The Revolt of the Pitied

Development assistance and general engagement between the West and the developing world is often laden with a lot of both intentional and non-intentional objectification of those being “assisted” (and we academics are no exception). This is something that I have since come to accept as inevitable in cross-cultural interactions.

Others are less tolerant, and rightly so. Here is Magatte Wade writing over at The Guardian:

“Her question assumed that those of us in developing nations are to be pitied. I know as a Senegalese that her attitude is precisely what disgusts us about many who work at NGOs.

For many of those who “care” about Africans, we are objects through which they express their own “caring”.

I replied to the young woman, “If you see us as human beings, there is nothing to deal with. We like to eat good food, we love to talk and laugh with our family and friends. We wonder about the world, and why so often bad is rewarded rather than good.”

H/T: NYU Development Research Institute

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