Links & Contents I Liked 318

Hi all, 

Welcome to this week's link review!

(Just a quick technical note: As I will be traveling to Moldova next week the next link review will most likely be online on Saturday, rather than Friday afternoon)

Development news from Mozambique, DRC, Australia, Venezuela, Libya, Canada, Indonesia, USA & a couple of global topics as well.

Our digital lives: Captain Marvel propaganda; unpaid interns; another #manel manifesto; how the poor pay with digital privacy.

Publications: Sexual violence against aid workers; sexual violence against refugee men & boys; crisis in independent media; 500 unread evaluation from Uganda.

Academia: How do we spend our time?


New on aidnography
Academic Neocolonialism: Clickbait and the Perils of Commercial Publishing

My colleagues Lisa Ann Richey, David Simon, Ilan Kapoor & Stefano Ponte with a timely guest post as the International Studies Association’s (#ISA2019) annual meeting kicks off in Toronto.
The topic is once again the journal Third World Quarterly which is sponsoring the reception of ISA’s Global Development Section and the broader questions these discussions raise for higher education and academic publishing.
Two years on, the editor continues to own and operate the journal as before, even as this financial arrangement is concealed from readers, authors and peer reviewers. The risk of substandard scholarship being pushed through editorial processes for commercial reasons remains, while continued debates about the alleged academic threat posed by social justice concerns can serve as a smokescreen for more dangerous profit-seeking agendas.
By the way: This great Communication for Development program is open for applications now!!
Apply for ComDev’s flagship MA program & courses from 15 March to 15 April 2019!
Development news

The fragility of the Mozambican state in the face of climate change

Admittedly, few countries could adequately respond to a disaster of this magnitude—certainly not Mozambique, a country in the midst of a debt crisis, whose annual Gross Domestic Product barely tops US$12 billion. The debt crisis is the result of a combination of factors including an over reliance on the extractives sector, which has made the country vulnerable to fluctuating commodity prices; public borrowing for large-scale infrastructure projects; and extensive fiscal incentives to lure multinational corporations.
In an ironic twist, the International Monetary Fund and donors (who until then had tolerated—even promoted—a national bourgeoisie embedded in political patronage networks and allied to global capitalist interests), froze general budget and sector support. With little space to maneuver, the government imposed a series of austerity measures, including a civil service hiring freeze, and cuts to social sectors such as health, education, social welfare, sanitation and hygiene. As Idai, swept across Mozambique, it encountered a state weakened by an extractivist development model and captured by global capital.
Ruth Castel-Branco for Africa is a Country with a reminder that there are no 'natural disasters' in an age of climate change and that the #globaldev industry has done a poor job so far to put the resilience discourse into practice.

Doctors Face Two Enemies in Fight Against Ebola

"If you don't consider the risk of them chopping you to pieces to be too high, get out of your car and do your job. Vaccinate people. Negotiate in every way possible. Talk to the families. Talk to the priests. Talk to everyone."
It's a vicious circle. The greater the resistance, the more the teams must worry about their safety. But the greater the militarization of the operation, the greater the fear and resistance in the villages. Shako is not a fan of the escorts. But he also doesn't want to be responsible for the death of any of his people. "There's a war going on," he said.
Fritz Schaap and Sergio Ramazzotti for Spiegel Online International reporting from the Ebola front lines in DRC.

UN accuses Blackstone Group of contributing to global housing crisis

In a series of letters to Blackstone and government officials in Czech Republic, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Sweden and the US, Farha and Deva accused private equity and asset management firms like Blackstone and its subsidiaries of undertaking “aggressive evictions” to protect its rental income streams, shrinking the pool of affordable housing in some areas, and effectively pushing low and middle-income tenants from their homes.
Blackstone disputed the claims.
Patrick Butler & Dominic Rushe for the Guardian; this is an important issue-and one of those topics where 'first world problems' may soon turn into 'global problems' as (urban) rental markets will come under pressure in many more places outside the OECD world...

Reset required for DFAT-AusAID integration

The review, which draws on 75 individual interviews with senior experts, concluded there are real-time problems in the design, delivery and management of large new programs, many of which are years behind schedule. A large proportion of new designs has been returned for more work by the new, and clearly value adding, Aid Governance Board. The department is turning increasingly to multilaterals and contractors but is then finding it lacks the capability to partner with them effectively.
Departmental reviews of facilities, economic partnerships and various organisational relationships, chart a decline in impact due to skills shortages. Consequently, bilateral and multilateral partners and institutional peers are telling Australia it is a less valuable partner. This is compounded by the frequent delegation of complex policy dialogue to relatively junior generalists. Access and influence are at risk. Australia’s ability to coordinate a major expansion of international activity in the Pacific, while keeping local leaders in the driver’s seat, is widely questioned, including by strong supporters of integration.
Richard Moore for the Interpreter. If only someone could have warned the Australians that such integrations rarely work beyond short-term savings...

Humanitarian Markets

Counter-intuitively, an alternative is to sell the donated food and medicine at market prices to those who want to make their living by distributing and selling necessities to consumers. But how will those in need be able to buy the food if, by definition, they are in need? Here is where markets and modern technology come to the rescue.
The money collected by selling the food to the distributors can be transferred to those in need to enable them to buy it. If people have bank accounts and debit cards, as most Venezuelans do (courtesy of hyperinflation, which has wiped out the value of cash), then distributing money becomes a simple process of crediting the bank accounts of selected beneficiaries, which is unlikely to slow down the recovery because it can be done faster than distributing goods. The difficult part is to coordinate the arrival of the money in consumers’ accounts with the physical arrival of the additional goods on shelves: if it arrives too soon, inflation will ensue; if it arrives too late, the goods will not get to consumers in time. This mechanism has several distinct advantages over free distribution.
Ricardo Hausmann for Project Syndicate. I'm not sure what to make of his proposal and I'm skeptical about the involvement of banks in this process, but perhaps this is a suitable idea for Venezuela?

The Myth of Libya’s Civil Society

It’s about what we’re calling civil society. Whether before or after the revolution, the discourse is always on the formal or semi-formal organizations; as long as you had a name, a logo and at least two members, you were a civil society thing of some sort. The aspiration was always towards organization status, and many of those movements institutionalized, registering with the newly created Civil Society Commission and developing an administrative hierarchy. Part of this reason was the experience being gained over time, but the bigger and most compelling reasons was – drumroll please – international funding.
The international community, operating on the multiple acronym-formal bureaucracy-do-you-have-a-finance-officer definition of civil society, would only grant funding to CSOs who were a) officially registered with any government entity and b) had a bank account. In the face of these constraints, organizations and movements picked up the tricks relatively quickly, and many people saw the opportunity of making money by setting up organizations just to get funding.
BUT – and here comes the Whole Point of the Post – what about the non-official, ‘informal’ civil society?
Brave New Libya with a discussion that sounds very familiar to anybody who has worked in transitional peacebuilding or development work for the last 20 years or so...

Canadian film made in language spoken by just 20 people in the world

He said colonialism had historically taken its toll on indigenous languages, with some communities actively prevented from speaking them.
“One of the enduring horrors of British colonialism is the conviction that one language – English – would be suitable for all interactions and activities. Colonisation resulted in the intergenerational transmission of language effectively breaking down. It’s far harder to relearn a language after you have stopped speaking it.”
He pointed to recent research that shows a correlation between indigenous language sustainability and decreased youth suicide within indigenous communities: “Speaking your indigenous language is not just learning French in school. It has public health implications.”
Dalya Alberge for the Guardian with a great piece on the Haida people & the excellent anthropological work led by Mark Turin at UBC!

Is It Time To Rethink The Fly-In Medical Mission?

Sociologist Lasker, one of the few scholars studying the mission approach, found a strong preference among host country staff for programs that train local health providers. "One-off trips may help a few people for a lot of money but don't really have any long-term impact and may be harmful," she says.
She has a litany of concerns about traditional-style missions in addition to travel costs. There's often little follow-up care by trained personnel, she says. It might be that no supplies or medications are left after a group departs — and no one trained in post-surgical needs such as speech therapy for cleft palate patients or physical therapy for burn patients. The care sometimes focuses on medical conditions that are not the main priority of the community — a village might be more interested in dental care than heart surgery, for example, or vice versa. Time often runs out before everyone in line can be seen. People who develop problems between visits don't get any help. The foreign health care providers may not have access to needed equipment, and when missions include students — not just medical and dental students but undergrads as well — they might not be trained to do what they're doing.
Joanne Silberner for NPR Goats & Soda with an excellent feature on the past, present & future of medical volunteerism!

Global development disrupted: Findings from a survey of 93 leaders

In 2018, we interviewed 93 leaders from governments, multilateral agencies, foundations, multinational corporations, development NGOs, and private sector development contractors to assess their views on how global development is changing and how their own organizations are adapting. This research reveals a fragmented development ecosystem and an ever-expanding cast of players. It illuminates worries about how to stay relevant in a world that is heading in many different directions at once. During this upheaval, development leaders are innovating, harnessing technology in exciting ways, using data to drive decisionmaking, and empowering partners on the front lines. They are painfully aware that not all of their organizations are likely to accomplish their goals or continue to exist in their current form. Overall, the survey results paint a picture of a global development sector rife with experimentation and transition.
George Ingram & Kristin M. Lord for Brookings with a new report that I definitely want to read more in detail!

The political viability of anti-immigrationism

The viability of these anti-immigrationist policies and the ascendant power of the groups who peddle them, is sustained by the aggravated anxieties of Europeans wanting to preserve their perceived entitlements to neoliberal pursuits without many of the individuals who support that lifestyle through their exploited labor.
Many African nations, most of which are former European colonies, largely remain sources of extractable material and socio-political resources for European powers. Even in the case of countries like Israel and the US with anti-immigrant leaders who have faced pressure from rights groups, they can still impress their anti-immigrant base and activists by playing political football with human beings.
Ampson Hagan for Africa is a Country with a reminder that 'evidence-based' good will and advocacy around migration and refugees is faced with stiff competition from right-wing nationalist discourses & practices.

Does media coverage of humanitarian crises actually help?

As Martin Scott, a senior lecturer in media and development at the University of East Anglia, put it: “there are parts of the world in which there are humanitarian crises that neither conform to news values nor do they conform to the interests of western governments, for the same reasons—because they’re geopolitically not vital to the interests of the country. Like Central African Republic… There is a lack of media coverage because that crisis isn’t relevant to the policy of the country that the media’s in in the first place.”
While media coverage might play a role in government thinking about how to respond to a crisis, there are more important factors at play—such as diplomacy, geopolitics, or even domestic politics. That said, the media can be instrumental in determining how a crisis is framed in the public eye—as a military problem, for example; or a humanitarian situation; or a climate change issue.
Jessica Abrahams for Prospect revisits the ongoing debate about news media's role in framing crisis and perhaps even shaping humanitarian responses.

Indonesia’s start-up ‘disaster news agency’

The disaster grabbed global headlines and ushered in a torrent of foreign journalists to cover its impact. But as the weeks passed and international and national media moved on to other stories, local journalists like Yardin have stayed behind to cover a sole topic: Palu’s long recovery.
Yardin is the editor of Kabar Sulteng Bangkit, a donor-funded news outlet staffed entirely by local journalists whose own newspapers and TV stations shut down during the disaster.
Kabar Sulteng Bangkit, which means “news of reviving Central Sulawesi”, is a grassroots attempt to fill important post-disaster needs: communicating with survivors, and holding official aid and rebuilding efforts accountable.
“The mainstream media now tends to think the earthquake recovery efforts are over and that we’ve left the emergency period,” Yardin said. “But the recovery is long. It has to continually be given attention.”
Ian Morse for the New Humanitarian with a an example of localization of humanitarian news & communication.

What managing & growing a Twitter account looks like for small nonprofits

My desired results of all this? I hope these officials, agencies and nonprofits will become more open to coming to League events and promoting our resources. I hope they will see the League as a resource. I hope more people in general will attend our events and see us an election and legislative resource. I hope more people will pay and join the League of Women Voters Oregon Washington County Unit. I hope we will see more diversity among people who attend our local events and who join the League.
Really enjoyed Jayne Cravens' look into the Twitter engine room of a small Washington State based grassroots organization!

Our digital lives
Hollywood’s ‘Captain Marvel’ Blockbuster Is Blatant US Military Propaganda

But the US military is not only part of the story of Captain Marvel; as The Grayzone details below, the Pentagon was deeply involved in the production of the film itself.
The cast and directors of Captain Marvel worked closely with the United States military, relying on US military officers as consultants and advisers, employing dozens of active-duty US soldiers as extras. Several scenes were shot on a US military base. And since its release, the US Department of Defense has promoted the film relentlessly on its website and social media accounts.
Ben Norton for the Gray Zone with some unsurprising Hollywood news...

“Pay Your Interns Now”

Across Quebec this week, 35,000 students enrolled in social work, education, nursing, and psychology programs are striking in protest of the critical — but unpaid — labor they provide through their internship training programs. Social-work interns manage caseloads. Education interns write and deliver lesson plans. Nursing interns see patients and complete charting. Yet none are paid for this work.
They are students, the argument goes, and therefore they should pay, not be paid, for these experiences. Yet students in male-dominated fields — engineering, for example — aren’t subject to the same logic; internships in male-dominated fields in the province are paid. This is a strike, thus, for students, for workers, and for women’s work.
Isabelle Cheng & Paolo Miriello-Lapointe for Jacobin with a reminder why interns in #globaldev should also join a movement for better, paid conditions!

The #Manel Manifesto

It’s not a knock against them. It shows there’s no accountability in our industry. People still show up for these manels, pay their fees, then nod and smile as they tweet away. We don’t stop clicking, or showing up.
Brianna isn’t the only person who sees a serious problem with manels. I know we all notice it. I know our eyes are tired from rolling them so hard. But when are we going to stand up and say enough is enough?
It’s not just the manels, though. It’s the expectation that when we (a collective we – women, people of color, queer people, etc) say yes, we’ll do it for free. Or that we’ll be the token.
Katrina Kibben with a reminder that other industries (this time HR and coaching) are even further behind in their discussions than #globaldev & #highered :(

Trading privacy for survival is another tax on the poor
“In the U.S. people go in and out of poverty,” she says. “Most Americans enter poverty at some point in their lives. The idea to start fresh and not be always stigmatized by having to need public benefits at one point or falling below the poverty line is a great idea that actually seems to fit within our very individualistic culture.”
There are measures that individuals can take to protect their own data but the ecosystem of companies that collect, sell, and manipulate personal data has become so complex that it is becoming impossible even for experts to navigate it. “It’s increasingly not going to be reasonable to expect individual users to be accountable for the state of their privacy,” says Madden. “So I think we do need to look more towards responses that involve policy measures that instill some level of accountability for companies in the choices that they make.”
Ciara Byrne for Fast Company on another line between global North and South that is or will be getting blurred and turn into a global problem of inequality in the digital world...


Managing Sexual Violence against Aid Workers: prevention, preparedness, response and aftercare

Managing Sexual Violence against Aid Workers aims to support aid agencies in preventing, being prepared for and responding to incidents of sexual violence against their staff. It is intended as a good practice guide to help strengthen existing processes and support organisations as they set up their own protocols.
This guide is aimed at anyone with a responsibility for staff care, safety and security, as well as anyone involved in processes aimed at preventing or responding to incidents of sexual violence against staff, such as security focal points, HR staff, project and programmes staff, and first responders to incidents of sexual violence within an aid organisation.
The European Interagency Security Forum with an important new guide.

“More Than One Million Pains”: Sexual Violence Against Men and Boys on the Central Mediterranean Route to Italy

Women and girls also face sexual violence, including sexual exploitation and trafficking, in Italy. Less is known about the men and boys who undertake this journey. These knowledge gaps are of concern, given that an estimated 87.5 percent of refugees and migrants who have entered Italy via the central Mediterranean route since 2016 are men and boys, the latter of whom are largely unaccompanied. The Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) conducted a qualitative exploratory study to examine the nature and characteristics of sexual violence perpetrated against refugee and migrant men and boys traveling the central Mediterranean route to Italy.
The Women's Refugee Commission with a new study.

Confronting the Crisis in Independent Media: A Role for International Assistance

Nicholas Benequista for the Center for International Media Assistance with a brand new report!

Here be monsters? Innovations in evidence mapping

In another map – our first country evidence and gap map for Uganda launched in February this year – we have combined impact evaluations, process evaluations and formative evaluations. We found around 500 evaluations of development interventions published in Uganda since 2000, most of which are little read and less used. (...) By putting them in the public domain we hope to increase the use of the evidence they contain.
Howard White & Ashrita Saran for Campbell Collaboration share findings from their new project.


What does academic work look like?

What is more interesting is the amount of ‘invisible work’ that I do to achieve this goal of 50% teaching – on the pie graph above it’s in purple (communication) and pink (administrative work, like filling in forms). Invisible work is a term coined by Anselm Strauss and Susan Leigh Star to describe forms of work that are not usually recognised AS work. It’s what my friend Ben Kraal calls “the work you do to do the work you do”. Teaching doesn’t just happen: teaching rooms must be booked, equipment needs to be working, tutors need briefings, guest lectures must be co-ordinated and administration systems negotiated so that marks can be sent to students. All this can be considered invisible work.
Inger Mewburn for the Thesis Whisperer with insights into the reality of academic work & an encouragement to measure your time & think about (unpaid) labor.

...and finally from the archive
It's the 21st century ... how is the #allmalepanel still even possible?
(Guardian, December 2016)


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