Forming a Humanitarian Brand: Childhood and Affect in Central Australia

  • Drew AndersonEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies on Children and Development book series (PSCD)


This chapter draws upon ethnographic research with an international NGO working with Indigenous communities in the central desert of Australia. International NGOs have often relied upon the commodification of children in the Global South as the face of their brands, in order to raise funds. I argue that humanitarian imagery is produced according to particular norms that aim at cultivating the “immaterial labor” (Hardt and Negri 2004) of a consumer, inviting them to self-identify with the position of a donor. However, the Indigenous people in my study, when drawn into humanitarian brand discourse, problematize the recognizable frames of the brand by resisting the adoption of standardized humanitarian postures, subsequently breaking with the North–South divide upon which the brand usually relies, and identifying with the position of donor and not recipient. I thereby consider the ways in which the humanitarian brand does not simply link the positions of donor and recipient, but also constitutes and enacts those positions in a productive network.



I am particularly grateful to all research participants in this study. I also thank Tess Lea, Nicolas Peterson, Eve Vincent, Miriam Thangaraj, Caroline E. Compretta, and Aviva Sinervo for earlier comments on this draft. My fieldwork in Central Australia was funded through an Australian Postgraduate Award and the Australian National University, as well as a grant from the Berndt Foundation.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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