Local Ownership as Global Governance

Published: 12 Apr 2019

The ownership discourse has profoundly altered the management of development aid. Nominally, it seeks to instil greater freedom as well as responsibilities among aid recipients. Revisiting two ethnographic studies (the World Bank–Uganda partnership and NGO relations in Ethiopia), this article shows how ‘ownership’ practices also involve new forms of tacit governance mechanisms that enable the donor to retain control. By using ‘freedom’ as a formula underpinning governance at a distance, developmentality is made contingent on the donor’s ability to frame the partnership and the conditions under which the recipient exercises the freedom that has been granted.