Links & Contents I Liked 115

Dear all,

The link review is back! New publications on climate change and peacebuilding in Nepal & women and ICT. More on 'ghost polls' in Afghanistan, Madonna in Malawi and a great piece on the 'w
hite tourist burden'. The social media & development reading list and a case study on Twitter activism are interesting as well. Does open data need corporate capacity building? Anthropology features ethnography of application processes in Silicon Valley, Academia looks at training ‘disciplinary drones’, predatory publishing and an open access journal issue on ‘measuring Africa’



Climate Change Mitigation, Peacebuilding, and Resilience
The findings show that micro-hydropower development in Nepal has not contributed to peacebuilding on a state level. This is because these measures do not strengthen the political legitimacy of the post-conflict authorities, a crucial measure for successful peacebuilding. Actually, in the short run this measure of climate change mitigation has led to new informal spaces of peace beyond the reach of the Nepali state. This puts policy decision makers into a dilemma: Should they consider abandoning climate change mitigation policies if they might in fact risk the peacebuilding process? Or is it worth the bigger cause of reducing CO2 emissions globally? As this article shows, the answer might be more nuanced.
Let's kick off this week's review with some new research from Nepal by a Florian Krampe, a Sweden-based colleague!

New publication on empowering women entrepreneurs through technology
Women's small businesses are important contributors to economies, particularly in the informal sector. At the same time, institutional and systemic barriers, and legal gender inequalities, as well as socio-cultural norms and practices, often stymie the potential of women entrepreneurship.
These factors may cause constraints in such areas as women's access to finance, time availability due to multiple roles, physical mobility, and access to education, skills and training. ICTs can help to overcome some of them, and there are also business opportunities in the ICT sector itself.
UNCTAD's latest report on women and ICT.

Recommended Presentations from “State of the Map”
I’d like to share two presentations with you that stood out for me: Dale Kunce from the American Red Cross presented how the AmCross GIS team supported the Haiyan response both in the Philippines and remotely.
The other presentation I’d like to share is by Kate Chapman, the Executive Director of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), who showed how her team is using OSM and a newly developed plugin called “In a Safe” for risk modelling and disaster preparedness in Indonesia.
Timo Luege reports back from the 'State of the Map' conference and highlights interesting innovative projects from Asia.

The Ghost Polls of Afghanistan
It was becoming clear by then that two different narratives would emerge from the election. One would take place in Afghanistan’s cities — which enjoy relative security, a vibrant press, international observers, and a developed political process, all of which helped hold the vote accountable. The other would unfold in the insecure rural areas, which are contested between the government, the Taliban, and militias. There, the election would be largely invisible to journalists and other observers.
Three quarters of the country’s people live outside its cities, with perhaps half of that tally in insecure provinces like Wardak, where we saw fraud of a kind that was widespread in 2009 and 2010. As on wider issues of security and development, the stories of Afghanistan’s cities and its hinterlands have diverged this election. Thus far only one has been told.
The democratic performance that I commented on just after the election is also a well-known performance of 'urban' vs. 'rural' and 'international community' vs. 'rest of the country'.

Madonna earns the wrath of Joyce Banda - full statement
Whereupon Madonna's PR guy Trevor Neilson (who doesn't seem to be too great at his job judging by the way in which a routine baby-hugging photo-op has descended into a hilarious international shitshow) hit back
Malawi's presidential office publicly responds to Madonna. Definitely worth the read, but for Christ's sake, when does the Hollywood PR industry finally wake up and learn 1-3 things about development?! I mean seriously...

The white tourist’s burden
Typically other people’s problems seem simpler, uncomplicated and easier to solve than those of one’s own society. In this context, the decontextualized hunger and homelessness in Haiti, Cambodia or Vietnam is an easy moral choice. Unlike the problems of other societies, the failing inner city schools in Chicago or the haplessness of those living on the fringes in Detroit is connected to larger political narratives. In simple terms, the lack of knowledge of other cultures makes them easier to help.
Rafia Zakaria's piece has been trending quite a bit in my social networks-and rightfully so! It will be the go-to piece whenever somebody wants to 'help' by traveling to a distant land. Well written, great summary of the voluntourism debate.

How Chelsea Is Changing The Clinton Foundation
"Sometimes President Clinton simply would come in and say, 'You know, I had a great conversation with the King of Jordan. We should do something about Jordan.' And it would be like, well, now we'll make Jordan a priority," explains [CGI deputy director Ed Hughes]. Chelsea, on the other hand, "wants to see some evidence of why we're making decisions, as opposed to the anecdotes," adds Hughes.
I know that Chris Gayomali's piece is meant to be about Generation Y leadership and organizational culture building-interesting, but like the Malawi piece it is equally interesting to learn more about a celebrity philanthropist (?) and how influential organizations make (or don't really) make decisions.

#BBCtrending: Lessons from Nigeria on social media activism
As protests got underway, news began to emerge on social media of his release - with photos posted online by a family friend. "I would say with 90% certainty that if we didn't start this campaign, the guy would still be inside," says Fola Lawal, who started the #freeciaxon hashtag. "The government knows the weight of social media," she says.
Journalist Salihu Tanko Yakasai with Freedom Radio in Kano also believes Onimisi would almost certainly still be detained had it not been for the protests on social media. "People often disappear for no reason or with no explanation," he says. "God knows what would have happened to him." Social media, he says, has become "the single most effective way" to hold the government to account in Nigeria.
Very interesting social media case study from Nigeria about 'everyday activism' and the importance of Twitter beyond the 'Twitter revolution' headlines.

Citizen action as a catalyst for change in the New Urban Agenda
The oral testimonies collected through this evaluation point to the importance of understanding activism as a journey for which there is not a prescribed path or set of steps. The lives of individual activists are as complex as the situations in which they live and work. And yet, this evaluation has identified some important trends and patterns within these life trajectories. Policy and programme interventions aimed at reducing violence, and particularly gender-based violence in urban contexts, need to give greater attention to what enables, sustains, and inhibits activism outside of the boundaries of particular projects. In the long term, the contributions that these local activists can make to greater security and justice can be substantial.
First insights into a new study on urban violence in South Africa that will be published in May by IDS/Sussex.

Social Media and International Development: Academic Texts
Here are a just a few of the academic texts and papers that I believe are informative for anyone studying social media’s relationship with international development.
I only came across David Girling's collection now-but a great resource for those studying social media and development-and he promised to add our articles to the list as well ;)!

Japhy Wilson’s critical study of Jeffrey Sachs from Verso
It’s a powerful and nuanced critique of his work and involvement in neoliberal projects, and a careful analysis of his development projects in sub-Saharan Africa.
The book is on my Kobo and I really hope that it's not just a polemic about Sachs' work 25 years ago...but there will be a proper book review!

Big obstacles ahead for big data for development
Gosier tells SciDev.Net that if governments do wish to see big data used for development, their best bet could be to allow the private sector to do the groundwork. They should recognise, he says, that they will struggle to compete with companies set up to do the job.
Last not least, an interesting SciDev piece on big data and development. Still many open questions as to how to employ them for 'development', but in the end my Foucault-power-knowledge-governmentality alarm went off: If we are learning one thing about (big) data at the moment than that we should be very skeptical about governments and private companies. 'Capacity building' means opening up a new door in the professionalization and depolitization of development that most likely follows traditional patterns when the private sector is involved.

What I Learned Watching 150 Hours of TED Talks
Use emotion, be novel, emphasize the visual
As much as I understand what Carmine Gallo takes away from watching all these TED talks, I am worried as a teacher that students, academia etc. are going to expect more and more of these attributes in classrooms as well. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a good, inspiring presentation, but sometimes real learning also has to be a bit unexcited, comes with reading the odd quote on a slide and may not always have stimulating pictures on file...

A Rare Opportunity Never Knocks
For the past seven months, I have studied hiring in the Silicon Valley. I interview job-seekers, recruiters, hiring managers, career counselors and human resource managers—everyone involved in this humdrum surreal ritual of selection. I began this research because I suspect that a neoliberal logic isn’t easy to live by, that it presents challenges that earlier forms of capitalism did not. But I could not predict from an armchair when people preferred being a neoliberal self to another capitalist self, say, a Fordist self, and when they might be dismayed by the efforts required to be an ever-flexible, ever-enhancing neoliberal self. I rightly thought that asking people how they navigated the hiring process would reveal the perceived benefits or detriments of taking oneself to be a business–a bundle of skills, qualities, experiences, and alliances that must constantly be managed and enhanced.
While resumes as a genre present their own genre-specific challenges, it is only when one examines how people try to fashion all the genres in their repertoire that one begins to see the systematic fissures in trying to embody a neoliberal self.
Interesting ethnographic insights into the application and hiring process in the current Silicon Valley economy.


The tyranny of training PhD students.
My objection is to the systematic training of PhD students to turn them into disciples of a particular discipline. The training machine is firmly entrenched in the United States, much of continental Europe and much of Asia.
The danger is that we are producing disciplinary drones, schooled in the science of methods, of followership and conformity.
Roger MacGinty makes some relevant points about the limitations of training PhD students-especially the training outside the actual thesis/dissertation work. But if you desire some form of academic 'career' (i.e. sustainable paid employment at a university) you need a disciplinary focus. Very, very few people get hired on their innovative potential or interdisciplinary skills alone, so you need to be realistic-or change the academic industry. I completed a fairly multidisciplinary PhD and it did not make my job search easier to say the least.

Blinded by scientific gobbledygook
“Universities are particularly vulnerable” to being fooled by these fake credentials.
It used to be pretty easy to spot them, said Pierson. “But the predatory journals are becoming a little more sophisticated, (and) new journals in every field are popping up weekly.”
Even Pierson didn’t know the latest trick. Journals are rated on their “impact factor” — how often their articles are used as references in later studies. And the predatory journals are now buying fake impact factors from equally fake rating agencies.
He believes this taints the reliability of what is published everywhere.
It seems that Tom Spears invested quite a lot of time and effort to prove what most academic already know: Predatory journals publish pretty much any article without quality checks.
The question is who really gets 'blinded' by these articles. Any decent hiring committee would discover quite quickly that a candidate published in a fake journal. I know many good journals in my area and one Google search would reveal a predatory or 'fake' journal. So as much investigative fun journalists may have with fake journals I would not overestimate their impact in proper academic and scientific publishing.

Measuring African Development: Past and Present / Mesurer le développement africain : hier et aujourd'hui
Is there a “statistical tragedy” unfolding in Africa now? If so then examining the roots of the problem of provision of statistics in poor economies is certainly of great importance. This Special Issue on measuring African development in the past and in the present draws on the historical experience of colonial French West Africa, Ghana, Sudan, Mauritania and Tanzania and the more contemporary experiences of Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The authors each reflect on the changing ways statistics represent African economies and how they are used to govern them.
Open access issue of the Canadian Journal of Development Studies on statistics and Africa.


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