Links & Contents I Liked 411
The Swedish summer break is coming to its end & we will be preparing for the new semester on Monday; I thought I would kick off my weekly link review with a bit of an eclectic mix of stuff that I noticed during the 'break' & a few more recent items, perhaps a good mix for those who are still on a break/'break' & are looking for some #globaldev readings.
This edition features the 'neutrality trap' in Myanmar, a graphic novel from South Sudan, a review of drones & humanitarianism, the League of Nations archive, aid worker memoirs, plus plenty of open access books & academic articles with a focus on global health & the ethics of decolonization!
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It's actually a pretty amazing speech by Jeff Sachs...10 minutes worth your attention!
There’s nothing neutral about engaging with Myanmar’s military
Donors and humanitarian organisations face a crucial choice. In Myanmar, requiring all humanitarian action to stick to the orthodox principle of neutrality means working with an illegitimate military junta. Instead, the international aid community can choose to support ethnic civil society organisations and the pro-democracy movement.Khin Ohmar for the New Humanitarian on the 'neutrality trap' in Myanmar.
Military rule is the root cause of Myanmar’s human rights and humanitarian crises. Its permanent end, and the establishment of a federal democracy, can only be achieved by the people of Myanmar. International aid agencies can support our struggle by ensuring that the country’s vast humanitarian needs are met in a principled way.
Cambodia: China’s ‘Belt and Road’ Dam is a Rights Disaster
A large-scale, Chinese-financed hydroelectric dam in northeastern Cambodia, completed in 2018, has undermined the lives and livelihoods of thousands of Indigenous and ethnic minority peopleHuman Rights Watch with a new report which raises (more) questions about China's Belt & Road project and its 'development' approach...
South Sudan: The long walk for new life
This month, South Sudan – the world's youngest country – marks its 10th birthday. In 2019, illustrator Ella Baron visited the town of Pibor to document the lengths that some mothers must go to reach maternity care in this part of the world.A stunningly beautiful & painful visual journey!
The birth story of Maria and her mother Laito unravels as an extraordinary journey with life-or-death stakes.
Drones and distrust in humanitarian aid
.@meronhadero just became the first Ethiopian to win the @CainePrize for her short story “The Street Sweep." It's a beautiful and tender story set in Addis Ababa that deals with the themes of displacement, foreign aid and the hope for a better future. https://t.co/PZ4esrJ5wM— Abdi Latif Dahir (@Lattif) July 26, 2021
Humanitarians, perhaps better than anyone else, recognize that public perception of what we do and why we are doing it matters just as much (if not more) than our actions themselves. The public’s perception of our neutrality could be grievously damaged if a drone that looks a lot like our drones is used to drop a bomb, or collects data that is then used to target vulnerable people. The humanitarian world has acted to find ways to balance the value of drone technology against the equal importance of protecting the privacy and safety of people impacted by disaster.Faine Greenwood for ICRC Humanitarian Law & Policy blog with an excellent review of the humanitarian drone debate!
We’ve been following victims of the Boxing Day tsunami for 16 years – this is what we’ve learned about recovering from disaster
Our research highlights the importance of policies that mitigate post-traumatic stress, help people get back into stable housing, and provide opportunities for paid work. They have important benefits for physical and for psychosocial health, as well as for economic wellbeing. As the world continues to struggle with COVID and attempts to restart economic progress, safety nets that address health, stable housing and economic opportunity are likely to pay off.Elizabeth Frankenberg, Cecep Sumantri & Duncan Thomas for the Conversation with an interesting, long-term view recovery that is often missing from our analysis.
Scanning the past: The League of Nations archive goes digital
The photographic archive appears – unsurprisingly – dominated by men with moustaches having meetings. Bourneuf said the history of the League too has generally been written by white men. But the online project gives “a possibility to democratise access to the archives”, he added, saying that inclusivity in looking at the past is important for the future of multilateralism.Ben Parker for the New Humanitarian on an interesting project for archive & history geeks ;)!
“We need to hear different voices,” Bourneuf said. “New historians – that could not come to Geneva – will be able to provide a new perspective, a new historiography… and to provide another voice that will maybe complement, maybe contest what we think is the truth.”
Overcoming Childhood Poverty and UN Bureaucracy, Noeleen Heyzer Tells Her Story
Noeleen Heyzer not only saved Unifem, the precursor of UN Women, from financial collapse but also turned the small grant-making agency into a powerful policy tool for boldly addressing the crushing economic and social disadvantages that silence women worldwide. She understood women in distress; echoes of her own early life resonated in what she heard in stories told in village huts, communal longhouses, roadside markets.Barbara Crossette for PassBlue with a new memoir that I'm really looking to forward to reading soon as so few have been written by women from the global South yet.
Manchester's disaster doctor looks back
Thirty three years on, he has attended almost every international disaster since — including the Iran earthquake of 2003, China’s in 2008, the Philippines hurricane of 2013, the Haiti earthquake in 2010, as well as more than 30 hazardous trips to Sarajevo during the Balkan Civil War working for the World Health Organization (WHO). He also coordinated the UK’s response to the Ebola virus and supervised the establishment of Manchester’s Nightingale Hospital when Covid struck.Rachel Pugh for The Mill with an interesting insight into another, albeit more traditional, humanitarian memoir.
But the achievement that matters most to him is that the UK now has UK-Med — a Government-supported multi-disciplinary register of NHS medics, nurses and other health professionals, ready to be deployed to practice humanitarian medical aid at the drop of a hat anywhere in the world. It’s the culmination of his battle to have disaster medicine recognised as an entity in itself.
Our digital lives
“We are just focused on being where readers are”: Pan-African weekly The Continent publishes directly on WhatsApp and Signal
The whole edition was really subversive in that way, she added. “We had an African woman illustrator on the cover and the image is about looking at the U.S. from an African vantage point. We wrote about the election in our languages without worrying about translation or interpretation. We flipped our audience as well. We encouraged our writers to imagine that our audience was our African language communities rather than outsiders. And it worked out great.”Christine Mungai for the Nieman Lab looks behind the scenes of The Continent.
Nas Daily suspends Philippines venture amid backlash
In his video responding to criticism in the Philippines, Yassin confirmed that “we paused Nas Academy for now” in order to work with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples “to make sure everything is legal and everything is okay.”
He claimed he’s still planning on opening an office in the country “and will be creating hundreds of jobs.”
Yassin, who does paid promotional work for governments, has previously said he only wants to “promote tourism and love, not politics and hate.”The growing controversies around him seem to be denting that upbeat brand.
Tamara Nassar for Electronic Intifada on Nas Daily's latest troubles...his ICRC-sponsored visit to Papua New Guinea is still used as a case study in my teaching on humanitarian celebrity culture...
Every day for over four years, Ramses woke up in his home in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, turned on his computer, and began labeling images that will help make self-driving cars ubiquitous one day. Through a microtasking platform called Remotasks, he would identify mundane objects that line the streets everywhere — trees, lampposts, pedestrians, stop signs — so that autonomous vehicles could learn to notice them, too.Vittoria Elliott for Rest of World on the digital underbelly of micro platform work.
Like many Venezuelans, Ramses turned to microtasking when his country plunged into economic turmoil. The gig gave him the opportunity to earn American dollars instead of the local currency, which is subject to extraordinarily high inflation. “I would work Sunday to Sunday,” Ramses, who asked to use only his first name for privacy reasons, told Rest of World over WhatsApp. “I never rested, but I made good money for 12-hour days, seven days a week.”
Across the world, people like Ramses, many in the Global South, have become part of a sophisticated new labor force training self-driving cars. Based everywhere from Kenya to the Philippines, these workers play a crucial but rarely acknowledged role in one of the most prominent parts of the tech industry.
The Dignity Report
In that time, we’ve learned that:Tom Wein with a report of the Dignity Project; Tom is a graduate of our MA in Communication for Development which makes this a proud teacher moment as well ;)
Disrespect is common, and it is painful. That matters in itself, and also because it is linked with feeling less happy, less empowered, less cooperative, more tribalistic, less healthy, and less democratic.
Dignity matters to everyone, and appears in every tradition, but it has a unique meaning in different cultures – Kenyan activists have told us how to them it is a feminist value, fraught with ideas of power and the freedom you have to be respectful. Around the world there are three common pathways for how to be more respectful: increased representation, better choices, and reduced inequality.
Publications-Open Access books
Decolonising Political Communication in Africa
The book interrogates the theory and practice of political communication, using decolonial research methods to begin a process of self-reflexivity and the creation of a new approach to knowledge production about African political communication. In doing so, it explores political communication approaches that might until recently have been considered subversive or dissident: forms of political communication that served to challenge imposed western norms and to empower African citizens and their histories. Centring African scholarship, the book draws on case studies from across the continent, including Zimbabwe, South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana.Beschara Karam & Bruce Mutsvairo edited this collection for Routledge.
Authoritarian Populism and the Rural World
Debates about ‘populism’, ‘nationalism’, ‘authoritarianism’ and more have exploded recently, but relatively little of this has focused on the rural dimensions. Yet, wherever one looks, the rural aspects are key – not just in electoral calculus, but in understanding underlying drivers of authoritarianism and populism, and potential counter-movements to these. Whether because of land grabs, voracious extractivism, infrastructural neglect or lack of services, rural peoples’ disillusionment with the status quo has had deeply troubling consequences and occasionally hopeful ones, as the chapters in this book show.Ian Scoones, Marc Edelman, Saturnino M. Borras Jr., Lyda Fernanda Forero, Ruth Hall, Wendy Wolford & Ben White edited this collection also for Routledge.
External Communication in Social Media During Asymmetric Conflicts-A Theoretical Model and Empirical Case Study of the Conflict in Israel and Palestine
This book explores the phenomenon by examining, (1) which strategies of external communication conflict parties use during asymmetric conflicts and (2) what shapes the selection of these communication strategies. In a comprehensive case study of the conflict in Israel and Palestine, Bernd Hirschberger shows that the selection of strategies of external communication is shaped by the (asymmetric) conflict structure.Bernd Hirschberger with a new book for transcript.
Publications-Open Access academic articles
Equity and expertise in the UN Food Systems Summit
The UN Food Systems Summit is bold but controversial, with important implications for global food systems and public health.Nicholas Nisbett, Sharon Friel, Richmond Aryeetey, Fabio da Silva Gomes, Jody Harris, Kathryn Backholer, Phillip Baker, Valarie Blue Bird Jernigan, Sirinya Phulkerd for BMJ Global Health.
Alongside claims of corporate capture, many have noted insufficient attention paid to human rights and to rebalancing power in the food system.
These issues speak to wider issues of participation and equity in the summit itself. Narrow definitions of equity only consider income inequities in outcomes and coverage. Broader definitions consider why such inequities persevere and are interlinked via processes that can be historical and intergenerational.
Epistemic injustice in academic global health
This Viewpoint calls attention to the pervasive wrongs related to knowledge production, use, and circulation in global health, many of which are taken for granted. We argue that common practices in academic global health (eg, authorship practices, research partnerships, academic writing, editorial practices, sensemaking practices, and the choice of audience or research framing, questions, and methods) are peppered with epistemic wrongs that lead to or exacerbate epistemic injustice. We describe two forms of epistemic wrongs, credibility deficit and interpretive marginalisation, which stem from structural exclusion of marginalised producers and recipients of knowledge.Himani Bhakuni & Seye Abimbola for the Lancet.
It’s Time to Decolonize the Decolonization Movement
1/n: Out today in @GlobalHealthBMJ: A systematic review on the #ethical challenges faced by *research staff* during "field research" in LMICs— Dr. Janina Steinert (@jisteinert) July 20, 2021
➡️Important reminder that the "do no harm" premise must guide any #development #globalhealth #economics etc. research project pic.twitter.com/74hF5qD5co
The bottom line is that the decolonization movement itself needs to be decolonized. We cannot decolonize global health using the same logics, dynamics, and paradigms that birthed it in the first place. We cannot dismantle the master’s house with the master’s tools. Unfortunately, many decolonization scholars and advocates, especially in academia are shackled into inaction, as the only tools at their disposal are the same tools of colonialism, the same system into which we have all been baptized. Which is why many anti-colonial thinkers have expressed that decolonization is impossible, but, in the words of Foluke Ifejola, “…we must make her possible if we wish to survive this wretched night that this wretched earth has been plunged into by humanity.”Ijeoma Opara for PLOS Speaking of Medicine and Health.
This will require an imagination revolution. A liberatory mindset reset. A paradigm cataclysm.
Data, Power, and Racial Formation
This special issue advances understandings of the myriad relationships between data and racial formation. Processes of racial formation capture the historical, political, and social modes through which power takes shape and becomes articulated in and through racial categories. The articles and commentaries in this collection build upon scholarly observations of how data operate in the service of substantiating and transforming social categories of difference across contexts and jurisdictions.Renee Shelby & Kathryn Henne with a special issue for Big Data & Society.
Staff recruitment and geographical representation in international organizations
What explains member states’ representation in the staff bodies of organizations in the UN system? Previous work has shown that member state power is a good predictor. But what about bureaucratic merit? The paper demonstrates that representation patterns can also be explained when measuring states’ supply of candidates with relevant working and regional experience. Supply of educated candidates plays no significant role. Bureaucratic merit in the UN seems to emphasize local knowledge and working experience over formal (Western) education.Steffen Eckhard & Yves Steinebach with a new article for the International Review of Administrative Sciences.
Jacob Dlamini, ‘relentless detective’ of the academy
The historian speaks about the multiple histories of Black experience under apartheid and the myth of the omnipotence of the authoritarian state.Dilip M Menon talks to Jacob Dlamini for New Frame.
What we were reading 4 years ago
(Link review 201, 30 September 2016)
What I learned from curating thousands of #globaldev articles
I spent quite some time last night to go through 199 link reviews and I selected a few articles from the past five years that capture the variety of blogs, sources and ultimately people that have been digital companions on my journey. Thank you for sharing-sometimes just one poignant commentary, sometimes regularly over time, even years.Me, reflecting on 200 Links I liked posts.
Can Attacks On Aid Workers Be Stopped?
The problem is keeping the effort going. "We have short attention spans," says Helen Durham, head of international law and policy for the International Committee of the Red Cross. "We see something terrible and then it disappears. We need to keep saying that these protections are valuable, they're worthy, and they speak to our common humanity."Malaka Gharib for NPR's Goats & Soda with a topic that feels more timely than ever...
"And keep expressing outrage when the laws are breached," she adds.
Want to change the aid industry? Here's how to do it
Whether you perceive it or not, the ecosystem of aid and development entities is in a constant state of evolution – changing theory, changing practice, changing understanding about what it means to “help”. Today’s brilliant innovation will be tomorrow’s old hat. And the practice that you so passionately evangelise this week could well be proven harmful the next.Don't you miss J.'s reflections as well??!!