I’m honoured to let you all know that this recently published book, White Saviorism in International Development, includes a chapter co-authored by my colleague Shama Dossa and myself. The chapter agues that the principles and practices of evaluation are tools for the White gaze, and perpetuate neo-colonial and racist aspects of global development.
Here is the abstract:
Evaluation has long been considered an essential part of international development, as it seeks to assess the effectiveness, efficiency and impact of different interventions. Global development is increasingly being critiqued for perpetuating neo-colonial, imperial, neoliberal and racist agendas, and we believe that the principles and practices of evaluation are important tools in service of these agendas. In this chapter, we argue that many of the principles and practices of evaluation are tools for the White gaze, which is rooted in White supremacy and serves the narrative of White Saviorism. Evaluation in global development centres the White subject as the doer, the Savior and the neutral expert. It establishes Whiteness as the norm, identifies deficits and problems in the lives of Black and Brown people and demonstrates how interventions designed and funded by the Global North are necessary and effective—thereby reinforcing the ‘feel good’ element of the White Saviorism. Furthermore, the White gaze contorts the purposes and ethics of evaluation. While couched in the discourse of ‘accountability’ and ‘evidence-based’ decision-making, evaluation implicitly serves as a tool for White surveillance and intervention on Brown and Black lives in the Global South.
The chapter is part of an overall brilliant, thought-provoking, and challenging (in that it challenges foundational approaches and practices in global development and philanthropy) compilation of writings on White Saviorism in International Development, co-edited by Themrise Khan, Kanakulya Dickson, Maïka Sondarjee. I encourage you to read the book if you get the chance. And feel free to reach out to me to discuss further (or if you need help accessing my chapter).