Undergraduate Journal of Global Citizenship
Reforming the Unreformable: The Peace Corps, Neocolonialism, and the White Savior Complex
The Peace Corps has existed since the 1960s, and its goals – “to help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women, to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served, and to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans” – have remained unchanged since that time. Because the United States’ government determines the funding of the organization, the Peace Corps cannot be fully independent of the country’s foreign policy. It must be examined critically to ensure that the work of the Peace Corps is ethical, as it is an extension of American soft power. This paper draws upon previous research about the history of the Peace Corps as well as the theories of neocolonialism and the white savior complex to argue that the organization needs serious reform. Using the framework of transformative justice, this paper recommends different ways in which the organization must be reformed to divorce itself from its neocolonialist legacy. The organization currently prioritizes surface-level change in host communities. If the Peace Corps’ ultimate aim is to create global equity, it must first make structural changes to its funding and leadership models and introduce the white savior complex and sustainable allyship into the training curriculum for its volunteers.
Wilcox, Lilly W.
"Reforming the Unreformable: The Peace Corps, Neocolonialism, and the White Savior Complex,"
Undergraduate Journal of Global Citizenship: Vol. 4:
1, Article 5.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.fairfield.edu/jogc/vol4/iss1/5