As international volunteer health work increases globally, research pertaining to the social organizations that coordinate the volunteer experience in the Global South has severely lagged. The purpose of this ethnographic study was to critically examine the social organizations within Canadian NGOs in the provision of health work in Tanzania. Multiple, concurrent data collection methods, including text analysis, participant observation and in-depth interviews were utilized. Data collection occurred in Tanzania and Canada. Neoliberalism and neocolonialism were pervasive in international volunteer health work. In this study, the social relations—“volunteer as client,” “experience as commodity,” and “free market evaluation”—coordinated the volunteer experience, whereby the volunteers became “the client” over the local community and resulting in an asymmetrical relationship. These findings illuminate the need to generate additional awareness and response related to social inequities embedded in international volunteer health work.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/helene-berman/22/