Sandwich Seminar - "NGO Cultures"

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM (ET)
Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge - Room 221
Event Type
Sandwich Seminar
President's Office

Presented by Matthew Chambers, assistant professor, American Studies Center at University of Warsaw, Poland


This presentation looks at the role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the fields of literary and cultural production. The unique administrative form of NGOs - they are not state institutions but share certain structural similarities- make their roles in humanitarian outreach, literacy campaigns, free speech advocacy, publishing, and awards granting worth reviewing. Yet, the world NGO system is varied and complex, so in choosing a few to address, the extent of their reach and impact needs to be considered. The global operations of International PEN, Amnesty International, and UNESCO argue for the deeper attention that state actors have received of late for their roles in the post-war development of the humanities. Additionally, despite the associations these NGOs have in single competences - PEN (writing), Amnesty (human rights), and UNESCO (cultural preservation) - these nongovernmental actors operate in multiple, overlapping sectors. As such, they quite often share resources and points of view, and thus contextualizing their respective stated missions and historical origins should bring into focus the array of issues they involve themselves in. The origins of these NGOs reside in cultural leftist or liberal internationalist theories of development and global peace, yet the process of their institutionalization as NGOs has shifted those foundational imperatives into neoliberal cultural management programs. Collectively , I refer to the institutional reach and potential influence of these organizations as "NGO cultures". "NGO cultures" are both an informal set of relations between funded institutions and the broader public, and the cultures they produce through a formalized bureaucratic network with its own internal logic and imperatives.

Short Title
Sandwich Seminar: NGO Cultures

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