Synopses & Reviews
Believing that charity inadvertently legitimates social inequality and fosters dependence, many international development organizations have increasingly sought to replace material aid with efforts to build self-reliance and local institutions. But in some cultureslike those in rural Uganda, where Having People, Having Heart
takes placepeople see this shift not as an effort toward empowerment but as a suspect refusal to redistribute wealth. Exploring this conflict, China Scherz balances the negative assessments of charity that have led to this shift with the viewpoints of those who actually receive aid.
Through detailed studies of two different orphan support organizations in Uganda, Scherz shows how many Ugandans view material forms of Catholic charity as deeply intertwined with their own ethics of care and exchange. With a detailed examination of this overlooked relationship in hand, she reassesses the generally assumed paradox of material aid as both promising independence and preventing it. The result is a sophisticated demonstration of the powerful role that anthropological concepts of exchange, value, personhood, and religion play in the politics of international aid and development.
“Having People, Having Heart is a fascinating and original book that unsettles preconceptions—and social science theories—about the evils of charity. Scherz convincingly shows how Ugandan nuns practices of charity, which center not upon autonomy but on interdependence, are a better fit with the relational ethics of the region than are NGO workers practices of development. This regional ethics of interdependence prescribes correct (and correctly flexible) relations between patron and client. In such a worldview charity is no insult and independence from others no laudable goal.”
“Having People, Having Heart is a profound ethnographic interrogation of sustainable development and Christian charity in Uganda. Breaking new ground in the anthropology of ethics, Scherz explores how local commitment to the morality of patron-client relationships troubles the ethical ambitions that drive NGO work. In a text that is at once ethnographically complex and exceptionally well argued, and that attends as much to the ethics of institutional as to personal life, she offers the kind of analysis of the politics and morality of aid in the contemporary world that reminds us why anthropology remains a crucial discipline going forward.”
In this vivid ethnography, Harri Englund investigates how ideas of freedom impede struggles against poverty and injustice in emerging democracies. Reaching beyond a narrow focus on the national elite, Prisoners of Freedom shows how foreign aid and human rights activism hamper the pursuit of democratic citizenship in Africa. The book explores how activistsand#8217; aspirations of self-improvement, pursued under harsh economic conditions, find in the human rights discourse a new means to distinguish oneself from the poor masses. Among expatriates, the emphasis on abstract human rights avoids confrontations with the political and business elites. Drawing on long-term research among the Malawian poor, Englund brings to life the personal circumstances of Malawian human rights activists, their expatriate benefactors, and the urban and rural poor as he develops a fresh perspective on freedomand#151;one that recognizes the significance of debt, obligation, and civil virtues.
"This is an exceptionally interesting and well researched book on a topic of enormous importance. It brings careful ethnographic fieldwork to bear on the new 'culture of rights' that has developed in democratized post-colonial African states such as Malawi, and by doing so develops a powerful and consequential critique."and#151;James Ferguson, Stanford University
"In this exceptionally rich and thought-provoking study of human rights fundamentalism in Malawi, Harri Englund makes an original contribution to debates on democracy, freedom, civil society, and poverty in Africa. His vivid ethnographic prose brings to life Malawian human rights activists, their expatriate benefactors as well as the urban and rural poor. This is a major contribution on a major topic."and#151;Francis B. Nyamnjoh, Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa
About the Author
Harri Englund is University Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of From War to Peace on the Mozambique-Malawi Borderland and the editor of A Democracy of Chameleons: Politics and Culture in the New Malawi and Rights and the Politics of Recognition in Africa.
Table of Contents
ONE / Introduction: What We Are Doing Here Is Not Charity
TWO / Genealogies: Accidental Histories of Charity, Sustainable Development, and Kiganda Ethics of Interdependence
THREE / Waiting: The Disappointments of Sustainable Development
FOUR / Love Is the Answer”: Charity and Kiganda Ethics of Interdependence
FIVE / Performance Philanthropy: Sustainable Development and the Ethics of Audit
SIX / Let Us Make God Our Banker”: Charity and an Ethics of Virtue
SEVEN Conclusion: The Politics and Antipolitics of Charity and Sustainable Development