Links & Contents I Liked 414

Hi all,

We welcomed almost 170 students to our ComDev courses this week, so the link review is a tad bit shorter than usual at the end of a long week...but from Afghanistan to Colombia, Mexico, Abu Dhabi, the UK, biometrics, the HR department & breast feeding we are visiting many contentious spaces around the globe...

Enjoy!

My quotes of the week
We must also oppose the practice of the northern aid industry to consistently place themselves as the managers, implementers, intermediaries and monitors of aid, whether white or people of colour. (Racism doesn’t just exist within aid. It’s the structure the sector is built on)

Insofar as keeping your staff happy makes sense for maintaining a productive and docile workforce, HR are our champions. But shorter hours, higher pay, more control? That’s not in the purview of a department with our employer’s interests at heart.

(The HR department are not your friends)

Development news
How elite US institutions created Afghanistan’s neoliberal President Ashraf Ghani, who stole $169 million from his country
The lecture provided a transparent glimpse into the mind of a World Bank-trained imperial bureaucrat. Ghani echoed the “end of history” argument of his mentor Fukuyama, insisting that capitalism had become the world’s unchallengeable form of social organization. The question was no longer what system a country wanted, he argued, but rather “which form of capitalism and which type of democratic participation.”
In a barely intelligible dialect of neoliberalese, Ghani declared, “we have to rethink the notion of capital,” and invited viewers to discuss “how to mobilize different forms of capital for the project of state building.” That same year, Ghani delivered a speech at the European Ideas Network Conference, in his capacity as the new president of Kabul University, in which he further explained his vision for the world.
Praising the “center-right,” Ghani declared that imperialist institutions like NATO and the World Bank must be strengthened in order to defend “democracy and capitalism.” He insisted that the US military occupation of Afghanistan was a model that could be exported around the world, as “part of a global effort.”
In the talk, Ghani also reflected fondly on his time carrying out Washington’s neoliberal “shock therapy” in the former Soviet Union: “In the 1990s … Russia was ready to become democratic and capitalist and I think the rest of the world failed it. I had the privilege of working in Russia for five years during that time.”
Ghani was so proud of his work with the World Bank in Moscow that, in his official bio on the Afghan government’s website, he boasted of “working directly on the adjustment program of the Russian coal industry” – in other words, privatizing the Eurasian giant’s massive hydrocarbon reserves.
Ben Norton for the Grayzone; this is a lot of food for thought, discussion & possibly disagreement, but this essay is worth a read; there are currently many discussions going on about how #globaldev failed in Afghanistan & how billions of aid money were wasted. Perhaps. But this piece is a powerful reminder that aid can often only be a band-aid if the structural surroundings do not enable its full transformative potential.


How Infant-Formula Makers Feed Off Fears of Covid

Formula makers can thank Covid-19 for some of that momentum. Despite WHO/Unicef guidelines aimed at protecting babies from exposure — by keeping hands and surfaces clean and masking, for example — formula makers are suggesting that breastfeeding is simply not safe. Some are even making claims of unproven health benefits
Lori Silberman Brauner for PassBlue on the latest chapter in the breast milk vs. formula wars...
Five years on, Colombia’s coca regions remain at war and distrust is growing
Since the FARC disarmed and joined the government as part of the peace deal, other groups have moved into territory it formerly controlled, including in Catatumbo. While crime rates in urban centres such as Medellín and the capital, Bogotá, have fallen dramatically in recent years, violence in the countryside has risen.
Mass killings soared in 2020 to levels not seen since the height of the civil war in 2012. As of 31 August, there had been 68 mass killings recorded so far in 2021 – heavily concentrated in the rural areas that were promised investment and infrastructure under the peace accord.
Joshua Collins for the New Humanitarian with an update from Colombia & age-old #globaldev problems from the 'periphery', rural-urban divides & lack of social change + investment...

Racism doesn’t just exist within aid. It’s the structure the sector is built on

We must also oppose the practice of the northern aid industry to consistently place themselves as the managers, implementers, intermediaries and monitors of aid, whether white or people of colour. This practice plays on the racist assumption that countries of the south do not have the ability to manage external resources. We must be in control of and accountable for the aid we receive and make these positions redundant in the north.
Themrise Khan for the Guardian. Biometrics in humanitarian action: a delicate balance
This means, for instance, to stay mindful that even with great data protection by design processes, biometrics data remains over-purposed by design since it reveals a lot more than intended. There is therefore a certain urgency to invest more in the technical research to protect people from function creep. With this in mind, we are calling for partnerships on the issue, and in this case at least, a public-private collaboration is necessary as biometrics-based identification systems are being rolled out at increasing speed.
Vincent Graf Narbel & Justinas Sukaitis for ICRC's Humanitarian Law & Policy with a great overview over the biometrics in aid debate!

New UNESCO handbook: How to transform coverage of migrants and refugees?
This extensive guide enables journalists around the globe to address these challenges by teaching analysis, research, presentation, marketing and ethics of migration coverage. The guide was developed by an international and cross-cultural group of over 30 media researchers, media educators and media practitioners and comprises results of communication studies as well as political and social sciences.
The European Federation of Journalists features a new UNESCO resource which looks interesting to me as researcher & teacher, but I'm never sure how useful a 300+ page pdf-doc is for practitioners...

Field Research in Bangladesh on Inclusive Humanitarian Action
Humanitarian actors need to systematically build their capacity, including especially at their headquarters, to develop and implement long-term strategies for inclusion.
Handicap International with a new report & important contribution to #globaldev inclusion debates.


Mexican Artists Create Fantastical Masks To Show The Many Faces Of COVID

Blanca Cárdenas and Carlos Dávila, professors of ethnology at the National School of Anthropology and History (ENAH) in Mexico City, invited indigenous artisans in their country to create masks, drawings and other works of art to portray the agent of the pandemic — the coronavirus — through the lens of their traditions.
Cathy Newman for NPR Goats & Soda.



Our digital lives

Why an Abu Dhabi-based streaming app is the future of the global music industry

Habib is betting on Anghami taking a proactive role in expanding the Arabic-language music repertoire by working with local labels and artists to help discover talent, with initiatives like Anghami Originals and Anghami Labs. The company sees the opportunity with fans in the region but also millions of diaspora around the world who are trying to reconnect with their roots through music.
Yinka Adegoke for Rest of World with an interesting case study on the globalization of culture driven by the 'Global South'...

The HR department are not your friends

Workers are consistently sold the idea that HR are their champions and guardians in the workplace, there to mediate conflict, ensure well-being and generally look after their staff. In actual fact, you only have to take a second glance at the name to understand that this is artifice. Far from the soft, people-focussed role HR has come to occupy in the public imagination, its purpose is to utilise the role of humans – workers – as resources in pursuit of an organisation’s wider strategic objectives. Insofar as keeping your staff happy makes sense for maintaining a productive and docile workforce, HR are our champions. But shorter hours, higher pay, more control? That’s not in the purview of a department with our employer’s interests at heart.
Eve Livingston for Vice with an excerpt of her new book that raises interesting questions for #globaldev 'human resources' as well...

Publications

Tabloid Media Campaigns and Public Opinion: Quasi-Experimental Evidence on Euroscepticism in England

we identify the effects of The Sun boycott on attitudes toward leaving the EU. Difference-in-differences designs using public opinion data spanning three decades, supplemented by referendum results, show that the boycott caused EU attitudes to become more positive in treated areas.
Florian Foos & Daniel Bischof with a new open-access article in the American Political Science Review that features research that I'd like to see adjusted to #globaldev media coverage...
What we were reading 4 years ago
(Link review 204, 21 October 2016)

Photography and Social Impact – An interview with Everyday Africa
I think Everyday Africa has much deeper implications than that, broadening in many ways our understanding of the continent even for people who are more tuned in – but providing that very basic burst of those misconceptions for people at a young age is, I believe, very important.
David Girling talks to Peter DiCampo on photography, representation and Everyday Africa-issues that are still on the #globaldev agenda today!

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