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Title: Governing through freedom, ruling at a distance: neoliberal governmentality and the new aid architecture in the AIDS response in Malawi
Authors: Marandet, Elodie
Advisors: Ansell, N
Buckingham, S
Keywords: Aid effectiveness;Aid relations;Power;International development;Foucault
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Brunel University School of Health Sciences and Social Care PhD Theses
Abstract: In this thesis, I critically analyse power relations between donors and the government of Malawi (GoM) under the new aid architecture and argue that this new configuration represents a shift away from domination, with donors attempting to impose policies, and towards more subtle interactions, through which donors seek to transform the GoM into a self-disciplined, entrepreneurial, neoliberal subject by shaping its aspirations and promoting specific norms of conduct, ‘truths’ and policy-related techniques. The research focuses on funding for AIDS and draws on forty interviews with representatives from the GoM, donors and civil society, conducted in Malawi 2008, as well as discursive analysis of secondary sources. I use Foucault’s concept of governmentality, a form of productive power focused on the care of the population and working through individuals’ subjectivities, and extend it to the relation between donors and the GoM. I show that the agency of the GoM is both elicited by the principle of country ownership, and re-worked through the increased involvement of donors in the policy sphere. I explore how these interactions are legitimised by a discourse that presents donors and the GoM as equals, while casting the GoM as technically deficient and requiring donors’ intervention. I analyse how donors instrumentalise dialogue with the GoM to instil an ethos of self-responsibility.I also investigate how AIDS funding has been made reliant on public financial management reforms, which re-code social domains according to an economic logic, by subordinating government activities to macroeconomic imperatives and creating new undemocratic accountabilities based on market rationalities. I argue that by restructuring the GoM according to this neoliberal rationality, the new aid architecture has programmatic effects, allowing donors to rule at a distance. I also examine avenues for resistance, particularly the potential residing in the intrinsic contradictions of this rationality.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University.
Appears in Collections:Human Geography
Dept of Clinical Sciences Theses

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