Saving the World? Western Volunteers and the Rise of the Humanitarian-Development Complex

Agnieszka Sobocinska

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


From the 1950s, tens of thousands of well-meaning Westerners left their homes to volunteer in distant corners of the globe. Aflame with optimism, they set out to save the world, but their actions were invariably intertwined with decolonization, globalization and the Cold War. Closely exploring British, American and Australian programs, Agnieszka Sobocinska situates Western volunteers at the heart of the 'humanitarian-development complex'. This nexus of governments, NGOs, private corporations and public opinion encouraged continuous and accelerating intervention in the Global South from the 1950s. Volunteers attracted a great deal of support in their home countries. But critics across the Global South protested that volunteers put an attractive face on neocolonial power, and extended the logic of intervention embedded in the global system of international development. Saving the World? brings together a wide range of sources to construct a rich narrative of the meeting between Global North and Global South.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCambridge UK
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages318
ISBN (Electronic)9781108784320
ISBN (Print)9781108478137
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameGlobal and International History
PublisherCambridge University Press

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