Links & Contents I Liked 270

Hi all,

Like most of you I have been following the #oxfamscandal this week. More than 60 entries are now in my curated bibliography and I have learned a lot about the subject of sexual violence in aid work but also how development is communicated; a lot of good reporting and many important reflections have been shared. 

Nonetheless, my usual Friday link review is to take a step back from current affairs and focus on 'in other news¨...

Development news: Crises off the radar: Mayotte, Venezuela & Eritrea in focus; World Bank's mission; foreign aid does not stop migration; the closing of the International Reporting Project & the future of foreign affairs journalism & journalists; Basmati blues stereotypes; Branson's daughter wants us to do and feel good!

Our digital lives: How to write about the rich & powerful? Digital influence in the Philippines.

Publications: 'Undoing' research on sexual violence in the DRC? UN Women on gender & big data.

Academia: Impact of scholarships; academia between precarity & entitlement; who benefits form your PhD research?


New from aidnography

Oxfam, Haiti & the aid industry's #MeToo moment-a curated bibliography

Last updated 16 February; there are now close to 60 resources!

Development news
Mayotte: the French migration frontline you’ve never heard of

About 7,000-10,000 Comorians – more than one percent of the islands’ population – died on the crossing between 1995 and 2012, according to a report from the French Senate. Many local observers cite higher figures, and the Comorian authorities claim it is “the world’s largest marine cemetery”.
French border patrols catch several kwassa kwassa per night. In most cases, the people on board are deported the very next day. Mayotte has a population of just over 200,000, and yet manages to deport about 20,000 people each year.
Mayotte is exempt from certain French immigration laws, and the border police do not always respect those that do exist. In a report last year, France’s human rights commission condemned the quick deportations in Mayotte, where most migrants don’t even see a lawyer or a judge before expulsion.
Edward Carver for IRIN. And yes, the headline is very true-I had not heard of Mayotte before...

The World Bank Needs to Return to Its Mission

When going to Wall Street, or Davos, or other centers of wealth, the World Bank should inspire the billionaires to put their surging wealth into personal philanthropy to support the SDGs. Bill Gates is doing this, with historic results, for public health. Which billionaires will champion the SDGs for education, renewable energy, fresh water and sanitation, and sustainable agriculture? With a clear SDG plan, the World Bank would find partners to help it fulfill its core, historic, and vital mission.
Jeffrey Sachs for Project Syndicate continuous the discussion around the future of the Bank.

Hell of a Fiesta
Between 2013 and 2017 the country’s national and per capita GDPs contracted more severely than those of the US did during the Great Depression and more than those of Russia, Cuba, and Albania did after the fall of communism.
This is a humanitarian crisis of immense proportions. By May 2017, Venezuela’s minimum monthly wage wasn’t enough to meet even 12 percent of a single person’s basic food needs.2 A survey of 6,500 households by three prestigious universities showed that 74 percent of the population had lost on average nineteen pounds in 2016. Infant mortality in hospitals has risen by 100 percent. Diseases nearly eradicated in many countries, like malaria and diphtheria, have flourished; illnesses largely new to the area, like Chikungunya, Zika, and dengue, have spread. Caracas is now the most dangerous city on the planet. All this is happening in a country that has one of the largest oil reserves in the world.
Enrique Krauze for the New York Review of Books on the crisis in Venezuela... wow...

The Securitisation of Eritrea: Holding a Nation Hostage!
The harsh reality of this bleak system has spurred a mass exodus, especially of the youth, out of Eritrea: with so many people falling victim to human trafficking and slavery in North Africa; organ harvesting in the Sinai; death in the Sahara Desert; or drowning in the Mediterranean and Red Seas. A decision to brave such risks becomes a viable option only when the alternative is far worse. The substantial reports and mounting evidence from the sheer number of people fleeing Eritrea for reasons, such as persecution, torture and detention, are met with the denial, dismissal or shifting of blame to “others” by the regime and its supporters. The regime’s ‘official’ narrative consistently assigns blame for the lack of progress or the reality of immense suffering affecting Eritrea and its people to hostile external entities, such as the US, the UN or Woyane, that threaten Eritrea’s security. In the incessant scheme of externalising the causes of Eritrea’s predicament, the net of blame has been cast even wider as of January 2018 to include mothers and immediate family members of recruits as encouraging them to flee.
As a people, Eritreans, especially in the Diaspora, need to find a way towards reconciliation and unity through open dialogue. The combination of persistent externalisation and extreme politicisation of Eritrea’s problems festered over decades, fed by the unrelenting narrative of the regime, has produced a divided, fragmented and polarised Diaspora, unable to coalesce and undertake concerted positive action, to the delight of the incumbent regime.
A long essay on the Eri-Platform and a good overview over Eritrea-another crisis that tends to escape mainstream media attention.

Sending foreign aid money doesn’t deter migration from poor countries, says new study
Secondly, researchers suggest that there’s not enough evidence to show that aid that targets the so-called root cause of migration is effective. This aid has failed to kick-start poor economies, meaningfully increase youth employment, or have a significant effect on violence prevention. “Though occasionally intensive job training has reduced youth unemployment, there is scant evidence that such programs can be scaled up to achieve national impacts,” researchers note in the report.
The study goes on to paint a far more complex relationship between migration and economic development. Families often pay significant amounts of money upfront in hopes that it would lead to income gains from overseas work. In short, sending young male relatives abroad is often seen as an investment for the future. Thus, aid that results in greater economic opportunity at home, may end up making “such an investment more feasible,” researchers note.
Aamna Mohdin for Quartz reviews one of the latest reports from the Center for Global Development.

International Reporting Project closes amid funding shift for foreign news
I’m optimistic it’s not a permanent state. We’ve never been particularly good at balancing domestic political news with important stories from the rest of the world, but I also don’t think we’re doomed to be glued to the White House indefinitely. The collective passion of those who care about people and places around the globe will eventually remind funders and consumers that we are capable of learning about more than one thing at a time. Let’s just hope this doesn’t in the meantime lead to more non-profits losing their international news funding.
Glendora Meikle for the Columbia Journalism Review reflect on the closing of the Internationa Reporting Project and broader issues of funding foreign news.

Does the “Foreign Correspondent” Have a Future?
But international journalism had a lot of problems to begin with, and maybe this destruction is also an opportunity to rebuild. I’d love to see bolder, more in-depth stories told by people who are from the places they’re reporting on — or at least have spent significant time in those regions. I want stories that don’t feel phoned in but finely crafted with the assistance of crack mentors. I want stories that don’t focus on the largesse of Western donors and other saviors and instead rethink the concept of a savior altogether.
I want stories that give me a new window into the world — which international journalism, as it exists now, has too often failed to do.
Sarika Bansal for Bright Magazine also reflects on the International Reporting Project and how her experience have challenged perceptions of traditional foreign correspondent journalism.

In 'Basmati Blues,' Brie Larson Plays A White Savior. Indians Are Annoyed
The controversy around the film started in November, after the international trailer was released. That's where the white horse made its appearance, which Linda rides while trying to halt a train loaded with the super-rice.
"It plays to stereotypes of an exotic but backward people just waiting for a white person to swoop in and save them," says Bengaluru-based cartoonist, Manoj Vijayan, in an interview with NPR.
The film's white savior message isn't the only issue that rankles. "The script seems to have gone overboard with its lazy cliches, the lame jokes and the stereotyping," says Vijayan. "It's a sadly missed opportunity to tell a story with some nuance and ends up pandering to tired old preconceptions."
Kamala Thiagarajan for NPR Goats & Soda. I'm going to watch Black Panther this weekend instead :) !

WEconomy: meet the authors
It was on our second WE Villages trip to rural India, that I found myself saying yes to co-writing a book that sets out the premise that you can achieve equal (if not more) success, both personally and professionally, by embedding purpose at the heart of everything you do. Drawing on our individual sectors of business, social enterprise and charity, WEconomy really is a collection of all of our life experiences, business learnings and hunger for positive change.
Holly Branson for Virgin about her forthcoming book on/with the Kielburger brothers...what could possibly go wrong?!?!?!?

Our digital lives
A style guide for writing about the rich
HOW TO WRITE ABOUT THE RICH (see below for explanation
1: Do not broadly attribute a company’s work to their owner/CEO.
2: It is always relevant to note how people have accumulated wealth, and who they have harmed to do so. Never omit it.
3: Be skeptical and don’t just publish a wealthy person’s claims or without doing due diligence or offering a critical corollary.
4: Don’t trip over yourself to humanize a rich person and make them look good — you’re a journalist, not a PR person.
5: Don’t let it all be about them.
6: It’s not fucking news if a rich person likes Rick and Morty or whatever.
7: If you’re writing from a place of personal perspective, you should write about them with the same bilious contempt they have for human life.
Donald Borenstein's post is also applicable to talking to powerful people in general-from expat aid workers to ICT4D 'evangelists'...

Online influencer culture and politics: What happens when the two meet?
Bloggers and digital influencers are regularly tapped by ad agencies and brands to promote campaigns and products.
The same tactics and skills employed by boutique agencies to push products and build reputation by tapping digital influencers are also used for political clients.
When the line between the organic and paid endorsements are blurred, it also has an impact on how the Comelec and candidates implement and comply with campaign finance regulation.
Paige Occe├▒ola for Rappler on how digital culture is changing The Philippines' political discourses.

Undoing Research on Sexual Violence in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo
In the last decade the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) figures on the international radar as a place of horrific sexual violence and ‘vile barbarity’. Drawing on ethnographic research in eastern DRC, this paper argues that these framings have a contaminating effect on the researcher and the way that knowledge is produced and mediated. What does it mean to do research on violence in the ‘rape capital of the world’? It addresses three significant ‘fields of power’ that emerge when conducting research in a violent setting as a politically and geographically situated researcher. First, the paper argues that a colonial imaginary, which produces racial and sexual hierarchies, informs contemporary representations on sexual violence. Second, it critically examines current knowledge on sexual violence in eastern DRC that, primarily drawing on victims’ testimonies, may reinforce harmful framings. Third, the paper shows how I shaped my research in relation to ‘toxic’ discourses on sexual violence. In doing so, this article reflects on what it means to ‘undo’ research from a ‘violent’ space by disrupting received knowledge on sexual violence and critically exploring the researcher’s responsibility in representing violence as experienced by others and his/her complicity in perpetuating harmful framings.
Charlotte Mertens with an open access article in ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies.

Gender equality and big data: Making gender data visible
The report presents the benefits of big data (for example, real time data), risks (for example, elite capture and privacy), and policy implications (for example, how it can be incorporated in project cycles from planning to evaluation). It ends with a compendium of gender-related big data projects and their relevance to the SDGs.
Claudia Abreu Lopes and Savita Bailur with a new report for UN Women.

Can international scholarships lead to social change?
The editors have identified five principal ‘pathways’ by which the scholarship opportunity may catalyse change beyond individual achievement. These are:
The ‘change agent’ pathway where individual recipients generate positive social change through personal action with multiplier effects;
The ‘social network’ pathway where networks of scholars and alumni promote change through collective action;
The ‘widening access’ pathway that fosters social mobility through the explicit selection of scholars from underrepresented communities;
The ‘academic diversity’ pathway where scholarship programmes influence universities to be more inclusive of non-traditional students; and
The ‘international understanding’ pathway that creates conditions for enhanced inter-cultural and international communication, tolerance and cooperation.
Robin Marsh for University World News presents a summary of findings from a new book on the tricky question of how scholarship programs can lead to social change.

Academic Precarity in American Anthropology: A Forum
If as many as 80 percent of doctoral students in cultural anthropology are not getting tenure-track jobs, then why are PhD programs in the United States almost exclusively training them for a professional life that few will realize? A new essay from David Platzer and Anne Allison tackles this question head-on, drawing on their own experiences in elite departments and on interviews with tenure-stream faculty, recent PhDs, current graduate students, and staff members of the AAA. Recognizing the critical importance of this issue to our discipline, the Cultural Anthropology editorial team has convened a forum around Platzer and Allison’s essay, inviting responses from both senior scholars and recent PhDs who are contending with precarity firsthand.
The journal of Cultural Anthropology with an open-access forum.

“Perhaps Even a Crisis”: How to Sully the Purity of a Vocation
No there is nothing technically incorrect about the observations or suggestions that follow–but the fact that the authors present them as new, and that they talk right over the space already vibrantly occupied by the actual academic precariat, which has been publishing on this for decades now, is in and of itself the manifestation of the privileged insularity of the tenured and their sanctioned ignorance of these decades of actual human suffering wrought by the depredations of the academic job market.
This job market is not “daunting” or “uncertain” or “volatile” or other pretentious evasions scattered throughout the essay. It is in a state of catastrophic 40-year-long collapse that has destroyed countless lives. And elite faculty, who by their own admission ( as in this piece) “don’t know what the fuck we are doing,” have failed utterly to train their students to cope with this catastrophe…. while at the same time (as in this piece) sniffily dismissing their students’ efforts to find advising elsewhere.
This sanctioned ignorance, friends, is why nothing changes.
Karen Kelsky for The Professor is In responds to the Cultural Anthropology forum.

Ever wondered why practitioners treat researchers like a nuisance? The challenges of accessing expert knowledge, from both perspectives
These reflections foreground a discussion on possible ways forward for researchers and their attempts to engage with NGOs and IOs. The most straightforward suggestion would be to acknowledge the reasons for misunderstandings and to try to approach employees of NGO/IOs by offering a clearly outlined collaboration which would be valuable for both sides, and, if it is of interest, a long-term cooperation. It is necessary to understand the actual value of such cooperation. Most of the time it is likely to be the mere exchange of views and an opportunity for self-reflection for both NGO/IO worker and a researcher, not the transfer of knowledge and critical thinking often implied by researchers and NGOs/IO staff alike. Another possibility could be engaging in collaborative projects between NGOs/IOs and researchers, if organisations require additional external feedback and evaluation of their work. Such collaboration could also be facilitated with scholarships (as opposed to offering unpaid internships) that enable young researchers to spend time in an NGO/IO and to design and conduct research – which they can use in their Master’s thesis or PhD research, for example.
Philipp Lottholz and Karolina Kluczewska for the LSE Impact Blog. The particular format of PhD research usually only yields one result: A person getting a PhD. That's great-but can we please stop to pretend that there is a 'participatory' or 'collaborative' element hidden in this process?!? With the increase of PhD students and enhanced communication tools organizations are now faced with more students who write more about their organizations. I just sense an element of entitlement around 'access' that is increasingly rubbing me the wrong way...


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