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School of Geography

Annual Lecture of the Queen Mary Centre for the Study of Global Security and Development

19 May 2011

Time: 6:30 - 7:30pm
Venue: Drapers‘ Lecture Theatre, Geography Building

Professor Mark Duffield, University of Bristol

‘Liberal Interventionism and the Crisis of Acceptance: From Protection to Resilience'

Compared to the optimism of the early post-Cold War era, the international aid industry – and with it, the development-security nexus – faces a growing crisis of acceptance. This malaise is reflected in the increasing necessity of constant risk-management within contemporary aid interventions. Since the end of the 1990s, the number of aid workers deliberately killed, injured, or attacked has grown steadily. Incorporated as an extension of Western foreign policy, including playing social advisor to corporate interests in an age of neoliberal excess, for many 'beneficiaries' the aid industry's earlier claims to neutrality and material betterment now count for little. This lecture traces the liberal way of development's growing crisis of acceptance through its changing approach to risk-management. From initial attempts to centralise and professionalise risk-aversion, the main outcome of which was the fortified aid compound, the emphasis has now shifted to increasing the resilience of the aid industry. Rather than 'when to leave' the aim is now 'how to stay'. Through the decentralisation, localisation and indigenisation of risk-management, resilience establishes a new and productive relationship to crisis. That is, an an opportunity to improve the robustness and fitness of aid agencies. In effectively ignoring the crisis of acceptance, however, rather than addressing the current malaise, resilience promises to dig the bunker deeper.

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