Expatriés Africains et Race dans l'Anthropologie de l'Humanitarisme

Translated title of the contribution: African expatriates and race in the anthropology of humanitarianism

Adia Benton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Anthropological critiques of humanitarianism in Africa emphasize the workings of power, usually along lines of cultural, class, economic, and political difference. While these critiques often mention race, they engage less explicitly with structural racism and white supremacy as intimately woven into humanitarian professional practice. Such an engagement requires looking at how structures of inequality, white supremacy among them, shape the everyday practices of humanitarianism: from recruitment and hiring practices to reception and expectations by local staff. Drawing on work experience (7 months, 2003–2004) and ethnographic data from post-conflict Sierra Leone (20 months, 2005–2007) and recent in-depth interviews with former colleagues (2012), I focus on African expatriates working in African countries in which they are not ‘native’ to re-format critical analyses that have emphasized translational or intermediary roles for African elites. I argue that African expatriates navigate multiple levels and scales in their work and operate under conditions in which assessments of their expertise, mobility and professional ‘success’ are racialized. Ultimately, I suggest that expatriate Africans operate as figures that call into question the metaphors of direction and scale implied in a discussion of studying up in Africa, while they also compel anthropologists to examine how institutions embody and reproduce inequalities.

Translated title of the contributionAfrican expatriates and race in the anthropology of humanitarianism
Original languageFrench
Pages (from-to)266-277
Number of pages12
JournalCritical African Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • African expatriates
  • humanitarianism
  • labour
  • race
  • white supremacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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