How Cars, Compounds and Hotels Shape Humanitarianism
by Lisa Smirl
Aid workers commonly bemoan that the spaces and experiences of working in 'the field' often sit uneasily with the goals they've signed up to: from visiting project sites in air-conditioned Land Cruisers while the intended beneficiaries walk barefoot through the heat, to checking emails from within gated compounds while surrounding communities have no running water. While such observations might seem intuitive, to date no concerted academic or policy study has dealt with the impact of these factors on theory or policy. Spaces of Aid provides the first book-length analysis of what has colloquially been referred to as Aid Land, exploring in depth two high-profile case studies - the Aceh tsunami and Hurricane Katrina - in order to uncover a fascinating history of the material objects that have become an endemic, expected, yet unexamined part of the aid landscape.