Book chapters

  • with Irene Guijt, Chpt 1 Eyben and Guijt draft  in (eds) R. Eyben, I Guijt, C. Roche and C. Shutt  The Politics of Evidence and Results, Practical Action Publishing (f2015) 

In a book described by a referee as ’a profound contribution to the emerging field of “ethnography of aid’ , I capture the critical connection between policy thought and social relationships in a study of a local donor community that finds an ethnographic voice from within” professional spheres of practice.

(2011) Participation in international aid’ in (eds) A.Cornwall and I. Scoones Revolutionizing Development. Reflections on the work of Robert Chambers London, Earthscan:  59-66.

A critical historically informed examination of Chambers’ influence in international aid practice and discourse.

This is my principal methodological paper about the challenges of researching aid donors, one that positions the anthropologist as a reflexive auto-ethnographer, retaining empathy for the insider’s position while sufficiently distanced to cultivate a critical faculty.


An actor-oriented approach to the construction of policy text, this is a lively account of a succession of glossy booklets, illuminates the discursive politics of gender mainstreaming inside a development organisation.

  • (2007) ‘Labelling people for aid’ in (eds) J. Moncrieffe and R. Eyben The Power of Labelling London, Earthscan:  33-47

Introducing into print, Apthorpe’s idea of Aidland,  I analyse  why labels such as ‘the poor’ matter so much in development practice and identify the special characteristics of aid bureaucracies that reinforce the power of labelling.

Developed from my widely cited IDS Bulletin article ‘Donors learning difficulties’, this chapter initiated three lines of work that I subsequently developed into (i) my research on feminist bureaucrats (Feminists in Development Organizations) (ii) an academic critique of results based management and a policy influencing strategy – the Big Push Forward – and the subsequent Politics of Evidence and Results and (iii) ‘Hiding Relations. The Irony of International Aid’, EJDR, 2010.


I argue the importance of an insider ethnographic perspective to highlight the political contradictions and challenges in the aid relationship making innovative use of two voices – my own (the principal author) and Leon’s to tell the story from different perspectives, a methodology I was thereafter to use experimentally in my work with the DAC that I analyse in a forthcoming publication. .

  • 2005  ‘Donors, rights-based approaches and implications for global citizenship: a case study from Peru’ in Kabeer, N. (ed) Inclusive Citizenship, London: Zed Books: 251-268

Through a case study of DFID’s programme in Peru, problematizes the pursuit of rights- based approaches by foreign governments in aid recipient countries, identifying paradoxes, dilemmas and possible ways forward.

Introduces positionality and reflexivity into concepts of power and empowerment and develops thesis of donors as political actors.

This chapter is popular on university reading lists and was innovative in introducing  a discussion of multiple accountabilities that I subsequently developed in my working paper on mutual accountability (2008).

Written while still in Bolivia it represents my early thinking in the development of a relational approach to aid operations.


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