Links & Contents I Liked 401
For many of us these will be a few quieter Easter holiday days.
Before I'm logging off & take a proper break (so no newsletter next Tuesday or link review on Friday!) I'm as happy as every week with my new discoveries of great writing, critical reflections on #globaldev & plenty of open access books + articles that should keep us reading & thinking for a while ;)!
My quotes of the week
As more and more African podcasts flourish, creators are not only using them as an avenue to tell stories, provoke discussions, and complicate narratives, but they are also choosing their audience; more often than not, listeners from the West are intentionally not at the forefront. (Podcasters Are Reclaiming Storytelling in Africa)
I recently listened to a podcast from an international NGO about this — again, it was all about offering mentorship, speaking up a little less in meetings, hiring a Black or brown woman on your team, and offering speaking slots to women of colour in your organisation. This is an ‘add a sprinkle of anti-racism and stir’ approach to achieving social justice. (The limits of feminist solidarity)
Under the current restrictive frameworks in media and the Internet landscapes, many actors channeled their creative energy through the overlooked, less confrontational cultural and social fields. This hybrid subversive tactics do not only deconstruct the dichotomy between the liberation and non-liberation approaches, but open ways to see the nuances of the Internet in a region with inherent in-stability. (Social Media and the Internet in the Arab Region)
Britain’s ‘brutal’ cuts to overseas aid put African science projects in peril
The cuts could have implications for the whole world, said Etale. “I am trying to find ways to provide clean drinking water for people because that is basic requirement of life. And if people cannot get that, then don’t be surprised when you see refugees and migrants arriving on your shores.”Robin McKie for the Guardian with more on the impact of #globaldev cuts in the UK.
Race report: Author listed as a contributor says he was ‘absolutely’ not contacted by Race Commission
An author and curator named as someone who gave evidence to the Government’s controversial race report has angrily denied having anything to do with the review after he was included in error.Serina Sandhu for I-News; I'm including this link, even though it's technically not about #globaldev, to illustrate how the UK government engages with 'evidence' & comes up with their reports and that good-faith engagement over many global issues will not be met with real 'evidence-led' policy-making...
S.I. Martin, who founded 500 Years of Black London walks, was deeply upset over the report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, saying the conclusions left him “speechless and horrified”.
IDC to explore the impact of racism in the aid sector
Two Oxfam workers have been suspended following a probe that began just a month after our investigation into allegations of aid worker sex abuse during the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. https://t.co/cSDE3dMgPh— paisley dodds (@paisleydodds) April 2, 2021
“The aid sector is here to provide humanitarian and development assistance for diverse communities around the world. As we explore the philosophy and culture of aid, our Committee is keen to investigate whether the sector’s culture could be undermining trust within communities and hampering development impact. This first sub-inquiry on racism has the potential to challenge our own working practices and use of language as we explore how the aid sector can be more inclusive.”The UK Parliament's International Development Committee is looking at racism in the #globaldev sector-probably much more critical & nuanced than in the aforementioned report on structural racism in the UK...
In the Secretive World of Government-to-Government Lending, 100 Chinese Debt Contracts Offer a Trove of New Information
Which raises the question, why aren’t more of these contracts made public? And not just Chinese contracts. The uncomfortable truth is that citizens in virtually any creditor or debtor country would have a very hard time tracking down their government’s debt contracts. This study, focused on one of the least transparent of these governments, only reinforces the universal case that public debt should be public.Scott Morris for the Center for Global Development on new research that looks at Chinese contracts & the secretive world of lending money to states.
How Vincent Bolloré won control of Ghana's biggest port
The French ports-to-media conglomerate, Bolloré Africa Logistics, partnered by the Danish shipping giant Maersk's ports arm, APM Terminals, opened a hugely profitable, state-of-the-art container terminal at Ghana's Tema port in July 2019.Africa Confidential with an investigation from Ghana & a reminder that intransparent business deals cuts across many African countries and (neo-)colonial powers...
It's the latest link in a chain of 18 West African container terminals run by the French billionaire and his partners. Africa Confidential has uncovered how they won the right to build and run the new container port of Tema, a lifeline not only for Ghana but for landlocked Burkina Faso and Mali, through their 70% owned joint venture with the Ghana government, Meridian Port Services (MPS).
It is a tale of intrigue based on the Westerners' 'lack of transparency and ethical discipline', according to the secret ministerial report drafted by Ghanaian officials, which Africa Confidential has seen, and our own research.
Ebola: New lessons for an old problem
🇨🇫 Central African Republic: UN experts are alarmed over reports of grave #HumanRights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by private military personnel operating with CAR’s armed forces and, in some instances, @UNPeacekeeping 👉 https://t.co/8HQ8J3pLPj pic.twitter.com/ggCgM5nah8— UN Special Procedures (@UN_SPExperts) March 31, 2021
Of course, the humanitarian sector can and does learn, especially those lessons of a more technocratic or programmatic nature. Constantly improving approaches for EVD treatment and the use of vaccination can be seen as further evidence of progress. The logic here is simple: said progress is dwarfed by intransigence on the strategic and systemic fronts. Evaluation and review must expand their scope and integrity if they are to stop reinforcing the serial offences and profound inequity of the status quo.Marc DuBois for ODI with some great reflections on the difficulties of 'learning' from evaluations.
Podcasters Are Reclaiming Storytelling in Africa
As more and more African podcasts flourish, creators are not only using them as an avenue to tell stories, provoke discussions, and complicate narratives, but they are also choosing their audience; more often than not, listeners from the West are intentionally not at the forefront.
“Podcasters set out to tell their story authentically because they feel that their perspective should be expressed and that their communities need to hear it,” said Mbugua, the Africa Podfest co-director. “In a region where so many communities have felt unrecognized, misrepresented, and spoken for by others, it is exciting to have alternative sources of entertainment and information that come from Africans speaking for themselves and about themselves.”
The limits of feminist solidarity
There is also a form of banality to the way that some white feminists speak about how they are using their privilege and showing ‘allyship’ with women of colour. I recently listened to a podcast from an international NGO about this — again, it was all about offering mentorship, speaking up a little less in meetings, hiring a Black or brown woman on your team, and offering speaking slots to women of colour in your organisation. This is an ‘add a sprinkle of anti-racism and stir’ approach to achieving social justice. It involves surface-level interventions that leave existing power relations undisturbed. It addresses the low-hanging symptoms of racism rather than the systemic root causes. One member of our group explains: ‘I have seen how these professed anti-racist actions are undermined in practice. For example, the ‘listening sessions’ in some INGOs have been presented as invitations to people of colour to open up and share their concerns in safety. But all too often this has been met with defensiveness and denial. In one instance, one of the few white women to speak up and express the need for anti racism actions ‘to meet donors’ demands’ was singled out and praised for her articulately presented argument.Women of Color in Global Development with a great piece on the challenges of putting 'anti-racist' #globaldev rhetoric into practice...
The Wrong Humanitarian
These reflections on my career made me vulnerable but they helped me to deal honestly with the past. It has been both disturbing and comforting to realise I am not alone in this struggle: many others are unhappy working in a sexist sector that, by all means, should be egalitarian.The author of the blog connected with me on Twitter and I'm she did! I'm always thrilled to discover powerful, critical & reflective writing and I think this is an important example of how blogs can be part of such processes!!
Black Women & Racial Burnout. Let’s Talk About It
Payne-James explains that because Black women are particularly subject to macro and microaggressions, racial insensitivity and asked to prove racism, it often leads to burnout because Black people's experiences and feelings are invalidated. These things can have a negative impact on both your mental and physical health. "It alerts our primary stress responses, and it puts us in flight-or-fight mode," Payne-James continues. "When you're constantly on high alert, it can lead to all kinds of health issues."Jessica Morgan for Refinery29 with an essay that is also relevant for the #globaldev sector.
She recommends seeking therapy and practising self-care. "It's acknowledging and finding a space where you are validated, heard and understood," Payne-James adds. "Too often we mould, change and adapt, as that's the only way we can fit in. But we're not here to educate and be responsible for that, especially when Google is free."
Building Back a Better World – the Crisis and Opportunity of Covid-19
This IDS Bulletin asks some fundamental questions about the kinds of challenges now manifesting due to the pandemic around health, food equity, social protection, gender equality, governance, and freedom of religion or belief. It explores, through a range of analyses and focused case studies, what vulnerabilities are being experienced in specific contexts, but also assesses the value of different responses to these vulnerabilities.The latest IDS Bulletin-open access as always!
Social Media and the Internet in the Arab Region
Recognizing the processuality of subversive tactics online, without the overemphasis of the political, opens ways to see subtle transformation. Despite the current patterns of authoritarian learning and a growing sense of despair for dissident voices, regional dynamics never fail to surprise experts. The MENA region is tied to international alliances. Despite the brain drain, self-exile and multipliers’ shattered biographies research indicates that younger, better-educated people with higher rates of Internet usage tend to be more engaged in public events. Under the cur-rent restrictive frameworks in media and the Internet landscapes, many actors channeled their creative energy through the overlooked, less confrontational cultural and social fields. This hybrid subversive tactics do not only deconstruct the dichotomy between the liberation and non-liberation approaches, but open ways to see the nuances of the Internet in a region with inherent in-stability.Hanan Badr with a new working paper for the Konrad Adenauer foundation.
Racism and Climate (In)Justice
The framing paper shows the effects of the dominance of the Global North in United Nations-led processes, in multilateral and bilateral organizations, as well as in the climate movement. These effects show up in the prioritization, design, and coordination of climate change projects implemented in the Global South. They are also evident in current inclusion practices which often lead to the tokenization of BIPoC, and in the constraints they face in assuming leadership positions, particularly on the international scene. Mainstream representation of BIPoC as “victims of climate change,” or as beneficiaries of projects, also negates their roles as knowledge holders, innovators and leaders. Institutional racism materializes in the silencing or denial of racism by those who are working with or “for” BIPoC communities, both in the Global North and the Global South, which can be related both to vested interests and collective trauma.Olumide Abimbola, Joshua Kwesi Aikins, Tselane Makhesi-Wilkinson & Erin Roberts with a new working paper for the Heinrich Böll foundation.
The African Humanities Series
The Series covers topics in African histories, languages, literatures, philosophies, politics and cultures.A real treasure-trove of open access books; I think the Social History of Ghanaian Boxing is one of my favorite titles!
Why International Organizations Hate Politics-Depoliticizing the World
With multiple case studies in the fields of labor rights and economic regulation, environmental protection, development and humanitarian aid, peacekeeping, among others this book shows that depoliticization is enacted in a series of overlapping, sometimes mundane, practices resulting from the complex interaction between professional habits, organizational cultures and individual tactics. By approaching the consequences of these practices in terms of logics, the book addresses the instrumental dimension of depoliticization without assuming that IO actors necessarily intend to depoliticize their action or global problems.Marieke Louis & Lucile Maertens with a new edited open access volume for Routledge.
Mediated Bordering-Eurosur, the Refugee Boat, and the Construction of an External EU Border
Eurosur and the Refugee Boat mediate a level of Europeanization which has hitherto – and would otherwise have – been impossible. While Eurosur mobilizes the limits of border policing in various ways, the Refugee Boat functions as the vacillating European Other to legitimize both control and humanitarian interventions. The study shows the specific, if not constitutive, ambivalences of EU border policies, and explores the emergence of viapolitics.Sabine Ellebrecht for Transcript with the final open access book recommendation for this review!
Between surveillance and recognition: Rethinking digital identity in aid
Aid organisations tend to see digital identification technologies as tools of recognition and inclusion rather than oppressive forms of monitoring, tracking and top-down control. In addition, practices that many critical scholars describe as aiding surveillance are often experienced differently by humanitarian subjects. This commentary examines the fraught questions this raises for scholars of international aid, surveillance studies and critical data studies.Keren Weitzberg, Margie Cheesman, Aaron Martin & Emrys Schoemaker with a new open access article in Big Data & Society.
The rise of non-communicable disease (NCDs) in Mozambique: decolonising gender and global health
The problem with the labour market in most developing countries is not usually the labour. It's the market.— Ranil Dissanayake (@scepticalranil) April 1, 2021
And yet, partly because it's much easier to examine effects of interventions on labour, that is where most of our knowledge is. https://t.co/srJhV7qSox
The reach and penetration of particular sets of knowledge derived somewhat from the global North have been accompanied by particular renderings of gender that have brought with them social constructivist theorising that eschews non-Western configurations of sex and gender in the context of illness, disease, and well-being. Drawing on critical African gender studies, we begin to re-examine global health and its epistemological assumptions about disease presentation and explanatory models. Such discussion is necessary to engage in calls to de-colonise global health, as well as the mainstreaming of gender in global health. Reflecting on measures to decolonise feminisms and ensuring that African feminisms inform future gendered understanding and programming around NCDs should be central to responses to the new onslaught and double burden of NCDs across Mozambique and sub-Saharan Africa more widely.Claire Somerville & Khatia Munguambe with an open access article in Gender & Development.
How do we learn? Engaging with communities of knowledge and culture beyond academic spaces
You come together and you share knowledge and you have the skills that you exchange and learn from each other. Why don’t we do that in higher education? Why is it that the older that you get, there’s only one or two people who know. And even in terms of research, not just researching a group of people but having them be a part of the design as well. Not just you’re going in there as a researcher and then going away, like you were saying, Sayan, just going away and doing this research and then sharing the research in the academic version of Facebook and WhatsApp which is journal articles that are very expensive to access. But just creating this knowledge with the people and then also sharing it in a way that makes sense to them and that’s relevant to them. So yeah, that was apparently a very long final thought that I had.Parinita Shetty in conversation with Sayan Dey & Lata Narayanaswamy for Convivial Thinking.
What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 190, 8 July 2016)
#LintonLies: How Zambians Are Using Social Media To Talk Back
A self-published memoir about a British actress's gap-year in Zambia has come under fire this week. Citizens of Zambia along with other Africans and aid workers are using social media to highlight factual errors and what they're calling a "condescending" tone about life and culture in the country.Me on Louise Linton for NPR's Goats & Soda. The most important lesson I learned from this very memorable experience of engaging with aid worker memoirs is to always buy a printed copy of their books because you never know when their works get deleted from E-Book platforms...
In Congo’s Shadow (book review)