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National Staff in Public Foreign Aid: Aid Localization in Practice
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0801-7451
2019 (English)In: Human Organization, ISSN 0018-7259, E-ISSN 1938-3525, Vol. 78, no 3, p. 253-263Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article spotlights national desk officers working in technical positions in public foreign aid agencies. These locally recruited employees share with their posted colleagues the same qualifications, formal rank, and job descriptions. As such, they actualize the concept of aid localization, which is used in donor discourse and scholarly research to describe practices of employing host country staff in partner countries. However, while donors portray localization as an investment in and empowerment of “local” expertise, scholars have primarily used the concept to describe the diffusion of corporate or “international” expertise through the recruitment of locally based professionals to international jobs. Research of aid workers in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, suggests that national desk officers reflect this second definition of localization. They exemplify an anthropological critique of the parochialism yet universalizing ambitions of international aid, which are tied to processes of technicalization and professionalization of aid work. The article also investigates the link between aid localization and professional authority. Findings indicate that national desk officers enjoy less professional authority than their posted colleagues. An important explanation concerns the formal terms on which donor staff are employed, which distinguish between national and posted employees as mutually exclusive and hierarchically stratified categories.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 78, no 3, p. 253-263
Keywords [en]
development expertise, public foreign aid, national aid workers, technical staff, localization, Tanzania
National Category
Social Anthropology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-391700DOI: 10.17730/0018-7259.78.3.253OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-391700DiVA, id: diva2:1345586
Available from: 2019-08-26 Created: 2019-08-26 Last updated: 2019-11-20Bibliographically approved

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Sundberg, Molly

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