Links & Contents I Liked 265

Hi all,

This is a slightly shorter review this week, but it seems that many writers are still getting back to their desks after the holidays; this is also our examination week at our ComDev program, so my attention has been on reading students' works.
Having said that, there's still some interesting food for thought and reading for the weekend!

Development news: Male biases & the history of development knowledge production; Ethiopia bans foreign adoptions; Police trouble in Haiti; the limits of Rwanda's development model; volunteering with a purpose; challenging times for African Think Tanks.

Our digital lives: 'Maids' and 'Madams' on facebook; new book on 'the beneficiary'; Oprah, the prophet of capitalism. 

Academia: Reflections on running an anthropological MOOC; Germany takes on Elsevier.


New from aidnography

My development blogging & communication review 2017
A classic blog post since 2011!

Development news
The Perils of Male Bias: Alice Evans replies to yesterday’s ‘Sausagefest’

Across the world, we tend to venerate men as knowledgeable authorities. These gender stereotypes are self-perpetuating: by paying more attention to their ideas and analysis, citing their work more frequently, we reinforce widespread assumptions of male expertise. We also blinker ourselves to alternative perspectives. This is self-defeating – if we’re trying to understand complex problems.
Alice Evans for From Poverty to Power with the post of the week that followed after a discussion that has been trending in my feeds for the past two days. A good summary of the discussion is also available on her Twitter:

Ethiopia bans foreign adoptions
Lawmakers now say orphans and other vulnerable children should be cared for under locally available support mechanisms in order to protect them.
But some MPs said that the country has insufficient local services to cater for vulnerable children.
More than 15,000 Ethiopian children have been adopted in the US since 1999.
BBC News with what promises to be an interesting discussion about how countries can best look after vulnerable children, orphaned or otherwise. Banning adoptions is certainly a first step, but it also requires local institutions, including a culture of foster care.

A U.N.-Backed Police Force Carried Out a Massacre in Haiti. The Killings Have Been Almost Entirely Ignored.

The U.N.’s statement — that its officers were stationed only at the perimeter of the school — contradicts the statements made by Louis, who told me he was handcuffed by a U.N. agent on campus. The U.N. insists that it was uninvolved because its officers were not in the courtyard, but the entrance where they say they were stationed is set just below the scene of the massacre.
The new U.N. mission is ostensibly focused on justice, but Apollon noted that Haiti has seen many international missions throughout its history. “They all failed,” he said, because they do not understand the Haitian reality.
In Haiti, he said, impunity reigns.
Jake Johnston for The Intercept. If nothing else this is an important reminder how messy and complicated things (still) are in Haiti and how the UN still struggles to get things right...

Why Rwanda's development model wouldn't work elsewhere in Africa
One of the most rigorous efforts to understand the political conditions that made the Rwandan model possible has emerged from the African Power and Politics research project led by David Booth, Tim Kelsall and others. They argue that Kagame’s government is an example of “developmental patrimonialism”. In this system, the potentially damaging aspects of patrimonial politics are held in check by a leader who enjoys tight control over patronage networks. These include jobs for the boys, waste and inefficiency.
Nic Cheeseman for The Conversation with some food for thought on the limitations of the Rwandan development 'miracle'.

Volunteering doesn't make the world a better place
The volunteering that has greatest impact is done upstream and has a measurable outcome. Volunteering works when the aim is to change a broken system, to change a law or policy. This law or policy could be one that sees a requirement for volunteers, fundraising and charities abandoned, so there will be no expectation that the next generation will keep inefficient systems. It could be a change to policy about homelessness or refugees or international aid, or school funding or hospital funding or reducing environmental damage. It doesn't create waste or waste time. Raising awareness is what happens along the way.
Catherine Walsh for the Sydney Morning Herald with a reminder for the new year on the limits-but also opportunities for traditional volunteering that doesn't include to an orphanage abroad...

The crisis of African think tanks: Challenges and solutions

African think tanks are challenged to ensure tangible impact via effective engagement of policymakers and the public. Barriers to impact include limited ability to communicate, limited media exposure and networks, low interest of and access to policymakers, misaligned priorities, limited responsiveness to immediate demands, and a lack of trust.
James McGann, Landry Signé, & Monde Muyangwa for Brookings share quite a few buzzwords/-phrases about the future of African Think Tanks-but the report inspired me to draft a post for Aidnography on if we actually need traditional Thinks Tanks anymore...

Our digital lives

“For Madams Only”: Facebook groups and the politics of migrant domestic work in Egypt
Facebook’s unusual status as a hybrid public/private space is really crucial to understanding these interactions and campaigns. The opportunity for “Maids” and “Madams” to speak outside traditional one-on-one employment relations is unprecedented and provides a platform for domestic workers to voice their dissent. But despite the endless talk of its ‘democratising’ potential, Facebook does not, in fact, automatically give everyone an equal voice.
Much has been made of the potential for Facebook to amplify the voices of marginalised groups such as domestic workers. But as this example shows, the internet does not naturally favour the oppressed over the oppressor. Deep socioeconomic divides still exist in the production of online content and activities such as surveillance and blacklisting provide new mechanisms for employers to exercise power over informal workers. Public and private groups where membership and activity is governed by internal guidelines or rules arbitrarily established by admins also serve to legitimise constructed hierarchies and categories based on class, race and gender.
Miranda Hall for openDemocracy with interesting reflections on how traditional power relations and governance challenges keep on persisting in the digital sphere. Proper citizens' rights for domestic workers require political will and facebook is likely not playing a significant role in challenging misconduct or abuse.

“We are the Outcome of Your Actions”: Philanthropy and the Discourse of the Beneficiary

My book assumes that the beneficiary, whose self-interest would seem to entail maintaining that life, might also have an interest in abandoning it. In making this assumption, I try to point toward an as yet unarticulated zone where politics (assumed to stop at the nation’s borders) might combine with humanitarianism (allowed free rein in the zone outside those borders) to produce a politically aware humanitarianism 2.0. It’s my hope that this self-critical body of thinking can help inform the increasingly self-critical philanthropy now in operation.
Bruce Robbins for HistPhil introduces his new book.

The new prophets of capital (book review)

Oprah is appealing precisely because her stories hide the role of political, economic, and social structures. Instead of examining the interplay of biography and history, they eliminate it, making structure and agency indistinguishable. (p.100)
By-way of commenting on the 'Oprah for President' debate I'm re-posting my review of Nicole Aschoff's excellent book on 'the new prophets of capitalism' and the celebrity people and brands that claim to work for social change.


MOOCs after five years
Many institutions still see MOOCs as an inexpensive way to do education at a large scale. That’s not realistic in anthropology. A great MOOC may be relatively inexpensive for the scale, but it is not without substantial ongoing cost.
Still, MOOCs have a serious benefit: A huge population of people in Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and rural areas of many other countries are underserved by local and regional educational institutions. MOOC-like courses can reach people where they live, on the devices that they use.
I dream of bringing those populations into the study of human evolution, where new discoveries are being made. Tomorrow’s generation of paleoanthropologists must represent the areas where tomorrow’s fossil discoveries will be made.
How can we empower people to be a part of this science? To me, that’s the big problem. My instinct is that we can build communities to make this kind of learning possible for people around the world.
John Hawks reflects on his experience running an anthropological MOOC. Not surprisingly, social science (or, to put it differently, non-technical) MOOCs require input as many participants prefer a 'global classroom' and discussions with peers and teachers. Also, some interesting reflections on 'decolonizing' the set-up and bring in more localized knowledge.

Germany vs Elsevier: universities win temporary journal access after refusing to pay fees

Günter Ziegler, a mathematician at the Free University of Berlin and a member of the consortium's negotiating team, says that German researchers have the upper hand in the negotiations. “Most papers are now freely available somewhere on the Internet, or else you might choose to work with preprint versions,” he says. “Clearly our negotiating position is strong. It is not clear that we want or need a paid extension of the old contracts.”
Quirin Schiermeier for Nature on interesting developments in Germany and other European countries on challenging the global academic publishing industrial complex.


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