Links & Contents I Liked 207

Hi all,

Have a break from the misery around us-enjoy your development link review ;)!

Development news: Can peacekeeping be fixed after Sudan?
Reforming the UN’s HR system; the wars on terror and poverty; reviewing the ICT4D blogosphere; student need skills to get stuff done in humanitarian jobs; how (non-development) expats cope with identity crises; refugees & photographic ethics; more than Nehru’s sister-a new biography on a female politician; Oprah thinks empowerment is like ethnography; art from Ghana.

Our digital lives: How sharing stuff leads to destruction of natural wonders

Academia: Interrogating evidence through the anthropological lens; the limitation of check-in advocacy; don’t make peer reviews public.


New from aidnography

Humanitarian Aftershocks in Haiti (book review)

Mark Schuller’s book is an excellent application of anthropological theory, engaged writing and self-reflective deliberation on a topic that deserves more than just another long-read in a weekend edition of a news website. And even though he cannot answer the question of how to ‘fix’ key aspects of the humanitarian system, the voices of people, real people, he (re)presents after conducting more than 150 interviews in 8 displaced-persons camps should be an encouragement for humanitarians to try harder and push the system further to what it can achieve once aftershocks have subsided.
The newsletter-coming soon in 2017!

Development news
Editor’s take: Can UN peacekeeping be fixed?

Traditional peacekeeping is about separating warring parties who consent to the intervention. But increasingly UN operations are in countries where there is little or no peace to keep. Rather than an interposing neutral force, the UN is increasingly a direct combatant, as in Mali and the Congo.
In the future, even more complex roles are anticipated for blue helmets, from countering people-trafficking to cyber-crime. But are we already expecting too much of peacekeepers?
There is a narrative that blames peacekeeping failures on the “Third World” soldiery that makes up the bulk of missions. That is as insulting as it is inaccurate. Several countries in the Global South have a proud tradition of peacekeeping.
What Western armies do possess is the additional equipment and skills that will allow UN peace operations to be more mobile, aware, and harder-hitting.
Obi Anyadike for IRIN summarizes the current state of affair around UN peacekeeping-and how we probably expect too much, invest too little and shy away from changing political and military culture in the context of contemporary challenges around 'not-war keeping'...

New Ideas for a New Secretary-General: Fixing the UN’s Human Resources System

The Secretariat’s administrative regulations were originally designed for career civil servants who worked in fixed locations where much of what they did consisted of conference support for regular meetings among Member States. Having never been fundamentally overhauled, they remain particularly inadequate to regulate the staffing of today’s UN’s peace operations, where 50% of UN staff are deployed. Contemporary UN field operations need to continually adapt to sometimes rapidly changing circumstances on the ground, and as such each require their own specialised mix of skills and experience. It has proven impossible, again and again, to design a recruitment system that can both satisfy the process requirements for UN headquarters recruitment, while also supporting large, fast-moving field operations.
Rahul Chandran shares some interesting thoughts on how the seemingly unglamorous task of reforming the UN's HR systems could improve the organization significantly under the new SG.

NYRB - The War on Terror vs. The War on Poverty
Great new essay by Bill Easterly-unfortunately the unformatted pdf makes quoting a big tricky...

Let a Thousand ICT4D Blogs Bloom

So it seems that - unless you have a restrictively narrow definition of ICT4D - there is really no shortage of active ICT4D bloggers some of which can be found on the appropriating technology blogroll. Although many old school ICT4D blogs currently lie dormant, there are also many new ones sprouting up all the time. With the continued growth of the field of ICT4D and the current groundswell of interest in applying ICT for Development we can expect many more ICT4D blogs to be launched or relaunched in 2017.
Tony Roberts takes stock of the field of ICT4D blogging.

Opinion: Learning how to 'get stuff done' — skills for a humanitarian career

Students studying international development program management should balance their coursework between program and operations-oriented subjects. Find classes, either through their school or through short-term training courses with groups such as EdX, DisasterReady, or InsideNGO where they learn about the budgeting and financial management in social change organizations.
Most development managers will need to know about human resources, proposal writing, project design, program management, ethics and strategic partnering. Graduate students should aim to complete an internship for three to six months at some point, to gain hands-on experience applying what they've learned.
Scott Webb for shares some good pieces of advice for students and young professionals on DevEx.

How expats cope with losing their identity

“Avoid going back to a similar job on the same site with the same people if you can,” advised UK resident John Simpson. “There will be mutual resentment and their daily issues will seem trivial.”
Perhaps the most intriguing response to our request for reintegration tips was a resounding challenge of the question itself. Many readers found that resettling in your so-called homeland was difficult, but not entirely necessary.
Nicole Jones has three passports and has lived in five countries. “I do not have rose-tinted glasses on for any place and can see the bad and good clearly. I feel I am a citizen of the world and am proud.”
Although Laura Clarke's piece for BBC is not about aid workers, it adds some interesting nuances to the ongoing debate on how (not) to be the expat in the room...

Photographing a Crisis

Amnesty’s Steve Symonds says that respect for the individual depicted in the image should be a key concern for both the photographer at the point of taking the photograph and for the editors and media companies who might eventually make use of it: “We’re very cautious at Amnesty to avoid the use of images where we think people – dead or alive – are robbed of their agency and presented merely as victims. It becomes extremely difficult to engage with someone about what the consequences of giving their image or story might be before they have got to a destination, before they have resolved the circumstance that has driven them to be on the move.”
I like that Magnum Photo reflects on the ethics of photographing the refugee situation-although for some strange reason it seems to focus a bit too heavily on Amnesty's work and ethical approach.

Trustee of the Future: Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit

Here was a woman with no formal education (she was taught by governesses at home) facing men trained in the debating halls of Eton and Oxbridge. Her grasp of technical legal arguments and her ability to demolish an opponent in debate were legendary. Bhagavan recounts the turning point in her international stature when she appeared on a popular radio programme in the US, ‘Town Meeting of the Air’ in which she annihilated Robert Boothby, British Conservative MP at the time, on the question of whether empires are good for peace. The audience started off undecided but ended up greeting every statement of hers with a thunderous applause.
Despite her extraordinary achievements, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was written out of history, occupying only secondary status as Nehru’s sister. Some things never change.
Rahila Gupta for Media Diversified on an interesting woman who shaped global governance in the early post-war system-and who hasn't been properly acknowledge in India or abroad.

How Oprah Winfrey Is Empowering Girls and Women Around the World

“[Girl Effect] will spend 10 to 18 months [in a village in Ethiopia, or Malawi, or Nigeria] just getting to know the village elders, the men who are in charge of what happens not just to the women, but also, obviously, the children,” Winfrey tells PEOPLE. “They will spend time sitting around, drinking tea, smoking the peace pipe, or whatever happens to be the communal expression for sharing in any particular environment.”
“They will spend time with those men and, eventually women, convincing the elders it’s important that your daughter go to school,” she continues. “You end up transforming lives because you first get the girls to see themselves differently. You get them to see the possibility for themselves. And then you get them to see that, ‘Oh, I don’t have to be married at 12. There can be a life for me if I can get myself educated but my father won’t let me be educated.’ ”
Nicole Sands for People on another powerful woman who is interested in 'empowerment' in her own ways...I guess Oprah must like anthropology then, because they also sit around and 'listen''s not a bad idea, but I wonder whether Oprah really knows how difficult 'doing nothing' really is in a results-based philanthropic environment...

Jeremiah Quarshie paints hyperreal portraits of Ghanaian women and water

Jeremiah chose to focus on women for his paintings to highlight the entrenched tradition for women being the water-carriers. “It was a conscious decision to use only women. In Ghanaian culture, women are tasked with the all-important chore of finding and bringing water to the home.”
These women, though, defy the clichés, eclectic in persona and role in society. From a housewife to Miss World Africa, a boxer and a soldier, among others, the subjects of Jeremiah’s works are depicted as strong, confident and individual, uncannily realistic in the artist’s vivid palette.
Jenny Brewer on It's Nice That with an interesting artistic project from Ghana.

Our digital lives

Loved to Death: How Instagram Is Destroying Our Natural Wonders

A week later, the Statesman Journal wrote a story about how the gorge — an incredibly popular Instagram spot — was being “loved to death” (a phrase that is becoming widely used when speaking and writing about threatened places like this). Recreation staff called the crowds “concerning,” and said they were likely causing damage to the local ecosystem. The same newspaper wrote last summer about the Three Pools swimming hole, and how recreation staff would limit public access to the space moving forward. “When the parking lot is full, we will not allow folks to park elsewhere and walk in,” a staffer said. Instead, now, cars can line up and wait for a space to open up. Three Pools’ sudden overcrowding is part of a larger problem for the Opal Creek wilderness.
Molly McHugh for The Ringer on how our digital practices of photographing, sharing and tagging create new problems in the quest to feed the 'experience economy'.

Interrogating #Evidence: Epistemological Challenges in the Contemporary World

Our aim is to render analytically fruitful the tensions between anthropological evidentiary practices and those in other fields of contemporary public life such as law, science, biomedicine, economy and politics to ask why, and when, evidence matters.
The Allegra Laboratory with a special section on one of *the* big buzzwords of our times...

What can the mass ‘check-in’ at Standing Rock tell us about online advocacy?

Whether a similar mass check-in action could work in the future remains to be seen. Some may still view the idea skeptically, in part because in this case it didn’t actually mislead the police. And Facebook itself has been less of a site for action and more of a way to share and exchange information. But for the time being, social media continues to offer opportunities for useful political organization and mobilization.
I don't agree with Leshu Torchin's argument for The Conversation. As long as media and communications researchers are unable to look into the algorithmic 'engine room' of companies like Facebook a lot of these assumptions will remain speculations. The linear relationship between what we see/share and how powerful it is can only be observed in isolated instances and I would be very cautious to generalize any of this for future advocacy efforts.

Please don’t “make science transparent” by publishing your reviews

Some people will simply decline, having no interest in being part – anonymously or not – of a back-and-forth that continues, publicly, beyond the acceptance or rejection of the paper. Others will stop signing reviews, being willing to reveal themselves to authors, but not to see their name posted for the world at large. I think the option of anonymity is important, but I’d prefer to see as many reviewers as possible decline that option. Still other people will move their more critical comments into the “comments in confidence for the editor”, making peer reviews less about improving manuscripts and more about gatekeeping. Finally, many scientists – like me – will still review, but we’ll see it as a different and more difficult job. When I write a review, I know I’m speaking to an editor and a few authors, and this lets me take some shortcuts in my text (because there are things I know the author knows). I can write colloquially. I can be candid about other papers the author might be citing, or not citing. Writing a review knowing it will be public changes all that
Stephen Heard on one of the pet peeves of academics-how to engage with 'peer review' (which is a bit like the holy grail of 'democracy'-a flawed system, but better than any other...).


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