In Monitoring Movements in Development Aid, Casper Jensen and Brit Winthereik consider the processes, social practices, and infrastructures that are emerging to monitor development aid, discussing both empirical phenomena and their methodological and analytical challenges. Jensen and Winthereik focus on efforts by aid organizations to make better use of information technology; they analyze a range of development aid information infrastructures created to increase accountability and effectiveness. They find that constructing these infrastructures is not simply a matter of designing and implementing technology but entails forging new platforms for action that are simultaneously imaginative and practical, conceptual and technical.
After presenting an analytical platform that draws on science and technology studies and the anthropology of development, Jensen and Winthereik present an ethnography- based analysis of the mutually defining relationship between aid partnerships and infrastructures; the crucial role of users (both actual and envisioned) in aid information infrastructures; efforts to make aid information dynamic and accessible; existing monitoring activities of an environmental NGO; and national-level performance audits, which encompass concerns of both external control and organizational learning.
Jensen and Winthereik argue that central to the emerging movement to monitor development aid is the blurring of means and ends: aid information infrastructures are both technological platforms for knowledge about aid and forms of aid and empowerment in their own right.
About the Authors
Casper Bruun Jensen is an Associate Professor in the Technologies Practice Group at the IT University of Copenhagen.
Brit Ross Winthereik is an Associate Professor in the Technologies Practice Group at the IT University of Copenhagen.
“Anyone who implements or evaluates global socio-material infrastructures meant to enable the flow of aid-related information in ways that help to create transparency, strengthen partnerships, and improve accountability should read this book. If offers a sharp and forgiving account of what concerns you.”
—Annemarie Mol, Professor of Anthropology of the Body, University of Amsterdam; author of The Logic of Care and an editor of Care in Practice
“Conceptualizing development aid within an information infrastructure perspective provides compelling insights into why such aid programs have less than optimal results, and why there is a mismatch between what is promised and the reality on the ground. Such an infrastructure is both a solution and a source of problems, as it is always incomplete and in the making.”
—Sundeep Sahay, University of Oslo, Norway
“Monitoring Movements in Development Aid is the first book to examine what development aid is becoming in the information age. What the authors find is surprising: novel partnerships and intertwined agendas, the critic's and the aid professional's; inventive frontiers of ethical practice and fraught politics where the very form of infrastructure constitutes new social and technical milieus. With increasing calls for accountability in aid projects, and metrics for assessing the effectiveness of aid interventions, the authors' project could not be more timely.”
—Bill Maurer, Professor of Anthropology and Law, University of California at Irvine