Links & Contents I Liked 325

Hi all,

I'm back in Sweden and as the semester is reaching peak season I wish I had a little bit more time for blogging...but this week's #globaldev readings are definitely worth your time!

Highlights include: UNCTAD in trouble; millennials deserting the army; a manifesto for rethining disaster studies; the 'dronepocalypse' in documentaries (and #globaldev comm?) & the economist highlighting the role of women and their bodies in history-including through naked protest.
Plus book recommendations & entertaining Tweets ;)!

My quote of the week comes from
Faiza Shaheen on the all-white UK inequality review panel:
I can tell you that those who occupy these prestigious influential positions keep missing three key things in their analysis of inequality – namely the importance of power, of prejudice and of the elitist political system. Could it be because they’ve always had power, never experienced prejudice and have friends working in politics?

Development news
UK keeps limits on cash aid in Syria over counter-terror fears

“Nobody [in the aid world] wants to be part of a Daily Mail story,” said Tobias Denskus, who teaches development communications at Sweden’s Malmo University. The mass-market UK newspaper and website has a “well-established discourse that any type of aid is basically a waste of taxpayers’ money”, he added.
I spoke with Ben Parker for his latest New Humanitarian piece; the more important aspect of the story is that cash-based aid works and policy-makers should take calculated risks to continue its success story.

Pressures Mount for Deeper Investigations Into the UN Trade Group

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, riven internally by disputes over its mission and future direction, may be in trouble. Faced with questions about its basic competence from board members and outside investigators, accusations have been gathering about unsatisfactory statistical work and laxity in meeting UN standards and regulations for spending reports by its leadership.
Barbara Crossette for PassBlue. Close UNCTAD! Don't bother with the usual UN 'reform' BS & make a bold step to ensure overall relevance of the UN system!

Oxfam sacked 79 over safeguarding issues in the year to March

Oxfam International dismissed 79 people because of safeguarding concerns in the year to March 2019, it has revealed.
The charity’s latest progress report, published today, said it had received 294 safeguarding reports across its global operation, including 23 cases of sexual abuse and 74 cases of sexual harassment.
There were also 25 accusations of exploitation, including paying for sex, and 98 cases involving other forms of misconduct, such as bullying.
The figures were collated from 19 affiliate organisations employing about 10,000 staff worldwide.
Rebecca Cooney for Third Sector with some new numbers behind Oxfam's safeguardiang efforts.

Why It's Hard To Ban The Menstrual Shed

Mohna Ansari, a member of Nepal's National Human Rights Commission in Kathmandu, says myriad reasons prevent the law from having much effect. For one, a woman who reports a family member might be kicked out of the family with no way to support herself on her own. It's also tricky to prove someone was forced to sleep in a menstrual shed when many women do so out of societal pressure and their own fear of the consequences.
Aishwarya Kunwar, 24, is finishing up a prenatal session with a health care worker. At nine months pregnant, she doesn't have to worry about periods right now, but she and other women have pretended that they'd received hormonal birth control injections and told their in-laws that as a result, they would not menstruate.
Danielle Preiss for NPR Goats & Soda follows up on the issue of Nepal's menstrual sheds and how difficult and slow social change is-particularly for women on the #globaldev's periphery.

The inequality review’s panel experts are all white. How equal is that?

In my experience of being that person in the room always having to tell the economists they are forgetting important social factors, I can tell you that those who occupy these prestigious influential positions keep missing three key things in their analysis of inequality – namely the importance of power, of prejudice and of the elitist political system. Could it be because they’ve always had power, never experienced prejudice and have friends working in politics? Even on the left we have white economists from privileged backgrounds who think racism is simply a consequence of economic inequality, rather than understand that a grossly unequal system can only be built and justified through racial, class, gender and other forms of prejudice.
Faiza Shaheen for the Guardian sums up many problems with #globaldev's economist-dominated discourse in 1 powerful paragraph!

The role of nature versus nurture in wealth and other economic outcomes and behaviours

The wealth of parents and that of their children is highly correlated, but little is known about the different roles genetic and environmental factors play in this. This column compares outcomes for adopted children in Sweden and those of their adoptive and biological parents and finds there is a substantial role for environment in the transmission of wealth and a much smaller role for pre-birth factors. And while human capital linkages between parents and children appear to have stronger biological than environmental roots, earnings and income are, if anything, more environmental.
Sandra Black, Paul Devereux, Petter Lundborg & Kaveh Majlesi for Vox with an interesting addition to the 'how inequality spreads' debate.

Tanzania Was East Africa’s Strongest Democracy. Then Came ‘The Bulldozer.’

At the same time, Mauya and other civil-society activists say the assault on civic space has been sustained and vigorous—a result of both top-down decrees and legislation written by the CCM-dominated Parliament. Magufuli’s government has banned the live broadcast of debates in Parliament and enacted regulations imposing hefty fees on bloggers. It has also actively enforced a 2015 “cyber crimes” law, signed by his predecessor, Jakaya Kikwete, that was intended to combat the spread of false information but also designates jail time for “insulting” the president and has been used as part of a wider campaign against dissent. And it has severely restricted opposition rallies, despite the fact that they are allowed by law
Jonathan W. Rosen for the Atlantic on Tanzania's authoritarian path.

East Timor at the forefront of fixing the global recycling crisis

The tiny nation of Timor-Leste hopes to become the world's first "plastic neutral" country, with a deal to create a new chemical recycling plant to be signed on Friday.The ground-breaking Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor (or Cat-HTR) plant, which will cost about $57.7 million to build if and when funding is secured, breaks down plastic waste into tiny pieces and allows it to be used again to create new plastics, hard waxes or fuels
James Massola for the Sydney Morning Herald with an uplifting story for about recycling a change.

Italian army struggles to find enough recruits as cosseted millennials find military life too tough

The number of new recruits who abandon the selection procedure has nearly doubled in recent years, he told parliament in Rome this week.
Young people were increasingly finding it difficult to “deal with authority and to adapt to a rigorous and disciplined regime,” the general told the parliamentary defence commission.
Nick Squires for the Telegraph. Read beyond the easy tabloid millennial-bashing headline and you find a powerful development for a more peaceful world-not enough people signing up for armies ;)!

Could INGOs be the future of evidence for development?

INGO-based researchers themselves face some real challenges. Unlike their equivalents in universities there is no recognised career path and often little recognition of their skills. Your name may not even appear on the reports you contribute to and your work, even when enjoying high circulation and influence, is rather patronisingly referred to as grey literature. It is rarely cited by academics and your employer is unlikely to support you to get it published in peer-reviewed journals. However, things are beginning to change as larger organisations invest in research capacity and support staff to pursue research careers. More and more development master’s and PhD graduates are choosing a career in NGOs where they feel they can make a difference to the use of evidence.
James Georgalakis for IDS. Interesting points, but in a crowded landscape of academic research (no, #globaldev is not hidden in an ivory tower!), international organizations, think tanks and now (I)NGOs I sometimes wonder how much more 'applied' research we really need...

Community Perspectives on Data Responsibility: Critical Incident Management and Public-Private Partnerships

In the humanitarian sector, there is no standard definition of what constitutes a critical incident related to data management, and incidents such as the above often go unreported given there are no established protocols for managing them. This can lead to recurring preventable errors, missed learning opportunities, and failure to protect vulnerable populations and the humanitarians working to serve them.
The Centre for Humanitarian Data with some great food for thought on ICT4D and managing data in #globaldev scenarios.

Volunteers in the aid program: a history

The third period, under Bill Armstrong as executive director (from 1982 to 2002), was a period of growth at a time when Australian government-NGO relations were very strong. Armstrong also brought a marked shift from the 1970s by adopting a more activist approach on human rights and social justice. There was a lot of work in support of the anti-apartheid movement in Southern Africa. When Cambodia was isolated in the 1980s, OSB took a lead in having a government-funded NGO office there. Most significantly, in Timor-Leste OSB provided UN volunteers to administer the independence ballot, and also supported the team working with Xanana Gusmao before and after his release from prison in Indonesia.
Patrick Kilby for DevPolicy Blog. I'm a big fan of historical insights into #globaldev and enjoyed the book review of Australia's volunteering programs abroad.

Domestic Workers in South Africa

The relationship between black domestic workers and white families over generations has inevitably led to patterns of decorum and behaviour, which convey much of the historically grown entanglement between black and white. Oral history interviews and research by sociologists such as Jacklyn Cock and Shireen Ally stress the fact that black people are often saddened, angered and disgusted by the restrictions and discrimination that result from racism and limited work opportunities. A complicated image of entanglement is held in the collective South African memory, and during the past couple of years research has shown that white people often construct their memories of apart­heid around domestic workers, realising that the “learning” of white dominance hinged on their contact with black women in the home.
Ena Jansen for New Frame with an excerpt of her new book.

Power, Prestige & Forgotten Values: A Disaster Studies Manifesto

We want to inspire and inform more respectful, reciprocal and genuine relationships between “local” and “external” researchers in disaster studies. This Manifesto calls for rethinking our research agendas, our methods and our allocation of resources.
We recognise that, while every researcher in our globalised system struggles with complicity and contradiction, the manifesto reflects principles that we as a collective aspire to. It is not by any means a claim of having achieved these objectives in our past work.
An interesting manifesto about the type of research we want to aspire to in global research-not just in disaster studies!

Our digital lives

The Dronepocalypse Is Here — in Documentary Footage, at Least

But even when such footage is used well, or interestingly, it can still contribute to an overall sense that the technique has become something of a cliché. Writing in Film Comment magazine last year, the critic and curator Eric Hynes argued that watching drone imagery was “like watching everybody play with the same new toy.” He added that “if your film’s currency is intimacy, is access, is humanity, why are you floating above everyone’s heads?”
Bilge Ebiri for the New York Times. The article reminded me how drones have also become increasingly popular with #globaldev communication and videos from 'the field' (I was particularly reminded of Nas Daily's PNG video for ICRC).

Can data ever know who we really are?
Systems like credit scoring or criminal records create profiles that stay with individuals, regardless of whether they’ve changed as people. These systems restrict people’s ability to demonstrate how they’ve changed, and to move past their earlier selves. Once categorised with a certain label, that label sticks, no matter how much a person’s identity or behaviour changes.
Worst of all, participation in these systems is not optional, yet they purport to make life easier. But easier for whom? Researchers from the study conclude that the systems they looked into were ‘for the sole benefit of the data collector,’ rather than for the community members themselves.
In many ways, digital data is a simplification of reality, a ‘stone representation’ of a complex life. Taking this one step further: perhaps digitisation, or digital data, isn’t always the answer. Narrative histories tell us far more than a digitised family tree ever could. The feelings that are communicated during a great oral story can never be reduced to machine-readable data. The results of a heritage DNA test cannot reflect the life experience and history of a person — and even those results are the consequence of scientists’ preconceptions about gender and race, combined with the data they had available to learn from, codified into a digital system.
Zara Rahman for Deep Dives with a personal, insightful & technical long-read on what 'data' can(not) measure as people and their lives change.

Encyclopedia of gender & mining now out – An overview of the field

This encyclopedia offers an overview of some of the key actors in the gender and mining field, ranging from indigenous women’s organisations to some of the world’s largest mining companies. There’s a short entry for each actor, providing key facts about the organisation or initiative and briefly covering their work and how it relates to gender issues. The encyclopedia is divided by theme, including artisanal mining, transparency and accountability, and participation in the workforce.
Alice Powell introduces the new giz Encyclopedia on Gender and Mining and adds some important reflections on the findings as the lead researcher.

The Apprenticeship-to-Work Transition : Experimental Evidence from Ghana (English)
The results show that apprenticeships shift youth out of wage work and into self-employment. However, the loss of wage income is not offset by increases in self-employment profits in the short run. In addition, the study uses the randomized match between apprentices and training providers to examine the causal effect of characteristics of trainers on outcomes for apprentices. Participants who trained with the most experienced trainers or the most profitable ones had higher earnings. These increases more than offset the program's negative treatment effect on earnings. This suggests that training programs can be made more effective through better recruitment of trainers.
Morgan L. Hardy, Isaac Mulangu Mbiti, Jamie Lee Mccasland & Isabelle Salcher with an interesting paper for the World Bank.

Meet the naked academic who is rewriting women—and their bodies—into economic history

she was completely naked, except for some jewelry fitting for a gala event. Across her chest she had written “RES,” the acronym used by the society, and across her stomach “PECT.”
That day, the message to her peers was a demand for respect for women and their place in economics. This was not the beginning, nor would it be the end, of Bateman using her body to help deliver a message.
“Women and women’s bodies are the elephant in the room in the economics profession,” says Bateman, an economist and lecturer at the University of Cambridge. “This is what’s being ignored.”
There are vast consequences for this omission, she says. One of the most fundamental questions in economics is: Why are some countries rich and others poor? Years have been dedicated to understanding this mystery of relative prosperity. In her new book, The Sex Factor: How Women Made the West Rich (Polity), Bateman revisits economic history through feminist eyes. In the book, which is a short, accessible, and thought-provoking work, Bateman asserts that the missing piece to the growth puzzle lies in understanding the role women, their bodies, and freedoms played in creating prosperity.
Eshe Nelson for Quartz with a great interview / book talk with Victoria Bateman and the role of women in economic history.

How a master’s thesis is pushing the boundaries of scholarship
The art educator says her experience creating and presenting her thesis project was overwhelmingly positive – save for a few disrespectful tweets like “So next, all we’ll have to do is a kindergarten hand paint and they’ll grant us a master’s degree?” While meant to be cruel, the comment illuminates a relevant point: it is precisely the question of scholars and young people alike conducting scholarly inquiry through drawing that concerns Ms. Parker’s research and goals. She believes that people, especially young people, should have the option to be educated through embodied inquiry, should be equipped with a critical mode of visual literacy, and should feel encouraged to learn in this way. Ms. Parker’s work and its warm reception at SFU attests not only to the value of the work, but the remarkable potential of drawing scholarship.
Megan Jenkins for University Affairs. Bringing more diversity to scholarship-especially non-written forms of research is important and beneficial for many disciplines. Drawing, podcasting or documentary film-making are relevant channels to disseminate research if they are accompanied by academic reflections-and most likely some form of written paper which I still believe is the foundation of #highered.


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Dear white middle class British women: Please don't send used bras (or anything, really) to Africa