Links & Contents I Liked 288

Hi all,

This is going to be the last weekly review before my summer break. Unlike previous years I will have a proper break until the second half of August to focus on other (academic) writing projects, catching up on my reading list - and simply take a break from the #globaldev news cycle. There will be an official vacation post at the end of next week with reading suggestions from the archive-and perhaps even the odd book review or commentary depending on what will happen over the summer.

In the meantime: Enjoy a packed reading list-especially as many readers in Canada and the US will have long weekends!

Development news: the challenges of reporting sexual violence in Nigeria; logos on aid supplies-it's complicated; #globaldevwomen; you wouldn't send winter clothing to Samoa-but some people still do; Australians overestimate aid spending; the military-migrant economy in Nepal; period underwear; don't 'poorface'-on poverty tourism in the UK; Bill Gates wasted 600 million on education projects in the US; how humanitarians get sucked into counterterrorism discourse;
how do we persuade people to not hack their neighbors to death with garden tools? Nzinga Effect reports from Africa; Nigerians in Hollywood.

Our digital lives: Tweets about hacked algorithms; business BS language & technology-free schools for the elite.

Academia: Feminism & academic mega conferences; shut down business schools? 


New from aidnography
Psychosocial Support for Humanitarian Aid Workers (book review)

As a researcher and teacher I am always a bit skeptical when authors or endorsements promise a book with relevance ‘for everybody in the industry’, but Psychological Support delivers on that front: There are parts written with a self-help framework in mind, but most importantly, as the subtitle suggest, it is a self-mapping book. It provides a roadmap for individuals about how to prevent trauma or get help and at the same time provides a professional framework for those who provide or manage care, have humanitarian aid worker family and friends or have a research or pedagogical interest in models around such support.
Dunkley’s vignettes, based on extensive work in- and outside the humanitarian industry, are powerful, tough stories and the theoretical framework around psychology and cognitive science helps the reader not to feel overwhelmed while at the same time being reminded compassionately that psychosocial support is not a simple ‘toolbox’ or ‘guideline’ that should be buried inside your computer.
Development news
First Person: Two nearly identical cases of sex abuse; two very different responses

In Nigeria, sexual exploitation, when perpetrated by military personnel, is not considered SEA, but regarded as “regular” gender-based violence. There’s a system in place to refer, investigate, report, and act on SEA cases involving humanitarians. Cases with non-humanitarian (i.e. military) perpetrators do not fall under that system. Instead, they are to be dealt with by organisations and bodies engaging in “regular” gender-violence work – who, amongst other things, should report soldiers’ abuse to the military, for it to address internally.
In practice, however, exploitation cases by soldiers are seldom dealt with by the humanitarian sector, as there are far too many cases and (while serious cases of rape might be reported) the military is too complex an institution to even know where to begin reporting a case of a soldier with a camp “girlfriend”. Some work is being done with the military, advocating for improved response, reporting and investigating on abuse by soldiers, yet this remains at an early stage.
Orly Stern for IRIN with stories about sexual violence in Nigeria and how a lack of standard procedures makes investigations difficult-especially if military personnel is involved.

Logos On Aid Supplies: Helpful, Demeaning ... Or Dangerous?

Habiyaremye says he used to peel the WFP labels off bottles of cooking oil to decorate his toys. "No one complained that the logos were demeaning or humiliating," he says. "I feel that I am glad I got to know who served me at the refugee camp."
And that kind of connection is what aid groups want — on a global scale. Research has shown that there's a relationship between a brand's visibility — its public recognition — and donations, says Dmitry Chernobrov, a lecturer in journalism and politics at the University of Sheffield.
"When agencies post these logos on toilets, schools, objects, it's very much about gaining visibility to donor audiences through the international media," he says.
Malaka Gharib for NPR Goats & Soda.'s complicated-and it's as much a debate about what 'we' expect in donor countries as much as how recipients feel about logos and labels.

Good intentions, unintended consequences: how to help when disasters strike the Pacific

“Heavy winter clothing arrived. We don’t have winter here! These things just aren’t needed.”
The issue is a longstanding phenomenon in the humanitarian world: after a disaster containers of unsolicited bilateral donations (UBDs) arrive spontaneously, well-meaning but not well-planned, and often filled with unneeded or non-priority items. These containers place pressure on an already stretched humanitarian supply chain, congesting vital ports and entry points, competing for limited transport and warehousing space, and diverting relief workers attention. While UBDs are goods sent with the greatest intentions to help; the problem is they can often do more harm than good.
The Logistics Cluster with a story we have already heard many, many times: Don't send unwanted stuff to developing countries, don't send winter clothing to Samoa!!

New research shows Australians have wrong idea on foreign aid spending

On average, Australians think we invest 17.5 times more than we actually do, and would like us to be 12.5 times more generous than we are. Only 6% of respondents guessed anywhere close to the actual number. If that’s how much they think we invest, it’s no wonder there is little support to increase it.
What’s surprising about foreign aid is the public scrutiny it receives from our political class over other investments in Australia’s national interest. Our diplomatic, defence and intelligence expenditure receive less public scrutiny despite far larger (and growing) sums.
Jonathan Pryke for The Conversation. Another classic myth about foreign aid that has been around since polls on this issue began-pretty much every citizen in every donor country vastly overestimates how much their country spends on foreign aid. I have no idea how to challenge that myth-research and information clearly isn't enough...

A military-migrant economy

The Gurkha family household is part of a well-established community and all participants appear to know and value each other’s roles. This is no surprise since these families have been set up for foreign military work for over two centuries. Consequently, the private security industry does not need to ‘sell’ security work to these communities the way it might do to other communities across Asia. These men and their families are already intellectually, emotionally, socially and physically set up for foreign security work.
It also shows us the profound ways in which family is shaping, but also shaped by broader foreign security migration patterns. To understand why Gurkhas continue to be an ‘easy sell’ and desirable in global security we need to look beyond the martial myth of these men. We need to also zoom in on the Gurkha household back in Nepal that enables this pattern of security migration.
Amanda Chisholm for Nepali Times on Gurkha security migration based on her ethnographic field research inside their families.

#68: Period Underwear with a Purpose with Ruby Raut

This week on Change Making Women we talk to Ruby, who is originally from Nepal about how she developed the idea for Wuka Wear Period Pants and went about testing, developing and launching the product.
Listen to the show to hear more about the process of envisioning an innovative product, the environmental imperative for us to get into the habit of using reusable menstrual products, breaking down the stigma and taboos about our bleeding and the importance of addressing period poverty worldwide.
Mary-Ann Clements in conversation with Ruby Raut for Change Making Women.

The next time you think about doing a bit of working class tourism and dressing up in 'poorface', read this

Most people in poverty can’t blag a dozen free Krispy Kreme doughnuts for having a famous face, and neither can they just pause the challenge in the middle of the day to buy some beard oil and hit the gym. Slipping into our scarred and malnourished skins for a day, knowing full well you are heading back to your mansion at the end of it, stuffed to the gills with all the freebies and luxury that most people can only dream of, is insulting and cruel. It is nothing more than “poorface” – performance poverty – to entertain yourself and others, with no value but your own entertainment and barely hidden disdain.
Poorface is a term that I coined a while back, used to denote the mockery and minstrel performance whereby someone in a position of privilege pretends to be poor for a day, in order to “experience poverty for themselves”. You won’t. Poverty is not a 24-hour challenge. It is a world of endless nothing. It is depression, despair, darkness. It is having no light at the end of the tunnel, like being stuck down a well, waiting to die.
Jack Monroe for the Independent. Thank you for introducing 'poorface' to the debate-very relevant for #globaldev discussions.

The Gates Effective Teaching Initiative Fails to Improve Student Outcomes

Rand has released its evaluation of the Gates Foundation’s Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching initiative and the results are disappointing. As the report summary describes it, “Overall, however, the initiative did not achieve its goals for student achievement or graduation, particularly for LIM [low income minority] students.” But in traditional contract-research-speak this summary really under-states what they found. You have to slog through the 587 pages of the report and 196 pages of the appendices to find that the results didn’t just fail to achieve goals, but generally were null to negative across a variety of outcomes.
The key is learning from failure so that we avoid repeating the same mistakes. It is pretty clear that the Gates effective teaching reform effort failed pretty badly. It cost a fortune. It produced significant political turmoil and distracted from other, more promising efforts. And it appears to have generally done more harm than good with respect to student achievement and attainment outcomes.
Jay P. Greene for Education Next on how Bill Gates nearly wasted 600 million dollars in the US education sector...

A humanitarian-development nexus that works

A ‘nexus that works’ is also a scenario where humanitarian aid is not only delivered, but where the benefits it brings to people are also protected and safeguarded. Decisions in relation to the conduct of hostilities and the respect for IHL are an essential (and so far missing) piece of the humanitarian-development ‘nexus’. These decisions can create or minimize humanitarian needs, and enable or hamper the continuity and integrity of essential public services and systems, including those being supported through humanitarian action. This comes with immediate and long term consequences for both people and country. States (and donors) must, in the first place, use their influence already during conflict—not just afterwards—to avoid causing humanitarian emergencies and to limit development setbacks.
Filipa Schmitz Guinote for ICRC Humanitarian Law & Policy reviews the 'nexus' debate and proposes a vision of what a nexus could look like for today's humanitarian aid delivery.

NEW: The Politics of Health in Counterterrorism Operations

The mutual complicity of the foreign backers of the warring parties must be seen for what it is: the most powerful have an interest in preserving the space to battle whomever they consider terrorists. From Eastern Aleppo to Mosul, Raqqa and now Eastern Ghouta, the various armies and their backers want to keep the trump card of fighting terrorism as the ultimate justification for any atrocities committed against trapped populations. The question for health care providers is whether the notion of an impartial hospital can fit within an environment where the “conventional ties between war and geography have come undone.” Instead of conflicts being delineated by territorial control, there is now a grey zone within which hospitals can come under attack for treating patients from a designated enemy that can incorporate entire communities. The “war on terror” narrative is used to justify the elimination of a population’s means of survival, with the ultimate goal of reasserting the monopoly of the state over the provision of social services as a source of legitimacy. The role of NGOs is entrenched in the state building logic. Therefore, when they operate impartially, they are considered a hostile part of the battlespace.
Jonathan Whittall for MSF Analysis with a sobering analysis of how the 'counterterrorism' discourse is undermining the foundations of humanitarian assistance.

Technological solutions for socio-political problems: revisiting an open humanitarian debate by Rodrigo Mena

Ongoing research I’m carrying out as Visiting Scholar of the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) on the (political) use and the introduction of data-collection technology in Afghanistan seeks to map this technology, also reflecting on who uses it, who can get access to the collected information, and how and for which purposes it is used. The research importantly also asks: does technology really fulfil the promises it carries?
Rodrigo Mena for ISS Blog on Global Development and Social Justice with a good overview over the ongoing debate on technological solutionism in the humanitarian sector.

Pray For Peace

I’ve [EXPLETIVE DELETED] had it with, [EXPLETIVE DELETED] “pray for peace.”
But those thoughts quickly give way to extreme jadedness with the aid system. (Not cynicism, jadedness. The difference is important.) I’m jaded because I already know how this is going to go. Over the next couple of years, the aid system is going to pour untold resources—cash, human hours, travel, workshops…—into “innovative peace-building solutions,” or variations on that theme. Books will be written. Experts will sit on panels. Working groups will be formed. Jargon will be created. Niche/boutique NGOs and INGOs will come into existence. None of which/whom will do much more than add complexity and perhaps some more specialized jargon around a central basic question:
How do we persuade people to not hack their neighbors to death with garden tools?
J. as always delivers the realness from 'the field'.

How Not to Write About African Women and Development

I covered international development at The Guardian, and there was first a question around access. So the people who were presenting themselves as experts in the part of the world where I grew up – I was born in Cameroon and have lived and traveled around a lot of sub-Saharan Africa – had probably either been on a short fellowship, or had written a thesis, were academics who care deeply about it, or were NGOs and policymakers who were based outside [Africa]. Press officers were getting in touch with me and saying, “Our head of so-and-so in London, in Oxford, in Berlin can speak to these issues.” They never thought to say, “We have someone on the ground who can speak to these issues.”
Megan Clement for NewsDeeply talks to Eliza Anyangwe about her reporting platform Nzinga Effect.

How Nigerian-Americans Are Changing the Face of Hollywood

Films like Black Panther and Moonlight aren’t the only drivers of that shift. The rise of Nollywood — Nigeria’s film industry that produces the most movies in the world — has also helped African narratives seep into Western entertainment, Igbokwe says. She’s spotting more Nollywood movies on Netflix now than previously.
The work done behind the scenes is just as critical for creating opportunity. “The writing rooms have to be increasingly diverse,” says Adegoke, who’s starting to write some of his own scripts.
This meticulous planning and work for the future isn’t surprising for the Nigerian diaspora, including in America. “There’s a great amount of preparation and training we put in whatever profession we’re trying to get into,” says Igbokwe. That strategy has taken Nigerian-Americans to rare success in fields ranging from medicine to entrepreneurship. It could be Hollywood’s turn next.
Molly Fosco for Ozy on how the Nigerian diaspora is shaping global film-making and Hollywood.

Our digital lives


Feminist labour at the ISA: White manels, the politics of citation and mundane productions of disciplinary sexism and racism

We showed up. We engaged. We explained. We were met with hostility by some panelists. We clarified. We walked out. And we reflected. This is about more than the optics of a white, male panel, it is about the politics of it. It is actually about more than all-male panels. It is part of a broader conversation on decolonizing the curriculum. It is about addressing the hostile environment academia represents for many of us, highlighted in the stories told at the inaugural ISA pressing politics panel on #metoo. It is about reclaiming our discipline. When will ISA catch-up?
Linda Åhäll, Sam Cook, Roberta Guerrina, Toni Haastrup, Cristina Masters, Laura Mills, Saara Särmä & Katharine A. M. Wright for the Disorder of Things. My short answer to this long reflective piece is that mega conferences like ISA are unlikely to deliver substantial changes, because the model of global mega conferences is so inherently flawed that 'more women' or 'more non-white people' will not 'fix' it.

Shut down business schools? Two professors debate
Business schools don’t teach about co-operatives, mutuals, local money, community shares or social enterprise. They don’t mention transition towns, intentional communities, recuperated factories, works councils or the social economy. Ideas about degrowth, the beauty of small, worker decision making and the circular economy are absent. It’s as if there is no alternative. And because of all this, we should recognise that their time has come.
While I agree with some of Martin’s criticisms, the answer is not to close business schools but for business school deans and university management to engage in a real dialogue about the kind of business schools the world needs. This requires an overhaul of both business school curricula and university recruitment policies.
Martin Parker and Ken Starkey discuss at The Conversation. Don't worry, as long as international students want to fees for them, business schools will not go anywhere...


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