Showing posts from May, 2012

The Non-Linearity of Peace Processes-Peacebuilding theory and the challenges of the self-help discourse

The book, based on a project at the Berghof Foundation , outlines many interesting facets of constructivist theory around systemic thinking, complexity theory and action-research in the context of international conflict transformation work. It is a powerful confirmation (if one is still really needed) of the value of qualitative approaches to better understand conflict and peace processes, aiming for more reflexivity when it comes to analyse ‘our’ role in peace negotiations and peacebuilding. However, as I will outline more in detail in my review, the book also raises important questions about contemporary discourses of peace research, peacebuilding theory and the globalised modernisation agenda. I will focus on three interlinked issues in my review: First, the examples in the book rely heavily on workshop-based-scenarios and I was missing a more generic critical appraisal of this tool to reflect on how the peacebuilding community may be ‘over-workshopped’ . Second, some of the con

Links & Contents I Liked 26

Hello all! In the end, quite a bit of interesting material assembled in my Inbox this week...From aidworker reflections from Haiti, university teaching insights from Mali, to travel tips for international moms and the challenges of internships, this week's link collection turned out to be a bit of a career issue...and if you are interested in international adoption I recommend my latest book review. Take care! New on aidnography Finding Fernanda – A compassionate story about the adoption industry in Guatemala highlights core development dilemmas Development First NOVAFRICA Conference on Economic Development in Africa KEYNOTE PRESENTATIONS: Paul Collier, Professor of Economics at the University of Oxford and Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) Dean Karlan, Professor of Economics at Yale University and Founder of Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) Roger Myerson, Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and Economics Nobel Prize Winner 200

Finding Fernanda – A compassionate story about the adoption industry in Guatemala highlights core development dilemmas

Finding Fernanda sheds light on the highly politicized landscape of Guatemala’s adoption industry, a multi-million dollar trade that was both highly profitable and barely regulated. Erin Siegal takes the reader on an important and worthwhile journey, especially since ‘helping children’ has always been a popular discourse in international development and critical examination of familiar practices and ideas is always important. She manages to tell the story of the international adoption industry as a balancing act on cultural tightropes – between legitimate interests and concerns and self-serving perceptions of North-South relationships. Based on her research at the Stabile Centre for Investigative Reporting at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, Siegal traces the case of Mildred Alvarado and two of her children who are kidnapped from her through the complexities of the ‘orphan industry’, including the roles of baby-finders, caretakers, judges, government officials a

Links & Contents I Liked 25

Hello all! The emphasis on this week's link edition is definitely on shoes-and more generally on the challenges of dealing with 'gifts in kind' in the context of developing countries. Not surprisingly, giving its persistently high quality, WhyDev's post on 'International volunteerism; who benefits most?' is highly recommended. Another piece I found noteworthy in the more eyebrow-raising way is BuildingsMarkets' post on how 'Big Aid' (not necessarily the often scolded ' Development industry ') is lobbying the U.S. Congress to stop legislation that would probably mean less money for American consultancy companies and more money reaching recipient countries out of the USAID budget. Lastly, a quick editorial note: I'm leaving for Germany today and there may not be weekly 'Links I Like' in the next 2 or even 3 weeks-however, there will be regular posts on interesting things that I'm sure will keep you entertained ;)! Take care! Ne

Shoes for Souls, good intentions and the bumpy road of DIY aid learning

In late February this year I came across an article in a local newspaper about a young student who collected 80,000 shoes that he wanted to ship to Zambia and distribute in local communities. In addition to my brief comment in my weekly link round-up , I sent Shoes For Souls * founder Kyle Warkentin a longer email, outlining some of my concerns. The reason why I am making parts of our email conversation public, which I rarely do on my blog, is to be transparent about the tone of the exchange and to document a specific case rather than falling back on general or generalised summaries. Dear Kyle, I came across your shoe initiative in the Metro News a few days ago and want to take this opportunity to express my concerns about your project as I believe that it does not fall under good development practice. As I have mentioned on my blog , there have been disucssions [sic] going on about in-kind donations and the negative impact they have on recipient countries, markets and commu

Links & Contents I Liked 24

Hello all, Another week-another questionable development idea appears-or at least so it seems. Buy a girl her life back is the slogan of the Girl Store - a bit of virtual Barbie doll dressing with a 'development' twist to it...two well-known old men make an appearance, too. And speaking of men, there's an interesting piece on men in the Indian construction industry that got me thinking about a large community that is rarely addressed in development debates. 10 Things Your Commencement Speaker Won't Tell You speaks for itself and in yet another example of how great anthropologists are we are extending the 'multi-sited' lens to outer space (seriously!)... Development The Girl Store-Buy A Girl Her Life Back Even today there are chances of Indian girls being sold into marriage or sex slavery. But you can help. Simply purchase an Indian girl the items she desperately needs to attend school. Because the most effective way to break the cycle of exploitation i