Allies or Adversaries? NGOs and the State in Development

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Abstract: Governments throughout the developing world have witnessed a proliferation of non-governmental, non-profit organizations (NGOs) providing services like education, healthcare and piped drinking water in their territory. In Allies or Adversaries? NGOs and the State in Africa, Jennifer N. Brass explains how these NGOs have changed the nature of service provision, governance, and state development in the early twenty-first century. Analyzing original surveys alongside interviews with public officials, NGOs and citizens, Brass traces street-level government-NGO and state-society relations in rural, town and city settings of Kenya. She examines several case studies of NGOs in order to demonstrate how the boundary between purely state and non-state actors blurs, resulting in a very slow turn toward more accountable and democratic public service administration. Ideal for scholars, international development practitioners, and students interested in global or international affairs, this detailed analysis provides rich data about NGO-government and citizen-state interactions in an accessible and original manner. In this talk, Brass will discuss not only key findings from her research, but also some of the fieldwork and methodological challenges associated with researching and writing the book. Allies or Adversaries was the 2018 Best Book prize winner at the Association of Research on Nonprofits and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) annual meeting, and the winner of the American Political Science Association APCG-Lynne Reinner Dissertation Award (in its dissertation version).

About Speaker: Dr. Jennifer N. Brass is an expert on service provision, governance, and state development, with a primary geographic focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Her book, Allies or Adversaries? NGOs and the State in Africa (Cambridge University Press; winner of the 2018 ARNOVA Outstanding Book Award), examines the role that nongovernmental organizations play in service provision, state-society relations, and state development in Kenya. Related to her monograph, Brass’s newest research agenda aims to synthesize collective knowledge about the effects and effectiveness of NGOs using systematic review techniques. A second, collaborative project examines the politics and governance of renewable and small-scale electricity provision in developing countries, with a focus on Africa. Brass's articles have appeared in Governance, World Development, Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Political Geography, Journal of Development Studies, Journal of Modern African Studies, Annual Review of Environment & Resources, WIREs: Energy & Environment, and Journal of Public Affairs Education, among others. Brass has conducted extensive field research in Senegal, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda. She holds a Ph.D. and masters in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley, and an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.
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