Links & Contents I Liked 433

Hi all,

The absence of real snow is only one of the many problems as the worst Winter Olympics just kicked-off in Beijing, headed by the IOC, an organization that makes the complex #globaldev system look as transparent as a crystal-clear stream in spring...
And then there are also Brad Pitt, humanitarian data hacks, teleworking diplomacy & the McDonaldization of localization-just another week in the #globaldev bubble...plus great new open access research & reflections on digital academic conferences! Enjoy!

My quotes of the week
Keller believes Brad Pitt had good intentions. But she said the debacle had shown how celebrities like him can evade accountability, and what can go wrong when a state entrusts private individuals, or non-profit groups, to solve its housing problems. “Usually [nonprofits] step in to help in case of an emergency. But now their own project is the emergency,” she said. “And the city doesn’t really take any responsibility, either.” (Mold, leaks, rot: how Brad Pitt’s post-Katrina housing project went horribly wrong)

Just as McDonald’s turn local dishes into blander fast-food versions, humanitarian monoculture stifles problem-solving by narrowly defining humanitarian practice. Are we missing out on solutions by investing our attention, efforts and resources only in a narrow set of ‘humanitarian’ activities and actors? (Localisation Re-imagined: Regenerating the polyculture of humanitarianism)

The carbon footprint of 7000 virtual attendees was estimated to be equal to one in-person attendee of an international conference in 2019. Furthermore, attendance by students and postdoctoral researchers skyrocketed by as much as 344% when the events became remote. In addition, female participation in the virtual conferences increased as much as 253% compared with previous, in-person meetings, and attendance jumped by as much as 700% for ‘gender queer’ scientists. (When scientific conferences went online, diversity and inclusion soared)

Development news
Mold, leaks, rot: how Brad Pitt’s post-Katrina housing project went horribly wrong
Within weeks, houses began to develop mold, leaks and rot. Pitt’s non-profit initially made some minor repairs, but then began pushing residents to sign non-disclosure agreements before it would tell them what was wrong with their homes. “That’s when a lot of residents started to notice that things were very fishy.”
(...)
Keller believes Brad Pitt had good intentions. But she said the debacle had shown how celebrities like him can evade accountability, and what can go wrong when a state entrusts private individuals, or non-profit groups, to solve its housing problems. “Usually [nonprofits] step in to help in case of an emergency. But now their own project is the emergency,” she said. “And the city doesn’t really take any responsibility, either.”
Wilfred Chan for the Guardian with a story that sounds all too familiar for those who pay attention to the celebrity-humanitarian-philanthrocapitalism complex...

Humanitarian organizations keep getting hacked because they can’t spend to secure data
“Most of the data we collect is to benefit us to continue to get funding rather than to actually provide direct support to folks whose data we are collecting,” Linda Raftree, a consultant who helps humanitarian organizations adopt new technology, told Rest of World. “If the donor is demanding that a particular type of data be collected but isn’t willing to fund the protection of that data, then that’s problematic.”
(...)
“If the ICRC, the organization that has invested the most, has trained the most, has developed the most doctrine, can be susceptible,” Raymond said, “then the question is what’s happening to other organizations where we don’t even know that the hacks are occurring?”
Vittoria Elliott for Rest of World with a great piece & quotes from great sources which go beyond ICRC-bashing & raise broader questions about the purpose of humanitarian data collection.
22 Global Development Organizations to watch in 2022
As we begin a new year, Devex is publishing a list of organizations we’ll be watching. Some are undergoing changes in leadership or strategy, others are growing or shrinking, and there are some that we expect to be in the news this year.
DevEx with a great list of (un)usual #globaldev suspects to watch this year.

Is Teleworking in Diplomacy Working at the United Nations?
To “build back better” we must recognize the potential of teleworking in the context of international relations and diplomacy. Virtual meetings can bridge distances quickly and at virtually no cost. They can play an auxiliary role especially where diplomats have already built relationships based on face-to-face exchanges. Digital diplomacy is an evolving field with tremendous potential, but it still has various gaps to be bridged and needs skilled diplomats to shape it and make it more inclusive. As the fundamental principle for international cooperation, nothing can replace personal interaction.
Andrés Córdova for SIPA's Multilateralism blog with a nuanced take on old & new normals in for diplomatic meetings.

Localisation Re-imagined: Regenerating the polyculture of humanitarianism
Just as McDonald’s turn local dishes into blander fast-food versions, humanitarian monoculture stifles problem-solving by narrowly defining humanitarian practice. Are we missing out on solutions by investing our attention, efforts and resources only in a narrow set of ‘humanitarian’ activities and actors?
Humanitarian monoculture also unhelpfully frames the discourse and dilemmas in our sector. For instance, like whether or not local actors can adhere to humanitarian principles, even though the absoluteness of these principles has come under question. Or if local actors can comply to the ‘universal standards of relief’, even if the universality of such standards is debatable. Unhelpful framings such as these similarly stifle humanitarian research.
Arbie Baguios for ALNAP with lots of food for thought around the McDonaldization of 'localization' efforts (pardon the cheap pun ;).

Are there winds of peace for La Guajira? When wind energy is intertwined with militarisation
The National Army of Colombia has stationed troops at the site of the La Guajira I wind farm, claiming they are there to guarantee the safety of the inhabitants of La Guajira as well as the “strategic assets of the State”. La Guajira is a geopolitically important region due to its geographical location, border with Venezuela, and abundant natural resources (coal, oil, wind and sun), and it has been declared a Strategic Zone of Comprehensive Intervention (ZEII) as the epicentre of the green transition. But green investments have fuelled social unrest and created new conflicts between the Wayúu people – the ancestral owners of La Guajira’s territory – and representatives of the government and businesses.
Jacobo Ramirez, Claudia Vélez-Zapata and Diego Abraham Angelino Velázquez for CambridgeCore blog with an interesting piece from Colombia and green new deals & old entrenched social conflicts.
A Black Iraqi’s Sudden Career in TV News: ‘They Wanted to See All Colors’
“I didn’t make a single mistake but when I got off air I burst into tears,” she said.
Her hiring last year came after a nationwide search by the head of state media, who added her to the network’s roster of about 100 news anchors, correspondents and show hosts.
“We have in Iraq at least 1.5 million African-Iraqis,” said Nabil Jasim, 51, the president of the Iraqi Media Network. “They need to see themselves reflected on TV.”
Jane Arraf for the New York Times with a fascinating portrait of an African-Iraqi news anchor, glocal media developments & the history and impact of slavery in the country.

Bloody Sunday and how the British empire came home
Kitson’s career then took him – via Bahrain, Aden and Cyprus, all places where the British state is accused of widespread use of torture – to Northern Ireland. There, Michael Jackson, who went on to be the professional head of the British army during the Iraq war, described him as “the sun around which the planets revolved”, saying that he “very much set the tone for the operational style in Belfast.”
Adam Ramsay for openDemocracy with an important piece on the imperial continuations of the British army in Northern Ireland; published in 2019 this is an important piece to commemorate the 50th anniversary of 'Bloody Sunday'.

The most influential humanitarian you’ve never heard of
It also made me examine a core development belief, one that I have argued for myself: that one needs to be working in a place long enough to make a difference. Gersony frequently didn’t stick around long in many of the places he worked. Approaching a place anew meant he didn’t look at it with prefilled assumptions – something to contemplate in aid contracting in the Pacific where there can be a reflex to engage old island hands again and again.
Gordon Peake for DevPolicy Blog with a book review that reflects some of my own thoughts I shared about this great book.
Publications
Humanitarianism: race and the overrepresentation of ‘Man’
Such reframings aim at decentring huManitarianism beyond the institutionalised focus on localisation concerned with the nationalities of humanitarian workers, instead centring local knowledge(s), and opening a space for multiple humanitarianisms unmoored from anchorage in European headquarters and knowledge systems. Finally, and importantly the alter-historical geography offered by Wynter’s “human view” can be read as a necessary move towards justice that recognises the violence at the heart of whiteness and its anti-Black and Indigenous negation and refuses the white innocence of “we’re all part of the human race crap”.
Polly Pallister-Wilkins with an open access article for Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

Towards a modest imaginary? Sanitation in Kampala beyond the modern infrastructure ideal
These sanitation configurations are, at times, no longer framed as temporary placeholders while ‘waiting for modernity’, but instead as pathways towards a not yet predetermined end. What this technological change means for policies, permissions and socio-economic relations is also as yet unclear: the roles and responsibilities of the modern infrastructure ideal have limited significance, but new patterns remain in the making. Further, while we find increased attention to limits and uncertainty, we also see efforts to weave modernist practices (creating legible populations, knowing and controlling nature) into emergent infrastructural configurations. In this context, we consider Kampala not as a complete instantiation of a ‘modest’ approach to infrastructure, but as a place where struggles over infrastructure are rooted in competing, dynamic imaginaries about how the world is and what this means for the cities we build. It is also a place from which we might begin articulating a ‘modest imaginary’ that enables rethinking what infrastructure is and ought to be.
Mary Lawhon, Gloria Nsangi Nakyagaba & Timos Karpouzoglou with a new open access article for Urban Studies.

Strategic Evaluation of WFP's Use of Technology in Constrained Environments
There remain some fundamental challenges to the digital transformation of WFP, including fragmented governance and responsibilities, unresolved tensions between centralized technology services and the needs of country operations, and the requirement for greater investment in human resources. 
WFP’s rapidly expanding use of digital technology and processing of data are at risk of failing the people it serves by not including them meaningfully in technology choices and by shifting risks to them, especially in constrained environments.
Interesting WFP evaluation that highlights some of the key issues discussed earlier in the piece around humanitarian data security.

Academia
When scientific conferences went online, diversity and inclusion soared
The carbon footprint of 7000 virtual attendees was estimated to be equal to one in-person attendee of an international conference in 2019. Furthermore, attendance by students and postdoctoral researchers skyrocketed by as much as 344% when the events became remote. In addition, female participation in the virtual conferences increased as much as 253% compared with previous, in-person meetings, and attendance jumped by as much as 700% for ‘gender queer’ scientists.
Rebecca Trager for Chemistry World; as impressive & important as these results are from science conferences, they should probably be food for thought of just how exclusionary such events have been in the 'old normal'...it would be great to do similar research for other disciplines-especially as in-person conferences are about to make a bit comeback this conference spring & summer season...

Publish in the Global South: A Call for Rebellion
Of course, like any rebellion, it will come at a cost. Whichever article you choose to publish in a Global South journal will likely not be the star of your academic career. It won’t make your CV shine before selection committees. But, to quote Lin Manuel Miranda, “stars don’t shine, they burn”. In a world where Global North publishing houses are literally charging thousands of dollars to publish your paper in open access (and thus gatekeeping access to everybody else’s papers) why not give a Global South, peer-reviewed, open-access journal a little push – it will mean the world to them and hey, you don’t need to do it with every single paper. Just enough to send a message. Literally once will do. This is what I do.
Alonso Gurmendi for OpinioJuris on how to disrupt the global publishing system one article at the time...

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 223, 10 March 2017)

How not to present survey data- 2017 UN Global Staff Survey edition
Without proper framing and analysis this survey can backfire as a rumor-mill or to spread anti-UN sentiments and I do not see how this will help to create a meaningful dialogue-let alone changes for staff members in difficult organizational contexts.
Me on a poorly executed UN staff survey.

Yes, you can do media conferences without all-male panels
So if you are an event organiser reading this, the diversity of your programme starts with you. If you are a PR for an organisation receiving speaker requests, why not put forward more women to represent your organisation? If you want to avoid manels and have a woman speaking on your panel already, why not invite another? And remember that nothing says “we tried” in a sadder voice than a panel where all the experts are men, moderated by a woman.
Catalina Albeanu with some truth some 2017 that is still timely & important.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Links & Contents I Liked 446

Links & Contents I Liked 448

Links & Contents I Liked 447

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

Links & Contents I Liked 417