Knowledge and Power: A Critique of an International Relief Operation
Author: Hendrie, Barbara
Source: Disasters, Volume 21, Number 1, March 1997 , pp. 57-76(20)
Abstract:Exploring an alternative way to approach famine relief interventions, this paper draws on the work of French philosopher Michel Foucault and David Keen's recent work on south-west Sudan. It suggests that different discourses on `famine' can lead to the dominance of certain kinds of institutional practices, and the prioritisation of special kinds of knowledge, at the expense of other modes of understanding and action. Using the case of the relief operation to Tigrayan refugees in eastern Sudan in 1984/5, the paper examines the specific ways in which `power' was elaborated in the midst of the operation, and the manner in which institutional practices — designed to save as many lives as possible — influenced the reaction of international agencies to the spontaneous repatriation of the Tigrayans back to Ethiopia.
Document Type: Original article
Publication date: 1997-03-01