Colonization, Development, Humanitarian Aid: Towards a Political Anthropology of International Aid

By Laëtitia Atlani-Duault, Jean-Pierre Dozon

The goals of this paper are threefold: 1) to trace the history of anthropological research on aid since colonial times; 2) to question what we see as today’s blurring of lines between humanitarian and development aid; and 3) to call for a critical political anthropology of international aid. In doing so, we update the genealogy of French-language anthropological literature on colonization, development and humanitarian aid since 1949, providing the context necessary for our discussion of the recent shift that has taken place between development and humanitarian aid. This in turn supports the need for an anthropology of international aid that is both anchored in the history of the discipline and able to come to grips with the ways in which aid is currently being reconfigured in a period of neoliberal globalization.


  • anthropology
  • colonialism
  • development
  • humanitarianism
  • international aid
Go to the article on