Tanja Hendriks

A STATE OF RELIEF: GOVERNANCE AND HUMAN SECURITY. The state and everyday practices of governing in Malawi.

Having a background in anthropology, international development studies and African Studies, I became interested in the role of the state during my fieldwork in the aftermath of the devastating floods that hit Malawi in 2015. My PhD project on governance and human security therefore aims to explore state legitimacy ethnographically by focusing on everyday practices of governing in disaster relief interventions in Malawi.

States are commonly considered responsible for protecting their citizens from harm and safeguarding their livelihoods. Yet this is no easy task for Malawi; a donor-dependent and disaster prone country with limited state capacity. When disaster strikes, the Malawi state thus engages in complex collaborations with donors, non-governmental organizations, global humanitarian aid institutions, volunteers and (affected) citizens to carry out relief interventions. By exploring these collaborations with a focus on the everyday practices of civil servants working in the Department of Disaster Management Affairs, I aim to answer the following research question: how do the everyday practices of governing in disaster relief interventions construct, negotiate, undermine or strengthen the legitimacy of the Malawi state?