Learning in the contact zone: Revisiting neglected aspects of development through an analysis of volunteer placements in Indonesia

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Development rhetoric sometimes appears to take little account of the contingencies of relationships, activities and events, as if human interaction and understanding is being written out of the process. At the same time, practices such as volunteering, which foreground the human subjects involved in development, are often ignored by development professionals, despite (or perhaps because of) the high proportion of development agency staff who are themselves former volunteers. In this paper, a framework is developed which foregrounds this interactive and human dimension, illuminating its significance more clearly in the development process. This way of looking at development processes is the result of a four-year field-based study of volunteer teachers, hospital staff and development workers from the global North working with colleagues in Indonesian schools, hospitals and non-government organizations. Working and interacting together is seen to involve participants in an active and often conflictual learning process. Through three typical stages (awareness of contradiction, transgression and negotiation), volunteers and their colleagues learn about the social boundaries in the context in which they participate, and about how they and other participants are themselves positioned in relation to these boundaries. The argument proposed here is that opportunities for such contextualized and emergent learning is essential if participants in development are to engage in robust and well-informed collaborative actions in a particular development context.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)23-38
    Number of pages15
    JournalCompare
    Volume38
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008

    Keywords

    • Development
    • Indonesia
    • Intercultural learning
    • Volunteering

    Fingerprint

    Dive into the research topics of 'Learning in the contact zone: Revisiting neglected aspects of development through an analysis of volunteer placements in Indonesia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this