Links & Contents I Liked 298

Hi all,

This week I needed to take a little break from blogging-but there's always time for a great weekly link review!

Development news: You saw the Congo wedding pics, right, and thought 'WTF, white people...'; the political science of 'going local'; political economy reports nobody read; will Swedish mining executives go to jail for crimes in Sudan? The UN's failed 'war on drugs'; migrating from Nigeria; more on the World Development Report; UN wants to ban virginity tests; Optimism at the UNGA; What next for #AidToo? How to become a great #globaldev blogger?

Our digital lives: Traveling on a 'weak' passport; the botification of Gmail communication.

Publications: Technology for feminist creativity; security mapping Haiti.

International criminal courts as sights of spectatorship; why we recycle. 


Development news
Dear White People...
A couple took wedding photos of themselves appearing to be held at gunpoint in the 'Congo ghetto,' and people think it's deeply offensive

"I decided to share these pictures in order to foster discussion within my friends and following, specifically about the accessorization [sic] of black bodies for this couple's photo shoot," Christin said. She said took issue with how the couple uses "black and brown people and their experiences as props to gain a following" on Instagram.
Susanna Heller for Insider. These pictures have been shared widely on social media this week. One of the reason is probably that they are terrible example of what happens when tourism for Insta fame, the wedding-industrial complex and stereotypical images of 'Africa' meet in the worst possible way. I'm hoping that the couple comes forward and apologizes, but I'm worried that there will most likely be just a 'sorry if we offended somebody' statement.

How the “white-savior industrial complex” failed Liberia’s girls
the White Savior Industrial Complex is constantly churning out new avatars. There’s a slew of awards, fellowships, TED Talks, and funds directed at people like Meyler.
There’s a lot of anger directed at Katie Meyler right now, and rightfully so. But we’d do well to zoom out a bit. Katie Meyler created More Than Me, but the white savior industrial complex created her — and there’s a lot more of us complicit in that than we’d like to admit.
Abigail Higgins for Vox reviews the case of the More Than Me school disaster in Liberia.

Dear White Saviors, Your Time Is Up

Why did Meyler choose West Point? And why her? What made her qualified to open a chain of schools in my country? Unlike many Liberian women working to help young girls, Meyler has benefited directly from a “white savior” complex, a belief that not only allowed her to think she was saving the girls of Liberia but that also led many residents of West Point to believe that Meyler was their savior. This is a long-existing mentality that we, as Liberians and Africans, need to guard against.
Rightly, the outrage is currently focused on the crimes that were committed. But we must not forget to do all we can to support the girls who will continue to suffer from the trauma of abuse for many years to come. The people of West Point need to come together and stand up for their own community — because Katie Meyler didn’t.
Naomi Tulay-Solanke for Bright Magazine with a view from Liberia.

What Role Can Privileged White People Play In International Development?

So if you are a privileged white person reading this: please think twice before starting a new international development organization. The very fact that you have such faith in your idea may be a manifestation of your white privilege. Cultures which give preference to whiteness have bred you to think you know best, to assume your idea matters, and that poor people should be grateful for your benevolence.
Mary Ann Clements also for Bright Magazine. It's worth repeating these arguments even though they have been made before and unfortunately have become one of the red threads of my link reviews.

Going Local 2.0: How to Reform Development Agencies to Make Localized Aid More Than Talk

My take on adaptive management and localization complements PDIA by going a step further to underscore the organizational reforms that incentivize and empower practitioners to really go local and do development differently. This is the meta-challenge of adaptive development—designing institutions to alter the process of problem-solving itself, which will in turn affect every aspect of development assistance. The application of these reforms must vary across organizations. Some may be able to hit every mark of changing measurement standards, creating new depositories of knowledge, diversifying expertise, matching different competences to different problem-solving tasks, forming experimental teams, changing evaluation criteria, permitting failures, and more.
Yuen Yuen Ang for the Stanford Social Innovation Review. In some ways this is in response to the previous topic and the need to 'localize' development. Her article provides a good overview over the 'adaptive management' discussions, but it remains very 'political science-y'; some arguments could have made almost anytime along the good governance discursive aid chain of the last 20 or so years. So we need a, say, 'agile' UNDP...or else the organization will just continue her work as they did since the last 'reform'? A lot to discuss...

PEA Confessions, part II: Report rapport

But now I realize this type of guidance is only useful insofar as it is grounded in a broader programming approach that embeds PEA (Political Economy Analysis) into strategy, planning, implementation, monitoring, and learning. And I have not encountered clear tools or frameworks for how to do that. Instead we are just making it up as we go – which is fine! But that leaves me profoundly dissatisfied, because the chasm between PEA theoretical guidance and PEA practical impact will continue to undermine the purported value of the TWP agenda, and the persistent invisibility of reports and recommendations will continue to hamper the systematic compilation of evidence in favour of more politically-informed aid.
Pablo Yanguas with a real-world case study about (not) 'influencing policy-making'-one analysis report at a time...

Prosecutor Readies War Crime Charges Against Swedish Oil Bosses

After getting approval from the Swedish government last week, a prosecutor is now putting the last touches on a decade-long investigation into war crimes in Sudan that could end in charges against Lundin’s chief executive and chairman.
“We’re in the final phase,” Henrik Attorps, a prosecutor at the International Public Prosecution Office, said in a phone interview. “I wouldn’t have asked the government for permission to file charges unless there was reason to do that.”
Niclas Rolander for Bloomberg with a really interesting case of corporate accountability that is unfolding in Sweden right now.

The World's War on Drugs Has Failed Yet Again

The IDPC report was produced ahead of a high-level UN meeting in March next year, where ministers from around the world will make their own assessment of progress over the last decade. From this they will shape global policy over the next one. But it’s unlikely there will be much consensus. Paralysed by deeply divided approaches, the UN will likely usher through the same damaging, losing strategy of the last ten years to be repeated for the next ten.
After writing about drugs for the last 20 years, my conclusion is that the only way worldwide drug use will be eliminated is if Earth gets whacked by a colossal meteor. In the meantime, it’s time to do away with the myths and hyperbole so often used when talking about drugs. Drugs can be fun. They can also be dangerous. What is for sure is that they are not going away.
Max Daly for VICE looks at the global 'war on drugs' and at the same time at the limits of global governance in the UN system.

The harrowing, step-by-step story of a migrant’s journey to Europe

Much of a migrant’s journey on the way to the fabled promise of a better life in Europe is spent simply waiting. For the next pick-up vehicle, for the next meal, for hope, and sometimes, for death. Much of the waiting happens in ghettos where starving migrants while away time discussing conditions back home and dreams of a future they were trying to reach with new friends. For these migrants, making new friends to forestall boredom is a near necessity as they travel with strangers. Andrew was separated from most of the 21 other people he left Nigeria with merely weeks into the journey.
Yomi Kazeem's long-read for Quartz Africa is interesting for many reasons. The focus is on Nigeria-perhaps not the first country that comes to mind in discussions on migration from Africa to Europe. Kazeem also provides a nuanced 'political economical' analysis that stresses the business aspect of migration through Africa and across the sea to Europe. And finally, it shines a light on un- and under-employment that plague many young people across Africa. Yes, some countries in Africa are 'rising', but meaningful employment and aspirations for the future are far more difficult than focusing on numbers or economic growth alone!

One step forward, two steps back? Why WDR 2019 harms the World Bank’s role as a thought leader on employment and gender equality

One would have hoped that the World Bank’s flagship report, the jewel in the crown of an enviable research and statistical machine, would offer an equally monumental edifice to the world of work in the 21st century, with the working woman, and her struggles, standing tall at the center. Unfortunately, on this (and other) fronts the report has a distinctly yesteryear feel to it.
Shahra Razavi & Silke Staab of the UN Women for fp2p take a closer look at the World Development Report.

Why the World Bank’s optimism about global poverty misses the point

The economic growth that has lifted countries from low-income status to middle-income status is profoundly unequally distributed. As a result, large parts of the populations in these countries are excluded from the benefits that accrue from this growth.
What’s clear from this is that we have to ask ourselves what a development policy based on redistribution in favour of the working classes in the global South might look like – because that, ultimately, is the key to ending poverty in an unequal world.
Alf Gunvald Nilsen for the Conversation with a a more fundamental critique of the Bank.

U.N. Calls For End To Virginity Tests

According to the U.N., virginity tests are often performed by inspecting the hymen for tears or for the size of its opening, or inserting fingers into the vagina, to determine whether a girl or woman has had sex.
WHO states that there is no evidence that the test can prove that a person has had vaginal intercourse or not.
"This medically unnecessary, and often times painful, humiliating and traumatic practice must end," the U.N. announced in a statement at the World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics in Rio de Janeiro.
In its statement, the U.N. called these tests a violation of human rights and a form of gender discrimination: "The social expectation that girls and women should remain 'virgins' is based on stereotyped notions that female sexuality should be curtailed within marriage. This notion is harmful to women and girls globally."
Malaka Gharib for NPR Goats & Soda with another issues that calls for complex social and behavior change approaches.

You’ll never guess what I found at the UN General Assembly: Optimism

But instead of finding dark cloud hanging over the shrinking space for multilateralism - long seen as the world’s best tool for tackling our growing challenges – I am left with optimism. And that didn’t exist this time last year.
On my first night in New York, I was reminded that out of the rubble of World War II emerged the UN, NATO, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“We are at a comparable moment of human history,” Sasha Chanoff, executive director of RefugePoint, told a room of government officials, philanthropists, NGOs and others at one of the hundreds of side events during UNGA week. He senses something better emerging from the “cataclysmic wreckage of human life” we’ve seen in the last few years. So do I.
Why such optimism?
Heba Aly for IRIN shares some snapshots from UN General Assembly week that left her hopeful that the path of #globaldev will lead to a more sustainable future.

#AidToo: Where do we go from here?

#AidToo should be about well being, workplace safety and women’s labour rights. What we need now is more resources and more collaborations to take it from theory to practice. Well being in the aid sector is finally beginning to receive the attention that it deserves. The aid sector is not a paramilitary sector. Aid workers and activists shouldn’t be coming back from work shattered and burnt out. And if they do they should be able to access resources to recover. Generosity towards employees after an injury should be the default not the exception especially in the ‘humanitarian sector.’ If employers said ‘we’re going to give you the best care possible, we going to get the best investment out of our assets’ there would be no need for legal interpretation and judicial orders but without them we cannot rely on employers or regulators doing the right thing.
MzAgams shares her reflection as a survivor on the Safeguarding summit, #AidToo & the deep-rooted changes in #globaldev that still need to be addressed.

11 Tips for Better Blogging
Don’t be scared: both academics and NGO types seem petrified that someone is going to catch them out. That leads to defensive writing, with loads of caveats, or alternatively to a weird hectoring style, with lots of finger wagging (‘the IMF can and must…’). Boring, boring, boring. Much better to reach out to the imaginary reader, make friends with them, take risks.
Duncan Green on fp2p shares his wisdom on how to blog better-even though we may have reached peak #globaldev blogging?

Our digital lives
Your Passport Please, Oh Sorry…!

We, the nationals of weak passports, cannot really plan for our trips in advance. We are usually forced to buy the tickets as expensive as possible because usually, we do not have the Visa flexibility to choose a better flight date with a better price.
Nationals of countries with weak passports are doomed to apply for visa applications, high visa processing fees, preparing loads of documents, long waiting and processing times, and high volume of visa refusal only because they are born in a different country.
I wish there was no nationality except the global citizenship. I wish the visa applications were being processed according to the personal characteristics and achievements, and not based on the nationality and politics. I wish the global citizens were being treated without concerning the race, nationality, skin color, religion and the other factors in which the people have no control over them.
Kaveh Bakhtiyari on navigating through the globalized world on an Iranian passport.

Nudging the Lexicon
Gmail’s suggested replies and auto-compose features rely on communication by mental proxy. An email reading, “I’m hungry!” can prompt the response, “Yum!” This is outrageous, but it has a primitive relationship to how we think and speak. The function of these replies is to eliminate complexity, to pare communication down to dumbness, to “acknowledge” or “affirm” without saying much of anything. How do we feel about the degeneration of language at the hands of monopolies? Looks good!
Sophie Haigney for the Baffler is not happy with Gmail's auto-compose and -reply functions & the botification of life.


Technology for feminist creativity and care

Our movements are in as much need for creativity as we are in need of self-care. In this edition we explore the emerging and startling voices of new ideas and campaigns - from what feminist bots can do for us to delving deeper into the politics of self-care. From using the internet to explore sexuality and desire to having incredibly tough conversations about violence and harassment. This bilingual edition is born of many conversations and moments at the two camps held in parallel in August this year (2018) at Dhulikhel, Nepal - the Take back the Tech! meet and the Feminist Tech Exchange. with a great selection of English and Spanish articles!

Living in the yellow zone: The political geography of intervention in Haiti
by channelling expatriates to specific locations in the capital, and by preventing them from occupying other zones in Port-au-Prince, the securitization practices contribute to the gentrification process around the Pétion-Ville area, contributing in their own way to the deep-rooted social segregation process in play in Port-au-Prince. Second, it will analyse how these logics of securitization are linked to an ‘imagined geography’ of the capital, where actual security risks matter less than logics of disassociation from areas perceived as having no interest for international actors. Finally, the article will look at how security mapping is reappropriated and resisted by local actors, displaying a mix of resilience and self-help strategies.
Nicolas Lemay-Hébert with a new open access article for Political Geography.


International Courts as Places of Spectatorship and Dark Tourism?
The point being made here is that international courts need to be researched and theorised within and beyond the realms of their official actors, judicial cases and international governance in global society. They are not just elite transnational spaces. People from around the world are visiting to bear witness to grievous tragedies and the quest for peace and justice, or to review what they ate for lunch and the court security in ways not dissimilar to the emoji buttons used in ‘customer’ reviews of security at airports. International criminal courts are featuring in social imaginations and spectatorship across borders, in news media, cosmopolitan holidays, city tours, tourism campaigns, social media and consumer-style ratings. However these may be characterised, they warrant more attention from a publicly engaged social scholarship.
Hannah Graham for the Sociological Review takes an anthropological view at international criminal courts.

What the world misses about recycling

The classic paradigm of disposal crises and monetized costs and benefits misses the most important goals. A simpler life, the satisfaction of reducing one’s personal waste, a world where “plastics” is no longer good career advice, an environment free of packaging litter – these are the real reasons for recycling.
Frank Ackerman for Discard Studies on recycling and the wish for a simpler life...


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