„Western norms“ can lead to a hierarchy of knowledge being exported from the global North to the ‚field‘ and rewarded over local knowledge and experience. The division of humanitarians into locals, volunteers and internationals hierarchises humanitarian actors and their knowledge along lines of coloniality, reinforced by intersecting institutional barriers and privileges (e.g. in terms of evacuation plans, access to training, payment, social security, benefits, etc.).

The Indian scholar Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is one of the best known feminist researchers from the Global South who criticized that ‚subaltern women‘ have been ‚muted‘ by their colonial/neo-colonial counterparts and that this leads to ‘speaking for’ the ‘oppressed’ subject, such that the subject undergoes a ‘re-presentation’.

This means the subject is not presented as they are, but rather presented again through the colonial/neo-colonial gaze of another. […] This is sometimes witnessed, for example, in humanitarian reporting, when we read entire reports or articles about specific humanitarian actions or initiatives, but the only voice carried through is that of the humanitarian ‘reporter’ or organization, perhaps with one or two de-contextualized, short pull quotes from affected people themselves, often focusing on their victimization and/or their gratitude for the provided support. As such, the humanitarian report is not reflecting what an affected person said; it is what the humanitarian(s) took away from the interaction. The initial voice is muted, and the humanitarian speaks for the affected person.“

Saman Rejali [1]

If ‚localisation‘ fundamentally challenges the hegemonic nature of the international humanitarian system and its understanding of humanitarianism, and instead moves towards a plurality of humanitarian actors and knowledge, it can be a means towards decoloniality and has the potential to improve humanitarian assistance, reduce inequalities and power asymmetries within the sector.

The training will look at what ‚anti-colonial‘ can mean in this context. It will explore what we can learn from the business sector and how we can promote ownership, agency and autonomy, especially among those who have historically been in the role of ‚recipients‘ of aid or ‚beneficiaries‘ of programmes, so that affected people feel that the services provided to them are programmed with them, with their input and according to their needs, without being labelled as ‚vulnerable‘, ‚helpless‘, ‚disempowered‘ or ‚victims‘.


Ivan Atuyambe is a South-South & Triangular Transnational Cooperation Practitioner & Pan African Thought Leader on Youth Governance, Voice, Participation, Equity & Opportunity.  His contributions extend beyond youth voice & participation to include delivering high-level technical assistance & capacity enhancement missions for non-state actors globally, curating & hosting high-level Pan-African research, thought leadership & stakeholder engagement initiatives to transform Africa. Notable are his roles as the Task Team Leader for the African Dignity Index—towards a measure of human dignity on the African continent (www.adi.africa).


Bitte warten…

If you are unable to attend the workshop, please email veranstaltungen@globaleverantwortung.at at least 24 hours in advance. In case of absence without prior notice, we have to charge a fee of EUR 100,-.

Catering will be provided.

If you have any special needs or questions regarding the training please contact Birgit.Mayerhofer@globaleverantwortung.at.

[1] Race, equity, and neo-colonial legacies: identifying paths forward for principled humanitarian action by Saman Rejali, July 16, 2020. Accessed on: blogs.icrc.org/law-and-policy/2020/07/16/race-equity-neo-colonial-legacies-humanitarian