Links & Contents I Liked 192

Hi all,

Even if it is finally summer in Sweden, there is no break for great readings!
Enjoy a sunny weekend-and put critical readings on your devices before you head out :) !

Development news:
A powerful commentary on the murder of Qandeel Baloch in Pakistan; turning do-gooder work into solidarity support; Zimbabwe summer? On social media and protest; refugee summit & global governance; ending report writing madness; a research agenda for data-intensive development; the struggle to stay in The Gambia.

Our digital lives:
Do facts matter in the ICT4D innovation community? Don’t make women in tech talk about being a woman in tech; academic social media.

Are North-South academic collaborations recolonizing knowledge? European anthropologist struggle to acknowledge female contributions, dissecting the UK’s Higher Education White Paper. 


New from aidnography
In Congo’s Shadow (book review)

When all is said and done we are looking at a terrible memoir. We are increasingly calling such disasters ‘teachable moments’ in higher education and this could be a particularly teachable experience for future voluntourists and the like.
But then again, how many more of those moments do we really need? Maybe we simply need less vanity publishing and short-term media outrage and more new approaches to writing about volunteering experiences that take the complexities of ownership of the narrative(s) seriously.
Development news
Ammar Rashid on facebook

Our recourse to religion in defense of our misogyny is hollow and desperate, the fig leaf that we hide our material interests behind, the convenient fiction we employ to tell us our unearned privileges and daily excesses are divinely-ordained. We thrive upon the exploitation of women’s unrecognized labor our entire life, then cite scripture to tell them why they should be happy in their blessed bondage, their divinely-ordained lot in this world and the next.
We are murderously violent because we have nothing to stand on, because our fictions no longer sustain us, because the stories we tell ourselves to maintain our privileges no longer seem to fit with a reality in which women are somehow audaciously beginning to see themselves as fully human. Better, always, to eliminate such impudent threats rather than question the stories we've told ourselves all our lives.
Ammar Rashid on the murder of Qandeel Baloch.

Moving along on the do-gooder journey

The questions for every do-gooder, philanthropist, social entrepreneur, aid worker, impact investor – new or old – to consider are these: What does active solidarity with visionary grassroots leaders in the Global South look like, and how do we create a deeper dialogue with each other? How can I offer the kinds of support to the local leaders and global movements that will transform our society?
Jennifer Lentfer with a powerful reminder about development work in the 21st century-and how solidarity should deserve more attention in our increasingly divided world.

Did protests in Zimbabwe really go from ‘tweets to streets’?

Social media was also used as a sandbox to test out ideas. Protest organizers could learn what messages most appealed to people and how far citizens would be willing to go. Would Zimbabweans protest over the $15 billion in missing diamond revenues, or the currency shortages, or both? Would citizens be more likely to respond to a call to stay home, to attend a rally in the city center or to march on Parliament? Should organizers whip up citizen anger or spread a message of hope?
Lauren E. Young with a detailed essay on the protests in Zimbabwe and the role of social media.

#Hashtag activism: will it make a difference in Zimbabwe?

Some say this is the start of a ‘Zimbabwean spring’, echoing the movements that toppled governments in the Arab world a few years ago. But we need to be cautious about such parallels. There have been some excellent, reflective commentaries on this emerging phenomenon from Alex Magaisa, Miles Tendi and Brian Raftopolous in recent weeks. Let me highlight some key points made.
Ian Scoones with an overview of other interesting writings (all by male authors...) on the situation in Zimbabwe.

Will the refugee summit be “a missed opportunity”?

“The document is long, with long lists of principles and vague commitments that don't add up to much responsibility in practice. We would like to see more concrete and clear proposals and what it would require from each state committing to it,” note the NGOs.
Despite its grand title, this is really just a proposal to tinker with the existing system.
Kristy Siegfried reports on the build-up to the high-level summit on refugees and migrants in September-not exactly surprising insights into how global governance does (not) work...

A call to arms: end this report writing madness now

Too many public reports are peppered with something that passes for evidence or recommendations but instead are evidence-light with platitudes that pass as recommendations. A farming project that reports on income without looking at expenditure is a waste of time; a report that says “climate change is harming the world’s poorest” is merely a broken record. We know that we need to “build better institutional knowledge” or that women’s caring responsibilities are a barrier to their gaining employment. I don’t need another report to tell me so.
But change, which we’re all in the business for, comes from working with people, it comes from hard graft, it comes from meeting and lobbying and engaging and building alliances and strategising. Unless you’re publishing your own version of the Panama papers, real change is unlikely to ever come from a report. Get over it and do something better with your time and money.
Deborah Doane on the inflation of reports in the digital age. If I was cynical I would probably highlight that reports are often a sign of the powerlessness of 'civil society' and that in the absence of really influencing and changing policies they revert to disseminating reports at events in the global capitals...

A Research Agenda for Data-Intensive Development

First, power, politics and data-intensive development: analysing the power structures that shape DID initiatives, and that are inscribed into data systems; analysing the way in which DID produces and reproduces power; analysing what resistance to data hegemony would mean.
Second, justice, ethics, rights and data-intensive development: determining what a social justice perspective on DID would mean; analysing what DID can contribute to rights-based development; understanding how ethical principles would guide civil society interventions for better DID.
Richard Heeks summarizes discussions from the Big and Open Data foe Development event.

The Back Way and Sofanyama Kunda

I feel desperate. I picture the overloaded boats, brown bodies holding on, some dragged under the deep blue water never to breathe again. The headlines. People reading them and seeing the horrifying images but getting accustomed to the same old news. Half of Sofanyama Kundas football team left! And I can’t help to wonder. Could we have worked a little harder trying to get funding to keep the tournaments going? Then could we have provided the trainers a fair salary as well as kept the youth active? Maybe at least some would have stayed?
In these creative forums of music dance and sports - people meet and new dreams become more reachable. We can provide possibilities for the youth to develop and showcase their talents, and their stories will be heard. Music is one of the biggest resources in Gambia and a way to express and strengthen oneself and the community. Likewise with football and dance. Right now we are also working on a community cinema which will work as a meeting point to discuss important issues affecting the youth, like The Back Way and how we can work together to build our society. Furthermore we are also about to start a fashion design project which aims to bring products produced by Gambians to the international market. This will secure more jobs and strengthen local businesses.
So yes, we can contribute to change!
Aida Jobarteh from The Gambia on the struggle of keeping hope and people in local communities in an age of migration.

Our digital lives
Are Facts Still Important in the World of 2016? A constructive dialogue with Nethope

So why am I writing this? I’m not trying to pick on Magpi or Nethope or DanChurchAid – but to ask three questions about a fairly strident quote. The space of technology for development is often not talked about clearly. Small ideas get blown in to big ones. We aren’t always tempered in our ability to use metrics and data to drive real change. I, myself, have fallen into this trap. So I do legitimately hope these questions can be answered. I gave everyone I’ve mentioned or quoted on here 24 hours to reply on Twitter, as well as emailing some of them personally, so this isn’t coming out of left field. We look forward to attending the webinar and helping to work in a public, open-source, and collaborative community that creates technology to help billions of people.
Chris Fabian on the 'post-evidence' world can have a negative impact on digital development communities and discussions; very important to start a public discussion on this topic!

Why I won’t talk about being a woman in tech (and neither should you)

First, because they prevent me from doing talks on tech, which is what I would actually like to do, because that’s what I am best at. If someone approaches me to talk somewhere just because I’m a woman, they haven’t done their job of finding what my expertise is. Therefore, I am going to insta-decline.
It not only is very insulting and distracting, but also pigeonholes you into “talking about being a woman in tech”, instead of “woman who knows her tech”. It feels like, once again, we’re delegating on women and other vulnerable collectives the “caring for others” matters, in addition to their normal job. That is not OK.
Soledad Penades' post could easily apply to the development community as well-and the challenges of making diversity work beyond female 'representatives'.

Academic Social Media in the Research Economy

This captures what I see as the promise of academic social media. It’s a platform for trying to work things out. More so, doing it in the open grants each of these attempts a social existence, one that comes with undoubted risks but also enormous rewards. Little bits of thought shrapnel, brief attempts to make some sense of the ‘feel of an idea’, come to enjoy their own existence within the world. They’re mostly forgotten or even ignored from the outset. But there’s something quite remarkable about occasions when these fragments resurface as someone sees something of value in them, perhaps when you saw no value in them yourself. In this way, it attunes you to the impulse to write because you have “something to say and communicate”. This isn’t always the case and I worry that the metricisation of scholarly blogging will prove immensely destructive of it. But there is at least for now something deeply rewarding about seizing on an inchoate idea, developing it and throwing it off into the world to see what others make of it. For no other reason than the pleasure inherent to it. Whether this non-instrumental exploration of ideas remains the norm or could be sustained in the long term is a different question
Mark Carrigan on academic blogging and being a digital scholar-his latest book will be featured on the blog soon!

Hot off the digital press
Sustainable Sanitation for All: Experiences, Challenges and Innovations

Describing the landscape of sustainability of CLTS and sanitation with reference to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and through examples from Africa and Asia, the book captures a range of experiences and innovations from a broad range of institutions and actors within the WASH sector, and attempts to make recommendations and practical suggestions for policy and practice for practitioners, funders, policymakers and governments.
Great new, free e-book on CLTS and the broader landscape of WASH work in the times of the SDGs.


Global academic collaboration: a new form of colonisation?

So how can the continent’s universities manage the tricky balance between local relevance and internationalisation? How can they participate in international collaboration without being “recolonised” by subjecting themselves to the standards of curriculum and quality derived in the North? How can they avoid collaborative programmes with the North that become mere tick-box exercises that only benefit the Northern researchers and organisations?
As much as I agree in princple with Hanne Kirstine Adriansen I would like to avoid romanticizing African universities too much. From underfunded state institutions, to corrupt and political appointments and a growing market of unregulated private institutions there are quite a few issues that need to be tackled-in addition to provide meaningful collaborations that do not re-colonize reseaerchers, discourses and institutions.

Where are the ladies, Didier Fassin? #EASA2016 Keynote

Like Fassin’s keynote, also Goodale’s talk – titled ‘The world as it is and the world as it wants to be’ – did a grand tour-de-force, covering the expanse of the contemporary human rights phenomenon especially after the cold war, the discipline’s complex relationship toward studying human rights as well as the recent proliferation of work on the topic.
Rather startlingly, exactly like Fassin’s talk, also Goodale’s paper is a virtual ‘all male panel’ with literally the work of only one woman cited: Kirsten Hastrup.
Miia Halme-Tuomisaari on mega-conferencing, male keynotes and history-in-the-making that relies on male authors.

The Higher Education White Paper: Euphemisms for Destruction

One of its logical inconsistencies derives from its periodic reminders of how great our higher education sector is, which are then contradicted by the more frequent representation of it as a tired, unaccountable closed shop. It tells us that English universities are ‘internationally renowned’ and that their graduates earn substantially more than non-graduates, resulting in higher tax receipts for the exchequer. So where’s the problem?
This contradiction speaks of something unresolved in its framework. Is the student a consumer, who has paid for an experience? Or is she capital, which needs sweating for maximum financial return? As long as the answer is an economic one, the government doesn’t appear to care. The paper’s most favoured rhetorical ploy is to avoid discussion of what is specific to universities wherever possible. Instead it offers lengthy passages that could easily have been copied and pasted from a review of, say, energy market regulation.
Brexit or not, William Davies' reflections on the recent UK government Higher Education White Paper are food for thought for the sector-not just on the island, but also on the continent in Europe.


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