|Title||An ethnography of human rights at the World Bank|
Established on July 1, 1944, the World Bank has become the largest lender to developing countries and operates under a goal of poverty reduction. The institution may be implicated in human rights in at least three possible activities: the Banks lending of money to governments that violate human rightsï¼› its direct or indirect violation of human rights e.g., the forcible displacement of indigenous peoples resulting from a Bank-financed dam project)ï¼› and the Banks promotion of human rights e.g., designing projects with specific human rights objectives). Yet while the Bank has adopted a number of social and environmental policies, it has not adopted any overarching policy or framework on human rights. Despite the Banks rhetoric in support of these concerns, its employees do not systematically incorporate human rights into their everyday decision making or consistently take them into consideration in lending. I argue that legal and political constraints do not fully explain the marginality of this issue in the Banks operations. What has been missing from existing explanations is an anthropological account of the bureaucracy that uncovers internal obstacles to the adoption of human rights norms. This dissertation offers an ethnographic analysis of the Banks organizational culture based on 24 months of extensive field research at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. over the 2002-2006 period. The dilemma of human rights at the Bank represents a clash of normative rationalities: economics versus human rights, or more broadly, the market versus social democratic liberalism. In this study, I demonstrate how the bureaucratization of human rights imbues them with a technocratic rationality through a process of delegalization and depoliticization. Internal conflict among experts uncovers the multiple logics that encompass human rights, including their regulatory and sovereignty dimensions. By analyzing the culture of an international economic institution through the lens of a universal discourse, I analyze the technologies of neoliberal governmentality, the dynamics of global normmaking, and the negotiation of competing values that underlie global governance.
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