Celebrating the work of Robert Chambers

The IDS Alumni Association celebrated the work of Robert Chambers last week with a special event and the launch of the book 'Revolutionising Development: Reflecting Forwards'.
I did not attend and just want to take this opportunity to share and collect some impressions and follow-up comments from the event. 


First, it is always fantastic to see Robert 'in action' and this flickr album is a fantastic proof that Robert and well and active! I hope that they will add more reflections such as Kamal Singh's who shares his insights at the end in this 9-minute video. Kamal is the CEO of Khanya-acidd, the African Institute for Community-Driven Development.

IDS director Lawrence Haddad shares some reflections in his latest blog post:

I have only worked in the same place as him for 7 years. He is inspirational, visionary, full of energy and directs his ego into his work and not into his own position. In a room full of gurus at IDS today, he was the guru's guru (although he would deny it).

My humble contribution is a comment on the unreasonably priced book and a suggestion that an institution like IDS should not give away core knowledge to a commercial publisher that certainly does not share Robert's or IDS' values. IDS ebooks anyone?!

But Robert wouldn't be Robert if he wouldn't take the opportunity to talk and write about issues close to his heart: On today's 'Poverty Matters' blog he writes about
CLTS again, Community-led Total Sanitation (Sanitation MDG is badly off track, but a community-led approach could fix that).
 

Robert also contributed a guest post to Duncan Green's 'From Poverty to Power' blog: Inspiring action on shit (getting rid of it).
 

I guess his post at ' Aid on the edge of chaos' from February is still a timely contribution to the discussion on development paradigms:
Let me conclude with a point which relates directly to the readers of this and other blogs. Email, internet, search engines like Google, mobile phones, Web 2.0, blogging, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter….these have already created a culture and practice of continuous adopting, de-adopting, adapting, learning and changing - demanding alertness, nimbleness and creativity. It has even led to adapting and revising this Guest Post series on the fly.

In this emergent aid blogosphere, we as people are all engaged in adaptive pluralism, using physical technologies that are built on neo-Newtonian principles. As such we are reminded daily that the world is things and people, all at the same time.

To end on a personal note, Robert's paper on 'Poverty Unperceived' has been one of my key references throughout my research:

The context is how for many professionals poverty is largely unperceived, and how there are anti-poverty biases in their visits, notably in rural development tourism – the brief rural visit by the urban-based outsider. These have remained, and even intensified, as problems, but have tended to slip out of sight and off the agenda.
If you don't have time to read the full paper, the first pages are actually sufficient to make you think and reflect about mindsets and attitudes for working 'in development':
These five clusters of factors – learning and realism, the preoccupations of aid, the capital trap, digital addiction and tyranny, and the personal dimension – combine to make questions of how poverty is perceived, not perceived or misperceived, even more critical today than they were in the early 1980s when the section that follows was written.
Update I (31 May): 
Today I received the following message from the IDS library:

Just to let you know that we launched an archive of Robert Chambers publications on Friday which you can find at: www.ids.ac.uk/go/robertchambers. There are more than 400 references in the archive, almost 80% full-text, dating back to the 1960’s. The archive is fully searchable on Google and Google Scholar.
Creation of the archive was part of a larger project which the IDS library is jointly developing with IDS Communications. We are currently in the midst of setting up IDS OpenDocs, a repository (of which Robert’s archive will be a part) to host all publications and other materials (for instance podcasts) published by IDS staff and Research Centres.
Update II (2 June):
Richard Longhurst sums up the workshop celebrating Robert's work on the IDS website (and you can even download a discount flyer for the book...):

One long term colleague summed up the basis for all Robert's work: 'he listens to everybody with respect'.
Update III (6 June):

ODI director Simon Maxwell wonders whether it's 'Time to re-invent development studies?' in a post reflecting on his participation in the IDS event

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