Links & Contents I Liked 57

Hello all!

Happy New Year! And welcome to the first regular Thursday link review of 2013!

There's some interesting stuff to kick-off a new year in development (blogging), featuring a very interesting piece on the 'murky fields of imposition' inside an organization that struggled with a systemic review process, an innovative Tanzanian digital politician, the question whether or not Oxfam should pay interns, a word from 'Everyday Ambassador' Jennifer Lentfer, an essay on anthropology and the U.S. military, great career advice from Forbes (the economy needs YOU! 'transcultural anthropologist'!), a list of great political science & IR bloggers and last not least a new study on gender disparities in academia. 


New from aidnography
Learn, stimulate, encourage: Participatory plastic words & the EUs European Year of Citizens

Links I Liked 56

I started combing through my every-increasing list of interesting and noteworthy links and decided to compile a slightly more special link review before the regular one will resume on Thursday. My aim is to share new links, but being selective in as much as I think that many of these issues have been part of bigger issues and/or are likely to 'stick around' in forthcoming debates in 2013.
This review features thoughts on participation, the value of global summits, politics in the 'post-2015' age, the future of philanthropy and Afghanistan, higher education funding, abolishing academic tenure as well as book recommendations.
2012: The year Irish newspapers tried to destroy the web
The Newspaper Industry [...] had its agent write out demanding money. They wrote to Women’s Aid, (amongst others) who became our clients when they received letters, emails and phone calls asserting that they needed to buy a licence because they had linked to articles in newspapers carrying positive stories about their fundraising efforts.
These are the prices for linking they were supplied with:
1 – 5 €300.00
6 – 10 €500.00
11 – 15 €700.00
16 – 25 €950.00
26 – 50 €1,350.00
50 + Negotiable
They were quite clear in their demands. They told Women’s Aid “a licence is required to link directly to an online article even without uploading any of the content directly onto your own website.”
In another desperate effort to make money from printed daily newspapers, Irish publishers have started to target development organizations and ask them to pay for linking to their websites.

Murky fields of imposition. The case of a systematic review

This kind of balanced academic discussion about systematic reviews is not what happened in the following narrative which tells of a lost year of confusion, anger, argument and resistance, involving much energy and time for those involved.
My story is based on the 190 emails I received or sent during a year of struggle over a donor requirement that we undertake a systematic review as part of a much larger programme the Centre was negotiating with the donor.
After nearly a year of frustration, tears and despair, of quarrels between friends, sporadic surrender and flares of stubborn resistance, it appeared we had won. But it took up so much of our time! What the hell was it all about? Why do I feel so tired and drained of energy?
As IDS' Rosalind Eyben and her team get ready for the 'Big Push Forward' conference in April this detailed story about the politics of systematic reviews is well worth a read. Despite a relatively happy ending it's a powerful reminder how much time and energy are spent in organizational battles around the politics of 'evidence'...

Comment on the use of social media and politics in #Tanzania #GermanAfricaInitiative

‘Mr. Kabwe, you are among the youngest parliamentarians in Tanzania and you are using primarily Twitter to communicate with your fans and friends. Can social media reduce corruption and lethargy in African democracies?’
In April 2012 I moved a motion in Parliament to censure a Prime Minister following misuse of public funds by ministers as evidenced by the Controller and Auditor General. I used social media (primarily Twitter) to ask citizens to call their MPs to sign a petition (hashtagged #sahihi70) – 70 signatures needed to qualify to move a vote of no confidence against a Prime Minister (#VoteOfNoConfidence). My party has 48 MPs only, but the petition was signed by 75 MPs. It was an uncomfortable topic for some members of the ruling party but with all the attention drawn on these issues through independent social media it was hard for the government to ignore the issue and they had to respond to questions. Eventually the President sacked 8 ministers including Ministers of Finance and Energy, key ministries. Social media was very instrumental in both of these examples I have given. Social media is also an accountability tool used by citizens to reach politicians. I am regularly questioned a number of issues on social media and I respond. I am asked questions by people who would never get such an opportunity because of the distances the traditional media keep between politicians and the people.
Great to see examples of politicians who embrace digital tools for positive change!

Forget swimming pools and bra hunts, it’s time for the Great Intern Debate

The upshot of all this is that I am genuinely torn. I know from watching my kids’ generation emerge from university just how hard a struggle it is to find a job, and to survive as an intern. But I don’t completely buy the idea that paying a minimum wage or slightly higher would transform the class composition of entry level NGO staff – the barriers to diversity are more complex and pervasive than that (when Oxfam did briefly try a graduate entry scheme a decade or so ago, the applicants were less diverse than our normal volunteer intake). And I do think that paying interns would reduce the number of internships (though I have no idea by how much). So in time honoured FP2P fashion, I will stay firmly on the fence and let you, the readers, decide (see poll, right) albeit in a non-binding sort of way. But here’s the question I want you to vote on – please read it carefully before voting:
“In pursuit of fairness and a diverse workforce, NGOs should pay a living wage to interns, even if that means fewer internships are available, and some funds are diverted from other uses.”
Interesting and important debate - one of those issues that will certainly be the topic of some development blogging in the new year...

HPN Coordinator Speaks with Antonio Donini

In this podcast you can listen to HPN coordinator, Wendy Fenton, in discussion with the author of 'The Golden Fleece,' Antonio Donini. The author addresses some of the key questions covered in the book - most centrally whether it is inevitable that the aspirations of humanitarianism will always be subject to manipulation - be it for political, military or security reasons.
You should still read my review of The Golden Fleece, but the podcast is an excellent way to hear from the editor what he has to say about the book.

If only I had known…

You will have to fight hard to not let the overly technocratic, abstractionist tendencies of aid work pull you under.
You will have to fight against “charitable” urges towards impoverished and marginalized people you encounter, which can ultimately debase their dignity.
You will have to fight to experience the full range of our human condition.
Interesting and important nuggets of wisdom from 'Do-Gooder' Jennifer Lentfer...great new year inspirational reading!

The Anthropology Wars

As few anthropologists operate under any such theoretical illusions in the present day, the military’s endeavour to leave no anthropologist behind in the war on terror has encountered serious recruitment barriers. Even those few among our colleagues who swallow the line that ethnographic intelligence can (or was ever intended) to mitigate the brutalities of war can hardly keep a straight face when confronted with the witless inanity promulgated by the military’s culture manuals. For example, the Special Forces Advisor Guide (a Lonely Planet for ground troops) characterizes “human nature” in North America, Western Europe, and Australia as basically good; describes South America’s as a mixture of good and evil; and relegates all of sub-Saharan Africa to more evil than good. As Price succinctly puts it, engaging with such fatuous primers is like “reading a contemporary physics text relying on theories of aether to explain radio broadcasts, a chemistry text basing its analysis on the inherent qualities of earth, wind and fire, or a geology manual with a chapter on Adam and Eve.”
The cultural ideologies for which the U.S. military seeks theoretical justification in anthropology are the same ones sold by pundits, politicians, and much of the media to a public billed as the keepers of right, law and order, whose obligation to defend their values, we are told, simultaneously brings liberation to the benighted places of the world through the emancipatory propensities of the daisy cutter and the drone. The book tells a tale both cautionary and hopeful. While Price’s work is a sober reminder of the brutal ends toward which social scientific theory might be bent, it is also a testament to the resistance power may meet from a science that is no more static or essential than the enemy the militarized state so strategically misunderstands.
A great review + essay inspired by David Price's book 'Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in the Service of the Militarized State'.

10 Surprising Marketing Job Titles For The Next 10 Years

1. Transcultural Anthropologist
Broad demographic categories like “black, white or Hispanic” will continue to lose relevance. Researchers will be more focused on understanding pockets of global culture that influence and remix with each other. Expect to see more briefs aimed at hybrid audiences like “LGBT b-ball fanatics” or “Latina K-pop enthusiasts.”
As with most writing in publications like Forbes I am never entirely sure how serious they are or whether The Onion may have an ironic sister publication with a statement that includes 'Since 1917, Forbes has stood, unwavering, for one overriding principle: the unshakable belief in the power of free enterprise'...anyway...before I can investigate further I need to find out first what homo?mono?cultural anthropologists are doing all day long ;)!

2012 International Studies Blogging Awards: Final Call
This is an excellent list of political science and international relations blogs, bloggers and blog posts that is well worth exploring and adding to your blog bookmarks!

New study uncovers several reasons for gender disparities in science

Yet, women outnumber men in medical school and they make up a large proportion of working physicians. [...]
The key difference between the two fields, argued Dr. Adamo, is in the admission process. Medical schools restrict the number of students they admit based on the number of available positions for working doctors, while universities place no such limits on graduate school admissions, making it a less competitive process to get in. The result is an oversupply of biologists for academic positions. Thus, competition for postdoctoral fellowships and faculty positions in biology is exceptionally fierce and getting worse, she said.
To reverse the trend, Dr. Adamo recommends creating more family-friendly work policies for graduate students and postdocs. The recent report by the Council of Canadian Academies on barriers to women in research made a similar observation, noting that “more family friendly options and more flexible models of career progression are important considerations for a diversifying workplace.”
The debate around female students, women professors and disciplinary differences has been ongoing for a while and is complicated.
But what I found so interesting in this piece is the (certainly unintended) irony that offers you a window into bigger problems in contemporary academia that go beyond gender debates: Why would employers feel encouraged to create particularly family friendly workplaces when they are faced at the same time with an increasing oversupply of highly-skilled labor? And I don't mean 'soft' factors like 'work-life-balance', diversity management etc.

By the way: It would be fascinating research to find out whether development studies programs should link their admissions to the global development industry and not just to increased student tuition money collection...


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