Anna Bocking-Welch: “Donor demands and political controversies: Oxfam, Barclays, and South Africa”

3:30pm - 5:00pm / Monday 16th March 2020 / Venue: Lecture Theatre 1, Rendall Building
Type: Seminar / Category: Department
  • Add this event to my calendar

    When you click on "Add this event to my calendar" your browser will download an ics file.

    Microsoft Outlook: Download the file, then you may be able to click on "Save & Close" to save it to your calendar. If that doesn't work go into Outlook, click on the File tab, then on Open, then Import. Select "Import an iCalendar (.ic or vCalendar file (.vcs)" then click on Next. Find the .ics file and click on OK.

    Google Calendar: download the file, then go into your calendar. On the right where it says "Other calendars" click on the arrow icon and then click on Import calendar. Click on Browse and select the .ics file, then click on Import.

    Apple Calendar: download the file, then you can either drag it to Calendar or import the file by going to File > Import > Import and choosing the .ics file.

The paper is about the relationship between Oxfam, their supporters in the UK, and apartheid South Africa. It will focus specifically on Oxfam’s entanglement in the Boycott Barclays campaign in the 1980s –which formed part of the wider anti-apartheid campaign–and use this case study to think about how humanitarian NGOs engage with their supporters in dealing with controversial issues and, more broadly, about the changing political nature of aid and development in this period. Scholarship on humanitarianism is a rapidly expanding field but there is still as Bertrand Taithe has argued, ‘much work to be done on what these charities actually represent to those who contribute to their existence.’ The paper analyses letters of complaint that Oxfam received about its South Africa policies between 1970 and 1990. It argues that the letters give a much richer sense of the public’s engagement with humanitarianism than the quantitative data from opinion polls and donation income that we might otherwise rely on as indicators of public opinion.