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Title: From impartiality to humanitarian triage : an ethnography of three non-governmental projects in Pakistan
Author: Péchayre, Marion
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 7424
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis explores humanitarian actors' practices of triage implemented in the name of one of the moral principles they consider as being at the core of their action. It does so through the ethnography of three international NGOs' ongoing projects in Pakistan (2011-2012) using a socio-anthropological approach that considers aid projects as 'arenas' in which actors interact and negotiate their interests. The dissertation first establishes that the claim to impartiality is ubiquitous in the humanitarian discourse, and presented by practitioners as a self-evident commitment to allocate assistance 'based on needs only', i.e. without discrimination, and proportionally to people's situations. Yet, in practice, given limited resources and environmental constraints, humanitarian organisations have to perform operations of inclusion and exclusion, deciding who will and who will not be helped and of those who will, who takes priority. This is conceptualised in this thesis as ??. While aid practitioners describe this as an evidence-based and value-free process, scholars argue that the interests and prejudices of aid organisations' personnel, bureaucracies and donor institutions are the primary drivers behind the allocation of humanitarian resources. By unveiling the actors' explicit and implicit assumptions concerning ?? is a 'good victim', and constitutes acceptable resources or environmental constraints, this thesis yet demonstrates that neither sole evidence nor crude institutional interest alone drives humanitarian triage. In practice impartiality is indeed interpreted and translated, first into ?? and then into ?? shaped by three main factors: the ability or inability of actors to challenge major internal and external constraints (organisational trajectory, insecurity, donor relationships); the normative assumptions of staff and institutions on what is 'good' for the people they help; and the position aid institutions take about the pervasive and politically blinding exhortation to efficiency.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral