Links & Contents I Liked 337

Hi all,

A busy week with lost of enjoyable teaching on historical aspects of #globaldev is wrapping up & I'm glad to sit down and gather some good readings, tweets, vignettes from around the digital #globaldev sphere!

My quotes of the week
When I assumed my post, there were no established work routines; no specific directives from superiors or any information on violations against women. The only thing I was told was that I was expected to produce a one-year action plan to guide my work as the gender adviser. The lack of organizational memory was a challenge at the beginning, but it also gave me the chance to improvise and create.
(My Year in Africa: Why This Brazilian Woman Peacekeeper Wants to Return)

Close the Media Lab, disband the Ted Talks, refuse the money of tech billionaires, boycott agents like Brockman. Without such drastic changes, the powerful bullshit-industrial complex that is the “third culture” will continue unharmed, giving cover to the next Epstein.
(The Epstein scandal at MIT shows the moral bankruptcy of techno-elites)


Development news
From Ebola to Kunduz: MSF head Joanne Liu looks back

We are tolerated when it fits the agenda, we are obstructed when it doesn't. I know that we are not fixing the root cause of what's going on in Libya, but if we were not in the Libya [detention] centres, and if we weren’t able to tell what is going on and then share the stories of people we care for, it would be off the radar: nobody would talk about it. It’s to humanise crisis.
Portraying people fleeing for their life in Central America as invaders of America as if we were in Star Wars, that's indecent. We have to tell the story of a mother and father and a child who were looking for a better future. Full stop. And I think we have a key role.
We never realised the blessing of our financial Independence as much as today, because people come to us and tell us, ‘if MSF doesn't say it, nobody's going to say it’.
Ben Parker for the New Humanitarian with a great interview with the outgoing international president of MSF.

Leak suggests UN agency self-censors on climate crisis after US pressure

The Guardian understands from IOM sources and further communications it has seen that the agency is avoiding direct references to climate change in documents for projects funded by other US government entities such as USAid.
IOM receives about a quarter of its total budget of $2bn (£1.6bn) from the US, $18m of which is provided by PRM.
There is no indication that messaging on projects funded by other donors will be censored, or that there will be any operational impact on existing programmes.
However, a source in the humanitarian community in the US who had recently left IOM, told the Guardian he was “very concerned … that IOM is acquiescing to this kind of pressure”.
Emanuel Stoakes for the Guardian on old new challenges around language and words in the current era of climate change and US politics...

UNICEF data leak reveals personal info of 8,000 online learners
Even though this case involved the data of people using a training module, rather than aid recipients, Siobhan Green, a tech consultant working with aid agencies on data management and governance, told Devex that the reputational damage to humanitarian organizations from data incidents could be significant.
“We are finding that individuals — especially those already vulnerable — are making decisions about what personal data they want to share based on their beliefs about how that data will be used, shared or protected. In extreme cases, we see people self-censoring or refusing services out of a sense of self-protection. Will this risk result in fewer people using our services? What is the impact of that behavior on our ability to serve these audiences?” she asked.
Vince Chadwick for DevEx with a reminder that cyber security is definitely an issue for the UN system...

Rwanda sets exemplary act of ubuntu signing a deal to host 500 African migrants trapped in Libya

Rwanda has signed a deal with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the African Union (AU) to host hundreds of African migrants currently being held in Libya, in an exemplary humanitarian and selfless Ubuntu act.
This is Africa about the new initiative of Rwanda to take in African refugees...I'm just generally skeptical about any 'selfless' act in humanitarian politics ;)!

Robert Mugabe: a complex legacy

It is not a question of seeing a golden age of the 1980s to contrast with the period since 2000. While there have been important changes, there are also repeated patterns. This is why the much-hailed 2017 ‘coup’ was doomed to failure, and perhaps no surprise that the Mnangagwa regime has seen much continuity, notably in violent repression of opposition forces. This is of course why a democratic transition, with a strong constitutional base, remains so critical; to shed once and for all this violent history.
In assessing Mugabe’s complex legacy, the positive legacies of massively improved education and health services for all in the 1980s and land redistribution to smallholders, especially post-2000, have to balanced against the persistent use of violence, gross economic mismanagement and the failure to develop a democratic state. As opposition politician, Tendai Biti, noted on his death, Mugabe was a ‘coalition of controversies’.
Ian Scoones for Zimbabweland. Many obituaries have been published on Mugabe, but now is a good time to revisit Ian's blog with more than 360 posts on developments in Zimbabwe.

My Year in Africa: Why This Brazilian Woman Peacekeeper Wants to Return

I started traveling throughout the country to visit and train every new gender focal point and talk to colleagues in the field about Minusca’s mandate on the protection of civilians. During the visits, I always requested meetings with the local leadership and representatives of the civilian and police components [of Minusca]. The focal points attended the meetings with me. This also improved the communication within units. In many places, civilians and military did not used to talk. It was especially fruitful to exchange information with heads of offices, human rights, civil affairs, women protection advisers, child protection advisers, UNPOL [UN Police] and military observers.
Pérola Abreu Pereira & Giovanna Kuele for PassBlue with a great interview with Marcia Braga on her peacekeeping work in the Central African Republic.

‘Taking an Ethical Stand’: Moral Principles and Colonial Logics in Feminist Foreign Policy

Foreign policy can never truly be feminist as long as it is grounded in an understanding of global justice that reproduces, rather than challenges, dominant gender and racial hierarchies. A feminist and post-colonial foreign policy would actively disrupt the binaries – ‘civilized-barbaric’; ‘saviour-victim’; ‘masculine-feminine’ – on which traditional notions of international ethics are based. From a post-colonial feminist perspective, responding morally to global challenges requires a deep reflexivity on the part of powerful states regarding their own historical and contemporary roles in the situations they condemn.
Fiona Robinson for Heinrich Böll Stiftung re-shares some reflections on the challenges of feminist foreign policy.

OPINION: Volunteering Abroad Is Popular And Problematic. Let's Fix It

We should also address the motivations for volunteering. Having a volunteer experience on a resume shouldn't be an automatic bonus when applying to a professional school but rather something to explore, starting with the question: What exactly did you do?
The ultimate goal should be to ensure that these well-intended volunteer efforts responsibly achieve positive, objective change while making it impossible at best, or uncool and unpalatable at least, for any volunteer (regardless of skill level) to haphazardly conduct tubal ligations or hand out random antibiotics.
Lawrence Loh for NPR Goats & Soda. Interesting food for thought, but also a lot of preaching to the choir. If you want to engage in #globaldev in a meaningful way there are many way to do it...if you are a Christian missionary no amount of guidlines will prevent you from fulfilling God's mission in Africa...

Why living in a poor country means you have bad food choices

Our analysis of these relative caloric prices yielded a striking result. As countries develop, their food systems get better at providing healthier foods cheaply, but they also get better at providing unhealthier foods cheaply. This means that in less developed countries poor people also live in poor food systems. Nutrient-dense foods like eggs, milk, fruits and vegetables can be very expensive in these countries. That makes it harder to diversify away from nutrient-sparse staple foods like rice, corn and bread. The problem in more developed countries is rather different. Unhealthy calories have simply become a very affordable option.
Derek Headey & Harold Alderman for the Conversation introducing new research on the complexities of (bad) nutrition in the 'development' process.

Blockchain: A World Without Middlemen? Promise and Practice of Distributed Governance

Beyond simple timestamping applications and the five use cases outlined in more detail in our study, we see the merits of distributed ledgers in the implementation of a variety of checks and balances for good governance and, at multilateral level, for mutual accountability between states with regard to transactions enforcing international agreements
The giz blockchain lab shares some case studies around their blockchain work...interesting read beyond hype and dismissing the buzzword.

Important humanitarian statement or too much UNICEF branding?

Americans for Indian Opportunity ‘deeply regrets’ participation in Dior campaign
“Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO) deeply regrets its participation in the Dior campaign. We believed that we had an opportunity to reshape long-standing and damaging representations of Native peoples on an international scale. That did not bear out as we had hoped and intended, especially in Dior's media and public relations campaign, in which we did not consult or have prior knowledge. AIO takes responsibility for our actions and has much to learn from this unfortunate set of events. AIO will work with allies to address this situation through the practice of our core values of relationships, responsibility, reciprocity and redistribution, AIO will continue to bring a consciousness to the non-Native public about the reality of Indigenous peoples today.”
Jourdan Bennett-Begaye & Aliyah Chavez for Indian Country Today. Another week, another terrible celebrity-corporate campaign, this time featuring Johnny Depp, Dior & a fragrance called 'Sauvage'...

'Development' is colonialism in disguise

Academics, activists, politicians, journalists, youth, and all others who fail to question the currently dominant system, simply open the door to more reincarnations of the ghost of “development”. Short-term measures conceived from the halls of power only entrench the North-South status quo, patriarchy, coloniality, and the destructive instrumental separation of Humanity and Nature. Well intentioned but superficial solutions will not address the global crisis unless endowed with a post-capitalist, post-development horizon and strong sense of cultural reflexivity.
An adequate political strategy will go to the roots, questioning core assumptions of the "development" discourse, such as growth, the rhetoric of progress, instrumental rationality, so-called free markets, universalism, anthropocentrism, sexism, and so forth.
Arturo Escobar, Ashish Kothari, Ariel Salleh, Federico Demaria & Alberto Acosta for Open Democracy with an excerpt from the new 'Development Dictionary' which is available as open access Ebook!

Ode to an organization I have loved and love still

How thankful I am to have played this small part in such a vast, moving, interdependent global picture. I’ll continue to do my part, because you welcomed me, taught me, healed me, and gave me a glimpse of the potential in the multitude that will be with me all of my days.
I am forever changed by you. I am forever called by you.
And as I leave you, you whisper, “May you continue to know your voice, power, force, and direction…”
Jennifer Lentfer's farewell letter to Thousand Currents is a great example of how professional departures should be framed :) !

Our digital lives

Apple made Siri deflect questions on feminism, leaked papers reveal
Sam Smethers, the chief executive of women’s rights campaigners the Fawcett Society, said: “The problem with Siri, Alexa and all of these AI tools is that they have been designed by men with a male default in mind. I hate to break it to Siri and its creators: if ‘it’ believes in equality it is a feminist. This won’t change until they recruit significantly more women into the development and design of these technologies.”
Alex Hern for the Guardian with a reminder that many AI and algorithmic initiatives replicate 'real world' problems and inequalities.

The Epstein scandal at MIT shows the moral bankruptcy of techno-elites

Evgeny Morozov's take on the MIT-Epstein scandal for the Guardian.

Little Mix's Jesy Nelson: Online trolls made me want to die
Thinking back to when she was in the depths of depression while also dealing with her newfound fame with Little Mix, she says: “It was such a weird feeling to be living your dream but hating it at the same time.”
This led her to try to hide her unhappiness.
“I didn’t want to annoy anyone or be seen as a diva,” she explains. “That’s how I thought it would be perceived if I was getting upset. So I thought, 'OK, I'm just gonna ignore this'. It was the worst thing I could have done.
The trolls only got more vicious if she showed any signs of being upset, she says. "It was like the more people knew it affected me the more they wanted to do it."
Thea de Gallier for BBC with another reminder that public engagement for many women comes almost immediately with a price of bullying, abuse or worse.  

Vale the Humanitarian Principles: New principles for a new environment
The Centre for Humanitarian Leadership with an interesting first paper.

Managing Misinformation in a Humanitarian Context

Internews with a new report and toolkit around humanitarian (mis)information.


Honest Academic Job Postings

The Department of Political Science and Public Policy invites applications for a full-time tenure-track position. Preference given to candidates who can publish enough to get tenure but not so much that they will outshine their mediocre senior colleagues.
Ryan Weber for McSweeney's.

Thoughts on the planetary: An interview with Achille Mbembe

The need for a critical reappraisal of the relationship between knowledge, power and institutions is not an exclusively South African preoccupation. In South Africa, the term “decolonisation” is one way in which concerns about “deracialisation” are expressed. The imperative to “deracialise” is also valid for Europe, for the United States, for Brazil and for other parts of the world. The emergence of new varieties of racism in Europe and elsewhere, the reassertion of global white supremacy, of populism and retro-nationalism, the weaponisation of difference and identity are not only symptoms of a deep distrust of the world. They are also fostered by transnational forces capable of making that same world inhospitable, uninhabitable and unbreathable for many of us.
Torbjørn Tumyr Nilsen talks to Achille Mbembe for New Frame.

What we were reading 5 years ago

(Link review 126, 25 September 2014)
The Paths We Refuse

But remember that teaching “grit” won’t end global income inequality. Neither, for that matter, will an extremely innovative kind of yogurt or a well-planned, clean-water birthday campaign. Global income inequality could end, but its elimination won’t happen through the bolstering of in-place, profit-minded organizations with half an eye (or more) on their own bottom lines. It will come through the close examination of the real causes, effects and perpetrators of all forms of oppression.
The humanitarian future
There are promising developments: the Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities initiative is looking at outreach efforts; the Humanitarian Innovation Fund is testing novel approaches; the Digital Humanitarian Network is bringing together newer, tech-focused organisations; and the Start Network of UK NGOs is experimenting with new ways of working. In 2016, the UN-organised World Humanitarian Summit offers an opportunity to set a new course for the community, bringing together many of these threads. This is not a techno-utopian view of the future in which the internet sweeps away all the injustices of the world. The web could lead to a dead end of corporate monocultures, but part of our struggle against that must be the continual renewal of these grassroots connections.


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