Connections and Complicities: Reflections on Epistemology, Violence, and Humanitarian Aid

TitleConnections and Complicities: Reflections on Epistemology, Violence, and Humanitarian Aid
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsGurd, Kiri
JournalJournal of International Women's Studies
Date Published03/2006

This paper explores the relationship between power/knowledge and violence. It attempts to connect epistemological constructions and discursive practices to conflict and humanitarian aid operations by deconstructing the narrative of ‘Development’. The paper also attempts to tease out the way seemingly transparent and humanitarian actions, even within the academy, are complicit in reiterating hegemonic representations that reproduce systems of inequality and injustice. The paper draws on feminist methodologies that are primarily deconstructive in nature in order to highlight these connections and complicities, making clear that the way certain knowledges become centralized, while others are subjugated, reflects the functioning of the global political economy and imperialism. Thus, the paper argues that a transformative humanitarian aid practice must affirm what is ‘excluded’ from the discourse – the ‘incommensurable’. Lastly, the paper examines the potential of the ‘rights-based’ approach to sustain the affirmation of incommensurability. The paper hopes to make clear the importance of critical feminist theory for politics and practices.

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