International Volunteerism and Development in Asia-Pacific

30/04/2014 10:38

Convenors: Dr. Sallie YEA (National Institute of Education, Singapore) & Dr. SIN Harng Luh(Department of Geography, National University of Singapore) 


Volunteerism refers to the experience of undertaking work for altruistic reasons and where there is no expectation of remuneration or other personal benefits accruing to the volunteer. Volunteerism includes the infrastructure that promotes, organized and facilitates these experiences. Geographic discussions of volunteerism often link it with geographies of care and responsibility. In Asia, as elsewhere in the ‘third world’, volunteerism as a social relation to helping has grown enormously over the twenty years or so. In particular, volunteerism has come to be characterized less by helping within the context of one’s own society and more by volunteering internationally or cross-culturally through relations of development between poor and rich countries and between marginal and empowered subjects. Arguably effects of this can be felt as much in the social reproduction of the ‘third world’ as in the amelioration of poverty and marginality. This session aims to extend discussions of volunteerism in Asia in the context of questions about its developmental effects – including effects that are material, relational and discursive. We seek papers that address any of the following themes:


  • Evaluating the short and long term impacts of international or cross-cultural volunteerism on development and poverty reduction (including but not limited to volunteer tourism or voluntourism).
  • Exploring the ways various organisations and actors promote international and cross-cultural volunteering and the communities and populations to be helped in ways that reinscribe or challenge particular geographical imaginations of the ‘third world’
  • The key characteristics of international and cross-cultural volunteers in terms of motivations, ways of entering volunteering, skills and expectations, and how different types of volunteers may produce very different development outcomes for subject populations
  • The ways marginal populations receive international volunteers and experience volunteerism
  • The linkages between either the tourism industry or educational institutions and volunteering, and what this means for development.


Interested participants should submit their paper at


Note the checked box above.

Do remember to indicate that the paper is to be submitted for the group panel on "International Volunteerism and Development in Asia-Pacific".

Please also email either Sallie Yea ( with your paper id number.  The paper review system will then redirect your submission to the panel convenors for review.

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