Humanitarian NGOs and Meditations of Political Order in Sri Lanka

Author: Birgitte Refslund Sørensen

Abstract:

This article argues that international and national humanitarian NGOs have a far more fundamental bearing on the social reconstitution of Sri Lankan society as a political, cultural, and moral entity than is usually acknowledged. Through their interventions, humanitarian agencies affect the power relationship between state and non-state actors and between local organizations and the war-affected populations that make up their constituencies. But NGOs also affect the political order by introducing new understandings of the citizen and providing alternative moral arguments to legitimize power and authority. What is taking place, the author contends, is best conceived of as mediations, since the global and the local, the modern and the traditional are coexistent as sources to be strategically drawn upon by the actors.
Regions: South Asia
Countries: Sri Lanka

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March 2008
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