Links & Contents I Liked 78

Hello all,

My first link review from Sweden includes two interesting events that will be happening in Scandinavia, including a conference on 'celebrities in development' next week!
But there's more on African coffee producers, Mexican resilience to violence and new questions about the future of Canada's development institutions. New research looks at 'unruly politics' in detail and an African entrepreneur asks a key question to the Generation 2.0:
Do you have the Courage to make a Commitment?


New on aidnography
MOOCs, power relations & the tacit knowledge of academic socialization
My reflection focuses on the argument that academic socialization, learning the tacit knowledge that comes with a university education and the powerful ‘soft skills’ happen to a large extent outside the classroom.
More provocatively: Who really remembers their undergraduate lectures and seminars and instead creating networks, participating in social activities from parties to volunteering, maybe meeting their partner and many, many other things from living on one’s own (maybe even abroad) for the first time to seeing academia ‘in action’ as a research or teaching assistant?
The elite institutions that so graciously give away their precious learning content of their ‘superstar professors’ will not give away the soft, tacit aspects that come with the term ‘getting an education’

Social Media and Global Development Rituals: a content analysis of blogs and tweets on the 2010 MDG Summit
Daniel Esser and I are very happy that our journal article on social media, development rituals and the 2010 MDG Summit was published in Third World Quarterly last week!
This short post provides an overview over the research methods of using tweets and blogs as data, our findings as well as links to the full article as well as an ungated version. If you are interested in how social media can(not) affect development discourses this should be a worthwhile read! Comments very welcome!

Ørecomm Festival 2013

The third Ørecomm Festival puts the memory turn under scrutiny, addressing living memories in relation to two other central components of public sphere engagement: citizenship and social justice. As citizens we (can) actualize or make a public – and in this making we inevitably engage with social justice. Citizenship and Social Justice are of primary importance in societal debates concerning what, how and for whom we should remember – not least in transitional processes of attempted healing and conciliation. Memory work may be decisive for a society’s ability to live and develop in peace. Festival organisers welcome investigations and interrogations of memory and how it affects aspirations for social justice and sustainable development.
Definitely a first highlight of my new check out the updated program and call for papers!

Constituting Seminar 'Celebrities as new global actors'
Roskilde University (Denmark) is hosting the inaugural seminar for the research cluster: Celebrities as New Global Actors.
The inaugural seminar will focus on new research areas within the field of celebrity activism in a global context. The event will be held on June 12-13th 2013 at Roskilde University, Denmark.
I will attend the seminar next week, present my research and will definitely write a post or two on the two-day event!

African coffee isn't worth a bean
The lessons of Brazil and the other Latin American countries are clear – beneficiation of coffee will only be done where there are local champions and commercial advantages created by government policymakers who understand markets and value chains. But in coffee, as in so many other endeavours, size really matters – and no country is bigger than Brazil. African countries simply do not have the same export volumes to follow exactly what Brazil did in the 1970s, but the ingredients for success are the same.
Interesting reflection on why African coffee growers will continue to struggle to benefit from exports even if 'fair trade' and 'organic' products become more popular. The concentration of big multinationals that control the 'last mile' to the supermarket shelf is still extremely high and small producers and countries still do not pull enough weight.

Violence in Mexico: Forging a Civic Compact for Urban Resilience
These findings serve as reminders of the political dimension of resilience in the context of chronic violence, implying that there are important local collective dynamics that can be leveraged through responsive and accountable political representation. They also suggest that policymakers at all levels need to be mindful of the existence and potential of collective agency under extremely adverse conditions. The violence in border cities created an opportunity for forging a civic compact between entities of the state on the one hand and neighborhood residents on the other, to mend frail ties between the electorate and its representatives. This kind of deliberate state-building at the local level is precisely what Mexico needs in the aftermath of former President Calderón’s heavy-handed and, as many have claimed, detrimental strategy emphasizing federal-level and military-led programs and operations.
My colleague Daniel Esser shares some initial findings from his research on urban violence in Mexican border cities. Very interesting!

Liam Swiss: Is the IDRC the next target?
Why leave a uniquely Canadian international development actor handcuffed because of an absence of direction and leadership at the highest levels? Trying to guess at the government’s motives given the recent surprises in Canada’s development sector (the CIDA-DFAIT merger, for example) is not an easy task.
It is possible that the current government has plans for the IDRC that have yet to be revealed. Could the IDRC follow CIDA and be eliminated as a standalone entity? As of yet, the present CIDA-DFAIT merger details have been silent on the IDRC.
Eliminating the IDRC or stacking its board of governors with a certain ideological perspective would do a grave disservice to the unique impact the organization has on the developing world. It is a Canadian success story that we have created the world’s leading funder of research for development. Indeed, if you Google ‘development research’ the top result is Canada’s IDRC. Canadians should hope this government can listen to this evidence when it comes to the IDRC, lest they squander further global good will by eliminating an organization that has helped so many and managed to establish global recognition while doing it.
Liam Swiss speculates whether the current leadership challenges at the IDRC may be an attempt of the Conservative government to destroy another Canadian development institution after the end of CIDA...

The Changing Faces of Citizen Action: A Mapping Study through an ‘Unruly’ Lens
In this context this working paper develops an approach based on thinking at the IDS about ‘Unruly Politics’, a framework that offers new ways to understand and engage politics and political action. ‘Unruly Politics’ is a broad conceptual space rather than a descriptive or nominal category. Broadly, it is an approach that looks at politics beyond what has conventionally been defined as ‘politics’, institutionally and formally. It is simultaneously the insistence on new languages of politics, the redefinition of spaces of politics, ruptures in the aesthetic regimes of power, and the creation of imaginaries of power beyond what is already intelligible.
Great overview over the concept of 'unruly politics' and its implications for understanding new forms of social change and citizen power as they emerge these days.

Development research: improving access and relevance
So how can researchers ensure that their work extends beyond the academic community? An answer has come in the form of open-access publishing, defined by non-profit publisher Plos as "unrestricted access and unrestricted use" of research. It is intended to bypass the restrictive costs of traditional journals, allow for universities and other institutions to themselves archive publications and give copyright back to the authors of research. But as Scott's interview reveals, here too, there are costs involved and not all institutions or individuals can afford open-access fees.
Interesting overview over an important debate. But as I have argued before (Are journals hindering creative academic writing & engagement with research?) I think that many academics, researchers and communicators overestimate the impact of opening up academic texts to 'everybody'. Open access is a great concept, but the rituals of academic writing make a lot of good ideas almost unreadable...

Storytelling in Development Practice
While tapping into the collective processes of sharing and telling, storytelling can make the development sector as a whole more reflective in its approach and policies. It can bridge geographical and hierarchical divides and highlight the more humane elements of our work and personalities. Can we take this as a personal challenge to incorporate more stories in our work as development professionals?
A short overview over the power of storytelling for research, M&E, advocacy and communications and organisational learning.

AidWorks 29th May 2013. CIVICUS' Ciana-Marie Pegus on the current state of civil society in the world.
But what is the current state of civil society the world over, and what can be done to further strengthen its position in our societies and at the neogtiating table of international fora.
A nice 10-minute podcast on the state of civil society.

Do you have the Courage to make a Commitment?
Here is the number one thing I offer to entrepreneurs who are young, straight out of university, and ready to make a difference: “Plan on dedicating at least 10 years of your life to it. Make it work, and make it work right.”
Social entrepreneurship is about commitment. It’s about dedicating an incredible amount of thought, effort and love to the communities in which you’re working, and a lot of time to the new place you call home. It must become home.
Yet there are many of us foreigners who think that making a difference means starting a company, gaining traction, getting into grad school, and then “going home”. We make an exit strategy, understandably, because the struggle of living and working in poverty can be quite taxing. Many of us face so much dissonance on a daily basis, that it’s exhausting to think of doing our work forever.
Toni Maraviglia short post is absolutely spot on! Everyday Ambassador is a bit of a 'best kept secret' blog that definitely deserves more attention!

Writing With Soul
There may not be much call to write with soul in many types of scholarly work. And bravery in academic writing may not be rewarded with a standing ovation; it may, in fact, cause some trouble. The personal essay may not "count" on an academic CV. But acquiring the skills required to write with soul—learning to be honest and vulnerable on the page so that the reader sees not an author but a person, will help you find more readers, make you a better writer whatever the genre, and may even help you discover bits of your own well-armored soul.
This is an excellent indirect response to the earlier link on open access and making research and academic writing accessible and relevant. Changing academic writing conventions is as important as changing some of the traditional distributional channels!


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