Links & Contents I Liked 348

Hi all,

I was in Armenia last week & enjoyed a fantastic final seminar at Yerevan State University with our internationalization project-so that explains the slightly unusual time for the latest #globaldev link review!

My quotes of the week

There must be places that are not dedicated to making money or accumulating power if civic values and relationships are to take root and flourish - places where we can meet each-other for conversation and shape a collective course of action in line with our own democratically-derived priorities. That possibility, at root, is what is threatened by current trends.
(Where is civil society when you need it?)

Accountability struggles were happening elsewhere while I sat in the World Bank wondering what it would take for the sounds of real demands for real accountability to penetrate its thick glass walls.
(Why the World Bank is missing out on an Accountability Revolution: Reflections on the Global Partnership for Social Accountability Forum 2019)


Development news
Global arms industry rankings: Sales up 4.6 per cent worldwide and US companies dominate the Top 5

Sales of arms and military services by the sector’s largest 100 companies (excluding those in China) totalled $420 billion in 2018, marking an increase of 4.6 per cent compared with the previous year. This is according to new data released today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in the SIPRI Top 100 ranking.
SIPRI with their annual global arms industry case someone mentions a) that there is no money for #globaldev, b) that they heard about a 'failed' #globaldev project that had lost two motorbikes, c) that they can't understand why wars in Syria/Yemen/DRC/... are still going on!

Why a 'Green New Deal' must be decolonial

Even if measures are taken to ensure that renewable energy production does not contaminate and deplete water, destroy habitats, and displace communities - hardly likely in any economic model predicated on optimising outcomes while minimising costs - unequal economic relations would doom these countries to a new form of domination known as "green colonialism".
A decolonial GND must therefore prioritise restructuring global trade relations and reversing the enormous imbalances of cultural, economic and political power between Western governments and the global South.
Vijay Kolinjivadi for Al-Jazeera on why the 'Green New Deal' needs more than just ethical consumption...

Where is civil society when you need it?
One of the most alarming features of politics and organizing today is the extent to which these public spheres have ceased to operate, or perhaps even to exist, as people of different views imprison themselves in mutually-exclusive social media bubbles and sources of information – or ‘fake news’ depending on your point of view. Independent and citizen-controlled media are growing, but they are out-competed by much larger and wealthier commercial platforms such as Facebook which have contributed to the problem.
There must be places that are not dedicated to making money or accumulating power if civic values and relationships are to take root and flourish - places where we can meet each-other for conversation and shape a collective course of action in line with our own democratically-derived priorities. That possibility, at root, is what is threatened by current trends.
Michael Edwards for openDemocracy with some great food for thought on what 'civil society' we need for out times.

Bipolar Economics

No amount of research talent can design an RCT to test whether more globalization is desirable, how big government ought to be, or what triggers economic growth. As a result, randomistas can say little about the big issues that inflame passions and around which grand narratives are built. And it is such narratives, Robert J. Shiller (yet another Nobel laureate) has shown, that organize our thinking about the economy. If not woven into a broad narrative of change, empirical evidence can have limited political impact at best. Duflo and Banerjee are well aware of all this. In their thoughtful new book, Good Economics for Hard Times, they write: “As we lose our ability to listen to each other, democracy becomes less meaningful and closer to a census of the various tribes, who each vote based more on tribal loyalties than on a judicious balancing of priorities.” What remains unclear is how this observation fits into their theory of social change.
Andrés Velasco for Project Syndicate with more food for discussion on RCTs as Nobel lectures took place in Sweden yesterday.

Director’s Dispatch: Stop looking for hope on the climate crisis. Try this instead
At The New Humanitarian, we are beginning to provide only vegetarian food at business lunches and reduce the number of flights we take while offsetting their carbon emissions. But this feels miniscule in comparison to the scale of the problem. We need to reduce our consumption of energy and other goods, procure materials locally, examine the track records of partners and vendors we work with, and provide incentives to our staff to live sustainably. This will cost time, money, and inconvenience – and likely have a detrimental impact on our productivity. We need to accept that.
Finally, and most importantly, courage means taking action without knowing that it will lead to the outcome we desire.
Heba Aly for the New Humanitarian with interesting reflections on the climate crisis that don't offer an easy 'solution'...

Why the World Bank is missing out on an Accountability Revolution: Reflections on the Global Partnership for Social Accountability Forum 2019

I am not in the business of interpreting protests so as to help the IMF or the World Bank design or push through their adjustment programmes. But I do see basic failures of accountability when such powerful organizations propose or insist on subsidy cuts by borrowing governments in the knowledge that mass popular resistance might kick off, and if it does, that it will be met with the full force of state repression. Social accountability should be about creating channels for communication and spaces where grievances can be aired and addressed. Each new protest is a sign of institutional failure.
Accountability struggles were happening elsewhere while I sat in the World Bank wondering what it would take for the sounds of real demands for real accountability to penetrate its thick glass walls.
Naomi Hossain for fp2p with an update on the traditional story of how Bretton Woods institutions & positive social change still have a difficult relationship...

Global Protests Reveal Bitcoin’s Limitations

However, the Hong Kong protester added, “there is no [internet] connection in the protest area, no matter which service provider you used,” and protesters are generally not clear on how bitcoin would be used by individuals during a time of civil unrest. It is mostly useful for receiving donations from abroad that don’t require prompt liquidity.
Plus, he said protesters who tried mesh-network devices, which basically bounce a message or transaction across a web of devices until it finds a device with internet access, found they were “not useful for a confrontational situation.” Although many protesters use Telegram because it allows chatting without revealing the users’ phone numbers, he said tools that rely on mobile data providers offer limited functionality in times of turmoil.
Leigh Cuen for coindesk with come insights on how ICT4D in the broader sense doesn't really work without the Internet (and why it's so tempting for governments to shut down the Internet during protests...).

Care as a Political Act

Collective care sees wellbeing as relational; it is not just about what is happening with our own mind, body and emotions, but also how others are around us. It calls on us to be more intentional about building relationships, and in doing so building trust, in order for us to support each other better.
Gemma Houldey on how 'self care' should be treated as more of a collective endeavor.

Nepalis open doors to a better life

Guests from around the world can book rooms in homes of Nepali families that belong to the network, from high mountain settlements to the Tarai plains. While the price, activities and accommodations depend on where the homestay is located, the network ensures that local tourism is promoted and communities benefit.
For a chapter to join the network, it must gather 10 homes, agree to follow guidelines and elect a leader. In turn, members are given access to English language classes, a crash course on cleanliness and hygiene, and are informed about the types of activities they should offer guests from various cultures.
Sanghamitra Subba for Nepali Times with an interesting example of a #globaldev approach to curb the dominance of AirB'n'B and traditional voluntourism models in Nepal.

Poverty Tours

These poverty tours are damaging and in the long run hurt communities of color. We don’t need more people coming in to extract information to use it in their teaching and research. We don’t need people retelling or defining poverty and poc experiences. We definitely don’t need a bus load of white and pocs with privilege coming into the hood to gawk, nod, or to hold our hands with pity – this is awkward for everyone, especially the pocs who are closer to the people.
Charity programs are really good at poverty tours – present poor people, guilt people into doing something, donate money, and they feel good. No mess, no need to get involved, it is easy. Systems level change can’t happen with charity models.
Don’t pack for the bus ride, invest like you live there.
If we want to stop racial inequities we can’t rely upon poverty tours. We need to invest in relationships and recreating the ways we operate. We need to allow the people who are most impacted by injustices to define their own problems and solutions.
FakeQuity on why poverty tours to communities of color should be a thing of the past...

How I Get By: A Week in the Life of a McDonald’s Cashier

Before I leave for my hospital job, I get my McDonald’s paycheck. It's $215, for 2 weeks of work. I know I will be broke by Wednesday.
Maxwell Strachan portraits Cierra Brown for Vice on poverty, dignity & life in the US...

Pop culture: restoring Namibia’s forgotten resistance music

There is a rich history of 20th century music in Namibia that was suppressed and all but erased by political forces. Now an archive project called Stolen Moments – Namibian Music History Untold is restoring it to the public domain.
It is a national treasure hunt for the Namibian music culture that wasn’t allowed to flourish during apartheid in Namibia when the country was under white South African control. In the project’s own words, it recovers “the bits and pieces of our musical memory from the 1950s to the late 1980s” by collecting personal stories as well as visual and sound documents.
Henning Melber for the Conversation with a great piece on memory culture & music from Namibia.

Picturing the Uncertain Calm on Armenia’s Front Line

Sniper fire and clashes have become rare on the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In a year that has seen positive steps to mitigate the decades-old conflict in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, this photo essay illustrates how some Armenian front-line villagers’ lives have slowly improved.
The Crisis Group with a new publication-even though we weren't anywhere near the border in Armenia there were reminders about the conflict on several occassions.


Colonial Repercussions: Namibia

Not only were we excluded from national identity and belonging, we were constantly haunted by discourse that historically constructed us as threat to the state. Colonial discourse sexualized and stigmatized us as subservient, bound to tradition and old-fashioned. When wearing the Otjikaiva, the traditional dress of Ovaherero women, one is repeatedly reminded of these prejudices. This dress has undergone an evolution in terms of style, but it is still unique. I have worn this dress in my travels to New York, Berlin, Hamburg and Paris. I have no difficulty reminding the world that I am an Ovaherero woman from Namibia. We descended from mothers and fathers who fought a war against the Germans, miraculously survived, and made it to Botswana and South Africa.
The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and the Akademie der Künste (AdK)with a new report about Germany's colonial repercussions in Namibia.

Launch of the Global Humanitarian Overview 2020

Comparable figures show that the number of people in need globally has increased by some 22 million over the past year. The main drivers of need are protracted and highly violent conflicts, extreme weather events associated with climate change and under-performing economies.The plans set outin the GHO2020 aim to reach 109 million vulnerable people with aid and protection.The combined requirements arenearlyUS$29billion.“The brutal truth is 2020 will be difficult for millions of people. The good news is that the humanitarian response is getting better and faster in reaching the most vulnerable, including women, children and people with disabilites,”Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said,launching the GHO 2020 in Geneva.
UN OCHA with one of the more useful flagship reports...

How Does Civil Society Understand Conflict-Related Sexual Violence? Perspectives from women activists in Colombia

This policy brief explores patterns of women’s civil society mobilization around CRSV in Colombia, looking particularly at these women’s perceptions of CRSV. It reveals that civil society activists link CRSV first and foremost to gender inequality and patriarchal norms in society. In contrast to the globally dominant understanding of CRSV as a weapon of war that stems purely from conflict dynamics and war strategy, these activists understand sexual violence in the private sphere and that perpetrated in war as on a continuum, entrenched in patriarchal norms and gender inequalities.
Anne-Kathrin Kreft for PRIO with a great new policy brief.

The Empowering Internet Safety Guide for Women

This guide was written with the intention of empowering women to navigate the internet without fear. We discuss common occurrences in which women are subject to harassment in their daily lives – on social media, at work, while dating, and more – and give tips and advice on how women can take control.
It is important for us to note that some of the advice given here encourages anonymity, rather than risking being targeted. While this may seem to run counter to the idea of encouraging self-expression, we believe that every woman should be empowered to make that choice for herself.
Our job is to give you the tools you need to do that.
We hope this guide encourages women everywhere to defend and protect themselves, and to stand up to sexual harassment, both on and off the web.
vpnMentor with an interesting resource about online safety for women.


Why I’ve deleted my Twitter account #exhaustionrebellion

Being a precariously employed minor micro-celebrity felt thrilling when I was doing my PhD. But almost six year later it’s become a position which just tires me out. I want a permeant position, time and space to improve my scholarship and work to be a bounded part of my existence. This is all vastly more likely to happen if I stop living in Twitter, as I’ve done for almost a decade. I started in 2010 and I like the idea of stopping before 2020.
Mark Carrigan on why he quit Twitter...after I included an interview with him about the second edition of his book on social media for academics here recently.

What we were reading 4 years ago
(Link review 137, 10 February 2015)
The visible lessons of Invisible Children- #globaldev critique in the viral age (in response to Paul Currion)

I think that the Kony 2012 phenomenon and the spectacular rise and fall of Invisible Children have had positive impacts on development and humanitarian debates, organizations and hopefully a new generation of enthusiasts who will view ‘DIY aid’ in a more nuanced way.
We also need to continue to engage critically with individualized aid efforts, single ‘heroes’ that are supposed to represent something bigger and keeping humanitarian debates lively, sometimes even exciting, to ensure that we communicate ‘inwards’ and ‘outwards’ and do more than just looking for more money…
Me, being hopeful...

Fieldtripping: The ethics and practicalities of student fieldtrips

It is important that students and researchers can have access to conflict-affected areas but it seems to me that we have to go much further in making these trips sensitive. We also have to be realistic. While we can have good intentions and use the word ‘ethnographic’ as much as we want, a fieldtrip (or whatever we call it) is still a time-limited exercise: we come in and leave. We also have to realize that many of us are curious about conflict-affected societies and that it is difficult to get beyond the sight-seeing mentality.
But, if we are organising a fieldtrip, there are guidelines that we can set down in the hope of maximising both sensitivity and the pedagogic value of any trip. Let me restrict myself to five points.
Roger MacGinty's tips for student fieldtrips are still useful.

No More, The NFL's Domestic Violence Partner, Is A Sham

This is how low our standards are. Gesture toward a good cause and you’re practically unassailable. No More gave Goodell and the NFL a cheap and perfect way out of a public relations disaster and we shouldn’t be surprised. We do the exact same thing every day when we throw on our Toms, our pink baseball hats, and our latest rubber bracelet of choice, shopping our way into another day with pure hearts and clean consciences.
Diana Moskovitz about pink-/blue-washing of corporate efforts to 'do good'...still very relevant today!

Read More, Write Less

Write from the specific to the general, choosing images, events, encounters from your archive. Linger, using all the tools that feel right—dialogue, interior monologue, description, metaphor, and sensual details. Also write about the things that didn’t make it into your archive and ask yourself why you left them out. Keep going in this way, illuminating lots of small moments, until you see the shape of the larger narrative emerge. Eventually, if you wish, you can incorporate conversations with scholars and writers who have come before you, doing what is known as “the review of the literature” and “theorizing.” But focus on telling the story only you can tell, the story that is your responsibility, your gift.
Every ethnographer reinvents the genre of ethnography when sitting down to write. Our genre will always be quirky because it comes about through the magic of a unique intersection in time and space between a set of people and a person who wants to tell their story. This moment of shared mortality is improvised and fleeting, and won’t ever be repeated. There is something so spiritual about ethnography. We try to honor, with accuracy and poetry, a fragment of what was revealed to us.
Carole McGranahan on what an ethnographic research & writing process could look like.


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