Links & Contents I Liked 324

Hi all,

I am wrapping up a week in Ottawa and whether it's because of the different time zone, tweaks in algorithms or a different attention span, it seems that many interesting digital vignettes have caught my eye this week...or maybe it's just a busy week for #globaldev-related stuff...??

This week's highlights: Learning English in Kenya with Ellen DeGeneres; skin bleaching in Nigeria; feminism at a traditional Indian university; Dior discovering Africa; Coco-Cola & the history of globalization; working towards equitable #highered!

Enjoy!

Development news
Social Justice Organization Seeks Summer Interns Who Can Afford to Be Unpaid Due to Privilege

We hope one day to be able to pay our interns, but at the moment we aren’t in a financial position where we can fulfill our mission in terms of the hiring decisions we make in order to fulfill our mission. Sometimes, interns are able to find scholarship funds for summer opportunities through their college. Sometimes, they are not. Sometimes, a volcano explodes and kills thousands of people. Who can really explain these things?
Do you have a name like Daphne or Alistair? Then follow our application link at the bottom of the page. If you have a name like Brandi or Troy, please don’t.
Dayn Rond for McSweeney's with the headline of the week...

When Achieng met Ellen

The problem was of course that Ellen simply could not process Achieng without imposing a narrative on her. The notion of Achieng learning English in a cyber café and the idea of her parents selling everything for her to go to school — these are apocryphal stories, the kind of tropes that make Africans legible to white people. These tales adorn us like garments. Without them, we are worse than naked; we are invisible and indescribable. Achieng’s socio-economic equivalent in America would never have captured Ellen’s attention. Achieng – bright, bubbly middle-class kid – found herself being cast as a plucky impoverished heroine who had overcome great odds to make it to America. Meanwhile check out her Instagram and its clear that Achieng is living her best life. She’s no elite kid but she’s certainly not the villager Ellen assumed her to be.
Sisonke Msimang for Africa is a Country. This is my favorite piece this week about 'communicating development & inequality'! Even 'woke' people like Ellen DeGeneres show their brand limitations once 'Africa' enters the discussion...

Skin Lightening: Africa’s Multibillion Dollar Post-Colonial Hangover

Ajayi explains that fashion photographers have very little power to change the status quo because clients usually insist on using lighter-skinned women to market their products. And the images created by the advertising industry in Nigeria often do not represent the audience they are trying to communicate with. “There hasn’t been any real change. I think light-skinned people are still preferred,” he says. “There is an idea that they photograph better. Sometimes people believe clothes pop better on lighter skin.” This thinking even extends to children’s products, with mostly light-skinned babies dominating diaper adverts.
(...)
Recent shifts in how we see beauty such as the body positivity and natural hair movements as well as dark-skinned, Oscar-winning Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o becoming ambassador for French luxury cosmetics house Lancôme, are contributing to our gradual redefining of beauty. My hope is that one day in the near future, no woman in Nigeria will feel she has to lighten her skin to feel beautiful or improve her odds of success in life.
Wana Udobang for Bright Magazine with my favorite 'serious' piece this week that brings together tough challenges for 'communicating social change' in a globalized and only slowly de-westernizing global capitalist culture...

Being a feminist in conservative Aligarh Muslim University

What is happening on the campus of one of India’s oldest universities in the western edge of Uttar Pradesh is representative of a wider movement being led by young women who are dragging society by the scruff and asking questions about a series of “that’s how it is done" rules. From the University of Delhi and Banaras Hindu University to Panjab University, something is afoot. Women have always resisted patriarchal attempts to view the university as a safe transit point between the father and the husband. But the voices of resistance are growing louder and more public. Pinjra tod (break the locks) is more of a norm than a fringe. On the campus lawns in Aligarh, references to iconic former students like feminist Urdu writer Ismat Chughtai are common. But what does it mean to be a feminist in Aligarh today, at a moment when religion and student life have become inextricably linked to national politics?
Ashwaq Masoodi for LiveMint with an interesting & inspiring essay from one of the many 'frontlines' of women demanding glocal change!

Poverty research in Niger: lessons via WhatsApp

I had been mentally prepared for the challenges of accessing the right people. Often asking community leaders to choose interviewees results in a selection of people who are connected with the leader and aligned to his political party. I had also understood the problems that leaders faced if community members thought they were selecting many wealthy people to speak to researchers.
What I hadn’t thought enough about was that once we had accessed people who had escaped poverty, they would work hard to downplay their wealth.
It’s a blind spot that many development researchers have. Our belief that we are asking these questions for our interviewees’ own good makes us think that interviewees will also understand why providing accurate data is important. Our belief in the possibility of getting accurate answers to the questions we ask makes us blind to the incentives for interviewees to give inaccurate responses.
If I wasn’t willing to tell Zahra how much money I have in my different bank accounts, why would a person in eastern Niger be willing to tell me about her sources of income and wealth? Even if we convinced community leaders to open themselves up to criticism for selecting richer people for our team to interview, why would those interviewees reveal details about their financial situation to a complete stranger?
Aoife McCullough for ODI with great reflections on researching poverty & 'unbiasing' our assumptions about 'beneficiaries' or research participants.

Why (Real) Participation Is A Still a Pipe-dream (So Far ) In My Evaluation Practice by Sara Vaca

Organizations do not understand participation as bottom-up: even when the Terms of Reference talk about high levels of participation, they often have been elaborated “in-house” (= without participation)
(...)
Ultimately, given the aid-vicious-circle and hardship they face, beneficiaries are busy and often engage into the process solely with the hope of getting extra aid, that is, the more they engage, give their time, the more they expect that will revert into new projects supporting them or their area.
Sara Vaca for the American Evaluation Association continues core #globaldev debates about biases, organizational assumptions and how hard meaningful participation really is...

Ethical questions around returning Dadaab refugees "home"

If the UNHCR refused to help with repatriation, the government may still close the camp. This would force refugees into other camps and they could still be denied the right to work in urban centres.
Nonetheless, the UNHCR must consider the impact of its assistance on government policy. If the government’s goal in closing the camp is to encourage repatriation, and only the UNHCR can help with repatriation, then perhaps it should not help.
If it does not help with repatriation, the UNHCR can continue to use its budget to provide aid to refugees in Kenya. And if the government still closes the camp, despite the UNHCR refusing to help with repatriation, it still has the option of re-instituting repatriation in the future.
Mollie Gerver for the Conversation with some challenging questions about refugees and repatriation that once again highlight that current practices around asylum etc. need some upgrading from their 20th century origins.

Humanitarian Wars?

The oxymoron “humanitarian war” is sometimes used ironically, at other times derisively, and still at others earnestly. In his recent book, excerpted in the April issue of Harper’s Magazine, Rony Brauman, former president of Doctors Without Borders, explores criteria deemed essential to justify violence. “While claiming to protect populations,” Brauman writes, “the United Nations is rehabilitating war—when in fact it was created to prevent it. And in granting itself the right to declare war and to call it ‘just,’ the U.N. is acting as both referee and player, and legalizing the conflation of judges and parties to a conflict.”
Rony Brauman for Harper's Magazine talks about his new book which is also on my summer reading list!

The ethics of turning bad money into good?

The sector cannot afford to ignore such avoidable cases of moral compromise, but on a more fundamental level, can it afford a more ethically strict fundraising code? Purity would come at a high cost. I think that most of us accept that the principles of humanitarian fundraising must exclude the worst offenses and embrace considerable compromise in order for our programs and for our salaries to exist. Regardless, this needs much more deliberation and visibility within agencies. Are we happy with our choices? Are we concerned that times are changing?
Marc DuBois for Humanicontrarian continues a core humanitarian debate about whose money to take & doing good 'at all cost'.

Outrage as Dior ‘steals’ African styles for its 2020 fashion collection
While some seem to be angry about the use of African wax print, a greater number of people are expressing anger at the fact that fashion trends always have to be made by Western fashion houses before they are globally recognized.
Elizabeth Ofosuah Johnson for Face2Face Africa looks at some of the critics of Dior's latest wax print fashion.

Feminism, Marrakech and Diana Ross: the second coming of Dior

The show represents part of an emerging conversation about whether treating cultural appropriation as “a bad habit to be trained out of us”, as writer Connie Wang recently put it, is the right approach. In an article for the New York Times, Wang wrote that she has “come to see appropriation as a form of communication. Sometimes what people are trying to say is trivial, hurtful and condescending – a bindi to proclaim that they’re “exotic” for instance, or cornrows to say they’re “cool”. But other times, what is being said is difficult and important.”
If the fairytale of a woke fashion giant sounds a little too good to be true, that is probably because it is. The global capitalist system, of which LVMH, the luxury brand that controls Dior, is part, remains as deeply inequitable as ever, even while promoting positive cultural exchange and social conscience on the Dior catwalk. Little of the symposium-style messaging of Dior’s “project” will trickle down to the shop floors where its bags, perfumes and lipsticks are sold.
Jess Cartner-Morley for the Guardian also reviews Dior's latest endeavor's in 'Africa'.

Ghana is losing its rainforest faster than any other country in the world
Global Forest Watch (GFW) used updated remote sensing and satellite data from the University of Maryland and estimates that there was a 60% increase in Ghana’s primary rainforest loss in 2018 compared to 2017, the highest in the world. The second highest was neighboring Côte d’Ivoire with a 28% increase. Together, these two countries produce nearly 60% of the world’s cocoa.
However, the Democratic Republic of Congo lost the largest size of tropical primary rainforest in Africa and collectively, the world lost 3.6 million hectares of primary rainforest last year—an area the size of Belgium in 2018 alone.
Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu for Quartz with a harrowing reminder that deforestation doesn't have the proverbial '5 years before it's too late' climate change buffer...

Our digital lives
Social media effect 'tiny' in teenagers, large study finds

Their study concluded that most links between life satisfaction and social media use were "trivial", accounting for less than 1% of a teenager's wellbeing - and that the effect of social media was "not a one-way street".
BBC News with new research that could put some pressure on the digital-parenting-TED-talk-industrial-complex...

Delta told workers to spend on video games and beer instead of union dues. It didn’t go well.
Delta has been notoriously anti-union for years, Lance Compa, a lecturer and labor expert at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, told The Washington Post. Compa said he wasn’t surprised the company had targeted union dues as part of its recent campaign.
“Somebody took that off the shelf,” he said. “The question of union dues has always been something employers hammer away at.”
Eli Rosenberg for the Washington Post. Delta clearly works with true comms professionals... but then again, if you really believe that universal healthcare is an evil socialist plot to take away your private insurance, you may want to spend union dues on beer and play stations...

Professor’s history of Coca-Cola also tells larger story of globalization

By focusing on local opposition to company practices, Ciafone said she wanted to write a different kind of history from what is common. Histories of corporations or of global capitalism often focus only on executive decision-making, or make companies seem all-powerful, or give a sense of “a train that’s left the station and is just bearing down through history,” with opposition useless, she said.
Instead, Ciafone said she wanted to show how the Coca-Cola Company, as it exists today, “isn’t solely of its own design” due to the various movements and forces that have challenged it around the world. Though that opposition can often seem powerless in the face of a massive corporation, that’s not always the case, she said.
Craig Chamberlain for the Illinois News Bureau about Amanda Ciafone's forthcoming book.

Publications

After Maria: Everyday recovery from disaster

If you are interested in ethical representations of developing country contexts, and issues related to gender, inequality, resilience, poverty, vulnerabilities, disasters and identities then the novella will resonate. Readers can use their wider understanding of these theories and concepts they have learnt in class or elsewhere, to unpack the stories images, dialogue, and narratives in 'After Maria'.
Gemma Sou for the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute introducing her new #globaldev graphic novella.

Feeding the Other

De Souza shows how neoliberal stigma plays out in practice through a comparative case analysis of two food pantries in Duluth, Minnesota. Doing so, she documents the seldom-acknowledged voices, experiences, and realities of people living with hunger. She describes the failure of public institutions to protect citizens from poverty and hunger; the white privilege of pantry volunteers caught between neoliberal narratives and social justice concerns; the evangelical conviction that food assistance should be “a hand up, not a handout”; the culture of suspicion in food pantry spaces; and the constraints on food choice. It is only by rejecting the neoliberal narrative and giving voice to the hungry rather than the privileged, de Souza argues, that food pantries can become agents of food justice.
Rebecca T. de Souza with a new open access book with MIT Press that tells an important story about inequalities, hunger & how food pantries have become a neoliberal feature rather than a social justice 'solution'.

Global Report on Internal Displacement 2019

This year’s GRID focuses on urban internal displacement and presents new evidence on the humanitarian and development challenges presented by displacement to, between and within towns and cities.
The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre with a great example of how to communicate your work with an annual report.

UNDP’s Engagement with the Media for Governance, Sustainable Development and Peace

"This report features 13 case studies that together highlight the range and impact of UNDP’s engagement with the media for the purpose of achieving development outcomes. These examples vary widely in scope and aim: from an election media monitoring initiative in Georgia to an initiative promoting local empowerment through community radio in remote areas of Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR); from engagement with media for peacebuilding in Lebanon to Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs) awareness campaigns implemented in partnership with the private sector in Brazil.
UNDP, on the other hand, sticks to its 20th century communication tools...an interesting topic hidden behind a 84-page pdf brick wall...

Global humanitarianism and media culture

This collection interrogates the representation of humanitarian crisis and catastrophe, and the refraction of humanitarian intervention and action, from the mid-twentieth century to the present, across a diverse range of media forms: traditional and contemporary screen media (film, television and online video) as well as newspapers, memoirs, music festivals and social media platforms (such as Facebook, YouTube and Flickr). The book thus explores the historical, cultural and political contexts that have shaped the mediation of humanitarian relationships since the middle of the twentieth century.
Michael Lawrence & Rachel Tavernor's book with Manchester University Press is now available open access as well!

Academia

Decolonizing Everyday Praxis/Space → Decolonizing Anthropology

Decolonization is not a synonym of diversity/inclusion (see Gabriel 2018; Tuck and Yang 2012). Cultivating a decolonial space is a process that begins with privileging silenced voices to interrogate how unjust structures have been (re)produced by and within them. We have to do better every time and every day. Just because we did better one time, that doesn’t mean we accomplished it. We just have to do better all the time. And that involves decolonial policies, curriculum, syllabi, mentorship, communications, everyday operations of our departments and professional organizations, and our everyday practices. Equitable anthropology graduate training is not only the necessary praxis of anthropology’s fundamental principle of promoting diversity and equity within anthropological institutions, but it is also the future of anthropology to rectify its colonial history through decolonial methodology and theorization, and contribute to justice and equity in the larger society.
Takami S. Delisle for Footnotes continues the discussion about equity in teaching & #highered spaces.

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