Links & Contents I Liked 440
This week's review returns with classic topics-from charity funding in the US, to humanitarian crises in Myanmar & Syria, women's empowerment in Malawi, uneven development in PNG + challenges doing (anti-racist) trainings & mentoring well; the hype around tech conferences, new open access research articles & reflections on the state of development studies wrap up this newsletter!
My quote of the week
The programs require time and commitment, and cohorts find themselves brainstorming a more equitable future among themselves versus what’s actually needed: for marginalized groups to pervade and redefine the upper echelons of power and funding. In some cases, the training programs coming my way are led by people with a fraction of the experience I have. Yet the nature of entrepreneurship (and business dealings) often lead me to hide my feelings of being insulted and disparaged—because one never knows whether such programs might lead to real business. Or so you hope. (The Problem with Training Programs Targeting People of Color)
Returning USD 10 million that we owe to our communities
As we welcome this donation and the feminist intent behind it, we maintain our deep concerns about the source of Amazon’s profits, and vehemently reject the oppressive, racial, capitalist, and exploitative systems that have enabled this wealth to grow. With this clear position, FRIDA commits to using these funds as part of our larger reparative approach to wealth redistribution, shifting resources back to the hands of our communities, who Amazon and other governments as well as corporations have harmed and stolen from. We reject exploitative labor practices that form the basis of the prosperity of billion dollar companies like Amazon and continue to remain in solidarity with unionizing workers worldwide. We also know that this repearative approach alone does not change the balance of power, and that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”. We live and work in continued struggle in a world—and funding ecosystem—that does not yet operate with our radical principles, and invite you to join us in this ongoing fight.FRIDA responds to MacKenzie's Scott sizeable donation to the organization.
Why it’s time to talk about the aid void on the India-Myanmar border
The scale of displacement is staggering. Consider that in my homeland of Chin State in northwest Myanmar, nearly one fifth of the population have fled their homes. The Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), which I work for, estimates that more than 50,000 people are currently internally displaced across the nine townships of Chin State, while at least 40,000 may have crossed the border to become refugees in India’s Mizoram State.Salai Za Uk Ling for the New Humanitarian with an important reminder about the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar.
Yet for most of the last year, civilians have struggled to receive food, shelter, medicine, or healthcare – due to military aid blockades on the Myanmar side, and due to a lack of formal aid programmes and resources in India.
The Village of Khattab: A Syrian Story
Thinking they would only be away for a week, my aunt packed the essentials: a couple changes of clothes, IDs, cash, and some jewelry. Little did they know, their lives in displacement would last over a month, relocating from one friend’s house in one town to another. Many were never allowed to enter Hama city and had to shelter in neighboring towns until they made it back home. In a single month, my aunt and uncles had to move three times to seek safety from the encroaching barrel bombs.Basma Alloush for Timep shares some reflections on her family's plight with the war in Syria.
In late August, they were finally able to return, but by then Khattab was unrecognizable. Although the town was not leveled, the damage and destruction were beyond imagination. A family member’s roof was destroyed by clusters of shrapnel that had landed on the house. Another had the walls in his home damaged. One uncle had his entire house burned down. The soldiers had even poured gasoline on his outdoor plants, killing them entirely. Many residents were victims of arson that seemed premeditated and arbitrary.
Additionally, all of the homes had been stripped bare on the inside. As my family entered the town, they witnessed military trucks loaded with mattresses, furniture, electronic appliances, and other household items that were looted. Doors had been stolen. Curtains and window blinds vanished. The faucets in bathrooms and kitchens had been torn out. Even the hose used to water the outdoor plants had been taken. It was clear that the soldiers and shabiha entered their homes fully equipped with the tools to pull apart and disassemble household items.
Uneven development in Papua New Guinea
Second, our analysis shows that, due to low urbanisation levels (PNG is the least urbanised country in the world) and rural poverty, policies that seek to address PNG’s lack of economic opportunity will, for many years to come, need to focus on the unique issues facing rural communities. This brings with it additional difficulties because, due to the challenges of geography, land tenure and security, providing services and job opportunities to rural citizens is often more expensive than in urban areas. To overcome these difficulties, some have suggested that more needs to be done to reallocate resources to rural and remote areas.Grant Walton, John Cox, Joshua Goa & Dunstan Lawihin for DevPolicy Blog share some interesting insights into engine room of #globaldev in PNG.
Given the paucity of economic opportunities, and that the majority of votes are in rural and remote areas, the pressures for politicians and others to decentralise administration and funding to local levels of government are likely to continue. The localised politics of distribution – which over the past few years has intensified through, for example, the rise of constituency funds and increased autonomy of district administrations – will likely remain.
The future we’ve promised our girls
So was Grace really wrong, then? “Work hard in school,” we tell our girls. “School is good; it will bring good things to you,” we are told when we are young and then repeat to the next generations of girls when we ourselves are grown. Except the dirty little secret is that the only thing school brings our girls is the opportunity to find a better man to marry on the road to becoming fully-fledged women in our society, and by “fully-fledged women” we mean women who successfully attach themselves to a man who defines them and then learn how to shoulder the backbreaking yet invisible work of keeping our communities standing with nary an open complaint. Because the truth is that the only thing we as Malawians truly expect—indeed demand—of our women is to tirelessly support the existence of their community’s men—husbands or brothers or uncles or sons—whether or not that effort is earned by or returned from those same men.Michelle Chikaonda for Africa is a Country on being & becoming a woman in Malawi.
The Problem with Training Programs Targeting People of Color
Further, the programs require time and commitment, and cohorts find themselves brainstorming a more equitable future among themselves versus what’s actually needed: for marginalized groups to pervade and redefine the upper echelons of power and funding. In some cases, the training programs coming my way are led by people with a fraction of the experience I have. Yet the nature of entrepreneurship (and business dealings) often lead me to hide my feelings of being insulted and disparaged—because one never knows whether such programs might lead to real business. Or so you hope.S. Mitra Kalita for Time with interesting reflections on training and mentorship program that go far beyond issues around POC in the US.
Perhaps the training programs are needed but with an entirely different participant pool and focus: training these uncomfortable executives in the art of sponsorship.
I Signed Up For An Anti-Racism Class
“We will not participate in your Platinum Jubilee celebration!”— Nadine White (@Nadine_Writes) March 21, 2022
Full open letter to Prince William and Kate, from Jamaica’s Advocates Network, ahead of the reparations protest at the British High Commission in Kingston tomorrow.#RoyalTourCaribbean https://t.co/svLXi37Ntf pic.twitter.com/6A8Ar3mIL3
Another thing that I realized, is that by virtue of being a Black person, living in a predominantly white society, anti-racism has been seared into my being from the very beginning of time. I don’t need to read about racism because I live in and within it every single day of my life.Rebecca Stevens A. for Illumination on her experiences attending an anti-racism class that also go far beyond a specific training & should raise more questions for everyone on how we design teaching, training & other forms of learning opportunities/spaces.
I suffer from it, and I am traumatized by it. It is an unwelcome travel companion on the journey that is my life, and I despise it with fervent ardor.
The reality is: I can’t live it, write about it like I do every day, and also intensely study it in the way the course demanded. Maybe I could if the course was spread out over several months. That may have given me the time to process the trauma.
Race and leadership in the news media 2022: evidence from five markets
Overall, 21% of the 82 top editors across the 100 brands covered are non-white, despite the fact that, on average, 43% of the general population across all five countries are non-white. If we set aside South Africa and look at the four other countries covered, 8% of the top editors are non-white, compared with, on average, 31% of the general population.Kirsten Eddy, Meera Selva & Rasmus Kleis Nielsen for the Reuters Institute with new research from Brazil, Germany, South Africa, the UK & US.
Ideas of India: Where Did Development Economics Go Wrong?
RAJAGOPALAN: How can the economics profession get more Lant Pritchetts? What have you been through? What does that production process look like?Shruti Rajagopalan & Lant Pritchett for Discourse discuss economic predictions, the problems with randomized controlled trials, Indian education and more.
PRITCHETT: I’m laughing because I know very few people who would want that, to be honest. You’re a very small minority. I think you want more of me. I’m quietly regarded as a pain in the ass.
Part of this answer is I didn’t grow up in academia. I got a Ph.D. from MIT, and I went to the World Bank. When I went to the World Bank, I was in the research group. Even in the research group, we were forced to go out on operational missions and hear the questions that policymakers were asking. If you do that with an amount of respect that people are struggling with real hard things, I think it leads you to realize that the world is a hard, complicated place. And that to be marginally useful, we have to really understand the constraints in all their entirety of what people are facing and doing.
I remember, I was almost 40 years old when I went to work in operations full time in the bank. I was interacting with people in the Indonesian government. I realized that they were just incredibly cleverer than I was. I’d written many papers and published this and published that, but they just had all kinds of practical skills and understood, at an intuitive and yet sophisticated level, the real nature of the problems they face in ways that it’s taken me a long time to catch up with them. Anyway, I think some amount forced exposure to real problems
Our digital lives
At SXSW, A Pathetic Tech Future Struggles to Be Born
And yet, despite all the talk I heard about ushering in a new era of diversity and inclusion, it was hard to not notice that every room felt largely the same: mobs of white wealthy men who quickly volunteered that they worked in finance, tech, marketing, or some buzzy fusion of the three.Edward Ongweso Jr. for Vice with insights into one of the most renowned tech conferences.
Still, the most common comment from attendees was that they wagered they could make money off of it because they either knew of or heard of people flipping their NFTs for a profit. This, not a desire for community or curation, was the dominant sentiment I encountered not just at FLUF but a host of other crypto, web3, metaverse, and NFT projects and events. When asked about how to curb the sort of speculative interest that seems to drive a lot of interest in the industry, FLUF said they hoped to design NFTs to disincentivize flipping Fluffs.
Is publishing in danger of becoming pay to play?
This is wild…— Demian Bulwa (@demianbulwa) March 24, 2022
So many have asked: Why would people in countries like Bangladesh create fake Facebook profiles to build communities around divisive Western political issues like the Ottawa “Freedom Convoy”?@the_nazmul has the answer: to sell T-shirts! https://t.co/Gki3mt7AdY
If agents are largely finding new clients from the pool of those who have the £39.75 to join Mslexia’s Salon, or the £60 for an agent one-to-one from Jericho Writers or I Am In Print, or the £150 non-members fee to speak to two agents via Byte The Book, or the £1,800 for a novel-writing course that actively sells itself as a place the agency running it will be seeking new clients, how is this any different than charging writers to submit in the first place? There are plenty who would pay if it guaranteed a line or two of feedback about why they are being rejected, but this is recognised as a Bad Thing; an additional barrier to those who can least afford it. And yet – are paid pitching opportunities really that far removed? And, more concerningly, how much is being earned from people whose work is just not publishable?Theo Malings for the Bookseller with interesting observation from the publishing industry that mirror developments in other sectors-from career advice in #highered or #globaldev to grant-writing support & more-the more 'writing' (books, proposals, CVs, journal articles,...) becomes professionalized the more consultants will enter the space to streamline the writing process further.
Civil society organizations and managerialism: On the depoliticization of the adaptive management agenda
We find that, in practice, the social transformative policy framework is competing with managerial logics. We compare this process with the depoliticization of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, finding striking similarities. By using practice theory, we show how managerialism remains the dominant paradigm in the civil society aid sector, fuelling the ‘anti-politics machine’.Lena Gutheil & Dirk-Jan Koch with a new open access article in the Development Policy Review.
Towards Decolonising Research Ethics: From One-off Review Boards to Decentralised North–South Partnerships in an International Development Programme
The research asked: how can we shift power in research to decolonise research and build more equitable partnerships? We explored this with data obtained through collaborative autoethnography in a multi-country development research programme, Evidence and Collaboration for Inclusive Development (ECID). This included regular self-reflective meetings, visual methods, a self-evaluation survey, and blogs addressing power issues. Coordinated from London, the research had all the cards to adopt a ‘colonial’ gaze in which the North would ‘research’ the South. The case narrates the journey of the research team to decentralise power in the programme, which included sharing control over the selection of research topics, and the research design, budget, and publications. Drawing from the lessons learned from the research approach that was adopted in ECID, this paper offers an 8-step model towards decolonising research ethicsMaria Josep Cascant Sempere, Talatu Aliyu & Cathy Bollaert with a new open access article for Education Sciences.
Development Studies and the Manufacturing of Consent
Development Studies’ manufacturing of consent mirrors what Herman & Chomsky delineated in mass media. They found that formal censorship is unnecessary and counterproductive when bias can be easily mobilized through the filters of commercialization, defining worthy vs. unworthy victims, reliance on information provided by state-funded or corporate entities, and flak for those who dissent or abstain by colleagues and superiors who comply. Of course, there are some differences. Rather than having a dichotomy of worthy versus unworthy victims, we have categories of practice marginalizing social science-based categories of analysis. But the gist is the same.Tara van Dijk for EADI with interesting reflections on a 'self-determined Development Studies'.
The umbilical cord between mainstream development institutions and Development Studies needs to be cut. Moving towards a self-determined Development Studies requires an open and critical assessment of the dominance of categories of practice and their pipelines.
Remembering Ian Taylor
Ian was an extremely hard-working academic who was marked by his humility and proud of his working-class background. In contrast to some other leading scholars, he really listened when others spoke. He incorporated silenced voices, not least from Africa, into his work and actively engaged in diversifying thought at the institutions he taught at by embracing previously unheard or ignored ideas. Throughout his life, he remained a keen “student of Africa”. He visited 44 African countries. Whenever he found himself guest lecturing at Addis Ababa University, he would check Ethiopian Airlines’ vast route network and book a flight to one of the few African destinations he had not been to. Wanderlust and curiosity were innate to Ian. His untimely death hindered him from completing his personal “Africa journey”. Yet, he fully accepted his fate and was immensely grateful for the help he received from medical staff and for the love from family and friends. It was obvious that his firm belief in God gave him faith no matter what would come. May his soul rest in peace.Tim Zajontz for Developing Economics with an obituary for Ian Taylor.
What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 230, 28 April 2017)
Electing Saudi-Arabia to the UN Commission on the Status of Women is not a bad idea
As powerless as the commission may be in real terms, it does typical UN things-diplomacy, meetings, highlighting issues; why is it a bad thing to have Saudi-Arabia involved in these activities? How would excluding the country, including public shaming, help the commission and ultimately women in the country? The UN believes in incremental change and there are small signs that women’s rights are improving.Sometimes when you look into the archive you will find the odd post where you are no longer sure you would write them again...Saudi-Arabia's leadership in the war against Yemen, especially Yemeni civilians, confirmed how bad of a regime is in charge of the country and how even 'incremental' changes seem be particularly small there...
In theory, working in such a commission involves issues of transparency and accountability, yes, soft politics, non-binding targets and the occasional lofty speech.
Including a country like Saudi-Arabia in these dynamics is still not a bad idea-the UN system usually does not do punishment and believes that communication and cooperation are important aspects of how global governance works-with all its flaws and limitations.
I signed up to 100 charity email lists. Here’s what I learned
Make a few simple changes and your charity’s email programme can be one of the best:Glyn Thomas for JustGiving with a look at charity 'email lists' before they became newsletters/substacks etc.
Ensure your email signup form is easy to find on your website, and keep it simple – don’t put barriers in the way of potential supporters.
If you have an email list, use it, and use it regularly.
Respect communication preferences.
Craft a series of welcome emails for new subscribers – introduce your charity’s work and tell supporters how they can get involved.
The more personal, the better. Keep content authentic and templates simple to ensure your emails don’t look like promotions.
Share interesting content to make supporters feel valued. Don’t just ask for donations!
Most importantly of all – put yourself in the shoes of someone who has just signed up to your charity’s email list. What would you want to receive? And as a staff member at that charity, what do you want to get across to them?