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Hi all, 

I am tired. I know we all are. I was fortunate to talk with great students in Edinburgh and Malmö this week about media, development, reflective practice and how important empathy is when you 'do' #globaldev. I hope you are also managing and have time to read a little bit this weekend, especially if you are tired from US  Thanksgiving & the global spread of Black Friday and need critical food for thought...

My quotes of the week
The event, which included performances of music, dancing and drumming, began with a reading by Cyndi Celeste, whose poem “This Space” aptly conveyed a timeline of how colonialism turned the enslaved “from human to cattle, from person to chattel” — and how Barbadians are now reclaiming the space for themselves:
It is interesting how many tales the cobblestones of a place can hold
How many times a space can dawn a new face,
How many new stories unfold:
Watch this space.
Watch the way this square transforms before your very eyes […]

(Barbados removes statue of British naval officer Horatio Nelson for his role in the slave trade)

Talib is constantly afraid that fate will strike again. “We heard drones in the air so often before it happened, but I never thought they would strike so close to a tourist spot. The fact that they did anyway can mean only one thing, in my opinion: they see all of us as targets.”
(Drones have changed warfare. This is what life is like as a constant human target)

New from aidnography

Development news
UK aid to refocus on countries where 'interests align'
The United Kingdom’s future aid strategy will focus only on countries in which its “development, security, and economic interests align,” according to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Raab announced the U.K. will be following a “new strategic framework for ODA [official development assistance] that will replace the government’s 2015 aid strategy.”
(...)
“The reforms will make aid more effective,” wrote Raab. The letter was published by the committee soon after Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed that there would be a “temporary” reduction to the aid budget tied to 0.7% of gross national income next year. The U.K. will instead spend 0.5% of GNI on ODA until “the fiscal situation allows” a budget increase.
William Worley for DevEx has done a great job following this week's #globaldev debate in the UK closely, critically and reporting important details about the future direction of UK Aid.

A terrible time for the UK to cut foreign aid
Taken together with the parallel proposals to boost spending on national defence and to restrict employment within the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to British nationals – which will greatly limit the talent pool from which to recruit and undermine FCDO’s ability to operate effectively in different contexts – this latest move suggests Britain is rapidly becoming a parochial rather than progressive presence in the world. The UK, with its reputation as a global leader on foreign aid and for scientific excellence in vaccine development and beyond, remains well placed to play a leading role in both responding to the pandemic and helping to build a more equal, safer and sustainable global order.
Sam Hickey & Uma Kambhampati with an open letter in the Guardian; the pervasive narrative of the 'we need to tighten the #globaldev belt' is nonsense, of course, as military spending is increased or more cronyism in awarding Covid-19 contracts is revealed every day. The silence and polite acceptance of these cuts (which will most likely be be permanent) pretty much confirm my reflections from the summer:
NGOs scared, Think Tanks puzzled, Opposition silenced-What I learned after reading more than 40 articles on the DfID-FCO merger.
Rape, abuses in palm oil fields linked to top beauty brands
Many families living on plantations struggle to earn enough to cover basic costs, like electricity and rice. Desperate women are sometimes coerced into using their bodies to pay back loans from supervisors or other workers. And younger females, especially those considered attractive, occasionally are given less demanding jobs like cleaning the boss’ house, with sex expected in exchange.
In the few cases where victims do speak out, companies often don’t take action or police charges are either dropped or not filed because it usually comes down to the accuser’s word against the man’s.
(...)
The conditions these workers endure stand in stark contrast to female empowerment messages promoted by industry leaders such as L’Oréal, one of the world’s top cosmetic companies, and Unilever, one of the biggest palm oil buyers for consumer goods, which sources from more than 1,500 mills.
Margie Mason & Robin McDowell for AP News on gender-based violence Malaysia & Indonesia and the long road for meaningful corporate social responsibility & accountability.

United Way Accused Of Retaliation Against Women Employees

In the email, Avendaño wrote that United Way Worldwide’s response to her complaint rests on portraying her as an “angry Latina” and a “tyrannical supervisor.”
This is “both demonstrably false and sexist,” she said. “I do not believe that the public or a jury will take well to UWW casting me in the trope of the Angry and Emotional Latina. “
Avendaño had believed that United Way would want to help with her mission to root out sexual harassment inside labor. She never dreamed it would go south the way it did, Seabrook — whom Avendaño confided in and is not bound by the NDA — told HuffPost.
“She thought United Way would step up,” she said.
Seabrook said she’d tried to talk Avendaño out of filing a case at the EEOC: Making a complaint against a big, well-funded enterprise is a challenging endeavor, she said.
“It’s so hard. Financially. Emotionally. Professionally.”
These things usually don’t come to light — even now three years into the post-Me Too era — because of the impact cases can have on a woman’s career.
Bowman, the former chief marketing officer, said something similar. She doesn’t know what’s next for her professionally, and she knows that speaking up will have a cost.
Emily Peck for Huffington Post with an all-too-familiar story about whistleblowing, large organization's response to it & the long way for MeToo in the charity sector...

Drones have changed warfare. This is what life is like as a constant human target
But where the soldiers behind the drones can now see the battlefield better than ever, the outside world sees far less than before. Almost everything we know about the violence being perpetrated comes from spokespersons, and that’s not much. It is often unclear exactly how decisions are made and, for example, why the risk of civilian casualties was taken for granted. Almost every nation that possesses drones claims that unverifiable “protocols” are in place to ensure that only the targeted people are hit.
(...)
Talib is constantly afraid that fate will strike again. “We heard drones in the air so often before it happened, but I never thought they would strike so close to a tourist spot. The fact that they did anyway can mean only one thing, in my opinion: they see all of us as targets.”
Lennart Hofman for the Correspondent on Turkish drone warfare in Iraq.

How Museveni mastered violence to win elections in Uganda
In fact, they illustrate the way in which Bobi Wine has little chance of winning in 2021 despite his popularity, especially in urban centres. This is because President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in office since 1986, has increased his control over the electoral sphere and perfected his strategies for winning elections – of which Wine’s repeated arrests are a part.
Kristof Titeca & Anna Reuss for African Arguments but the recent arrest of Bobi Wine in the broader context of electoral facipulation in Uganda.

Barbados removes statue of British naval officer Horatio Nelson for his role in the slave trade
With the national flag flying proudly over the parliament, Prime Minister Mia Mottley presided over the ceremony, which was livestreamed on Facebook. The date is observed as the United Nations’ International Day for Tolerance.
The event, which included performances of music, dancing and drumming, began with a reading by Cyndi Celeste, whose poem “This Space” aptly conveyed a timeline of how colonialism turned the enslaved “from human to cattle, from person to chattel” — and how Barbadians are now reclaiming the space for themselves
Janine Mendes-Franco for Global Voices with some good news from Barbados!

A Mother, Her Son - and Their 1,500-Mile Search for Home
Six months after leaving Bogotá, Jessika, Javier and Sebastián step off a bus at the city’s Salitre terminal. The driver, seeing the infant, had given them a ride.
Jessika, just days from her 24th birthday, hugs Josnaiber to her chest. Javier’s bag is so broken that it is held together by string. Sebastián’s shoes are worn nearly through their plastic soles.
But he bounces through the terminal, electrified by their return.
Colombia’s economy has begun to reopen. In the morning, they’ll message the florist, and Jessika will ask for her job back. But that evening, with nowhere else to go, they curl up to sleep under a footbridge, inches from an eight-lane highway, homeless for one more night.
Julie Turkewitz and Isayen Herrera for the New York Times with a powerful story from the Colombian-Venezuelan migration frontline.

Spaces of Transregional Aid and Visual Politics in Lebanon
The visuality of symbols, buildings, and icons can powerfully mark spaces and make such spaces political, culturally oriented, spiritual, and even human. In times of crisis, it is particularly employed to exhibit the presence of humanitarian work. However, such a visuality can take different forms, and humanitarian logos are only one means of expression. Humanitarian logos communicate to the public that the labelled organizations are there assisting the needy, alleviating their predicament, witnessing human suffering, or rescuing lives. During the years I spent researching aid in Lebanon (2010-2020), people have often spoken of the ‘war of logos’ to emphasize the competition between different humanitarian actors intervening in crisis-stricken areas.
Estella Carpi for the Refugee Outreach & Research Network with a great post on humanitarian branding in Lebanon!

Hello Human Resources, and I Do Mean Everybody

I imagine like many of my fellow humanitarians, my eyes met this list with a familiarity bordering on bitter intimacy. From my professional perspective, they read like a strategy for many of the INGO managers I’ve encountered at various levels. This is the reality of working for INGOs who frequently employ managers who often instinctually default to a divide and conquer strategy which allows the individual manager to manufacture a reality convenient for them. HR departments in the field have to be the bulwarks against any of these taking root on a mission and they, in-turn have to be buttressed by strong HR practitioners in HQs who aren’t afraid to raise the alarm when disturbing evidence comes to light.
Chris McIntosh continues his great reflections on the #globaldev industry on LinkedIn!

Virtual Volunteering-Making An Impact From Home During A Global Pandemic
No matter how promising this sounds, the persistent digital divide between Global North and South, and within communities between rich and poor, constrains the full potential of achieving transformation through digital citizenship. Critical factors are captured in the five ‘A’s of technology access: availability, affordability, awareness, abilities, and agency.6 Each of these is shaped by the wider context of unreliable power supplies, the reach of telecommunications networks, the cost of data and gender inequity as well as other forms of inequality.
The International Association for Volunteer Effort with a great 50-page E-Magazine on virtual volunteering!

Our digital lives
West Papua: New Online Influence Operation Attempts to Sway Independence Debate
What seems clear from all of the above evidence is that a new information operation targeting West Papuan independence with a pro-Indonesian narrative has been operational on major social networks in recent months.
While the impact of the network has been small so far, the use of inauthentic user profile images separates it from previous operations as well as the use of Dutch and German languages and the tagging of Dutch towns in Facebook posts.
Whether social media firms are able to investigate further using the backend data to identify and attribute to the people or organisations responsible remains to be seen.
Benjamin Strick for Bellingcat with an detailed analysis of yet another battleground for digital misinformation in Indonesia and West Papua.
Publications
The COVID-19 response illustrates that traditional academic reward structures and metrics do not reflect crucial contributions to modern science
https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3000913
The COVID-19 pandemic has motivated many open and collaborative analytical research projects with real-world impact. However, despite their value, such activities are generally overlooked by traditional academic metrics. Science is ultimately improved by analytical work, whether ensuring reproducible and well-documented code to accompany papers, developing and maintaining flexible tools, sharing and curating data, or disseminating analysis to wider audiences. To increase the impact and sustainability of modern science, it will be crucial to ensure these analytical activities—and the people who do them—are valued in academia.
Adam J. Kucharski, Sebastian Funk & Rosalind M. Eggo with an open access article in PLOS Biology and a reminder that new forms of digital engagement, including curating 'stuff', has become an important academic activity; my thoughts from a #globaldev perspective: Blogging and curating content as strategies to diversify discussions and communicate development differently

Academia
Thandika Mkandawire: A ‘Young’ African Economist’s appreciation
in reading his development work particularly from the 1980s and 1990s, one is struck by just how careful it is in dignifying the African experience. This work was written at a time when the infectious narrative was that of Africa as the perennial basket case. Thandika, working with many of his colleagues in the CODESRIA network, produced grounded analyses that countered this broad-brushed pessimism. Finally, Thandika did not tire of reminding us about the systematic marginalisation of African social scientists and especially African economists from the important debates that concerned their continent. For him, it was clear that this marginalisation was partly to blame for the policy disasters of the 1980s and 1990s, the effects of which are still with us today.
I met Thandika for the first time in Lusaka in November of 2015. I went on to meet him on several occasions thereafter with the occasional correspondence in between. He was always generous with his time treating my ideas with a level of seriousness that they did not deserve. I, and many other younger scholars, will miss him.
Grieve Chelwa with a moving obituary for Thandika Mkandawire for International Development Economics Associates.

What we were reading 4 years ago

(Link review 175, 8 March 2016)
The Self-Help Myth (book review)
Not simply because of the timely content and the historical depth behind it, but because it is such an effective teaching, learning and communication tool. Well-researched, well-written and well-edited, Kohl-Arenas delivers her poignant observations and powerful analysis in an accessible and readable style. She needs less than 200 pages and avoids the pitfalls of many textbooks and academic writing in general. Given her long-term research, community engagement and own positionality her story could have easily ended up as a detail-heavy wordy jungle of words that only insiders would be able to penetrate. But when all is written and done, The Self-Help Myth rises to be a stellar example of modern, critical, ethnographically informed research communication that not only is a joy to read, but equally to discuss with students or recommend to fellow researchers.
Me with a review of a book that's still a great recommendation for your social movement & change reading list!

The Management Set
Translation: enough with the process maps. Development, at the end of the day, is a deeply human endeavor. Relationships are what drive impact. Boardroom sensibilities don’t always serve the interests of the rural farm worker or the child with malaria.
Rikha Sharma Rani for the now de-funct Bright Magazine.
This discussion reminds me of a post which almost celebrates its 10th anniversary: Only get an MBA if you are not interested in sustainable development

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