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Hi all,

Our semester kicked off this week and as difficult as things still are I am amazed by how active, curious, resourceful and well-organized most of our students are, keen to write their thesis, discussing readings & making our lives more exciting in the process!
Otherwise, enjoy an eclectic #globaldev news, views & readings that have caught my attention this week!

My quotes of the week
Every night, my mother calls me. She says, “What’s going on Marib? You have to leave, you have to be safe.” I tell them, “It’s ok, I’m ok.” They worry about me. And when there is an airstrike in Sana’a, I call them and tell them to be safe, to leave their house and go further away from the strikes. Every night is like this. They are worried about me, and I am worried about them. (‘I will not leave my family to die here’: A photojournalist in Yemen’s Marib)

However, it turns out that forcing your nation’s banks and stores to accept a currency large swaths of the population are unfamiliar with and don’t trust is a good way to tank your economy (An Entire Country Switched to Bitcoin and Now Its Economy Is Floundering)

Development news
Sophisticated cyber-attack targets Red Cross Red Crescent data on 500,000 people
The attack compromised personal data and confidential information on more than 515,000 highly vulnerable people, including those separated from their families due to conflict, migration and disaster, missing persons and their families, and people in detention. The data originated from at least 60 Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies around the world.
The ICRC was cyber-attacked and this will most likely lead to a long discussing of how this is a 'wake-up call for the industry', how humanitarian & #globaldev organizations need to do more, better & fast to protect their data and how cyber criminals don't really care whether the data belongs to 'vulnerable people' or regular shoppers on the Internet;
An Entire Country Switched to Bitcoin and Now Its Economy Is Floundering
However, it turns out that forcing your nation’s banks and stores to accept a currency large swaths of the population are unfamiliar with and don’t trust is a good way to tank your economy, according to a castigating report by Fortune.
El Salvador has found itself in an ever-deepening sinkhole of debt, with its cringe president lobbying the International Monetary Fund for a $1.3 billion loan, according to the magazine, and shortly after the Bitcoin City announcement in November, the country’s sovereign bond dropped from 75 cents to 63 cents overnight and is now at 36 cents.
Tony Tran for Futurism; Bitcoin may not be solely responsible for El Salvador's difficult situation, but it didn't help either which the tech solutionism bubble will probably ignore for a while longer...

Why is the UK government still getting away with complicity in the Yemen war?
In a just world, it would prove the downfall of our prime minister. This week, airstrikes by the Saudis and their allies killed more than a dozen people in Yemen, civilians among them. Last month an estimated 32 civilians died as a result of the ongoing conflict. The country has been convulsed by civil war since 2014. For seven years, a Saudi-led coalition has been pummelling the impoverished country with bombs, many of them supplied by Britain. Through our staunch military alliance with the Saudi dictatorship, our government is directly complicit with these atrocities.
Owen Jones for the Guardian; no matter who is the PM, not matter how feminist your foreign policy is or isn't and no matter what kind of speeches diplomats deliver at the UN, the arms trade is one of those persistent & pervasive pillars of the political economy that undermines so much good #globaldev efforts.

‘I will not leave my family to die here’: A photojournalist in Yemen’s Marib
Every night, my mother calls me. She says, “What’s going on Marib? You have to leave, you have to be safe.” I tell them, “It’s ok, I’m ok.” They worry about me. And when there is an airstrike in Sana’a, I call them and tell them to be safe, to leave their house and go further away from the strikes. Every night is like this. They are worried about me, and I am worried about them.
Nabil Alawzari talks to the New Humanitarian about life & journalistic work in Yemen.

‘Invisible’ Children of War: Continuing Cycles of Violence Post-Bosnian Genocide
Children of war are agency-less persons and are born facing stigma, discrimination, and abandonment. These children inherit the clear marker of a violent identity from their fathers and lack of agency from their mothers. Deprived of their innocence and not recognised as victims of war, these children are politicised beings that are strongly tied to ethnonational identities from birth. Neither fully Serbian nor Bosnian, they are ultimately invisible as they don’t belong wholly to either. These children are labelled by society as ‘children of hate’, ‘children of the enemy’ or as ‘Chetnik babies’
Zahra Beg for SOAS on the long legacy of war & genocide in Bosnia.

Is virtual coaching of teachers less effective than in-person coaching? Evidence from South Africa
These results demonstrate that technology is, unfortunately, not a panacea for improving teaching quality in developing countries and the search for scalable models of high-quality teacher professional development must go on. However, these results also do not invalidate the promise of, and the need for, technology in providing high-quality professional development. In our view, there are two broad policy lessons from this study.
Jacobus Cilliers, Brahm Fleisch, Janeli Kotzé, Nompumelelo Mohohlwane, Stephen Taylor & Tshegofatso D. Thulare for VoxDev with interesting new research findings that confirm that digital technology is no panacea & that some form of hybridity between 'online' & on-site will probably a good compromise between scale & depth of learning.

How an ancient rainmaker inspired a quest to nurture female writers in Malawi
I’m impressed by how some Malawian women are embracing trends such as self-publishing. Having searched for outlets for years, they have stepped up, taking back the manuscripts they had put aside, and are getting their work published on their own terms.
(...)
Looking at a time before all this, the image of Makewana makes me wonder how she negotiated the issue of discipline in her time. I hope that I can write without a paralysing sense of self-censorship, and that women writing in the country will continue to let words rain and reign.
Timwa Lipenga for the Guardian with an interesting grassroots movement on female writers in Malawi.

Being a feminist academic in Pakistan, and why Open Access is necessary for decolonizing Academia. An interview with Ayesha Khan.
One result is that many feminist academics, especially the older generation who started their careers in the 1980s wanting to become academics, responded to the increasing restrictions by moving out of academia and opening their own NGOs and thinktanks, though which they conducted their own research.
In the last 10-20 years private universities have become stronger, and there are many more opportunities for young academics. But even there, students complain about my lectures on secularism and feminism, and you wonder how safe these spaces really are. Other professors have been denounced for secularism and therefore liable to charges of blasphemy – there are always extremist students on every campus. There are professors in Sindh and Punjab who are in jail under the blasphemy laws.
But I also find that students are hungry to hear another narrative. You cannot tell how somebody is thinking from the way they’re dressed – I’ve had students in my class in full burka, with their faces covered, who are progressive feminists at heart and want to know more. I try to give them the feminist language to critique what we saw happening in Pakistan, and that may also help them question their own lives.
Duncan Green talks to Ayesha Khan for fp2p.

There is no fight without the women
During Guinea-Bissau’s fight for liberation, much of the movement’s ammunition was smuggled across the border from Guinea-Conakry by women, who hid the bullets in the fruit and fish they carried in baskets on their heads. After independence, it was mostly men who filled positions of power and were celebrated in the new names of the liberated streets. As for the women who carried the bullets, it is left to the trees that grew from the fallen seeds of the fruit they carried to whisper their names.
Ricci Shryock for Africa is a Country remembers Amilcar Cabral and the struggles in Guinea-Bissau in a different way.


Tension, bureaucracy and deep humanity define life aboard a refugee rescue ship
In particular, the film focuses on the tireless and sometimes thankless work of Salah Dasuki, a Syrian cultural mediator who was forced to make a similarly treacherous trip himself. Although there are flickers of hope amid the chaos on and off the ship, the Canadian director Ed Ou also makes it clear that, even upon docking in Europe, the asylum seekers face long odds of staying. Most will be sent back home, where many, still finding themselves in a desperate situation, will begin the journey all over again.
Aeon features a new documentary by Ed Ou.

Publications
17 books to read from 2021
This Week in Africa with a great selection of titles!

D-ECON’S 2021 ALTERNATIVE READING LIST, PT. 2
We include two new and important books on social theory in the African context and the colonial origins of social theory and how modern social social theory can be reconstructed. In addition, with the resurgence of scholarship on dependency theories, it is only fitting that we include an examination of the possibilities of development and its limits in Latin America. The policy response of the COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely uneven across the world, partly because of the constrained policy space available to governments in developing countries. Therefore, we have included a new volume that examines the potential for economic and monetary sovereignty in African countries. The recovery from the pandemic induced recession in some advanced industrialized nations has shifted the balance of class power to a certain extent towards the working class. Therefore, revisiting debates of automation and labor power is timely, which you can do with our reading list.
Aditi Dixit, Devika Dutt, Surbhi Kesar & Ingrid H. Kvangraven for D-Econ.

Academia
Alan Hunt, intellectual, academic, radical
While Alan’s intellectual curiosity was taking him to new theoretical journeys, his academic career stalled. The demise of the Soviet Union brought to the surface a shimmering and vengeful anti-radicalism. He was replaced at Middlesex by someone he had brought to the Department saving his career; he was given a clear indication that he was no longer welcome. It was a case of anti-left hysteria that was to be repeated elsewhere later. In those rare cases a radical academic reaches a position of influence in a university department, the management, keen to get rid of him/her, appoints a rival and eventually makes life unbearable.
Costas Douzinas for Critical Legal Thinking; I have to admit that I have a bit of a soft-spot for academic nostalgia even if I know that the 'good, old days' were never that good...

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 221, 17 February 2017)

From impact to transformation: Do-Gooders, Multicolored Saviors and development as lifestyle
My post is based on a very fruitful discussion on Jennifer ‘How Matters’ Lentfer’s facebook page that was triggered by Leila Janah’s recent contribution to The Development Set. The discussion addressed many issues I have been mulling over recently-particularly how to break the cycle that even good, impactful development initiatives are caught up in, being servants to consumer capitalism and its manifestations in the second decade of the 21st century.
When I revisited this post it evoked many complex feelings-especially since Leila Janah passed away far, far too soon; the Development Set is also no longer around, but I still think that this longer essay reflects some of my key struggles with #globaldev that I think about a lot.

I Left
Because nothing was worth sacrificing the freedom I wanted and knew I deserved.

Because had I ever expressed what I truly felt, I would likely not be alive today.
Yasmine Diaz with a great poem for Sister Hood.

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Dear white middle class British women: Please don't send used bras (or anything, really) to Africa