Links & Contents I Liked 184

Hi all,

Welcome to a jam-packed end-of-the-week link review!

Development news
on Professor Angelina; #allmalepanel; finding a new WHO Director; the holy grail of ‘less paperwork’; UN bureaucracy; unpacking digital privacy; teens in Nepal and the stigma of periods; development journalism; the ‘tomorrow’ after WHS; better voluntourism; Vogue and aid romance; the ‘non-place’ of Angola’s uninhabited modern city;
Digital lives on how Air B’nB is destroying Iceland’s rental market
New publications on educational development and how mainstream news report global issues.
Academia on peer-review and academic citizenship


New from aidnography
Why you should be critical of Professor Angelina Jolie Pitt’s LSE gig

There is nothing wrong with an entertaining lecture, but in the age of TED talks, Hans Rosling visualizations and a higher education sector that is now less ‘ivory tower’ than it ever was, we have to critically assess how ‘fun’ university studies can and should be.
That is particularly important in ‘our’ area of development and humanitarian aid where short-term field experience, volunteering stints or superficial engagements with large and/or powerful organizations all come with their own problems; Angelina Jolie, unfortunately, represents that modus operandi and her appointment helps to legitimize an approach that places ‘doing’ over ‘thinking’ and ‘reflecting’
Development news
Jolie-Pitt, Trump and Bono Walk Into a LSE Classroom: why dedication and commitment isn’t expertise

Finally, for me, the real issue isn’t if she is ‘legit,’ an expert, has enough experience, is dedicated, is ‘just’ a celebrity, or is beautiful. The real question is whether having white, western woman ‘raise awareness’ about the ‘plight’ of the ‘other’ is ever anything but neo-colonial, patronising and ego satisfying. While attending another top university (some might say, THE top university) I took a class from a very rich female former ambassador and, I can tell you with 100% certainty, it was all kinda colors of white-saviour/let’s hear about my amazing contributions to the world/enlightenment logic on steroids. Having this kind of ‘knowledge’ poured into some of the ‘top’ minds reproduces elitism
Megan Mackenzie also comments on Angelina Jolie's LSE gig.

The men who are taking a stand against 'dude fests'

Denskus told BBC Trending that the subject has been on his mind for a while: "Ever since all-male panels have been discussed, including by Owen Barder, very little has changed in academia, policy and development." He added that the long-standing issue was becoming more visible in the digital age; "there is more and better evidence now on social media, for example"
As happy as I am about the quote in Megha Mohan's piece for BBC Trending, I wish that the article hadn't just focused on men and quoting male 'experts'...

“This race will be intense”: a look at elections for Director General of the WHO

We need redundancy built into the system, clear lines of responsibility, accountability, and a culture that allows for the candid discussion of what’s working and what’s not. Also, making sure we can respond when the next emergency hits should never be just one person’s job. As a global community, we can’t excuse ourselves from the responsibility. That means we have a role to play in ensuring our system works better and ultimately ensuring lives are not lost. In the short term, it means pushing for transparency, ensuring that reform is not superficial, and being active, in whatever ways we can, to inform a system we trust.
Grace Fletcher and Liana Rosenkrantz Woskie discuss the upcoming elections of a new WHO Director and all sorts of challenges the organization faces; as much as we criticize the UN system, they are trying to be more open and democratic-at the same time asking for an almost impossible to find candidate with short-term charisma and long-term bureaucratic vision...

We need less paperwork and more aid in humanitarian work

These moves to reduce bureaucracy may be less spectacular than the kinds of deals political leaders hoped to get out of the summit. But they are much more like repairing the Titanic’s hull than rearranging the deck chairs. Slimming down the aid machine would require some difficult decisions about reducing the number of organisations working in crisis areas, and reducing the autonomy of individual donors to adapt what they require of partners as they agree on a common reporting template. The prize, however, is more freed-up resources and more effective action to help people in life-threatening situations.
Julia Steets and András Derzsi-Horváth's piece has been shared widely in my networks. The quest for less bureaucracy has been around for almost as long as 'modern' development work exists...

UN Bureaucracy? No, Thanks

Delivery timelines, key performance indicators or seamless end-to-end workflows do not exist. Instead, the UN is a coiled-up machinery in which processes, rather than being rationalized and integrated into larger schemes, are compartmentalized and rarely reviewed for their usefulness. Corporate management is weak, fragmented, duplicated and incoherent. It is often said that micromanagement on the part of UN member states impedes sound administration. This is certainly a concern, yet it cannot explain or excuse internal incoherence.
After working in the UN system for 30 years Franz Baumann is peeved that he hasn't received his first pension payment ;)...but all jokes aside, his story is the 'other side' of a UN system that despite efforts to change is also at risk of suffocating itself under its own bureaucratic weight-a bit liked a beached whale...

Unpacking digital privacy, security & safety in the development space

In conclusion, participants agreed that development agencies and NGOs need to take privacy, security and safety seriously. They can no longer afford to implement security at a lower level than corporations. “Times are changing and hackers are no longer just interested in financial information. People’s data is very valuable. We need to change and take security as seriously as corporates do!” as one person said.
Linda Raftree unpacks the challenges of digital privacy for development organizations.

“We are kept separately and not touched. I feel hated.”: teens in Nepal document the stigma surrounding periods

"This is my friend returning home (above) because there are no pads available at school. When we menstruate we use homemade pads because they are reusable.
But sometimes we forget to carry pads along with us, and sometimes the situation can be unpredictable, meaning we have to go to home. It consumes a lot of time and we miss so many subjects and classes.
If schools had the provision to provide pads and clean drinking water, as well as proper toilets to change pads, it would lessen almost every problem we students are facing."
Sarah Biddlecombe shares a WaterAid supported participatory photo project from Nepal. A very powerful, low-tech approach to storytelling.

In the Spotlight: Michael Hobbes on Development

The problem is, in short, “Exciting new development idea, huge impact in one location, influx of donor dollars, quick expansion, failure.” The article had meaningful implications for reporters covering responses to social problems: Sometimes solutions aren’t big and glamorous and new and all-encompassing, but rather tedious and ugly and small and old–but they work, and we should pay attention to what really works.
Samantha McCann interviews development journalist Michael Hobbes. Very interesting insights on how to 'do' journalism on development topics.


What will I do differently tomorrow, based on _____? Many things matter, but we can’t always do something about them. Let’s say, for the sake of argument (because in the aid industry there is always an argument), we all agree that “agencies will share their data relating to vulnerability; undertake joint analysis of need and response; and collaborate on planning and programming, backed up by financing and strong leadership,” we’re all firmly committed, we’re all on board. What’s the first email you send tomorrow as your part of moving the needle on this issue?
I'm sharing J.'s short piece, because it is one of the best non-summaries of the World Humanitarian Summit...

Volunteering holidays for school children

My main hope with this blog is to spread the word among schools and school parents. Please question these £4000 trips. Demand transparency when you go to the sales talks. How much profit is being made from these trips? Can schools really justify this concept of ‘fund raising’ which is no more than a profit making exercise? Teachers and parents should question if they would want unqualified, unvetted people coming into their children’s school when they were four years old. They should ask the volunteering holiday companies about the details of their projects. How many walls are being built? When was the last wall built? Are there no builders that can be employed in Uganda or Peru? And, most importantly, and controversially, will the company vet and police check their children before going out there?
Catherine Mack demands more from voluntourism; I agree that schools, parents, universities and other development experts need to work together more closely to minimize negative impact and avoid duplicating the same problems over and over again.

How One Couple Found Love Amid Tragedy

For a long time, Andy vowed that he would never remarry, certainly never have children—the vulnerability that kind of attachment brings terrified him. Today, he wonders at the contradictions in a world that can include both an earthquake and the improbable conception of twin boys. Andy says he has reconciled his powerlessness, his lack of control, not only over history and calamity, but also over loving again.
Jessica Alexander writes for Vogue...well, her aid work(er) memoir is on our MA program's reading list (my original review) and it is interesting to see what other mainstream popular representations of aid worker's lives one can find these days...

Bem-vindos to Kilamba Kiaxi, a Huge Uninhabited City in Angola Built with Chinese Money

Kilamba Kiaxi is a uniquely strange place – it is a massive new city solely for habitation. There are no cinemas, libararies, museums or any form of culture really. There are also very few businesses – only small convienence stores, hairdressers and real estate offices. It feels like a giant dormitory, and gives the place a ghostly atmosphere; its few inhabitants seem to live in a kind of limbo. It is for me, as an outsider, a very melacholic space – and designed based on a logic that is somehow totally outdated, the urban design being entirely based on private vehicle ownership.
Beautifully haunting photos by Michael MacGarry on the globalization of Auge's 'non-places'-now including Angola and China...

Our digital lives
Airbnb has made it nearly impossible to find a place to live in this city

In Iceland in particular, conditions have conspired to create the perfect Airbnb storm: An unprecedented uptick in tourism combined with a slowdown in the construction of new housing and hotels following the 2008 financial crisis. The surge in tourism helped get Iceland’s economy back on track, with Airbnb making up for the hotel room shortage. But now, while vacation rentals are plentiful, finding a full-time apartment in Iceland’s only major city is next to impossible.
Kristen V. Brown on how platform capitalism is changing small places and how new forms of tourism and travel create pressure for less transient lifestyles.

Hot off the digital press

Small Screen, Big World

In 2009 IBT published research on the quantity and nature of international news coverage by the main UK television and radio broadcasters. This report presents the results of a similar study conducted during a two week sample period in January 2016. The results were then used to inform interviews with news executives, NGOs and media academics.
Helen Magee and Martin Scott's latest study on how mainstream news in the UK cover international topics.

International Journal of Educational Development
The latest issue of the journal features a variety of open-access articles on The international aid architecture and education policy in developing countries: what has (and has not) worked?
and How to improve education quality in developing countries? Policy design and aid strategies

Peer Review and Academic Citizenship: A Call to Our Colleagues

The “rolodexes” of editors increasingly contain the names of outstanding scholars throughout the world, yet peer review of most English-language journals is still largely dominated by scholars in North America and the United Kingdom. We should take advantage of electronic communications to include a wider array of scholars in our peer review process. But this can only be accomplished if we help academics working in other contexts feel that they are included in an international scholarly community, by nurturing their efforts to publish, for example.
We should urge our deans, chairs, and colleagues to consider peer-review an essential aspect of scholarship and reward scholars who are recognized enough as experts to be asked to peer review. If we must apply metrics, why not treat completed peer reviews as a measure of the impact of our scholarship and expertise?
Roy R. Grinker and Niko Besnier on academic citizenship and peer reviews in the times of academic corporatization.


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