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Acts of Aid: Neoliberalism in a War Zone

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International aid is a dynamic bundle of geographical relationships at the intersection of war, neoliberalism, nature, and fear. The nexus between development and security warrants further conceptualization and empirical grounding beyond the instrumentalist and alarmist discourses that underwrite foreign aid. This article examines two such discourses, that of “aid effectiveness” and securitization, that serve to frame an analysis of aid to Sri Lanka. Since 1977, neoliberal policies of international assistance have shaped the country's economy and polity, and, since 1983, government troops and militant rebels have been at war. International aid focuses on economic development and support for peace negotiations, but little attention has been paid to the ways in which these agendas intersect to shape donor behavior and aid delivery. Drawing from research on international aid agencies operating in Sri Lanka, in particular the Canadian International Development Agency, the geopolitics of aid are analyzed.

Keywords: Sri Lanka; aid; neoliberalism; security

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada;, Email:

Publication date: 2009-11-01

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