Links & Contents I Liked 22

Hello all, 

This was a good week for interesting and in many cases very 'down to earth' finds for my link section. I really enjoyed the photos and reflections from Uganda or the question whether and how UNCTAD is still relevant for economic debates. The Global South Development Magazine and the Peace Journalist magazine are great alternative readings-actually, the Peace Journalist magazine is probably my 'pick of week' for positive, forward-looking stories on peace and development. There's much more, of course, including a call for the next round of reflective practitioners who may want to join IDS for an exciting action-research oriented MA programme on participation, power and social change.


New on aidnography

Possibly the coolest fake academic journal I've seen so far

Actually, this is another homepage of a new 'online journal' based in's really gaining momentum as a new 'business model'...

Beyond Kony: Rebuilding Life in Northern Uganda

While the Kony2012 video depicted Kony to be routed in the jungles of Northern Uganda, abducting men and children, raping women, and slicing off peoples lips, TCON was in those “Jungles” trying to empower widowed mothers because of the war.
Contrary to the picture painted by Kony2012, a bunch of Americans were in Odek, Kony’s village as the video trended, racing towards the 100million tape, from where Craig Nason, TCONs Networking and Communication Director tweeted;
“Sitting right now with the widow of #josephkony older brother. 18 years in IDP camp, finding Kony not her priority, rebuilding life is.”
Great post...visit it for the photography-stay for the stories behind the pictures!

Keep weapons out of the wrong hands ~ sign and share

Just six countries export a whopping 74 percent of the world's weapons, with the US making up 35 percent of the global total. In July, UN member countries will debate the adoption of a global Arms Trade Treaty. Let's use this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to keep weapons out of the wrong hands.

As a peace researcher, this really is an issue I feel strongly about and that is less in the spotlight than it should be.

Why are rich countries trying to silence alternative economic voices at the UN?

But as a former staffer I can say without reservation that Unctad is the worst place i’ve ever worked. People at other development agencies snigger about its bureaucracy and waste of talent. Even within its ranks, i’d say it is almost common knowledge that it is dreadfully organised.
It’s also horribly political, and lots of internal divisions don’t speak to each other. Neither is it uniformly anti Washington-Consensus. Some bits are quite neoliberal; others statist.
All in all a hodge-podge of views, with some quality (and some excellent staff) and some inconsistency. Even if reform is not in the direction proposed, managerial and organisational change is needed. There’s a need for an Unctad, just not this Unctad.
Duncan Green's post on the uncertain future of UNCTAD is interesting, but the first comment on the post is almost more important. Being IDS-educated I do remember talks by Hans Singer or Richard Jolly about the early days of the UN system and how some organisations used to be great intellectual spaces for critical development thinking (see United Nations Intellectual History Project). Those were the days...No matter what the motivation is to threaten UNCTAD with closure, there just isn't the kind of intellectual leadership in the system anymore. Maybe it is time to say goodbye to UNCTAD?!

GSDM April 2012 “War & Peace in Congo” OUT NOW

The April 2012 edition of Global South Development Magazine is now out with the cover story focusing on War & Peace in Congo. The rest of the magazine takes you from LGBT rights in Argentina to the US policy in Central America, from the benefits of global volunteers to the rise and rise of mobile health technology.
These guys may not win an award for great layouting-but the contents is really worth a browse and read. I really enjoyed the story about volunteering in Latin America and the modesty with which the author described the impact of such encounters on the parties involved.

Inaugural "Peace Journalist" magazine launched

The magazine, a publication of the Center for Global Peace Journalism, features articles from India, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Uganda, among other places. When I sent out a call for submissions, I was shocked and delighted by the response from literally around the world.
One of the authors, Julie Dolezilek, writes on the question of 'Is Peace Journalism ethical?' and these reflections of a 21-year old student really leave me with a positive feeling that the future generation of peace workers and journalists is getting ready for positive social transformation challenges! Thanks, Julie!

An Alternative Reading of the IADB Study on Peru's OLPC Implementation

[W]e posted Oscar Becerra's Letter to the Editors of The Economist in response to the publication's very critical article about Peru's OLPC implementation. Today we're following up with an extensive guest post by Oscar Becerra in which he hopes "to shed light on what seems to be, probably unintentional, misleading information" about the Peruvian project and IADB's study.)
Even if One Laptop Per Child may not be your area of expertise, I found the debate very interesting; it offers insights into the 'impact' debate and how large organisations, global media and local experts have different oponions about 'successful' ICT4D programmes.

Think tanks are neglecting cheap and easy social media

Moreover, it appears that most think tanks use Twitter as they would traditional media (typically, publicising reports and events), rather than as a way to exchange ideas and provoke discussion. As a result, think tanks may be failing to reach out to broader audiences, particularly to engage the wider public in topical debates as a means of promoting their ideas and arguments – a missed opportunity for organisations most of which operate on a rather hand-to-mouth basis in terms of finances and which seek to influence public opinion as well as government policy.
Interesting insights into the British Think Tank landscape (not necessarily development-related) and how the use Twitter.

Social media and reflection: marriage or divorce?

From angle 1 to 3 there is an increasing positivism about the opportunities to reflect and learn through social media. What seems clear is that with a changing practice of communication through social media there is a changing practice in the way we reflect, use and analyse information. But it is probably not automatic. The quantified self demands quite something to analyse data...
Interesting reading on the concept of 'reflective practitioner' and the challenges in the era of social media. VERY relevant for current debates in development!

MA Participation, Power and Social Change

The MA Participation, Power and Social Change (MAP) at IDS is a unique 12-month course providing experienced development workers and social activists with the opportunity to critically reflect on their practice and develop their knowledge and skills through a work-based action research project.
IDS is currently looking for new students for its great MA in Participation. If you have any questions, feel free to contact my colleague Rosemary McGee (R.McGee [at], IDS does not offer scholarships for this programme...


What is Anthropology Report?

What is the future of online anthropology? Daniel Lende popped this innocent question over coffee at the Society for Applied Anthropology meetings. For me, it’s continuing to try and grow the network of anthropology blogs and other online resources that seems to have matured remarkably over the last several years. I hope Anthropology Report can contribute. But as Rex notes, it may mean one big listserv.
A good opportunity to get to know Anthropology Report and reflect on the future of anthropological online communication

American Anthropological Association 2012 Elections – Candidates on Open Access

After earlier discussion on Open Access, I posed the quesiton of accessibility and relevance to the eight candidates for Executive Board.
Repost: Tenure, for Better or for Worse

I have several colleagues who have gotten seriously and irreversibly ill on the tenure track or shortly thereafter, largely because of the stress. We all have colleagues who ended up divorced or have forsaken having kids altogether because of professional demands. No job should deserve this kind of personal sacrifice without something pretty major in return. In the case of academia, that something is tenure. (...)
My understanding is that you only really want to tenure those people who will not slow down significantly or permanently after they receive tenure. I.e., you want to tenure people who have the fire in the belly that drives them to excel irrespective of external stimuli (or lack thereof). People who are truly ambitious and passionate about their work. People who have worked their hardest towards developing their research program and are not just going to drop it and let it waste away.
But, then you don't really need tenure, do you? If these awesome people are the only ones whom you want to tenure, and they will just keep chugging along and never stop, they don't care about or need the protection of tenure, right? Tenure is just for lazy people, right? WRONG! Why? Because 30+ years is a very, very long time. And life happens.
What I am trying to emphasize is that, in most careers, highly trained people are able to change jobs, or to adjust their work hours and schedule to suit their life's demands. In large companies, there are often opportunities for lateral transfer or going part time. None of these are available for academics. It is very rare for faculty to go part-time because of the stigma of not being "serious enough"; moving laterally within the university is not possible because there are no "less stressful" faculty positions. You can get demoted to a lecturer or an adjunct, but they are so severely underpaid and overall abused that it is hardly a viable option.
I'm glad this was reposted. An interesting defence of tenure outside narrow ideological standpoints.

Screening Out the Introverts

We now live under a kind of extrovert tyranny, Cain writes, and that has led to a culture of shallow thinking, compulsory optimism, and escalating risk-taking in pursuit of success, narrowly defined. In other words, extroverts—amplifying each other's groundless enthusiasms—could be responsible for the economic crisis because they do not listen to introverts, even when there are some around (and they are not trying to pass as extroverts).
Should academe be concerned that it loses many of its introverted graduate students? Do they not have something to contribute? Does selecting for extroverts favor a cult of charismatic leadership: a star system? Is Cain correct in her view that a profession that sorts out introverts selects for unwarranted enthusiasms for, say, the latest theories, technologies, and institutional practices without considering the consequences? Does it foster a winner-take-all system in which compassion and sensitivity have no place?
William Pannapacker reviews recent literature on 'introverts' and asks interesting questions about its implications for academia.

Resource industries should be central to Canada’s innovation policy

“Our key advantage is that we are both a resource-based economy and a knowledge-based economy,” he wrote, and the resource industries are “among our most economically significant knowledge industries.”
“Our future is creating a society in which all the knowledge that we produce has a fair chance of producing some value that sticks in a place where it’s produced! That’s the goal of an innovation policy.”
So where will it leave social sciences, humanities or development research if innovation is focussing on natural resources? Will they be asked to produce 'value' in the same way as other fields of innovation? And how does this relate to critical scholarship, say, on the mining industry if this potentially undermines resource-economy's advances in innovation?

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