Links & Contents I Liked 353

Hi all, 

Happy Valentine's, happy #globaldev reading & thanks for all your great birthday wishes!

My quotes of the week

Is civil society a means of providing service provision alternatives to the Government of Syria? Is civil society a means of improving local development in specific communities? Is civil society empowered as a means of politically transforming the Government of Syria? Is civil society support to be based on Western development theories and objectives, or on a more ‘community defined’ series of objectives? Is civil society being empowered for its own sake?
Function Over Form: Rethinking Civil Society in Government-held Syria)

The Academy has a huge way to go. I don’t even know if it wants to decolonize. Universities are bureaucracies, increasingly corporatized, we are hiring vice chancellors to be like CEOs, paying them huge salaries to get research grants. This is true in Ghana just like in the UK (How to Decolonize Academia. Interview with Prof. Akosua Adomako Ampofo)


Development news
Top tips on building a career in aid and development

The speakers were from the big donors – bilateral ones like DFID and USAID, regional banks like the ADB and EBRD, and a World Banker to add the multilateral view, and from all stages of their careers, but their advice applies pretty well to the rest of the aid and development sector. They were asked to give their top tips to a room full of global bright young things.
Duncan Green for fp2p. Some of my initial reflections in my Twitter thread below, but this is also a good opportunity to revisit some of the career advice from the archive:
Should I consider a PhD in International Development Studies? (2011)

Reader career question 01: Eradicating poverty with a PhD and/or UN job? (2013)

5 reasons why everyone should work for a large organization at some point in their international development careers (2015)

The privilege of giving career advice in international development (2017)

Should I transition from aid work to academia? Some don’ts & don’ts (2018)

Of lofty ideals, dual careers & long-distance motherhood - guest post by Milasoa Chérel-Robson (2018)

Learning service (book review)(2018)

The World Bank loses another chief economist
World Bank payouts to 22 aid-dependent countries during 1990-2010 were followed by a jump in their deposits in foreign financial havens. The leaks averaged about 5% of the bank’s aid to these countries.
But it is also possible that the bank’s decision to block one of her team’s papers grated on her. After aid to a country spikes, money departs for offshore havens. And after a sensitive paper is spiked, Penny departs for New Haven. In both cases, correlation is easier to prove than causation.
The Economist on the departing World Bank Chief Economist, possible censorship of research findings and bigger questions as to whether or how much aid ends up in offshore accounts...

European court under fire for backing Spain's express deportations

The European court of human rights has been accused of “completely ignoring the reality” along the continent’s borders after it ruled that Spain acted lawfully when it summarily deported two people who tried to scale the border fence separating Morocco from Spanish territory six years ago.
The Strasbourg court announced its decision on Thursday in the case brought by the two men, who are from Mali and Ivory Coast.(...)
The pair say they were never given a chance to explain their personal circumstances or receive help from lawyers or interpreters.
Sam Jones for the Guardian with another case study of how the European asylum system gets hollowed out.

Diary of a drought

So, for the next six months, six urban and rural families in three drought-affected countries – Kenya, Somalia, and Zimbabwe – will share their day-to-day as they juggle priorities to make ends meet.
Each family will contribute a monthly diary that tracks their household news and updates a shopping basket of basic commodities, offering a window on real market prices and what it means to navigate rising living costs as an impact of a changing climate.
Obi Anyadike for the New Humanitarian with an interesting storytelling project to engage with the impacts and seasonalities of drought in Kenya, Somalia, and Zimbabwe.

Stolen Childhoods: The Girls of Ghana’s Lake Volta

Delight was already excited by her very young dream of becoming a nurse. Instead, she was sold for 250 cedis — about $36, the price of a goat or small cow — and spent three years in Jacob’s home, rising at 4 a.m. and returning home at 6 p.m. to her harsh “master,” as traffickers commonly require children to call them.
“Sometimes, whenever he asked me to do something,” Delight, now 14, said as she shuffled in her seat during a conversation in this town, near the upper lake, “he would just shout at me or beat me.”
I traveled to Ghana to hear from young women who had been trafficked along Lake Volta. Along with countless other girls, Delight waited for the boys — also trafficked — who went out at 5 a.m. and returned with their catch, which Delight sometimes helped to pull in. The fumes the girls inhale while smoking the fish — known to be toxic in an enclosed space — often made her nauseous. Delight not only cleaned and smoked the fish but also sold it in the market. Over three years, she never saw a pesewas, or Ghanaian cent.
Kayla Stewart for PassBlue with powerful insights into forced labor/enslavement practices in Ghana.

Function Over Form: Rethinking Civil Society in Government-held Syria

A critical question to be addressed by international donors and implementing agencies with respect to supporting Syrian civil society in Government-held areas is: what exactly do you seek to achieve? The way in which individual civil society entities should be interacted with and empowered in Syria must be informed by a clear strategy. Is civil society a means of providing service provision alternatives to the Government of Syria? Is civil society a means of improving local development in specific communities? Is civil society empowered as a means of politically transforming the Government of Syria? Is civil society support to be based on Western development theories and objectives, or on a more ‘community defined’ series of objectives? Is civil society being empowered for its own sake?
The Center for Operational Analysis and Research asks age-old questions about 'civil society' in light of the complexities in Syria and other parts of the Middle East.

Can NGOs and social movements be authentic allies?

In short:
Show up early, and be present without an agenda. Discover what’s needed by being there and listening. Don’t hide your organisational affiliation, but make it clear that you’re not just there in solidarity but also to figure out how else you might be able to contribute. Remember you’re not in charge.
Listen before doing. Each movement needs resources in unique ways. What do organisers need most and where are you authentically well positioned to do – both now and longer term, after public interest has waned?
Be accountable. Consider yourself a part of the movement, not just a spectator or helper. When things go wrong, step into solution mode and own mistakes. Accept responsibility and be willing to take suggestions and constructive advice.
Michael Silberman for openDemocracy also continues the discussion around civil society, advocacy & maintaining civic spaces.

The new development diplomacy in middle-income countries: the changing role of traditional donors in India

There is no singular position from which to state that development diplomacy is a success or not. For now, we see a series of opportunities and risks emerging in the Indian context. Although the current refashioning of development is predicated on the idea of synergies with diplomatic interests, configurations and narratives, whether and how this actually serves the development agendas of partner countries – and different stakeholders and actors therein – requires deeper interrogation and analysis.
Nilima Gulrajani, Emma Mawdsley & Supriya Roychoudhury for ODI; I wish there were better summaries alongside the actual report (pet peeve: the report starts on page 7 & I really don't understand why acronyms still have to be on one of the first pages in 2020...)

Working well? Aid worker well-being and how to improve it

This report provides numerous examples of efforts underway to support aid worker well-being and considers recent signs of political will to do more. However, it concludes:
- the issue requires a “home” that weaves together consideration of mental health, people management, organisational culture (including issues of diversity and equity), as well as care and compassion;
- it needs sustained resourcing to connect and support people working in these areas;
- it warrants uninterrupted attention from leadership, and also from boards, managers and individuals; and
it requires different ways of working that better aligns with our stated humanitarian values.
Melissa Pitotti and Mary Ann Clements for the CHS Alliance with great food for thought & action for the post-#AidToo world!

Courage, resolve and togetherness: Opportunities to connect and learn with me

Getting Ourselves Together: How White People Can Show Up for Anti-Racism in #Globaldev
Jennifer Lentfer & Mary Ann Clements with a great offer to the #globaldev community!

Helpful hypocrisy? The ‘ironic turn’ in corporate talk about sustainable development

Without moralizing or telling consumers what to do, or even restraining from telling consumers how good the corporate sustainable activities are, Diesel exposes the ambiguities of society and sustainability by using humor.
Now, we are not fooling ourselves. Diesel is a company with an ambition of selling more products. And where satire is a technique that intends to improve humanity by critiquing its ‘follies and foibles’, companies are generally known to have less noble ambitions.
But we argue – with Swedish sociologist Nils Brunsson – that “hypocrisy appears to be exactly what we demand of modern organizations: if we expose organizations to conflicting demands and norms, and expect that they should respond to them, then we must also expect hypocrisy” (1993: 8-9).
We propose that irony may be considered a means of ‘helpful hypocrisy’ in which the public is exposed to the contradictions and vices of society with the purpose of changing people’s opinion and create betterment of society.
Sarah Glozer & Mette Morsing for CBS Business of Society with new research on irony, hypocrisy & #globaldev.

We can’t avoid the word empire when it still shapes our world

It is complex because there was not one British empire but many; and I’m curious to continue where my education left off. For my new podcast series, I wanted to know what it was like to be born in Hong Kong, as was Emma-Lee Moss, the half-Chinese, half-British singer who grew up in the colony and then witnessed its handover to China. Then there is South Carolina, to which the British trafficking of enslaved people from what is now Sierra Leone transferred rice-farming technology, as well as the linguistic, cultural and ethnic community of those such as Emory Campbell. His Gullah people retain a distinctive identity to this day.
I wanted to understand how colonialism worked in Jamaica, where a young woman was recruited as a nurse in the newly created NHS as part of the Windrush generation, and would go on to defend Britain enslaving her ancestors to her British-born son
Afua Hirsch for the Guardian introduces her new podcast project about British Empire(s)!

Innovation in Humanitarian Action

In the wider context of innovation in humanitarianism, it has of late been argued that the ‘humanitarian innovation’ movement does in fact represent an ideological departure from long-held humanitarian principles, not necessarily openly discussed and intended as such, but in actual practice. Driven by the private sector and a strong commitment to the market as the main driver of innovation – whether understood narrowly or more holistically – and using the language of private for-profit enterprises, it reveals that the innovation agenda is mainly geared towards making humanitarian actors fitter for the humanitarian marketplace, rather than considering how beneficiaries might be better served.
Tanja Mueller & Gemma Sou introduce a new issue of the open access Journal of Humanitarian Affairs.

From Pick-Up Artists to Incels:A Data-Driven Sketch of the Manosphere 
This paper presented a data-driven characterization of theManosphere over the last 14 years. We gathered and analyzeda large dataset including dedicated forums and subreddits, andused a typology to divide these into communities. Our analysisprovides a partial reconstruction of the Manosphere’s history,along with how its toxicity and hate speech evolved. Older com-munities, such as Men’s Rights Activists and Pick Up Artists,are becoming less popular and active, while newer communities,like Incels and Men Going Their Own Way, are thriving. We alsofind that communities increasingly share the same user base, andthat there is substantial migration from the communities to thenewer ones. Worryingly, the latter are more toxic and espousenihilistic and extreme anti-women ideologies.
Manoel Horta Ribeiro, Jeremy Blackburn, Barry Bradlyns, Emiliano De Cristofarop, Gianluca Stringhini, Summer Long, Stephanie Greenberg & Savvas Zannettouq with a new open access paper in Arxiv.
Revealed: LSE-Huawei deal sparks ‘reputation laundering’ concerns

The internal LSE documents seen by openDemocracy described the Huawei funding as “A proposed three-year consultancy project donation of £105k from Huawei.”
It explains: “The project is to provide a comprehensive study on how Huawei has internally supported innovation and product development in the past twenty years, focusing upon the transition from 2G infrastructure to technology leadership in 5G and governance, incentive and innovation at Huawei.”
LSE confirmed that its ethics committee had approved the Huawei transaction, which it described as a research contract. However, commercial discussions were continuing, it said, and no final agreement or payment had been made.
Peter Geoghegan & Jenna Corderoy for openDemocracy with a case study of how UK universities prepare for the post-Brexit world...

'Naked intimidation': how universities silence academics on social media
Some say it is causing academics to behave more like celebrities. “It’s certainly not impossible for people to build a large online following while retaining their scholarly integrity. But it is difficult because platforms are engineered to reward statements which generate a reaction, positive or negative, something nuance and caveat will tend to get in the way of,” says Carrigan.
While academics can benefit society by bringing expertise outside academic journals and into the public through social media, they need to be careful. As Carrigan says: “In many ways, social media isn’t particularly well suited to the in-depth expertise which academics bring.”
Tess Reidy for the Guardian on how #highered institutions likes social media...until they don't...

How to Decolonize Academia. Interview with Prof. Akosua Adomako Ampofo

The Academy has a huge way to go. I don’t even know if it wants to decolonize. Universities are bureaucracies, increasingly corporatized, we are hiring vice chancellors to be like CEOs, paying them huge salaries to get research grants. This is true in Ghana just like in the UK – we are fighting for the rankings, and they are measured by grants, publications, citations, being on the news. None of those things address the key concerns of what you are teaching.
That makes it harder to decolonize, because you have to do the research that is ‘cutting edge’. There was some research in the US that found that most of the researchers who get the money were white. Initially they thought this was a racial issue, but when they looked closer they found no big difference according to the name of the researchers, for example. Instead, they found the difference was in what you were going to do your research on, and that researchers of colour were more likely to work on small community projects that looked at people’s lives, whereas big research grants go on finding a cure for HIV/AIDS or massive regressions, not dealing with those human issues that are at the heart of decolonizing.
Duncan Green interviews Akosua Adomako Ampofo for fp2p.

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 142, 7 April 2015)
Honor Among Thieves (book review)

I find it difficult to judge whether the third novel is J’s ‘best’ so far. It is less aid romance and focused on Mary-Anne’s love and work life, but I find it the strongest contribution to the emerging and growing ‘learning about aid through literary representations’ genre-an important feature that other reviewers seem to share as well.
As with the previous installments, I can recommend J’s book highly to students, educators, ordinary citizens and aid experts alike. Honor Among Thieves offers plenty of food for thought and discussion – excellent aid edutainment for the 21st century!
Me, still a big fan of J.'s writing!

Development Consultants: Over-paid, Over-rated, and Over-used

In the long run, however, there’s only one thing which will really make a difference. Development organisations need to stop relying on consultants and invest in their own staff. Donors need to stop considering trained, motivated staff as an overhead cost, and think of them as a foundation for effective development work. Both donors and organisations need to provide training and support in order to increase the quality of their staff, and build a rewarding work environment which enables organisations to keep their staff in the long-term.
The good people from where are we on this discussion 5 years later ??!!

Why I’m not doing “fieldwork”

The problem I see here is that using “the field” like this essentializes low-income countries (and particularly rural or conflict-affected areas within them) as places that are fundamentally different to anywhere else. They’re not places where people live or work or go on holiday like any other; they’re sites of research and development programming, because they’re poor and they have all these problems that need to be fixed. They are defined by their poverty and its associated challenges before anything else. And when you start conceptualizing a place primarily in terms of absence – of health, of security, of good roads – you’re likely to miss a great deal of what’s actually present.
Rachel Strohm's reflections on 'the field' and 'field work' are still pretty accurate!


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