Links & Contents I Liked 218

Hi all,

Something strange has happened throughout this week. For the first time since I started my link review I struggled a bit to compile a meaningful digest since all my social media feeds were clogged with non-development content (well, that's probably not entirely true in some ways...). Partly because of my filter bubble, but mostly because the situation in the United States trumps (excuse the terrible pun) most other global issues.
Nonetheless this slightly shorter digest still features some good, critical, sometimes uplifting readings that remind us that the struggles for global justice and inequality know no boundaries.

Development news:
The Silicon Valley ethos does not work for ICT4D; EU & the shift of #globaldev funds towards refugee issues; women, war & Yemen; the female orchestra from Afghanistan; should we be excited about the latest World Development report? A neat overview of digital campaigning.

Our digital lives:
The artistic economy around refugee representations; how Uber and AirB'n'B invented the sharing economy

New books on building state capability and development economic history; who is a community health worker?

Graduate unemployment and religious extremism in Bangladesh; researchers addicted to journal brands; student lives and the austerity crisis.


New from aidnography
Now more than ever: Academic conferences need to embrace the digital age!

If you allow global access you will hopefully not just get a Skype presentation, but glimpses into the online realities ‘out there’ – what technologies do academics use, how do they circumvent surveillance and what does it look like in the place where they are based?
That could be a more valuable contribution than listening to an #allmalepanel presenting findings from journal articles that have already been published.
I think that every association should have a digital communication champion in their senior management. By clinging to an outdated, but relatively convenient model for a large group of mainstream academics, academic associations ultimately undermine key functions of their mandate.
Digital access should not be a bonus, but a strategic imperative so caregivers, parents, underprivileged academics or those who simply do not like to spend money on economy class flights will have opportunities to listen, contribute and participate in debates.
Development news

Tech folk: 'Move fast and break things' doesn't work when lives are at stake
On one hand, technologists understand their tools, but they don’t understand the context in which human rights organisations operate. Human rights is not a marketplace. For those in Silicon Valley, risk leads to reward. Failure is simply part of the price you pay. Losses are measured in money and, sometimes, prestige. Human rights organisations are playing with higher stakes. They aren’t serving customers; they’re working with and for populations at risk of a litany of horrors, from forced displacement to mass killing. Disruption and innovation are arrogant paradigms when the costs of failure are so high. “Move fast and break things” is fine if you’re developing a gaming platform. It’s not fine if you’re working with a Yazidi population in Iraq facing genocide.
Keith Hiatt, Michael Kleinman and Mark Latonero for the Guardian with an important reminder that Silicon Valley's solutionism will not 'fix' fundamental development challenges.

EXCLUSIVE: EU migrant policy in Africa built on incorrect Niger data

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, has been using the incorrect figure to promote the success of the bloc’s policies as it looks to sign agreements linking aid to migration controls with five African countries – Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, and Ethiopia.
A deal, now signed with Niger, involves 610 million euros in development aid, some of which, according to the EU, is not tied to migration cooperation.
Critics say the EU policies largely serve only to push migrants to take more difficult and dangerous routes. They are urging Brussels to propose more legal pathways for refugees and economic migrants.
Maybe the headline for Kristy Sigfried's IRIN story is a bit on the clickbaity side, but the fact remains that large sums of development funding will be shifted towards 'migration control'-often based on limited number and evidence and in countries that may not always have a stellar record on human rights and sustainable development spending...

SPECIAL FEATURE: As The Guns Fall Silent: Women And The War In Yemen

And more, a war of violence, of life and death shifts priorities. It denotes the designation of certain issues to be marked as ‘for later’. Too often in the context of war, women’s issues fall into this category.
But Sarah notes how some women have used their battles with violence, against militarisation in Yemen in a way that helps them in their own battles against patriarchy. “I give you art as an example,” she said. “I give you writing, I give you working with medical staff in different places as examples.”
“I’m not a big fan of theories of patriarchy that exclude all other intersections of oppression and focus only on patriarchy as the only reason for injustices in the world. But it is a very important factor,” she said. “In the case of Yemen everybody is subjected to this system, men and women. Men are expected to fight; they’re expected to comply with this definition of hegemonic masculinity.”
Pat Griffiths for New Matilda portraits women in Yemen and how they create meaning, art and life under the current violent conditions.

All-Female Orchestra From Afghanistan Is A Force For Change

"All of them were cool ... but the viola was ... was so attractive me," she said. "There was just one boy and one girl playing the viola and I said I wanted to be the second girl playing viola."
Adiba said she's loved playing in Europe this month but is eager to go home, especially after learning that an uncle, who had always disapproved of her playing, recently told her mother how proud he is of his niece.
Soraya Sahrhaddi Nelson for NPR Goats and Soda with a positive story on music, art and contemporary Afghanistan.

Two cheers for the 2017 Governance and the Law World Development Report

Especially crucial is the high analytic priority that the WDR gives to ‘exclusion, capture and clientelism’. This focuses attention on a potentially tragic dynamic at the heart of development. Development success consolidates economic and political power among a subset of economic and political elites.
Addressing the question of what is to be done requires development practitioners to confront difficult dilemmas, and make uncomfortable choices. All too often, practitioners prefer to sweep these dilemmas under the carpet. But in at least two areas real gains are being made in confronting and finding ways forward vis-a-vis these difficult governance-related development challenges — and the WDR would have been stronger if it had engaged with these areas more explicitly
Brian Levy reviews the latest World Development Report on Governance and the Law. I haven't seen a lot of comments on the WDR yet and I wonder how relevant annual flagship publications really are in this day and age...

Digital campaigning: Couch potatoes or mouse-armed warriors?

From hashtagtivism to hacktivism through online petitions, viral marketing, and social gaming, several types of clicktivism can be used to promote a cause.
Jose Moriano with a neat overview over the 'alphabet soup' of digital campaigning approaches and tools.

Our digital lives
Europe’s Migrant Trail, Through the Instagrams of Refugees

As the crisis continued last year, the Belgian photographer Tomas van Houtryve embarked on a different kind of project. Supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, he followed the “digital breadcrumbs” left by refugees on social media as they passed through Turkey, Greece, and France. Van Houtryve, who has covered wars in Nepal and Afghanistan as a traditional photojournalist, became interested in the ways in which digital technology affects photography when, in 2013, he began working on a series of photographs of the United States taken from drones.
Tomas van Houtryve for the New Yorker. Artistic projects on/with/through refugees and migrants are currently en vogue, offering insights into the lives of refugees as much as into artistic and journalistic discourses around digital media and storytelling.

The $99 Billion Idea-How Uber and Airbnb Fought City Hall, Won Over the People, Outlasted Rivals, and Figured Out the Sharing Economy
An interesting excerpt from Brad Stone's book featured on Bloomberg Business. Great long-read of the young history of the 'sharing economy' aka platform capitalism.

Hot off the digital press
Building State Capability: Evidence, Analysis, Action

Governments play a major role in the development process, constantly introducing reforms and policies to achieve developmental objectives. Many of these interventions have limited impact, however; schools get built but children don’t learn, IT systems are introduced but not used, plans are written but not implemented. These achievement deficiencies reveal gaps in capabilities, and weaknesses in the process of building state capability.
New open access book from Oxford University Press by Matt Andrews, Lant Pritchett and Michael Woolcock.

The Long Economic and Political Shadow of History, Volume 1

This e-book is the first in a series of three examining the shadow that history casts over various aspects of the economy and the polity. In particular this volume summarises some influential works from this vibrant new research agenda and discusses the impact they have on our understanding of the long-run influence of historical events on current economics.
Another new open access e-book (registration may be required) by Stelios Michalopoulos and Elias Papaioannou featuring Bill Easterly, Daron Acemoglu and many others!

Who is a community health worker? – a systematic review of definitions

We identified 119 papers that provided definitions of CHWs in 25 countries across 7 regions. The review shows CHWs as paraprofessionals or lay individuals with an in-depth understanding of the community culture and language, have received standardised job-related training of a shorter duration than health professionals, and their primary goal is to provide culturally appropriate health services to the community. CHWs can be categorised into three groups by education and pre-service training. These are lay health workers (individuals with little or no formal education who undergo a few days to a few weeks of informal training), level 1 paraprofessionals (individuals with some form of secondary education and subsequent informal training), and level 2 paraprofessionals (individuals with some form of secondary education and subsequent formal training lasting a few months to more than a year). Lay health workers tend to provide basic health services as unpaid volunteers while level 1 paraprofessionals often receive an allowance and level 2 paraprofessionals tend to be salaried.
Abimbola Olaniran, Helen Smith, Regine Unkels, Sarah Bar-Zeev and Nynke van den Broek with an interesting open access article on professional identities of community health workers.

Graduate unemployment ‘is stoking religious extremism’

He said there is a major concern about the quality of education in the secondary and higher secondary education systems and young people remain unskilled even after graduating from universities.
“The dangerous consequence is: these youths remain alienated from their family and isolated from society. This is leading to depression and drug addiction. Some of them are seeking ideological alternatives,” he said.
“There is both a structural and a qualitative mismatch. While graduates with general education are not getting jobs, many Bangladeshi companies are hiring vocationally skilled people from neighbouring countries,” he added.
The issue of radicalised, disaffected youth came to the fore after the attackers of a bakery in Dhaka in July last year were found to be highly educated and from good families.
Mushfique Wadud for University World News with an important reminder from Bangladesh that simple narratives about widening (higher) education are often not matched with the realities of economic opportunities in many developing countries, creating resentment.

Addicted to the brand: The hypocrisy of a publishing academic

There is very clearly a well-established hierarchy here. Journal ‘branding’, and, worse, journal impact factor, remain exceptionally important in (falsely) establishing the perceived quality of a piece of research, despite many efforts to counter this perception, including, most notably, DORA. My hypocritical approach to publishing research stems directly from this perception. I know that if I want the researchers in my group to stand a chance of competing with their peers, we have to target “those” journals. The same is true for all the other PIs out there. While we all complain bitterly about the impact factor monkey on our back, we’re locked into the addiction to journal brand.
Philip Moriarty for LSE Impact with an important reminder that the commercial publisher model of academic journal publications may be stronger than many critics assume and will enable the funds owning journal brands to rake in very healthy profits for the foreseeable future.

Book Review: Student Lives in Crisis: Deepening Inequality in Times of Austerity by Lorenza Antonucci

Student Lives in Crisis is an eye-opening account of the material inequalities that young people face whilst at university, but reassuringly Antonucci highlights that university does not need to reproduce inequality if policymakers choose to abandon austerity policies and offer generous universal support for all students. However, whether that will happen remains to be seen.
Heather Mew for LSE British Politics and Policy with an important book review essay.


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