Links & Contents I Liked 373
The Scandinavian summer is almost over, the new semester about to start & your favorite #globaldev link review is back!
As I promised in early July, we will dive right into a new, important, stimulating list of readings (well, I included some from earlier in August...) including an extended section on great new open access books!
My quotes of the week
Taken together the empirical evidence indicate that aid is not effective at deterring migration and it should be used for other purposes. There is no convincing evidence that development assistance reduced migration flows. In the best-case scenario, aid will have a very limited deterring impact on migration flows with high costs per deterred migrant.
(Development Aid does not deter Irregular Migration)
I have followed closely how a gender and development institute in DRC, built around four women PhD holders, could easily find work as a sub-contractor for research, but once they developed their own agenda and proposals, donors were not interested and preferred to rely on Northern NGOs or UN agencies.
(Fighting racism and decolonizing humanitarian studies: toward mindful scholarship)
Smashed in by historical and ill-informed stereotypes about Africa and critical calls to write a new Africa, it might seem that there is no in-between; an African writer is either writing poverty porn or over-representing by telling stories of successful, latte drinking middle-class family melodrama. (White eyes)
New from aidnography
The WEconomy (book review)
Please resist the urge to quickly lower your eyes onto two sharp pencils in front of you!In light of the debates in Canada about the Kielburgers' and their WE philanthrocapitalistic empire I took a closer look at the book that outlines their philosophy in more detail...
NGOs scared, Think Tanks puzzled, Opposition silenced-What I learned after reading more than 40 articles on the DfID-FCO merger
The overall tone is clear: It is a bad idea and it will weaken the UK’s development capacities on many levels.Just before my summer break I wrote down a few reflections on the expanding commentary on the DfID-FCO merger.
But behind this unified view, disproportionately expressed by white Northern men, it becomes clear that large parts of the UK’s international development establishment are really worried about the decision, because it will most likely have negative implications for their future budget and scope of work.
My post focuses on NGOs, Think Tanks and the party political establishment, with the question in mind how these inevitable changes may affect organizations and the traditional set-up of how development is conceptualized, discussed, financed and implemented in the future.
DfID-FCO Merger in the UK-a curated collection
Updated this week, my collection now features more than 50 articles.
Racism in the aid industry and international development-a curated collection
This collection has also been growing all through the summer and will also be a teaching resource for this semester's classes.
World Bank Halts Report on National Competitiveness Rankings Amid Concerns of Data Manipulation
Data about four countries—China, Azerbaijan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia—appeared to have been inappropriately altered, according to a person with knowledge of the decision. The move renewed concerns first raised two years ago by the World Bank’s chief economist that the report, called “Doing Business,” was vulnerable to manipulation.Josh Zumbrun for the Wall Street Journal-paywalled, but the essentials are available in the preview. Perhaps this will start a broader debate around autocratic regimes & their contribution of data to global rankings...
Development Aid does not deter Irregular Migration
Taken together the empirical evidence indicate that aid is not effective at deterring migration and it should be used for other purposes. There is no convincing evidence that development assistance reduced migration flows. In the best-case scenario, aid will have a very limited deterring impact on migration flows with high costs per deterred migrant.Gabriele Restelli for Manchester's Global Development Institute; not really surprising, but great to have evidence now that EU politicians will probably continue to ignore...
To the contrary development assistance has been found to have positive impacts in other areas, such as healthcare and education. Spending should be concentrated where the added value is greatest. Allocating aid to respond to immigration concerns diverts resources from development objectives, while not being effective at delivering migrations control outcomes.
Disorder from Chaos: Why Europeans fail to promote stability in the Sahel
These new initiatives risk privileging security solutions to complex problems, meaning that necessary governance reforms may fall by the wayside. This is despite widespread acknowledgement, including from senior French officials, that there is no purely military solution to the varied conflicts and challenges in the Sahel.Andrew Lebovich for the European Council on Foreign Relations with an interesting new paper with links to the security-development-migration nexus.
Grassroots groups hold Beirut together, yet big NGOs suck up the cash
International organisations that received the majority of pledged funds for Beirut must ensure that those resources are distributed to local groups.Hayat Mirshad for the Guardian with a reminder about localization in the context of the Beirut reconstruction.
At least 50% of that money should go to local feminist organisations to make sure the needs of women and girls in all their diversity – often forgotten in times of crisis – are met. This means providing the breadth of services that girls, women, and gender-nonconforming individuals need in the aftermath of the explosion, including sexual and reproductive healthcare, protection from gender-based violence, and mental health support.Donors must also work collaboratively with organisations to ensure funds are flexible and accessible – especially given Lebanon’s current economic crisis, where bank limitations and high fees create barriers to receiving money quickly.
Why The Philippines Has So Many Teen Moms
Over a 10-year period, 1.2 million Filipina girls between the ages of 10 and 19 have had a child. That's a rate of 24 babies per hour.Aurora Almendral & Hannah Reyes Morales for NPR Goats & Soda; in today's 'abolish the Catholic church' news... :(((
And the rate of teenage pregnancy is rising.
The main reasons for the high rate of teenage pregnancies are inadequate sex education (some girls do not know that having sex can result in pregnancy or fully consider the responsibility of having children) and a lack of access to birth control. Contraceptive access has long been a complicated, divisive issue in the Philippines. Despite a constitutional separation of church and state, Catholic morals dominate Philippine law.
Do remittances lead to dependency? The case of Timor-Leste
Within their extended family Timorese are, in theory, assured of somewhere to be, something to eat, and something to do, and in return are expected to give back what they can. The expression of this system has shifted along with Timor’s economic, ecological and political circumstances, but it remains important.Michael Rose for the DevPolicy Blog is optimistic about the positive, long-term impact of remittances in Timor-Leste.
While it is true that no country has ever become rich off labour mobility alone, an extended family hooked into income from abroad is likely better educated, better fed, less anxious about their subsistence, and more worldly. The proliferation of such households can only increase Timor’s prospects in decades to come.
You don’t have to be neutral to be a good humanitarian
In today's wars, when access is so contested and big aid agencies are so concerned about their own security, it is often non-neutral community-based humanitarianism that is best placed to save lives, and courageous enough to do so.Hugo Slim for the New Humanitarian continues the debates about the future of humanitarianism.
And yet the misguided orthodoxy that all humanitarian action must be neutral – and that only international aid workers can be neutral – de-legitimises locally led aid when it is needed most. This narrative comes from both warring parties and global humanitarian agencies alike. The former use it as an excuse to obstruct or attack humanitarian aid in enemy areas for not being neutral. The latter suggest all aid should be neutral – like theirs – in an effort to guard their space, which is under threat from shrinking donor funds and a push for locally driven aid.
The EU milk lookalike that is devastating West Africa’s dairy sector
The local industry says that European producers use West African markets to offload gallons of a lower quality product derived from constituents of cow's milk that they are unable to sell in the EU. This cheap milk lookalike is bulked up with vegetable fats including palm oil. Its low cost and ubiquity make it impossible to compete, say local livestock farmers, leading to a spiral of economic decline.Simon Marks & Emmet Livingstone for Politico; when the promise of 'trade, not aid' meets the realities of the EU agricultural subsidies industrial complex...
Many countries in West Africa, including the continent’s biggest economy Nigeria, have already taken action to curb the rising tide of milk imports and implemented policies to support farmers and protect indigenous milk production. But dairy farmers say the competition is so intense that it is too little too late.
Fighting racism and decolonizing humanitarian studies: toward mindful scholarship
Moreover, relations between northern and southern institutions rarely attain the nature of equal partnership. The best many southern universities can usually hope for is to become a poorly paid partner that has no say in the agenda of the research and whose role is limited to data gathering. The possibility of co-authoring may not even be mentioned. I have followed closely how a gender and development institute in DRC, built around four women PhD holders, could easily find work as a sub-contractor for research, but once they developed their own agenda and proposals, donors were not interested and preferred to rely on Northern NGOs or UN agencies.Dorothea Hilhorst for blISS on how humanitarian studies need to join the debates on decolonizing development & racism in the #globaldev industry.
We need to talk about racism in philanthropy
“Forty directors. Not a single person of colour… It’s time we had a conversation about what structural racism looks like in the nonprofit sector – and the effect it’s having in creating the problems that the sector is meant to be solving.”Maggie Coggan for ProBono Australia; another ecosystem faces tough discussions on social change & racialized legacies.
While it’s a conversation that’s been taking place behind closed doors and in private email chains for a number of years now, the topic is yet to be fully dealt with out in the open.
But in the wake of the global Black Lives Matter movement, Paramanathan and a number of others in the sector believe it’s an opportune time to make a move on the issue.
Smashed in by historical and ill-informed stereotypes about Africa and critical calls to write a new Africa, it might seem that there is no in-between; an African writer is either writing poverty porn or over-representing by telling stories of successful, latte drinking middle-class family melodrama. This demand on African writers limits the imagination, the scope of their writing and the power to speak truth to power—or as the Nigerian-Ghanaian writer, Taiye Selasi, argues, results in the pigeonholing of African writers and denial of artistic freedom. But if the work of the artist is to create (and stay honest to reality, without prejudice or agenda) and this work ends with creation, does it then make sense to limit the imagination of an African writer with the burden of ideal representation?Emeka Joseph Nwankwo for Africa is a Country on writing about 'Africa'/Africa.
How white are the newsrooms working on Africa? We asked them.
Mercy, a young journalist who grew up in the UK and whose parents were born in an African country, described struggling to fit in at a prestigious outlet where she was the only black person and one of few journalists from a modest background. At home, she would research conversation topics to relate to her white upper-class colleagues as they talked about their ski trips and gap years. Despite her efforts, she said, she didn’t get the same opportunities as her peers. She saw this as her own failure, which hurt her self-confidence for months.Emmanuel Freudenthal for African Arguments with an important piece on opportunities and discrimination in global journalism beyond skin color.
Life after deportation: 'No one tells you how lonely you're going to be'
Jason had lost much of his earlier vitality, and the damage inflicted by deportation and homelessness showed more clearly. In previous years, we would have gone into a fast-food restaurant to eat and talk, but he was no longer allowed inside anywhere. When we met up around that time, he was visibly destitute and he smelled bad, and so all we could do was spend an hour or so together in Emancipation Park, in the centre of Kingston. (...)Luke de Noronha for the Guardian with a long-read/excerpt from his new book and a reminder that the UK's deportation efforts are supported in part through the aid budget...
The last time I saw Jason was a couple of years later, when I returned to Jamaica in 2019. We spent a few hours together in Emancipation Park. He was still surviving, although he looked much worse off after two years of rough sleeping on the streets – his teeth were decaying, and his clothes were soiled. Earlier this summer I received an update on Jason from a contact in Jamaica, a security guard named Dawn, who took a shine to Jason a few years ago, when he was begging just outside where she worked. In July, she saw him for the first time in months, by the Burger King in Half Way Tree, one of Kingston’s main transport hubs, and she told me he was well, still loud and full of energy. Five years on from when we first met, and 20 years from when he first left Jamaica, Jason is still surviving, still finding ways to keep moving – abandoned, but not giving up.
Verso Book Club
At this momentous time for global politics, Verso will bring you radical voices that challenge capitalism, racism and patriarchy, debate the future of the planet, and work towards real political change.Pluto Press: Come and join our Patreon!
As bookshops and warehouses close around the world, our future hangs in the balance. To help combat the crisis, we’re set up a Patreon for our most loyal readers.I have joined both initiatives over the summer and my Kobo is filled to the brim wit excellent new books! I love open access publishing (see below), but supporting independent publishers is money very well spent!
Our digital lives
Blockchain, the amazing solution for almost nothing
Maybe this is blockchain’s greatest merit: it’s an awareness campaign, albeit an expensive one. “Back-office management” isn’t an item on the agenda in board meetings, but “blockchain” and “innovation” are.Jesse Frederik for the Correspondent with great food for thought for the #globaldev blockchain crowd.
Thanks to all the hype, Maarten was able to develop his children’s aid package app, maternity care providers began talking to each other again, and many businesses and local authorities were gently made aware of their ramshackle data management.
Yes, it took a few wild, unmet promises, but the result is that administrators are now interested in the boring subjects that help make the world run a bit more efficiently – nothing spectacular, just a bit better.
The smartest thing about blockchain, Matt Levine wrote, is that the rest of the world was forced to “pay attention to those back-office technology upgrades, and to think that they might be revolutionary”.
How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism
Mass state surveillance is only feasible because of surveillance capitalism and its extremely low-yield ad-targeting systems, which require a constant feed of personal data to remain barely viable. Surveillance capitalism’s primary failure mode is mistargeted ads while mass state surveillance’s primary failure mode is grotesque human rights abuses, tending toward totalitarianism.Cory Doctorow with a long-read (well...it's actually his new book) on what surveillance capitalism has become.
State surveillance is no mere parasite on Big Tech, sucking up its data and giving nothing in return. In truth, the two are symbiotes: Big Tech sucks up our data for spy agencies, and spy agencies ensure that governments don’t limit Big Tech’s activities so severely that it would no longer serve the spy agencies’ needs. There is no firm distinction between state surveillance and surveillance capitalism; they are dependent on one another.
Living on Little-Navigating financial scarcity in modern Kenya
Low-income people, just like everyone else, face challenges with addiction, mental illness, and infertility, but have few resources to find solutions. Living on Little tells a holistic story about how low-income Kenyans optimistically pursue life-long missions to build richer lives—literally and figuratively. Along the way, it provokes new insights, pokes at old assumptions, and inspires creative thinking about the problem of poverty.Julie Zollmann with a great new book from Practical Action.
Illustrating data feminism in action, D'Ignazio and Klein show how challenges to the male/female binary can help challenge other hierarchical (and empirically wrong) classification systems. They explain how, for example, an understanding of emotion can expand our ideas about effective data visualization, and how the concept of invisible labor can expose the significant human efforts required by our automated systems. And they show why the data never, ever “speak for themselves.”Catherine D'Ignazio & Lauren F. Klein's new book with MIT Press is now available open access.
At the heart of Fields of Gold is a tension between efforts to transform farmland into a new financial asset class, and land's physical and social properties, which frequently obstruct that transformation. But what makes the book unique among the growing body of work on the global land grab is Fairbairn's interest in those acquiring land, rather than those affected by land acquisitions. Fairbairn's work sheds ethnographic light on the actors and relationships—from Iowa to Manhattan to São Paulo—that have helped to turn land into an attractive financial asset class.Madeleine Fairbairn with an open access monograph from Cornell University Press.
The Politics of Uncertainty
The book argues that uncertainties must be understood as complex constructions of knowledge, materiality, experience, embodiment and practice. Examining in particular how uncertainties are experienced in contexts of marginalisation and precarity, this book shows how sustainability and development are not just technical issues, but depend deeply on political values and choices. What burgeoning uncertainties require lies less in escalating efforts at control, but more in a new – more collective, mutualistic and convivial – politics of responsibility and care. If hopes of much-needed progressive transformation are to be realised, then currently blinkered understandings of uncertainty need to be met with renewed democratic struggle.Ian Scoones & Andy Stirling with an open access collection from Earthscan/Routledge.
Making Open Development Inclusive: Lessons from IDRC Research
Focusing on development practices in the Global South, the contributors assess the crucial questions of who is able to participate and benefit from open practices, and who cannot. Examining a wide range of cases, they offer a macro analysis of how open development ecosystems are governed, and evaluate the inclusiveness of a variety of applications, including creating open educational resources, collaborating in science and knowledge production, and crowdsourcing information.Matthew L. Smith & Ruhiya Kristine Seward with an open access volume for IDRC.
Beyond Education-Radical Studying for Another World
In Beyond Education, Eli Meyerhoff traces how key elements of education emerged from histories of struggles in opposition to alternative modes of study bound up with different modes of world-making. Taking inspiration from Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, and Indigenous resurgence projects, he charts a new course for movements within, against, and beyond the university as we know it.Eli Meyerhoff's book from Minnesota University Press is also available open access.
Postcolonialism & Post-Development-Practical Perspectives for Development Cooperation
Despite almost 70 years of German and international development cooperation, global social inequality has hardly changed. Representatives of postcolonial approaches and post-development theories have pointed out for decades that the European supremacy in defining and implementing development projects is based on colonial continuity. It thereby reproduces inequalities instead of breaking with them. So far, these ideas have found little attention within the institutions of development cooperation, possibly because they seem too abstract or because they give few practical suggestions. Against this background, the Working Group for Global Development and Postcolonial Issues of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung‘s Academic Grants Programme met with scientists and development practitioners to discuss practical perspectives of postcolonial approaches and post-development theories.Tim Kornprobst, Tanja Matheis, Adrian Schlegel, Florian Vitello, Julia Fritzsche, Myriell Fußer, Clemens Starke, Tatjana Zemeitat & Denise Klüber with a new working paper by the Working Group for Global Development and Postcolonial Issues of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.
Decolonising Methods: A Reading List
As I’m focusing on decolonising methods this time, I’m not only featuring Indigenous literature, but also subaltern literature. ‘Subaltern’ is used in post-colonial theory to mean individuals and groups who do not hold power. So, it could be said that Indigenous peoples are also subaltern, but subaltern peoples may not be Indigenous. Please note that this is only one option: these terms (like all those in this field) are contested, and self-definition always counts for more than externally applied categories. What this does illustrate is that decolonising methods is a project that implies scrutinising and decolonising a whole load of other things too, because methods don’t exist in isolation.Helen Kara with a great reading list.
Understanding Celebrity Humanitarianism and Celebrity Advocacy
Here we introduce research about celebrity humanitarianism and celebrity advocacy. We provide links and resources about this topic and to make the books more teachable and readable. We hope that this helps make the books and our ideas more accessible and useful to students, educators and practitioners.Lisa Richey & Dan Brockington with a great new teaching resource on all things celebrity in the context of humanitarianism.
What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 162, 5 November 2015)
A woman’s place is in the audience: the joy of all-male panels
Last week I received invites to three events with all-male panels. This alone should be enough to shock you. In our more than gender-balanced sector, it’s almost impossible to put together a panel that excludes women. What’s more incredible however is the response I received from the event organisers when I queried them about this.Rose Longhurst for the Guardian; the all-male panel discussion gained some momentum in 2015 and #globaldev has become better since, but there's still room for improvement when it comes to panel diversity.