This article pursues critical gender analysis of conditions of non-governmental (NGO) assistance in the Czech Republic. The study scrutinises practices of assistance in local, low-threshold NGOs working with immigrants, asylum seekers and/or recognized refugees. Although they provide refugees with essential support, this research shows that the NGOs can foster rather than challenge unequal power relations that define refugees primarily as dependent clients. They produce highly feminised spaces of assistance where these power relations produce gendered ‘criteria of belonging’ (Ong, 1996, 738) that impact differently on refugee women and men. The organisations have, often unacknowledged, vested interests in producing certain client identities in order to sustain their existence and to gain a desired social image. This study aims to provide an insight into gendered power structures of assistance to and representation of refugees provided by the representatives of privileged majority and characterised by informality and discretion.

Note on the Author

Alice Szczepanikova is a Alexander von Humboldt Post-doctoral Research Fellow IPC – Internationales Promotions-Colleg (International Postgraduate Programme) Goethe-Universitat Frankfurt am Main.