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Hi all, 

We made it through another week & a great photo essay on outdoor women in Canada & a speculative humanitarian fiction story could help to take off your mind for a little bit, but we also must not forget Madagascar or Haiti & how language matters when we talk about #globaldev!

My quotes of the week
Nearly all respondents said they had attended large humanitarian gatherings attended by staff from international and local agencies. Did these encounters produce feelings of solidarity? No.
(Power & solidarity in humanitarian governance – what aid workers really think)

My biggest tip is to think about who has power and agency and ask yourself: are you using language that amplifies the power and worth of the people your work is supposedly done in service to, or is it taking away that power?

(Devspeak: are the words we use doing more harm than good?)

Maintaining the drug war thus reinforces the idea that Indigenous peoples are secondary; that the pain and suffering they have been subjected to in the name of a global drug war is not important; and that their cultures, traditions, beliefs and knowledge are not worthy of being protected and valued. It denies them their humanity. (To Support Indigenous Rights in Latin America, Decolonize Drug Policies)

Development news
Madagascar on the brink of climate change-induced famine

Madagascar is on the brink of experiencing the world's first "climate change famine", according to the United Nations, which says tens of thousands of people are already suffering "catastrophic" levels of hunger and food insecurity after four years without rain.
The drought - the worst in four decades - has devastated isolated farming communities in the south of the country, leaving families to scavenge for insects to survive.
Andrew Harding for BBC News with 'in other news' that shouldn't really be 'other'...

How to Escape the Cycle of Mismanaged Aid in Haiti
In the chaos that immediately followed the quake, many well-intentioned celebrities and donors from international and religious groups were trying to decide how and where to use the aid they had collected. In many instances, they failed to consult with grass-roots organizations about people’s most pressing needs. The relief efforts were often counterproductive, ineffective and wasteful.
The problem went beyond private donations. The American Red Cross was criticized for spending more aid money on its own overhead and less on Haiti than it had claimed. In other cases, large slices of aid would return to donor countries in the form of contracts for rubble removal.
Michèle Montas for the New York Times; unfortunately this resonates with a piece from the 2016 archive section at the bottom of the post about responsible media coverage of Haiti.

Power & solidarity in humanitarian governance – what aid workers really think

Nearly all respondents said they had attended large humanitarian gatherings attended by staff from international and local agencies. Did these encounters produce feelings of solidarity? No. Fewer than one-third (32%) said their attendance increased their belief that the humanitarian sector is a single community with a shared purpose. A quarter (25%) of respondents said the events had no change on their perception of a unified community. A plurality (42%) of respondents said such events decreased their belief that sector is a single community with a shared purpose.
Michael Barnett, Alexandra Vandermoss-Peeler & Smruti Patel for the CHS Alliance; the survey is still relatively small, but worth checking out many of the interesting findings that the post highlights on the notion of an international 'community'.

International development research impact: 10 key insights
So, if this seems self-evident and non-controversial, then how could our sector rethink how we conceive of and structure the commissioning of research and the mobilisation of research expertise, and do so in more diverse and creative ways that can best enable our ten key points above to be operationalised in practice?
Avni Kumar, Danielle Logue, Diana Gonzalez Botero, George Goddard, Juliet Willetts, Keren Winterford, Mel Dunn, Michele Rumsey for the DevPolicy Blog; I agree that these 10 points are not exactly groundbreaking new findings, but in the end they are a reminder that we know how to create #globaldev research impact & neoliberal funders, universities & other players are often in the way of achieving what they claim they would like to see...

How More and Better Funding Can Unlock the Potential of Evidence-to-Policy Partnerships
To this end, funder support for routine diagnostic processes within governments and a standardized theory of change for embedding evaluation evidence in decision-making may be valuable. These and additional research efforts could inform a compelling investment case on why and how funders should support partnership building as an important intervention in and of itself and as part of a commitment to putting power in the hands of those who best understand their local contexts.
Janeen Madan Keller & Julia Kaufman for the Center for Global Development; similar to the previous link, these insights are not rocket science, but the 'evidence' debate often sails closely to the 'plastic word' wind, especially since we know that decisions-makers are more often than not not interested in actual evidence...

Devspeak: are the words we use doing more harm than good?

“My biggest tip is to think about who has power and agency and ask yourself: are you using language that amplifies the power and worth of the people your work is supposedly done in service to, or is it taking away that power?” Bansal said. “How do I speak in a way that opens up a conversation and allow the community that I’m supposedly benefitting to actually participate and not just receive but actually feel like they have co-ownership of whatever project we’re doing?”
Susannah Birkwood talks to Sarika Bansal for BOND. Social media: A tool for peace or conflict?
Yet the potential of social media as a megaphone for promoting human rights, democracy and peace is overshadowed by its dismal record of being used to drive radicalization and violence through disinformation campaigns. This ‘online frontline’ will continue to be the case, unless regulators, social media firms and citizens revisit current policies and practices.
Simone Bunse for the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute with a great overview/'topical backgrounder' on the debates on social media & peace(building). I also addressed some of these important topics in my contribution to the Palgrave Encyclopedia of Global Security Studies.

To Support Indigenous Rights in Latin America, Decolonize Drug Policies

Maintaining the drug war thus reinforces the idea that Indigenous peoples are secondary; that the pain and suffering they have been subjected to in the name of a global drug war is not important; and that their cultures, traditions, beliefs and knowledge are not worthy of being protected and valued. It denies them their humanity.
Ana Clara Telles, Colleen Daniels & Manaka Infante for Filter Mag with some great reflection on how ending the 'war on drugs' needs to be linked to decolonizing efforts.

‘Purpose and power’: meet 10 BIPOC adventurers challenging ideals of who belongs in the outdoors
These racialized female and non-binary trailblazers are transforming the sense of who belongs in the natural world — and opening up about why that matters
Alia Youssef for the Narwhal with a beautiful photo essay from Canada.
Earthquake relief. Mexico. 2051.
In The New Humanitarian’s first ever fictional story, author Malka Older, known for her science-fiction thrillers, draws on more than 10 years of experience in the aid sector to take us to post-disaster Mexico in 2051
Malka Older for the New Humanitarian with speculative fiction food for a lot of thought!

Publications

Meaningful and deep community engagement efforts for pragmatic research and beyond: engaging with an immigrant/racialised community on equitable access to care
In employing the principles of community-based participatory research, integrated knowledge translation and human centred design, we reflect on the comprehensive community-engaged research approach we undertook.
Tanvir Chowdhury Turin, Nashit Chowdhury, Sarika Haque, Nahid Rumana, Nafiza Rahman & Mohammad A A Lasker with an open access article for BMJ Global Health.

The Strange Victory of Human Rights
The Morals of the Market reconstructs the ways in which major neoliberal thinkers and organisations were not indifferent to human rights, but deeply invested in them, or at least in their own construction of such rights. They wanted those rights to reflect what that they saw as the morality inherent in a market economy. To demonstrate this, Whyte’s work examines a number of crucial moments for both human rights and neoliberalism. In the first half of the book, she looks at the decades immediately following the Second World War, where the understanding of what constituted human rights was contested. In the second half, she turns to the 1970s, the period that would see the emergence of human rights as a hegemonic discourse in international politics. Whyte’s book shows that despite the differing emphases in this period, and the shift from the statements, manifestos and declarations of the first period to the constitutions, activist groups and death squads of the second, a clear set of normative commitments and rights undergirds and informs the technical theoretical proposals of the thinkers and groups who would come to definite neoliberalism.
Rory Dufficy reviews an interesting book for the Sydney Review of Books.

Seeing Human Rights: Video Activism as a Proxy Profession

Visual imagery is at the heart of humanitarian and human rights activism, and video has become a key tool in these efforts. The Saffron Revolution in Myanmar, the Green Movement in Iran, and Black Lives Matter in the United States have all used video to expose injustice. In Seeing Human Rights, Sandra Ristovska examines how human rights organizations are seeking to professionalize video activism through video production, verification standards, and training. The result, she argues, is a proxy profession that uses human rights videos to tap into journalism, the law, and political advocacy.
Sandra Ristovska with a new open access book for MIT Press.

Destroying Democracy-Neoliberal Capitalism and the Rise of Authoritarian Politics
Volume six of the Democratic Marxism series focuses on how decades of neoliberal capitalism have eroded the global democratic project and how, in the process, authoritarian politics are gaining ground. Scholars and activists from the left focus on four country cases – India, Brazil, South Africa and the United States of America – in which the COVID-19 pandemic has fuelled and highlighted the pre-existing crisis. They interrogate issues of politics, ecology, state security, media, access to information and political parties, and affirm the need to reclaim and re-build an expansive and inclusive democracy.
Michelle Williams & Vishwas Satgar with new open access collection for Wits University Press.

What we were reading 4 years ago

(Link review 203, 14 October 2016)

A perfect digital (shit)storm: U.S. Christian missionary communication from Uganda
The case of the Oklahoma-based missionary organization Luket Ministries and their recent promotional video from Uganda as well as pictures from missionary volunteers for Tennessee-based 147 million orphans shed light on several broader issues
Me, on a classic theme of this blog: (Christian) missionaries and how they communicate their work in Africa...

On Haiti and the ethics of disaster
don’t encourage your audiences to give to relief in the first place. Direct them to science-based charity navigators like GiveWell, which analyzes the research behind different charities to identify where your money is most likely to do the most good. Your readers will soon learn that disaster relief is one of the most inefficient ways to save a life, but that there are other ways in which even a little bit of philanthropy can go a long way.
Jacob Kushner for the Center for Journalism Education with a reminder about ethical disaster journalism.

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