Monday, March 20th, 2017 HUMANITARIAN AUTHORITARIANISM: WHY “CAPACITY BUILDING” CAN BACKFIRE

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Monday, March 20, 20174:00PM - 6:00PM108N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place

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HUMANITARIAN AUTHORITARIANISM: WHY “CAPACITY BUILDING” CAN BACKFIRE

Professor Elizabeth Dunn, Anthropology, Indiana University

Over the last decade, many humanitarian agencies have moved away from the direct provision of services to needy population, and towards what they call “capacity building” for host governments. “Capacity building” involves not only installing bureaucratic routines and dictating policy changes, but also routing millions or even billions of dollars through host governments so that they, not the humanitarian
agencies, can provide services. But where, exactly, does that money
end up? In this paper, I look at what happened in the Republic of Georgia in 2008, when nearly a billion dollars was routed through the government of Mikheil Saakashvili, and trace the link between humanitarian funding and the rise of authoritarianism in the
Saakashvili administration. I compare this to other cases, including
the increasing authoritarianism of the Erdogan government in Turkey.

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