Links & Contents I Liked 247

Hi all,

Development news: Louise 'In Congo's Shadow' Linton is back! Bill Easterly admits that he was wrong! A special section on a 'Reading The Congo'; quitting Peace Corps; how to get into the conservation industry? Reality TV & humanitarians; global health & men - and so much more!

Our digital lives: Uruguayan Barbie; do advocacy documentaries work? The UK Home Office 'disrupted' NGO data; how men are shaping our contemporary cities.

Publications: Agribusiness in Latin America.


Development news
In the line of fire

Finally, we must provide better duty-of-care to all staff on the frontlines, particularly national staff. International aid agencies are increasingly providing aid remotely in highly insecure environments. This means they are delivering relief through local partners and transferring the risk to them. Local and national partner organizations face an inadequate level of security and support from their international partners. We must provide better security training to equip them in the field, as recommended by the recent Presence and Proximity report on aid workers. Donors and international partners should ensure that national partners’ security needs are factored into proposals and budgets, so they have the resources needed to protect their staff.
Wars have rules. It is time to enforce these rules, rather than have brave aid workers needlessly risk their lives, and too many of the most vulnerable to be left alone in the crossfire and lose theirs.
Jan Egeland & Stephen O’Brien for Thomson Reuters Foundation with an important overview of key issues of last week's World Humanitarian Day.

Chinese vendors 'exploiting' African children removed from Taobao
The BBC got in touch with one buyer, who wanted to be known only as Mr Zhang, who said he paid 200 yuan ($30) for a video featuring African children for his bike business. He justified it by saying the ad was a good marketing trick and had attracted more customers.
When asked about whether the money reached the children in the end he said: "Why should I care that much? I only care about the marketing effect."
Customers on Taobao appeared to be delighted with the services while they were on offer and there appeared to be to be little consideration by vendors and customers of the risk of cultural insensitivity or even an awareness of China's chequered history with regards to race and advertising.
Yashan Zhao for BBC Chinese. As China engages more globally, including on the African continent, it seems that we will be seeing more replications of 'Western' mistakes when it comes to representation and communication!

The worst lady: how dodgy memoirs and Insta-spats made Louise Linton an infamous political spouse

Thank you, Treasury Barbie! Alas, it seems that other Instagram users couldn’t quite enjoy the post as the reach-out to the left behind that it was clearly meant to be. “Glad we could pay for your little getaway,” remarked another user, Oregonian mother of three Jenni Miller. “#deplorable.”
Did Louise realise that it would be smart to rise above this off-brand comment from one of her husband’s average Americans? I’m afraid she didn’t. Instead, she shot right back, and at some considerable length:
Marina Hyde for the Guardian. You probably noticed this week that Louise Linton is back and is adding more misguided communication to her #LintonLies notoriety after publishing 'In Congo's Shadow'. I purchased a print-on-demand paper copy of the book and will treasure it for research and teaching purposes!

'Reading Conrad in the Congo'

On NYT’s Misguided Nostalgia for Conrad
The point here is not necessarily to call out Prof. Jasanoff, but to highlight what seems to be an insatiable demand at the Times for orientalist pieces on Africa and Africans.
Ken Opalo also comments on Maya Jasanoff's NYT piece.

Jeffrey Gettleman’s tired tome

But it is likely that a more self-aware, self-critical version of Gettleman would not have come to occupy such a plum position within the hallowed halls of journalism. Gettleman is a great story teller. His prose is light and engaging. Handsome and photogenic, he is able to tell seductively simple stories about a continent that seems so overwhelming to most Americans. There will always be an audience for this type of work.
Keren Weitzberg for Africa is a country comments on another heavily criticized recent (mis-)representation of 'Africa' that makes me even more interested in finally reading Gettleman myself...

Bikinis not bombs: why isn’t the humanitarian sector getting intimate with Love Island?

Humanitarian workers have a prescribed identity and Thurlow does not conform. She’s most commonly seen in a bikini, on a show that is perceived as ‘lowbrow’ and she’s publically talking about her work on a platform that is not a conference – the Spanish villa had no trees to hang pledges and no communiqués were handed out. Tradition and a dour, do-gooder identity is holding back the sector.
Mel Paramasivan shares some interesting reflections on how a reality format like Love Island can be a tool for communicating development issues. I agree that humanitarian issues need popular support and that traditional campaigns or celebrity engagement have limitations in our mediatized environment. But at the end of the day the sector needs well prepared, reflective practitioners who can deal with complex situations and that's when reality formats often reach their limits.

A rich person’s profession? Young conservationists struggle to make it

“Foreign researchers and students arrive, conduct a project, publish a paper after returning home, and never go back again; is this conservation?” said Seth Wong, 26, who’s working on a graduate degree at Mississippi State University.
To help globalize conservation, Milner-Gulland called for more grants for students from developing countries to study conservation as well as for disadvantaged students at home. She proposed a program that would sponsor graduates to go to other continents for conservation training in a one-to-two year paid position, which she compared to the “type of fast-track graduate-level training that the big firms and civil service offer to their best and brightest.“
For Lucas Ruzo conservation is stuck in a non-profit model that is limiting.
“We need to move beyond the charity model, and embrace different legal operating structures,” he said. “Let’s fund innovation, innovation of the kind that doesn’t have a publication attached to the end of it.”
Jeremy Hance for Mongabay with a long-read that is relevant for large parts of the aid industry and how traditional forms of entering the sector seem more and more exploitative and outdated.

My Letter to PC

if I feel strongly about the changes that need to be made in PC, I should stay and work towards it internally. On the other hand, I feel I am taking up space when other voices have already been decentralized. PC and most PCVs have been co-opting HCN spaces since 1961, centering their reputed mission to help while crowding out the voices and efforts of HCNs, inadvertently prolonging neocolonialism. After a great deal of deep reflection and counsel from those who have dedicated their work to social justice, including RPCVs and others who have had experience in international aid, I feel it is more meaningful for me to do this work alongside my social justice-driven community back in the US. I have recently reconciled that my criticisms of PC are fair – that I do not agree with this work and I do not feel that choosing to stay and improve it will be productive. Furthermore, my criticisms of PC and this work to undo oppression (such as neocolonialism) is not just about PC, it is about a broader social justice mission and it is also personal (i.e. my experience as a female Asian American). Decidedly, it is wiser for me to leave PC and return to Baltimore.
Hyoyoung Minna Kim with a long open letter to the Peace Corps on why she is quitting her assignment and returning to the US to engage in 'aid work'.

How Do You Know When Your Resilience is Low?

Our resilience may erode slowly overtime if we are not bouncing back from normal stress and pressure. Or, it can drop quickly after experiencing a significant emotional event or a particularly stressful period. Knowing your current state of resilience can help you determine whether to carve out extra time for resilience enhancing activities.
Beth Payne for GovLoop with a handy overview on how to spot low resilience and some of the symptoms of psycho-social problems.

Global health: generation men

Generation Men in global health extends beyond multilateral and funding institutions. While the editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal is a woman, both The Lancet and Science have men in this post. Of the top pharmaceutical companies, only one has a female chief executive officer.1 Furthermore, at least in the USA, most global health academic leadership positions are also dominated by men.2 These leaders are unquestionably fine men––but also unquestionably men.
There is much speculation about why this is the case. One explanation is that this is an area of work that favours those who do not serve as primary caregivers because working in global health requires spending extensive time in the field and travelling.
When I directed health programmes for the Open Society Foundation and was the acting Chief of Health at UNICEF, I travelled 75% of the time. For anyone serving as a primary caregiver, this much travel is simply impossible
Nina Schwalbe for The Lancet with a short reminder about the long way to go in global health leadership to achieve better inclusiveness and broader representation of women.

How can we build better partnerships for global health?

This is not to mention that “the computers have plastic over them half the time. Electricity, computers, literacy, there are all these issues. And the TelCo infrastructure! We have layers of capacity gaps to address,” said one person.
Linda Raftree for Wait...What? shares a summary from the latest NYC Tech Salon that read a bit like is 'who is who' of challenges in international development more broadly...

From Fiction to Fact

“NGOs and nonprofits for years have been able to have a transactional relationship with the public. What that means is that they’ve always had such high levels of trust with the public, with the government, etc that they’ve been able to tell a one-dimensional story,” Walkom says. “The way I look at it is, we’ve told you the story of need for so long that we haven’t actually stopped and started telling you the story of how we’re responding to that need.” She adds that the crisis in trust in business, governments and NGOs, that research like the Edelman Trust Barometer, has been indicating for years, means that one-dimensional storytelling isn’t working anymore.
Brittany Golob for Communicate with a portrait Save the Children’s Global Communications Director Kirsten Walkom.

Our digital lives
An interesting project, but I feel a bit ambivalent about the conventional use of Barbie as a representation of 'beautiful women' and her empowering activities.

The truth about inconvenient truths: ‘big issue’ documentaries don’t always change our behaviour

Advocacy documentaries should also be coupled with other behaviour change techniques to increase their chances of success. For instance, they should ask viewers to publicly pledge to change their behaviour or to set goals, give them tools to help form a new habit, or tell them exactly how to petition organisations and governments to make structural changes.
Documentaries can be a useful instrument in the behaviour change toolkit. But lasting change needs more than an engaging story on its own.
Kim Borg and Bradley Jorgensen for The Conversation. To be honest, I'm even more skeptical about behavior change than the authors-especially in the context of low-hanging fruits like pledges and petitions which require little personal effort and even smaller personal change.

Home Office used charity data map to deport rough sleepers

A chain of emails sent by senior Home Office immigration officials show how they used information that was designed to protect rough sleepers to target vulnerable individuals for deportation. The internal correspondence shows the Home Office repeatedly requesting and finally gaining access to a map created by the Greater London Authority (GLA) that identified and categorised rough sleepers by nationality.
The secret arrangement meant frontline outreach workers tasked with helping the homeless by collating data for the GLA were inadvertently helping the Home Office to remove people who were from the EU or central eastern Europe. In May 2016, the Home Office introduced guidance enabling immigration enforcement teams to deport EU nationals, purely on the grounds that they were sleeping rough.
Mark Townsend for the Guardian. Data is political. Data can and will be ab-/re-used if available. Governments often do not share your vision of transparency and openness-we will be reading more stories like this in the future not least in the context of 'ICT4D'.

Butlers to the cosmopolites? We’ll pay the price

Are we not – like those well-meaning natives in San Sebastian, Venice, Barcelona and Berlin – also suffering some of the brunt of cosmopolitanism? (...), renting an apartment if you do not have a job in i-gaming is now near impossible, and waste volumes have increased exponentially with evening-time collection hours rendering the streets a right dump.
It is a brusque gentrification that is hollowing out the community’s old haunts, now replaced with the vanilla blandness whose main consumer is the short- and long-stay tourist. Those with money dream of smoothening out the rough edges of the old towns to build waterfront properties. Those without the cash just see their streetscapes change, powerless.
Matthew Vella for Malta Today adds to the debate on how contemporary 'globalization', tourism and migration are adding new aspects of gentrification to globalized spaces, cities and islands...

Mansplaining the city

Not only are these four books by men, they’re largely about men. According to the books themselves, the factors that have contributed to gentrification—displacement of marginalized communities, systemically ingrained racism, unequitable housing policy—have been largely implemented by powerful men over the last century.
Even if we fantasize about cities that foster racial equity, or a matriarchal society-within-a-city, instead of our status quo of cities designed for and by men, the reality is that the shift towards just and equitable cities will only happen when a more diverse group of Americans are in positions to make policy decisions that shape our neighborhoods.
Alissa Walker for Curbed with a long-read/book review essay on gender, power and the contemporary (American) city.

Richard Florida Is Sorry

The notion that creativity could solve these urban problems — either from above, with monumental art galleries, or from below, with bearded clusters of hipsters, is a symptom of this profound transformation.
Richard Florida was right when he said that the “creative economy” is the new way of the world. But its development didn’t happen how he imagined. Rather than launching humanity into a new phase of prosperity, the new economy simply holds the different elements of late capitalism together — making it palatable for some but deepening its crises and contradictions for others.
Sam Wetherell for Jacobin on one of the key male thinkers behind aforementioned debates on how 'our' cities should look like.

Publications & Academia
Introduction to the Special Issue: Agribusiness, (Neo)Extractivism and Food Sovereignty: Latin America at a Crossroads?

Despite these trends, the study of the ‘everyday’ of agricultural policy-making, production, commercialisation and consumption have recently garnered attention in Latin America, as a result of the rapid industrial agricultural expansion, and the consequent resistance by local communities that have attempted to reclaim their agricultural sovereignty. More than ever, the fields of Latin America have become conceptual and direct battlefields, where ideological, economic, political and cultural positions clash. The expansion of the agroindustrial frontier, fuelled by technological advances in genetically modified crops and the large-scale use of pesticides and fertilisers, is one aspect of the intensification of extractivist activities that have dominated the region’s recent political economic model, further increasing tensions surrounding environmental issues and land use (...).
Counterbalancing the advances of industrial agriculture, some rural communities and environmentalist groups have sought to promote and strengthen alternative agricultural models through practices as diverse as polycropping, seed saving, agroecology schools and judicial resistance.
Ana Estefanía Carballo, María Eugenia Giraudo, Diego Silva and Johannes Waldmueller with an overview over the forthcoming Alternautas writings on Agribusiness.


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Dear white middle class British women: Please don't send used bras (or anything, really) to Africa