Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipating in a conference, workshop, ...


As part of the RGS-IBG 2022 Conference Session "Geographies of volunteering through and beyond crisis and recovery", Dr Inge Boudewijn (Northumbria University, UK) and Dr Egidius Kamanyi (University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) presented the paper "Geographies of expert knowledge and volunteer work during crises and beyond in Uganda, Tanzania and Nepal", also co-authored by Prof Katy Jenkins, Prof Matt Baillie Smith, Dr Bianca Fadel, Dr Phil Gibby (Northumbria University, UK), Dr Moses Okech (Uganda Martyrs University, Uganda), and Dr Jeevan Baniya (Social Science Baha, Nepal).

Paper abstract: The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has brought significant challenges to volunteer-involving development organisations, impacting on their ability to continue to deliver programmes and to engage with volunteers and communities on the ground. However, it also provides a lens through which to interrogate how the expertise and knowledges of different types of volunteer are brought to bear on development projects during moments of crisis, in ways that would not necessarily have been expected – or even possible – in pre-pandemic times. Drawing on research conducted throughout the pandemic in partnership with the INGO Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO), across Tanzania, Uganda and Nepal, we explore relationships between different volunteers in the context of VSO’s ‘blended volunteering’ approach, analysing how these were shaped by both the immediate crisis of the pandemic, as well as longer histories of development intervention. We analyse the degree to which the pandemic unsettled hierarchies of knowledge within and between volunteer spaces, providing an opportunity to de-emphasise the traditional prominence of international volunteers within the volunteer experience, and to recognise and capitalise on the skills and expertise that exist within communities. However, we also critically analyse the degree to which historic traces of inequality persisted through the pandemic, and how these continue through and beyond the crisis, despite claims of rupture. In considering how volunteering practices might evolve in the post-pandemic context, we critically explore how insights into the blended volunteering approach demand that we expand existing conceptualisations of volunteering expertise and re-work assumptions around global and local volunteer mobilities in the context of crises and recovery.
Period31 Aug 2022
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionInternational