Links & Contents I Liked 349

Hi all,

Happy holidays!

This is the final link review for 2019, packed with great content worthy to wrap up another crazy year in #globaldev.
Because of a great teaching opportunity in Indonesia (in Bandung of all historical #globaldev places!) and regular teaching duties at home at the beginning of our spring semester we probably won't be 'seeing' much of each other until the end of January.

I also posted a longer essay recently that seems very suitable as a replacement for more typical end-of-the-year reflections-so come back after the holidays and explore more ;)!

My quotes of the week
These refusals to see, refusals to change, mean that we have strapped ourselves to a machine designed to destroy us. But we live in hope that before it does, at least it feeds us, sustains us for a while, unlike the poor benighted souls in the sacrifice zone, the wretched and damned of the earth, trampled under the wheels of the machine and then cast into the river with its forgotten names, its waters closing over their heads as they drift off into the silence. We do not remember their names.
(Why I Say ‘Decolonisation is Impossible’)

We simply don’t need INGOs, unless they are going to #shiftthepower: “how do international civic organisations empower and support the local?” is the main question that needs to be asked

(Are INGOs ready to give up power?)

All my homes were hurt this year. Each of their futures, for different reasons, remain uncertain as the climate changes around them. I realized that I am not surrounded by disaster because it is my job, I am surrounded by disaster because in this era disaster is everywhere. The pain that I feel for those places, for the people who live in those places and helplessness is too much. I don’t know that I have the language to describe what it feels like to see all the places you’ve lived hurting. I don’t know how to tell you what it feels like to look on helplessly as buildings fall and people drown.
(The Year All My Homes Were Hurt: Ending a Decade of Disasters and Starting Another)

Enjoy!

New from aidnography
Blogging and curating content as strategies to diversify discussions and communicate development differently

In my longer essay, a forthcoming paper, I am arguing that engaging with online social media in the form of curating a regular development blog column is a simple, yet effective way to provide decolonised resources in the context of development studies teaching, research and communication.
Development news
Negotiations at Red Cross conference shrouded in global politics

It is meant to be an apolitical forum focused purely on humanitarian concerns, but this year’s conference came at a time when geopolitical rivalries among powerful nations are fuelling proxy conflicts, and violations of the rules of war – including the bombing of hospitals, starvation of civilians, and rape of women as a weapon of war – are routine.
Heba Aly for the New Humanitarian with interesting updates about the state of global humanitarianism.

How McKinsey infiltrated the world of global public health

Even agency staff — including officials who have reported directly to Tedros — say they’ve been left in the dark.
One senior official, who worked at the WHO when Tedros’s overhaul started, said the consultants subjected the official to a barrage of questions, on everything from staff mobility to the WHO’s “hierarchies and silos.” The official said they were never told how the information they shared would ultimately be used. Another told Vox: “It was like a beehive on the seventh and eighth floors. There were many people [in] suits. But they don’t talk to us directly.” A third said: “It’s now been two years [the reform] has been going on. I have no idea what is happening.”
Julia Belluz & Marine Buissonniere for Vox in this widely-shared article about WHO's embracing of cosultants-with the usual lack of transparency, high cost and generalized advice that often lacks context...

Picked By Slaves

A Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation over six months uncovered extensive slave labor running largely unchecked in Brazil's billion-dollar coffee industry despite years of efforts to clean up the sector - which could now put sales at risk.
Exclusively obtained data, analysis of public records, and dozens of interviews revealed coffee produced by forced labor was stamped slavery-free by top certification schemes and sold at a premium to major brands such as Starbucks and Nespresso.
Labour inspectors said they were hampered by a shortage of staff, money and political will - and fear abuse is rising even though consumer demand for slave-free products is growing.
Prosecutor Mateus Biondi said he was alarmed by the large number of investigations into labor violations in the main coffee growing area of Minas Gerais in recent years, but that such efforts did not match up to the true scale of the problem.
Fabio Teixeira for the Thomson Reuters Foundation with a sobering report about the broken coffee value chains, Brazilian slave labor & the limits of 'ethical' production/consumption...

Make DEZA great again: why the renewal of Swiss aid needs to start at home

But the director of SDC is just one among many bureaucrats who lacks the clout and mandate to make Swiss foreign aid visible. Branding and communicating foreign aid should not be dismissed as a public relations exercise. They explain the complexities and necessity of international aid both to the Swiss and to foreign publics.
Tobias Hagmann for foraus; as discussions about the end/merger of DfID are surfacing after the UK elections, some interesting insights into a smaller, well-known donor and the struggle to keep bilateral work politically relevant.

‘Sextortion’: The Worst Form of Corruption Across the Globe

Foreign-aid agencies want data to justify their expenditures and to track results. Sextortion does not fit into this box: most victims do not, and cannot, report. Most fear retaliation. Many of them live in countries and cultures that would disrespect them for seeking to report sex crimes. Most victims have nowhere to turn.For the first time, the anticorruption group, Transparency International, included a question about sextortion in one of its global surveys. The recently published TI Latin America Barometer found that one in five citizens experiences sexual extortion when accessing a government service or knows someone who has.
Frank Vogl for PassBlue on the growing attention 'sextortion' is getting in #globaldev.'

Are INGOs ready to give up power?

Except that the reality is never as good as the Instagram image. You also have no core funding for your organisation; you’re spending your time begging so-called ‘partners’ for funding scraps from their stockpiles; and quite often, your voice on the platforms of power is little more than a diversity tick box. International NGOs or the UN act as your mediator and ally at best, and your gatekeeper and saboteur at worst. You are marginalised into the category of ‘local’ organisation by people with white faces and authoritative titles, like the ‘African expert’ who spends two years living in the capital of a single country.
Deborah Doane for openDemocracy continues the debate about the future of INGOs and civil society movements in the global South.

We need to talk about HEAT

As a values-driven organisation that cares deeply about making security work for everyone – no matter their ethnicity, socio-economic background, gender, and sexual orientation – we believe it’s time to ask some soul-searching questions about HEAT courses.
Kelsey Hoppe for Safer Edge on how HEAT training should no longer be a training where an ex-military man yells at NGO staff...

The Year All My Homes Were Hurt: Ending a Decade of Disasters and Starting Another

All my homes were hurt this year. Each of their futures, for different reasons, remain uncertain as the climate changes around them. I realized that I am not surrounded by disaster because it is my job, I am surrounded by disaster because in this era disaster is everywhere. The pain that I feel for those places, for the people who live in those places and helplessness is too much. I don’t know that I have the language to describe what it feels like to see all the places you’ve lived hurting. I don’t know how to tell you what it feels like to look on helplessly as buildings fall and people drown.
Samantha Montano for Disasterology on a year of working in disaster management around the US.

The best story is the one, you cannot tell

The dilemma for us communicators in development is that we are struggling around KPI’s and impact and loose track of what is really worth to tell. And when we find it, we do not have the words because there aren’t any. Just this feeling that we need to increase global cooperation and that our responsibility to work together can never be taken seriously enough. And that we are often missing words or using the wrong ones to articulate that. But as soon as we are aware of this situation, we start working on getting better words. That’s the good news. Let's keep going.
Jesko Johannsen on the challenges of 'communicating #globaldev' in a way that it matters.

Emerging Digital Technologies & Citizen Participation

Will digital technologies, both those that are already widespread and those that are still emerging, have substantial impacts on the way citizens engage and the ways through which power is sought, used, or contested?
Tiago Peixoto & Tom Steinberg for Citizen Tech with a concise engagement with a key #ICT4D & #globaldev question.

Melissa Fleming
Melissa discusses the challenge of mobilising global citizens into taking action, explains the power of storytelling in drowning out the “drumbeat of war”, and defends celebrity ambassadors such as Angelina Jolie against critics who accuse them of being “white saviours”.
Paul Blanchard talks to Melissa Fleming for the Media Masters podcast. Some interesting insights into communicating #globaldev at the macro level of the UN, but also some strangely leading questions by the host-so a bit of a mixed bag...

Women Photograph: 2019 Year in Pictures

With sensitivity and often a tender gaze, they illustrate this changing world. These photographers, from around the globe, honor the human experience through the simple act of seeing.
Women Photograph with some astonishing pictures from around the globe.

Zata Iya

These women writers, who were raised in a patriarchal society that encouraged self-censorship, and declared that their writings should ‘preach’ goodness to avoid badness—an idea derived from the Qur’an, where the Muslim is urged to observe and promote what is proper and to prevent what is improper—found themselves navigating Islam and Hausa customs. This placed them in a struggle to balance their faith and social relations with their feminist ideals. And yet, the creative impulses of these writers overcame suppression, book burnings, bans, and the criminalization of sexual narratives and queer stories—as indicated in the success of novels like Kamalu Namowa Bichi’s Sirrin Loba (Secret Love) which featured sexual scenes and lesbian love.
Sada Malumfashi for the Republic with a great essay on the history of Hausa Feminist Writings.

Welcome to the #iamAfrica short film competition voting page

The #iamAFRICA Short Film Competition is a collaborative initiative between the Pan African Film Festival, The Africa Narrative and YouTube. This initiative was launched to to accelerate the success of fresh creative voices from Africa. The organizers would like to thank the more than 160 creative directors who submitted their films to the first-ever competition. We have identified 48 semifinalists, whose works now appear on the PAFF YouTube channel.
After link on photography and literature, this amazing collection of short films will provide further nourishment for seeing the world through different eyes...

A sample annual appeal letter, if nonprofits were brutally honest with donors

Also, you know how people do those DNA tests to see what their heritage is? Well, it would be amazing if you did a similar analysis of where your family’s wealth came from! For instance, it could be 20% from displacing Native peoples from their land, 20% from a legacy of slavery, 30% perpetuating the opioid epidemic, 15% tax evasion, etc., and maybe now is the right time to do some reparation! I know it can be challenging to face the past, but it can also be fun and extremely freeing and will make such a big difference!
Vu Le for NonprofitAF is writing a Christmas letters many could only dream about writing to their donors...

Publications




Academia
Where is ‘The Field’?

Kinshasa is a waypoint for global flows of products and ideas as well as people. I used to spend hours at the market browsing wax print fabrics, and learning about the differences between the patterns favoured by local producers and Nigerian exporters. There was a memorable interview with a banking client whose shop specialized in prosthetic legs imported from China. And then there were the long conversations with my colleagues as we drove between interviews, discussing everything from the growth of non-agricultural employment in the United States to the differences between Congolese and Ethiopian secessionist movements to the pan-African political legacy of Patrice Lumumba.
Rachel Strohm for the Republic on changing 'fields' in the study of & engagement with #globaldev-some of which reminded me of my own reflections from 2013:‘The field’ is where inequality persists

Uncomfortable in white Skin: Research, (Self-)Reflexivity and Representation

For whose sake did I write in German about French-speaking people? The thesis was completely out of their reach language-wise and moreover out of their control. Before submitting, I didn‘t ask them, if they were o.k. with what I wrote about them and how I represented what they said. I would have had to write in French for doing so, and to the (potential) illiterate among my interview partners, I would actually have had to read it out to them. I would have needed to go back to Benin, to have the people approve what I wrote (only those whose names were mentioned or everybody?) before handing it in to my university. And if I received new feedback from my supervisor, who would be the last person having to approve the thesis? Would interview partners only need to approve to what I wrote about them personally or also to the bigger picture of the thesis? I still have more questions than answers. My thesis wasn‘t written for my interview partners as an audience. Academic language would have been a constraint for quite a few, the length of the thesis being another barrier for people who read slowly. And what would they get out of reading it? They probably would have got some deeper insights into what is important for other Rastas in Benin. It might even have changed something, created a stronger group dynamic. It might have done nothing. Eventually, the questions that I posed seemed relevant to me, but I have no clue if they were relevant to them.
Fiona Faye for Convivial Thinking on their PhD writing & dissemination process probably ring true for many junior scholars; this is the beginning of a much larger discussion that we will have in coming years around the nature of research & publications in #globaldev and what 'decolonization' really means beyond publishing in German, English and/or French...

Why I Say ‘Decolonisation is Impossible’

Therefore, and I reiterate very strongly, we cannot decolonise while relying on colonial logics of commodification of labour and space. This commodification is everywhere in UK HE. We have REF, TEF, KEF and the NSS. We have a varied assortment of university rankings… they all rely on logics of linking value to productivity, while also ignoring institutional racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia etc. These refusals to see, refusals to change, mean that we have strapped ourselves to a machine designed to destroy us. But we live in hope that before it does, at least it feeds us, sustains us for a while, unlike the poor benighted souls in the sacrifice zone, the wretched and damned of the earth, trampled under the wheels of the machine and then cast into the river with its forgotten names, its waters closing over their heads as they drift off into the silence. We do not remember their names. For most of them we never knew they names, never bothered to say those names. Too difficult to pronounce. Their bodies and their realities were too dissonant and distant, too foreign to fit into the normative frames of disciplines that did not consider the wretched and damned human at the dawn of the discipline’s inception. Now the discipline is complete, the canon closed and all it can do is fire out at a dying world.
Foluke Ifejola Adebisi for African Skies with powerful words on how we won't be able to dismantle our masters' houses with the tools of metrics, rankings & institutions...

UN reports, political pamphlets and robot arms – introducing the British Library of Development Studies Legacy Collection Project

The main work of the BLDS Legacy Collection Project will be to make these diverse, yet interrelated, materials accessible and user friendly through cataloguing, tagging and cross-referencing, and the creation of integrated guidelines that will help researchers better understand the collection as a whole.
Sam Nesbit for University of Sussex' Library Staff Blog. While it is a shame that IDS no longer hosts BLDS, this post brings back fond memories of my work as a Library Evening Supervisor during my PhD studies at IDS, including browsing through obscure publications from North Korea in the 1960s...

Winding down the Thesis Whisperer?

The archives of this blog are a treasure trove of community wisdom. I am proud and honoured to be the custodian of this writing. I want to set up the Thesis Whisperer for the future so that this content continues to be available and searchable, but I don’t want to add any more to this body of work.
Inger Mewburn's reflection on the Thesis Whisperer also raise interesting questions about the future of #highered blogging more generally-but glad such a fantastic resource will stay online!

What we were reading 4 years ago
(Link review 138, 25 February 2015)
5 reasons why everyone should work for a large organization at some point in their international development careers

when I thought about it further I came to realize that there are actually a few important aspects that those large organizations can teach us and that are worth experiencing first hand at some point in your career. Hence, I am arguing that as tempting as ‘field experience’ sounds for the next summer internship, or as enjoyable as your freelance career is at the moment it is worth engaging with one of the large tankers of the industry before dissing the white Land Cruiser culture, non-digital expense forms and global meetings where strategy documents are discussed by the sentence.
Me with some reflections about large organizations that still feel quite timely all these years later.

The Aid Industry-What Journalists Really Think

Development aid is no longer seen as the panacea for poorer areas of the world. At best it only forms part of the economic development of any particular country and at worst it can marginalise local expertise, and encourage corruption and an abdication of responsibility by national governments.
Helen Magee with an interesting report-have perceptions about development, aid & the aid industry changed during the last 4-5 years?

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Links & Contents I Liked 371