Technologizing Humanitarian Space: Darfur Advocacy and the Rape?Stove Panacea

Samer Abdelnour, AM Saeed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We examine how an unassuming domestic technology—the fuel-efficient stove—came to be construed as an effective tool for reducing sexual violence globally. Highlighting the process of problematization, the linking of problems with actionable solutions, we show how US-based humanitarian advocacy organizations drew upon spatial, gender, perpetrator, racial, and interventionist representations to advance the notion that “stoves reduce rape” in Darfur. Though their effectiveness in Darfur remains questionable, efficient stoves were consequently adopted as a universal technical panacea for sexual violence in any conflict or refugee camp context. By examining the emergence and global diffusion of the rape-stove problematization, our study documents an important example of the technologizing of humanitarian space. We postulate fuel-efficient stoves to be a technology of Othering able to simplify, combine, decontextualize, and transform problematizations from their originating contexts elsewhere. When humanitarian advocates construe immensely complex crises as “manageable problems,” the promotion of simple technical panaceas may inadvertently increase the burden of poverty for user-beneficiaries and silence the voices of those they claim to champion and serve.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-163
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Political Sociology
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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