This Research Paper investigates the designing of Strengthening Gender Mainstreaming (SGM), a triangular aid program between Indonesia, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Fiji. Combining discourse analysis of aid policy documents, interviews, and ethnography of project meetings, this study follows the shrinking aim of SGM from mainstreaming gender perspectives across Fiji’s national planning and budgeting system to mere trainings of few ministries. Despite different agenda from each actor and initial tensions created from the abrupt change, the SGM emerged as a coherent program. This study finds that such coherence is not only produced by the translation of different policy ideas into a single design, but also by the reverse-translation of that design into multiple representations. A core enabler of this process is the Indonesian aid discourse which lacks an ambitious developmental goal—a discourse I call “Santa Claus”—which allows the other actors to articulate separate narratives and purposes to SGM. These include a recipient-oriented program (for Indonesia); a concerted effort between Indonesia, Asian Development Bank (ADB), and Canada demonstrating Fiji’s stronger commitment to gender mainstreaming (for USAID); and a strategic adaptation into existing arrangements with ADB and Canada (for Fiji). On one hand, multiple representations allow the actors to avoid conflict; on the other, they distract actors’ attention from delivering an impactful aid. Coexistence of contrasting representations in SGM demonstrates that triangular cooperation need not be understood as either Southern or Northern discourse, a conclusion so commonly offered by existing literature.

Additional Metadata
Keywords triangular cooperation, policy translation, coherence-making, South-South Cooperation, development project, aid, discourse analysis, ethnography, Indonesia, USAID, Fiji
Thesis Advisor Mukhtarov, Farhad
Persistent URL
Series Governance and Development Policy (GDP)
Aditya. (2019, December 20). “Santa-Claus” aid: Coherence-making and representations in triangular cooperation between Indonesia, USAID, and Fiji. Governance and Development Policy (GDP). Retrieved from