Links & Contents I Liked 269

Hi all,

This is really a great link review if I may say so myself! :)

Quite a dialectical discussion on positive & negative examples of communicating development, opportunities & challenges of engaging with humanitarian journalism, teaching development differently, gender & privilege and deconstruction colonialism through interviews, books, movies or anthropology!


New from aidnography

Conan O'Brien visits Haiti-the remarkable story of how Team Coco is communicating development

His program is an important reminder that celebrities do not have to bring ‘stuff’ to impoverished people, adopt their children or set up an organization themselves because the aid industry is too slow and inefficient in their views.
Promoting tourism, cornflakes, art and culture are actually great ways of encouraging people to explore foreign places, meet different people and taste real hot sauce.
Development news
Top Oxfam staff paid Haiti quake survivors for sex

One of the men allowed to resign without disciplinary action was Oxfam’s country director there, Roland van Hauwermeiren. The report said that Mr Van Hauwermeiren, 68, admitted using prostitutes at the villa rented for him by Oxfam with charitable funds.
Despite the admission, the charity’s chief executive at the time, Dame Barbara Stocking, offered the Belgian “a phased and dignified exit” because sacking him would have “potentially serious implications” for the charity’s work and reputation. After the internal inquiry, two other men in management were able to resign while four were dismissed for gross misconduct, including over the use of prostitutes at the apartment block where Oxfam housed them.
A number of sources with knowledge of the case said they had concerns that some of the prostitutes were under age. One said that men had invited groups of young prostitutes to their guesthouse and held sex “parties”. The source claimed to have seen footage from a night there that was “like a full-on Caligula orgy”, with girls wearing Oxfam T-shirts. The charity is understood to have no record of the footage being given to the investigation.
Sean O'Neill for The Times. Usually it's a good thing that the stories from the Times are neatly tucked away behind a paywall...but this is quite a bombshell and deserves a larger audience and further discussions.

Dealing with abuse at the UN needs more than words

Jan Beagle, under-secretary-general for management of the United Nations, says the UN “does not prevent staff from speaking to the media”. This is not true. I am a UN staff member who was explicitly gagged after making a complaint about the conduct of a senior manager, due to a provision of our code of conduct that staff must always present a positive view of the UN.
Beagle claims that the secretary-general has strengthened whistleblower protection for those who report harassment. My own case was the first to be transferred under this “strengthened” policy, which provides a 30-day deadline. I have yet to receive a final decision 18 months after seeking protection.
Similarly, the United Nations is supposed to take a prompt decision on whether to investigate complaints of harassment or abuse of authority. I am still waiting 10 months after filing a complaint under that policy.
Emma Reilly with a letter to The Guardian.

Yemen PR wars: Saudi Arabia employs UK/US firms to push multi-billion dollar aid plan

Saudi Arabia has recruited an array of foreign consultants and public relations firms to draw up and promote its new multi-billion dollar aid plan for Yemen, one that could reduce imports of vital goods into a key rebel-held port, an IRIN investigation reveals.
Annie Slemrod & Ben Parker for IRIN on the 'other side' of development communication; I'm glad that they are calling out the BS right away, but whenever Saudi Arabia wants to spend money, there's always a group of arms dealers or communication consultants happy to support the dirty work...

Opinion: What we know about global development's wage gap
More research is necessary to understand what the relative wage gap is for men and women in the international development sector, but it is likely to be quite substantial given the working hours, travel requirements, and stressful conditions that are generally present challenging and pressure mothers to spend time away from their families.
Sarah Grausz & Farah Mahesri for DevEx with another topic for discussion within the aid industry.

If We Bring The Good Life To All, Will We Destroy The Planet?
"And what we find is that it follows a curve of diminishing returns — as you use more resources you get less social bang for your buck," says O'Neill. "So there's a turning point after which additional resource use contributes very little to social performance." Wealthy industrialized nations such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada have reached that point, says O'Neill. "As we increase our resource use, we get almost no increase in human well-being from that."
And this means for these countries the strategy of growing the economy — basically trying to create new wealth — to boost the well-being of their underprivileged citizens is ineffective. A much better approach, argues O'Neill, would be to focus on redistributing their existing wealth more equitably.
Nurith Aizenman for NPR Goats & Soda on why we need to have a much more nuanced debate about strategies to 'lift people out of poverty' through GDP growth.

New Evidence of Africa’s Systematic Looting, From an Increasingly Schizophrenic World Bank

Africa’s smash-and-grab ‘development policies’ aiming to attract Foreign Direct Investment have, even the Bank suggests, now become counter-productive: “Especially for resource-rich countries, the depletion of natural resources is often not compensated for by other investments. The warnings provided by negative ANS in many countries and in the region as a whole should not be ignored.”
South African activist Chris Rutledge opposed this neoliberal logic last year in an ActionAid report, The AMV: Are we repackaging a colonial paradigm?: “By ramping up models of maximum extraction, the AMV once again stands in direct opposition to our own priorities to ensure resilient livelihoods and securing climate justice. It is downright opposed to any type of Free Prior and Informed Consent. And it does not address the structural causes of structural violence experienced by women, girls and affected communities.”
Patrick Bond for Counterpunch with a reminder that the Bank is not just the Bank of Twitter banter over its chief economist, but still the Bank who is heavily involved in African economies and not at the forefront of paradigmatic shifts...

'Most of the children still have parents': behind the facade of a Bali orphanage

Former volunteers and staff, in interviews with the Guardian, said up to five tour groups could be moved through the orphanage each day, bringing donations, potential sponsorships, food and gifts.
Only a handful of the children are orphans, despite the institution marketing itself as an orphanage for more than a decade.
Chester confirmed only six of the children were without both parents, 64 had a single parent living, 14 had both parents alive and 10 were described as “special cases”. She said she had never hidden the fact that some children had parents, and the centre’s website carried that information.
In recent months, as pressure mounted in the Australian parliament to stop orphanage tourism, the institution rebranded itself as Jodie O’Shea House. The word “orphanage” has been removed from parts of its website.
Christopher Knaus & Kate Lamb for The Guardian. Don't 'volunteer' in Bali-enjoy your holiday and leave-that's as much good as you should possibly thinking about doing!

Combining humanitarian and solutions journalism: Q&A with BRIGHT Magazine’s founder

To me, “humanitarian journalism” is journalism in the public interest, particularly when it sheds light on marginalized communities. I’d say a large portion of our work does this.
Why do we focus on humanitarian journalism? It’s needed. Most existing journalism about social issues is (in my slightly irreverent opinion) jargon-laden, homogenous, and flat. And it turns people off from paying attention to them. I think it’s just as important that people understand advances in women’s health as the latest presidential scandal. Who decided that politics are a matter of national interest, but that social issues are fringe? We’re committed to presenting humanitarian topics in a manner that’s approachable and, well, bright.
There’s a lot of room to innovate in “humanitarian journalism,” which makes our work really fun. We constantly ask ourselves, “How can we present this topic so it emotionally resonates? How do we make this feel necessary? What about this is bold and fresh?”
Tom Murphy for Humanitarian Journalism talks to Bright Magazine founder Sarika Bansal.

The Problem With Capitalist Philanthropy

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation has presented its work carefully. Articles from the region published in reputable media agencies, including the Guardian and Al Jazeera, have received support from the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF), which in turn received funding from Buffett. His foundation directly contributes to the organization’s Great Lakes Reporting Initiative, which supports female journalists who work in the DRC, South Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and the Central Africa Republic on issues related to “empowerment, democracy, food security, and conservation efforts.”
This seems like a much-needed project: at a time when media outlets face growing budget shortfalls, the IWMF provides cash-strapped journalists with generous grants. I myself was grateful for the support I received from the Great Lakes fellowship to report from eastern Congo, but I also felt uncomfortable with the knowledge of who finances the organization.
In Morvaridi’s words , organizations, including the media, promote the priorities of “elite capitalist philanthropists” and thereby “contribute to the building of the political agenda they support.” The IMWF has successfully reshaped mainstream media narratives in the Great Lakes region, diversifying the range of stories that emerge from that area and influencing international opinion. However, in partnering with the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, it has legitimized Buffett’s activities in the region and his support for the Rwandan government.
T Rivers for Jacobin the challenges of getting development and humanitarian journalism funding right...

Chimamanda Adichie: The daughter of postcolonial theory

The second moment came during the question and answer session, when someone sought Adichie's opinion on postcolonial theory. Her response was: "Postcolonial theory? I don't know what it means. I think it is something that professors made up because they needed to get jobs." This comment didn't provoke as much noise on as her clapback about bookstores in Nigeria.
As an academic, I am grateful for the interview, which eloquently demystifies postcolonial theory, despite her disavowal of it. Given students' intolerance for texts longer than a sizzling clapback tweet, the interview makes for an excellent introduction to this theory.
Grace Musila for Al-Jazeera with a more thorough engagement with Adichie's recent interview in France.

Development Studies is fun, but is there a job at the end of it?

But overall, I still worry about how many northerners see development studies as the start of a career, when the whole North/South aid frame that underpinned the creation of ‘development studies’ is becoming increasingly redundant.
Duncan Green for From Poverty to Power. Duncan is not a career academic (nothing wrong with that, of course!) and I wish he would put his experience with teaching development studies into a broader perspective. He is teaching at LSE, a university that is quite keen on overseas students and their fees. They hire Duncan and other excellent professionals (who often happen to be in and around London) to create an academic environment around 'practice' and 'employability'. Again, there is nothing wrong with that-but you are creating a 'habitus' around a professionalized industry that expects a job after paying a lot of money for a Master's degree in a very expensive location. When the higher education industry and the aid industry meet it becomes complicated...

Loving the questions

There’s a reason I love teaching. Designing a syllabus and curriculum challenges me to think strategically about what information and tools folks need, what insights I hope they uncover using them, and how we can collectively help each other in the learning process. Inevitably, along the way, I solidify my awareness of what I have been picking up in my own journey.
And then, then the students ask more questions. They challenge me beyond my own realm of knowledge and experience. They say something in a way I’ve never considered. Their turn a phrase makes my writer’s heart sing. They surprise me with their observations and questions. They inspire me with their passion and inquiry and resolve and love of their communities.
They remind me how important it is to continue to love the questions…
Jennifer Lentfer for How Matters shares very different insights into her teaching experience in the development field...

Munich Security Conference: A Marketplace of Order?
The conference is a “marketplace of ideas” only for those who already have plenty of power and influence in the traditional sense. Now, unfortunately, the market of ideas for security policy is hardly overflowing with good solutions. So, if the old, white men from the West are out of ideas, why not ask the young women from everywhere else? And, let us do so in ways that allow for more interaction, more debate and more innovation than the good old panel discussion.
Philipp Rotmann for gppi on #allmalepanels, big conferences & the rituals of the global traveling elite who just met in Davos...

The making of a film empire

But one of the pleasures of studying Nigerian media is that there is always much room for debate, and there is by no means a firm consensus on how to draw Nollywood’s cultural, geographical, and linguistic boundaries — nor, perhaps, will there ever be. My reservations about certain aspects of Witt’s book thus amount to little more than quibbles. This is an excellent, engaging introduction to an industry that deserves continued attention.
Noah Tsika for Africa is a Country reviews 'New African Cinema'.

Our digital lives
Hating "Twitter Feminism" Means Excluding Young Women From the #MeToo Conversation

Roiphe writes that Twitter feminists project themselves as perfect individuals whose fear of their safety is “dramatized” and whose desire is to criminalize all male social activities. As she further expounds in this CBS News video, they are the thought police who seek to crush any divergent opinion that does not adhere to the agenda mentioned above. While I am against the ad-hominem attacks that Roiphe received in the weeks leading up to the publication of this essay, I understand why she's divisive. She’s in the midst of a new era of women who may not have gotten PhDs from Princeton or glowing reviews in The New York Times in their mid-twenties, and yet their words are having just as much influence as hers. The structure of recognition is changing. But rather than Roiphe jumping in and engaging with those younger than her on social media, she looks down on them with the term “Twitter feminist,” a subliminal shot to anyone whose politics have not been cultivated and uplifted through the academy or other traditional means of establishment.
Morgan Jerkins for Cosmopolitan on prestige and inequalities around discussing #metoo 'appropriately'.

I Spent Two Years Trying to Fix the Gender Imbalance in My Stories

Finding diverse sources, and tracking them, takes time, but not that much time. I reckon it adds 15 minutes per piece, or an hour or so of effort over a week. That seems like a trifling amount, and the bare minimum that journalists should strive for. There are many ways for us to increase the diversity of our sources, and achieving gender parity is by far the simplest of them. After all, it is easy to guess someone’s gender based on their name, and when tracking progress, there is an obvious 50 percent threshold to aim for.
Since November 2015, I’ve also been tracking the number of people of color in my stories. That figure currently stands at 26 percent for the last year, ranging between 15 and 47 percent from month to month. I want to make it higher. I’m thinking about how to include more voices from LGBTQ, disabled, or immigrant communities. I’m thinking about the people who appear in the photos that accompany my pieces, rather than just those whose words appear within quote marks. Gender parity is a start, not an end point.
Ed Yong for The Atlantic on challenging his practices of writing more diverse stories.

New research on the BBC’s relationship with charitable causes by the HNRN’s Dr. Suzanne Franks

Covering the role played by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), the organisation established in the 1960s to create a point of contact between broadcasters and international aid charities, and the transition from radio-only to TV appeals, the paper shows how the BBC had to adjust its process of negotiating with good causes and audiences as new fundraising techniques began to gain following.
Susan Franks with a new (paywalled) article in the Historical Journal of Film, Radio & Television.

Smileys Without Borders: A Critique of Transboundary Interaction between Politicians, Journalists and PR practitioners on Social Media

The purpose of this article is to contribute a critical theoretical understanding of cross-professional relations on social media, focusing on politicians, journalists and PR practitioners. It is well known that these professional groups establish personal and close relations in offline contexts, but more attention needs to be paid to the role of social media. Here, it is argued that in the context of digital media use, semi-private chatting, humour, and mutual acknowledgment, including the use of likes, smileys, heart symbols, etc., are evidence of a 'neoliberalisation' of cross-professional relations. The underlying idea is that the common practice of self-branding undermines representations of professional belonging and exacerbates the blurring of professional boundaries. The critical conceptualisation of such 'transboundary' interaction between politicians, journalists and PR practitioners, which is guided by a cultural-materialist approach, includes the presentation of examples deriving from the Swedish Twittersphere, and suggestions for empirical research.
Peter Berglez for the latest open access issue of triple-C.

Wakanda, Afrofuturism, and Decolonizing International Relations Scholarship

Decolonizing IR scholarship goes beyond simply including more people of color in our syllabi. In addition to questioning the dominance of western epistemology and methodology, previous intellectual anti-colonial movements have emphasized the need to fight the pervasive erasure of political actors of color and their contributions. It does not involve merely mentioning them in passing. In IR, it also demands that we re-examine their relationships with contemporary political and security architectures and the latter not be taken for granted. Critical security theory begins to question the production of conventional knowledge in the discipline by interrogating the social, historical and political roots of that knowledge. But this practice needs to permeate the entire field.
In the meantime, Afrofuturism and Black Panther offer us the opportunity to interrogate how we understand the historical events of the past in a dramatically emancipatory way. I for one have already purchased my tickets. Not because I need to imagine a world where a fictional country in Africa named Wakanda matters. I have done so because I know that Africa, its Black minds, its Black voices, and its Black bodies have always mattered.
Yolande Bouka for Political Violence @ a Glance on decolonizing IR scholarship and the Black Panther movie.

Washing Out Trump’s Mouth with Haitian History

The late Haitian anthropologist Michel Rolph Trouillot argued that the world-historical event of the Haitian Revolution was and remains unknown to many Westerners because it contradicted much of what the West told both itself and others about itself. “How many of us can think of any non-European population without the background of a global domination that now looks pre-ordained? And how can Haiti, or slavery, or racism be more than distracting footnotes within that narrative order?”
What is needed is a narrative in which the histories of Haiti and the US, and of racial subjugation and global domination, are seen as mutually constituted. As Haitian Ambassador to the US Paul Altidor recently pleaded, “Given our two countries’ long intertwined history, it is time we get to know each other on a level of mutual respect and understanding.”
Chelsey Kivland for Anthropology News. We end where we started with a look at US-Haiti history!


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