Cultures of Doing Good: Anthropologists and NGOs serves as a foundational text to advance a growing subfield of social science inquiry: the anthropology of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Thorough introductory chapters provide a short history of NGO anthropology, address how the study of NGOs contributes to anthropology more broadly, and examine ways that anthropological studies of NGOs expand research agendas spawned by other disciplines. In addition, the theoretical concepts and debates that have anchored the analysis of NGOs since they entered scholarly discourse after World War II are explained.
The wide-ranging volume is organized into thematic parts: “Changing Landscapes of Power,” “Doing Good Work,” and “Methodological Challenges of NGO Anthropology.” Each part is introduced by an original, reflective essay that contextualizes and links the themes of each chapter to broader bodies of research and to theoretical and methodological debates. A concluding chapter synthesizes how current lines of inquiry consolidate and advance the first generation of anthropological NGO studies, highlighting new and promising directions in this field.
In contrast to studies about surveys of NGOs that cover a single issue or region, this book offers a survey of NGO dynamics in varied cultural and political settings. The chapters herein cover NGO life in Tanzania, Serbia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Peru, the United States, and India. The diverse institutional worlds and networks include feminist activism, international aid donors, USAID democracy experts, Romani housing activism, academic gender studies, volunteer tourism, Jewish philanthropy, Islamic faith-based development, child welfare, women’s legal arbitration, and environmental conservation.
The collection explores issues such as normative democratic civic engagement, elitism and professionalization, the governance of feminist advocacy, disciplining religion, the politics of philanthropic neutrality, NGO tourism and consumption, blurred boundaries between anthropologists as researchers and activists, and barriers to producing critical NGO ethnographies.
Introduction: Engagements and Entanglements in the Anthropology of NGOs by Steven Sampson
Part I. Changing Landscapes of Power
Introduction to Part I: Dilemmas of Dual Roles, Studying NGOs, and Donor-Driven “Democracy” by Mark Schuller
Chapter 1. Anthropologists’ Encounters with NGOs: Critique, Collaboration, and Conflict by David Lewis
Chapter 2. NGO Fever and Donor Regimes: Tanzanian Feminist Activism within Landscapes of Contradictions by Victoria Bernal
Chapter 3. Habits of the Heart: Grassroots “Revitalization” and State Transformation in Serbia by Theodora Vetta
Chapter 4. Reformists and Revolutionists: Social Work NGOs and Activist Struggles in the Czech Republic by Hana Synková
Chapter 5. Leveraging Supranational Civil Society: Critiquing Czech Gender Equality Policy through Academic-NGO Collaboration by Karen Kapusta-Pofahl
Part II. Doing Good Work
Introduction to Part II: Life in NGOs by Inderpal Grewal
Chapter 6. Faith Development beyond Religion: The NGO as Site of Islamic Reform by Nermeen Mouftah
Chapter 7. Interdependent Industries and Ethical Dilemmas: NGOs and Volunteer Tourism in Cusco, Peru byAviva Sinervo
Chapter 8. Rebuilding Justice: Jewish Philanthropy and the Politics of Representation in Post-Katrina New Orleans by Moshe Kornfeld
Part III: Methodological Challenges of NGO Anthropology Introduction to Part III: How to Study NGOs Ethically by Erica Bornstein
Chapter 9. The Ethics and Politics of NGO-Dependent Anthropology by Katherine Lemons
Chapter 10. The Anthropologist and the Conservation NGO: Dilemmas of and Opportunities for Engagement by Amanda Woomer
Conclusion: A Second Generation of NGO Anthropology by Christian Vannier and Amanda Lashaw