Links & Contents I Liked 263

Hi all,

Welcome to one of the final link reviews of 2017!

It's an interesting mix this week featuring public lectures, (visual) communication of development & #MeToo reflections in academia.

Development news: Rise in global arms sales; private companies spying on activists; Jeremy Corbyn speaks at the UN on global governance; UNHCR's Melissa Fleming speaks about home & refugees; how to 'empower women'? How to engage cynical audiences in #globaldev? How to ensure ethical photography? How to write better about social issues; new podcast series from India.

Publications: Local aid workers & digital marginalization; doing development differently.

Academia: #MeToo; what is the purpose of societies & associations?


New from aidnography

Third World Quarterly & the case for colonialism debate

This is a curated and regularly updated overview over the events that followed after the publication of Bruce Gilley's article The Case for Colonialism in the journal Third World Quarterly.
I have maintained a Storify about this topic since September 2017, but since Storify announced its end of life for May 2018 I recreated the developments in this blog post.
Development news
Global arms industry: First rise in arms sales since 2010, says SIPRI

Sales of arms and military services by the world’s largest arms-producing and military services companies—the SIPRI Top 100—totalled $374.8 billion in 2016, according to new international arms industry data released today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
The total for the SIPRI Top 100 in 2016 is 1.9 per cent higher compared with 2015 and represents an increase of 38 per cent since 2002 (when SIPRI began reporting corporate arms sales). This is the first year of growth in SIPRI Top 100 arms sales after five consecutive years of decline.
SIPRI's latest annual report-always a powerful reminder when cynical Daily Mail readers (see below) complain about 'wasting taxpayers money' on a workshop in Africa...

Surveillance firms spied on campaign groups for big companies, leak shows

The leaked documents suggest the use of secretive corporate security firms to gather intelligence about political campaigners has been widespread. However, police chiefs have in the past raised a “massive concern” that the activities of the corporate firms are barely regulated and completely uncontrolled.
The police have claimed that commercial firms have had more spies embedded in political groups than there were undercover police officers.
The revelations are based on hundreds of pages of leaked documents from two corporate intelligence firms, seen by the Guardian and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, that reveal the inner workings of a normally subterranean industry over several years in the 2000s.
The cache shows how one of the firms, C2i International, used two infiltrators to acquire advance warning of demonstrations that were being mounted against firms and to feed this information to those firms.
Rob Evans & Meirion Jones for the Guardian with an important reminder about 'tech for bad', corporate power and the privatization of security.

Jeremy Corbyn speech at the United Nations’ Geneva headquarters

We need to redouble our efforts to create a global rules based system that applies to all and works for the many, not the few.
No more bomb first and think and talk later.
No more double standards in foreign policy.
No more scapegoating of global institutions for the sake of scoring political points at home.
Instead: solidarity, calm leadership and cooperation. Together we can:
Build a new social and economic system with human rights and justice at its core.
Deliver climate justice and a better way to live together on this planet.
Recognise the humanity of refugees and offer them a place of safety.
Work for peace, security and understanding.
The survival of our common humanity requires nothing less.
We need to recognise and pay tribute to human rights defenders the world over, putting their lives on the line for others - our voice must be their voice.
When did those political leaders currently in power stopped delivering speeches similar to Jeremy Corbyn's? I am aware that is a broad speech at the UN by an opposition politician, and yet it's great to read those sentences and be reminded of how most of conservative politicians have really lost any vision for state, society and people.

The Search for Home in Times of War and Peace

But today, only a small minority of refugees live in camps. The classic image of endless rows of white tents applies to only 10 per cent of them. Most live in towns and cities, while many more live in rural environments. Some live in settlements; others in back streets. Some have identity documents and can work, go to school, see a doctor; others have to duck and dive, not permitted a job or an apprenticeship, a place in the classroom — barred from exactly the kind of endeavour that would give them a measure of self-sufficiency and a way to carve out something more like a home, however temporary it might be, or they might want it to be.
Melissa Fleming for UNHCR with a transcript of a keynote lecture she delivered recently. A great example of how the UN can engage with the public and her speech provides excellent food for thought and discussion in the classroom, for example.

Hairdressing, sewing, cooking – is this really how we're going to empower women?

Many women’s empowerment projects the world over focus on hairdressing, tailoring or cooking. This is in part because the barrier to entry is low, so these programmes are accessible to women who may not have had much formal education, and in part due to constraints on women – most of these jobs can be done in female-only environments or at home. There are different trends in different parts of the world, but most conform to this pattern: hair and beauty training in the Middle East, producing local handicrafts in Latin America and south Asia, giving women chickens to tend in rural India and Africa.
Undoubtedly, for some women, simply learning a new skill can be hugely valuable and confidence-boosting. But there is little hard evidence that these schemes actually help women to earn a living, or empower them in any meaningful sense.
“Are they empowering women? Not really,” says Mayssoun Sukarieh, lecturer in Middle Eastern studies at King’s College London. “First of all, many of these projects reproduce gender relations, so it’s not about empowering women in the sense of making them equal. Secondly, this can work for a bit, but how much money is going to be generated by these tiny projects? Particularly when, at the same time, huge corporations are doing the same products at a very low price.”
Samira Shackle for the Guardian on the quest for projects that can 'empower women' and that may end up producing capitalist agents on the bottom rung of the consumerist ladder...

It's worth reading the whole thread, including several responses from Save The Children.

How to engage a development-cynical audience: insights from Daily Mail readers

Delving deeper, what emerged is a real sense of distance from charities, especially big well-known names. Charities are increasingly seen as part of “the establishment” and our Daily Mail reader feels increasingly isolated from them. At a time when shared values and individual connections are becoming ever more important for trust, the world of charity feels ever more remote and elite.
This reframes the job to be done for charities: rather than worry about how to communicate everything they do, the key is to evoke shared values that can draw an audience in. This mirrors what we see in the research we do for charities on a regular basis: heart trumps head every time – and even more so for this most cynical of audiences.
Jess Enoch, Tom Silverman & Gail Steeden for Bond. I agree with some of the findings, e.g. about communicating shared values as a basis for #globaldev. But whether this will be enough to engage with the cynical Daily Mail audience? I expressed my doubts before:
Communicating development in a post-factual world: How to win against the Daily Mail

To regain public trust, the aid sector needs Vox-style explainers and an ad watchdog

To this end, I propose a structural solution to this structural problem: the establishment of an international aid sector advertisement regulatory agency.
This will be an independent body that includes members of the Global North and South, and with representatives from key aid and media actors, and that sets out an agreed criteria for all NGO advertisements and marketing campaigns. The goal will be to finally eliminate the negative – and harmful – portrayal of affected populations, and to enforce a policy of positive imagery among aid organisations.
Arbie Baguios shares his ideas on how the aid industry can enhance positive public engagement.

A Call for Ethical Standards in Nonprofit Humanitarian Photography

Now, I have a mental checklist to ensure I’m collaborating in ethical storytelling with my clients. I confirm that the people I’m being sent to photograph or film are beneficiaries of the organization. If the organization doesn’t have a written statement of values or a code of conduct, I ask them about it.
I’m looking for a commitment to treating people with dignity, clear policies on informed consent for photos and videos, and zero tolerance for exploitation and abuse, especially when it comes to children and people living with HIV and AIDS, which still carry stigma in many parts of the world.
Laura Elizabeth Pohl for Re-Picture on how the aid industry needs to discuss ethical issues around the visualizations around their work.

News media offers consistently warped portrayals of black families, study finds

The study concluded both ideologically driven news sources as well as traditional newspapers and broadcasts furthered false narratives about black families, helping to shape public assumptions that they are “uniquely and irrevocably pathological and undeserving,” Dixon said.
The report makes several recommendations for the news industry, including setting stronger standards for sourcing information and experts, providing greater social and historical context, and including people of color in setting editorial standards.
Tracy Jan for Washington Post presents an interesting new study that should be of relevance for the aid industry and how they communicate.

10 Things I Hate About Social Issues Journalism

Invoking your personal expertise can often give your story more credibility. But there are limits to self-declared expertise, exemplified by this — real, I promise — pitch:
“My short stint working on a Kibbutz a few years prior gave me the expertise to go from Brooklyn, New York, to a small village in [insert developing country] to [help run an agriculture project].”
How does a self-described “short stint” make you an expert on a topic as vast as agriculture? This passage also has a hint of the dreaded white savior industrial complex that plagues a lot of journalism about marginalized communities of color.
Sarika Bansal for Bright Magazine on how to become a better writer and storyteller.

In The Field

‘In The Field’ is a show that attempts to capture India’s development story, as it happens, through a feature-style podcast that combines interviews, commentary, and debate.
An interesting podcast project from India I will definitely explore further!

Local aid workers in the digital humanitarian project: between “second class citizens” and “entrepreneurial survivors”

Moving beyond the usual figure of the cosmopolitan and adventure-seeking Western humanitarian acting on distant suffering, this paper draws attention to local aid workers’ aspirations for personal and professional mobility as they seize novel opportunities opened up by the digital humanitarian agenda. It outlines how the digital humanitarian project’s ambition to facilitate the inclusion of disaster-affected communities is fundamentally undermined by labor arrangements that doubly marginalize local aid workers.
Jonathan Ong & Pamela Combinido with a new open access article in Central Asian Studies.

How are INGOs Doing Development Differently? 5 of them have just taken a look.

The contributions that INGOs can make to the DDD movement stem from their positioning within the development sector. Their programmatic experiences and in-house expertise differ from those of academics, think tanks, donor agencies, contractors, and national or local NGOs and community organizations. INGOs’ contributions to the conversation fall into three major themes: Localizing power and ownership in DDD practice, Funding and accountability for adaptation, Institutionalizing DDD across large agencies
Duncan Green for FP2P summarizes Dave Algoso's recent report on DDD.


Statistics, we have a problem.
We need to start holding prominent individuals accountable for how their inappropriate behavior negatively impacts the careers of their junior colleagues. I’m saying this publicly because whenever I have shared these stories privately with my colleagues, both men and women, they are appalled. It is time for us to be publicly and openly appalled, not just attempting to tactfully deflect inappropriate advances and privately warning other women. We need to remove the power of the “open secret” that these people use to take advantage of their respected positions in our field. We know who these people are, and we should stop tolerating this culture of harassment, or else we become complicit in it.
Kristian Lum shares some of her #MeToo experiences from academic statistic conferences.

What function do learned societies serve in a digital age?
It is not so much that social media decentralises communicative capacity, dispersing it throughout the discipline, as much as it allows the proliferation of other actors who can perform these internal and external functions. There are new intermediaries who can connect the discipline internally and represent it externally. This raises the obvious question: what is the point of the learned society in an age of social media? Is it to perform the internal and external communications function but to do it more effectively than the new intermediaries? Is it to leverage this function towards certain purposes (e.g. establishing ethics guidelines) which other actors lack the normative legitimacy to pursue? Is it simply as a scholarly publisher and a conference organiser? Or do they need to find a new purpose in order to avoid a slow slide into irrelevance?
Mark Carrigan asks important questions about the future of large disciplinary associations and societies whose main task it seems to organize large-scale conferences in global chain hotel complexes and charge a lot of money for this privilege...


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