Infrastructuring aid: Materializing humanitarianism in northern Kenya

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Abstract

In numerous African countries humanitarian and development organizations—as well as governments—are expanding expenditures on social protection schemes as a means of poverty alleviation. These initiatives, which typically provide small cash grants to poor populations, are often considered particularly agreeable for the simplicity of their administration and the feasibility of their implementation. This paper examines the background work required to deploy social protection in one especially remote area: the margins of postcolonial Kenya. Specifically, it documents the often overlooked social and technical construction of the infrastructure necessary so that cash transfers may function with the ease and simplicity for which they are commended. Attention to the practice of ‘infrastructuring’ offers insights into the tensions and politics of what is rapidly become a key form of transnational govermentality in the global South, showing that humanitarian rationalities and subjects cannot be understood independently of the material networks on which they rely.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)732-748
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Volume33
Issue number4
Early online date8 Sep 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • infrastucture
  • humanitarianism
  • materiality
  • biometric identification
  • Kenya
  • biopolitics

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