Links & Contents I Liked 408
Our teaching term is slowly coming to an end and I feel a little bit like this melon vendor in Afghanistan surrounded by student essays & theses ;).
I will not post a review next week because of our thesis examinations, but in the mean time enjoy the latest issue featuring Namibia, Canada, UN stuff, Uganda, cli-fi, stories from Myanmar & plenty of open access books!
My quotes of the week
The knocking is always faint at first. Most people probably wouldn’t be able to hear it, but she knows it’s coming and her heart is ready. It beats in time with the hand behind the door, filling her ears with blood that pounds like an orchestra in her head. The louder the knocking, the louder the musicians. The door always opens after the key is turned to unlock it. There are four, then there are five standing at the step to the door. They look hungry, as if they could eat her. They shake their shiny handcuffs at her. She remembers what is coming next. Her arms are pulled behind her and she can feel the handcuffs locking onto her wrists. As usual, she tries to scream but nothing comes. Nobody comes to help her. Two of them say, “You really wanted to be a part of the civil disobedience movement this much?” (Work or Fight)
Our paradigm in British Columbia is that we see the forest as a huge bank of unending resources, particularly timber. That’s its value. It’s a mental thing because we built British Columbia on the backs of the timber industry. This is our culture in British Columbia. It’s where we come from. It’s who we are. Shifting from that culture to a new lens that’s focused on ecosystem health, the health of landscapes, the preservation of ecosystem functions — and taking timber as one of many benefits that flow from managing that perspective — is an extremely difficult shift. It involves such a huge mental shift to start with. And then there’s the associated policy, legislation, management systems, practices, etcetera, all the other pieces that have to follow. The transition is not so easy because we built our entire way of being on that previous mentality. (‘We’re going to have Fairy Creeks happen all the time’)
New from aidnography
The Good American (book review)
As you can imagine, this is a book you should add to your non-fiction summer reading list!Reading a great book & sharing some thoughts about it is still one of my greatest pleasures of #globaldev blogging.
Kaplan’s superb prose and Gersony’s attention to detailed records form a unique symbioses that really helps for many places to come alive without losing sight of the people behind the stories, the State Department, USAID and foreign policy community and some of their excellent programs despite the usual caveats about the imperfect offering that aid has always been. Gersony remains in the background, a role he always preferred, and Kaplan provides the rich tapestry of people, places and projects that make this an excellent book to engage with the history of development through a biographical lens.
Germany agrees to pay Namibia €1.1bn over historical Herero-Nama genocide
Germany has to agreed to pay Namibia €1.1bn (£940m) to fund projects among communities affected by the Herero-Nama genocide at the start of the 20th century, in what Angela Merkel’s government says amounts to a gesture of reconciliation but not legally binding reparations.Philip Oltermann for the Guardian; lots of questions remain & the process is far from concluded, but it's a start...
Germany apologises for colonial-era genocide in Namibia
Sima Luipert, 52, who identified herself as of Namibia's Nama people, said Germany should not have directed its apology to the Namibian state, which did not exist at the time of the genocide and was given no mandate to speak to Germany on behalf of traditional authorities.Reuters is also reporting on Namibia.
"Germany must come to the Nama people, and to the Herero people, and to ask for forgiveness," she said. "It is up to us to decide if that apology is genuine or not.
"This is not about money, it is about the restoration of human dignity."
‘We’re going to have Fairy Creeks happen all the time’: Q&A with Garry Merkel from B.C.’s old-growth review panel
At least four dozen people have been arrested at visually striking, emotionally charged, on-going protests in the Fairy Creek and Caycuse watersheds on southern Vancouver Island, where forestry company Teal Jones has obtained a court injunction banning blockades of logging activities — and the conflict shows no signs of abating.Sarah Cox for the Narwhal with the background to some of the environmental protests in the far West of Canada and the complexities & clashes between government, the timber industry & indigenous interest.
This might sound a bit fatalist but I’m not sure that there is. Our paradigm in British Columbia is that we see the forest as a huge bank of unending resources, particularly timber. That’s its value. It’s a mental thing because we built British Columbia on the backs of the timber industry. This is our culture in British Columbia. It’s where we come from. It’s who we are.
Shifting from that culture to a new lens that’s focused on ecosystem health, the health of landscapes, the preservation of ecosystem functions — and taking timber as one of many benefits that flow from managing that perspective — is an extremely difficult shift. It involves such a huge mental shift to start with. And then there’s the associated policy, legislation, management systems, practices, etcetera, all the other pieces that have to follow. The transition is not so easy because we built our entire way of being on that previous mentality.
Nomination to Lead the UN’s Trade Agency Provokes a Power Play
The proposed selection of Rebeca Grynspan, a Costa Rican economist and former vice president of her country, to head the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development was made without consulting the core of the agency — the Group of 77 and China, comprised of 134 countries from the Global South.Maurizio Guerrero for PassBlue on the UN system doing UN system things...
The nomination for secretary-general of Unctad, announced by the Costa Rican government on May 25 and reported by the local newspaper La Nación, was apparently backed by the United States and its European allies with the tacit approval of Secretary-General António Guterres.
"Lethal Disregard"-Search and rescue and the protection of migrants in the central Mediterranean Sea
The report reveals that the real tragedy of the damage and death along the central Mediterranean route is that so much of it is preventable. As the High Commissioner has noted, what is happening to migrants along the central Mediterranean route is the result of a failed system of migration governance, one that fails to place the human rights of migrants at the centre and for too long has been marked by a lack of solidarity.Reading UN reports, including this one from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, is usually not a visually satisfying experience and this pdf'ed Word document is no exception, but since we are not judging reports by their cover, the content is interesting and important, including the text boxes with quotes from the migrants.
The recommendations in this report are therefore directed at Libyan authorities, the EU, its Member States, and institutions, and all other concerned stakeholders who have a role to play in preventing future harm by upholding respect for international human rights law and a commitment to the protection of migrants at sea.
7 iconic technologies that have shaped the UN’s work for refugees
As UNHCR’s work became more complex, computers were introduced in the 80s first to manage payroll and later on, to improve emergency planning and statistics. The first software used by UNHCR were WordPerfect (a word processing application), Lotus 1–2–3 and MultiPlan (spreadsheet programs).Pauline Eluère for UNHCR Innovation Services; interesting historical vignettes on UN technology use...so the 2000s were the decade of biometric data then...
The organization took some time to make the move towards computers. In a memo from 1976, a UNHCR consultant advised against “rushing the process” while noting that: “In the long-run, the advantages are on the side of the computer, provided it is intelligently used."
We are launching the Dignity Collective, a new network focused on promoting international cooperation that centres dignity and respect.Full disclosure: Tom Wein is a graduate from our Communication for Development program & a great, dedicated person and I have been following his work on dignity with great interest!
When people around the world interact with bureaucracies of all kinds, it is frequently disrespectful - and this is especially true for women, people of colour and people with oppressed identities around the world. (...) The Dignity Collective will serve as a hub for members and allies interested in international cooperation to access practical frameworks, new research, collaborations and opportunities on dignity, and to advocate for dignity as a central value for international cooperation.
Taking a historical perspective on the decolonization of aid
Despite these difficult questions and ongoing complex interlinkages between colonialism and humanitarianism, our conclusion should by no means be the abolishment of humanitarian and development aid. Thea Hilhorst and Dr. Omaka reminded participants that humanitarianism is, first and foremost, rooted in the conviction that human dignity should not be limited to a particular region. “The aim of saving one life, anywhere, is worth fighting for,” Bertrand Taithe further added. “The conversation we are having should not slide into a discourse of denouncing or vilifying humanitarianism.” If we do so, we run the risk of “throwing out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.” In other words, while the current international aid system does have a colonial stain, it is possible to ‘save the baby’: We can decolonize the international aid system without losing or questioning the fundamental principles of humanitarianism and international solidarity.Yannicke Goris & Kiza Magendane for the Broker with a great overview/summary of some of the core 'decolonization of #globaldev' debates.
MacKenzie Scott Gave Away $6 Billion Last Year. It's Not As Easy As It Sounds
It sounds a lot easier to give money away effectively than it actually is. Money is like fertilizer; if you put it in the wrong places, or lay it on too thick, you can destroy ecosystems and poison people. Most wealthy benefactors create their own foundations, limited liability companies or donor-advised funds (which invest the money until the donor decides where to give it away), and have considerable infrastructure and staff to handle their giving. Some pick a few favorite existing charities that they understand and work with.Belinda Luscombe for Time Magazine with a really interesting portrait of MacKenzie Scott's philanthropical work...I guess not having billionaires in the first place could be one way of avoiding those tough challenges of giving away all that money...
Keeping the money can also be difficult. John D. Rockefeller’s adviser Frederick T. Gates warned the tycoon that his fortune was like an avalanche: “You must distribute it faster than it grows! If you do not, it will crush you, and your children, and your children’s children!” Because money begets money, billionaires such as Bezos—and even some who are trying a little harder to give it away—struggle to make a dent in their wealth. Scott, who has promised to keep giving “until the safe is empty,” was richer at the end of the year than before she handed out her $6 billion.
Rebel Lives- Photographs from inside the Lord's Resistance Army
Kristof Titeca on a new digital archive & exhibition of photos from inside the LRA.
Flash the Coup / Stories from Myanmar
The knocking is always faint at first. Most people probably wouldn’t be able to hear it, but she knows it’s coming and her heart is ready. It beats in time with the hand behind the door, filling her ears with blood that pounds like an orchestra in her head. The louder the knocking, the louder the musicians. The door always opens after the key is turned to unlock it. There are four, then there are five standing at the step to the door. They look hungry, as if they could eat her. They shake their shiny handcuffs at her. She remembers what is coming next. Her arms are pulled behind her and she can feel the handcuffs locking onto her wrists. As usual, she tries to scream but nothing comes. Nobody comes to help her. Two of them say, “You really wanted to be a part of the civil disobedience movement this much?” And then…The quote is from Yu Ya's story for the latest edition of Adi Magazine which is absolutely fantastic!
American climate fiction is fuelling outdated ideas about modern migration
To highlight cli-fi’s shortfalls is not to undermine its important contributions to environmental activism. These are stories that want to do more than raise the alarm. They want us to think more proactively about responding to disaster and caring for others now. This sense of urgency might explain why much of cli-fi depends upon pre-existing (and flawed) migrant stereotypes rather than ones more in step with climate migration today. Perhaps it’s quicker to push people to action by mobilising old ideas than constructing new ones. However, these stories need not look to foreign cases or draw outdated parallels to make climate migration a compelling scenario. Rather, they can look inward to the ongoing climate crises afflicting Americans today. That these affected groups are disproportionately Indigenous and people of colour should remind us that the dystopian elements of many cli-fi stories (widespread corruption, targeted violence, and structural inequality) are facts of everyday life for many in this country.Bryan Yazell for the Conversation with interesting reflections on the growing genre of 'cli-fi'.
Our digital lives
Watermelon season in Afghanistan and a man selling varieties of it in Kabul streets. 🍉 pic.twitter.com/oQyLQVLefT— Afghanistan 🇦🇫 (@Afghanistan_5) May 25, 2021
Washed in blue: living lab Digital Perimeter in Amsterdam
All in all, living lab Digital Perimeter seems to be washed in blue – a practice in which superficial measures are implemented to appear more responsible and ethical than one is. By flaunting the Tada-manifest and Amsterdam’s participation in the Coalition of Cities for Digital Rights, it is strongly suggested that the experiments conducted within the living lab will eventually lead to responsible implementation. However, the aforementioned findings, unfortunately, suggest otherwise. The implementation of high-risk technology always calls for sufficient attention to public values and fundamental rights, even when it’s ‘only an experiment.’European Digital Rights with a reminder to approach the 'living lab' hype with caution...
Data Capitalism and Algorithmic Racism
At its core, racial inequality is a feature, not a bug, of data capitalism. Indeed, big data is not as novel or revolutionary as it is commonly understood it to be. Instead, it is part of a long and pervasive historical legacy and technological timeline of scientific oppression, aggressive public policy, and the most influential political and economic system that has shaped and continues to shape this country’s economy: chattel slavery. Algorithmic racism occurs when contemporary big data practices generate results that reproduce and spread racial disparities, shifting power and control from Black and brown people and communities.Yeshimabeit Milner & Amy Traub for Demos with great report and useful primer on the intersection between data/platform capitalism, AI & racism.
Reproductive Politics and the Making of Modern India
Mytheli Sreenivas demonstrates how colonial administrators, postcolonial development experts, nationalists, eugenicists, feminists, and family planners all aimed to reform reproduction to transform both individual bodies and the body politic. Across the political spectrum, people insisted that regulating reproduction was necessary and that limiting the population was essential to economic development. This book investigates the often devastating implications of this logic, which demonized some women’s reproduction as the cause of national and planetary catastrophe.Mytheli Sreenivas with a great new open access book from University of Washington Press.
Theft Is Property!
Through close analysis of arguments by Indigenous scholars and activists from the nineteenth century to the present, Robert Nichols argues that dispossession has come to name a unique recursive process whereby systematic theft is the mechanism by which property relations are generated. In so doing, Nichols also brings long-standing debates in anarchist, Black radical, feminist, Marxist, and postcolonial thought into direct conversation with the frequently overlooked intellectual contributions of Indigenous peoples.Robert Nichols with a new open access book from Duke University Press.
Our Extractive Age
Contributors argue that extractive violence is not an accident or side effect, but rather a core logic of the 21st Century planetary experience. Acknowledgement is made not only of the visible violence involved in the securitization of extractive enclaves, but also of the symbolic and structural violence that the governance, economics, and governmentality of extraction have produced. Extractive violence is shown not only to be a spectacular event, but an extended dynamic that can be silent, invisible, and gradual. The volume also recognizes that much of the new violence of extraction has become cloaked in the discourse of "green development," "green building," and efforts to mitigate the planetary environmental crisis through totalizing technologies.Judith Shapiro & John-Andrew McNeish with a new edited open access book from Earthscan/Routledge.
What we were reading 5 years ago
What happened when @MoSalah joined @LFC?— John B. Holbein (@JohnHolbein1) May 26, 2021
Hate crimes declined by 16%.
& the # of anti-Muslim tweets sent by LFC fans was cut in half.
New @apsrjournal by @wpmarble, @a_alrababah, @salma_mousa_, @aasiegel: "Can Exposure to Celebrities Reduce Prejudice?"https://t.co/UdNfYpoxee pic.twitter.com/ZI8meuB9pw
(Link review 197, 26 August 2016)
This Present Darkness (book review)
Read this book!Another great & underrated book about Nigeria that I thoroughly enjoyed reading!
Add it to reading lists of your courses as an exemplary case study of how history, ‘development’ and globalization ‘work’. Recommend it to colleagues who are interested in historical narratives that are well researched and richly illustrated with examples and yet can claim to tell history-in this case the history of Nigeria-in a way that respects places and people and leaves everybody who engages with the book a wiser person!
The World Humanitarian Day mockery
It is inspiring to see the incredible Team Refugee compete in the Rio 2016 Olympics. But will the wave of global support have any repercussions to help the millions of refugees who were not selected to participate in the games? As our world leaders abide less and less by the spirit of ‘one humanity,’ will we follow by example?James Munn from the Norwegian Refugee Council for Thomson Reuters News.
World Humanitarian Day was set up to celebrate the spirit of people helping people. Dedicated aid workers around the world stand ready to do their jobs. It’s about time that political leaders set an example and did theirs.