Showing posts from September, 2010

The globalisation of aid rituals-MDG summit and twittering about peace in Darfur

The current hype around the MDG summit in New York reminded me of a very insightful ethnography by Frank Lechner and John Boli who had a closer look at UN summits/world conferences. Their key observation in their chapter ‘Constructing world culture-UN meetings as global ritual’ is that conferences tend to follow some ritualised processes and it seemed to be truer than ever: ‘Somewhat defensively, a UN document asserts that the series of UN conferences is more than an “extravagant talk-fest” (UN 1999). They have had a “long-term impact,” it says, in mobilizing organizations, serving as a forum, stimulating government commitments, and setting international standards. As a public relations effort, such self-congratulation may not be persuasive enough to assure the future of summits, but it contains a kernel of truth. As peak events in a broader process, world conferences have served as a kind of global ritual. Not only the women's conferences have been effective at sacralization; so h

Chances and limitations of blogging development

I am currently doing research for a journal article that addresses blogging and blogs in the context of reflective international development practice. My particular focus is on the role and impact different ways of writing have on personal, organisational or even broader reflection and learning processes. I have already contacted a few interesting bloggers and received some even more interesting feedback and will write more as this small 'project' 'guiding references' for my initial theoretical framework are listed below-in case you have a more academic interest in this subject: Gillie Bolton 2010: Reflective Practice. Writing & Professional Development. London: Sage.  Andrea Cornwall, Jassey, Katja, Arora-Jonsson, Seema, and Patta Scott-Villiers 2007. The Beast of Bureaucracy and Other Tales from Valhalla. Brighton: Institute of Development Studies (IDS).   Rosalind Eyben et al 2010: Stories from Aidland .   Rosalind Eyben 2010: Hiding relations.

How peacebuilding has become a ritualised space – An aidnography from Germany and Nepal

There is now an updated and more comprehensive post on the completed PhD project ! This is the abstract of my PhD thesis How peacebuilding has become a ritualised space – An aidnography from Germany and Nepal This research uses structural ritualisation as an approach to study peacebuilding communities in Germany and Nepal. Based on anthropological and sociological literature a ritual theory framework is used to emphasise the importance of symbolism, liminality and performances for the ethnographic study of aid (aidnography). The analysis of the fieldwork in Germany starts with the peace research community and their workshops, conferences and trainings. Ritualisation processes around acceptable forms of knowledge are the basis on which new policy institutions operate; leaving discourses unchallenged. For example the PEACE network that aims at facilitating learning and knowledge management on peacebuilsing inside German development institutions. Detailed organisational ethnography of th

The anthropologist always wins

Robert Albro wrote this short comment on ‘Anthropology and the military-AFRICOM, ‘culture’ and future of Human Terrain Analysis’ which summarises key debates on whether and how anthropologists should get involved in the military. I fully agree with his key argument that was produced for a report for the Commission on the Engagement of Anthropology with the US Security and Intelligence Communities (American Anthropological Association) (CEAUSSIC) (which sounds itself a bit like military jargon): 'When ethnographic investigation is determined by military missions, not subject to external review, where data collection occurs in the context of war, integrated into the goals of counterinsurgency, and in a potentially coercive environment – all characteristic factors of the HTS concept and its application – it can no longer be considered a legitimate professional exercise of anthropology.' But the real elephant in the room is less about the ethics of getting involved with the m