Humanitarian Aid in Post-Soviet Countries: An Anthropological Perspective
Routledge, 2007 - 146 pages
An anthropologist among aid workers. Her objective: to study that exotic tribe, humanitarian and development workers, along with their state and non-state partners, as they "export democracy" to post-soviet countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus. Her method: to join the tribe for ten years. From New York to Alma-Ata, by way of Geneva and Baku, Laëtitia Atlani-Duault provides both an understanding of the individuals working in the field and a critical analysis of the sweeping political implications of NGO activities. A focus on supposedly "de-politicized" policy areas (notably the prevention of HIV/AIDS epidemic) provides wider insights into the objectives and practices of international aid workers in countries beset by rising poverty, drug trafficking, prostitution, and decaying education and health services. The author also provides a rich canvas of human stories, from the "workshops" in which diametrically opposed political approaches often clash to the occasional small triumphs in which effective public health interventions are worked out. This timely book will be of great interest not only to scholars of post-soviet countries, but also to those interested in humanitarian and development aid worldwide. It will also be relevant for the study of the anthropology of development, as well as medical and political anthropology.