Governing the Borderlands: decoding the power of aid

MR Duffield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

160 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines aid practice, that is, the public-private contractual networks that link donor governments, UN agencies, military establishments, NGOs, private companies and others, as a relation of global liberal governance. In order to fulfil this function, such networks embody what could be called the 'securitisation' of international assistance. Based upon ideas of human security and ameliorating the effects of poverty and vulnerability reduction, aid is now seen as playing a direct security role. Rather than being concerned with relations between states, the primary aim of this security paradigm is to modulate and change the behaviour of populations within them. In doing so, it is able to exploit the opportunities afforded by privatisation. At the same time, however, aid as security is confronted by its own particular problem of 'governing at a distance': how can calculations made by leading states be transformed into actions at the global edge when a multitude of private and non-government implementors now intervene? The article concludes by examining the contribution of risk analysis to solving this problem and, especially, the development of new contractual regimes based around technical standardisation, benchmarking and performance auditing. Through such technologies, metropolitan states are learning how to manage the public-private networks of aid practice and, as a result, to govern the borderlands in new ways.
Translated title of the contributionGoverning the Borderlands: decoding the power of aid
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308 - 320
Number of pages13
Volume25 (4)
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2001

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Blackwell Synergy


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