Paper: Case-study: The challenges of decolonisation

Paper details

Paper authors Susan Kenny
In panel on Decolonising aid? Issues and directions
Paper presenter(s) will be presenting In-Person / Online


On Sunday 26th December, just before 8.00 am local time, an earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale occurred just off the north western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, causing a massive tsunami. The tsunami reached the province of Aceh in 45 minutes, bringing massive destruction and the loss of at least 130,000 people in Aceh alone. The community infrastructure such as drinking water, housing, draining, power, schools, roads, clinics, meeting halls and mosques were destroyed or severely damaged. The scale of the disaster prompted unparalleled global sympathy and unprecedented donor commitments. Within weeks over 200 international aid agencies and INGOs arrived in Aceh to organise the relief and reconstruction effort. At the same time the international media rushed to Aceh to report on the disaster, focusing on the disaster graphics of destroyed habitat and locals as victims. The actions of the international interventions and the dominant narratives employed by the media illustrate the ways in which the framework of coloniality has endured. However there is another story which has been central to the relief and reconstruction processes in post-tsunami Aceh. It involves the decolonising narratives of how local Acehnese people themselves were key actors. This paper explores the actions of one local organisation, Forum Bangun Aceh (FBA). It discusses the background to the formation of FBA, its mission and the many challenges it has faced in constructing and applying its own framework for development and reconstruction.



Susan Kenny