Aid micropolitics: southern resistance to racialized & geographical assumptions of expertise

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Aid partnerships between global north and global south institutions are critiqued for maintaining colonial knowledge politics and restricting the participation of southern development experts. This paper draws on lifework interviews with senior civil servants within the Antigua and Barbuda government to explore how southern development experts subvert the development hierarchies that permeate partnership micropolitics. The paper first reveals how southern development experts draw on their experiences and normative discourses of ‘local knowledge’ to dismantle assumptions that whiteness and ‘westerness’ symbolise expertise in partnerships. Second, southern development experts engage in small-scale acts of everyday resistance to assert their
expertise and decentre the authority and knowledge of foreign consultants. Everyday resistance allows this paper to reveal southern experts’ personal agency and subtle forms of resistance, which Foucauldian analyses of power and ‘spectacular’ theories of resistance are unequipped to recognise. I suggest that the racialised and geographic hierarchies, which structure power and privilege in the micro-level encounters between donors and beneficiaries are not as entrenched as we may think.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)876-894
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Politics and Space
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022


  • Antigua
  • Everyday resistance
  • aid micropolitics
  • knowledge politics
  • lifework interviews
  • partnerships

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute


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