Links & Contents I Liked 91

Dear all,

Before my social media and facilitation efforts will be tested at the forthcoming Örecomm conference I want to make sure that more good readings are shared. Starting with my own comment on the use of LinkedIn for development professionals, this week's review features new critical material on 'philanthropy 2.0', the different consequences of the militarization of development as an aidworker suicide and an embedded anthropologist's death are discussed. The World Bank goes Hollywood and in a great mock-interview a celebrity goes to Africa. On a more serious note, the new Norwegian study fund for persecuted students and the limitations of online courses from a recruiter's perspective are included-which bring this week's review full circle to questions about networking in real and virtual worlds...

Enjoy!

New on aidnography
Is there any use of LinkedIn for development professionals?
Between annoying motivational advice, a great address book & development communications in the virtual age, I reflect on why I don't fully disagree with Ann Friedman's critical essay on the network.

Development
Doctoral student in Media and Communication Studies

This PhD position is directed towards Communication for Development, an interdisciplinary field of theory and practice that explores communication both as a tool and as a way of articulating processes of social change and development within the contexts of globalization and mediatization. The Phd position will be linked to the interregional Ørecomm Centre for Communication and Glocal Change – http://orecomm.net - and to another PhD at Roskilde University which is announced simultaneously. The common denominator of the two interregional PhD positions is the aim to put the current global transitional dynamics in a (contemporary) historical perspective, with special attention on cultural and political (democratic) agency. The specific focus of the PhD at K3 may for example be on representations of the global South, communication practices in the development industry, or citizen-driven initiatives for transnational collective action. What are the implications of the current transformational processes for international development cooperation?
We just advertised a great new & fully funded PhD position in the ComDev area in Malmö-if you are interested or have questions do not hesitate to get in touch with me for more details!

Letter to a Young Social Entrepreneur: the poor are not the raw material for your salvation

Power, class – especially class – and entitlement are three subjects nowhere near high enough up the agenda of Skoll and Davos. It is very fashionable at such gatherings to hear mainstream politics trashed as unable to compete with the whizzy, sexy, genius social entrepreneurs. Yawn, party politics. How boring. How last century.
But ask yourself this: without political backing where will your idea get? What has had the biggest impact on well-being in this country in last ten years? Eden Project? Big Issue? Jamie Oliver? Divine Chocolate? Or the government’s decision to ban smoking in all public places?
(...)
There is a need for a large dose of skepticism about middle class European and American social entrepreneurs who think they have the answer for the problems of Africa or know what the youth off the housing estates need.
Strategic philanthropy is all about power and control, says Pablo Eisenberg
The dominance of such no-proposal policies limits the access of non-profit groups to grantmakers, he says. Yet, he points out, ‘Almost all of America’s social movements were started with ideas developed by grassroots charities, not by foundation leaders. … Foundations should not look upon non-profits merely as contractors or vendors hired to carry out foundation ideas and programs. And they need to be more, not less, open to ideas emanating from the outside world.’ His conclusion: ‘Non-profits should have a greater role in driving the agenda.’
These are two interesting examples of how a critical discourse against the new/latest wave of philanthropic endeavours and social enterprises seems to be emerging; granted, development discourses always come in 'tides' (participation, gender, peacebuilding-you name it) and they never 'disappear', but a more critical and nuanced debate on philanthropy '2.0' is necessary and important.

A Death in the Family

Shah left unspoken the issue of suicide that USAID must now confront. With Dempsey's death as the first known suicide from either of USAID's Afghanistan or Iraq programs, the suicide forces the agency to deal with an inescapable problem: how to help its employees who deploy to the same war zones as the military but who don't always have access to the same kind of assistance. Civilian culture may not have the military's taboo against seeking mental-health assistance, but unlike the Defense Department, which has struggled to arrest the vast suicide problem within its ranks, civilian agencies such as USAID and the State Department are governed by different privacy rules that hamstring those agencies as they try to help employees who may be suffering from post-traumatic anxiety, depression, or worse.
As development becomes militarized development workers are exposed to the same mental health issues as soldiers-who have been let down by most countries and medical systems. Another big question also emerges about the mental health assistance that aid workers should receive and to what extent they will be driven by medical and medicalized discourses devised from military experience.

The Central African Republic is Erupting Into War

From the perspective of western powers in Europe and America, it is of course simple to largely ignore these petty conflicts in a country that 95 per cent of the electorate don’t know about anyway. But politicians, military strategists and diplomats would do well to remember that most big problems start in places nobody knows about.
The Central African Republic sits at the crossroads of some of the most important developments on the African continent today and, maybe even more importantly, it has the attention of some of the regional powers that will define the continental politics in the decades to come. Taking an interest would maybe be a wise move. Just maybe.
With political and media attention focusing on Syria at the moment, it is worthwhile to engage with some of the so-called 'forgotten' conflicts, e.g. in CAR, that are taking place and lives even if very few observers notice...

Community Driven Development & The Challenge of Governance

The question of governance in international development, Fukuyama argued, is a way for the development community to avoid talking about two things: democracy and government. Because of various historical and contextual issues with these terms have become tainted and subsequently euphemised. The anti-government movement in the West, the rise of NGOs as powerful domestic and international actors, the relative successes of authoritarian governments in accelerating development and the increasing globalisation and networked world we live in – all of these things have muddled the post Cold War picture of progress. I should note that Fukuyama neatly sidestepped mentioning his own most famous work while talking about these issues!
Development Intern is a blog you should definitely check out and the summary of a recent Francis 'End of history' Fukuyama talk is really interesting.

What Hollywood tells us about war and poverty

David Lewis, Dennis Rodgers and Michael Woolcock set aside documentaries and focus only on dramatic films from the global north that depict development such as Blood Diamond and The Constant Gardner. They conclude that popular films have potential to bring development issues to the forefront, but can easily misinform viewers.
"Although we argue that films can be a legitimate and potentially important medium for representation, both intrinsically and instrumentally, we also highlight issues and problems in the underlying nature of their particular representational power, as well as the inherent ambiguities associated with films as fundamentally contextualized forms of representation," they say.
Tom Murphy on a recent World Bank paper on recommended Hollywood 'development' movies. Btw: Hopefully next week I should be able to present their newest edited volume on 'Popular Representations of Development' to which yours truly contributed a co-edited chapter on Twitter and policy conferencing...

The Celebrity Goes to Africa

What have you learned from the Africa?

Oh, yes, Africa is full of lessons. Before Africa, I had problems. Big problems. Little problems. Problems in my car, problems during the night time. Outside problems, indoors too. Now that I have Africa, my problems, no they’re not. My problems are so unimportant, so I will fix all of these problems before I return home. Now I am always Africa. Problems before, Africa now. Africa is my only problem. I will fix this tree, I will fix this cat. This baby needs water, and shoes. This baby is Africa. Where is her mother? Am I her mother? Yes. Definitely. I am Africa’s mother. I am your mother, too. And your father. Have some sunglasses.
A mock interview with a celebrity returning from charitable work in 'Africa'/Africa.

Anthropology
Who Teaches the Teachers?

How, where, and when do most anthropologists who go on to teach learn how to teach?
Assuming that the answer is that most anthropologists are self-taught in the ways of the classroom through failure and success, I thought our autodidacts might be interested in some resources.
Some good resources on academic teaching & anthropology.

‘The Tender Soldier’ Tells Story Of Anthropologist Killed In Afghanistan

I mean in the - in one of the chapters in the book I take the reader through a series of interviews in which a number of people tell contradictory stories about why that man attacked Paula Lloyd that day. Some readers might find that confusing, like why did I put in all of these different stories and these different accounts that give different reasons for why he behaved the way he did.
Well, I did it because that's at the very heart of why the military thought it needed these teams and perhaps what people can contribute who don't come into a situation thinking like a soldier but more come into thinking like a reader or an interpreter of stories.
(...)
So there are ways to I think get these people to help the military be smarter. I just don't think those ways involve sending social scientists out into the field with soldiers.
So I think this program was developed too quickly and without the right safeguards. The moment to learn about people in the places where we're fighting is not in the middle of a war. We really need to look at what we do in terms of military cultural knowledge and have some forethought and address this in a long-term way because in the next conflict, which may already be upon us, I mean look at what's happening in Syria, we're going to have exactly the same problems, and we're not going to have a good way to deal with them.
Great radio program that introduces a really interesting new book on an anthropologist who got killed as part of the U.S military's human terrain operation. I don't have time today for a more nuanced comment, but in essence I think that anthropologists are wasting their time and health for operations that are driven by many motives-but a more culturally sensitive approach to warfare is only existing on paper not as part of the political-military-industrial complex on the ground.

Academia
Government launches grants for persecuted students

(Norway) unveiled a pilot project to support students who have been expelled from institutions around the world because of work for human rights and democracy.
Eligible recipients could be students who have worked, for instance, in a student organisation or political party, as a member of an indigenous people’s group or in lesbian-gay-transgender engagement.
In 2013-14, grants will be awarded to 20 students for study at a Norwegian university. The pilot project will be administered by the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education
Sounds like a great initiative by the Norwegian government!

The Recruiter’s Tale

“Oh, we would never hire somebody who took online classes.”

Never? Really?

“Well,” he admitted grudgingly, “I suppose a few online classes wouldn’t necessarily be a deal-breaker. But if someone has a degree from an online college, or we can tell from their transcript that they took a lot of their classes online, we wouldn’t consider them. I think that’s pretty much true for any of the big firms in our industry.”

Think about that statement, just for a moment, in light of Jeb Bush’s recent prediction that, by 2018, more than 80 percent of professional degrees will be earned online.
I wrote about MOOCs, power relations & the tacit knowledge of academic socialization a few weeks ago and this article addresses a similar issue: Many 'professional' jobs are embedded in social and economic networks to which online education will not provide access to. This will put some real pressure on second- or third-tier schools that may charge 'normal' university fees, but never had the same networks as the top schools and will feel the competition from online education. But one MOOC courtesy of MIT or Harvard will unlikely land you the Wall Street job you may have dreamed about...
Letter to a Young Social Entrepreneur: the poor are not the raw material for your salvation - See more at: http://www.pioneerspost.com/comment/20130410/letter-young-social-entrepreneur-the-poor-are-not-the-raw-material-your-salvation#sthash.9aeR0no5.dpuf

Popular posts from this blog

Combat charities and the mediatization of extreme humanitarian volunteering

Links & Contents I Liked 235

Links & Contents I Liked 239

Is platform capitalism really the future of the humanitarian sector?

Links & Contents I Liked 241