Links & Contents I Liked 409
22 of our ComDev students presented great theses last week, the semester is slowly winding down & your favorite weekly #globaldev review is back with news, reflections, readings & think pieces :) !
My quotes of the week
The top ten practices mentioned by interviewed leaders were modelling self-care, openly discussing mental health with staff, recognising the contributions of others, challenging inappropriate behaviour, using their position responsibly and fairly, actively listening to different perspectives, communicating consistently and with authenticity, prioritising the workload, giving people space to do their jobs, and cultivate caring, compassionate organisational cultures.
(Leading Well: Aid leader perspectives on staff well-being and organisational culture)
On the guidelines enshrined in Nobel rules is that once a prize is awarded, it cannot be withdrawn. So how could the committee express its condemnation of the war and the politics of Abiy should it wish to? All members have an individual responsibility – it is not officially known whether any voted against. They should therefore acknowledge this, collectively resign, and let the Norwegian parliament appoint a new committee.
As a collective action, it would be perceived as taking responsibility for the error – and as a protest against the war. (The Nobel committee should resign over the atrocities in Tigray)
New from aidnography
Senior lecturer in Communication for Development
One of the first and most advanced online learning programs in the field of Communication for Development, ComDev is educating between 120-150 global students every year. The MA program team has developed, pioneered and improved a unique pedagogical concept, the Glocal Classroom, to establish a virtual global learning community with many local bases since its inception in 2000. External international evaluations have confirmed its high pedagogical quality. A core team of about six staff teach, research, communicate with students and stakeholders worldwide. Our ComDev scholars are actively participating in externally funded and internal research networks such as the Rethinking Democracy platform and the Datasociety program and have a long history of international collaborations.We are looking for a full-time academic colleague who wants to join our team permanently from about early 2022 onward!
About 350,000 people in Ethiopia's Tigray in famine -U.N. analysis
More than 350,000 people in Ethiopia's Tigray are suffering famine conditions, with millions more at risk, according to an analysis by United Nations agencies and aid groups that blamed conflict for the worst catastrophic food crisis in a decade.Michelle Nichols & Giulia Paravicini for Reuters with an update from Ethiopia.
"There is famine now in Tigray," U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock said on Thursday after the release of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, which the IPC noted has not been endorsed by the Ethiopian government.
"The number of people in famine conditions ... is higher than anywhere in the world, at any moment since a quarter million Somalis lost their lives in 2011," Lowcock said.
The Nobel committee should resign over the atrocities in Tigray
On the guidelines enshrined in Nobel rules is that once a prize is awarded, it cannot be withdrawn. So how could the committee express its condemnation of the war and the politics of Abiy should it wish to? All members have an individual responsibility – it is not officially known whether any voted against. They should therefore acknowledge this, collectively resign, and let the Norwegian parliament appoint a new committee.Kjetil Tronvoll for the Guardian; I agree since you can't revoke a price other, perhaps symbolic, action is needed to save the Nobel Peace Prize.
As a collective action, it would be perceived as taking responsibility for the error – and as a protest against the war.
At the same time, the Nobel Institute should upgrade its expertise, undertake comprehensive risk assessments and analyse relevant conflicts and contexts on which awards are based. It seems clear that procedures failed in awarding Abiy the prize.
In Nigeria, Gas Giants Get Rich As Women Sink into Poverty
A statement on events in Afghanistan by HALO's CEO James Cowan. pic.twitter.com/kOFqNEvxhk— The HALO Trust (@TheHALOTrust) June 9, 2021
In Ebocha, where women have traditionally farmed or fished as breadwinners, the flaring’s effects are visible and punishing. On a given day, women on bicycles ramble past a row of flare stacks that look like tall torches of golden flames licking angrily at the sky. Gas released during flaring mixes with water in the atmosphere and causes acid rain—dark sooty rainwater that people here say is corrosive, poking huge holes in zinc roofing sheets and killing crops. As more farmlands fall to oil spills and low yield, there is less profit to be made.Shola Lawal for Vice; articles like this are important reminder that oil, gas & coal are far from 'dead' just because they become less powerful in some OECD countries...
Secretive British anti-crime agency spent millions training Colombia’s repressive police
The British government spent five years and £2.3-million training “specialist cadres of police” in Colombia, where dozens of protesters have been killed over the past month in a police crackdown on anti-government demonstrations.Matt Kennard for Declassified UK; this is perhaps not a 'big' story, but a reminder that when the UK talks about cutting #globaldev their global military or security engagement is under less scrutiny.
The UK programme for the Colombian police, which ran until last year, included training in “advanced operational practice” for what are believed to be militarised units.
The training was run by the National Crime Agency (NCA), the UK’s secretive law enforcement arm that operates globally but which is shielded from the country’s transparency laws. The NCA would not confirm to Declassified if the training programme is still operating.
The big question about British foreign aid is always missed: what is it supporting?
But if aid is to meaningfully tackle poverty, then we need to reframe its very purpose. It can’t just be about charity, and shouldn’t be about self-interest. Instead, it should be about tackling the root causes of poverty, redistributing the world’s resources and strengthening those organisations and individuals across the global south who are on the front lines of the fight against poverty and injustice. Aid, crucially, needs to be part of a broader commitment to dismantling the power structures that maintain global poverty and inequality.Aisha Dodwell for the Guardian with an important, yet probably futile reminder about #globaldev's transformative, critical potential.
GARD Network Demands Doc
we come together as colleagues, having been subject and witness to blatant acts of racism and microaggressions that have intentionally and unintentionally flourished under the protection of white supremacy culture at the IRC, steadfast in our determination to create a culture of equity, anti-racism, and decoloniality at the IRC. We call upon you — IRC Leadership — for accountability, swiftness, and sustained action.IRC’s Global Anti-Racism and Decoloniality (GARD) Network shared an open letter to their management and a long list of action items that are probably worth discussing in any organizational context...
We have assembled a set of 52 attainable action items that we believe would serve as first steps in prioritizing and cultivating a culture of anti-racism and decoloniality at IRC. We call on IRC to engage seriously with these recommendations and integrate these proposals into IRC’s core strategy and Strategy100 work.
Tasked to Fight Climate Change, a Secretive U.N. Agency Does the Opposite
One reason for the lack of progress is that the I.M.O. is a regulatory body that is run in concert with the industry it regulates. Shipbuilders, oil companies, miners, chemical manufacturers and others with huge financial stakes in commercial shipping are among the delegates appointed by many member nations. They sometimes even speak on behalf of governments, knowing that public records are sparse, and that even when the organization allows journalists into its meetings, it typically prohibits them from quoting people by name.Matt Apuzzo & Sarah Hurtes for the New York Times; there are many UN organizational environments that are no longer fit for the 21st century & an age of climate collapse; but the lack of transparency is a common feature of many international organizations, some like IMO or World Bank with real power...
Voluntourism: new book explores how volunteer trips harm rather than help
Remember the World Bank study that cut water from poor households in Nairobi, just to see if they'd pay?— Emmanuel Freudenthal (@EmmanFre) June 9, 2021
I requested its ethical approval (IRB). The Bank carefully avoided giving me a straight answer so that I couldn't appeal (Kafka was employee of the month in Oct).
But, Biddle says, the volunteer tourism industry continues to operate without systemic change. “There are millions of people every year who think it is OK to buy access to vulnerable children and then disseminate images of them across the internet,” she says. “That is still considered not just OK, but valiant.”Mélissa Godin reviews Pippa Biddle's new book for the Guardian which is also on my #globaldev summer reading list!
Renewing the Grand Bargain, Part 2: Old goals, a new path
“Did anyone actually read what they’re signing up to?” asked Nils Carstensen, co-manager of localisation initiative Local2Global, recalling his reaction on reading that commitment. Before the Grand Bargain was launched, he and other colleagues at Charter for Change, an initiative to foster locally led response, had been pushing for the same outcome and had coined the slogan “20% by 2020” – the percentage of funding that internationals would give directly to local actors by that year. “They hadn’t just taken our 20 percent, they threw 5 percent on top. It was super! But have any of you done your homework?” he wondered. “We had done some of those calculations. To think we could make that change to 25 percent in five years… that’s where I got the sense that no one had done even the slightest back of envelope calculation.”Jessica Alexander for the New Humanitarian with an excellent long-read reviewing the history & legacy of the 'Grand Bargain'.
The problem is that whereas NGOs – in particular local ones – have so much to gain from the bargain commitments, the value for donors and those UN agencies with enough resources of their own or dominant “market share” isn’t always obvious. What’s in it for them to reorient their whole approach – to take on more risk, to fund local actors, to loosen their reporting requirements?
Victims or heroines? Images of women migrants in global migration
companies like Starbucks, Ben & Jerry’s, and IKEA have all launched major campaigns to support refugees with donations, employment, and political advocacy. And for tech companies, the refugee crisis has become an opportunity to use their “tech for good” and showcase it to their customers.Sine Plambech, Sofie Henriksen & Ahlam Chemlali for the Danish Institute for International Studies share some findings from their on-going research.
Among these corporate and humanitarian actors, the images and portrayals of migrants and refugees focus less on their need for help and more on their determination, courage, agency, and rational decision-making. For example, on the website of the humanitarian organization that is leading the Signpost project, the story of a young Sudanese woman fleeing from a violent husband is entitled “A mother’s brave escape.”
The images are embedded in cultural and gendered politics and are used by different actors to promote their various visions and political agendas. But as new actors mobilize around women’s migration and migration more broadly, how do these images change or re-confirm existing stereotypes?
Western Films About Africa Are Neocolonial Even When They Try Not to Be
Despite this, Stop Filming Us is filled with sharp, precise, sometimes illuminating insights, all of which come from Postema’s Congolese collaborators and interlocutors — Ganza Buroko, Mugabo Baritegera, as well as a host of other participants. The problem is that the documentary, as a container for their intellectual contributions, falls short by exposing its own inability to do more than passively record.Yasmina Price reviews 'Stop Filming Us' for Hyperallergic.
A similar alignment is present in Stop Filming Us. One early scene is a chilling insight into the colonial power dynamics which it sustains. The crew moves along a crowded street with Mugabo, taking photos. A woman tries to cover her face and makes it clear that she doesn’t wish to be photographed or filmed. The photographer clicks away, and the camera still rolls, a double negation of her refusal. Whatever the film’s claimed project, refusing to honor this woman’s autonomy is nothing but an accurate revelation of how the camera persists in being weaponized as an apparatus of domination.
#MDGs: Muzungus in Development and Governments
There Is No Metaphor Here
I will teach you to love language, to honor words. I will tell you what I tell my students: that metaphor is the power to name the world in your vision. But I will also teach you to call things what they are so that no one will name the world in their vision in order to erase you. I will teach you to call things what they are. I will teach you to say Mama, I am so sad.Anne Valente for Guernica with a beautiful, poetic essay.
Our digital lives
Trump's Failed Blog Proves He Was Just Howling Into the Void
Then social media helped to transform the web from a pull medium to a push medium. As platforms like Twitter and Facebook generated massive user bases, introduced scrolling news feeds, and developed increasingly sophisticated algorithmic systems for curating and recommending content in these news feeds, they became a vital means by which online attention could be aggregated. Users evolved, or devolved, from active searchers to passive scrollers, clicking on whatever content that their friends, family, and the platforms’ news feed algorithms put in front of them. This gave rise to the still-relevant refrain “If the news is important, it will find me.” Ironically, on what had begun as the quintessential pull medium, social media users had reached a perhaps unprecedented degree of passivity in their media consumption. The leaned-back “couch potato” morphed into the hunched-over “smartphone zombie.”Philip M. Napoli for Wired; I don't really like to post an item which contains the name of the former US President, but the article contains some interesting reflections on blogging & more generally 'writing stuff on the Internet'.
Leading Well: Aid leader perspectives on staff well-being and organisational culture
The top ten practices mentioned by interviewed leaders were modelling self-care, openly discussing mental health with staff, recognising the contributions of others, challenging inappropriate behaviour, using their position responsibly and fairly, actively listening to different perspectives, communicating consistently and with authenticity, prioritising the workload, giving people space to do their jobs, and cultivate caring, compassionate organisational cultures.Melissa Pitotti, Mary Ann Clements & Rachel Jacquot for CHS Alliance with a great new report!
Alienation Is Not ‘Bullshit’: An Empirical Critique of Graeber’s Theory of BS Jobs
Despite generating clear testable hypotheses, this theory is not based on robust empirical research. We, therefore, use representative data from the EU to test five of its core hypotheses. Although we find that the perception of doing useless work is strongly associated with poor wellbeing, our findings contradict the main propositions of Graeber’s theory. The proportion of employees describing their jobs as useless is low and declining and bears little relationship to Graeber’s predictions.Magdalena Soffia, Alex J Wood & Brendan Burchell with an important open access article for Work, Employment & Society.
Commodifying humanitarian sentiments? The black box of the for-profit and non-profit partnership
Through a range of in-depth case studies focused on refugees, “sustainability superheroes,” coffee, jewelry, tourism and conflict-related sexual violence, this special issue subjects the for-profit and non-profit partnership to empirical and theoretical scrutiny, thereby contributing to the interdisciplinary body of work that studies the intersection of business, humanitarian sentiments and environmentalismMette Fog Olwig introduces a great open access special issue of World Development.
Increasing women’s digital literacy in India: what works
The results of this review clarify that increasing women’s digital literacy depends not just on digital skills training, but on increasing their digital access and use. This is not a simple, linear process, and not just a case of distributing devices and data plans to women. There are several conditions that need to be in place, and they need to be in place in tandem. Creating women-led environments and peer networks, for example, are key ingredients of success. But these approaches can only go so far to drive women’s digital adoption if the digital literacy training fails to use appropriate technology, or does not overcome women’s time constraints. In a way, creating the perfect conditions for success is akin to a jigsaw puzzleAlexandra Tyers, Catherine Highet, Sara Chamberlain & Arjun Khanna with an interesting new brief for BBC Media Action.
Right Research: Modelling Sustainable Research Practices in the Anthropocene
Right Research is a bold invitation to the academic community to rigorous self-reflection on what their research looks like, how it is conducted, and how it might be developed so as to increase accessibility and sustainability, and decrease carbon footprint. The volume follows a three-part structure that bridges conceptual and practical concerns: the first section challenges our assumptions about how sustainability is defined, measured and practiced; the second section showcases artist-researchers whose work engages with the impact of humans on our environment; while the third section investigates how academic spaces can model eco-conscious behaviour.Chelsea Miya, Oliver Rossier & Geoffrey Rockwell with a new open access book from Open Book Publishers.
Tanisha M. Fazal on Learning the Scholar’s Craft
Engaging in mentoring has been exceptionally rewarding. I am constantly impressed by, and always learn from, the younger scholars with whom I am fortunate to spend some time. I do worry a bit when they point to me as a role model; indeed, that’s part of the reason I agreed to write this essay. I don’t recommend my particular career trajectory, with its ups and many downs, to others. I’m also naturally shy, and feel I often stumble and say the wrong thing. What’s heartening, though, is how wonderfully ambitious, committed, and smart these women are. I wish I’d had them as role models.Tanisha M. Fazal shares some reflections for H-Diplo on her scholarly trajectory.
‘I’ve never done work that I was not interested in. That is a very good reason to go on.’
I was always interested in the economics of the poor people. I was interested in the lives of people who were very short of income and prosperity — how do they cope? Mainly, as I ran the night schools, the people I was mixing with were students from the tribal villages in the neighborhood. They were very poor. And we very often talked about how they earned their income or how their parents earned their income, and how do they manage, how do they plan their future, and all that. So I got interested in that. And I didn’t think I would have much money to invest, and I didn’t. But I did think I might have a great deal of interest in the politics of poor people. So that played a big part in my getting involved with that kind of economics.Christina Pazzanese talks to Amartya Sen for the Harvard Gazette.
What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 198, 2 September 2016)
Communicating development in a post-factual world: How to win against the Daily Mail
So how do we convey our message of global cooperation, solidarity and support better? How do we find better ways of putting the relatively small sums that are invested in foreign aid into perspective? And how do we stand up to an aid- and military-industrial complex ready to do more of ‘our’ work despite a long track record that ‘the private sector’ let alone ‘the military’ delivers stuff better, cheaper and more efficiently?I haven't really found good answers to my questions since then...
Nike Boasts of Empowering Women Around the World
The Girl Effect centers around the idea that women’s access to paid work will build up prosperity for themselves and their families. But the Girl Effect is silent on the question of what constitutes a living wage. And without exception, the women I talked to told me that their wages were far too low for their families to meaningfully improve their lots. Unleashing the Girl Effect appears virtually impossible on the Vietnamese minimum wage, which Nike requires its local suppliers to meet. In the region where the women I met with work, the minimum wage currently stands at $156 per month for a 48-hour workweek.Maria Hengeveld for Slate with one of those classic 'corporate empowerment' stories that never have and never will work...