Myfanwy James is a research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine & DPhil (PhD) graduate from the University of Oxford. In this video, she presents her thesis entitled: “Instruments of Identity: Médecins Sans Frontières and Humanitarian Negotiations for Access in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (RDC)”.
Myfanwy James’ work allows us to get a deeper understanding of the everyday practice of security management and negotiations for access conducted by organisations such as Médecins Sans Frontières. Her thesis is the result of on ethnographic fieldwork and interviews in the North Kivu region in DRC, as well as an archival exploration in the MSF offices in Paris, and it examines the experience of MSF Congolese employees who navigate a complex politics of humanitarian fixing and brokerage. By exploring the tensions between their political and social integration and the need for them to put MSF principles into practice, Myfanwy James’ work shows how MSF Congolose employees embody the contradictions often present in humanitarian work: a simultaneous need for operational ‘proximity’, as well as performative distance from everyday conflict processes.
This work also comes at a time when discussions of inequality and diversity are at the forefront of the sector. The reflections she has made in her thesis on this subject are essential to understanding issues of 'colonial continuities' in humanitarian action, as discussed in her work.
You can find a chapter of Myfanwy’s thesis on Volume 2: Issue 2 of the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs, co-hosted jointly by The Humanitarian Affairs Team at Save the Children UK (HAT), the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute at the University of Manchester (HCRI) and the CRASH.
To cite this content :
MYFANWY JAMES, Médecins Sans Frontières and Humanitarian Negotiations for Access in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 25 May 2021, URL : https://www.msf-crash.org/en/blog/humanitarian-actors-and-practices/medecins-sans-frontieres-and-humanitarian-negotiations
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