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Development NGOs and Languages

Listening, Power and Inclusion

Authors: Footitt, Hilary, Crack, Angela, Tesseur, Wine

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  • Addresses, for the first time, the question of how development NGOs attempt to 'listen' to communities in linguistically diverse environments
  • The combined research of a civil society expert and modern languages experts
  •  A systematic study of the role of foreign languages in development work
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  • ISBN 978-3-030-51776-2
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About this book

This book addresses, for the first time, the question of how development NGOs attempt to 'listen' to communities in linguistically diverse environments. NGOs are under increasing pressure to demonstrate that they 'listen' to the people and communities that they are trying to serve, but this can be an immensely challenging task where there are significant language and cultural differences. However, until now, there has been no systematic study of the role of foreign languages in development work. The authors present findings based on interviews with a wide range of NGO staff and government officials, NGO archives, and observations of NGO-community interaction in country case studies. They suggest ways in which NGOs can reform their language policies to listen to the recipients of aid more effectively.

About the authors

Angela M. Crack is Reader in Civil Society at the University of Portsmouth, where she leads the ‘Transnational Civil Society’ research cluster. Her research specialism is NGOs and civil society, and she is the author of several journal articles on this subject as well as Global Communication and Transnational Public Spheres (Palgrave, 2007). She is the founder and co-convenor of the British International Studies Association (BISA) Working Group on NGOs. She teaches undergraduate and postgraduate units that focus on the role of civil society actors in world politics.

Hilary Footitt is Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies, University of Reading, and PI for the AHRC funded project: 'The Listening Zones of NGOs: Languages and Cultural Knowledge in development programmes'. She was in the interdisciplinary research team of the Leverhulme funded project, 'The Liberal Way of War', led in the Politics and International Relations Dept. of the University, and has taught on the Masters programme in War and Conflict. She has published widely on languages in international settings..

Wine Tesseur is Researcher in the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies at the University of Reading. She is currently working on the AHRC-funded project "The Listening Zones of NGOs: Languages and Cultural Knowledge in Development Programmes", which aims to explore the role that languages and cultural knowledge play in the policies and practices of development NGOs. She has taught and published on language and translation policies in NGOs.

Reviews

Sensitivity to languages is central to any serious analysis of inequality between Global North and Global South. Development NGOs and Languages is a long overdue intervention in this area, exploring urgent questions of interpreting and translation in the work of international NGOs. Drawing on extensive geographical and institutional case studies, the book recasts development as an inherently multilingual operation. The result is essential reading for scholars and practitioners in this field.
– Charles Forsdick, AHRC Theme Leadership Fellow, Translating Cultures

Humanitarian and developmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) play a significant role in our complex and fragile world. They operate in diverse contexts which are often characterised by multilingualism. However, we know hardly anything about how NGOs communicate with local communities, and how they perceive the role of languages and cultural knowledge in their development programmes. This volume investigates development as a multilingual endeavour and focuses on the ways in which NGOs listen to the voices of those on the receiving end of aid, which can be listening through English or through translation. Empirical analyses of three UK-based international NGOs and case studies from Malawi, Kyrgyzstan and Peru, provide extensive insights into listening experiences and challenges faced. This highly absorbing and stimulating book is of interest both to scholars and practitioners (donors, NGOs) who can build on the valuable recommendations and thus ensure they deliver their missions of empowerment and social justice.
– Christina Schäffner, Emeritus Professor of Translation Studies, University of Aston

Development NGOs and Languages makes us question fundamental assumptions about the nature of communication in relationships among local communities and the NGOs that serve them. So often couched in references to feedback and lost voices, Footitt, Crack and Tesseur critique extant approaches to development projects, and illuminate a novel way of seeing communication in development as a two-way process of dialogic exchange. They elucidate the complexity of the in-situ communicative experiences of local actors, and to demonstrate the ways in which multi-directional communication shapes and defines the listening space. Filled with rich examples from different NGOs and different country settings, this book will make you think about the role of language and cultural understanding in development policy making and implementation.
– Julie Gilson, Reader in Asian Studies, Department of Political Science and International Studies, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom

Table of contents (10 chapters)

Table of contents (10 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $79.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-030-51776-2
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $99.99
price for USA

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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Development NGOs and Languages
Book Subtitle
Listening, Power and Inclusion
Authors
Copyright
2020
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG
eBook ISBN
978-3-030-51776-2
DOI
10.1007/978-3-030-51776-2
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-030-51775-5
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XV, 248
Number of Illustrations
1 b/w illustrations
Topics