Links & Contents I Liked 430
My quotes of the week
Reparations must be about creating economic and social equality between former colonizer and colonized. It must be about holding injustice to account through legal and political measures initiated by the victims. It cannot just be about paying off people for extreme injustices that the perpetrators still continue to this day. And even if it is about money, it cannot be in the form of aid agreements that employ antiquated and one-sided modalities that benefit the donor more. (Aid as reparations is misplaced and harmful)
Ethically sound blockchain humanitarian projects are precluded by the inherent obscurantism of the technology, the inability to transpose blockchain’s governance logic in the social realm, and inextricable ties to the political economy of cryptocurrencies. Projects in the developing world have thus embodied a colonial logic of techno-experimentation for platform developers and imbricate the NGO sector into the PR logic of blockchain solutionism. (Blockchain humanitarianism and crypto-colonialism)
How Denmark’s hard line on Syrian refugees is an aid group’s ethical dilemma
As Danish politics have turned increasingly hardline on migration, DRC’s historically close relationship with the Danish asylum authorities has also been strained, according to Danish migration experts.Charlotte Alfred & Benjamin Holst for the New Humanitarian on how Denmark's immigration policy challenges traditionally more cozy relationships with the few large NGOs.
“The Danish tradition of NGOs is different to other countries... [DRC’s relationship with authorities] was seen as amicable and non-confrontational,” said Gammeltoft-Hansen, the University of Copenhagen law professor, who has worked with DRC in the past. “But as Danish immigration policy has become more restrictive… those relationships have changed.”
“Something has clearly gone wrong,” said Friis Bach, the former DRC secretary general. “A case like this should certainly prompt some serious thinking about whether one should continue to be part of such a mission.”
Six months on, still no responsibility established for the killing of María, Tedros and Yohannes in Tigray
This information confirms that the attack was not consistent with crossfire injuries, but instead was an intentional killing of three humanitarian aid workers, as each of our staff members were clearly recognisable as civilians and humanitarians at the time of the incident. The car, also well identified with the MSF logo and two flags, was shot multiple times and extensively burnt.Paula Gil for MSF Spain on what happens beyond the headlines when aid workers are attacked & killed and the long road of establishing facts in an environment rife with impunity.
Africa Cannot Afford a Second Cold War
The subordination of growth and development objectives to security priorities can only worsen intergenerational poverty, fuel migration pressures, damage the environment, and impede climate-change mitigation and adaptation. These risks will increase further as policymakers are compelled to divert scarce resources away from the infrastructure investment needed to diversify African countries’ sources of growth and accelerate their integration into the global economy.Hippolyte Fofack for Project Syndicate on how new securitization will likely exacerbate old problems across Africa.
Aid as reparations is misplaced and harmful
Reparations must be about creating economic and social equality between former colonizer and colonized. It must be about holding injustice to account through legal and political measures initiated by the victims. It cannot just be about paying off people for extreme injustices that the perpetrators still continue to this day. And even if it is about money, it cannot be in the form of aid agreements that employ antiquated and one-sided modalities that benefit the donor more.Themrise Khan for Shift The Power continues her excellent critical writing in 2022!
9 Young African Activists to Look Out for in 2022
A fresh generation of persistent voices, innovators, changemakers, and action-takers are making sure that the world sees the continent with fresh eyes, and that Africa itself rises from the ashes of vulnerability.Khanyi Mlaba for Global Citizen with a great list of not-so-usual suspects!
Who looted Nepal’s gods?
A stolen statue changes hands many times before it ends up in a museum display shelf: the thieves on the ground, the smugglers who hired them, the security personnel and political figures who provide protection and facilitate the transport out of Nepal, and finally the collector and museum curators.Ashish Dhakal for Nepali Times with a reminder that global art thefts of cultural artefact needs a domestic infrastructure...
During peak smuggling periods in the 1960-70s, Nepal was an absolute monarchy. Heritage conservationists doubt if such heavy objects could be smuggled out of the country through Kathmandu airport without the knowledge of the security forces, the palace and the government.
Unpacking Digital Bangladesh
But as long as the push to get more people online and engaged with digital technology is paired with punishing them for online activities deemed as subversive or anti-government, Bangladesh will only slide further into authoritarianism. The government’s understanding of Digital Bangladesh includes not only increased internet access and digital services – policies that are lauded and supported as development goals – but also clear violations of human rights, with the government broadening its ability to surveil and monitor citizens, creating a digital space that is far from the equitable and democratic future that citizens were promised.Zara Rahman for Himal Southasian with nuanced, critical look at the complexities of digitalisation in Bangladesh (which is probably similar in other countries?!?).
Beyond destruction: innovation as an offering for repair, renewal and reparations
If we hope to reframe the narrative of innovation and creativity for our times, we will have to sit with the loss of what it has destroyed. We have to bear witness, remember and foster awareness of the consequences of erasing the futures of so many and put our resources and efforts into creative opportunities that not only make these crises more visible but orchestrate attention to the people and places displaced in the margins and the in-between. It will require that we change ourselves to recognise innovation in healing the ruptures we’ve created and mending the fabric of our societies and ecologies.Lauren Parater for UNHCR Innovation Services with an interesting long-read on how innovation needs to be transformed (and how difficult is probably will be in the context of UN agencies...).
The Imperialist Massacre Behind Some Of Canada’s Most Prestigious Academic Prizes
🇨🇱 Images from the Atacama desert, which has become a dumpster for the global fast fashion industry. Over 100,000 tons of clothing, many of them new items with price tags that weren't sold or used, have been dumped in the Atacama desert in Chile. pic.twitter.com/1IrRA2bw7t— Peoples Dispatch (@peoplesdispatch) January 5, 2022
Salvadorans would endure another 50 years of brutal western-backed far-right military rule, followed by 13 years of civil war during which an estimated 75,000 Indigenous activists, union supporters, communists, Catholic clergy and other leftists were murdered or disappeared by U.S.-funded right-wing death squads.Cassandra Kislenko for the Maple looking at an interesting case of wealth, power, exploitation & the people behind prestigious academic institutions in Canada.
Killam’s International Power company maintained its electricity monopoly in El Salvador for some time following La Matanza. Upon his death, Killam was thought to be the wealthiest man in Canada. He left part of his fortune to the Canadian government, where it contributed half the funding to found the prestigious Canadian Council for the Arts.
His wife Dorothy Killam received $40 million, which she used to establish a series of coveted academic research grants known as Killam Trusts, today valued at around $400 million.
Tented love: how Senegal created a spectacular new African architecture
After independence in 1960, the country cast off western influences and forged a new African style full of triangular forms, rocket-shaped obelisks and rammed earth. Is this spirit now being suffocated? Our writer takes a tour of the capitalOliver Wainwright for the Guardian with a great photo essay from Dakar.
Our digital lives
Is Clubhouse dead? Not if you are in South Asia
Jointly hosted by poets Atif Ali from Pakistan and Ahmed Mobashir from India, the digital mushaira (poetic symposium) on Clubhouse features various forms of recitals in Urdu literature, including nazms and ghazals (different formats of poems). Over 17,000 people from Pakistan and India follow the club.Ramsha Jahangir, Mosabber Hossain, Abhaya Raj Joshi, Vinay Aravid & Zinara Rathnayake for Rest of World with some unlikely Clubhouse success stories.
The racialization of expertise and professional non-equivalence in the humanitarian workplace
This study seeks to uncover that professional categorizations of “expatriate” and “local” are not race-neutral and, instead, colorblind. Organizations within the contemporary humanitarian aid apparatus have come to appeal to what Michael Omi and Howard Winant would characterize as a new racial discourse—one that does not require explicit references to race in order to be perpetuated, as racial subordination has been reconfigured to rely on implicit references to race woven within the everyday social fabrics of the humanitarian profession.Junru Bian with a new open access article for the Journal of International Humanitarian Action.
Blockchain humanitarianism and crypto-colonialism
This article claims that humanitarian blockchain projects are inextricably linked to the politics of the crypto-economy, proprietary platforms, and a class of solutionists championing Silicon Valley’s cultural values. Blockchain humanitarianism has emerged through a private-public partnership (PPP) model in the non-governmental organization (NGO) sector that embraces tech disruption and innovation. Ethically sound blockchain humanitarian projects are precluded by the inherent obscurantism of the technology, the inability to transpose blockchain’s governance logic in the social realm, and inextricable ties to the political economy of cryptocurrencies. Projects in the developing world have thus embodied a colonial logic of techno-experimentation for platform developers and imbricate the NGO sector into the PR logic of blockchain solutionism.Olivier Jutel with an open access article for Cell Patterns.
Manufacturing-led development in the digital age: how power trumps technology
The first argument is that the rise of digital services or digital automation technologies do not require a serious reformulation of manufacturing-led development strategies. The second argument is that the expansion of digital and global value chains are empowering transnational corporations headquartered in the North at the expense of industrialisation in the South.Jostein Hauge with an open access article for Third World Quarterly.
An audible university? The emerging role of podcasts, audiobooks and text to speech technology in research should be taken seriously
In this post, Mark Carrigan, reflects on how research listening has shaped his own practice and how an implicit assumption of its secondary relationship to reading, may limit our appreciation of engaging with research in a multi-modal fashion.Mark Carrigan for LSE's Impact of Science blog shares some interesting reflections on how listening is expanding traditional ways of researching, studying & experiencing the university.
What we were reading 5 years ago
I am mentoring a couple of search committees through #academia hiring practices today, and how to hire diverse faculty (which I have been fairly successful doing). It's not hard, but there are some guidelines search committees will want to follow. a thread— Jennifer deWinter (@jennomiko) January 3, 2022
(Link review 220, 17 February 2017)
Who Killed Hammarskjöld? (book review)
Susan Williams book Who Killed Hammarskjöld? The UN, The Cold War and White Supremacy in Africa can be best summarized with ‘come for the title-but definitely stay for the subtitle!’Still a must-read if your are interested in the history of the UN!
Her detailed and careful investigation uncovers a powerful conspiracy as Western power, anti-communist sentiments and multinational economic interests merge in an unholy alliance that most likely killed the UN Secretary-General.
The fact that her account is such a readable historical discovery that probably teaches readers more about ‘African history’ than most academic textbooks, underlines the unique position that Hurst and its team have in publishing great books about development history.