Links & Contents I Liked 417
It is also Friday so time for some food for reading-a lot on widening/broadening inequalities due to platform capitalism, but as always much more to explore...
My quotes of the week
The same economy of clicks determines the fates of refugees across the Middle East. Forced to adapt their sleeping patterns to meet the needs of firms on the other side of the planet and in different time zones, the largely Syrian population of Lebanon’s Shatila camp forgo their dreams to serve those of distant capitalists.
(Refugees help power machine learning advances at Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon)
(Woven-Collective Memory of the Chaparralunas Women's Network for Peace)
For many Haitian migrants, journey to Texas started online
It also reflects the power of Facebook, YouTube and platforms like WhatsApp, which migrants use to share information that can get distorted as it speeds through immigrant communities, directing migration flows.Juan A. Lozano, Maria Verza & Julie Watson for AP adding some insights on digital tools to the current refugee situation in the US.
Refugees help power machine learning advances at Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon
The same economy of clicks determines the fates of refugees across the Middle East. Forced to adapt their sleeping patterns to meet the needs of firms on the other side of the planet and in different time zones, the largely Syrian population of Lebanon’s Shatila camp forgo their dreams to serve those of distant capitalists. Their nights are spent labeling footage of urban areas — house,” “shop,” “car” — labels that, in a grim twist of fate, map the streets where the labelers once lived, perhaps for automated drone systems that will later drop their payloads on those very same streets. The sites on which they labor are so opaque that it is impossible to establish with any certainty the precise purpose or beneficiaries of their work.Phil Jones for Rest of World on digital tools, new forms of exploitation & new sites where global platform capitalism preys on vulnerable people.
The truth is that microwork programs often target populations devastated by war, civil unrest, and economic collapse, not despite their desperate circumstances (...) but because of them. Such organizations know that workers in Nairobi’s Kibera slum or the shantytowns of Kolkata are hardly in the position to protest low pay or meager rights.
The Activist: Priyanka Chopra sorry for role on reality show
Actress Priyanka Chopra has said US activism reality TV show The Activist "got it wrong" and has apologised for her planned role as a judge.The BBC with a quick follow-up to the debate around The Activist.
The Activist was a challenge show for people involved in health, education and environmental issues to win a place at the G20 summit.
The makers have issued an apology for the show's format.
When the presenters were announced, there was backlash online - which Priyanka says she "heard".
"I have been moved by the power of your voices over the past week," she wrote, in a note posted on her social media channels.
"The show got it wrong, and I'm sorry that my participation in it disappointed many of you.
The world watches as Abiy loses it — and risks losing Ethiopia, too.
Privately, African leaders are terrified that Abiy will drive Ethiopia into state failure, which would in turn deepen instability throughout the Horn of Africa, but they can’t bear to admit that there’s no African solution for this African problem. If Washington announces tough measures, Africans may publicly complain about American bullying but they will be privately thankful. Such arm-twisting cannot come quickly enough. Ethiopia’s tragedy may be that the country unravels before its leader’s reputation does.Alex De Waal for Reinventing Peace on how things are falling apart in Ethiopia.
‘Aid workers come and go, making lazy assumptions’ – a colonial mindset still hinders philanthropy in Africa
In marginalised communities such as Kibera, a leader’s credibility has as much to do with lived experience and deeply-woven relationships as it does their strategic plans and impact frameworks. However, the development sector is not currently structured in such a way that uplifts and incentivises these trusted community-based leaders and solutions, who are best positioned to drive change.Kennedy Odede for the Independent; I agree with most of his critique of the #globaldev sector, but many African states & leaders are not exactly keen to foster a vibrant civil society, including the philanthropic sector...
Moving beyond the US-Taliban narrative for Afghanistan
The younger generation who makes up over two-thirds of the population will be the biggest victims of the current crisis and are paying a high cost now for all the damage that has been created. Most will not have experienced Taliban rule and have very different aspirations and expectations from the people who lived during the wars of the 80s and 90s. Despite constituting a demographic majority, youth in Afghanistan are excluded from major decision-making power in social and political life.A lot has been written about Afghanistan recently, of course, but it's great to read reflections from researchers with direct connections to the country and its people, like Mezhgan Temory for IDS.
Their presence is lacking from any peace forums and talks while the ‘old guard’ (less than 20 percent of the population) often dominated the civic and political space. This had been changing slowly under the Ghani administration. Numerous national development programmes and policies introduced brilliant ideas to increase the civic and political participation of women and youth, and as a result, we’ve witnessed substantial progress.
Looking back at the 1971 Concert in Sympathy
"Development" once meant "progress", but in a system the land is commodified and housing is profit-driven, it mostly just means destroying farmland and natural ecosystems to build homogeneous urban sprawl that's not designed to survive past the Age of Oil. pic.twitter.com/ylBJbWzwqN— The Decolonial Atlas (@decolonialatlas) September 17, 2021
It was 50 years ago today when hundreds of Londoners flocked to Sadler's Wells theatre to show their support and donate to the cause of Bangladesh's Liberation War.Kamal Ahmed for the Daily Star...interesting reflections on how little refugee experiences have changed in the last 50 years...on a different note: Do 'liberation wars' still exist in the 21st century?!?
Describing people who fled persecution and deaths at home and took refuge across the border, the concert flyer said: People! Lonely and lost; baffled and bewildered; disrupted and dispossessed. Once they were farmers, workers, teachers, doctors and artists—now only refugees. But, to reflect the resistance and defiance it pronounced: "Bengal, together with her music and literature is alive! Though all is not well there, we hope that we might reach what all Art seeks to reach—the heart of the matter. A battered peoples' Art lives".
Our digital lives
Gig workers are uncertain, scared, and barely scraping by
While the “sharing economy” model really began to take off in the U.S., gig work platforms are now global, adapting their models — or not — for wholly different contexts. To try to understand how this kind of work is experienced outside of the West, Rest of World spoke to platform workers around the world. Through a survey of more than 4,900 workers, conducted in partnership with the research company Premise, and interviews with dozens more workers, we have tried to capture their experiences. We found great commonalities: Gig work is stressful and fragile; it pays relatively well, but it also costs workers a lot in fuel, data, and insurance. Workers, whether driving a taxi in Ethiopia or a truck in Indonesia, don’t feel they can turn down gigs, meaning that it’s rarely as flexible as the companies make out.Rest of World continuous their excellent coverage of platform-induced global inequalities and the people & stories behind the global gig economy.
Woven-Collective Memory of the Chaparralunas Women's Network for Peace
We are a group that is expert at finding the odd job, acting, stretching our resources. We are saleswomen and multitaskers who do the work that is needed and are always innovating to benefit our organization and our homes. As a result of our union and presence, we have been able to promote a path of cultural transformation, strengthening rural women’s organizational initiatives, training women leaders, and promoting women’s active participation in political spaces. We call this “Peace from the hands and in the likeness of women” and, from this perspective the Red de Mujeres Chaparralunas por la Paz focuses on collective work, equality, struggle, a desire to overcome, peace, resistance, social construction, empowerment, unity, social fabric, culture, sisterhood, respect, love, and pride.Nohora Isabel Barros Navarro, Iokiñe Rodríguez, Cristina Sala Valdés, Dagmar Lucía Hernández Peña (R.I.P), María Ximena Figueroa, Martha Ibeth Cardona, Gloria Méndez Quesada, Ingrid Gómez & Zoraida Montes for the School of International Development Research.
Inclusive Volunteering for Global Equality – Linking Decolonisation and Diversity
The paper aims to provide an overview of current debates and their importance for the V4D sector and thereby set the ground for further discussions at the IVCO 2021 conference. The paper builds upon the conversations of IVCO 2018 and its framing paper on ‘Inclusive Development.’ While contributions of volunteers and volunteer involving organisations (VIOs) to ‘Inclusive Development’ were at the centre of the debate, here we will direct the attention to the internal structures of the V4D sector and questions such as: Who gets to volunteer and who does not – and why? How does this impact volunteering experiences and outcomes? How is this connected with debates around decolonisation in the context of power dynamics, privilege and inequality? What approaches and ideas can lead to the decolonisation of V4D programmes and initiatives?Benjamin Haas & Victor Moinina for the International Forum for Volunteering in Development with a great new paper!
Anthropocene (In)securities: Reflections on Collective Survival 50 Years After the Stockholm Conference
In June 1972, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm, Sweden. This event, also known as the Stockholm Conference, was the first of its kind, and it reflected mounting concerns with the transboundary environmental problems caused by modern industrial society. Fifty years later, we find ourselves in a world marked by profound, accelerating and possibly irreversible environmental change. Today, there is simply no place on earth untouched by human influence. The Anthropocene is a concept that has been advanced to capture this novel environmental condition. It refers to an unpredictable and fragile era in planetary history when humanity is dangerously disrupting the earth’s biosphere and life-upholding systems.Malin Mobjörk & Eva Lövbrand with an open access book for SIPRI/Oxford University Press.
Development researchers as advocates: eight tips for more engaged scholarship
Careful consideration must be given to the why, what, and how of knowledge sharing. For example, practically speaking, what does the hegemonic position of the English language and the widespread use of digital technology mean in terms of inclusion and exclusion? Not only should knowledge sharing be coupled to clear action objectives, we must also think about how to engage research participants as co-creators, co-curators, and co-producers of knowledge.Adinda Ceelen for EADI summarizes a great panel discussion in which I also played a small part...
The Making of Critical Knowledge Claims: Research, ‘Allyship’ and Politics of Representation
The analysis described above ignores the particular concern of the Stansted 15 to focus the story of our trial in the public arena on people bearing the brunt of the Home Office’s racist and frequently unlawful immigration system, rather than on ourselves. The attention the authors paid to our dress and courtroom behaviour misinterpreted our agreed intention to avoid drawing negative public attention onto us as ‘deviants’ which could be reflected back on migrants whose precarity makes them much more vulnerable to the state. Any dramatic resistance to court procedures would have drawn attention to us, rather than the people whose lives were on the line through brutal treatment at the hands of the government. The authors’ analysis fails to grasp this crucial aspect of our strategy, and instead serves to subvert this strategy and draw attention to us rather than those with whom we acted in solidarity.Mel Evans, Emma Hughes & Ruth Potts for Discover Society; this is a fascinating essay on 'research subjects' writing back in response to a published academic article-a real teachable case study on the politics of (mis)representation of 'informants'.
Hayes et al. therefore do not recognise that the decentring of whiteness was fundamental not only to the actions for which we were charged, but also to the approach we took in courtroom testimonies, the media and at public rallies. For Hayes et al., as for the UK Home Office, the deportees are not subjects, and what this trial is about is a domestic drama of protest regulation played out by liberal subjects, defined implicitly as white citizens.
How can participatory research help create the change needed in the world?
Participatory knowledge is robust because it is rooted in experience, because its dialogic and iterative approach means that it is contested from multiple angles, and it is tested in action. Participatory research methods access sources of knowledge that other approaches don’t reach. They facilitate processes for analysing this knowledge and identifying action. It is through such processes that we can transform fear and resignation into trust, hope and collective action for change.Danny Burns and Joanna Howard for IDS introduce their new Handbook of Participatory Research which perhaps provides some answers on how to avoid 'talking back' from those involved in your research and analysis...
What we were reading 4 years ago
(Link review 207, 11 November 2016)
Humanitarian Aftershocks in Haiti (book review)
What has the aid industry really (un)learned – and why is it so difficult to deliver humanitarian aid in a humanitarian way?My review of Mark Schuller's book is still very timely to understand Haiti & aid efforts 4 years later...
With all the knowledge, skills and tools we have we are left with the sour taste of the proverbial ‘imperfect offer’-imperfect because humanitarian aid cannot fix years or decades of issues that accumulated outside and often contrary to any notion of ‘sustainable development’.
But the strength of Humanitarian Aftershocks is that Mark Schuller highlights challenges that can and should be addressed, from localization of aid management to a further push to make humanitarian ethics and practices count in a culturally sensitive and appropriate way.
New Ideas for a New Secretary-General: Fixing the UN’s Human Resources System
The bottom line is simple: without the staff to deliver, the UN stands no chance of meeting the growing and complex needs of peacekeeping, peacebuilding, or the Sustainable Development Goals. It will not achieve any of these aspirations alone, but the UN needs to be able to play its role competently – and that requires good people.Rahul Chandran & Sebastian von Einsiedel for the United Nations University-another timely read as #UNGA76 is underway...
How expats cope with losing their identity
She has been back in Australia for three years following six years in Latin America and London. “It takes so much longer to make friends now... and no one wants to hear your stories.”Not #globaldev content per se, but the BBC's feature on expats probably sounds familiar to many who have been working in 'the industry'...