Journeys in Aidland: An Autobiographic Exploration of Resistance to Development Aid


  • Ermina Martini University of Helsinki
  • Marjaana Jauhola University of Helsinki


The article is inspired by autobiographical and auto-ethnographic approaches to studying international relations, development and humanitarian aid.1 It consists of a collage of the authors’ personal experiences in two post-disaster contexts, respectively in Aceh, Indonesia and Haiti, and presents a dialogue between two autobiographical stories that reveal the shared experiences and emotional labour of the humanitarian aid practice. Addressing questions such as “What does it mean to feel like an outsider?”; “Outsider to what?”; “Is being an outsider a failure or a strategy of resistance?” This article circulates around the themes of mobility, temporality, intersections of class, gender and ‘whiteness’, and how they are embedded within the materiality and spatiality of humanitarian aid. Feelings of separation and discomfort point towards an opening for critical discussion on the ways in which these practices are both maintained and resisted. Although considered as an important vehicle for the care of the self, the authors struggle to offer any easy solutions, recognising their privilege of confession, and the risk of becoming trapped in the familiar circulation of truths of the Global North.

Author Biographies

Ermina Martini, University of Helsinki

Ermina Martini holds a Master of International Relations from the University of Turin, and an MA in Human Rights and Conflict Management from Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy. She is a Ph.D candidate in Development Studies as part of the Doctoral Programme in Political, Societal, and Regional Change, Faculty of Social Science, University of Helsinki. Her doctoral research focuses on dynamics of power in a post-disaster context, looking at the case study of Haiti’s reconstruction after the 2010 earthquake. She can be reached at

Marjaana Jauhola, University of Helsinki

Dr. Marjaana Jauhola is a postdoctoral researcher in Gender Studies at the University of Helsinki. She holds a Ph.D from Aberystwyth University in International Politics (2010). She writes on gendered politics and normativity of post-disaster and conflict contexts and currently conducts research on lived experiences of social and political dynamics in urban Banda Aceh using ethnography and audio-visual personal narraative methods. Her monograph, Post-Tsunami Reconstruction in Indonesia: Negotiating normativity through gender mainstreaming initiatives in Aceh, was published by Routledge in 2013. She can be reached at .


How to Cite

Martini, E., & Jauhola, M. (2016). Journeys in Aidland: An Autobiographic Exploration of Resistance to Development Aid. Journal of Narrative Politics, 1(1). Retrieved from