Links & Contents I Liked 253

Hi all,

In the end, I managed to pull a new link review together for this week! 

Quite a few examples of development communication #fails, but also encouraging pieces on journalism in Nigeria and Afghanistan, female leadership in the UN system and personal & organizational well-being. Plus new publications and contributions on the digital condition of life, work & teaching!


New from aidnography
Reading #Maria through a #globaldev lens

This time another American territory is affected among other islands many of which still have links to European countries through various statuses as overseas territories. So new questions are emerging in the aftermath of a natural disaster of how 'them' and 'us' are linked, how humanitarian challenges are not just an issue of the 'North' helping the 'South' and how questions of development thinking and research are becoming even more important as climate change creates a truly global community of suffering, resilience and connected support.
Development news

Secrets of the International Criminal Court Revealed
Set up to prosecute warlords and dictators, perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been undermined by its former prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, allege #CourtSecrets, new leaks from European Investigative Collaborations (EIC).
Ocampo works with a massive network of businessmen, stars, journalists, professors, lobbyists and foundations, taking their advice and risking the confidentiality of the ICC’s investigations, the leaks claim in further revelations to be exposed in the next week.
This network benefits Ocampo’s career, public profile and bank balance, but at the expense of the workings of the court, which after 15 years of existence, is still to achieve major results.
The EIC.Network is working on leaked documents in connection with the ICC and the well-known former prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo features prominently in the first piece.

Major companies fail to disclose slavery risks, say UK experts
The level of complacency from major companies, particularly those that trumpet their corporate social responsibility, is startling," CORE's director, Marilyn Croser, said in a statement.
"Genuine transparency about the problems is needed, not just more PR."
Emma Batha for Reuters News. You are probably as surprised as I am that PR dominates CSR activities and many companies shy away from looking too closely into their value chains...

Obesity Was Rising as Ghana Embraced Fast Food. Then Came KFC.

Local health experts said most Ghanaians don’t pay attention to nutrition data. Indeed, the kind of public and political pressure that has prompted KFC to make other changes in the West has not been felt much here.
The chickens are cooked in hot tubs of palm oil — a substance the company stopped using in the United States and Britain because, among other reasons, it is high in saturated fats. Customers in most of KFC’s African markets must go online to find calorie counts, which are not on menu boards like in the United States. The company says there is neither government nor consumer clamor to add them.
It’s a quandary faced in numerous nations, from India and Brazil to China and Egypt: how to invite economic growth and move beyond scarcity, support growing populations and urbanization, all without being overtaken by two of modernity’s chief markers, processed and fast food. So far, not a single nation has been able to reverse the growth of obesity, and only a handful have succeeded in enforcing marketing reforms to limit consumer exposure.
Dionne Searcey and Matt Ritchel for the New York Times. I bet KFC has an awesome CSR policy in place... 

Naija Data Ladies: The rise of a network of women data journalists in Nigeria
A group of female journalists and data experts are working to change the digital media landscape in Africa’s most populous country by bringing greater gender diversity to the media tech community and increasing the production of data-enhanced news coverage.
Established in April 2017, the Naija Data Ladies work to produce and promote data-driven news stories on health and development issues across major newsrooms in Nigeria.
Irene Wangui for ijnet with an interesting project that connects local female journalism talent with global media development and newsrooms.

Rattling Afghanistan's powerful: Etilaat Roz newspaper exposes corruption

Now Daryabi and his staff revel in the kind of laborious journalism that unfolds, unglamorously, hunched over documents and spreadsheets. By examining dozens of ministries, embassies and consulates, Etilaat Roz recently documented how a small clique of strongmen install family members in powerful positions, debunking government claims of breaking with the country’s toxic dynastic politics.
Sune Engel Rasmussen continues his excellent reporting from Afghanistan for the Guardian.

Model Villages for the poor of Rwanda

Semi-permanent homes or thatched houses are a staple in African villages but leave dwellers open to the elements and without necessary amenities, Rwanda's model villages seeks to change that. Rwanda's Vision 2020, says at least 70 per cent of Rwandans in rural areas will be living in planned settlements by the year 2020.
Kylie Kiunguyu for This Is Africa. Something rubbed me a bit the wrong way when I read 'model villages' as there are plenty of examples throughout history and regimes that top-down development efforts like this could lead to uniform planning and social control.

Folks Are Mad At Stella McCartney For Ripping Off Designs That ‘African Aunties’ Have Been Wearing For Years

The latest offender of this age-old trend of “fashion colonialism,” is high-end label Stella McCartney, who showcased items from their Summer/Spring 2018 collection yesterday during Paris Fashion Week.
The brand infused ankara designs into their new collection to create dresses, jumpsuits and tops, that look a lot like what our favorite aunties wear casually around the house or to run errands. And you can be certain that their clothing is not cheap, just peep the price points on their website. Many of these items could very easily be sewn by your local tailor in, let’s say, Lagos, Dar es Salaam, Dakar or Accra for less than a quarter of the cost.
To add insult to injury, they presented these designs on a group of mostly white models.
Damola Durosomo for okayafrica and the question of why new forms of globalizing culture and fashion usually come with a slightly bitter aftertaste of 'fashion colonialism', rather than joint design projects. But it can get so much worse (see below)...

How to Solve Global Poverty
The deceptive promotion of complex derivatives, for instance, did contribute to the 2008 financial crisis. But he doesn’t distinguish his criticisms from his more general condemnation of capitalism. Market failures happen when private and social returns diverge. Cheaters profit by causing harm to others. The answer isn’t to replace the market system with social enterprises, but to target the market failures and enforce laws or regulations against deception in financial markets. Mr. Yunus’s call to scrap a system that works, however imperfectly, for a vaguely defined and unproven system that relies mainly on social entrepreneurship, is a far too risky project.
Bill Easterly reviews Muhammad Yunus' new book for the Wall Street Journal.

What We Can Learn About Resilience from Female Leaders of the UN
As Special Assistant to the Resident Coordinator, Linnea Van Wagenen coordinates the activities of the 17 different agencies that make up the United Nations Integrated Office for Sierra Leone. (...). These UN agencies are hotbeds of activity, with dozens of initiatives in various stages of progress. Van Wagenen says that, to stay resilient, “a key strategy is having many different projects on my whiteboard — and knowing what I should be working on now, versus what is in someone else’s hands.”
As with seeds tossed onto rocky soil, Van Wagenen accepts that not all projects will germinate and bear fruit. She scans continuously for signs of progress and uses them to propel her team forward, what she calls “catching the small winds.” She explains, “In my coordinating role, lots of people check in with me. I keep an eye on what’s going on and do whatever I can to promote the good things that are happening.” This boosts her own and others’ sense of meaning. As an example, she described a current project to build an app for justice. “Lots of prisoners in Sierra Leone get stuck in jail for years because their case files get lost. This app will help people track their cases in the justice system. It’s a very meaningful project, so I want to spread the word about it.”
Monique Valcour for the Harvard Business Review. I am very proud that an alumna from our ComDev MA program is featured in the piece! Well done, Linnea!

Burnout and Organizational Mindfulness

I no longer believe that meditation and self-care are enough. It can certainly be a starting point. It was for me. But we can’t stop there. Otherwise it just becomes narcissist self-care. I always say that I can meditate until I’m blue in the face, but if my manager or the organizational culture is toxic, my mindfulness will help me cope for a while or help me make the decision to leave, but it is not going to transform the organization. Things have changed quite a bit since I started writing my blog back in 2010. Mindfulness is everywhere now. It has become a commodity. There are so many consultants out there giving trainings on stress management, burnout, and resilience. But I think some are missing the point. A workshop can be a helpful catalyst, but in itself it won’t necessarily change an organization’s culture and way of working. It seems to me that organizations run the risk of wasting their money on once-off trainings. Fostering a learning and caring work environment is the most effective approach to burnout prevention. The most successful organisations are the ones who try and practice within the values they hold dear vis-a-vis the community they work with.
Alessandra Pigni talks to Organization Unbound about her book and work.

Our digital lives

Instagram urged to act on sloth selfies

The trend for tourists taking selfies with local creatures is fuelling a rise in animals being snatched from the wild by irresponsible tour operators, according to animal charity World Animal Protection.
The charity found a 292% increase in the number of wildlife selfies posted on Instagram since 2014.
It is asking the site to take action to "protect animals on their platform".
Instagram said it was working with experts to address the issue.
Jane Wakefield for the BBC on how digital culture needs to new forms of exploitation...

The labor of online product promotion: Barriers to collective action

Based on interviews with professional bloggers and members of a group that I refer to as the flexibly unemployed, I describe the characteristics and work practices of these groups, as well as their interactions. I argue that bloggers’ exploitation of the flexibly unemployed, together with their ideologies toward labor, act as barriers to collective action. I conclude by suggesting that, rather than imagining that workers from different classes will find common ground, communication systems should be developed that allow workers to network and share information in ways that are isolated from members of other classes and outside of online work platforms that commoditize social relationships and interactions.
Daniel Carter with an open access article in First Monday.


Decent Work in a Digital World

Women are also likely to be disproportionately and negatively impacted by automation, and also less likely to be shaping decisions in the tech sector where they are under-represented. All of this has significant implications for the UK Government.
Becky Faith with a short 2-page overview paper from IDS.

Open mapping from the ground up: learning from Map Kibera
It concludes that open, community-based data collection can lead to greater trust, which is sorely lacking in marginalised places. In large-scale data gathering, it is often unclear to those involved why the data is needed or what will be done with it. But the experience of Map Kibera shows that by starting from the ground up and sharing open data widely, it is possible to achieve strong sector-wide ramifications beyond the scope of the initial project, including increased resources and targeting by government and NGOs.
Erica Hagen for Making All Voices Count with a new paper on long-term engagement in the 'world's most famous slum'.


Violence and Vulnerability in Anthropology
“Why aren’t we talking about this?”. Since joining the conversation on anthropology and sexual violence, I have come to feel this question is a real and not rhetorical one. I see the challenges of already limited resources and slow-moving institutions, now under threat of being dismantled by the state. These are issues that cut across and beyond academia. But in this short piece I want to suggest that part of the problem – and its solution – is specific to anthropology. I believe that one source of our collective reluctance is the way sexual violence raises uncomfortable questions about the fact and practice of being in the field. Confronting rape will require, if not answering them, at least posing them openly and honestly to ourselves.
Alix Johnson for AllegraLab. I think that this important piece is part of a growing discussion on how organizations, individuals and 'industries' need to address sexual violence more prominently-especially in the context of 'fieldwork'. The debates in the humanitarian sector and those in higher education complement each other in important ways!

Coming to Campus to Teach Online

In short, the physical absence of contingent faculty from the halls of our department helps keep online education marginalized in our curricular and policy-making discussions. And that’s too bad, because often it is our online teaching faculty who are the most pedagogically creative and most aware of the needs of nontraditional students.
Despite my contingent status, I come to the campus daily because I like my work and value the formal and informal interactions I have with my faculty and staff colleagues. To be sure, technology enables me to communicate with my colleagues remotely if need be, which I do when I’m at conferences or even when I don’t want to walk down the hall to ask someone a question.
But my physical presence on the campus provides me with insight into the range of issues and challenges -- many of them subtle -- that our department faces, and it means that I am available to serve when the need arises unexpectedly. I bring my identity as an online expert to the table in each and every conversation I have, whether that be in faculty meeting or when I grab coffee with a colleague in an effort to put off grading for 15 more minutes. My voice in those conversations helps chip away at an educational hierarchy that prioritizes traditional methods and campus-based students.
Penelope Adams Moon for Inside Higher Ed makes some important points about ensuring a physical presence of online teaching and teachers at the university to avoid marginalization of the topic because students and classroom activities may be less visible.

New media, familiar dynamics: academic hierarchies influence academics’ following behaviour on Twitter

While professors do tend to follow back their peers, they feel little need to do the same in the case of PhD student followers. PhD students, instead, eagerly follow back professorial followers. Social norms on Twitter, thereby, may vary by academic position. Remarkably, PhD students do not appear to consider Twitter a helpful tool for networking among peers. The emerging academic public sphere facilitated by Twitter is largely shaped by the dynamics and hierarchies all too familiar to researchers struggling to plot their career paths in academia.
Robert Jäschke, Stephanie B. Linek & Christian P. Hoffmann for the LSE Impact Blog with findings from their research that, probably not entirely surprisingly, that academic hierarchies are replicated online rather than challenged.


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