Applications of Biopower to NGO-Donor Partnerships for HIV Prevention in Jordan

Zachary Gallin


NGOs serving marginalized groups in the developing world often lie under heavy donor influence, so they must toe the line between compliance with and resistance against their funders to best promote the well-being of their beneficiaries. Jordanian health NGOs have grappled with these power dynamics since the 1990s when donor countries began pouring money into Jordan's private sector as part of structural adjustment. I use ethnographic data from a Jordanian HIV prevention NGO to analyze how Foucault’s (1978) theory of biopower applies to international NGO-donor relationships. I argue that the international aid chain transforms NGO staff and the populations they serve into biological subjects expected to adhere to norms set by American and European donors. Biopower manifests differently depending on donor approaches to project implementation, monitoring, and evaluation.


biopower; Jordan; HIV/AIDS; NGOs

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