Armed with a faculty fellowship sponsored by the Xavier Jesuit community, associate professor of theology Marie Giblin and associate professor of history Kathleen Smythe spent September in rural Tanzania and the rest of the fall semester reading and writing about the project, “Americans, Africans and the Quest for a Humane Future.”
The two veteran African travelers are writing a book about the relationships between Tanzania and the U.S. A major focus of their research is the U.S. Agency for International Development, which funnels most U.S. aid to the continent and to other non-governmental and for-profit organizations. Giblin is focusing on how aid affects treatment for AIDS and malaria. Smythe is studying the impact of the used clothing industry, which Africans rely on for most of their clothes. And together they are looking into the impact the U.S. is having in terms of agriculture.
So far, the picture is grim. “Our research concludes aid does not deliver what is in the best interests of the poor and rarely contributes to transparent, democratic African governments,” Smythe says. “It’s time to use African strengths to inform our narrowly conceived versions of aid.”