Links & Contents I Liked 355

Hi all,

From #globaldev plastic words to inclusive conferencing and McDonald's & race there's quite a nice, eclectic mix of weekend readings ready for you! 

My quotes of the week

The term ‘empowerment’ embodies a lot of wishful thinking
(Confessions of a gender advisor: Why I avoid the word “empowerment”)

When fast food gets into black communities and poor black communities in particular, however, it once again becomes this place with all these negative associations. Part of what gets lost in that frame is what is happening in the rest of the community. Why do people have to congregate there? Why is this the place where kids can hang out? Why is this one of the few places that’s open all night? The crime has already been done—the structural crimes, the chaos has happened. An uprising happens, and that is when there’s scrutiny on these places. It’s interesting that there are these negative associations with fast food because, in fact, what allows fast food to emerge in the first place are these extreme and chaotic conditions.
(McDonald’s in the Post–Civil Rights Era, with Marcia Chatelain)

Just a quick PSA, because I am part of the selection committee for an excellent opportunity here at Malmö University!
We will host two fully funded summer academies on Sustainable Public Management for young professionals from the Western Balkans, Baltic Sea & Eastern partnership countries under the auspices of The Swedish Institute in June & August!

The course is structured thematically, covering topics such as public management, governance, transparency, leadership & gender equality. If you are born after 1985 and are currently employed in one of the following organizations you should consider an application:
1. Policymakers (politicians, government officials, employees of political parties)
2. Public servants (non-political civil servants working at government agencies)
3. Civil society workers (CSO/NGO)

If you are a young professional from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia or Sweden you can apply for the academy in June:
SI Summer Academy for Young Professionals (SAYP) Western Balkans

If you are a young professional from Armenia, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Sweden, Ukraine you can apply for the academy in August:
SI Summer Academy for Young Professionals (SAYP) Baltic Sea Region and Eastern partnership countries

Deadline for applications is 11 March!

Development news
First-ever compendium of indigenous technologies provides a powerful toolkit for climate-resilient design

Julia Watson’s lush and meticulous new book, Lo—TEK: Design by Radical Indigenism, provides a blueprint for sustainable architecture in the 21st century. For designers of the built environment, it is a first-ever compendium of overlooked design technologies from indigenous groups around the world. For the intrepid traveler or curious citizen, it is an invitation to know millennia-old societies thriving in symbiosis with nature thanks to local ingenuity, creativity, spirituality, and resourcefulness. For the indigenous groups represented, it is source of satisfaction from seeing contemporary design scholarship catch up with their time-tested practices.
Sala Elise Patterson for Harvard University's Graduate School of Design with some food for the eyes!

How Will Tech Help in a Time of Pandemic?

Three letters: WFH.
That’s “work from home.” Zoom makes popular software that allows users to conduct video-conference meetings from different locations. Thus, in a time of restricted business travel and increasing pressure on companies, schools and other public gathering places to put epidemic plans in place, digital companies like Zoom are likely to benefit.
Kara Swisher for the New York Times. As much as I understand that Zoom is a for-profit company, as a user who is working with it professionally for teaching, supervision & more I can only encourage you to use it more widely for meetings, broadcast and much more!

Some development aid gets misdirected. Did the World Bank try to suppress a paper saying so?

What to make of all this? Well, for one thing, it seems the World Bank screwed up — badly. The allegations that the paper was blocked made it look like the bank doesn’t value the independence of the researchers who use their data to explore key questions in global development, even in the event that the reasons for the delay were entirely innocent. And if papers like this are getting blocked, that suggests the bank’s institutional culture could also be deterring researchers from pursuing research that might yield unflattering results for the bank in the first place. It’ll take time and effort for the World Bank to rebuild trust on that front.
But the fact that the alleged suppression didn’t work is encouraging. The chief economist of the World Bank resigned. Sources told the Economist about it. Someone leaked the paper to the Financial Times. The paper’s authors wrote not-very-oblique tweets about it. Their angry colleagues rallied around them. It’s very difficult to suppress research in the modern era. People whose research is suppressed by an organization can go to the press, or publish it themselves on their websites, and the research community can discuss and draw conclusions for itself on social media.
Kelsey Piper for Vox reviews the recent censorship debate around the infamous Bank paper about some aid disappearing in offshore accounts.

Daniel Bruce: Why the new Dfid and Foreign Office team must lead the way in tackling aid corruption

Let’s start to use Britain’s aid budget with ever-increasing intelligence that ramps up the search for solutions, stops the flows of dirty money out of poor countries and, one day, negates the need for international aid to foot the bill for vital public services.
In so doing, we need to clamp down on the ability of the corrupt, including those from countries which receive UK aid, to launder and hide their ill-gotten gains in Britain and its off shore territories. While the UK has taken steps to tackle these pathways, there’s still more to be done.
Over the next few weeks, our new Government will be gearing up for an integrated, strategic level review which will determine UK foreign, security and development policy priorities in the coming years. If Britain is to get the maximum return on its aid and is to benefit from a more stable, secure and prosperous world, then ambitious measures to tackle corruption need to feature prominently across the board.
I thought long and hard whether I want to link to Transparency International UK Daniel Bruce's op-ed on the Conservative Home page. But in the end I find it such a remarkable piece from a leading NGO that I decided to include the link. I'm amazed that Bruce does not mention the UK's tax havens or the City's role in maintaining them around the globe. Some vague mentioning of 'intelligence' is nice, but this is not just about putting the onus on recipient governments. But then again, I'm not *really* surprised that conservatives prefer to bash #globaldev rather than their donors and friends...

Searching for the nexus: The meme edition

The nexus, if nothing else, is the aid worker jargon that spawned 1,000 memes. Well, a dozen good ones, anyway.
Aid workers can have a sceptical, at times cynical, streak, as well as a taste for dark humour. And the nexus has proved to be full of inspiration for meme producers in the aid community. There’s even an Instagram account devoted to them.
The New Humanitarian with another dose of meme-based #globaldev humor.

My 'anti-buzzword-guide'​ to Communication for Development

And there is another very relevant point in this sort of language that makes it disappointing even beyond the difficulties to understand: we speak about other people and not with them. We are building a hypocracy of language which separates our good intentions from the societies that we are working with and those that are responsible to make this work possible. We instrumentalize ourselves to not have an opinion that might be conflicting with one direction or the other.
Jesko Johannsen reflects on some of ComDev's favorite plastic words...

Sex and lies in Morocco

Sex may be taboo – but sex still sells. Morocco is also a destination for sex tourists from the Gulf who exploit the poverty of Moroccan women and girls who have taken up prostitution to support themselves, and often their families too. In some cases, girls sell their bodies for a handful of vegetables. Meanwhile, Moroccan culture is becoming saturated with depictions of sex. Moroccans consume a staggering amount of pornography. The popular media produces articles with salacious headlines. Hypocrisy runs deep; public and private attitudes to sexuality are miles apart. These contradictions are visible in every page of the book, in every individual account: being a Muslim and an Arab seems invariably associated with sexual repression.
Slimani’s book reveals that it is not merely a changed cultural acceptance of sexual practices outside traditional forms that is needed. There is also a need to factor female pleasure into that revolution, so that it is possible to be a Muslim woman in the Arab world and to have ‘a free and fulfilling sex life without having to account for oneself to either state or society.’
Sister-hood reviews Leila Slimani’s book, 'Sex and Lies'.

Confessions of a gender advisor: Why I avoid the word “empowerment”
Gender transformative programming in economic development programmes only works if partners share this commitment. Talking to cooperatives trading in cocoa in eastern Liberia, we learnt male leadership has very little interest in empowering women. We quickly found out why: the cooperative strongly associated the term empowerment with women’s reproductive health and therefore outside their remit. Dropping the term from the conversation, we learned that the cooperative is clearly interested in adopting their outreach and training programmes to target women, who they know play an important part in drying cocoa and ensuring its quality.
Sabine Garbarino for fp2p reflects on another infamous #globaldev buzzword.

Our digital lives
A landmark Smithsonian decision could change the way we see history online. What it means for Wikipedia and women’s stories.

The Smithsonian’s new Open Access Initiative is a milestone action in this respect. By releasing 2.8 million images into the public domain under the Creative Commons CC0 License, the initiative aims to empower the public to innovate and build new knowledge to help solve today’s challenges. This means that previously restricted works are now free to share, use, and modify. It means that nearly three million artifacts can now be added to Wikimedia projects — enriching the public domain where anyone, anywhere can learn from and be inspired.
Kelly Doyle on the future and gendered impact of the Smithsonian’s new Open Access Initiative.

Garbage Language. Why do corporations speak the way they do?

Wiener writes especially well — with both fluency and astonishment — about the verbal habits of her peers: “People used a sort of nonlanguage, which was neither beautiful nor especially efficient: a mash-up of business-speak with athletic and wartime metaphors, inflated with self-importance. Calls to action; front lines and trenches; blitzscaling. Companies didn’t fail, they died.” She describes a man who wheels around her office on a scooter barking into a wireless headset about growth hacking, proactive technology, parallelization, and the first-mover advantage. “It was garbage language,” Wiener writes, “but customers loved him.”
Molly Young for Vulture/New York Magazine stares into the abyss of corporate plastic speak.

McDonald’s in the Post–Civil Rights Era, with Marcia Chatelain

In Franchise, Marcia Chatelain argues that McDonald’s nationwide expansion in the late 1960s was inextricably tied to the aftermath of the civil rights movement. For black communities, fast-food companies were both solution and symptom. On the one hand, they often were willing to do business in riot-afflicted black communities where others were not, creating gathering spaces and opportunities for jobs and community revitalization. On the other hand, fast food served as a stand-in for the state; it represented the move from government-backed civil rights to the “silver rights” to participate in the market economy. In this interview, we discuss how writing this book changed Chatelain’s outlook on racial capitalism, the role of corporate diversification in blunting racial progress, and how activists focused on getting communities of color to make better choices when it comes to food can rethink their approach to food justice.
Christian Hosam talks to Marcia Chatelain for Dissent about her new book.


Europe and the Refugee Response. A Crisis of Values?

Country case studies in the book are drawn from France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom; representing states with long histories of immigration, countries with a more recent refugee arrivals, and countries that want to keep refugees at bay and refuse to admit even the smallest number of asylum seekers. Contributors in the book explore the roles which national and local governments, civil society, and community leaders play in these debates and practices, and ask what strategies are being used to educate refugees about European values, and to facilitate their integration.
Elżbieta M. Goździak, Izabella Main & Brigitte Suter with a new open access book from Routledge.

Rethinking Safety of Journalists

This thematic issue of Media and Communication presents fresh research on the current situation of safety of journalists from various regions and countries, as well as reflections on how democratic developments may be safeguarded by finding ways to protect journalists and freedom of speech. The articles presented here both point at some of the most crucial challenges and to ways of addressing them. In doing so, they highlight how the safety of journalists is no longer a concern of individuals or individual nation states only, but is now also a global concern, whereby the international community isobliged to come to the defense of journalists’ safety
Kristin Skare Orgeret & William Tayeebwa with a open access special issue of Media and Communication.


Fewer than 1% of UK university professors are black, figures show

The statistics suggest the vast majority of British universities employ between zero and two black professors. Oxford, Sussex, Manchester and Warwick were among the few to employ enough senior black academics to show up in the official statistics.
Male professors continue to outnumber females by three to one, or 15,700 to 5,700 in 2018-19. The number of female professors has increased by 1,200 in the five years since 2014-15, and the number of males by half that amount.
Richard Adams for the Guardian with some new data on the lack of diversity in UK academia (other European countries probably look similar, if not worse).

Let's bring partners & kids to our conferences. Here's how in 12 steps.

Robert Lepenies shares some great ideas about more inclusive conferencing; his overview shows how particularly bad North America-based mega-conferences in the hotel-industrial complexes are doing and how little interest most associations have to change things beyond tokenism.

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 144, 24 April 2015)
The seven sins of humanitarian douchery

“Hi. I’m just calling because I’m looking for some more information about helping or aiding the local youths of North America. I really hear that obesity is a huge problem over there ... ”
This is the opening line from the video If Voluntourists Talked About North America, a video launched last week to kick off the End Humanitarian Douchery campaign.
Rachel Banning-Lover with a timeless example of #globaldev satire...

WHO leadership statement on the Ebola response and WHO reforms

We have learned the importance of capacity. We can mount a highly effective response to small and medium-sized outbreaks, but when faced with an emergency of this scale, our current capacities and systems – national and international – simply have not coped.
We have learned lessons of community and culture. A significant obstacle to an effective response has been the inadequate engagement with affected communities and families. This is not simply about getting the right messages across; we must learn to listen if we want to be heard. We have learned the importance of respect for culture in promoting safe and respectful funeral and burial practices. Empowering communities must be an action, not a cliché.
We have learned lessons of solidarity. In a disease outbreak, all are at risk. We have learned that the global surveillance and response system is only as strong as its weakest links, and in an increasingly globalized world, a disease threat in one country is a threat to us all. Shared vulnerability means shared responsibility and therefore requires sharing of resources, and sharing of information.
So what have 'we' really learned since 2015???

New media could topple ‘helicopter journalism’ in Africa

But from what I saw in Perugia, change is slowly gaining momentum. In a media landscape where there is no space for nuance, Ogunlesi believes that new media can help radically change the mainstream narrative about Africa.
Social media are giving us power to show the reality of each African country in detail, he said.
Lou De Bello shares some optimism from a journalism conference in 2015...


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