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Title: A critical review of the mainstream approaches to humanitarian aid practice and support systems : an autoethnographic inquiry into the social, political and cultural experiences of a humanitarian aid worker
Author: Pillay, Anusanthee
ISNI:       0000 0004 9358 4956
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis is a highly personalised account of the complexities, interpretations and reflections of a humanitarian worker during a process of personal transformation. From an insider’s vantage point, I have traced and chronicled my own personal transformation and state of well-being, using a qualitative methodology of self-study and autoethnography. I have observed and reflected on my internal processes to grapple with the relationship between self-transformation and facilitating collective social change/development and transformation, and to answer the question ‘What needs to change for the humanitarian aid system and its processes to become more compassionate, empathetic and transformational?’ Data-gathering for this research consisted of literature reviews, examining and scanning personal journals, diaries and photographs from the past and the capture of my experiences on a humanitarian mission in writing, in a reflexive journal. These personal reflections on my life experiences and while on a mission served to provide retrospective insights into my personal transformation processes. I locate this data within broader philosophical debates to enable me to answer the research question. This study found that within the complicated and vast landscape of humanitarian aid, characterised by complexity, diversity, uncertainty and danger, the inner health and well-being of all actors in the sector was vital, particularly because the only control that is possible is control of oneself. Thus, it found that the personal process of self-transformation is a crucial element for the effective facilitation of social transformation. The findings expanded into constructing a methodological direction for further exploration, research and future humanitarian practice. A further finding was that the principles of this methodology are highly applicable to other relational sectors of care. This work is an original, authentic study of humanitarian aid from a unique, insider (emic) perspective with a focus on self-transformation that will be beneficial to the practices of humanitarians as it offers material expression to the ideals of humanitarianism. It also provides the basis for further questions to be explored, such as the impact of using this methodology, other sectors it could be applied to and how to facilitate higher capabilities in humanitarian aid workers and beneficiaries using this approach.
Supervisor: Jayawickrama, Janaka S. ; Atkin, Karl Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available