The growth of the postwar 20th century international aid architecture has generated much debate over the successes and failures of aid, its changing forms and its challenges. This article uses this aid landscape to explore the representational or discursive power and authority of the aid donor over the aid recipient. It suggests that representations about what aid does, its modalities and dispensations reproduce a hegemonic discourse and that representational authority in diagnosing aid's problems and prescribing solutions resides generally on one side of the aid binary. It thus focuses on the hierarchical or asymmetric relations of power implied by such a binary, on the way development aid in particular has come to shape self-understandings of donors in relation to recipients, and on the discursive labour that enables such a construction. It also explores how the post-Washington consensus on poverty eradication has embedded neoliberal solutions to development. The reproduction of the hegemonic aid discourse is examined in reference to NGOs involved in the dispensing of aid in Southeast Asia by drawing on scholarly literature and field research in Southeast Asia and Washington DC.
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