In our globalized world there has been a recent shift in the power dynamics and roles that countries adopt in the field of international development. The traditional donor/receiver model of economic assistance is fading, rapidly being replaced with numerous trilateral initiatives and partnerships. Leading this change are emerging economies such as Brazil, India, and South Africa. As both aid receivers and providers, these countries are using their unique positions and experiences to simultaneously help other countries develop and advance their own global ambitions. My research focus centers around economic development and the effect it has on perceptions of local populations. Specifically, I intend to look at how South Africa’s increasing role as an aid/assistance provider has affected how local populations in other sub-Saharan African countries view it as a result.
The perceptions that these countries have as a result of the development assistance they are receiving then in turn informs South Africa’s foreign policy and shapes its role on the continent. It is important to understand how power dynamics are shifting on the African continent, as it will be the epicenter for many changes in the 21st century. Using survey research methods, I intend to conduct an ethnographic study surrounding perceptions of South Africa based on the international assistance it is providing other communities in sub-Saharan Africa. From these results I hope to draw conclusions about the changing role of South Africa in the international community, and what this means for the United States.