International Development Planning Review

Seeing like a donator: guiding communities into better lives in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami

International Development Planning Review (2014), 36, (3), 337–356.

Abstract

The paper provides an ethnographic insight into a privately initiated housing project conducted in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami in Southern Sri Lanka. Informed by Foucault's concept of governmentality, the aim is to understand how private donators attempt to shape the conduct of beneficiaries thereby governing their mentality through humanitarian aid and its techniques. Foremost the paper analyses the background in which donators create a framework to project their logic and vision to illustrate how their particular socialised knowledge and networks influence the project plan and implementation process. Thereby, most importantly, the paper analyses the way donators define and imagine ‘better lives’ for the recipients of their aid. Subsequently an insight is gained into how today's everyday community life appears in relation to the newly defined ‘modelled’ life.

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CHOULIARAKI, L. (2013), The Ironic Spectator: Solidarity in the Age of Post-Humanitarianism, Malden, Polity Press. The Ironic Spectator: Solidarity in the Age of Post-Humanitarianism Google Scholar

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DARLEY, G. (2007), Villages of Vision: A Study of Strange Utopias, Nottingham, Five Leaves Publications. Villages of Vision: A Study of Strange Utopias Google Scholar

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FLINT, M. and GOYDER, H. (2006), Funding the tsunami response, London, Tsunami Evaluation Coalition. Funding the tsunami response Google Scholar

FOUCAULT, M. (1982), ‘Afterword: The Subject and Power’, in Dreyfus, H. and Rabinow, P., Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics, 208-26. Google Scholar

FOUCAULT, M. (1991), ‘Governmentality’, in Burchell, G. et al. (eds), The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality, 87-104. Google Scholar

GUNARATNA, K. (2006), Spatial Concerns in Development: A Sri Lankan Perspective, Delhi, Atlantic Publishers. Spatial Concerns in Development: A Sri Lankan Perspective Google Scholar

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HYNDMAN, J. (2007), ‘The securitization of fear in post-tsunami Sri Lanka’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 97, 361-72. ‘The securitization of fear in post-tsunami Sri Lanka’ Annals of the Association of American Geographers 97 361 72 Google Scholar

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KORF, B. (2007), ‘Antinomies of generosity: Moral geographies and post-tsunami aid in South Asia’, Geoforum, 38, 366-78. ‘Antinomies of generosity: Moral geographies and post-tsunami aid in South Asia’ Geoforum 38 366 78 Google Scholar

KORF, B. ET AL. (2010), ‘The gift of disaster: the commodification of good intentions in post-tsunami Sri Lanka’, Disasters, 34, 60-77. ‘The gift of disaster: the commodification of good intentions in post-tsunami Sri Lanka’ Disasters 34 60 77 Google Scholar

LI, T. (1999), ‘Compromising Power: Development, Culture, and Rule in Indonesia’, Cultural Anthropology, 14, 295-322. ‘Compromising Power: Development, Culture, and Rule in Indonesia’ Cultural Anthropology 14 295 322 Google Scholar

LI, T. (2005), ‘Beyond "the State" and Failed Schemes’, American Anthropologist, 107, 383-94. ‘Beyond "the State" and Failed Schemes’ American Anthropologist 107 383 94 Google Scholar

LI, T. (2007), The Will to Improve: Governmentality, Development, and the Practice of Politics, Durham, NC, Duke University Press. The Will to Improve: Governmentality, Development, and the Practice of Politics Google Scholar

MCGILVRAY, D. and GAMBURD, M. (eds) (2010), Tsunami Recovery in Sri Lanka. Ethnic and Regional Dimensions, London, Routledge. Tsunami Recovery in Sri Lanka. Ethnic and Regional Dimensions Google Scholar

MOSSE, D. and LEWIS, D. (eds) (2006), Development Brokers and Translators: The Ethnography of Aid and Agencies, Bloomfield, Kumarian Press. Development Brokers and Translators: The Ethnography of Aid and Agencies Google Scholar

MOSSE, D. (2006), ‘Anti-social anthropology? Objectivity, objection, and the ethnography of public policy and professional communities’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 12, 935-56. ‘Anti-social anthropology? Objectivity, objection, and the ethnography of public policy and professional communities’ Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 12 935 56 Google Scholar

ROSE, N. (1999), Powers of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Powers of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought Google Scholar

ROSSI, B. (2004), ‘Revisiting Foucauldian Approaches: Power Dynamics in Development Projects’, The Journal of Development Studies, 40, 1-29. ‘Revisiting Foucauldian Approaches: Power Dynamics in Development Projects’ The Journal of Development Studies 40 1 29 Google Scholar

RUWANPURA, K. (2008), ‘Temporality of disasters: The politics of women's livelihoods "after" the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka’, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 29, 325-40. ‘Temporality of disasters: The politics of women's livelihoods "after" the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka’ Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 29 325 40 Google Scholar

SARVANANTHAN, M. and SANJEEWANIE, H. (2008), ‘Recovering from the Tsunami: People's Experiences in Sri Lanka’, Contemporary South Asia, 16, 339-51. ‘Recovering from the Tsunami: People's Experiences in Sri Lanka’ Contemporary South Asia 16 339 51 Google Scholar

SCOTT, J. (1998), Seeing like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition have Failed, New Haven and London, Yale University Press. Seeing like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition have Failed Google Scholar

STIRRAT, J. (2006), ‘Competitive humanitarianism: relief and the tsunami in Sri Lanka’. Anthropology Today. 22, 11-16. ‘Competitive humanitarianism: relief and the tsunami in Sri anka’ Anthropology Today 22 11 16 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

TAMBIAH, J. (1992), Buddhism Betrayed? Religion, Politics, and Violence in Sri Lanka, Chicago, University of Chicago Press. Buddhism Betrayed? Religion, Politics, and Violence in Sri Lanka Google Scholar

TELFORD, J. and COSEGRAVE, J. (2007), ‘The international humanitarian system and the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and the tsunami’, Disasters, 31, 1-28. ‘The international humanitarian system and the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and the tsunami’ Disasters 31 1 28 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

UYANGODA (2005), ‘Ethnic Conflict, the State and the Tsunami Disaster in Sri Lanka’, Asia Cultural Studies, 6, 341-52. Google Scholar

WATTS, M. (2003), ‘Development and Governmentality’, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 24, 6-34. ‘Development and Governmentality’ Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 24 6 34 Google Scholar

WEHLING, H.-G. (2009), ‘Kommunalpolitik in Baden Württemberg’, in Frech, S. and Weber, R., Handbuch Kommunalpolitik, Stuttgart, LPB, 9-29. Handbuch Kommunalpolitik 9 29 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

BARNETT, M. and WEISS, T. (eds) (2008), Humanitarianism in Question. Politics, Power, Ethics, New York and London, Cornell University Press. Humanitarianism in Question. Politics, Power, Ethics Google Scholar

BORNSTEIN, E. and REDFIELD, P. (eds) (2010), Forces of Compassion: Humanitarianism Between Ethics and Politics, SAR Press. Forces of Compassion: Humanitarianism Between Ethics and Politics Google Scholar

BROW, J. (1988), ‘In Pursuit of Hegemony: Representations of Authority and Justice in a Sri Lankan Village’, American Ethnologist, 15, 311-27. ‘In Pursuit of Hegemony: Representations of Authority and Justice in a Sri Lankan Village’ American Ethnologist 15 311 27 Google Scholar

BROW, J. (1999), ‘Utopia's New-Found Space: Images of the Village Community in the Early Writing of Ananada Coomaraswamy’, Modern Asian Studies, 33, 67-86. ‘Utopia's New-Found Space: Images of the Village Community in the Early Writing of Ananada Coomaraswamy’ Modern Asian Studies 33 67 86 Google Scholar

BRUN, C. and LUND, R. (2008), ‘Making a home during crisis: Post-tsunami recovery in a context of war, Sri Lanka’, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 29, 274-87. ‘Making a home during crisis: Post-tsunami recovery in a context of war, Sri Lanka’ Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 29 274 87 Google Scholar

BRUN, C. and LUND, R. (2009), ‘"Unpacking" the narratives of a national housing policy in Sri Lanka’, Norwegian Journal of Geography, 63, 10-22. ‘"Unpacking" the narratives of a national housing policy in Sri Lanka’ Norwegian Journal of Geography 63 10 22 Google Scholar

BRYANT, R. (2002), ‘Non-governmental organizations and governmentality: "Consuming" biodiversity and indigenous people in the Philippines’, Political Studies, 50, 268-92. ‘Non-governmental organizations and governmentality: "Consuming" biodiversity and indigenous people in the Philippines’ Political Studies 50 268 92 Google Scholar

CALHOUN, C. (2008), ‘The Imperative to Reduce Suffering: Charity, Progress, and Emergencies in the Field of Humanitarian Action’, in Barnett, M. and Weiss, T. (eds), Humanitarianism in Question. Politics, Power, Ethics, NY/London, Cornell University Press, 73-98. Humanitarianism in Question. Politics, Power, Ethics 73 98 Google Scholar

CHATTERJEE, D. (ed.) (2004), The Ethics of Assistance. Morality and the Distant Needy, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. The Ethics of Assistance. Morality and the Distant Needy Google Scholar

CHOULIARAKI, L. (2013), The Ironic Spectator: Solidarity in the Age of Post-Humanitarianism, Malden, Polity Press. The Ironic Spectator: Solidarity in the Age of Post-Humanitarianism Google Scholar

CRUIKSHANK, B. (1999), The Will to Empower. Democratic Citizens and other Subjects, London, Cornell University Press. The Will to Empower. Democratic Citizens and other Subjects Google Scholar

DARLEY, G. (2007), Villages of Vision: A Study of Strange Utopias, Nottingham, Five Leaves Publications. Villages of Vision: A Study of Strange Utopias Google Scholar

DEBOIS, M. (1991), ‘The Governance of the Third World: A Foucauldian Perspective on Power Relations in Development’, Alternative, 16, 1-29. ‘The Governance of the Third World: A Foucauldian Perspective on Power Relations in Development’ Alternative 16 1 29 Google Scholar

FERNANDO, U. and HILHORST, D. (2006), ‘Everyday practices of humanitarian aid: tsunami response in Sri Lanka’, Development in Practice, 16, 292-302. ‘Everyday practices of humanitarian aid: tsunami response in Sri Lanka’ Development in Practice 16 292 302 Google Scholar

FLINT, M. and GOYDER, H. (2006), Funding the tsunami response, London, Tsunami Evaluation Coalition. Funding the tsunami response Google Scholar

FOUCAULT, M. (1982), ‘Afterword: The Subject and Power’, in Dreyfus, H. and Rabinow, P., Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics, 208-26. Google Scholar

FOUCAULT, M. (1991), ‘Governmentality’, in Burchell, G. et al. (eds), The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality, 87-104. Google Scholar

GUNARATNA, K. (2006), Spatial Concerns in Development: A Sri Lankan Perspective, Delhi, Atlantic Publishers. Spatial Concerns in Development: A Sri Lankan Perspective Google Scholar

HART, G. (2004), ‘Development and Geography: Critical Ethnography’, Progress in Human Geography, 28, 91-100. ‘Development and Geography: Critical Ethnography’ Progress in Human Geography 28 91 100 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

HENKEL, H. and STIRRAT, J. (1997), ‘The Development Gift: The Problem of Reciprocity in the NGO World’, The Annals of the American Academy of Political Social Science, 554, 66-80. ‘The Development Gift: The Problem of Reciprocity in the NGO World’ The Annals of the American Academy of Political Social Science 554 66 80 Google Scholar

HYNDMAN, J. (2007), ‘The securitization of fear in post-tsunami Sri Lanka’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 97, 361-72. ‘The securitization of fear in post-tsunami Sri Lanka’ Annals of the Association of American Geographers 97 361 72 Google Scholar

KHASALAMWA, S. (2009), ‘Is "building back better" a response to vulnerability? Analysis of the post-tsunami humanitarian interventions in Sri Lanka’, Norwegian Journal of Geography, 63, 73-88. ‘Is "building back better" a response to vulnerability? Analysis of the post-tsunami humanitarian interventions in Sri Lanka’ Norwegian Journal of Geography 63 73 88 Google Scholar

KORF, B. (2007), ‘Antinomies of generosity: Moral geographies and post-tsunami aid in South Asia’, Geoforum, 38, 366-78. ‘Antinomies of generosity: Moral geographies and post-tsunami aid in South Asia’ Geoforum 38 366 78 Google Scholar

KORF, B. ET AL. (2010), ‘The gift of disaster: the commodification of good intentions in post-tsunami Sri Lanka’, Disasters, 34, 60-77. ‘The gift of disaster: the commodification of good intentions in post-tsunami Sri Lanka’ Disasters 34 60 77 Google Scholar

LI, T. (1999), ‘Compromising Power: Development, Culture, and Rule in Indonesia’, Cultural Anthropology, 14, 295-322. ‘Compromising Power: Development, Culture, and Rule in Indonesia’ Cultural Anthropology 14 295 322 Google Scholar

LI, T. (2005), ‘Beyond "the State" and Failed Schemes’, American Anthropologist, 107, 383-94. ‘Beyond "the State" and Failed Schemes’ American Anthropologist 107 383 94 Google Scholar

LI, T. (2007), The Will to Improve: Governmentality, Development, and the Practice of Politics, Durham, NC, Duke University Press. The Will to Improve: Governmentality, Development, and the Practice of Politics Google Scholar

MCGILVRAY, D. and GAMBURD, M. (eds) (2010), Tsunami Recovery in Sri Lanka. Ethnic and Regional Dimensions, London, Routledge. Tsunami Recovery in Sri Lanka. Ethnic and Regional Dimensions Google Scholar

MOSSE, D. and LEWIS, D. (eds) (2006), Development Brokers and Translators: The Ethnography of Aid and Agencies, Bloomfield, Kumarian Press. Development Brokers and Translators: The Ethnography of Aid and Agencies Google Scholar

MOSSE, D. (2006), ‘Anti-social anthropology? Objectivity, objection, and the ethnography of public policy and professional communities’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 12, 935-56. ‘Anti-social anthropology? Objectivity, objection, and the ethnography of public policy and professional communities’ Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 12 935 56 Google Scholar

ROSE, N. (1999), Powers of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Powers of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought Google Scholar

ROSSI, B. (2004), ‘Revisiting Foucauldian Approaches: Power Dynamics in Development Projects’, The Journal of Development Studies, 40, 1-29. ‘Revisiting Foucauldian Approaches: Power Dynamics in Development Projects’ The Journal of Development Studies 40 1 29 Google Scholar

RUWANPURA, K. (2008), ‘Temporality of disasters: The politics of women's livelihoods "after" the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka’, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 29, 325-40. ‘Temporality of disasters: The politics of women's livelihoods "after" the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka’ Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 29 325 40 Google Scholar

SARVANANTHAN, M. and SANJEEWANIE, H. (2008), ‘Recovering from the Tsunami: People's Experiences in Sri Lanka’, Contemporary South Asia, 16, 339-51. ‘Recovering from the Tsunami: People's Experiences in Sri Lanka’ Contemporary South Asia 16 339 51 Google Scholar

SCOTT, J. (1998), Seeing like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition have Failed, New Haven and London, Yale University Press. Seeing like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition have Failed Google Scholar

STIRRAT, J. (2006), ‘Competitive humanitarianism: relief and the tsunami in Sri Lanka’. Anthropology Today. 22, 11-16. ‘Competitive humanitarianism: relief and the tsunami in Sri anka’ Anthropology Today 22 11 16 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

TAMBIAH, J. (1992), Buddhism Betrayed? Religion, Politics, and Violence in Sri Lanka, Chicago, University of Chicago Press. Buddhism Betrayed? Religion, Politics, and Violence in Sri Lanka Google Scholar

TELFORD, J. and COSEGRAVE, J. (2007), ‘The international humanitarian system and the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and the tsunami’, Disasters, 31, 1-28. ‘The international humanitarian system and the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and the tsunami’ Disasters 31 1 28 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

UYANGODA (2005), ‘Ethnic Conflict, the State and the Tsunami Disaster in Sri Lanka’, Asia Cultural Studies, 6, 341-52. Google Scholar

WATTS, M. (2003), ‘Development and Governmentality’, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 24, 6-34. ‘Development and Governmentality’ Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 24 6 34 Google Scholar

WEHLING, H.-G. (2009), ‘Kommunalpolitik in Baden Württemberg’, in Frech, S. and Weber, R., Handbuch Kommunalpolitik, Stuttgart, LPB, 9-29. Handbuch Kommunalpolitik 9 29 Google Scholar

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Hollenbach, Pia