Kiri Gurd


This paper explores the relationship between power/knowledge and violence. It attempts to connect epistemological constructions and discursive practices to conflict and humanitarian aid operations by deconstructing the narrative of ‘Development’. The paper also attempts to tease out the way seemingly transparent and humanitarian actions, even within the academy, are complicit in reiterating hegemonic representations that reproduce systems of inequality and injustice. The paper draws on feminist methodologies that are primarily deconstructive in nature in order to highlight these connections and complicities, making clear that the way certain knowledges become centralized, while others are subjugated, reflects the functioning of the global political economy and imperialism. Thus, the paper argues that a transformative humanitarian aid practice must affirm what is ‘excluded’ from the discourse – the ‘incommensurable’. Lastly, the paper examines the potential of the ‘rights-based’ approach to sustain the affirmation of incommensurability. The paper hopes to make clear the importance of critical feminist theory for politics and practices.

Author Biography

This paper was written for Kiri Gurd’s MSc dissertation in Gender and Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She graduated from LSE in 2003, and since then has been working as the Director of Community Education and Outreach at the South Shore YMCA in Boston, MA. In this position, she is responsible for ensuring that the association is providing services that meet the needs of our immigrant communities. In addition, she coordinates a Federal education grant for ‘at-risk’ youth in lower socioeconomic areas. Lastly, she oversees the association’s International Program, which entails establishing partnerships with YMCAs overseas and developing programs that build cross-cultural awareness. She has recently finished applying to PhD programs starting in the Fall 2006 and looks forward to continuing to engage with the issues presented in this paper.