Category Archives: Books

International Aid and the Making of a Better World

 Power and reflexive practice

international aid and the making

How can international aid professionals manage to deal with the daily dilemmas of working for the wellbeing of people in countries other than their own?

I seek to answer that question in a book that provides a vivid and accessible insight into the world of aid – its people, ideas and values against the backdrop of a broader historical analysis of the contested ideals and politics of aid operations from the 1960s to the present day.

Moving between aid-recipient countries, head office and global policy spaces, I critically examine my own behaviour to explore what happens when trying to improve people’s lives in far-away countries and warn how self-deception may construct obstacles to the very change desired. I propose that to help make this a better world, individuals and organisations working in international development must respond self-critically to the dilemmas of power and knowledge that shape aid’s messy relations.

Written in an accessible way with vignettes, stories and dialogue, this critical history of aid provides practical tools and methodology for students in development studies, anthropology and international studies and for development practitioners to adopt the habit of reflexivity when helping to make a better world.

See Duncan Green’s review at From Poverty to Power,  an interview about the writing of the book at Gender at Work and  in Open Democracy the story in Chapter 6 about trust, history and the making of a better world.


Feminists in Development Organizations. Change from the Margins

Feminist bureaucrats: contradiction, feminists in development organizationsco-optation or political strategy?

Published in late 2013, this bookco-edited with Laura Turquet arises from a collaborative project, one of many, in the international research consortium, Pathways of Women’s Empowerment. Between 2007 and 2012  feminists working inside the head offices of multilateral organisations, government aid agencies and international non-governmental organisations came together to critically reflect on their work.It shows how feminists can build effective strategies to influence development organizations to foster greater understanding and forge more effective alliances for social change.

The book is for staff of development organisations  and who want their organisations to become instrumental in helping transform the live of women,  for feminist activists trying to change these organisations from the outside, and for scholars and students concerned with the politics if gender mainstreaming

The Power of Labelling in Development

powe of labellingPublished in 2007, Joy Moncrieffe and I jointly edited this book, We ask, what does it mean to be part of the mass known as ‘the poor’? What visions are conjured up in our minds when someone is labelled ‘Muslim’ ? What assumptions do we make about their needs, values and politics? Who develops the labels, what power do they carry and how do such labels affect how people are treated?

The book’s contributions analyse labelling’s causes and consequences. It is aimed at everyone who wants to scrutinise howthey think about development and the implications for their practice.

Relationships for aid

Published in 2006 the book introduces a new relational perspective on the analysis of aid management, exploring the links between, power, learning and accountability in a complex web of relationships. Primarily targeting a practitioner audience, it presents rich theory in an accessible style.


Later, I theoretically developed my perspectives on aid relationships, particularly in ‘Relationships matter: the best kept secret of international aid?’ and in a longer more academy piece ‘Hiding relations. The irony of international aid’