• Edda Maria von Wildenradt
  • Maria Lagoni Grube Andersen
  • Maria Schnell Nielsen
4. term, Global Refugee Studies, Master (Master Programme)
The aim of the thesis is to examine how and why local organisations in Ramallah present counterdiscourses
towards the international discourse. To do so, the thesis applies the theoretical
framework of Ernesto Laclau and Chantel Mouffe’s discourse theory, to the empirical data. The
thesis relies on a (shorter) ethnographic fieldwork, where the data has been gathered through a
combination of a six-months internship, one-week preparatory fieldwork and five weeks gathered
fieldwork in Ramallah. During our fieldwork, we conducted seven interviews with organisations
and experts within the NGO sector in Palestine. Additionally, central data was gathered through
participant observations, informal conversations and secondary literature. What the thesis reveals is,
that there exist two dominating discourses within the NGO sector in Palestine, namely a local and
an international discourse, where the latter is highly influenced by Western ideologies. Furthermore,
our findings reveal that there exist various counter-discourses that are constantly battling against the
international discourse to be the hegemonic one. The three main counter-discourses, that we
identified doing our fieldwork in Ramallah, was ‘The International Donor’s Agenda Discourse’,
‘Inferior Status Discourse’ and ‘Individualisation Discourse’. These counter-discourses are built
upon the notion, that the influx of NGOs in Palestine has weakened, and some would even say
destroyed, the Palestinian civil society. What is being argued is, that the international donors push
forth a political agenda through several restrictions that constrain the organisations autonomy.
Furthermore, it is being argued that the Palestinians interlink the NGO sector with new forms of
colonial power structures, which constrain the Palestinians from forming their own national project.
At last but not least, the thesis reveals that the influx of NGOs has contributed to a more
individualised and passive civil society, as a consequence of the neoliberal and capitalistic system
that followed with the influx of NGOs. The thesis further reveals, that there is a generational gap in
how the NGOs are perceived, where the younger generation seems to take advantage of the
opportunities they offer, while the older generation have a far more critical stance towards their
existence. At last, the thesis reveals that these counter-discourses stem from certain personal or
ideological perspectives, namely from a romanticised notion of the past, a diaspora perspective, and
from the ideology of Marxism. The thesis thereby concludes, that there do not exist one static
dominating discourse, but rather a constant discursive battle between the international discourse and
Publication date31 May 2018
Number of pages95
ID: 280185118