC urges staff to visit “people living away from major towns, and away from major roads.  (There is a tendency for busy humanitarian staff  to visit people near easily accessible towns and routes far more than those in areas off the beaten track.)” (European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office 2004:21). And although the EC wouldn’t put it in these terms, part of the problem is the reinforcement a uniform and unreflexive subjectivity amongst aid workers.

Part of the creation of this subjectivity is through sight and the accompanying techniques of observation which are inseparable from the way in which we organize knowledge and social practices (Crary 1990:3). While in art history or the history of science, the instruments and technologies which structure site have long been the objects of scrutiny {cite}, in the context of aid work, the mechanisms through which ‘local’ knowledge has been viewed and interpreted are left invisible, unquestioned: “[t]hus certain forms of visual experience usually uncritically categorized as ‘realism’ are in fact bound up in non-veridical theories of vision that effectively annihilate the real world” (Crary 1990:14). While Crary is speaking of nineteenth century instruments of vision such as the stereo-scope and the phenakistiscope, the same argument can be applied to the car, and the SUV. For the passenger, the driver, vision is focussed on the external, distant, speeding landscapes, or those that can be reached easily by car. These landscapes are construed as real, and documented and reported upon for development purposes – becoming representative of the development ‘problem’ at large.  But in their most abstract, these landscapes are subjective and imagined and at least can must necessarily be only partial representations, based on previous decisions of where to build roads, gas stations, pipelines, settlements.

A second insight from Crary comes from his claim that “[t]hese apparatuses are the outcome of a complex remaking of the individual as observer into something calculable and regularizable and of human vision into something measurable and thus exchangeable” (Crary 1990:17).  Again, these criticisms can be applied to the SUV, where the relatively recent rise of the white SUV as a global design icon has also contributed to standardizing practice the world over.  As aid workers, the modalities of interaction will be the same whether you are in Kosovo, Liberia or Haiti (Higate and Henry 2009).  And while it is possible to argue that for aid relations this is necessary – quick response times and standardization is arguably a pre-requisite for a rapid and consistent emergency response, for development workers it is not.  Instead, their perpetuation has contributed to a material culture of aid and the creation of an aid subjectivity, which sets up a material template for the physical and embodied etiquette of the way in which aid relations are conducted.

3. Car as assemblage: economic and symbolic circuits of car production, distribution and (re)use

A final area is the area of Networks. Here work on assemblages is helpful in thinking through the material, discursive, social aspects which link together the network of aid vehicles.  For example, the very materials that make up the SUV are the same materials that have driven colonial relations of exploitation and extraction: fuel, tires, aluminium.  Economically, the car companies have seen the aid market as an important and lucrative part of their business not only in terms of its markets but also for the symbolic and moral capital that it provides when marketing to its domestic audiences – these adverts in turn shape the expectations and ideas of aid workers who go to ‘the field’ to ‘perform aid’ in an expected way. There are also well established distribution networks for the cars themselves: networks of logistics, operations managers, mechanics, and procurement experts spanning the globe.

In order to explore these three themes, the article now turns to a case study of one of the most iconic brands of aid SUVs, the Land Rover.  This will take part in four main sections and concentrate primarily on its history in Africa, but first, a brief introduction to the brand.

In post war Britain, Rover company was tasked as part of British Industry to revive the economy through export promotion.  But steel shortages made car construction difficult and limitations on car ownership meant a limited domestic market.  The Wilks brothers had been impressed by the durability of the American Willys Jeep – which were still lying around in Britain. They designed the first Series 1 Land Rover in 1947 as an agricultural vehicle circumventing purchase restrictions and using aluminium (Slavin et al. 1989:14). From the beginning a consciously patriotic product, it quickly caught on with the overseas markets and became intrinsically associated with the British empire, when the Queen and Prince Philippe used it in their Royal Tour of the Commonwealth in 1953 and 1954 (Slavin, et al. 1989:187).  The Wilks brothers – the owners of the Rover at the time – were extremely well connected in British society, and had easy access to existing Imperial and emerging Commonwealth distribution networks for their vehicles.[3] As a result, according to Slavin, Land Rovers were, as of 1989, sold into more overseas territories than almost any other single British product (Slavin, et al. 1989:80).

1. They shall know us by our velocity (Land Rover goes nuts): Development, Legibility and the 4×4

The first documented use of Land Rover in a development context is the infamous Tanganika Groundnuts Project. The mammoth project was conceived and implemented by the Colonial Office in conjunction with The East Africa Corporation (and Unilever) as a way of providing cheap fat to British production, and introduce ‘advanced agricultural techniques’ to East Africa (East African Groundnuts Scheme 1949; Hogendorn and Scott 1981).  It was also used as an employment scheme for decommissioned troops and as a way to re-use ex-army equipment. Interviews and photos indicate that the scheme was used by the rover company to test early prototype models and must have been shipped from the UK by boat and then brought inland by train from Dar Es Salam.  According to an automotive journalist, Michael Bishop, in 1949 there were four Land Rovers, but this number expanded quickly. The early models were notoriously unreliable.[4]

The project was strongly criticised for its lack of attention to local conditions and poor choice of initial location.  Rolled out without a pilot phase, the entire 6 year, 25 mil pound project covering 3 and a quarter million acres (East African Groundnuts Scheme 1949) was planned on the basis of one nine-week mission to East Africa [sic.]  “covering 10,000 miles of territory by air, 2,000 by road, and 1,000 by rail” (Hogendorn and Scott 1981:85).  This velocity would come to characterize the administration of the project, says Wood, “The air of Tanganika was thick with flying executives. They were always either coming or going: they wore themselves out: they never came down to earth long enough to sit down and collect their thoughts…[The]he unfortunate Area Managers spent half their time waiting on the airstrips for people from Headquarters to arrive, or hanging around airstrips waiting for their planes to take off.” {Wood – page?}.  And while the quote applies to airplanes, it was equally applicable to vehicles. Speaking of the scheme in the House of Commons in 1949, Sir John Barlow remarked “There are about 1,000 lorries, cars, jeeps, land rovers and tankers of various sorts. Without doubt a very large amount of transport is available there” (East African Groundnuts Scheme 1949) (See Figure 3).  He goes on to emphasize the significance of transport by says that “there are about 11,000 natives…[m]any of them are becoming skilled or semi-skilled mechanics” and mentions that he saw the Minister in passing (p.1).  International staff turnover on the project was “still” over 60% a month in 1950 (Hogendorn and Scott 1981:91).

The focus on road building and the physical, motorized penetration of the African continent contributed to the experimental nature of late and post-colonial development regimes.  By 1951, the British scientists endorsed an approach to African development that considered it to be an “equation like problem that could be solved by experiment. Planned pilot schemes constituted the laboratories where development could be experimented with, using Africans as subjects” (Bonneuil 2000:259). In particular, the use of large scale settlement schemes and land use schemes that came to characterize development projects across the African continent during this period, stressed legibility and rapid collection of data from subjects.  By 1950 the number of European researchers had reached several thousand from the fewer than 1000 in 1930 (Bonneuil 2000:266).  The novel presence of the Land Rover influenced both their ability to penetrate further and further into rural areas and the way in which they interacted with and understood their landscapes.  The geometrization of land use was facilitated and rendered logical by the concurrent need to establish roads for the multiplying vehicles.  The ability to collect, monitor and collate data at an unprecedented rate through the use of vehicles and air power was also part of this trend.

However, the relationship between the use of Land Rover and collection epistemologies is not as clear-cut as it might first appear. An informant working in Zambia from 1968-70 recounted her experience using World Food Programme (WFP) and UN land rovers. “They were painted grey with the logos on the doors. The Dutch had them too. I think they were brought up from South Africa.”[5] While the project that she worked on was about collecting nutritional data from 12 far-flung villages – visiting each 3 times over the course of a year – because of the poor quality of the roads and the absence of radio technology, the team would spent between 10 day and several weeks in each village per visit.  And although the Land Rover came equipped with a local driver, the informant commonly drove the vehicle herself, increasingly her knowledge of the place in which she worked.

A similar complication arises in characterizing development projects in the periphery as zones of experimentation for the metropole (Jacobsen 2010).  Such narratives risk over-simplifying the geographies and histories of aid and need to keep in mind 2 key points. First, although complicit in the import of experimental technologies, in this case of the LR, the aid workers are equally part of the experimentation process. As liminal populations, they are as much caught within the structures of aid and development as constitutive of it (Smirl 2011).  Secondly, humanitarianism has a much less decisive relationship between technologies developed in the colonies and then re-imported in the metropole. For example, with regard to the use of motorized vehicles in aid work – these can be traced initially to the use of interwar ambulances in Europe and the first UN-led relief programme UN Relief and Rehabilitation Agency for Europe (which would in 1946 become UNICEF). In the wake of WW2, Jeeps, Morris Minors (car), GM trucks were a common part of the European refugee landscape.   Land Rover sold Tickford Station Wagons to UNICEF after the war. It had a “timber ash frame – skinned with aluminium” (see Figure 4).[6] A total of 480 were made and about 80-100 got to Poland (others went to Finland). In concept it was closer to Range Rover in that it was meant to transport people, not just things, and comfort was a consideration although, in an off-road context. Information from UNICEF stressed the important facilitating role that improved transport networks (roads) and new vehicles played in expanding their programmatic areas (Grant 1986). By early 1950s, vehicles were an established part of the humanitarian effort. UNICEF records show that their post-WW2 programme assistance to European Countries was heavily focussed on large scale programmes around mass immunization, malaria control (Bulgaria, Romania), syphilis prevention (Finland) and imply that the approach was to bring health workers to geographically disparate locations (Grant 1986).

However, despite the necessary presence of vehicles to the aid project, it was rarely explicitly acknowledged. A quick examination of the post-war budgets of UNICEF reveal that no motorized transport was explicitly calculated for. And yet, across the world, the advent of the 4×4 was changing the way in which aid work was done, and ultimately changing the aid workers themselves.  In Haiti, the Yaws treatment campaign was realizable only through “extensive travel over difficult terrain with nearly impassable road conditions…[and] instead of trying to train health technicians to drive jeeps, experienced jeep drivers were taught injection procedures – a most successful experiment! [italics mine]” (Grant 1986:36).[7]

The same UNICEF report, describes the work of the organization quotation with reference to the words of Spanish poet Antonio Machado:

‘“Caminante no hay camino, el camino se hate al andar” (the traveller has no path; he makes his path as he goes)…Over the years the lives and work of many individuals have fashioned a path for the organization in The Americas [sic.]. They too might join today in pointing with pride to the many signposts which have marked the progress of a journey not concluded” (Grant 1986:3).

Indicating the axiomatic processual nature of aid work – that it is a route that will never end, that we are travellers, the metaphor of mobility as central to the aid project.[8]

2. Driving into the heart of darkness (1950-1970) – Aid as exploration

Land Rovers penetration of the African aid market was not accidental – as early as 1951 the company was interested in widening its overseas market, but was unsure as to this market’s potential (Slavin, et al. 1989:260). Initial awareness raising for the brand seems to have had a lot to do with specific individuals. For example – a Colonel Leblanc, a “colourful” French-Canadian adventurer who as early as 1951 took on a job as a “sort of travelling salesman” for the company, “demonstrating his Land-Rovers wherever he went” (Slavin, et al. 1989:260). The availability of Land Rovers had taken African adventure tourism to another level, opening up new markets of leisure tourists and new, previously inaccessible geographies.  Again, speaking of Colonel Leblanc, Roger McCahey, retired Manager of UK Government and Military Sales for Rover at Solihull tells us, “’He organized countless expeditions with Land-Rovers another African trip we did together was in 1958-9 from Cairo to Addis Ababa and back again, through Anglo-Egyptian Sudan (the Nubian Desert in those days) taking eight weeks or so. By this time he knew that part of African like the palm of his hand…” (Slavin, et al. 1989:261).[9] Another famous adventurer was Barbara Toy – an Australian woman who toured to world in her Land Rover called Polyanna and wrote a now series of infamous travelogues about her adventures (Toy 1956, 1955a, 1955b, 1957). She too became a travelling salesperson for the company.  It was during this period that Land Rover initiated its official relationship with the Red Cross when, in 1954 they “donated a long-wheelbase Series 1 to act as dispensary in the UAE.”[10]

Through the 1950s and 60s the number of these firms grew.  Julie and Ken Slavin worked for one of these – Militreck expeditions ltd that navigated the trans-Saharan way using up to 40 Land Rovers.[11]  In the late 1960s they broke off and formed Quest Four where they were approached by Land Rover to tailor make vehicles for long expeditions.  Part of the success of Land Rover in terms of African penetration came out of the option for clients to import kits at a much lower tariff and assemble them in country.[12]  Because of this – it is very difficult to know exactly how many there are.

Another market for the vehicles during this time were the colonial administrators. Interviews with the son of an ex-colonial administrator in Kenya indicated that the colonial police force were the primary users of Land Rovers (and other 4x4s). Upon their withdrawal in 1973 the vehicles were turned over to the Kenyans. Originally designed as an agricultural vehicle, the Land Rover also proved very popular with white colonial settlers in Kenya who by 1950 numbered approximately 80, 000[13] and, during the so-called Mau Mau Uprising of 1952-1960, were a vehicle of choice for finding and killing insurgents (Edgerton 1989:152).

From the 1950s-70s there was also the emergence of traveling cinema-mobiles that would travel throughout the country broadcasting documentary films on hygiene, sanitation and nutrition (Green-Simms 2009).  In addition to government sales – both colonially administered and newly independent nations, mining companies such as Shell were also major buyers.[14] The rapid expansion in the African market can be seen by comparing statistics on number of overseas plants. Between 1961 and 1971 they expanded from 3 plants to 13 (Taylor 2007).

3. Car Aid (1980s)

I am still in the process of documenting the use of Land Rover by aid and development agencies in the post-colonial/Cold war period.  As NGOs were not significant international actors until the 1980s (need some stats), it is likely that their use of Land Rovers was not highly significant until then. The emergence of the iconic white SUV as we know it today seems to have been a bi-product of the Red Crosse’s use of white vehicles for their field ambulances combined with the use of 4x4s for development projects. For example, the image an image of a field ambulance from 1940 clearly shows that it was not white, but this ‘kit car’ from the ICRC mission to Nigeria during the Biafran war in 1960 shows the white vehicle with the Red Cross and we found evidence of the white jeeps being used as the official UN vehicles in the first UN mission in Africa – UNOC (1960-64). More work needs to be done in looking at how these decisions were made within the UN – both peacekeeping and the UNHCR and UNICEF, as well as individual organizations such as the ICRC, Care, Oxfam and so on.[15]

It does seem clear that by the mid 1980s, the focus on mobility, and specifically mobility using SUVs was an integral and established part of the aid modality.  For example, Land Rover was intimately involved with the Band Aid project, and their Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) department prepared a

“very special Land Rover for Band Aid – a mobile workshop kitted out with enough equipment to be the envy of a small garage. Based on the Land Rover 127-inch with box body built by SVO, it was airlifted to North Africa to help keep Band Aid’s food truck convoys moving. This box body proved an instant success: the first went to the Ministry of Defence, quickly followed by another to the BBC as a mobile workshop. As word got round, demand for the 4×4 ‘box on wheels’ grew…” (Slavin, et al. 1989:181).

Land Rovers and Land Cruisers were also repeatedly explicitly named as expenditures for Live Aid implementing agencies.  As explicit breakdown was not provided across the board, but even just this cursory glance indicates that the vehicles were being identified by brand name; were considered central to the emergency relief response and that Land Rover has competition. This last observation is consistent with Land Rover’s own analysis. According to their records, until the early 1980s, as a company they were the major supplier of the African aid market, but by the early 1980s they has lost their pole position to other competitors most notably, Toyota Land Cruisers dropping from 80% of the aid market in the 1970s to just over 5% by the late 1990s (Wernle 2000). This was disastrous for the company was, as late as 1989 sold over 70% of all sales overseas (Slavin, et al. 1989:16). The reasons for this are numerous including declining product satisfaction, improved distribution networks on the part of Toyota, and perhaps the recognition of the potential of the aid market.

The worldwide focus on famine relief that resulted from the media focus on Ethiopia, and later Sudan, also entrenched mobility as a central part of the aid enterprise. A much lauded part of the Band/Live Aid response was the Band Aid Trust Shipping Operation which undertook 33 voyages between 1985 and 86 and carried 5, 437, 201 USD worth of food, medical supplies, shelter materials and vehicles to Ethiopia.[16] Of the total short term relief 29,470,654 – 18,735,647 or 63% was spent on transport costs or vehicles.  This was similarly the case with Operation Lifeline Sudan (1989-91), “a massive relief operation to deliver food into Southern Sudan by land, river and aid from across the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.”[17]

Now obviously, a big part of aid is about bringing basic relief supplies to those who have nothing and doing it in the short term – but in addition to the numerous critiques of the efficacy of this type of aid in the first place (De Waal 1997; Duffield 2001; Edkins 2000; Keen 1994), this approach to humanitarianism has had at least two impacts. First, it has amplified and normalized the trend which sees movement, mobility and the passing through of space and an integral and largely unquestioned part of aid work. Secondly, through the development of the ‘relief-to-development’ spectrum, these practices broadly, and the widespread use of usually white Land Rovers/Cruisers in particular are used in places and on projects where it isn’t necessary or justified.  By the end of the 1980s, a ‘regular’ development project inevitably included one or two Land Cruisers/Rovers for the project manager, even for peri-urban or urban projects where a 4X4 was not necessary. Unlike the Groundnuts project, these vehicles increasingly were assigned local drivers – the international aid and development workers, sitting in the backseat, often quite unaware of where they were going or the direction they were going to get there. As technology advanced, the new generation Land Rovers incorporated more ‘luxury’ aspects such as air conditioning, tinted windows, and stereo equipment.  Combined with general improvements in road conditions across the African continent, this meant that the contact of aid workers with their immediate environments was minimized.

The exponential increased in the estimated number of aid workers in Africa (numbers from Stoddard, Fast) has gone hand in hand with an increase in white Land Rovers.  Throughout the 1990s they became standard equipment for everyone from small scale NGOs to UN peacekeeping operations.  Generally, white with the corporation’s logo on the side, a global distribution network grew up to become middle men between the aid agencies and car companies (Kjaer, Conaco).  Recognizing the money that was to be made, in the mid 2000s these distributors began to actively target the aid market.  For example, in 2005, Kjaer, one of the major distributors “made the decision to focus on…developing and professionalizing auto-dealerships in developing countries, and supporting humanitarian agencies” (Stapelton et al. 2009:n.p.). They became explicitly proactive as they felt that “[i]n this aggressive market they could no longer wait for the phone to ring” (Stapelton, et al. 2009:n.p.). Similarly, car manufacturers, in the advent of the media aid frenzies of the 1990s recognized not only the gains to be made from sales the organizations but the knock on effects of being able to use their involvement in aid work as a marketing tool. The companies have been quick to advertise their good deeds in Africa to potential consumers ‘back home’. For example, their website advertises their collaboration with the ICRC, ‘Reaching Vulnerable People Around the World’ in part, through the use of Land Rovers.[18]   But the potential reverberations in domestic minds is more than purely philanthropic. David Campbell has written about the deeply emotional way in which SUVs were marketing in the 1980s and 90s to American suburbanites craving adventure and distant danger (Campbell 2005).  According to Wolfgang Reitzle, chairman of Premier Automotive Group, owner of the Land Rover mark,

‘ìThe aid-agency market is only about 40,000 to 70,000 vehicles a year, but its importance goes far beyond mere numbersÖIf you look at Formula One racing, the aid market has similar benefits for manufacturers,” Slavin said. “In the present crisis we’re having with the environment and global warming, the motor industry takes a hammering. When you have disasters, you need 4x4s. There’s nothing better for a 4×4 vehicle than to be seen with an emblem that says United Nations or Oxfam or the World Wildlife Federation. That’s worth a lot of money to any manufacturer.”’ (Wernle 2000)

By stepping up into her Land Rover, a suburban housewife in Des Moines can step into dreams of escaping to a life of adventure and doing good.  But it is worth bearing in mind the impact that these media images have had on the aid workers who themselves are climbing into their Land Rovers, expecting adventure, danger, the unknown.  Since the early 2000s, however, aid work has been becoming significantly more adventurous. According to Stoddard and Harmer, as of 2009, violent incident involving aid workers were up by xx% and the majority of these involved a vehicle (Stoddard et al. 2009).  In the majority of cases, the aid worker was left unharmed, but the vehicle taken (Fast 2010).  In Darfur, in 2009, car jackings became so widespread that the UN Mission in Darfur issued withdrawal of all Toyota Land Cruisers (Buffalo) as they “are most exposed to attack” (UNAMID 2009).  This led to staff either using local, unmarked taxis or mini-busses, or more commonly, resorted to moving between the monstrous UN supercamps in UN helicopters – further distancing themselves from their surroundings.  It has also led, since the late 1980s to an increased demand for armoured Land Rovers worldwide (Taylor 2007:216).What is interesting about this problem, from our perspective today, is not that marauders are preying on UN assets – this has been the case as long as there have been UN missions to prey upon[19] – but that from a programmatic perspective, the vehicles themselves are seen as little more than incidental to the more generalized hostilities against aid workers not only in Darfur, but, on a global level.  This epistemological separation between the material or ‘hard’ and the programmatic or ‘soft’ sides of aid and development is only beginning to be identified as an area that needs attention.

Since 2003 an organization called ‘Fleet Forum’ begun to bring together the logistics managers from over 40 aid organizations including WFP, ICRC, World Vision international and many others.[20]  Together they operate a combined humanitarian fleet of 80,000 vehicles with an estimated operating cost of USD 800 million, the second highest overhead cost.  They aim to be a neutral interface between private sector resources and humanitarian transport and include a wide range of private sector partners including TNT (who fund the secretariat), Land Rover, the Overseas Lease Group and Toyota Gibraltar Stockholdings Limited. Their stated aims are efficient and effective humanitarian aid, increased road safety and security, and improved environmental impact including improved disposal.  (A common problem is what to do with the vehicles as the end of a project).  Although they were formed to re-dress the marginalization of fleet management within the overall development project, they have not gone any way to repositioning the lens of aid to include transport, which remains, for all intents, invisible.  One impact of Fleet Forum may actually be a deepening of the humanitarian assemblage. As Graham points out in his recent work – infrastructure only becomes visible when it breaks down. Similarly, it could be argued that the beneficiary only becomes visible when the transport fails.  Our previous informant recounts with joy the occasions on which her Land Rover got a flat in the bush, and they had to camp for several days while the ‘messenger’ biked back to the nearest town to fetch a spare.  Likewise, Mr. Jackson and his pregnant wife forced to walk back to Urumbo, bitten by mosquitos and threatened by wildlife, were able to relate to the experiences, challenges and fears of the people they were meant to be helping. Rather, that bring us closer to understanding the situation and concerns of potential beneficiaries, improvements to the humanitarian fleet may only increase the inability of the aid community to understand.[21]

Interim Conclusion: Car-jacking the theory

The danger of course, of looking at the history of aid work primarily from the perspective of aid workers is that it “run[s] the risk of re-inscribing the world according to experts rather than recovering the world as lived by people” (Trentmann 2009:302); or, as a participant at a recent conference quipped: “writing a history of white people, for white people, by white people”.  I recognize this as a problem, and am pursuing research into understanding rather than merely speculative how these vehicles were received.  Part of the difficulty is obviously methodological – both in terms of positionality and with regards to records which are more readily available and accessible in the metropole – in this case the UK.  Post-colonial theorists would warn that the narrative of aid and the SUV needs to be understood not only as a homogenous narrative about the imposition of modernity, but also as interactive and ‘multiple’ – taken up in different ways, spun back, hybridized and thrown back again.

Accepting the nuance, a central suspicion of this line of inquiry is that recent car-based violence needs to be read against a deeply unequal narrative of car use and interaction across many parts of ex-colonial Africa.  For example, compared to Western Europe and North America that have 500 -700 vehicles per 1 000 people, most Sub-Saharan African countries have between 20 and 60 vehicles per 1000 people (Aeron-Thomas et al. 2002; Green-Simms 2009). Partly because of this, Green-Simms argues that it cannot be considered to have the same uniform associations of power, autonomy, speed etc. but is much more “disjointed and multiply determined” (Green-Simms 2009:4).  And yet, it is worth investigating the degree to which identifiable narratives have emerged.  For example, amongst those communities who are most in contact with aid workers, anecdotal evidence suggests a perceived visual hypocrisy of the use of these vehicles has not been incidental to a deterioration of relations between aid workers and intended beneficiary populations; their connection with previous modes of interaction (colonialism, elite oppression) and their wasteful use of the very resources which had created grievance in numerous African countries:  tires, oil.   Green-Simms further suggests that fantasies of development or material success co-exist with what she calls “occult anxiety” – “anxiety produced when sources of wealth are obscured and associated with magic and witchcraft” (Green-Simms 2009:30). While Green-Simms is speaking only of West Africa, the lack of material basis for aid wealth is worth considering from the perspective of host nations – who see bases, cars, camps spring up from no-where preaching the doctrine of self-improvement through economic development, but obscuring the mechanisms through which this occurs.

Looking at the history of Land Rover and aid workers, with attention to the three themes – car as personal space; car as instrument of movement; and car as integrated network – highlights the trend of separation, and estrangement in aid and development rather than rapprochement. This may be explained by the emergence of two narratives about aid as understood through the object of the SUV. The first story is the one about development as modernization. As car use and ownership as an example of what can happen when you work hard, invest in innovation, pursue market economies, autonomy, and so on.  This is the story as told within the aid industry and it’s a story that has been exacerbated by technological advancements.  As SUVs have becoming more advanced, larger, more enclosed, so too have aid workers become more distant, and less in contact with the people and places they have come to assist. As Northern car manufacturers have relied on exoticised tropes to sell their product to home markets, some aid workers are steeped in a orientalist binary long before ever entering the profession.  With nothing outside their mobile bubbles to challenge them, these categories have become exacerbated rather than challenged.

The second narrative is that of SUV as symbol of the failure and hypocrisy of development.  Disconnected from the systems of production that created them, local populations may understand these large cars as representative of the unequal development dynamic that has played the African continent since colonialism. As the car has not been obtained through any observable dynamic of progress – but simply appeared, its material presence is a contradiction to the idea of linear, processual development.  It’s very existence undermines the  idea of global development solidarity – a amalgam of colonial and neo-colonial processes of domination – of rubber, oil, aluminium, Fordism, Taylorism, exhaust. Not only does the car appear from no-where, a feature of an elite and rarified landscape, but the repetitive, and non progressive nature of lived-aid work – where new experts continually cycle through on short term projects – undermines the aid and development rhetoric.  As a passenger/vehicle hybrid, the car itself is seen to symbolise and possibly confer power – historically the domain of colonial interests, local elites, and aid workers – it has become sought after as an object to obtain and wield. The rise in car-jackings and modifications of SUVs needs to be considered as an act by groups who feel they have too long,  been excluded from these processes.  Begging through mirrored windows, while, the drivers stare straight ahead.

But what the analysis of this paper tell us about the possibility of a third approach, one that doesn’t focus on either inside or outside, but on recognizing that humanitarianism is inseparable from its “knowledges, discourses, domains of objects, etc” (Foucault and Gordon 1980:117) ….where the SUV becomes the driver of development.

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[2] Important to note that in the 1950-70s aid work and scientific research were often interlinked – considered to be part of the same modernizing project.

[3] Interview, December 2, 2010.

[4] Also, see the Queesland development scheme

[5] Interview, November 27, 2010.

[6] Interview, December 2, 2010

[7] the work of Dant on the driver-car Dant, T. (2004) The Driver-Car. Theory Culture and Society 21: 61-79..  He says…xxxx [need to look at Oct 2004 issue of Theory, Culture and Society – automobility issue

[8] ..could also say development as modernity, as technological progress…as running (driving over) anything in its path

[9] – there was also a well established overland expedition tradition (Oxford-Cambridge race)

[11] Interview

[12] These were called Completely Knocked Down (CKDs) Taylor, James Oct. (2007) Land Rover : 60 Years of the 4×4 Workhorse. Ramsbury: Crowood Press..

[13] Wikipedia.

[14] Interview, December 2, 2010

[15] Work also needs to be done looking at the use of LRs under the late colonial regimes such as the Belgians in the Congo.  More work needs to be on the evolution of the role of motorized transport in aid and development and possibly done separately.

[16] “With Love From Band Aid” report from http://www.live8live.com/

[19] See UN SC council resolution xxxx re: situation in Congo 1961.

[20] http://www.fleetforum.org/ Accessed December 20, 2010.

[21] It might be worth mentioning, also, that typically, the major problem is not the vehicles themselves – or even procurement, but logistics, transport and political border regimes. A political rather than a strictly material problem.

Apres le Deluge, Nous

“Apres le Deluge, Nous: The Spatial Turn in Post-Disaster Reconstruction,” unpublished paper, 2007

 

Within modern, Western society, the reconstruction site is an evocative, and recurrent theme. Large scale international intervention transforms the physical landscape of areas affected both through the intended physical changes of the reconstructive process and through the spatial rearrangements that permit the delivery of aid. These physical transformations receive little attention.  What do post-disaster reconstruction sites reveal about relations between the global north and south?  With reference to the built environment and its representations, I argue that the physical production, reproduction and use of space[1] and place in these reconstruction zones, is central to the construction and maintenance of a broader neo-colonial discourse. It is in these spaces that we see the (re)construction of new – and not so new built forms of neo-colonialism. 

 

The idea of a ‘pure’ or natural disaster is a pervasive one.  The occurrence of an ‘Act of God’ appears to be the one instance where international intervention is beyond criticism:  the blamelessness of the victims, translates into an ethical imperative for action on the part of the ‘international community’ – or on the part of those that have the wherewithal  – to alleviate the resultant suffering.  (Edkins 2000) While it is possible to point to many instances of critique of political interventions[2] and many others who critique the efficacy or appropriateness of certain modes of disaster relief, there are few authors who problematized the basic premise:  the responsibility of the ‘international community to provide assistance to those affected by a natural disaster’.[3] And yet authors such as Neil Smith (2006), Mike Davis (2000), and many others.[4] stress that while natural hazards exist, the severity of their impact on human settlement (whether or not they are a disaster), is determined by human decisions:  where and how to build, access to preventive measures; the existence and knowledge of escape routes. Further complicating the matter has been the introduction, in development circles, of the term ‘complex humanitarian emergency’[5] which refers to a crisis situation with causes that are both political (man-made) and natural,[6] and, in practice, most disasters include both elements.  Disaster practitioners often stress that a disaster is the interface between a hazard (flood, earthquake, hurricane) and an existing vulnerable condition (badly constructed homes, high levels of poverty).[7] (Davis 1978)

Such nuances fail to stop the idea of a ‘pure’ natural disaster from being held up as an ethical rationale for intervention.  These interventions are not confined to  ‘disaster relief’ but slide all too easily into more pervasive forms of intervention in the target society, forms of intervention that become political and engage in political contest and transformation.  The slippage is not only between ‘hard’ and  ‘soft’ reforms within a target society – i.e. that technical superiority in the area of bridge building implies commensurate progress in such (socially constructed) categories as ‘civil society capacity building’ – but also across geographies. Within development practice, the rhetoric that is used to respond to natural disasters is also used to justify interventions in overtly political struggles elsewhere. It is not uncommon, within official rhetoric or policy documents to group references to the post-Tsunami reconstruction of South East Asia along with the conflict in Darfur.[8] This logical slippage has also had an impact on post-crisis response strategies with the reconstruction strategies and actors being used for post-conflict reconstructive strategies underpinning the approach used after large scale ‘natural’ disasters.

The introduction of a spatial lens not only allows us to view contemporary post-crisis interventions as part of a historical continuum – facilitating the identification of  similarities and disjunctures with the past – but it also reveals unintended, and unobserved dynamics in contemporary interventions. It allows us to see a whole zone of transformation and politics that operates under cover of the ethical injunction to assist those suffering from so called ‘acts of god’.

This chapter proposes a retracing of the history of post-disaster interventions from a spatial perspective allowing us to problematized and re-examine some of the basic premises of humanitarian disaster response. An examination of particular built forms of the international community  illuminates a spatial genealogy of humanitarian intervention that is usually obscured by abstract discussions over the ethics and modalities of international intervention.

 

I – A SPATIAL HISTORY OF POST-DISASTER INTERVENTIONS

The process of reconstruction is fundamentally about the construction and reorganization of space, however, very little analysis is undertaken of these sites from a spatially oriented perspective. While the ‘spatial turn’ in the social sciences led many disciplines to problematize questions of space and geography, it did not have a significant impact on development or humanitarian studies, nor, by extension on post-crisis reconstruction.[9] As geography, urban planning, and other social sciences engaged with more structural questions through the application of the spatial turn, development studies moved away from structural, or even regional questions and increasingly focused on the level of the individual and its aggregate – society.

This overlooks the way in which post-disaster reconstruction evolved.  From its modern post-WW2 inception, international humanitarian assistance was conceived in spatial terms. (Slater 1997) The categories and binaries by which it defined itself as an activity were fundamentally geographic – 1st, 2nd and 3rd worlds; developed and underdeveloped countries; the global north/global south.  In particular, Fred Cuny attributes the rise of disaster response as an industry within the global north, to the rapid, post-1945 decolonization process which left the former colonies without either the human or financial capacity to respond.  The ‘apolitical’ international system of NGOs and multilateral agencies was seen as preferable to the reassertion of control by former colonial powers. (Cuny 1983)

The high demand of the former colonies – the ‘third world’ – for support in disaster response is also arguably spatial in nature.  It is demonstrable that certain parts of the world, do experience a higher frequency of hazard events[10] – events such as hurricanes, flash floods, volcanoes – and therefore have a higher risk, ceterus paribus, of  experiencing a disaster. According to Ian Davis, “the study of disasters is almost by definition a study of poverty within the developing world, since this is where most of the disasters take place.” (Davis 1978:  11-12) This highlights the explicitly geographic nature of both natural disasters, and subsequent reconstruction sites: concentrated in countries of the Global South. However, those countries that have hitherto experienced a higher number of hazardous events have also been those countries that have the least amount of financial wherewithal to invest in disaster prevention or mitigation – either individually, socially or nationally meaning that they experience an disproportionately increased risk of disaster, as compared to developed (OECD) countries. Even within the Global North, the spatial nature of disasters holds – with those groups which are structurally impoverished, or underprivileged, experiencing a higher vulnerability to disasters, e.g. Hurricane Katrina (Cutter 2006).

According to Craig Calhoun, the idea of an Emergency Imaginary is an important part the Western Social Imaginary (Calhoun 2004, Taylor 2005).  “This notion of ‘emergency’ is produced and reproduced in social imagination, at a level that Charles Taylor (2002) has described as between explicit doctrine and the embodied knowledge of habitus” (Calhoun 2004: 7).  Calhoun goes on to say that the “production of emergencies, and the need to address them, has become one of the rationales for assertion of global power.” (Calhoun 2004: 9).  This thesis is further explored by Naomi Klein, in her new book on what she terms ‘disaster capitalism’, where she claims that the global neo-liberal order is perpetuated through the windows of opportunity presented or created by large scale disasters. (Klein 2007)  An important part of the discourse is the perceived unusual nature of the Emergency:  “’[e]mergency’ is a way of grasping problematic events, a way of imagining them that emphasizes their apparent unpredictability, abnormality, and brevity, and that carries the corollary that response – intervention – is necessary.[11]  The international emergency, it is implied, both can and should be managed.” (Calhoon 2004: 6)

This view is supported by Bankoff (2001) who traces the evolution of disaster response from the 1960s focus on tropical disease and its potential cures to more contemporary versions of risk management, focused on individual and civic responsibility for both mitigation and response.  This moves the frame of reference away from previous structural and causal interpretations of disaster –  that they were primarily a result of underdevelopment and poverty, or are the result of climate change – towards individual causation and response.[12]  By bringing space back in, we begin to see that an important part of this emergency imaginary is the ability to locate the emergency, the event, in a particular geography or spatial imagination.  The ‘assertion of global power’ that Calhoon points to must be asserted over someone or something – it must be asserted from some position of (perceived) security, and over another place of (perceived) insecurity.  The ‘common practices’ that underpins Charles Taylor’s  understanding of a particular social imaginary happen somewhere – they are locatable, they are grounded.  And if, as suggested by Calhoon (2004) and Klein (2007), the importance of the event is that it provides a rationale for intervention, or response, the reconstruction site becomes an integral, albeit under-theorized, part of the Emergency Imaginary.

 

 

 

 

SECTION II – RESPONSE STRATEGIES FROM A SPATIAL PERSPECTIVE

The term ‘reconstruction sites’ refers to geographic locations that have or are being physically reconstructed, with external assistance, after experiencing a crisis that overwhelms the ability of the affected society to respond.  ‘External Assistance’ refers to the provision of physical and/or financial resources by individuals and agencies that normally reside outside the geographic boundaries of the reconstruction site and have been brought there specifically by the event of the disaster.  In the contemporary reconstruction site, changes to the physical environment are of two sorts: first, the physical structures that put are in place to assist the victims of the disaster – houses, schools, hospitals, roads and infrastructure; and second, those changes which occur as a result of the influx of ‘external’ actors – refurbished or new hotels, offices, neighbourhoods, security, and transportation infrastructure.  The lens of analysis is rarely, if ever, focused on the latter.  While there is widespread acknowledgement amongst development practitioners and theorists alike, that the rapid influx of hundreds, or thousands of foreign workers has feedback effects, they are dramatically underexamined. This is characteristic of a general lack of understanding as to how the physical/material impacts on the social, and outside of a few specialized disciplines such as architecture and urban planning, there is also a general lack of interest.[13]

But the humanitarian imaginary – a correlate to Calhoun’s Emergency Imaginary – and a concept which draws upon contemporary development theorists ideas of a “New Moral Concensus” (Hoogvelt 2006) or “New Humanitarianism” (Fox) ultimately relies upon global (international) geographic categories and understandings for legitimacy and reproduction (Bankoff 2001).[14] If, as Calhoon says, a social imaginary is based upon the ‘embodied knowledge of habitus’, perhaps we should turn our lens towards the material practices of those individuals and groups who intervene in the reconstruction zone.  As mentioned in the previous section, the object of the reconstruction is only half of the picture with as many material changes occurring as a result of the large influx of internationals.  The material practices – the strategies and techniques (de Certeau 1988); or habitus (Bacherlard 1994) – of these groups will not only inform the immediate and long term direction of the reconstruction project, but may, contribute to the larger social imaginary – both in terms of how the West sees themselves, and how the West is viewed by others, as mediated by their spatial forms, the built environment.[15]   It is within reconstruction sites and other humanitarian spaces that particular key relations are crystallized, produced and reproduced in reconstruction sites.  In particular, they are embodied within particular built forms such as the international compound.

Authors such as de Chaine (2002), Ek (2006) and Edkins (2000) have pointed to the physical, bounded structure of the international compound  (or ‘camp’) as having unique and underexamined properties.[16] While the camp, or compound, is by no means the only type of physical experience of the international community in a reconstruction zone, it is an evocative one – a place that often becomes the focus of ‘ex-pat’ meetings and leisure activity, whether or not it is truly representative of the international sentiment at large.  Descriptions of the US Green Zone in Iraq, increasingly points to the implications of conducting a ‘reconstruction’ from within a walled compound.[17] A initial examination of the impact reveals at least two types.  First, the practices, and modes of thinking that occur within such a microcosm of international activity will influence the way that individuals relate to one another, what types of interventions are chosen, and how they are designed and implemented.  Second, the impression that such structures, and spatial arrangements have on the individuals that they are intended to assist. The tropes of the white SUV land rover, the ex-pat hotel, the WFP transport planes have become clichés, but what impact does the persistence of these clichés have on external impressions of humanitarian intervention.

 

SECTION III – THE SITE OF THE INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN COMPOUND

The built form of the international humanitarian compound is a powerful and pervasive part of the humanitarian imaginary.[18] Within the sphere of international politics, it is also taken for granted; (un)seen as the inert and neutral physical hardware that supports the soft goals of humanitarian assistance.[19]

Despite the continual use of ‘compound’ as a descriptive term in both popular and official international discourse, there has been no consistent study of the compound as a built form.  While there is an assumed understanding amongst the international community of what is meant by the term, it remains largely undertheorized – both from a material and rhetorical perspective.[20] And yet its political and symbolic nature is clearly demonstrated in the ongoing targeting of compounds globally, considered by its attackers as the central embodiment of the international community in the developing world.[21] For countries that are recipients of humanitarian assistance, the compound is one of the most obvious signs of international presence. For the international workers it will be their primary experience with the country – the place where they work and/or live, and/or socialize.

The form of the compound is often held in parallel with other seemingly similar types of buildings.  In particular, comparisons are often made with three major typologies of enclave communities:  the fortress, the camp and the gated community.

 

Form and function of the humanitarian compound

Within general architectural terminology, a compound refers to a set of buildings, dedicated to a common purpose, surrounded by a wall or fence. In the context of international humanitarianism, a compound can be described as a walled enclosure containing an assortment of offices, storage, living, medical and possibly leisure facilities. Depending on the size, it will also include vehicles for transport of staff and materials. It is highly securitized and may have an extra buffer zone or checkpoint.  There may be watchtowers on the walls where guards can be located.  It may have other oversight mechanisms such as security cameras, or barbed wire on top of the walls.[22]  The form will vary in terms of scale and level of securitization, and these variables are determined in part by their function which are threefold: logistic, diplomatic and staff support.[23] The level of required security will determine the degree of physical fortification as well as the degree of mobility and concentration of international spheres of activity.[24]

Security restrictions on a particular compound will be closely tied to the global political concerns of the agency, and may not be directly correlated to the material circumstance of a particular location.  For example, in the case of the US, the iterative security upgrades since the 1983 bombing of their Beirut Embassy have meant, that a series of baseline requirements have been imposed on all embassies, globally, regardless of their particular security situation.[25] What this has meant for many USAID offices – the overseas development arm of the US government – is that they too, by extension, became highly securitized – in some cases, literally barricaded from the populations they are supposed to be assisting.

Similarly, within the United Nations System, there is an institutional trend towards ‘integrated missions’ where UN Peacekeeping missions are physically housed with other UN agencies such as UNICEF and UNDP.  While this makes sense from the perspective of institutional efficiency consideration needs to be given to the potential effects of housing development and humanitarian projects in the same physical space with quasi-military operations.

The increased use of private contractors is also deserving of some attention. They are often contracted to implement programmes in security related areas:  requiring a higher level of securitization, and attracting a certain profile of employee – often ex-military. As they are not directly operating under multilateral mandate, the diplomatic function of their compounds are reduced, replaced instead with a focus on efficiency and limited liability.  While they have been publicly chastised over their activities in Iraq, further investigation is required with regard to a potential lack of visual accountability in humanitarian zones.  To what degree do particular visual tropes evoke colonial legacies?  The form of the compound evokes certain spatial and visual metaphors, and intuitively resonates with other well documented typologies.  In particular it parallels those built forms which segregate one community from another.

i) The Fortress

In popular discourse, the term ‘fortress’ is often used to refer to humanitarian compounds but how the applicable is the analogy?[26]  As an architectural type, the fortress is a near universal form.  At its most basic, it is an enclosed, defensible space which protects one group of people from another.[27] It has the  practical use of defending those on the inside from attacks on the outside.  In a climate where aid workers have become political targets, the built environment of internationals is becoming increasingly securitized – the fortress metaphor apparently more applicable.

In their work on the nation, Jones and Fowler look at the importance of local spaces in the reproduction of larger, geographic categories, such as the nation. They argue that this (re)production is done in several ways including that ‘localised places’ are used as “‘metonyms’ of the nation” and come to represent, “in a generic and abstract sense” “national messages, symbols, and ideologies.” (Jones and Fowler 2007:  336)  Citing Jackson and Penrose (1994) they “stress the potential for localized places to be key sites for generating ideas and sentiments that can ultimately reproduce the nation.” (Jones and Fowler 2007:  336).  In the case of the international humanitarian compound, what impact does the locale of the compound have on larger conceptions of the international?

For example, the visual metaphor of the fortress also has a symbolic value, representing in physical form the power of their occupants and owners over their surroundings.  It symbolizes the  rights and legitimacy of its occupants to be present in that place. In the case of international humanitarian assistance, the physical presence of the international community is intended to symbolize the precise opposite:  an international responsibility and accountability to local populations premised on a fundamental equality of human subjects.

In the current humanitarian reading, the physical manifestation of an intervention is considered to be largely neutral.  Some attention is paid to the need to aspects such as equal access to facilities, the spatial layouts of refugee camps, and the geographic distribution of projects and interventions, but considerations such as the symbolic value or physical characteristics of a particular building are considered to be either aesthetic or irrelevant.

Now consider, esteemed political scientists, Peter Katzenstein’s  recent work on the apparent rise of Anti-Americanisms in world politics.  He identified one potential causes of anti-americanism as a cognitive dissonance between what the U.S. says it stands for (equality, freedom) and the way it behaves in the sphere of international politics (ignorance of international law, manipulation of international agreements). (Katzenstein 2007) Applying these finding to the realm of humanitarianism, could there then be a relation between the particular, spatial practices of the international community in the field and the perceived increase in mistrust in multilateral mechanisms?[28]

Is the legitimacy of the international compound, not only derived from what it symbolizes, but what it exemplifies with regard to particular, exceptional practices?  (Hirst 2001, p. 191) Beyond its stated objective, such a form could be a constant reminder to the citizenry of the occupant’s elevated position, and their self-invoked right and potential capacity to see and know all. (Foucault 1995) Such forms could potentially evoke colonial legacies, or have an affectual impact on their host populations. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the buildings of the international community and their material extensions, such as Land Rovers and helicopters, reinforce certain stereotypes among local population including those of Western excess, exclusivity, and neo-colonialism. While these themes can only be mentioned in this passing, they serve to emphasize the need to consider the potential impact of particular, exceptional enclaves on their host communities.

ii) The Camp as a Space of Exception

Post 9-11, the idea of the form of the camp as a ‘space of exception’ has received significant attention across disciplines. Citing Giorgio Agamben (1998), particular geographic locations were cited as examples of spaces where the established juridical order can be arbitrarily suspended by the ‘sovereign.’  More recently, scholars have begun to question the applicability of Agamben to places like Guantamo, and have sought to position these experiences within longer geo-political narratives.[29]  Within the context of American and European imperialism, the existence of particular spaces that are exempt from local laws and conditions can be considered as the norm rather than the exception, replete with their own standardized rituals of enclave.

In the case of the compound, regardless of geographic location, certain norms can be identified.  Clothing is western, the language is usually that of the previous colonial power, the electricity, water and sanitation systems, communications networks are self-contained, and the workday is scheduled according to the needs and demands of headquarters – in London, New York, or Amsterdam.

Certain exceptional behaviour is also permitting within the confine.  These do not only apply only to exceptional cultural practices such as the consumption of alcohol, but also to the categorization of workers into pay scales and privilege according to their place of birth. The distinction between local and international categories of staff goes beyond pay grade. It also dictates status within the organization, and the length of time spent in a place. While such differential practices can be (and are) justified in myriad ways the anecdotal evidence suggests that they may feed an image of the international community that is based on arbitrary, discriminatory and exceptional practices.[30]

iii) Gated Communities

Since the 1960s, defensive architectural techniques have been studied in the built form of the Gated Community (hereafter GCs). Atkinson & Blandy (2005) define GCs as a “housing development that restricts public access”  through physical and symbolic measures.  , usually through the use of gates, booms, walls and fences.  These residential areas may also employ security staff or CCTV systems to monitor access.  In addition, GCs may include a variety of services such as shops or leisure facilities.” (Atkinson & Blandy 2005, p. 177)  Most importantly, it is an “attempt at self-imposed exclusion from the wider neighbourhood, as well as the exclusion of others.” (Atkinson & Blandy 2005, p.178)

The immediate difference between the gated community and the proposed type of the international compound is that the latter is established with the purpose of accomplishing a particular labour outcome, while the former, is established primarily for residential and associated purposes such as increased social cohesion and quality of life.[31] However, research on gated communities may offer insight into the way in which the built form impacts social interaction and practice.

Luymes (1997) says that  “residential enclaves in all times and places share a basic characteristic of setting themselves off from the urban matrix around them, through control of access, and the solidification of their perimeters.” (p. 198).  Work on GCs in the UK reveals startling similarities with international compounds in the ways in which their residents interact with the local community. Atkinson and Flint (2004) detail the phenomena of connected “fortified residential and work spaces” which “resembles a seam of partition running spatially and temporally through cities.”[32]  (p. 877)  Their descriptions of the practices of residents of GCs apply nearly perfectly to the work and life patterns of individuals on humanitarian interventions ‘in the field’.  Movement is restricted between office, home and target project.  Contact is often limited with the recipient, and when it exists it is within highly codified interaction – often within humanitarian or government space.

The result of such practices, is that there is very little interaction between the international community ‘in country’ and the target beneficiaries outside the codified relationships of the donor-recipient. The impact that this has on internationals has an effect much like that of Atkinson and Blandy’s description of the inhabitants of gated communities.  “The process of gating surrounds an attempt, in part, to disengage with wider urban problems and responsibilities, both fiscal and social, in order to create a ‘weightless’ experience of the urban environment with elite fractions seamlessly moving between secure residential, workplace, education and leisure destinations.” (Atkinson & Blandy, 2005, p.180)[33] And while the intentionality is different, the effect is the same – the ability to leave, to come and go at will.[34]  While discussions of alternate modes of involvement of the international community with the public policy of their host countries lies beyond the ability of this paper, they do raise a salient yet largely unasked question:  If the objective of the humanitarian assistance is to better understand, relate to, assist, capacitate the other, is  this not completely at odds with the observed spatial prescriptions of the built environments of the internationals?

Not only do the modes of interaction and built forms described radically limit the spatial interactions of internationals with their broader environment, but evidence from work on American GCs, “suggests that living ‘behind the gates’ actually promotes fear of the unknown quantities of social contact outside them.” (Low 2003; Atkinson & Blandy 2005, p. 181)

Ironically, while the compound ensures a virtual elimination of violent crime within its confines, its diplomatic space of exception may encourage other types of non-violent crime such as graft, theft and fraud in such areas as procurement and contracting – jobs traditionally done by ‘local’ employees. And while, according to one reading, the ‘mobility’ and weightlessness of the internationals confers a power it is also opens up a space for the locals to exert power from below.  With a longer time horizon of employment, local employees may have the knowledge of local personalities, relationship, and affiliations that may help direct a project or funds to the groups or agencies most in need. However, it may also mean that certain local workers are in better positions to exploit loopholes in procurement systems, obscure nepotism and act as informers to the host governments.[35]When applied to the context of international humanitarian assistance how would such perceptions influence how the ideal ‘target beneficiary’ is perceived and understood and ultimately how policy and programme are designed?

 

It is less clear on how the host communities regard to physical presence of international compounds.  Research by Atkinson and Flint (2004) on perceptions by residents living near or around GCs were ambivalent, and tended to reinforce pre-existing socio-economic or cultural divides rather than create new ones.  In the case of international development work, there are similar ambivalences with the international compound both offering the possibility of employment, security, increased demand for certain goods and services (including prostitutes) and also the threat to local authority and custom.

Beyond the floodgates

The classic texts of post-disaster intervention point to the military spatial heritage of humanitarian relief and reconstruction:  the tents, the conception, layout and organization of refugee and relief camps. (Kent, Cuny, Davis)  However, they do not include an examination of older continuities – those that may exist between the built forms of colonial occupation and contemporary relief efforts.  In the current processes and practices of international assistance, the lived experiences and built environment of the international community are rarely examined despite there contributions to the humanitarian imaginary.[36] They may also be an important aspect of the way in which the international community is understood and interpreted at the local level.  In this way, although many theorists have cautioned against drawing historical continuities where none exist (between development and colonialism), I suggest that these parallels may be stronger than hitherto suggested and worthy of further sustained analysis.

There is the need, within international practice, to seriously consider the impact of particular spatial practices of the international community, and to foreground decisions regarding the built environment as a key variable in humanitarian intervention. With the increasingly convergence of security and humanitarian agendas, these considerations are becoming more and more pressing, by the day.  As long as the built forms that are being used continue to invoke and reproduce colonial power relations, is it unlikely that reconstruction sites will produce their stated objective of, in the jargon of the day, sustainable, equitable, emancipated communities or individuals.  Rather these sites will continue to service a vital need of the international community – the contribution to the construction of the Humanitarian Imaginary.

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WAAL, A. D. (2000) Democratic political process and the fight against famine, University of Sussex, Institute of Development Studies.


[1] Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (Oxford:  Basil Blackwell, 1991)

[2] c.f. MAMDANI, M. (2007) The Politics of Naming:  Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency. London Review of Books. London. PUGH, M. (2005) Peacekeeping and Critical Theory IN BELLAMY, A. J. A. P. W. (Ed.) Peace Operations and Global Order. London and Oxford, Frank Cass and Routledge., CHANDLER, D. (2006) Empire in denial : the politics of state-building, London, Pluto.

[3] A notable exception here is BANKOFF, G. (2001) Rendering the World Unsafe:  ‘Vulnerability’ as Western Discourse. Disasters, 25, 19-35.

[4] For the human construction of famine, in particular, see works by KEEN, D. (1994) The benefits of famine : a political economy of famine and relief in southwestern Sudan, 1983-1989, Princeton, N.J. ; Chichester, Princeton University Press. EDKINS, J. (2000) Whose hunger? : concepts of famine, practices of aid, Minneapolis, Minn. ; London, University of Minnesota Press., WAAL, A. D. (2000) Democratic political process and the fight against famine, University of Sussex, Institute of Development Studies. Davis, DUFFIELD, M. R. (1991) War and famine in Africa, Oxford, Oxfam.

[5] For a discussion of the political nature of this term see EDKINS, J. (2000) Whose hunger? : concepts of famine, practices of aid, Minneapolis, Minn. ; London, University of Minnesota Press.131-132.

[6] Cuny includes a third type of disaster – ‘technological’ to refer to those events such as nuclear explosions, chemical spills, etc.. CUNY, F. C. & ABRAMS, S. (1983) Disasters and development, New York, Oxford University Press.

[7] C.f. O’KEEFE, P., KEN WESTGATE AND BEN WISNER (1976) Taking the naturalness out of natural disasters. Nature, 260.

[8] C.f. MORLEY, J. (2005) Tsunami Wipes Darfur Off Priority List. Washington Post. online ed. Washington. or http://www.dec.org.uk/index.cfm/asset_id,892/index.html (last accessed September 11, 2007)

[9] This may have been partly explained by timing:  the peak of the spatial turn in the late 1990s coincided with a renaissance in development assistance, and particularly in the realms of post-conflict intervention and peacekeeping.  With the publication of such agenda setting policy pieces as Boutros Ghali’s Agenda for Peace (1992) and the Brahimi Report (2000) the important questions were not whether the international community should intervene in and after conflict, but what was the most effective method.

[10] For a discussion of the distinction between hazard, vulnerability and disaster see  DAVIS, I. (1978) Shelter After Disaster, Oxford, Oxford Polytechnic Press.

[11]In this way, natural disasters have a similar logic to security threats in blocking off ‘normal politics’ and creating space in which emergency measures can be taken.  C.f. BUZAN, B., WÆVER, O. & WILDE, J. D. (1998) Security : a new framework for analysis, Boulder, Colo. ; London, Lynne Rienner.

[12] See also PUPUVAC, V. (2005) Human Security and the rise of global therapeutic governance Conflict, Security & Development, 5, 161-181.

[13] This logic is further intensified by the notion of an emergency— the ethical imperative for action justifying short-termist or normally inappropriate decisions.

[14] Taylor briefly discusses the “extension of the imaginary in space”, acknowledging both national and supra-national loci (Taylor 2005:  178) but fails to specify what constitutes such a loci.

[15] See also MERLEAU-PONTY, M. (1962) Phenomenology of perception, Routledge & K.Paul. and Heidegger’s iconic piece on ‘Building and Dwelling’ reprinted in LANE, B. M. (2007) Housing and dwelling : perspectives on modern domestic architecture, London, Routledge.

[16] The recent flurry of work on Agamben has introduced a wealth of study on the form of the ‘camp’ however rarely from a primarily spatial or architectural perspective.

[17] See CHANDRASEKARAN, R. (2006) Imperial Life in the Emerald City, New York, Alfred A. Knopt.

[18] This paper, is part of a larger piece, forthcoming, which considers the significance of particular built forms in the humanitarian imaginary.  On the idea of the social and emergency imaginary see CASTORIADIS, C. (1987) The Imaginary Institution of Society, Oxford, Polity in conjunction with Blackwell. CALHOUN, C. (2004) A World of Emergencies:  Fear, Intervention, and the Limits of Cosmopolitan Order. 35th Annual Sorokin Lecture. University of Saskatchewan, University of Saskatchewan. TAYLOR, C. (2005) Modern Social Imaginaries, Durham and London, Duke University Press.

[19] GRAHAM, S. & MARVIN, S. (2001) Splintering urbanism : networked infrastructures, technological mobilities and the urban condition, London, Routledge.

[20] Some work has been on the environmental aspects of military compounds, and on the effects of UN peacekeeping operations on local socio-economic conditions.  A series of workshops has been done by NATO on the ‘Environmental Aspects of Military Compounds.’ See XXX

[21] Work is being done on improving the security of field missions in the “new terrorist threat environment” but how this may influence the humanitarian mission is not known. C.f. BOONE, J. (2008) Bars lose expats to safety bans. Financial Times. Online ed.

[22] For the purposes of this paper, the term ‘humanitarian’ refers to the full spectrum of relief to development work, from quasi military –  such as UN Peace Keeping Operations and Security Contractors – to relief operations such as the Red Cross or the World Food Programme. All use the form of the compound in their field operations.

[23] Logistically, a compound provides a base where supplies food and NFIs (non food ite ms) may be amassed prior to distribution.  Compounds secure the vehicles and delivery systems that are used to interact with the target beneficiaries and provide communications networks when others have been destroyed, or are not working.  Diplomatically, they provide a location where various types of meetings and information sharing may take place such as emergency or reconstructive planning processes take place.  The compound must also provide bodily security to the aid workers who are increasingly targeted by the elements of the populations they intent to assist. They also provide an environment in which the workers are able to carry out their tasks to a speed and level of efficiency required by their donor governments and agencies.  This means high-speed communications systems and a common working language.In the case of the UN this usually means the official colonial language for that area – English, French, Spanish, Portuguese. It also means that hygiene standards are such that foreign nationals are able to function without being sick – food and water is either flown in or provided to a standard that is acceptable to its occupants. In this way, the international humanitarian compound provides security as comfort. Scale will be determined by the size and the mandate of the organization in question.  The World Food Programme and the UN HCR require space to store the vehicles used for distribution and the items slated for distribution. This requires large warehouses, water and petrol storage facilities and even hangars. Power generation facilities will also be required in most developing contexts.  Programmes that are involved in ‘soft’ projects such as training and capacity building need less space.

[24]. If a country is highly insecure, or is generally lacking in basic amenities, it is more likely that living quarters and offices will be integrated. If a country is determined to be safe, there will be no official restrictions on where internationals live or move. In most countries, the level of security is determined at headquarters based on field level risk assessments.  The UN uses a 6 level security rating system from ‘No Phase’ or completely secure to ‘Phase 5’.The numerical risk rating is highly subjective, influenced by political and institutional factors. In the case of Rwanda, the initial security rating was revised downwards after complaints from the government over the negative image that it projected abroad. The low security rating meant that there was no budget for a highly securitized UN compound. The walls were low, the security low-key.  This was in contrast to the Presidents extensive security cordon around his property.  On some days, all streets within a one block radius of the President’s residence were barricaded with concrete bollards and armed guards.  The symbolic message was clear.  The UN is not a relevant actor in this country. The real power lies with the President.  This is in contrast to post-Tsunami Aceh where the UN security rating was, in the wake of Tsunami in 2004, Phase 5 despite it being simultaneously designated a post-conflict country, and (more tellingly) despite the impressions of local aid workers.  Here, the main international compound was the World Food Programme compound where the offices of the UN Office for Reconstruction and Coordination (UNORC) and other UN agencies were located.  The walls were high, there was a manned security booth and a watch tower, and barbed wire encircled it.  In the context of Banda Aceh, the extreme visual level of security raised questions of the threat.  While the Minimum Operating Security Standards (MOSS) for the UN cover the areas of telecommunications, equipment and security plan, specific guidance has not been given on building types. There are also Minimum Operating Residential Security Standards (MORSS) for staff, but these cover only the most basic of security aspects such as locks and lighting.

[25] Following the August 1998 bombings of the US Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi Kenya, the U.S. State Department created the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations.  “In concert with other State Department bureaus, foreign affairs agencies and Congress, OBO sets worldwide priorities for the design, construction, acquisition, maintenance, use and sale of real properties and the use of sales proceeds.” http://www.state.gov/obo In London, this required the installation of bollards in Upper Brook Street and Upper Grosvenor Street.  No irony can be detected when the US Embassy to the UK website proudly proclaims that the project “aims to enhance security for the Embassy and the surrounding neighborhood by making the Embassy a less attractive target.” USGOVERNMENT (2006) U.S. Embassy Breaks Ground on Perimeter Security Initiative. London, Embassy of the US in London, UK. Where existing embassies could not be upgraded, entirely new compounds were created, in locations that could be more easily secured – in the case of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan only reachable by car.

[26] In a 2003, ABC reporter Jill Colgan referred to the UN compound as the “UN fortress” COLGAN, J. (2003) Bush Talks Tough to UN. The 7:30 Report. Online ed., Australian Broadcasting Corporation. See also Lewis’ reference in LEWIS, I. M. (2001) Why the Warlords Won. Times Literary Supplement.

[27] Significant work has been done on the use of defensive, military architecture in the creation of an Israel (Yacobi, Weizman) in the defense of diplomatic space (Vale) and of spaces of incarceration or detainment. (Kaplan, Reid-Henry)

[28] In addition to its symbolic value, Hirst was interested in the possibility that the form of the fortress could have social significance that went beyond its originating ideas. (Hirst, 166) He seems to imply that the form of the fortress embodied certain values or norms through the effects of particular physical characteristics upon its inhabitants and host communities.

[29] C.f. KAPLAN, A. (2005) Where Is Guantanamo? American Quarterly (American Studies Assn) (Baltimore, MD), 57, 831, REID-HENRY, S. (2007) Exceptional Sovereignty? Guantanamo Bay and the Re-Colonial Present. Antipode, 39, 627-648, GREGORY, D. (2006) The black flag: Guantanamo Bay and the space of exception. Geografiska Annaler, Series B: Human Geography, 88, 405-427, ARADAU, C. (2007) Law transformed: Guantanamo and the ‘other’ exception. Third World Quarterly, 28, 489-501. ARADAU, C. (2007) Law transformed: Guantanamo and the ‘other’ exception. Third World Quarterly, 28, 489-501.

[30] This is based on informal discussions with ‘local’ workers in a variety of UN offices between the years 2000 and 2004.

[31] There is an extensive literature on Gated Communities including Gated Communities in the Developing World.  See the Special Issue of Housing Studies 20:2 (2005) and the special issue of Environment and Planning D:  Society and Space.  Within this literature there are well established debates regards whether it is possible to speak of a universal form of gated community, and authors such as Atkinson and Blandy caution against making universalist claims that ignore local history and context.

[32] In the UK and America such “premium network spaces” result in their  users – wealthy individuals who can afford to live and use such spaces – being “increasingly withdrawn from the wider citizenry.” ATKINSON, R. & FLINT, J. (2004) Fortress UK? Gated communities, the spatial revolt of the elites and time-space trajectories of segregation. Housing Studies, 19, 875-892. (p. 886)

[33] See also Ibid.

[34] Such differential rights to mobility lie at the heart of international practice.  In the case of the United Nations, “locally recruited staff members may be evacuated from the duty station in only the most exceptional cases in which their security is endangered as a direct consequence of their employment by the organizations of the United Nations. A decision in this regard can only be made by the Secretary-General, as recommended by UNSECOORD, based on a recommendation by the Designated Official.” UNITEDNATIONS (Not specified) Security in the Field:  Information for all staff members of the United Nations system. United Nations.

[35] The use of such weapons of the weak may give the impression that it is in fact the international community that is being directed – that the spaces of humanitarian exception are more tolerated than imposed.  However, it is important to remember that the introduction and establishment of an international humanitarian presence is most often within the context of a weak or failing central government, or where a disaster has overwhelmed the capacity of a government to act.  For example, the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami left the governments of several of the affected countries unable to defend themselves against the second Tsunami of aid funds, and international workers who flooded their shores in the days after the actual disaster.

[36] Another spatial consideration are the international networks that are created between what de Waal refers to as the ‘International

Conflict, Security and Development

“Conflict, Security and Development” – MA core module, University of Sussex

Untitled

COURSE SUMMARY

Part I: Introduction to the CSD Nexus: policy oriented approaches/interpretations

Week 1: Introduction to CSD: Themes and Actors
• Overview of theories of CSD
• The ethics of researching CSD

Week 2: Diagnostics and analysis:
Case study and conflict mapping – Afghanistan

Week 3: Presentations & debrief; methodological and conceptual challenges

Part II: Interrogating causality

Week 4: When is a war (not) a war? Defining and understanding violence

Week 5: Identity as source of conflict? Case Study: Bosnia

Week 6: Economic sources of conflict? Case Study: West Africa

Part III: Considering the solutions

Week 7: Essay Preparation week

Week 8: Who’s responsibility to protect? Defining State Failure and Refining State- building Case study: East Timor

Week 9: Conflict is elsewhere the construction of the “third world”; and the changing dynamics of aid
Case Study: China in Africa

Week 10: “Security first” and the militarization of humanitarian assistance?
Case Study: Afghanistan in the context of British Development Policy

The aim of this course is threefold:
1. Examine the extent to which destructive cycles of insecurity and violence affect the possibility of development for large sections of the world’s population.
2. Investigate whether underdevelopment can be said to constitute a security threat. Some Western governments, for example, claim that underdevelopment in the global South could threaten their national security by facilitating the international spread of terrorist and criminal networks.
3. Analyze the difficulties that aid agencies, non-governmental organisations, governments, and international organizations encounter when trying to negotiate these spirals of violence and insecurity – be it through armed intervention, the provision of aid, the sponsoring of peace-building processes, or assisting states in post-conflict reconstruction.

The learning objectives are:
1. Provide students with an overview of contemporary perspectives on CSD;
2. Provide students with the theoretical and conceptual frameworks that will allow them to critique these approaches on process grounds;
3. Reposition current CSD debates within a wider, critical frame.

The course combines contemporary policy approaches and frameworks with a solid grounding in relevant, cross-disciplinary, social theory. Doing so allows students to both develop practical skills that will prepare them for a policy oriented career in the public or non-government sectors but also provide them with the opportunity to hone their critical abilities. Other skills that will be developed include:
• Presentation skills in weekly seminars
• Research skills through developing a presentation on a particular case study
• Team work through the development and presentation of the group project.
• Writing skills through composing an essay that requires them to read widely from the reading list and to synthesize the information for      the purposes of the essay
• Problem solving skills by exploring complex contemporary issues of conflict, security and development
• Reflective skills by critically evaluating and synthesizing competing conceptions and theories of security
• Information technology skills by suing word processing for the essay and seminar notes and on the internet to obtain further information on issues of conflict, security and development

Given the short time frame, certain topics could not be included such as security sector reform & demobilization; climate change as security threat; conflict prevention & resolution; natural disasters; peacekeeping; the privatization of humanitarian assistance; international humanitarian law; and many others. Many of these topics are covered in the various optional courses, including Complex Humanitarian Emergencies. If you are intent upon covering any of these (or related) topics within CSD, I am happy to work with you to develop a reading list and research agenda as part of your long essay (provided they are linked into the main themes of this course).

Coursework & Assessment

This work is cumulatively assessed as followed:

GROUP PRESENTATION – 25 %
DUE DATE: IN CLASS ON WEEK ASSIGNED
Students will be assigned to a group and week. They are required to present, as a group to the seminar on the case study of that week. The presentation must be prepared according to specifications in Annex 1. Marking criteria are also set out there.

ESSAY OUTLINE – FORMATIVE (PEER ASSESSED IN CLASS)
DUE DATE: IN CLASS WEEK 7
Prepared according to specification in Annex 2

FINAL ESSAY – 75 %
DUE DATE: Please refer to your Sussex Direct ‘Assessment Deadlines and Exam Timetable’.
5,000 word essay due at the beginning of Spring Term. Students may pick from one of the “Sample Essay Topics” listed in Annex 4, or may define their own question. The final essay must conform to the standards as laid out in the PG handbook as follows:

Term papers and dissertations should be word processed or typed on one side of paper only. They should conform to professional standards of punctuation, grammar and academic discourse. Clear references to sources and bibliography should be provided and all direct quotations should be clearly marked. Consequently, all students must be aware of the following definitions of collusion and plagiarism.

Collusion is the preparation or production of work for assessment jointly with another person or persons unless explicitly permitted by the examiners. An act of collusion is understood to encompass those who actively assist others as well as those who derive benefit from others’ work. Plagiarism is the use, without acknowledgement, of the intellectual work of other people, and the act of representing the ideas or discoveries of another as one’s own in written work submitted for assessment. To copy sentences, phrases or even striking expressions without acknowledgement of the source (either by inadequate citation or failure to indicate verbatim quotations), is plagiarism; to paraphrase without acknowledgement is likewise plagiarism. Where such copying or paraphrase has occurred the mere mention of the source in the bibliography shall not be deemed sufficient acknowledgement; each such instance must be referred specifically to its source, Verbatim quotations must be either in inverted commas, or indented, and directly acknowledged.

Format of essay:
I don’t have formal style requirements, but the following points are important.
• Please use clear 12 pt. font, double spaced, with adequate margins for all work.
• Please be consistent in your style (paragraphs, spelling, capitalisation). It all contributes to the overall impression and legibility of your argument.
• For informal work (presentations, etc.) please make sure your name is on the document itself.
• Proper referencing is essential both on grounds of avoiding plagiarism, and to support your argument. A consistent referencing style must be used throughout your submitted work. See http://www.sussex.ac.uk/library/infoplus/reference/introduction.html for more information. I don’t have a preference as long as it’s clear and consistent.

Submission of Essay:
The essay will need to be submitted to the School Office (C168) between 9:00 and 16:00 on January 10th, 2011. Students need to submit two copies of the essay, one with a green cover sheet for the first examiner and one with a blue cover sheet for the second examiner. The cover sheets will be available from the School Office in Week 10 of Autumn Term.

Feedback & Questions
I am happy to consider your evaluations of this course. Please raise any difficulties as they arise. You will be able to anonymously assess the course via Sussex Direct near the end of term and I ask that you take the time to fill in the questionnaire, as it is taken very seriously by the department, school and university. Your feedback is important.

Learning Methods
There will be a series of weekly seminars of 1h and 50 min duration. The seminars are designed to provide an overview of the course syllabus with commentary on the literature and are an opportunity to explore in depth particular issues and to engage in discussion in a small group context. Students will be expected to at a minimum read the “essential reading” which is included in the course pack and come to seminar armed with two or three questions/issues that the readings raised. Most importantly, students will also be expected to engage in continuous independent study, employing the reading list (below) to deepen their knowledge of the subject. In the second week of term we will be undertaking a mock “strategic conflict assessment”. Students are expected to prepare for this exercise as they would any other seminar and to fully participate. A debrief will be held in Week 3 at which point each team will present their SCA.

Use of Study Direct
Study Direct will be the primary mode of communication for the course. Information will be posted to the News discussion forum (and emailed to all course members) by the course convenor. Likewise, students are expected to post any relevant information such as presentations or handouts that they have produced to Study Direct as soon as possible (preferably prior to the class in question). Discussion groups will be set up by the course convenor for this purpose.

Office Hours
Are posted on my University website. Please use them.

Using the Library
Arrangements will be made so that important course texts will be made available in the library. Other useful texts that are not in the library’s normal collection will be made available where necessary. If material listed appears to have disappeared altogether or damaged please let the library staff know about this, and they will inform the course supervisor, so we can make alternative sources available wherever possible. Similarly if you cannot find any of the material listed, because it is out on loan, do search through the rest of the collection to find other relevant texts. The reading lists are deliberately extensive to allow you to consult other works if your first choice is not available. Remember also that the reading list does not exhaustively list all the available material in the library on a given subject. If you find anything particularly valuable let the course convenor know so that material can be added to subsequent years reading lists. You’re urged to take the time to familiarize yourselves with the library resources including electronic databases such as Web of Knowledge. In addition, the library has put together “subject pages” which may be of use. See, for example – http://www.sussex.ac.uk/library/subjects/international_relations.php for International Relations. You may also want to consult the Anthropology, Geography, Development Studies (forthcoming) or Politics pages. Google Scholar is another useful resource for locating articles, but be aware that there’s no quality control.

Useful Journals (Bold are highly recommended):
• Alternatives
• Civil Wars
• Community Development Journal
• Conflict
Conflict, Security and Development
• Development and Change
• Development in Practice
• Development Policy Review
• Disasters
• Ethics & International Affairs
• Ethnopolitics
• Global Governance
• Human Rights Quarterly
• IDS Bulletin
• International Affairs
• International Organization
• International Peacekeeping
International Security
Intervention and State Building
• Journal of Conflict Resolution
• Journal of Conflict, Security and Development
• Journal of Developmental Studies
• Journal of Humanitarian Assistance
• Journal of Human Development
• Journal of International Development
• Journal of Peacebuilding and Development
Journal of Peace Research
• Oxford Development Studies
• Progress in Development Studies
• Public Administration and Development
• Review of African Political Economy
• Review of International Political Economy
• Security and Development
• Security Dialogue
• Survival
Third World Quarterly
World Politics

Additionally, region-specific journals, such as Journal of Modern African Studies, etc., will carry articles relevant to the themes covered in this course and may be a good source for
case-study materials.

Useful Websites (please let me know of others you come across):
• Berghof Centre: http://www.berghof-center.org/std_page.php?LANG=e&id=13
• Centre for International Development and Conflict Management: http://www.cidcm.umd.edu/
• Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (Johannesburg): http://www.csvr.org.za/
• Centre for the Study of Violence, University of Sao Paulo: http://nevusp.org/english or another Brazilian site on public security: http://www.ucamcesec.com.br/
• Center on International Cooperation http://www.cic.nyu.edu/index.html
• Chronic Poverty Research Centre: http://www.chronicpoverty.org
• Clingendael Institute: http://www.clingendael.nl
• CMI: http://www.cmi.no/
• Department for International Development (DFID): http://www.dfid.gov.uk/
• Development Studies Association: http://www.devstud.org.uk/
• Global Facilitation Network for SSR: http://www.ssrnetwork.net
• Governance and Social Development Resource Center: http://www.grc-exchange.org/
• Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org
• Human Development Reports: http://hdr.undp.org/en/
• Human Security Gateway http://www.humansecuritygateway.info/
• Human Security Report: http://www.humansecurityreport.info/
• Human Security Network: http://www.humansecuritynetwork.org/
• ID21: http://www.id21.org/
• Institute of Development Studies: http://www.ids.ac.uk
• International Alert: http://www.international-alert.org/
• International Crisis Group: http://www.crisisweb.org
• International Institute for the Environment and Development: http://www.iied.org/
• International Peace Institute (formerly Academy): http://www.ipacademy.org/
• IRIN: http://www.irinnews.org/
• MandE News: http://mande.co.uk/
• ODI: http://www.odi.org.uk
• OECD DAC: http://www.oecd.org/department/0,2688,en_2649_33721_1_1_1_1_1,00.html
• Oneworld: http://www.oneworld.net/
• Paris Declaration: http://www.aidharmonization.org/ah-overview/secondary-pages/editable?key=205
• Reality of Aid: http://www.realityofaid.org/
• Reliefweb: http://www.reliefweb.int/w/rwb.nsf
• Reuters Alert Net http://www.alertnet.org/
• Small Arms Survey http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/
• Stimson Center: http://www.stimson.org/pubs/
• The Correlates of War Project, University of Michigan: http://www.umich.edu/~cowproj/
• United States Institute of Peace: http://www.usip.org
• UNRISD: http://www.unrisd.org
• Uppsala Conflict Data Project: http://www.pcr.uu.se/research/UCDP/

See also the websites of the major International Organizations (UN, World Bank, IMF), bilateral agencies (CIDA, SIDA, USAID, JICA) and NGOs (Oxfam, Care, Save the Children…) as all will have CSD oriented programmes or thematic areas. For news, and news magazines and broadsheets see BBC News, The Economist, Financial Times, Guardian, Washington Post, and New York Times.

Background texts:
If you are considering buying any texts, I would highly recommend purchasing (and reading) Cramer, Christopher (2006) Civil War Is Not a Stupid Thing : Accounting for Violence in Developing Countries. London: Hurst & Co. It covers the themes of the course in a thorough and sophisticated manner and you will find it useful throughout the term. Other useful “overview” books and articles are listed below under “Additional Readings”.

Weiss, Thomas George; and Cindy Collins. (2000) Humanitarian Challenges and Intervention. Dilemmas in World Politics. 2nd ed. ed. Boulder, Colo. ; Oxford: Westview Press. provides a good overview of the humanitarian themes and you’ll notice that other books such as Kalyvas, Stathis N. (2006) The Logic of Violence in Civil War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. come up in multiple weeks.

Kalyvas, Stathis N.,Ian Shapiro; and Tarek E. Masoud. (2008) Order, Conflict, and Violence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. and Scheper-Hughes, Nancy; and Philippe I. Bourgois. (2004) Violence in War and Peace : Edited by Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Philippe Bourgois. Blackwell Readers in Anthropology. Oxford: Blackwell. are both thought provoking anthologies covering various aspects and concepts covered by the course.

Additional Readings:
Brahimi, Lakhdar. (2000) Report of the Panel on United National Peace Operations. New York: United Nations (DPKO).
Chesterman, Simon. (2001) Just War or Just Peace? : International Law and Humanitarian Intervention. Oxford Monographs in International Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Crocker, Chester A.,Fen Osler Hampson; and Pamela R. Aall. (2006) Leashing the Dogs of War : Conflict Management in a Divided World. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press.
Duffield, Mark R. (2001) Global Governance and the New Wars : The Merging of Development and Security. London ; New York: Zed Books.
———. (2007) Development, Security and Unending War : Governing the World of Peoples. Cambridge: Polity.
Hutchinson, John F. (1996) Champions of Charity : War and the Rise of the Red Cross. Boulder, Colo. ; Oxford: Westview.
Jackson, Robert. (2004) International Engagement in War-Torn Countries. Global Governance 10:21-36.
Jacoby, Tim. (2008) Understanding Conflict and Violence : Theoretical and Interdisciplinary Approaches. London: Routledge.
Kaldor, Mary. (2006) New & Old Wars. 2nd ed. ed. Cambridge: Polity.
Kalyvas, Stathis N. (2001) ‘New’ and ‘Old’ Civil Wars: A Valid Distinction? World Politics 54:99-118.
———. (2006) The Logic of Violence in Civil War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Keen, David. (2008) Complex Emergencies. Cambridge: Polity.
Lepard, Brian D. (2002) Rethinking Humanitarian Intervention : A Fresh Approach Based on Fundamental Ethical Principles in International Law and World Religions. University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press ; London : Eurospan.
Moyo, Dambisa. (2009) Dead Aid : Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is Another Way for Africa. London: Allen Lane.
OECD DAC. (2008) Introduction and Chapter 1 In Resource Flows to Fragile and Conflict-Affected States, edited by OECD DAC. Paris: OECD DAC.
Paris, Roland. (2006) At War’s End: Building Peace after Civil Conflict. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Power, Samantha. (2008) Chasing the Flame : Sergio Vieira De Mello and the Fight to Save the World. London: Allen Lane.
Pugh, Michael. (2005) Peacekeeping and Critical Theory In Peace Operations and Global Order, edited by Alex J. and Paul Williams Bellamy, pp. 39-58. London and Oxford: Frank Cass and Routledge.
UN Secretary-General,, UN Secretary-General. 1992. An Agenda for Peace: Preventive Diplomacy, Peacemaking and Peace-Keeping.
Weiss, Thomas George; and Cindy Collins. (2000) Humanitarian Challenges and Intervention. Dilemmas in World Politics. 2nd ed. ed. Boulder, Colo. ; Oxford: Westview Press.
Welsh, Jennifer M. (2004) Humanitarian Intervention and International Relations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Wheeler, Nicholas J. (2000) Saving Strangers : Humanitarian Intervention in International Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Part I: Introduction to the CSD Nexus and mainstream approaches/interpretations

The first part of the course is devoted to introducing students to the emergence of the CSD debate post-1990, and to provide them with a working understanding of current policy approaches from both a diagnostic and prescriptive perspective.

Week 1: Introduction to CSD: Themes and Actors
In this seminar, the various components of the course outline will be explained including coursework and assessment requirements. Following this, the themes and issues that form the basis for the course will be outlined. The central thesis of the course will be advanced: namely, that current policy and mainstream academic discussions of “Conflict, Security and Development” approach the topic from an overly narrow perspective, and fail to problematize its basic conceptual apparatus such as the “nation state”; “conflict” and “security” or to contextualize these concepts within a longer socio-historical narrative.

In this seminar, students will be introduced to the analytic modelling approach to conflict, security and development (CSD), as it emerged as the dominant policy perspective post-1990. You will be introduced to the Strategic Conflict Assessment to be used next week.

Guiding Questions:
• When did CSD emerge as a concept and how has it evolved?
• Who are the actors involved?

Essential Readings (in pack):
Berger, Mark T and Heloise Weber (2009) War, Peace and Progress: conflict, development, (in)security and violence in the 21st century Third World Quarterly 30 (1):1-16
Chandler, David. (2008) Review Article: Theorising the Shift from Security to Insecurity – Kaldor, Duffield and Furedi. Conflict, Security & Development 8:265-76.
Collier, Paul (2008) Chapter 2 from The Bottom Billion. New York: OUP
Duffield, Mark. (2001) Chapter 2 in Global Governance and the New Wars : The Merging of Development and Security. London: Zed (2001).
Mac Ginty, Roger; and Andrew Williams. (2009) Introduction In Conflict and Development, edited by Roger Mac Ginty and Andrew Williams. London: Routledge.

Additional Readings: (See also, Background Readings, above)
Chandler, David. (2008) Theorising the Shift from Security to Insecurity – Kaldor, Duffield, Furedi. Conflict, Security & Development 8:265-76.
Dower, Nigel. (1999) Development, Violence and Peace: A Conceptual Exploration. The European Journal of Development Research 11:44 – 64.
Edkins, Jenny. (2003) Humanitarianism, Humanity, Human. Journal of Human Rights 2:253-58.
Fox, Fiona. (2001) New Humanitarianism: Does It Provide a Moral Banner for the 21st Century Disasters 25:275-89.
Gasper, Des. (1999) Violence and Suffering, Responsibility and Choice: Issues in Ethics and Development. The European Journal of Development Research 11:1 – 22.
Kaldor, Mary. (2007) Chapter 3. In Human Security, edited by Mary Kaldor, pp. ix, 228 p. Cambridge: Polity.
Mills, Kurt. (2005) Neo-Humanitarianism: The Role of International Humanitarian Norms and Organizations in Contemporary Conflict. Global Governance 11:161-83.
OECD DAC. (2008) Introduction and Chapter 1 In Resource Flows to Fragile and Conflict-Affected States, edited by OECD DAC. Paris: OECD DAC.
Secretary General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. (2004) Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. New York: United Nations.
Tausig, M. (2004) Culture of Terror – Space of Death: Roger Casement’s Putumayo Report and the Explanation of Terror In Violence in War and Peace : Edited by Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Philippe Bourgois, edited by Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Philippe I. Bourgois, pp. xv, 496 p. Oxford: Blackwell.
UN Secretary-General,, UN Secretary-General. 1992. An Agenda for Peace: Preventive Diplomacy, Peacemaking and Peace-Keeping.
UN Secretary-General. 2005. In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All. United Nations
Wheeler, Nicholas J. (2000) Saving Strangers : Humanitarian Intervention in International Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Wood, William B. (1996) From Humanitarian Relief to Humanitarian Intervention: Victims, Interveners and Pillars. Political Geography 15:671-95.

Week 2: Diagnostics and analysis: Case study and conflict mapping – Afghanistan
Students will be broken up into small groups to do a Strategic Conflict Assessment on Afghanistan. Students will be given detailed instructions at the beginning of class. Students should prepare for this class by (a) familiarizing themselves with several of the “conflict assessment methodologies” listed below*, as well as with (b) the ongoing conflict situation in Afghanistan.

Essential Readings on Afghanistan
BBC. 2010. Country Profile: Afghanistan. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/country_profiles/1162668.stm
CIA. 2010. The World Factbook: Afghanistan. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/af.html
International Crisis Group. 2010. Afghanistan.
http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/asia/south-asia/afghanistan.aspx

Essential Readings on Conflict Assessments
Governance and Social Development Resource Centre: Conflict Analysis Frameworks and Tools http://www.gsdrc.org/go/conflict/chapter-1-understanding-violent-conflict/conflict-analysis-framework-and-tools (on line) – have a look at the various approaches to analyzing conflict and choose one or two that you are most comfortable with to analyse in depth.

Additional Readings:
Bank, The World. (2009) Afghanistan: Data, Projects & Research.
DFID. (2007) Preventing Violent Conflict London: DFID.
———. (2009) Eliminating World Poverty: Building Our Common Future. London: DFID.
Felbab-Brown, Vanda. (2006) Kicking the Opium Habit? Afghanistan’s Drug Economy and Politics since the 1980s. Conflict, Security & Development 6.
Giustozzi, Antonio. (2007) War and Peace Economies of Afghanistan’s Strong Men. International Peacekeeping 14.
World Health Organisation. (2002) World Report on Violence and Health. edited by Etienne G Krug and et al. Geneva.

Week 3: Debrief and discussion of measurement and conceptual problems
During the first part of the seminar, each group will briefly present their SCA from the previous week, highlighting why they used a particular approach and the challenges that they faced using the methodology. It will introduce a discussion of the underlying assumptions of this approach to modelling conflict and discuss the implications that this had on the types of interventions that are proposed.

Part II: Interrogating Causality

The next three sessions (Weeks 4 through 6) examines the relationship between causal factors and conflict and violence, highlighting two common themes: identity and economics.

Week 4: When is a war (not) a war? Defining, measuring and understanding violence

This week considers the idea of conflict, and the commensurate idea of violence (and conversely peace).

Guiding Questions:
• How do we measure violence and conflict? What assumptions are made, and limits met? How is correlation established? Is there a spectrum of violence?
• What are the methodological and measurement issues encountered during field work? Is it realistic for agencies and researchers to try and ‘do no harm’?
• Is the violence that we are seeing somehow ‘new’?
• What is peace?

Essential Readings:

Suhrke, Astri and Ingrid Samset (2007) What’s in a Figure? Estimating Recurrence of Civil War. International Peacekeeping 14:195-203.
Collins, Randall “Micro and Macro causes of Violence” International Journal of Conflict and Violence 3(1) 2009: 9-22.
Kalyvas, Stathis N. (2001) ‘New’ and ‘Old’ Civil Wars: A Valid Distinction? World Politics 54:99-118.
Sambanis, Nicholas. (2004) What Is Civil War?: Conceptual and Empirical Complexities of an Operational Definition. Journal of Conflict Resolution 48:814-58.
Wood, Elisabeth Jean. (2006) The Ethical Challenges of Field Research in Conflict Zones. Qualitative Sociology 29.

Additional Resources:
Arendt, H. (1969) Reflections on Violence. Journal of International Affairs 23:1-35.
Barakat, S., M. Chard, T. Jacoby and W. Lume (2002) The Composite Approach: Research Design in the Context of War and Armed Conflict. Third World Quarterly 23:991-1003.
Blok, Anton. (2000) Chapter 1 – the Enigma of Senseless Violence. In Meanings of Violence : A Cross Cultural Perspective, edited by Go ran Aijmer and J. Abbink, pp. xvii, 220 p. Oxford: Berg.
Brennan, W. (1998) Aggression and Violence: Examining the Theories. Nursing Standard 12:36-38.
Browning, Christopher R. (1992) Ordinary Men : Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland. New York, NY: Aaron Asher Books.
Chomsky, Noam. (1967) The Legitimacy of Violence as a Political Act.
Collins, Randall. (2008) Violence : A Micro-Sociological Theory. Princeton, N.J. ; Woodstock: Princeton University Press.
Collins et al. A mini-forum on Violence in The British Journal of Sociology (2009) Vol. 30:3.
Courtney, Morgan (Lead), Hugh Riddell, John Ewers, Rebecca Linder, Craig Cohen. . (2005) In the Balance: Measuring Progress in Afghanistan. In Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project edited by Frederick Barton, Bathsheba Crocker (Co-Directors): CSIS.
Cramer, Christopher (2006) Chapters 2 & 3 in Civil War Is Not a Stupid Thing : Accounting for Violence in Developing Countries. London: Hurst & Co.
Csete, Joanne; and Juliane Kippenberg. (2002) The War within the War : Sexual Violence against Women and Girls in Eastern Congo. New York ; London: Human Rights Watch.
CSIS. (2004) Progress or Peril: Measuring Iraq’s Reconstruction In Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project, edited by Frederick Barton, Bathsheba Crocker (Co-Directors): Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Davenport, C; and B Ball. (2002) View to a Kill: Explaining the Implications of Source Selection in the Case of Guatemalan State Terror, 1977-1995. Journal of Conflict Resolution 46:427-51.
Dauphinee, Elizabeth (2007) Chapter 2 in The Ethics of Researching War. Manchester: Manchester University Press
Ehrenreich, Barbara. (1997) Blood Rites : Origins and History of the Passions of War. London: Virago.
Eldringham, Nigel. (2004) Accounting for Horror: Post Genocide Debates in Rwanda. Vancouver: Pluto Press.
Gilligan, James. (2000) Chapter 5 In Violence : Reflections on Our Deadliest Epidemic, edited by James Gilligan, p. 306 p. London: Jessica Kingsley.
Girard, Rene. (1996) Chapter 1 – 3 & 6. In The Girard Reader, edited by Rene Girard and James G. Williams, pp. xii,310p. New York: Crossroad.
Grossman, Dave. (1995) On Killing : The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. Boston, Mass. ; London: Little, Brown.
Hanssen, Beatrice. (2000) On the Politics of Pure Means: Benjamin, Arendt, Foucault. In Critique of Violence : Between Poststructuralism and Critical Theory, edited by Beatrice Hanssen, pp. vi, 314 p. London: Routledge.
Hoffman, Danny. (2005) Warscape Ethnography in West Africa and the Anthropology Of “Events”. Anthropological Quarterly 78:315-27.
Holsti, K. J. (1996) The State, War, and the State of War. Cambridge Studies in International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hussein, Karim,James Sunberg; and David Seddon. (1999) Increasing Violent Conflict between Herders and Farmers in Africa: Claims and Evidence. Development Policy Review 11:397-418.
Jacoby, Tim. (2008) Understanding Conflict and Violence : Theoretical and Interdisciplinary Approaches. London: Routledge.
Kalyvas, Stathis N. (2004) “The Urban Bias in Research on Civil War” Security Studies Vol 13(3): 160-190.
Kalyvas, Stathis N.,Ian Shapiro; and Tarek E. Masoud. (2008) Introduction In Order, Conflict, and Violence, edited by Stathis N. Kalyvas, Ian Shapiro and Tarek E. Masoud, pp. xiii, 436 p. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kassimeris, George. (2006) The Barbarisation of Warfare – a User’s Manual. In The Barbarisation of Warfare, pp. xii, 321 p. London: Hurst.
Keane, John. (1996) Reflections on Violence. London: Verso.
Kriger, Norma J. (2003) Guerrilla Veterans in Post-War Zimbabwe : Symbolic and Violent Politics, 1980-1987. African Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Leach, Fiona. (2006) Researching Gender Violence in Schools: Methodological and Ethical Considerations. World Development 34:1129-47.
Mawdsley, Emma; and Jonathan Rigg. (2002) A Survey of the World Development Reports I: Discursive Strategies. Progress in Development Studies 2:93-111.
Milgram, Stanley. (1974) Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View. London: Tavistock Publications.
Mitchell, Timothy. (2002) Rule of Experts : Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity – Chapter 5. Berkeley, Calif. ; London: University of California Press.
Nordstrom, Carolyn; and Antonius C. G. M. Robben. (1995) Fieldwork under Fire : Contemporary Studies of Violence and Survival. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Rubinstein, Robert A. (1998) Methodological Changes in the Ethnographic Study of Multilateral Peacekeeping. PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropological Review 21:138.
Sartre, Jean Paul (1969) Preface. In The Wretched of the Earth, edited by Frantz Fanon and Constance Farrington, p. 255. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Scheper-Hughes, Nancy; and Philippe I. Bourgois. (2004) Violence in War and Peace : Edited by Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Philippe Bourgois. Blackwell Readers in Anthropology. Oxford: Blackwell.
Shaw, Martin. (2000) The Contemporary Mode of Warfare? Mary Kaldor’s Theory of New Wars. Review of International Political Economy 7:171-80.
Smyth, Marie; and Gillian Robinson. (2001) Researching Violently Divided Societies : Ethical and Methodological Issues. Tokyo ; New York: United Nations University Press ; London : Pluto Press.
Tausig, M. (2004) Culture of Terror – Space of Death: Roger Casement’s Putumayo Report and the Explanation of Terror In Violence in War and Peace : Edited by Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Philippe Bourgois, edited by Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Philippe I. Bourgois, pp. xv, 496 p. Oxford: Blackwell.
Tilly, Charles. (2000) Introduction: Violence Viewed and Reviewed. Social Research 67.
Wallensteen, Peter; and Margareta Sollenberg. (1998) Armed Conflict and Regional Conflict Complexes, 1989-97. Journal of Peace Research 35:621-34.
World Bank/DSF. (2009) Aceh Conflict Monitoring Update. World Bank/Decentralization Support Facility.

Week 5. Identity as source of conflict?
Identity in its various forms – ethnicity, nationalism, race, religion – has frequently been considered as the leading cause of conflict and instability. This weeks looks at the various theories which propose that identity and violent conflict are linked and asks how and when this is so. It asks what is meant by “identity” and whether it is a fixed or constructed category, and whether this matters.

Guiding Questions:
• What role has identity played in theories of CSD?
• How has identity become a mobilizing factor in conflict, and more specifically terrorism?
• Is identity constructed?
• Has development practice constructed “the victim” as an identity?
• Is there a difference between religion and ethnicity?

Essential Readings:
Fearon, James D., D Laitin. (2000) Violence and the Social Construction of Ethnic Identity. International Organization 54.
Kalyvas, Stathis N. (2002) The Ontology of Political Violence: Action and Identity in Civil Wars. Perspectives on Politics 1:475-94.
Khotari, Ammina (2010) “The Framing of the Darfur Conflict in the New York Times:2003-2006” Journalism Studies Vol 11(2):209-224.
Stewart, Francis. (2009) Religion Versus Ethnicity as a Source of Mobilisation: Are There Differences? Oxford: CRISE.
Young, Crawford. (2003) Explaining the Conflict Potential of Ethnicity. In Contemporary Peacemaking, edited by John Darby, Roger MacGinty. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Case Study: Bosnia
To get you started see: Susan Woodward’s Balkan Tragedy; Mary Kaldor’s New and Old Wars (sections on Bosnia); Laura Silber and Alan Little’s Death of Yugoslavia.

Additional Readings:
African Rights. (1994) Rwanda : Death, Despair and Defiance. London: African Rights.
Anderson, Benedict R. O’G. (1991) Imagined Communities : Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Rev. and extended ed. London: Verso.
Bennett, Christopher. (1995) Yugoslavia’s Bloody Collapse: Causes, Course and Consequence. New York: New York University Press.
Besancon, Marie L. (2005) Relative Resources: Inequality in Ethnic Wars, Revolutions and Genocides Journal of Peace Research 42.
Bhavnani, Ravi. (2006) Ethnic Norms and Interethnic Violence: Accounting for Mass Participation in the Rwandan Genocide. Journal of Peace Research 43:651-69.
Bowen, John. (1996) The Myth of Ethnic Conflict Journal of Democracy 7.
Burg, Steven L.; and Paul S. Shoup. (1999) The War in Bosnia-Herzegovina: Ethnic Conflict and International Intervention. Armonk: M.E. Sharp.
Campbell, David. (1998) Chapters 1 & 7. In National Deconstruction : Violence, Identity, and Justice in Bosnia, edited by David Campbell, pp. xv,304p. Minneapolis, Minn. ; London: University of Minneapolis Press.
Collett, Moya. (2006) Ivorian Identity Constructions: Ethnicity and Nationalism in the Prelude to Civil War. Nations and Nationalism 12.
Devare, Aparna. (2009) Secularizing Religion: Hindu Extremism as a Modernist Discourse. International Political Sociology 3:156-75.
Eldringham, Nigel. (2004) Accounting for Horror: Post Genocide Debates in Rwanda. Vancouver: Pluto Press.
Eller, J; and R Coughlan. (1993) The Poverty of Primordialism: The Demystification of Ethnic Attachments. Ethnic and Racial Studies 16.
Fearon, James D., D Laitin. (2000) Violence and the Social Construction of Ethnic Identity. International Organization 54.
Fearon, James D.; and David D. Laitin. (2003) Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War. American Political Science Review 97:75-90.
Gurr, Ted Robert. (1993) Minorities at Risk : A Global View of Ethnopolitical Conflicts. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press.
Hoffman, Bruce. (2006) Inside Terrorism. Rev. and expanded ed. New York: Columbia University Press.
Huntington, S. P. (1993) The Clash of Civilizations? Foreign affairs 72:22-49.
Kaldor, Mary. (2007) Chapter 3. In Human Security, edited by Mary Kaldor, pp. ix, 228 p. Cambridge: Polity.
Kalyvas, Stathis N. (2001) ‘New’ and ‘Old’ Civil Wars: A Valid Distinction? World Politics 54:99-118.
Kaufman, Stuart J. (2001) Chapter 1 – Stories About Ethnic War and Chapter 2 – the Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War. In The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War, edited by Stuart J. Kaufman. New York: Cornell University Press.
Lake, David A.; and Donald Rothchild. (1996) Containing Fear: The Origins and Management of Ethnic Conflict. International Security 21.
Mamdani, Mahmood. (2002) When Victims Become Killers : Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda. Princeton, N.J. ; Oxford: Princeton University Press.
Mann, Michael. (2005) Chapter 1 – the Argument In The Dark Side of Democracy : Explaining Ethnic Cleansing, edited by Michael Mann, pp. x, 580 p. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mueller, John. (2000) The Banality of Ethnic War. International Security 25.
Sageman, Marc. (2008) Leaderless Jihad : Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century. Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press ; Bristol : University Presses Marketing [distributor].
Tilly, Charles. (2003) The Politics of Collective Violence. Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Turton, David. (1997) War and Ethnicity : Global Connections and Local Violence. Studies on the Nature of War. Rochester, N.Y.: University of Rochester Press.
Walker, Brian M. (2007) Ancient Enmities and Modern Conflict: History and Politics in Modern Ireland. Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 13.

Week 6. Economic sources of conflict?
The occurrence of violent conflict is often attributed to economic factors. This week provides a introduction to the various approaches to the topic. Specifically it looks at (i) natural resources as cause of conflict (ii) the political economy of war and (iii) globalization & trade as source of conflict. The majority of the focus will be on the first two, as we will return to the third in more depth in Part III of the course.

Guiding Questions:
• Do natural resources cause conflict? In scarcity or abundance? Is war a resource?
• What role does the “grey economy” play in conflict and peace?
• Is the “greed vs. grievance” framework useful?
• Do root causes matter?

Essential Readings:
Andreas, Peter. (2004) ‘The Clandestine Political Economy of War and Peace in Bosnia’ in International Studies Quarterly 48:29-51.
Cramer, Christopher (2006) Pp. 108-138 in Civil Wa r is not a Stupid Thing
Le Billon, Philippe. (2007) Geographies of War: Perspectives on ‘Resource Wars’. Geography Compass 1:163-82.
Murshed, Syed Mansoob and Mohammad Zulfan Tadjoeddin. (2009) ‘Revisiting the Greed and Grievance Explanations for Violent Conflict’ in Journal of International Development Vol 21:87-111.
Woodward, Susan L. (2007) “Do the Root Causes of Civil War Matter” Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding Vol 1(2): 143-170.

…and if you want to see where the controversy started Collier, Paul and Anke Hoeffler (2004) “Greed and Grievance in Civil War” OEP Vol.56:563-595.

Case Study: West Africa
To get started see…Will Reno’s Warlord Politics and African States; Collier et al.’s Understanding Civil War Volume 1: Africa (on order); Philippe LeBillon (2003) “The Political Ecology of War and Resource Exploitation” Studies in Political Economy Vol 70(Spring):59-95.

Additional Resources:
Aspinall, Edward. (2009) Combatants to Contractors: The Political Economy of Peace in Aceh. Indonesia 87:1-34.

Aspinall, Edward. (2007) The Construction of Grievance: Natural Resources and Identity in a Separatist Conflict. Journal of Conflict Resolution 51:950-72.
Ballentine, Karen; and Heiko Nitzschke. (2004) Profiting from Peace : Managing the Resource Dimensions of Civil War. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner.
Bannon, Ian; and Paul Collier. (2003) Natural Resources and Violent Conflict : Options and Actions. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
Berdal, Mats; and David Keen. (1997) Violence and Economic Agendas in Civil Wars. Millennium – Journal of International Studies 26.
Boas, Morton. (2001) Liberia and Sierra Leone – Deadringers? The Logic of Neo-Patrimonial Rule. Third World Quarterly 22.
Collier, Paul. (2000) Doing Well out of War: An Economic Perspective. In Greed and Grievance: Economic Agendas in Civil Wars, edited by Mats Berdal and David Malone. Boulder: Lynne Reinner.
Cramer, Christopher Dr. (2002) Homo Economicus Goes to War: Methodological Individualism, Rational Choice and the Political Economy of War. World Development 30.
Deudney, Daniel. (1990) The Case against Linking Environmental Degradation and National Security. Millennium – Journal of International Studies 19.
Diamond, Jared M. (2005) Collapse : How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive. London: Allen Lane.
Duffield, Mark. (1998) Post-Modern Conflict: Warlords, Post-Adjustment States and Private Protection. Civil Wars 1.
———. (2000) Globalization, Transborder Trade and War Economies. In Greed and Grievance : Economic Agendas in Civil Wars, edited by Mats R. Berdal and David M. Malone. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
Felbab-Brown, Vanda. (2006) Kicking the Opium Habit? Afghanistan’s Drug Economy and Politics since the 1980s. Conflict, Security & Development 6.
Ferguson, James. (2005) Seeing Like an Oil Company: Space, Security, and Global Capital in Neoliberal Africa. American Anthropologist 107:377-82.
Giustozzi, Antonio. (2007) War and Peace Economies of Afghanistan’s Strong Men. International Peacekeeping 14.
Goodhand, Jonathan. (2003) Enduring Disorder and Persistent Poverty: A Review of the Linkages between War and Chronic Poverty. World Development 31.
Haugh, W.; and T. Ellingsen. (1998) Beyond Environmental Scarcity: Causal Pathways to Conflict. Journal of Peace Research 35.
Hirsch, John L. (2001) War in Sierra Leone. Survival 43.
Homer-Dixon, Thomas F. (1999) Environment, Scarcity, and Violence. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
———. (1999) Environmental Scarcity and Violence. Princeton University Press.
Kalyvas, Stathis N. (2001) ‘New’ and ‘Old’ Civil Wars: A Valid Distinction? World Politics 54:99-118.
Karl, Terry. (1997) Paradox of Plenty: Oil Booms and Petrol States. Berkeley: University of California.
Keen, David. (1997) A Rational Kind of Madness. Oxford Development Studies 25.
———. (2008) Chapters 2 & 3 In Complex Emergencies, edited by David Keen, pp. viii, 293 p. Cambridge: Polity.
Kolko, Gabriel. (1994) Century of War : Politics, Conflicts, and Society since 1914. New York: New Press.
Krueger, Alan B. (2008) What Makes a Terrorist : Economics and the Roots of Terrorism. Princeton, N.J. ; Woodstock: Princeton University Press.
Le Billon, Philippe. (2000) The Political Economy of War : What Relief Agencies Need to Know. London: Humanitarian Practice Network.
———. (2000) The Political Economy of War : An Annotated Bibliography. Overseas Development Institute, Humanitarian Policy Group.
———. (2001) Fuelling War or Buying Peace : The Role of Corruption in Conflicts. Wider Discussion Paper, 1609-5774. Helsinki: UNU World Institute for Development Economics Research.
———. (2005) Geopolitics of Resource Wars : Resource Dependence, Governance and Violence. Cass Studies in Geopolitics, 1466-7940. London: Frank Cass.
———. (2005) Fuelling War: Natural Resources and Armed Conflict. In Adelphi Papers. London: IISS.
Malaquias, Assis. (2001) Diamonds Are a Guerillas Best Friend: The Impact of Illicit Wealth on Insurgency Strategy. Third World Quarterly 22.
Marten, Kimberly. (2006-7) Warlordism in Comparative Perspective. International Security 31.
Nordstrom, Carolyn. (2004) Shadows of War : Violence, Power, and International Profiteering in the Twenty-First Century. California Series in Public Anthropology. Berkeley: University of California Press.
OECD DAC. (2008) Introduction and Chapter 1 In Resource Flows to Fragile and Conflict-Affected States, edited by OECD DAC. Paris: OECD DAC.
Regan, Patrick M. (2005) Green, Grievance and Mobilization in Civil Wars. Journal of Conflict Resolution 49.
Reno, William. (2000) Shadow States and the Political Economy of Civil Wars. In Greed and Grievance: Economic Agendas in Civil Wars, edited by Mats Berdal and David Malone. Boulder: Lynne Reiner.
Ross, Mark. (2004) How Does Natural Resource Wealth Influence Civil Wars? Evidence from 13 Cases. International Organization.
Ross, Michael L. (2004) What Do We Know About Natural Resources and Civil War. Journal of Peace Research 4.
Selby, Jan. (2003) Water, Power and Politics in the Middle East : The Other Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Library of Modern Middle East Studies. London: I. B. Tauris.
———. (2005) The Geopolitics of Water in the Middle East: Fantasies and Realities. Third World Quarterly 26:329-49.
Sen, Amartya. (2008) Violence, Identity and Poverty. Journal of Peace Research 45.
Stewart, Frances; and E. V. K. Fitzgerald. (2001) War and Underdevelopment. Volume 1, the Economic and Social Consequences of Conflict. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Suhrke, Astri. (1994) Environmental Degradation and Populations Flows. Journal of International Affairs 47.
UNEP. (2007) Sudan: Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment
Vinci, Anthony. (2006) Greed-Grievance Reconsidered: The Role of Power and Survival in the Motivation of Armed Groups. Civil Wars 8.
Walter, Barbara F. (2004) Does Conflict Begat Conflict? Explaining Recurring Civil War. Journal of Peace Research 41.
Walton, John; and Seddon David. Free Markets & Food Riots. OXFORD: BLACKWELL (1994) P. 1-22.
Zack-Williams, Alfred B. (1999) Sierra Leone: The Political Economy of Civil War 1991-98. Third World Quarterly 20.

Week 7: Essay Preparation Workshop
This class will brief you on what is expected from your end of term essay, introduce you to common mistakes and give you peer-to-peer feedback on your essay outline. You will need to bring copies of your outline to class. Please read Annex 2 for details.

Part III: Considering the Solutions

This third part of the course steps back from the contemporary CSD problematique in order to interrogate its underlying assumptions regarding development, war, security, and international relations. It does so through an examination of 3 contemporary approaches to CSD.

Week 8. Who’s responsibility to protect? Defining State Failure and Refining State-building

Problems of violent conflict and insecurity are commonly blamed on the condition of the state in question be it “weak”, “failed” or “fragile”. This week looks at how the discourse of state failure has evolved, and with it, the practice of “statebuilding”. It examines what constitutes a “state” and how this differs from a nation; the ubiquity of “institution building” in international assistance and the associated ideas of “good” and “democratic” governance. It interrogates the emerging benchmarks such as elections and the underlying normative consensus of what constitutes a legitimate state.

Guiding questions:
• When has a state failed? According to whom?
• Should non-democratic governance arrangements be considered as legitimate? Whose responsibility is it to protect?
• Can state building be separated from peace building? From nation building? Can states be built or do they need to evolve?
• Do current theories of state-building underplay the historic role played by violence in the state building process?
• If it’s all about micro-politics, where is the room for the state?

Essential Reading:
Brooks, Rosa Ehrenreich (2005) “Failed States, or the State as Failure” University of Chicago Law Review Vol 72(4): 1159-1196.
Call, Charles T. (2010) “Beyond the ‘failed state’: Toward conceptual alternatives” EJIR Vol 20(10): 1-24.
Jackson, Robert. (1990) Chapter 1 in Quasi-States: Sovereignty, IR and the Third World Cambridge: CUP.
Paris, Roland. (2010) “Saving liberal peacebuilding” Review of International Studies Vol 36:337-365
Tilly, Charles. (1990) Chapter 4 in Coercion, Capital, and European States, A.D.990-1990. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Also have a look at
DFID. (2009) Building the State and Securing the Peace. London: DFID available at http://www.gsdrc.org/docs/open/CON64.pdf (accessed August 11, 2010)
International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect at http://www.responsibilitytoprotect.org/ (accessed August 11, 2010)

Case Study: East Timor
To get you started see chapters in Jennifer Milliken’s State failure, collapse and reconstruction; Dominic Zaum’s The Sovereignty Paradox and Roland Paris’ At War’s End

Additional Readings:
Barnett, Michael. (1997) Bringing in the New World Order: Liberalism, Legitimacy and the United Nations. World Politics 49.
Barnett, Michael N.; and Raymond Duvall. (2005) Power in Global Governance. Cambridge Studies in International Relations: Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2005.
Beck, Ulrich. Neither Order nor Peace. Common Knowledge 11:1-11.
Call, Charles; and Vanessa Wyeth. (2008) Building States to Build Peace. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner ; London : Eurospan [distributor].
Campbell, David. (1998) Chapters 1 & 7. In National Deconstruction : Violence, Identity, and Justice in Bosnia, edited by David Campbell, pp. xv,304p. Minneapolis, Minn. ; London: University of Minneapolis Press.
Carothers, Thomas. (2007) The Sequencing Fallacy. Journal of Democracy 18.
Chandler, David. (2006) Chapters 2 & 3 In Empire in Denial : The Politics of State-Building, edited by David Chandler, pp. xii, 221 p. London: Pluto.
Chesterman, Simon. (2004) Intro & Chapter 4 In You, the People : The United Nations, Transitional Administration, and State-Building. Simon Chesterman, edited by Simon Chesterman, pp. xx, 296 p. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.
Chetail, Vincent. (2009) Post-Conflict Peacebuilding : A Lexicon. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Collier, Paul. (2009) Wars, Guns, and Votes : Democracy in Dangerous Places. London: Bodley Head.
Debrix, Francois. (1999) Re-Envisioning Peacekeeping : The United Nations and the Mobilization of Ideology. Borderlines. Minneapolis, Minn. ; London: University of Minnesota Press.
Dobbins, James. (2004) The U.N.’S Role in Nation Building: From the Belgium Congo to Iraq. Survival 46:81-102.
Englebert, Pierre; and Denis M. Tull. (2008) Postconflict Reconstruction in Africa: Flawed Ideas About Failed States. International Security 32:106-39.
Finkelstein, Lawrence S. (1995) What Is Global Governance? . Global Governance 1.
Hay, Colin, Michale Lister, David Marsh. (2006) The State: Theories and Issues. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hurd, Ian. (1999) Legitimacy and Authority in International Politics. International Organization 53.
International Crisis Group. 2008. Crisis Group, the Responsibility to Protect (R2p),
and Sri Lanka. http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=5421
Jackson, Robert. (2004) International Engagement in War-Torn Countries. Global Governance 10:21-36.
Jahn, Beate. (2007) The Tragedy of Liberal Diplomacy: Democratization, Intervention, Statebuilding (Part I). Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 1:87-106.
———. (2007) The Tragedy of Liberal Diplomacy: Democratization, Intervention, Statebuilding (Part Ii). Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 1:211-29.
Jones, Branwen Gruffydd (2008) “The Global Political Economy of Social Crisis: Towards a critique of the ‘failed state’ ideology” Review of International Political Economy Vol. 15(2):180-205l.
Kant, Immanuel. (1990) Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch. In Political Writings, edited by Immanuel Kant and Hans Reiss, p. [288] p. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kaplan, Seth (2010) “Rethinking State-building in a Failed State” The Washington Quarterly Vol 33(1):81-97.
Latour, Bruno. Whose Cosmos, Which Cosmopolitics? Common Knowledge 10:450-62.
Le Billion, Philippe (2008) “Corrupting Peace? Peacebuilding and Post-conflict Corruption” International Peacekeeping Vol 15(3):344-361
Milliken, Jennifer. (2003) State Failure, Collapse and Reconstruction. Development and Change Book Series. Oxford: Blackwell.
OECD DAC. (2007) Principles for Good International Engagement in Fragile States and Situations. Paris: OECD DAC.
———. (2008) Introduction and Chapter 1 In Resource Flows to Fragile and Conflict-Affected States, edited by OECD DAC. Paris: OECD DAC.
———. (2009) Preventing Violence, War and State Collapse: The Future of Conflict Early Warning and Response.
Paris, Roland. (2000) Broadening the Study of Peace Operations. International Studies Review 2:27-44.
———. (2006) At War’s End: Building Peace after Civil Conflict. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Pouligny, Béatrice,Simon Chesterman; and Albrecht Schnabel. (2007) After Mass Crime : Rebuilding States and Communities. Tokyo: United Nations University Press.
Reno, William. (2004) The Privitization of Sovereignty and the Survival of Weak States In Privatizing the States, edited by Beatrice Hibou. London: Hirst.
Richmond, Oliver P. (2008) “Reclaiming Peace in International Relations” Millennium Vol 36:439-470.
Richmond, Oliver P. and Jason Franks (2009) Liberal Peace Transitions: Between Statebuilding and Peacebuilding. Edinburgh: EUP. (good case studies – book is on order)
Roodman, David. (2007) Macro Aid Effectiveness Research: A Guide for the Perplexed. In Working Paper: Center for Global Development.
Rotberg, Robert I. (2002) “The new nature of the nation state discourse” Washington Quarterly Vol. 25(3).
Smillie, Ian. (1997) NGOs and Development Assistance: A Change in Mind-Set? Third World Quarterly 18:563-77.
Trudeau, Dan and Luisa Veronais (2009) “Enacting State Restructuring: NGOs as ‘translation mechanisms’ EPD: Society and Space Vol 27(6):1117-1134.
Vincent, Andrew. (1987) Theories of the State. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Walls, Michael (2009) “The Emergence of a Somali State: Building Peace From Civil War in Somaliland” in African Affairs pp. 1-19.
Zizek, Slavoj. (2008) Chapter 5 – Tolerance as an Ideological Category. In Violence, edited by Slavoj Zizek. London: Profile Books

Week 9: Conflict is elsewhere – the construction of the “third world”; and the changing dynamics of aid

This week looks at the construction of geographical and functional categories associated with the practice of “international development assistance”. In particular it draws upon post-colonial critiques of the construction of the “third world” and frameworks and campaigns such as “structural adjustment”, “poverty eradication”, the “Millennium Development Goals” as conditions which are external and “Other” to a developed Global North. It examines how these paradigms are(n)’t being challenging by the rise of so-called ‘emerging donors’

Guiding Questions:
• What is the “third world” and how is it constructed? How has it, in turn constructed the “First World”
• Is CSD a “North-South” issue? How is this changing?
• What does the behaviour of ‘emerging donors’ tell us about the nature of development cooperation?
• What place do conflict and security concerns play in the ‘emerging donors’ agenda.

Essential Readings:
Adelman, Carol (2009) “Global Philanthropy and Remittances: Reinventing Foreign Aid” Brown Journal of World Affairs Vol 15(2):23-33.
Ayoob, Mohammed. (2004) Third World Perspectives on Humanitarian Intervention and International Administration. Global Governance 10:99-118.
Escobar, Arturo. (1994) Chapter 2 in Encountering Development : The Making and Unmaking of the Third World. Princeton Studies in Culture/Power/History. Princeton, N.J. ; Chichester: Princeton University Press.
Kapoor, Ilan (2008) Chapter 5 in The Postcolonial Politics of Development Oxon: Routledge.

PLUS two of the following depending on your interest:
Mawsdley, Emma and Gerard McCann (2010) “The Elephant in the Corner? Reviewing India-Africa Relations in the New Millennium” Geography Compass Vol 4(2):81-93
Raposo, Pedro Amakasu and David M. Potter (2010) “Chinese and Japanese development co-operation: South-South, North-South, or what?” Journal of Contemporary African Studies Vol 28(2):177-202.
White, Lyal (2010) “Understanding Brazil’s new drive for Africa” South African Journal of International Affairs Vol 17(2):221-242

Case Study: China in Africa
To get you started read Brautigam, Deborah (2010) China, Africa and the International Aid Architecture ABD Working Paper Series No. 107; Alden, Chris (2005) “China in Africa” Survival Vol. 47(3):147-164.; Brautigam, Deborah (2009) The dragon’s gift the real story of China in Africa Oxford: OUP.

Additional Readings:
Alesina, Alberto; and David Dollar. (2000) Who Gives Foreign Aid to Whom and Why? Journal of Economic Growth 5:33-63.
Alden, Chris (2005) “China in Africa” Survival Vol. 47(3):147-164.
Ayoob, Mohammed. (1995) The Third World Security Predicament : State Making, Regional Conflict, and the International System. Emerging Global Issues. Boulder, Colo. ; London: Lynne Rienner.
Bankoff, Gregory. (2001) Rendering the World Unsafe: ‘Vulnerability’ as Western Discourse. Disasters 25:19-35.
Brautigam, Deborah (2010) China, Africa and the International Aid Architecture ABD Working Paper Series No. 107
Brautigam, Deborah (2009) The dragon’s gift the real story of China in Africa Oxford: OUP.
Brenner, N. (1998) Between Fixity and Motion: Accumulation, Territorial Organization, and the Historical Geography of Spatial Scales. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 16:459-81.
Cole, Alyson Manda. (2007) The Cult of True Victimhood : From the War on Welfare to the War on Terror. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.
Dahlman, Carl and Gerard Toal. (2005) Broken Bosnia: The Localization of Geopolitics of Displacement and Return in Two Bosnian Places. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 95:644-62.
Doty, Roxanne Lynn. (1996) Imperial Encounters : The Politics of Representation in North-South Relations. Borderlines. Minneapolis ; London: University of Minnesota Press.
Duvall, S. (2007) “Ambassador Mom”: Angelina Jolie, Celebrity Activism, and Institutional Power. In Annual Meeting of the International Communication Association. San Francisco, CA.
Edkins, Jenny. (2000) Sovereign Power, Zones of Indistinction and the Camp. Alternatives 25:3-25.
Elden, Stuart. (2006) Spaces of Humanitarian Exception. Geografiska Annaler, Series B 88:477-85.
Fanon, Frantz; and Constance Farrington. (1969) The Wretched of the Earth. Penguin Books ; No. 2674. Reprinted ed. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Ferguson, James. (2006) Global Shadows : Africa in the Neoliberal World Order. Durham, N.C. ; London: Duke University Press ;.
Ferguson, James and Akhil Gupta. (2005) Chapter 4 – Spatializing States. In Anthropologies of Modernity edited by Jonathan Xavier Inda. Oxford: Blackwell.
Hinton, Alexander Laban; and Kevin Lewis O’Neill. (2009) Genocide : Truth, Memory, and Representation. Durham [NC] ; London: Duke University Press.
Hodge, Joseph Morgan. (2007) Triumph of the Expert : Agrarian Doctrines of Development and the Legacies of British Colonialism. Ohio University Press Series in Ecology and History. Athens: Ohio University Press.
Hughes, Caroline; and Vanessa Pupavac. (2005) Framing Post-Conflict Societies: International Pathologisation of Cambodia and the Post-Yugoslav States. Third World Quarterly 26:873-89.
Hughes, Rachel. (2007) Through the Looking Blast: Geopolitics and Visual Culture. Geography Compass 1:976-94.
Hyndman, Jennifer. (2000) Managing Displacement : Refugees and the Politics of Humanitarianism. Minneapolis ; London: University of Minnesota Press.
Inayatullah, Naeem and David L. Blaney. (2004) International Relations and the Problem of Difference. New York: Routledge.
Jeffrey, Alex. (2007) The Geopolitical Framing of Localized Struggles: NGOs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Development and Change 38:251-74.
Kothari, U. (2005) Authority and Expertise: The Professionalisation and the Ordering of Dissent. Antipode:425-46.
Kothari, Uma. (2006) Spatial Practices and Imaginaries: Experiences of Colonial Officers and Development Professionals. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 27:235-53.
Lambert, David and Alan Lester. (2004) Geographies of Colonial Philanthropy. Progress in Human Geography 28:320-41.
Landau, Loren B. (2006) Immigration and the State of Exception: Security and Sovereignty in East and Southern Africa. Millennium – Journal of International Studies 34:325-48.
Low, Setha M. (2001) The Edge and the Center: Gated Communities and the Discourse of Urban Fear. American Anthropologist 103:45-58.
Mabee, Bryan. (2009) Chapter 5. In The Globalization of Security : State Power, Security Provision and Legitimacy, edited by Bryan Mabee, pp. viii, 205 p. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Malkki, Liisa H. (1996) Speechless Emissaries: Refugees, Humanitarianism, and Dehistoricization. Cultural Anthropology 11:377-404.
Mamdani, Mahmood. (2007) The Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency. In London Review of Books. London.
McKinnon, Katharine. (2007) Postdevelopment, Professionalism, and the Politics of Participation. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 97:772-85.
McQueen, Carol (2005) Humanitarian Intervention and Safety Zones: Iraq, Bosnia, and Rwanda. Rethinking Peace and Conflict Studies Palgrave Macmillan.
Mitchell, Timothy. (2002) Rule of Experts : Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity. Berkeley, Calif. ; London: University of California Press.
Moeller, Susan D. (1999) Compassion Fatigue : How the Media Sell Disease, Famine, War, and Death. New York ; London: Routledge.
Moulin, Carolina, and Peter Nyers. (2007) “We Live in a Country of UNHCR” – Refugee Protests and Global Political Society. International Political Sociology 1:357-72.
Perkins, Richard and; and Eric Neumayer. (2008) Extra-Territorial Interventions in Conflict Spaces: Explaining the Geographies of Post-Cold War Peacekeeping. Political Geography.
Rozario, Kevin. (2003) “Delicious Horrors”: Mass Culture, the Red Cross, and the Appeal of Modern American Humanitarianism. American Quarterly 55:417.
Said, Edward W. (1995)Orientalism. Penguin History. Repr. with a new afterword. ed. London: Penguin.
Scott, David. (2005) Chapter 1 – Colonial Governmentality. In Anthropologies of Modernity edited by Jonathan Xavier Inda. Oxford: Blackwell.
Scott, James C. (1985) Weapons of the Weak : Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance. New Haven ; London: Yale University Press.
Selby, J. (2002) Dressing up Domination As “Cooperation”: The Case of Israeli-Palestinian Water Relations. Review of International Studies 29:121-38.
Slater, David. (1997) Geopolitical Imaginations across the North-South Divide: Issues of Difference, Development and Power. Political Geography 16:631-53.
Smillie, Ian. (2001) Patronage or Partnership : Local Capacity Building in Humanitarian Crises. Bloomfield, Conn.: Kumarian Dress.
Sylvester, Christine. (2006) Bare Life as a Development/Post-Colonial Problematic. The Geographic Journal 172:66-77.
Wacquant, Loic J. D. (2008) Urban Outcasts : A Comparative Sociology of Advanced Marginality. Cambridge: Polity.
Walker, RBJ. (1997) The Subject of Security. In Critical Security Studies : Concepts and Cases, edited by Keith Krause and Michael C. Williams, pp. xxiv, 379p. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Week 10: Aid as part of the problem?
From humanitarian assistance to peace-keeping to development and financial assistance, international aid is presented as the solution to underdevelopment, conflict and insecurity. However increasingly, aid is seen as problematic for a series of reasons. As we have seen, at the macro level, the structures of international assistance may be seen as both creating and reinforcing power imbalances between the Global North and South. At the micro level, the resource of aid and its various externalities may contribute to changing the societal dynamic in a way which increases the propensity for conflict or protracts existing ones.

This week will review these arguments and look at recent trends in CSD which have seen the introduction and evolution of development to incorporate security concerns. On the one hand, the “human security agenda” has expanded the idea of “security” into traditionally non-securitized aspects of assistance such as poverty reduction and education. Simultaneously, on the other hand, the expansion of military operations into areas such as rural reconstruction in Afghanistan and the increased use of civil-military partnerships has brought military actors into the domain traditionally occupied by aid agencies. This week looks at these trends and asks what is the future of CSD? It brings our discussions full circle by examining the approaches to counter-insurgency currently being used by Western forces in Afghanistan – methods which are strikingly similar to those which have been used by development practitioners over the last two decades.

Guiding Questions:
• What is the Human Security Agenda? Has it changed development assistance?
• Have understandings of security changed over the last century? For whom?
• Can humanitarian and military organizations work together? Does it affect the safety of aid workers?
• Does the provision of aid make conflict/insecurity more or less likely in a given society? How so?
• How does the organizational culture/approaches of humanitarianism frame discussions of CSD and effect outcomes?

Essential Readings:
Anderson, Mary B. (1999) Chapter 5 in Do No Harm : How Aid Can Support Peace–or War, edited by Mary B. Anderson. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
Duffield, Mark R. (2007) Chapter 5 – Human Security and Global Danger In Development, Security and Unending War : Governing the World of Peoples, edited by Mark R. Duffield, pp. xii, 266 p. Cambridge: Polity.
Easterly, William. (2002) The Cartel of Good Intentions: The Problem of Bureaucracy in Foreign Aid Policy Reform 5:223-50.
Fast, Larissa A. (2010) “Mind the Gap: Documenting and explaining violence against aid workers” EJIR Vol 20(10):1-25.
Lischer, Sarah Kenyon. (2007) Military Intervention and the Humanitarian “Force Multiplier”. Global Governance 13:99-118.
Marriage, Zoe (2010) “Congo Co: aid and security” Conflict, Security and Development Vol 10(3):353-377

Case Study: Afghanistan in the context of British Development Policy
Have a look at news reports and websites such as The UK’s Stabilisation Unit http://www.stabilisationunit.gov.uk/ and statements by DFID and the Ministry of Defense.

Additional Readings (policy documents):
Human Security Center. 2005. Human Security Report 2005: War and Peace in the 21st Century http://www.humansecurityreport.org/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=28&Itemid=63
The UK Approach to Stabilisation (2008) UK Stabilisation Unit http://www.stabilisationunit.gov.uk/index.php/about-us/key-documents/62-stabilisation-guides/105-stabilisation-guidance-note-executive-summary (accessed August 11, 2010)
UNDP Human Security Report (1994) http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr1994/chapters/ (accessed August 12, 2010)
US Army (2006) Counterinsurgency. http://www.usgcoin.org/library/doctrine/COIN-FM3-24.pdf

Additional Readings (on the problems with aid):
Andreas, Peter (2009) “Symbiosis Between Peace Operations and Illicit Business in Bosnia” International Peacekeeping Vol. 16(1):33-46.
Bebbington, A.; and U. Kothari. (2006) Transnational Development Networks. Environment and Planning A 38:849-66.
Berrios, Ruben. (2000) Contracting for Development : The Role of for-Profit Contractors in U.S. Foreign Development Assistance. Westport, Conn: Praeger.
Brinkley, Joel. April 8, 2006 “Give Rebuilding Lower Priority in Future Wars”. New York Times.
Campbell, David. (1999) Apartheid Cartography: The Political Anthropology and Spatial Effects of International Diplomacy in Bosnia. Political Geography 18:395-435.
Carnahan, Michael,William Durch; and Scott Gilmore. (2006) Economic Impact of Peacekeeping. Peace Dividend Trust.
Cooley, Alexander; and James Ron. (2002) The NGO Scramble: Organizational Insecurity and the Political Economy of Transnational Action. International Security 27:5-39.
Cronin, Bruce; and Ian Hurd. (2008) The UN Security Council and the Politics of International Authority. Security and Governance. London: Routledge.
CSIS, Association of the US Army (2002) Post-Conflict Reconstruction Task Framework. CSIS and Association of the US Army
Drury, A. Cooper,Richard Stuart Olson; and Douglas A. Van Belle. (2005) The Politics of Humanitarian Aid: U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, 1964 – 1995. Journal of Politics 67:454-73.
Easterly, William Russell. (2006) The White Man’s Burden : Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Eide, Espen Barth,Anja Therese Kaspersen,Randolph C. Kent; and Karen von Hippel. (2005) Report on Integrated Missions: Practical Perspectives and Recommendations
Feinstein International Famine Center, and International Alert. (2001) The Politicisation of Humanitarian Action and Staff Security: The Use of Private Security Companies by Humanitarian Agencies. In The Politicisation of Humanitarian Action and Staff Security: The Use of Private Security Companies by Humanitarian Agencies. Tufts University, Boston.
Ghosh, Amitav. (1994) The Global Reservation: Notes toward an Ethnography of International Peacekeeping. Cultural Anthropology 9:412-22.
Harmer, Adele; and Lin Cotterrell. (2005) Diversity in Donorship: The Changing Landscape of Official Humanitarian Aid. London: Overseas Development Institute.
Higate, Paul. (2007) Peacekeepers, Masculinities, and Sexual Exploitation. Men and Masculinities 10:99-119.
Higate, Paul; and Marsha Henry. (2004) Engendering (in)Security in Peace Support Operations. Security Dialogue 35:481-98.
Hoffman, Danny. (2004) The Civilian Target in Sierra Leone and Liberia: Political Power, Military Strategy, and Humanitarian Intervention. Afr Aff (Lond) 103:211-26.
Hoogvelt, Ankie. (2006) Globalization and Post-Modern Imperialism. Globalizations 3:159-74.
Keen, David. (2008) Chapter 6 – Aid In Complex Emergencies, edited by David Keen, pp. viii, 293 p. Cambridge: Polity.
Kennedy, David. (2004) The Dark Sides of Virtue : Reassessing International Humanitarianism. Princeton N.J. ; Oxford : Princeton University Press c2004.
Kenny, Sue. (2005) Reconstruction in Aceh: Building Whose Capacity? . Community Development Journal 42:206-21.
Kilcullen, David. (2009) The Accidental Guerrilla : Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.
Kothari, U. (2005) Authority and Expertise: The Professionalisation and the Ordering of Dissent. Antipode:425-46.
Kothari, Uma. (2006) Spatial Practices and Imaginaries: Experiences of Colonial Officers and Development Professionals. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 27:235-53.
Kuperman, Alan J. (2008) Mitigating the Moral Hazard of Humanitarian Intervention: Lessons from Economics. Global Governance 14:219-40.
Lepard, Brian D. (2002) Rethinking Humanitarian Intervention : A Fresh Approach Based on Fundamental Ethical Principles in International Law and World Religions. University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press ; London : Eurospan.
Lewis, I. M. . (2001) Why the Warlords Won. Times Literary Supplement.
Lipson, Michael. (2007) Peacekeeping: Organized Hypocrisy? European Journal of International Relations 13:5-34.
Lischer, Sarah Kenyon. (2003) Collateral Damage: Humanitarian Assistance as a Cause of Conflict. International Security 28:79-109.
Marriage, Zoe. (2006) Not Breaking the Rules, Not Playing the Game, International Assistance to Countries at War. London: Hurst & Co,; Palgrave & Macmillan.
McKinnon, Katharine. (2007) Postdevelopment, Professionalism, and the Politics of Participation. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 97:772-85.
Moyo, Dambisa. (2009) Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is Another Way for Africa. London: Allen Lane.
Noxolo, Patricia. (2006) Claims: A Postcolonial Geographical Critique of ‘Partnership’ in Britain’s Development Discourse. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 27:254-69.
OECD DAC. (2007) Principles for Good International Engagement in Fragile States and Situations. Paris: OECD DAC.
Pandolfi, Mariella. (2003) Contract of Mutual (in)Difference: Governance and the Humanitarian Apparatus in Contemporary Albania and Kosovo. Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 10:369-82.
Roodman, David. (2007) Macro Aid Effectiveness Research: A Guide for the Perplexed. In Working Paper: Center for Global Development.
Rozario, Kevin. (2003) “Delicious Horrors”: Mass Culture, the Red Cross, and the Appeal of Modern American Humanitarianism. American Quarterly 55:417.
Rubin, Barnett R. (2006) Peace Building and State-Building in Afghanistan: Constructing Sovereignty for Whose Security? Third World Quarterly 27:175-85.
Rubinstein, Robert A. (2005) Intervention and Culture: An Anthropological Approach to Peace Operations. Security Dialogue 36:527-44.
Slim, Hugo. (2004) How We Look: Hostile Perceptions of Humanitarian Action. In Conference on Humanitarian Coordination. Wilton Park Montreux.
Smirl, Lisa. (2008) Building the Other, Constructing Ourselves: Spatial Dimensions of International Humanitarian Response. International Political Sociology 2:236-53.
Spees, Pam. (2004) Gender, Justice and Accountability in Peace Support Operations London: International Alert.
Stoddard, Abby,Adele Harmer; and Victoria DiDomenico. (2008) The Use of Private Security Providers. London: Humanitarian Policy Group.
———. (2009) Private Security Contracting in Humanitarian Operations. London: Humanitarian Policy Group.
Templeman, Jon. (2008) Humanitarian Aid Politicized. In Policy Innovations: Carnegie Council
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2003) Sexual and Gender-Based Violence against Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Guidelines for Prevention and Response. Geneva: UNHCR.
Weiss, Thomas George; and Cindy Collins. (2000) Chapter 5 – Main Actors, Humanitarian Challenges and Intervention. Dilemmas in World Politics. 2nd ed. ed. Boulder, Colo. ; Oxford: Westview Press.
Whitworth, Sandra. (2004) Men, Militarism, and UN Peacekeeping : A Gendered Analysis. Critical Security Studies. Boulder, Colo. ; London: Lynne Rienner.

Additional Readings (on human security and the merging of development and military concerns):
Basaran, Tugba. (2008) Security, Law, Borders: Spaces of Exclusion. International Political Sociology 2:339-54.
Bauman, Zygmunt. (2000) Community : Seeking Safety in an Insecure World. Polity.
Bigo, Didier. (2006) Protection: Security, Territory and Population. In The Politics of Protection : Sites of Insecurity and Political Agency, edited by Jef Huysmans, Andrew Dobson and Raia Prokhovnik, pp. 84-100. London: Routledge.
Blakeley, Ruth. (2009) State Terrorism and Neoliberalism : The North in the South. London: Routledge.
Brahimi, Lakhdar. (2008) Towards a Culture of Security and Accountability. New York: United Nations.
Brinkley, Joel. April 8, 2006 “Give Rebuilding Lower Priority in Future Wars”. New York Times.
Burgess, J. Peter; and Taylor Owen. (2004) Security Dialogue: Special Issue on Human Security (Vol. 35; No. 3). pp. Articles 6 – 27.
Chandler, David. (2008) Theorising the Shift from Security to Insecurity – Kaldor, Duffield, Furedi. Conflict, Security & Development 8:265-76.
Duffield, Mark. (2001) Chapters 1, 2 & 5 Global Governance and the New Wars : The Merging of Development and Security. London: Zed.
Füredi, Frank. (2007) Invitation to Terror : The Expanding Empire of the Unknown. London: Continuum.
Hampson, Fen Osler; and Jean Daudelin. (2001) Madness in the Multitude : Human Security and World Disorder. Toronto, Ont. ; Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Harmer, Adele. (2008) Integrated Missions: A Threat to Humanitarian Security? International Peacekeeping 15:528-39.
House of Commons. (2009) Department of International Development: Operating in Insecure Environments. London: House of Commons.
Hyndman, Jennifer. (2007) The Securitization of Fear in Post-Tsunami Sri Lanka. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 97:361-72.
International Federal of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. (2007) Stay Safe: The International Federations Guide to a Safer Mission. Geneva: IFRC.
International Peace Institute. (2009) Global Terrorism: Task Forces on Strengthening Multilateral Security Capacity. In IPI Blue Papers: IPI.
Kaldor, Mary. (2007) Chapter 3. In Human Security, edited by Mary Kaldor, pp. ix, 228 p. Cambridge: Polity.
Lischer, Sarah Kenyon. (2007) Military Intervention and the Humanitarian “Force Multiplier”. Global Governance 13:99-118.
Low, Setha M. (2001) The Edge and the Center: Gated Communities and the Discourse of Urban Fear. American Anthropologist 103:45-58.
Nelson, Diane M. (2005) Chapter 9 – Life During Wartime. In Anthropologies of Modernity edited by Jonathan Xavier Inda. Oxford: Blackwell.
Pupuvac, Vanessa. (2005) Human Security and the Rise of Global Therapeutic Governance Conflict, Security & Development 5:161-81.
Report of the Secretary General. (2003) Safety and Security of Humanitarian Personnel and Protection of United Nations Personnel. edited by UN General Assembly. New York: United Nations.
Secretary General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. (2004) Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change
. New York: United Nations.
Sheik, Mani,Maria Isabel Gutierrez,Paul Bolton,Paul Speigel,Michel Thieren; and Gilbert Burnham. (2000) Deaths among Humanitarian Workers. British Medical Journal 321.
Slim, Hugo. (2003) Humanitarianism with Borders? NGOs, Belligerent Military Forces and Humanitarian Action. In ICVA Conference on NGOs in a Changing World Order: Dilemmas and Challenges. Geneva.
Smith, General Sir Rupert. (2006) The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World. London: Penguin.
Stoddard, Abby, Adele Harmer, Katherine Haver. (2006) Providing Aid in Insecure Environments: Trends in Policy and Operations. In Humanitarian Policy Group: Overseas Development Institute.
Stoddard, Abby,Adele Harmer; and Katherine Haver. (2009) Providing Aid in Insecure Environments: 2009 Update. In Humanitarian Policy Group: Overseas Development Institute.
Templeman, Jon. (2008) Humanitarian Aid Politicized. In Policy Innovations: Carnegie Council
US Army. (2006) Counterinsurgency.
Van Brabant, Koenraad. (1998) Cool Ground for Aid Providers: Towards Better Security Management in Aid Agencies. Disasters 22:109-25.
———. (2000) Operational Security Management in Violent Environments. In Good Practice Review, edited by ODI. London: HPN.
Vincenzo, Bollettino. (2008) Understanding the Security Management Practices of Humanitarian Organizations. Disasters 32:263-79.
Walker, RBJ. (1997) The Subject of Security. In Critical Security Studies : Concepts and Cases, edited by Keith Krause and Michael C. Williams, pp. xxiv, 379p. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
World Health Organisation. (2002) World Report on Violence and Health. edited by Etienne G Krug and et al. Geneva.
Yamashita, Hikaru. (2004) Humanitarian Space and International Politics : The Creation of Safe Areas. Aldershot ; Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

ANNEX 1

PRESENTATIONS

Groups: Will be announced on Study Direct by Week 2. They will be allocated according to student preferences for specific topics, as much as possible however, the convenor retains the right to make final decisions on group allocation according to international best practice.
Objective & Approach: The objective of the presentation is two fold. First, the group must introduce and familiarize the class to a given case study from within the ‘conflict, development, and security’ literature. Second, the group must critically assess the given case study through the theoretical theme of the given week.
Example: Analyze the recent conflict in South Kyrgyzstan from the perspective of environmental degradation.
This presentation might spend the first 5 minutes giving a brief overview of the conflict, security and development situation in South Kyrgyzstan, focusing on the most pertinent events: in this case, the recent ethnic clashes. It would then move on to demonstrating how theories of environmental degradation would explain these events. For example, climate change has led to a to a reduction of fertile land available for agriculture which has led to an increase in regional migration and demand for land which has broken down along ethnic lines leading to increased inter-ethnic tensions, as recently shown. The last few minutes of the presentation should be used to assess whether the group agrees with this theoretical framework and pointing out any problems or shortcomings that the framework misses. Example: Your team questions whether the ethnic categories used in the mainstream analysis of the conflict are applicable. You feel that they are constructed categories and the violence is the result of conflict over trade routes within the region rather than purely ethnically motivated.
Please note that the presentation should NOT spend time detailing the theoretical positions as these will be discussed in the initial part of the seminar and all students are expected to have done the theoretical readings before coming to class. The focus is on the application of these frameworks.
Format & Supporting Materials:
• Ideally, the group can email handouts and presentation to the convenor at least 24 hours before the presentation. The convenor will then post them on Study Direct and it is the responsibility of individual students to bring a print out to class
• Where this hadn’t been done, the group must provide handouts to the class.
• The content is up to the group, but it should cover the basic points and include a short bibliography of works consulted. It is up to the group to research the topic. There are ample articles available in the library and in the electronic journals on the case studies. Finding and synthesizing this material is part of the task. A ‘notes’ version of the power point presentation is appropriate however, groups may wish to include supplementary material.
• The group is encouraged to use visual aids – either through power point, keynote or overheads. Facilities for power point and overhead are available in most classrooms. Mac users will need to organize the electronic connectivity themselves. In all cases it is up to the group to ensure that they have sufficiently prepared the equipment beforehand so that the presentation runs smoothly.
• The group will have 20 minutes to present followed by 10 minutes of questions. Groups will have a 2 minutes warning. At 20 minutes groups must end their presentations even if they are not done or risk an automatic 10 mark penalty.
• It is up to the group how they divide up the presentation. Each member of the whether they all want to speak. Some people may have a talent for designing presentations, or for doing research rather than public speaking. However at least half the team must present verbally (all may do so if they wish) and those who have not presented must answer at least one question each following the presentation. The presentation must include a final slide which clearly details the roles and responsibilities of each member of the team.
• In the case of problems within the team – for example, one team member not turning up to planning meetings, or failing to do contribute fairly to the groups workload, please send me at email detailing the difficulty, and I will intervene to resolve the problem. Please note that it is not uncommon to have tensions within a group, and dealing with these in a constructive way is part of the task. Particularly in international settings, there will be occasions when you are working with people from very different backgrounds than your own. Being able to constructively negotiate this challenge will be an important part of the skill set that you develop over the course of this MA.

Written Component : To be submitted in class on the day of the presentation
• The class must submit a written portfolio to the convenor composed of:
o a one page description of the teams working method including when they met, who was present, how they decided upon roles, what difficulties they faced and how they resolved them
o All handouts
o A copy of the visual presentation
o A complete bibliography of works consulted, with the most useful works indicated in bold font

Marking Criteria:
1. Substance:
• How well does the presentation identify and present the relevant aspects of the case study?
• How well does the presentation apply the theoretical framework to the case study?
• Has the group identified appropriate literature?
• How have they used this literature? Have they merely described it or have they presented it in a way which demonstrates critical analysis
• Is the team able to answer the questions that are raised in a professional manner?
• Are the materials handed in clear and well written?

2. Presentation
• Is the verbal presentation succinct, clear and easy to understand?
• Is the information included relevant?
• How appropriate are the handouts?
• Are the visual aids and handouts clear and visually appealing? Do they complement or detract from the overall presentation?
• Does the team work together well? Have they fulfilled the criteria that all members contribute?
• Have they stayed within the allocated time?

Marking Criteria for Presentations

Descriptor AlphaScale %                             Criteria
Excellent  A+ 95 This category of marks is given for a flawless presentation both in terms of content and style.  It is of the standard that could be presented in front of a high level professional audience (for example, Chatham House) and should bring to the topic a novel and scintillating approach.  All team members will contribute to the overall presentation. It will stay within the time limit. Questions will be answered in a professional manner.
A    A-   9085 Such marks are given for an excellent or outstanding presentation. A presentation of this standard will exhibit excellent levels of knowledge, understanding and presentation skills comprising all the qualities stated above, with additional elements of originality and flair. It will exhibit a critical engagement with the material presented and include independent argument regarding the theme, issue or topic being presented. It will be excellently presented in a fluent speaking style supported by excellent visual aids and handouts. All team members will contribute to the overall presentation. It will stay within the time limit. Questions will be answered in a professional manner.
Good B+BB- 807570 A mark in this range is indicative of a good or very good presentation. A presentation of this quality will show a good level of knowledge and understanding of the material covered. It will be well focussed, show evidence of very thoughtful preparation and a very clear comprehension of the material delivered. The material will be well structured, accurate, very coherently delivered and exhibit high level presentation and speaking skills well supported by good use of clear visual aids and handouts. All team members will contribute to the overall presentation. It will stay within the time limit. Questions will be answered in a professional manner.
Satisfactory C+CC- 656055 A mark in this range is indicative that the presentation is of a satisfactory to very satisfactory standard. A presentation of this quality will show clear knowledge and understanding of the material covered. It will be focused and show evidence of thoughtful preparation and clear comprehension of the material delivered. The material will be reasonably well structured, coherently presented and exhibit clear speaking skills supported by adequate use of clear visual aids and handouts. There may be some omission of relevant material or limited develop of a topic, theme or argument, it may contain minor factual errors and not all team members may have contributed.  It may be too long or too short.  Team members may have some difficulty dealing with questions from the audience.
Pass D +DD 504540 A mark in this range is indicative that the presentation meets the minimum standard expected. A presentation of this quality will show limited knowledge and understanding of the material covered. It will show evidence of some preparation and comprehension, but the presentation may be weakly organized and/or cover only a limited range of the relevant material. It may exhibit weak presentation or speaking skills, lack appropriate visual aids and/or handouts and may contain some significant factual errors. Some team members may not have contributed and it may be significantly too short or too long.
Fail E +E 3515 A mark in this range is indicative that the presentation is below, but at the upper end of the range is approaching, the minimum standard expected. It indicates a weak presentation below the minimum standard expected. This will be because either the presentation is too short, poorly organized, poorly structured and difficult to comprehend, or is poorly focused on the issue, topic or theme required. It will exhibit minimal knowledge or understanding of the material covered and may display very weak presentation or speaking skills, or contain substantial factual errors. Material may be missing.
F 0 Work not submitted.   Fail.

Annex 2:  Essay Outlines

 You should prepare a one page outline of your essay comprised of a research question (See Annex 2), basic outline and short bibliography for class in Week 7.  On that day, I will be holding an essay writing workshop where you will have the chance to review each others’ outlines, and provide feedback.

You will be asked to assess each others’ outlines according the following criteria.

  • Is the research question well formulated?
  • Is there a clear argument?
  • Is the structure logical and does it work to support the argument?
  • Is the bibliography appropriate?
  • Is the project viable in a 5000 word essay format?
  • What elements/issues need to be included for a well supported argument?
  • What pitfalls do you anticipate?

Based on these criteria you will assign a mark to the outline.  Marking sheets will be distributed in class.  Please bring 4 copies of your outline to class (one for you, one for 2 or your peers and one for me). You are strongly encouraged to organize a follow up meeting to discuss your outline with me before embarking on your final essay.

You should use these criteria when formulating your own outlines.  When submitting your final essay, please include a short paragraph, prior to the essay which describes how the feedback you received influenced your work.

Annex 3:

Sample Essay Topics

(please feel free to develop your own)

1. “Experience shows that helping states to become more responsive and supporting durable peace are both fundamental to making progress toward the MDGs.” Discuss.

2. Critique at least 2 of the OECD DAC “Principles for Good International Engagement in Fragile States and Situations” including a discussion of the emergence of the neologism “fragile states and situations”.

3.  A certain degree of corruption is beneficial to post-conflict peace processes. Discuss.

4. Is it possible for aid to “do no harm”?

5. Does migration challenge the established CSD paradigm?

6.  Does CSD contribute the construction of “the victim” as identity category?

7.  Is aid just a continuation of war by other means?

8.  Is development the new counter insurgency?

9.  Can peace building be seen as separate from nation building?

10.  Has humanitarianism changed the nature of war?

11.  Development is inseparable from conflict.  Discuss.

Annex 4:  Essay Marking Criteria

Descriptor AlphaScale %                             Criteria
Excellent  A+ 95 is awarded for work of exceptional quality based on a comprehensive knowledge of the chosen topic, a sustained high level of critical analysis combined with a genuine originality of approach. The essay or dissertation will be tightly argued, meticulously organised, extremely well documented and will approach, in principle, publishable standard.
A    A-   9085 is awarded when candidates show evidence of extensive relevant reading, a significant grasp of current major issues in the field and offer an original approach to their chosen topic. This knowledge will have been reviewed critically and with sufficient insight to challenge received ideas. The arguments will be clearly and persuasively put.
Good B+BB- 807570 is awarded when candidates show consistency and fluency in discussing and evaluating evidence and theories from a wide range of sources. They will demonstrate an ability to relate this reading to their chosen topic and will clearly have understood and assimilated the relevant literature. The argument will be clear and well structured.
Satisfactory C+CC- 656055 is awarded when there is clear evidence of  knowledge and understanding but where ideas, critical comment or methodology are under-developed or oversimplified. There may be room for significant improvement in the clarity and structure of the argument and although there will be appropriate reference to relevant reading, this may not be sufficiently extensive. Some irrelevancy may be present.
Pass D +DD 504540 This is a pass. It is awarded for work that exhibits some knowledge of the chosen topic, but displays weaknesses of understanding and thoroughness. Arguments will be weakly structured and important information and references may be lacking. There may be a considerable proportion that is irrelevant
Fail E +E 3515 This indicates a fail. It is awarded to work that is seriously flawed, displaying a lack of awareness of essential texts and incoherent arguments. The research involved may be poorly organised and inadequately discussed, offering a fundamentally inadequate response to the chosen topic. Large parts of the answer may be irrelevant
F 0 Work not submitted.   Fail.

Fighting in a Material World

“Fighting in a Material World: using and abusing the built environment” – draft MA option syllabus

Course Aims and Objectives:
Examine how the physical and material work is implicated in understanding and constructions of conflict, security and development.
Provide a historical perspective on contemporary geo-political categories.
Examine the evolving role of the built environment in securitization, politics and conflict
Introduce students to non-representational theory of affect, performativity and theories of the everyday with reference to historical and contemporary examples and applications

Week 1 – Introduction – Problematizing existing categories

Key themes:

  • Critical Geopolitics and the genealogy of the contemporary cartographic categories (Middle East; 1st, 2nd, 3rd world;  Underdeveloped/Developed)
  • The bounded nature of the nation state & borders; inside/outside; the myth of the nations state and extra-state territories.
  • Introduction to non-representational theory:  Critical Geopolitics, Affect, Performativity

Cases:  Global evolution of the state system

Exemplary sources:  (Barkawi 1999; Campbell 1998; Chandler 2008; Coward 2005; Dahlman 2005; Duffield 2007; Gregory 2004; Inayatullah 2004; Navaro-Yashin 2003; Thrift 2008)

SECTION A – BUILDING UP

Week 2 – Border zones, frontiers & the notion of the nation state

Key themes:

  • The role of the frontier in constructions of the nat