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Keywords:

  • [Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs);
  • globalization;
  • Haiti;
  • neoliberalism;
  • nongovernmentality;
  • NGO class;
  • semi elites;
  • transnational middle class]

Drawing from two ethnographic case studies, both from Haiti, this article argues that nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), as intermediaries, “glue” globalization in four ways. First, in their “gap filler” roles NGOs provide legitimacy to globalization, representing alternatives to states fragmented by neoliberalism. Second, NGOs, in the contemporary neoliberal aid regime, can undermine the governance capacity of states in the Global South, eroding the Keynesian social welfare state ethos and social contract that states are (or should be) responsible for service provision. Third, NGOs provide high-paying jobs to an educated middle class, reproducing inequalities inherent to and required by the contemporary neoliberal world system. Fourth, NGOs, as an ideologically dependent transnational middle class, constitute buffers between elites and impoverished masses and can present institutional barriers against local participation and priority setting. Drawing on recent anthropological scholarship that moves away from reifying NGOs and their professed ideologies, this article focuses on NGO practice.