Shifting Power Dynamics in the Humanitarian Sector: The Realization of Localization and Decolonization by Humanitarian Professionals
This thesis investigates the relevance of non-Western epistmologies of wisdom in actualizing change in humanitarianism’s culture, approaches, and outcomes. Several authors, especially those from the Global South, point to the complicity of professional humanitarianism in the harmful reproduction of colonial and secular knowledge hierarchies. This thesis integrates their concerns with the insights of Buddhism and the cognitive philosophy of wisdom to construct a process tracing methodology called Self-Localization. Using this process, this thesis analyzes a case of South-South humanitarianism, Tzu Chi Phillippines’ response to the 2009 Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. Through that analysis, this thesis finds that an epistemology of internal cultivation was positively correlated with social approaches to humanitarianism and, in turn, some measures of self-localization. However, further research is required in order to discern whether or not subsequent moral hierarchies were harmful. In addition, this thesis recommends that humanitarian researchers and aid workers look to learn from teachers of wisdom, religious and spiritual actors, within their operational context.
Heffron, Ryan Patrick, "Shifting Power Dynamics in the Humanitarian Sector: The Realization of Localization and Decolonization by Humanitarian Professionals" (2023). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30530482.