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Development Imaginaries: Gender and Comparative Aid Chains in Cambodia

Despite a shared aim of improving women’s health, international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) from the U.S. and Japan implement very different programs in Cambodia. Japanese donors and INGO headquarters in Tokyo focus on strengthening government-provided health services in developing countries. Contrastingly, U.S. donors and INGOs based in Washington D.C. promote a diverse healthcare sector including private providers and civil society organizations. What do these differences mean for development outcomes in Cambodia? To investigate the consequences of national variation in women’s health programming, Mary-Collier conducted an ethnography of global aid chains, observing donor agencies and INGOs in Tokyo and Washington D.C., and local organizations in Cambodia that implement the programming funded and designed in distant offices. Contributing to scholarly theories of global civil society and international development, she contends that in order to adequately analyze and improve development outcomes, we must attend to national variation in INGO programs and practices.

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Mary-Collier Wilks is a doctoral candidate in Sociology at the University of Virginia, USA, and a CKS research fellow. Her research interests include globalization, gender, health, and the politics of international development. Mary-Collier is currently working to complete her dissertation. For her dissertation, funded by the Center for Khmer Studies, National Science Foundation, and the Fulbright IIE, she conducted a multi-sited ethnography comparing INGOs from the U.S. and Japan implementing women’s health programs in Cambodia.

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