Blogging for the University of Pennsylvania Museum on what's happening around him in the aftermath of the massive earthquake that hit May 27, he takes an anthropological view of the relief effort:
I have been intrigued by the politics of aid. For many donors, locals as well as international agencies, it is not just of manner of giving aid. It seems to be important that as many eyes as possible see who donated. Therefore, big chunks of the relief budget are wasted on the creation of huge banners, flashy bumper stickers, colorful posters, etc. As a result, most of the aid seems to concentrate on the affected villages along the main access roads. It seems incredible that some villages still have not received any help, while others are already reselling some of the relief goods delivered because they simply do not want that much. What would Marcel Mauss, who developed the anthropological theory of gift-giving, have to say about all this?
That I cannot answer.