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Can the World Bank do the right thing? When anti-corruption movements become anti-corruption budget lines

Publishing year: 2007
Language: English
Document type: Conference paper


With Paul Wolfowitz now heading the World Bank, fighting corruption has become a top priority, with the Bank actually holding back funds to various countries due to corruption. USAID has also allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to anticorruption and governance. At the same time, there exist grassroots anticorruption initiatives, many of whom are linked to the international NGO Transparency International (TI). TI’s strategy of non-confrontational “coalition building” is to include all anti-corruption actors in the global anticorruption movement. Based on fieldwork with TI, this paper discusses how such powerful actors as the Bank and USAID can be included in the movement for global integrity, and the consequences for local activists. When anti-corruption becomes a budget line, what happens to social movements? Similar processes, from movement to budget line, have occurred with “human rights” and “civil society”. Without dismissing such processes as mere discourse or neoliberal conspiracy, how should we view such processes and how should we study them?


  • Social Anthropology
  • social anthropology
  • anti-corruption
  • social movements
  • neoliberalism
  • development
  • World Bank
  • corruption


Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, 2007