Links & Contents I Liked 294

Hi all,

The week started relatively calm, but after a last-minute invitation to a great conference on development volunteering in Cologne, a new book review and plenty of interesting readings for the latest review I'm ready for my weekend!

Development news: UNEP's travel expense problems; WHO abolishes unpaid internships; inside the localization debate; a lot of aid is still tied to Northern expenses; Healing Solidarity; companies & SDGs-mainly empty promises; H&M's trouble with 'good'; factories; African designers & sustainability challenges; sex & the Indian village; a young MP rises in South Africa; Nepal's cool Kautam reminices on a career at UNICEF & #globaldev; getting the story of migration & aid workers on stage.

Our digital lives: A Mandela exhibition with a sour corporate aftertaste; mental health well-being in the gig economy.

Publications: The u
nprotected, unsupported & uncertain status of refugees in Greece; journalists fact-checking Africa.

Academia:
New book on civil rights, black power, and the Ivy League; a letter to a prospective anthropology graduate student.

Enjoy!

New from aidnography
Algiers, Third World Capital (book review)

Algiers, Third World Capital, brings out the best in what I appreciate so much about alternative writings about the history of development: Through the eyes of a fascinating personality the reader is immersed in a historical puzzle that vividly and also entertainingly, outlines the complexities of transformation, of alternatives ideas, different ideals and insights into societies, countries and larger parts of the world in limbo. When it comes to popular forms of writing on global developments and using autobiographies as resources for teaching, research and communicating #globaldev, make sure you pick up your copy of Elaine Mokhtefi’s book!
Development news

Nations halt funding to UN environment programme as outcry over chief grows
Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said it was withholding its 2018 contribution of about $1.6m to Unep. “The ministry is familiar with the criticism of Solheim’s travel activities,” an MFA spokeswoman told the Guardian. “We take this seriously. We are now awaiting the final audit report and its possible recommendations before we pay additional funds.”
Sweden’s International Development Agency (Sida) said they would not approve any new funding until all the issues raised had been resolved. “Sida takes all signals of misuse of funds very seriously,” a spokeswoman said.
Damian Carrington for the Guardian with a follow-up on the UNEP director's travel expense problems.

UN agency's U-turn after unpaid internships row
But after a campaign led by a former intern, the UN agency has agreed to provide full financial support for its young workers by no later than 2020.
It told the BBC that targets are also in place to ensure that 50% of interns come from developing countries by 2022."It's unacceptable that 80% of WHO's work goes into supporting people in developing countries, yet only 20% of their interns come from them," says Ashton Barnett-Vanes, 29, a British doctor of English and Jamaican heritage from Wolverhampton, who started the campaign after his internship in 2012.
Rianna Croxford for BBC News on how WHO is planning to put an end to unpaid internships!

From the ground up: Inside the push to reshape local aid
Critics of the “localisation” agenda question whether local aid organisations can always adhere to the humanitarian principles of independence and neutrality, particularly in conflict zones. Many donors have also been reluctant to directly fund local NGOs, instead opting to work through intermediaries like the major international aid groups. When funding does reach the ground, it is often earmarked for short-term projects.
Local aid organisations say they’re in a constant struggle to survive. They’re asking for stable, longer-term funding that will allow them to grow and sustain local expertise.
Money is important, but it’s not the only factor. Local leaders say they want a greater role in making decisions. They’re also asking for help to build skills and expertise on the ground, so that grassroots groups will be better equipped to lead in future emergencies.
IRIN with a great overview over the 'localization' of aid debate!

More than half of aid spent on procurement still goes to rich countries' firms - almost two decades after commitment to end 'tied aid'
Simple strategies for opening up procurement to firms in the global south have been well documented for many years. Yet evidence from 18 donor agencies who responded to our survey shows that such strategies are often ignored. Donors do not consistently advertise contracts in the local media, they still set very large contract sizes, and the procurement processes are often only conducted in the languages of donor countries, but not the local languages of countries in the global south.
Meeks said: “If donors are really committed to maximising the catalytic impact of aid for development in the global south – not just for their own companies – they should urgently take action to untie their aid and improve their procurement processes.”
Eurodad with a new briefing on 'tied aid'-a concept that I haven't seen in a long time, but glad to read an updated reminder about!

Lessons and Reflections on Healing Solidarity
The message from these speakers was very pure and clear: we must bring more joy and love into the aid and development sector if we are to challenge and transform it. There were some wonderful grounding techniques led by Agnes Otzelberger and Mary Ann Clements among others (sorry I couldn’t get to them all!) that helped put this principle into practice, and which we can use in our day-to-day lives to help us connect with ourselves and others. All in all, there was so much to take away from this conference; to work with in ourselves, and in our communities and organisations. As Mary Ann Clements pointed out in her closing remarks at the end of the conference, space has opened up for us to challenge situations of patriarchy and racism in our sector. In this regard, I believe healing solidarity means three things: recognising our own positioning within these situations, recognising where other people are at with regard to understanding the problems, and being willing to meet them and ourselves on this trajectory with compassion and the belief that we all have a role to play in creating more positive models of development and power.
Gemma Houldey shares some of her reflections around last week's Healing Solidarity online event.

Are Big Companies Walking Their Talk on the SDGs? New report digs into the evidence
The SDGs prompted hope that their ambition and collective vision would mobilize business to a new degree and provide further momentum to efforts to more fundamentally align business models and strategies with sustainable development. The evidence to date doesn’t seem to validate this hope. Instead, our findings appear to confirm a broader trajectory of the corporate sustainability agenda, which over the years has become increasingly company-driven (vs. stakeholder-driven) and focused on a narrow ‘business case’ as primary motivator for companies to engage in sustainability issues. This approach is likely to disappoint our collective expectations of business’ contribution to achieving the SDGs.
Namit Agrawal, Uwe Gneiting and Ruth Mhlanga for fp2p introduce a new Oxfam report on business and the SDGs.

Employment violations uncovered at Gold rated H&M suppliers
Damning new research claims to have uncovered serious employment violations and ‘poverty wages’ at H&M gold suppliers. Researchers interviewed garment factory workers from Bulgaria, India, Cambodia and Turkey. Interviewed workers in India and Turkey earn about a third and in Cambodia less than one-half of the estimated living wage, claim the researchers, while Bulgaria interviewed workers’ salary at H&M’s gold supplier is claimed to be “not even 10 per cent of what would be required for workers and their families to have decent lives.”
The findings, published by Clean Clothes Campaign, arrive at a time when H&M has just published a press note suggesting it has reached almost one million workers with its ‘fair living wage’ strategy.
Victoria Gallagher for Apparal Insider with a storry that sounds very familiar when CSR meets the realities of unsustainable value chains...

African fashion brands bring sustainability to the runway, but can they scale up and stay green?
Erwiah is trying to balance scale with better wages (although she would not give further details) and working conditions. With a factory in Accra, Studio 189 is already different from many other manufacturers. For starters, the label came out of Fashion Rising, a project on the back of the One Billion Rising global campaign against gender-based violence.
The factory was partly funded through a partnership from the International Trade Center, the Swiss and Ghanaian governments, which sponsor a program to grow the local fashion industry. Its focus on sustainability earned the firm this year’s Council of Fashion Designers of America and Lexus Fashion Initiative award.
Lynsey Chutel for Quartz Africa looks at some of the African designers and fashion companies at the Londo Fashion Week.

Sex and the village: The sexual lives of rural Indian women
In a study conducted by Nirantar as part of the sexuality workshop, adolescent girls shared a colourful range of fantasies. One said she wanted to wear only her underclothes and fire bullets from a gun. Some girls simply wanted to cut their hair and walk around holding hands with male friends.
Then there is S. Her arms hurt from milking the cows everyday. Sometimes even the walk from the field to her home seems too long and lonely. Her clan doesn’t allow widows to remarry. But for her, to desire and to be desired are things she doesn’t need societal approval for. She says if she keeps worrying ki log kya kahenge (what will people say), who will worry about her? Two decades after the first time she had sex, it’s not the man alone who calls the shots in the bedroom. Sex is never over till S too has had an orgasm.
Ashwaq Masoodi for Live Mint with an article from rural India that explores important links between women's empowerment, sex & pleasure.

Why I refuse to rethink development – again (and again, and again…)
The root of my discontent is that while everyone continuously debated “development” and attempted to “rethink” it, not once it was clarified what the (minimum) common denominator of the “development” to be rethought would be. Were we talking about intervention, projects, stakeholders, cooperation? Were we rethinking technical modes of intervention? Ways of studying or researching? Or were we questioning the roots of persistent inequalities, the sources of poverty and the causes of injustices (e.g. the legacy of colonialism, global capitalism and our imperial mode of living)?
Julia Schöneberg for Developing Economics with a reminder about challenging the term 'development' and turning the concept on its feet.

The Young Leader Challenging South Africa's Racial Boundaries
Now 29 and a fully fledged MP, Ngwenya is charged with putting together an irresistible proposition for voters ahead of the 2019 presidential elections as the DA’s first head of policy. Quite a responsibility, considering 2019 represents the first time in democratic South Africa that any party besides the African National Congress (ANC) has even an outside chance of winning.
As early as her teenage years, Ngwenya “just knew” she was a liberal who believed in the importance of individual rights. The best groups, she says, are ones where members are free to join, free to leave and free to decide what the group stands for. Some groups — those demarcated along racial or gender lines, for example — are “the exact opposite” as they are generally “ruled by a hegemonic elite.” It’s always riled her when “someone stands up and says, ‘Black people feel this …’ or ‘Women want that …’ ”
Nick Dall for Ozy with a great portrait of South African MP Gwen Ngwenya.

Rejection By The King Of Nepal Was Not The End Of The Road
The discrimination Gautam faced as a young man only made him fight harder. The second time he applied for a passport, a mid-level government official who had also risen from a rural village sympathized with his plight and approved his application.
Gautam was going to America.
"From that point on, I felt — ah! I have managed to do something impossible," he says early in the interview. His cup of tea, forgotten, cools before him as he recalls the pain and then joy of his challenges. "Even when the king rejects you, that's not the end of the road."
For Gautam, the road would extend all the way to a top leadership position with the United Nations.
In 1971, he graduated from Dartmouth, where he studied international relations, after just three years. Next, he received his master's degree in economic development and modernization from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School in 1973.
After that, he ascended the ranks of the United Nations, beginning as a program officer for UNICEF and climbing to the position of assistant secretary general of the U.N. from 2000 to 2008.
Melody Schreiber for NPR Goats & Soda talks to Kul Gautam-another UN(ICEF) memoir I have on my desk and look forward to read!

How can refugee stories be told in the theatre? Dr Glenda Cooper on using drama to explore humanitarian issues
Certainly many of the current theatrical productions are heavily based on real life experience, if fictionalised in part. Part of The Jungle’s power is the fact that you know this comes from Murphy and Robertson’s own experience running the Good Chance theatre dome in the camp itself. My own play Aid Memoir which opens at the Pleasance Theatre, Islington in October, and is performed at City University in November before going on tour, uses my own experience as a journalist and working for a major aid agency.
While The Jungle sites itself in the specific months leading up to the demolition of the camp and uses film of Alan Kurdi to locate it in real life, I chose to create a fictional refugee camp – set in England, run by African aid workers who allow the winner of Kenya’s Got Talent to run a celebrity appeal to save the UK refugees. By switching round the sufferers and the saviours, Aid Memoir directly tries to challenge the audience’s preconceptions around aid.
The challenge for any writer is to engage audiences with these issues, which let’s face it do not make for a relaxing evening. Part of this is telling engaging human stories – showing refugees and aid workers as real people – not just saints or archetypes.
Glenda Cooper for the Humanitarian News Research Network on theatre, refugees and her own new play that will bring #globaldev to am stage near you in the UK!

Our digital lives
The British Council’s Mandela exhibition: history or corporate whitewash?
The “Mandela and Me” exhibition at the British Council in London marks the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth in 1918. The exhibition is sponsored by Anglo American, the mining giant that was the biggest corporation in South Africa during apartheid and has, since 1999, been headquartered in London.
This corporate connection influences the narrative that is spun at the exhibition. For example, it completely ignores Anglo’s own role as a founder and principal beneficiary of both British colonial rule and later the apartheid regime.
A film shown as part of the exhibition features young South Africans relaying what Mandela means for them. They appear inspired. Yet, I couldn’t help feeling that this was an exercise in the construction of public memory that has connotations of manipulation.
Adam Higginbottom for The Conversation on corporate mining sponsorship and the legacy of South Africa's apartheid.

Well-Being and Mental Health in the Gig Economy
This research suggests the need to consider the future of work not only from an economic or employment law perspective but from a mental health one too. What are the psychological implications of precarious work and how are factors such as financial instability, the feedback economy and personal relationships reflected in mental health outcomes or connected to the business relationships most musicians and other gig economy participants work under?
Sally-Anne Gross, George Musgrave & Laima Janciute with new policy brief for University of Westminster University Press.

Publications
Unprotected, unsupported, uncertain
Over the past six months, the IRC has been gathering the testimony of clients who attend our mental health centre in Mytilene, the capital of Lesvos. This brief outlines our findings and puts forward recommendations for the Greek local and central government, EU leaders and donors, to ensure that all asylum seekers at Moria in need of mental health services are able to access it and that living conditions do not trigger or exacerbate existing trauma.
The International Rescue Committee with a new report from Greece's migration frontlines.

“Fact-Checking Africa”
a series of independent data-driven organisations are emerging to fact-check legacy news media as well as other news sources. This study examines how these actors advocate and adopt journalistic practice and the perceived impact they have on news journalism. We draw our data from in-depth interviews with 14 practitioners working in three organisations—Code for Africa, Open Up and Africa Check—that are currently leading major data and fact-checking operations in sub-Saharan Africa. Our findings show that while these non-journalistic actors are at the periphery of news media as institutions, their operations, activities and goals are at the heart of journalistic discourse.
David Cheruiyot & Raul Ferrer-Conill with a new open access article for Digital Journalism.

Academia
‘Upending the Ivory Tower’
Finally, they learned that there was nothing particularly sacred about tradition in the Ivy League -- especially the traditions surrounding exclusive whiteness. By decolonizing the curricula to include black studies units, and in creating their own affinity groups and spaces, they learned how blackness could enhance even the most elite white institutions. Laudably, most of the people featured in the book continued to think about themselves as part of a larger movement for black freedom and used their Ivy influence (through black alumni networks or their careers) to engineer opportunities for others.
Scott Jaschik talks to Stefan Bradley for Inside HigherEd on his new book on Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Ivy League.

Anthropology Needs You Much More than You Need Anthropology
Your project is at the intersection of anthropology and ethnic studies, and draws on history, critical race theory, and literature. I love that! This is going to pose major problems for you. Anthropological empiricism can render critical race theory and literary studies fundamentally suspect. Furthermore, anthropology still hasn’t figured out what to make of ethnic studies. Studying Asia or Latin America is highly prestigious. Studying immigrants? Not so much. This is the work of sociologists, or of people overly invested in identity politics. If you’re a person of color studying a minority group in the United States, a good number of anthropologists will write you off as “studying yourself.” (Feeling incredulous yet? You’re in good company.) Anthropology has, for centuries, freely studied the world’s nonwhite populations, but “home” is more complicated. To clarify, anthropology does acknowledge our settler-colonial history, but Native Americans don’t figure into this definition of home. I’m talking about white middle-class academics, who comprise the mainstay of anthropology.
Shalini Shankar for Cultural Anthropology with a 'welcome letter' to prospective graduate students of anthropology.

Popular posts from this blog

Learning service (book review)

Should I consider a PhD in International Development Studies?

Dear Colonialism - guest post by Ami V. Shah

The Office meets global politics: New sitcom on life inside the United Nations

Links & Contents I Liked 293