Links & Contents I Liked 127

Hi all,

It's Friday and time for some recommended readings! New publications, development news with a peace & conflict focus, digital lives with Firechat, traveling chef Anthony Bourdain and Vice news' missing Chinese wall between content and marketing (?); an open access issue of Anthropology Matters and the question of how Oxford's PPE degree fosters elite group-think.


New from aidnography

Celebrity development bullshit bingo-Victoria Beckham UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador appointment speech edition

I went to Cape Town and I was so touched by the women that I met. I felt inspired and I came home and I knew that I had to do something. I didn’t know what I had to do, but I knew I had to do something.
Victoria Beckham ticks basically all the boxes of how not to communicate development as a celebrity ambassador...

The development-digital lives-academia tweet of the week (via Brian Gaensler):

No women winning your prestigious fellowships? Here are some handy tips on how to solve the #WomanProblem:

Hot off the (virtual) press
Emerging Opportunities: Monitoring and Evaluation in a Tech-Enabled World

By reflecting on ways in which these innovators have begun to navigate new territory, and by exploring the great potential for technology to further transform and advance traditional evaluation methods, this paper aims to highlight the current state of tech-enabled M&E while also maintaining a critical perspective which recognizes the limitations and inherent risks which evaluators should remain mindful of when engaging in this new and exciting space.
In my last link review I featured a critical comment on how Rockefeller's CEO is communicating her work and that of the foundation, but as I also mentioned: They still do a lot of great stuff and Linda Raftree and Michael Bamberger's paper is obviously a must-read!

25 Years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: Is the World a better place for children?

A collection of essays and viewpoints marking the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. There is much to celebrate since the Convention was adopted in 1989, from declining infant mortality to rising school enrolment. But this milestone must serve as an urgent reminder of the millions of children not yet reached – and an opportunity to find new ways of reaching them.
A comprehensive new report from UNICEF; it just so happened that I was invited to participate in a great conference on 'Institutionalization of Child Rights in the Digital Future' that UNICEF Turkey is hosting together with quite a Turkish universities-if you happen to be in Istanbul for the event, please send me a message and we can meet up!

How can you be marda if you beat your wife. Notions of masculinities and violence in Eastern Nepal

Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) remains one of the biggest safety and security challenges in Nepal. News of SGBV – from sexual assault to accusations of witchcraft to trafficking of women and girls – has been appearing regularly over the last couple of decades. Many programmes and policies seeking to reduce and prevent SGBV focus on the needs and rights of girls and women. But at the same time there is very limited understanding regarding masculinities and whether and how they link to violence, and in particular SGBV. This report seeks to explore how people in two districts of Eastern Nepal perceived notions of masculinities; and to understand young men’s experiences and attitudes towards violence, including SGBV.
Interesting new report that my colleagues Matthew Maycock and Jeevan Sharma wrote for Saferworld.

October Peace Journalist magazine: Hot off the presses

The October, 2014 edition of the Peace Journalist magazine is here. This special edition addresses how the press handled (or, mis-handled) the situation in Ferguson, Missouri. Also featured are reports from literally around the world--Mexico, Palestine, Libya, Kenya, Nigeria, The Bronx, Gaza, and Afghanistan.
As always, some nice, off-the-beaten track peace journalism.

Development news

The Peace Bridge to Nowhere

Peacebuilders thus know how to implement adaptive programming, and they know it works. But many of the organizations doing good programming are succeeding despite the demands of their funders, compliance officers, or inspectors general. They find ways to be more flexible, while at the same time doing just enough to keep the "counter-bureaucracy" happy. The shift that is needed is an approach to accountability that doesn't just create space at the margins for creative organizations to do flexible programming, but which demands that all organizations do this sort of programming. It must then require that organizations provide evidence explaining programming decisions they made and the results achieved. (As a bonus, this approach can safeguard taxpayers' money.)
USIP's Andrew Blum on how to enhance success and accountability in difficult aid environments.

Reading the International Crisis Group or why think tank reports have to be taken with a pinch of salt, by Berit Bliesemann de Guevara

If the ICG’s access to policy-makers depends on its staff’s connections, then how does the organisation ensure its independence? In other words, what formal and informal relations exist between ICG experts, local stakeholders and international decision-makers? What different roles do the organisation or its representatives play in conflicts and peacebuilding processes, for instance, and what happens during advocacy ‘behind closed doors’?
In other words, the ICG is engaging in what could be termed a ‘mass-scale education programme for unruly societies’ based on the liberal norms of democracy, rule of law and market economy. This may not seem like a problem as such, were it not for the depoliticising and criminalising effects on violent behaviour of this educating rhetoric
A long, but worthwhile read on the discourses around ICG and its reports-Berit Bliesemann De Guevara also edited a recent special issue of Third World Quarterly on the ICG-in case you are interested in further academic readings!

Public-private partnerships: A 'win-win' for global health?

“On the whole, there isn’t a lot of transparency that is mandated or built into the PPP model,” Yale’s Pogge said. If a PPP isn’t particularly transparent, there’s no body forcing it to be. A possible explanation for this, he said, could be that people feel hesitant to come down hard on work that purportedly does good. It was the same way with charities, until relatively recently. “I think this will develop [for PPPs], but we are at the early stages,” he said.
One of the challenges with anything new is it either gets sold as a panacea for everything or a new way to find resources,” said InterAction’s Worthington, adding that partnerships with the private sector introduce funding but also complexity. “What is the overlap between global business and development? There clearly is an overlap, but let’s not overstate that overlap.”
To Marc Mitchell, such partnerships sound good but can be more window dressing than substance.
“My biggest concern is that they are being held up as a way to privatize the delivery of health care in poor countries and used as an excuse by government, and by some extent donors, to not commit to long-term funding,” he said.
Katia Savchuk's piece on PPP and global health is balanced and well-researched and she is pointing out some of the key challenges around transparency and overstating the private sector's will to 'do good'.

Does big business build peace?

At the same time, industrial mining operations have deprived tens of thousands of local people of livelihood opportunities without offering an alternative. For all these reasons we should be more skeptical and better aware of the limitations of the business for peace agenda.
All the same, presenting these companies as “peacebuilders” makes it easy to effectively ignore their role in creating these same problems, conflict and social inequality. The reality is that companies’ violence-reducing and community engagement strategies coexist with practices that lead to insecurity and conflict.
Despite these failures and ambiguities, the business for peace agenda keeps promoting large-scale companies as developers and peacebuilders. My third point is that it is actively used by business and governments to legitimize their business activities; and to delegitimize alternative actors such as small-scale miners.
Jana Hönke presents her research on the Monkey Cage blog, highlighting the complexities of labels such as 'big business as peacebuilders'.

Development Ideas

Development Ideas is a space for thinkers and practitioners to learn, share and debate about international development—its origins, how it has changed and spread over time, and how it may evolve.
We recently published an essential reference book for scholars, graduate students, practitioners and policy-makers: International Development: Ideas, Experience and Prospects (Oxford University Press, 2014). Over 90 authors—half of whom are researchers from the global South—explain development concepts within their historical contexts, sharing current thinking and real-world evidence.
Interesting companion site to a forthcoming book-hosted by IDRC in Canada-so it's a bit top-down, but worthwhile to watch evolve...

Is Emma Watson the right woman for the job?

What's more, I do acknowledge that the speech has made a difference - it has caused me and many others to tweet and blog and post our opinions, to engage and be critical through various social media networks.
My bottom line remains: When we have women carrying around the mattress on which they were raped in an effort to have their attacker expelled, women protesting outside jails for those incarcerated for miscarriages charged as aggravated homicides, women going to jail because they used their music to promote LGBTQ rights in an oppressive society, can we not think of better reasons for the UN to promote feminism than to prevent young girls from worrying that they are becoming "too muscly"? When we have a global stage and a voice that is dripping in discursive power, can we not think of a better reason to promote feminism to the masses?
Julia Zulver reflects on what Emma Watson has achieved and the complexities of everyday reality when it comes to women's rights.

Our digital lives

The Data Journalism Handbook

The Data Journalism Handbook is a free, open source reference book for anyone interested in the emerging field of data journalism. It was born at a 48 hour workshop at MozFest 2011 in London. It subsequently spilled over into an international, collaborative effort involving dozens of data journalism's leading advocates and best practitioners - including from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC, the Chicago Tribune, Deutsche Welle, the Guardian, the Financial Times, Helsingin Sanomat, La Nacion, the New York Times, ProPublica, the Washington Post, the Texas Tribune, Verdens Gang, Wales Online, Zeit Online and many others
New open access publication.

Small steps, big changes: how social media contribute to social transformation

This case shows that it is not the spread of information alone that has transformative potential, but the nature of social media itself: the peer to peer sharing and interaction that allows people to feel connected and act accordingly.
In just this way, social media facilitate differing degrees of involvement in political action. By lowering the barriers to activism, they make it possible for more people to take small steps as part of a larger movement. When expressed through social media in much larger numbers, public opinion has the potential to influence those in power and to give emotional momentum to those like Manoharan who find themselves on the front lines of a struggle.
Alice Neeson points out some of the less tangible (side) effects of social media engagement, but I am still a bit skeptical about the longer-term 'transformative' impact of these encounters and engagements. Do they really lead to broader, social change?

Firechat Enables the Crowd to Become the Internet –Bypassing Central Powers

Seven month old Firechat enables people to become the internet themselves by turning their phones into a network, bypassing access to the worldwide web. The preceding picture shows Hong Kong protesters “armed” with smartphones, using their devices as a single, united network to communicate, call in resources, talk to media, and tell their story globally – even when the government had shut down many internet services.
It seems that every revolution/'revolution'/revolt has its own tool-the question is always of how we can maintain its momentum once powerful companies and authorities have become aware of them...

Anthony Bourdain Has Become The Future Of Cable News, And He Couldn't Care Less

Another way Bourdain stays engaged is by constantly experimenting with technology. As equipment has improved over the years, the show has become more visually accomplished. In addition to high-end cameras like $16,000 Sony F3s with cinema-quality lenses and more modest equipment such as Canon 7Ds, the team now regularly uses GoPros, often in unexpected ways. In the Shanghai episode, they rigged up what they refer to as "shot cam," a GoPro attached to a shot glass that captures, to dizzying effect, the liquor's-eye view during a night of revelry. They have used bags of risotto for makeshift tracking shots ("risotto cam") and turned a Hot Wheels track into a camera dolly. Bourdain is especially excited about the possibility of shooting an upcoming show entirely on iPhones.
In the kitsch-prone world of celebrity chefs, Bourdain sticks out as an earnest, uncompromising voice and relentless advocate for authenticity, occupying a strange position as both an antiestablishment bomb thrower (he is known for ripping into Emeril Lagasse, Rachael Ray, and other famous chefs) and, at this point, an entrenched member of the culinary in-crowd.
When Zucker took over CNN in January 2013, nobody knew how he was planning to remake the network--including Bourdain, whose show was in production but hadn't yet aired. Zucker might have killed it right then, but instead he gave it a prime Sunday-night time slot and a major marketing push. "Tony is an incredibly strong storyteller--he tells stories through food and travel and a little alcohol mixed in," says Zucker. "Really, that's what CNN should be about. I learned as much about Israel and the Palestinians from Tony's hour on Jerusalem as I did from any reporting that I've seen."
A highly recommended long read by Rob Brunner that tells a lot about good storytelling, producing exciting broadcasts, but also the future of journalism and 'foreign correspondents'. Bourdain probably also tells more about 'development' than many other formats...

Emails: Vice Requires Writers to Get Approval to Write About Brands

At most media organizations, there's a "Chinese wall" between editorial and advertising operations—each department operating independently of one another. At Vice Media—marketing shop first, editorial brand second—that's not quite how it works, according to a series of emails published to Twitter by recently departed editor Charles Davis.
And while we are talking about the 'future of journalism' in the digital age, this story about VICE media's balancing act between journalistic content and marketing efforts is a timely reminder about the messiness of how media will work in the not so distant future...

Academia & Anthropology
Vol 15, No 1 (2014)
Ethnographies of the Opportunities and Risks of Neoliberalisation

This issue of Anthropology Matters addresses the subject of neoliberalism by enquiring into its contradictions. Rather than assuming that we are completely settled on what the term designates or that its referent is indisputably negative, we asked the contributors to this edition to consider the opportunities and risks emerging out of the processes that fall under the rubric of neoliberalism, and how these opportunities and risks are distributed within and across different populations. Our goal in doing so was to enable a better understanding of why diverse aspects of neoliberalism seem to remain dominant in spite of the crisis of neoliberal governance that surfaced in the US in mid-2007 and has spread worldwide, albeit in different ways, thereafter. The grounds for this edition were laid by discussions on neoliberalism by a group of postgraduate social anthropology researchers at the University of Manchester during 2010/2011. In the context of a reading group set up to discuss David Harvey’s A Brief History of Neoliberalism (2005), we raised questions revolving around the pervasiveness of neoliberalism and the possibilities for transformation through and beyond neoliberalism.
New, open access issue of Anthropology Matters with very timely debates.

How an Oxford degree – PPE – created a robotic governing class

Oxford’s issue is not what it thinks but how it thinks.
I don’t dispute that Oxford produces world-class thinkers, but it also churns out world-class bullshitters. Career politicians with no interests outside politics have always existed, as the lives of Pitt the Younger, Lloyd George and Asquith show. More novel, or more common than they once were, are politicians who believe that governing is managing; that the tactics of Peter Mandelson (PPE, St Catherine’s College) are all they need to know: lead the news cycle, write the headlines, buy off Murdoch, offer a concession to anti-immigrant feeling here, a tax-raising power to Scots there, then wait for the next wave to surf.
Nick Cohen on elite institutions, elite bubbles and group think of elites attending elite universities.


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