Links & Contents I Liked 500

Hi all,

500, eh?

In the spirit of my curated link review this will not be a special weekly feature of interesting readings-and then again it will the year is coming to her usual hectic end, I decided that I will pause my weekly link review after a holiday break. 500 is such a nice, round number...

I am working on a longer post for next Friday that will explain some of the reasons behind my decision, but frankly, I am just a bit tired and need more distance from social media and 'the Internet' in the year new.

In the meantime, enjoy this week's readings!
My aim has always been to highlight at least one news article, blog post or academic reading that you find relevant for your work, can share with a colleague or friend or bookmark for weekend reading.

This week we are looking at Mexico, New Zealand, Virgin Islands, Myanmar, Central America, historical Guinea-Bissau, humanitarianism, black women leadership, visual art from Ghana & Yemen, plus open access article, books & more!

My quotes of the week
In Myanmar, celebrities and audiences are debating the artist’s role in politics, and the standards they should be held to, if any. While some claim that celebrities should use their platform to speak out against the military regime, others argue that the fight for democracy should not rely on ‘superficial figures’. (Undertones: What pop culture tells  us about Myanmar’s politics)

A supportive infrastructure, or even a protective one, simply mitigates the symptoms. It is not enough. The question we must answer is: How do we develop healthy cultures for Black women’s leadership? (The State of Black Women Leadership Is In Danger)

The story of Birgitta Dahl in Guinea-Bissau is a story of practical political work, romantic resistance ideals and of an era when changing the course of history seemed possible. It is also a reminder that the solidarities that connected geographically distant political movements of the 1970s were driven by personal convictions as well as strategic motivations, in which there existed frictions as well as shared sensibilities. (Trekking with the Revolution: Birgitta Dahl in Guinea-Bissau)
New on Aidnography
Artificial Intelligence (AI) & ChatGPT in development and humanitarian work-a curated collection
I updated this resource-there are now close to 30 entries on AI in #globaldev work, communications, M&E, grant making, humanitarian work & more!

Development news
After Mexico’s record storm, survivors say only tourist areas are getting the love
Over the past month, the Mexican government’s help and reconstruction efforts have focused mainly on the coastal, touristic parts of Acapulco, residents and aid responders say. Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in other neighbourhoods of the city, and in the surrounding towns, has continued to deteriorate, as some communities face what has been described as the worst health crisis in the region's history.
The amount of debris the hurricane left behind, the uncollected trash accumulating in the streets – attracting insects and rats – compounded by the lack of sanitation and access to clean water has been making residents increasingly sick with stomach infections, diarrhoea, skin rashes, and respiratory diseases. Children are the most seriously affected, while hospitals and health centres are difficult to reach or only functioning at limited capacity. The presence of stagnant water is also threatening to cause outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue or Zika.
Stephania Corpi Arnaud for the New Humanitarian; TNH remains one of the best, paywall- & BS- free news resources for humanitarian & #globaldev topics with excellent reporting from a very diverse group of journalists which has been a pillar of my weekly review for many years!

Devils, known and unknown, for New Zealand aid
On the other hand, it is possible that even the current government will start to feel embarrassed turning up to COP meetings and having to admit it’s doing less to mitigate its own emissions and less on climate finance too. Similarly, New Zealand’s politically conservative farmers need China as an export market. Perhaps a mix of political economy and international political economy will moderate the government’s approach to the new cold war in the Pacific.
Winston Peters has a track record. But he has never been predictable, and now he’s part of a very conservative government, in the midst of uncertain times.
Terence Wood for DevPolicyBlog-my go-to resource for news & insights from Australia & the Pacific!

U.S. Virgin Islands Is in a State of Emergency Over Lead in Water. Here’s What to Know
President Biden declared a state of emergency in the U.S. Virgin islands after St. Croix, the largest island in the territory, reported elevated levels of lead and copper in its water supply. Polluted water was first reported to the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority on Oct. 13, after the EPA and the University of the Virgin Islands collaborated to collect drinking water samples in late Sept.
Anna Gordon for Time; the remnants of US imperialism & colonialism remain an issue for #globaldev as well & remind us of our unequal blindspots 'at home'...

Undertones: What pop culture tells us about Myanmar’s politics
The military regime has co-opted the entertainment industry in an attempt to portray a normal state of affairs despite recurring conflicts between the military rule and the People’s Defense Force across the country and a staggering economic crisis. For many, it’s a display of dissonance.
In Myanmar, celebrities and audiences are debating the artist’s role in politics, and the standards they should be held to, if any. While some claim that celebrities should use their platform to speak out against the military regime, others argue that the fight for democracy should not rely on ‘superficial figures’. The two opposing narratives here are: “Myanmar celebrities should be politically active and speak out against the military regime” and “People in Myanmar should not rely on celebrities in the fight for democracy.”
Civic Media Observatory & Eddie Lwyn for Global Voices with rare & important insights into pop culture in Myanmar.

Why Women Leave: Gang and Gender-Based Violence in the Northern Triangle
Violence against women and girls in the NTCA runs rampant, with some of the highest rates in the world. That this violence has forced many to migrate elsewhere, not finding safety in their homes, is an injustice that requires quick and effective redress. Yet we must remember that extreme SGBV does not have to be an everlasting crisis.
Samin Huq for the Refugee Law Initiative looks at the history of violence against women in the Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA) which comprises El Salvador, Guatemala & Honduras.

We rarely hear about the disasters that were avoided – but there’s a lot we can learn from them
The reduction in cyclone deaths in Bangladesh was thanks to a long-term education, preparedness, warning, evacuation and sheltering programme. Actions included making schools a relatively safe place for people to shelter in, and giving volunteers megaphones to cycle around villages warning people. The death count should still be reduced much more, but the improvement over time is clear.
Ilan Kelman, Ana Prados, Brady Podloski & Gareth Byatt for the Conversation present interesting research on disaster avoidance.

Whither Humanitarianism?
What can be done, in the face of all this failure? There aren’t easy solutions precipitating from these pages, though there is at least one rough consensus: no more dollar-a-day campaigns that use the supposedly pitiful as props and ultimately line humanitarians’ pockets. Consider the work of Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise, or CATPC, a cooperative of Congolese artists purchasing back ancestral lands from Unilever with funds derived from the exhibition and sale of their work in a contemporary art world whose institutions have been financed by the very exploitation of said lands.
The Baffler with its latest issue on humanitarianism, including

The Angel’s Dilemma
That the humanitarian agencies dominated the economy in Jamjang was not a welcome story for the aid workers whom I spoke to back in Juba. They abhorred the protests and thought that the South Sudanese were deeply ungrateful. The aid workers tended to think of themselves as angels from elsewhere, flying in to help the needy. Their waged employees—the logistics officers, but also the security guards who protected their compounds and the drivers who ferried them around the refugee camps—were simply a necessary expense. For the young people I had interviewed in Jamjang, it was those wages, rather than the services the humanitarians provided, that were key. “It’s not human rights workshops that we need,” one young man told me, “it’s jobs.” The labor conditions of those jobs were atrocious. The humanitarians might hope to be on the right side of history, but their union-averse hiring practices wouldn’t pass muster in most of Europe.
Joshua Craze's long-read on the state of humanitarianism is a very suitable for my weekly post #500 as it highlights how little has been changing in the humanitarian industry in the 21st century...

Trekking with the Revolution: Birgitta Dahl in Guinea-Bissau
The story of Birgitta Dahl in Guinea-Bissau is a story of practical political work, romantic resistance ideals and of an era when changing the course of history seemed possible. It is also a reminder that the solidarities that connected geographically distant political movements of the 1970s were driven by personal convictions as well as strategic motivations, in which there existed frictions as well as shared sensibilities. Recognising the many personal and political layers that have resulted in and infused solidarity activism is a step towards understanding the tensions and agendas that have sat side by side with the heady and often romantic idealism that, at least in part, fuelled the quest for a better, decolonised world.
Emma Lundin for History Workshop with a great story about a young Swedish MP who hung out with Amílcar Cabral & the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC).

The State of Black Women Leadership Is In Danger
But is supportive infrastructure enough? Yes, Black women need support. But, if they are being attacked, they also need protection. Why not a union or an association—a place that Black women can not only turn to, but which actively looks out for them; that investigates every time a Black woman leaves a position of power; or, better yet, that defends her so she isn’t pushed out; so that she is given the time to grow in her leadership. Black women need support, but they also need collective power.
Like many others, Maté observes that illness is not random; it is an expression of one’s experiences, one’s environment. Environments that make us sick are toxic cultures, which Maté defines as “unsuitable for the creatures it is meant to support”
A supportive infrastructure, or even a protective one, simply mitigates the symptoms. It is not enough. The question we must answer is: How do we develop healthy cultures for Black women’s leadership?
Cyndi Suarez for Non-Profit Quarterly with great essay that offers both practical approaches & structural reflections on how to support black women leaders-not just in NPOs, but across many other sectors & institutions.

Striking smartphone portraits from Ghana
After graduating secondary school in 2019, Sarfo Emmanuel Annor was given a smartphone by his sister. His niece was his first model; since then, he has been capturing life in his native Koforidua, Ghana. “I strive to push the boundaries of African portraits by playing with colour to share the daily life, dreams and stories of Ghanaian youth,” he says of his Life in Colour series.
Kathryn Bromwich curates some of Sarfo Emmanuel Annor's work for the Guardian.

'Storytelling isn't just about the narrative': Yemeni photographer Thana Faroq on nurturing migratory grief
It is essential to explore these events not only in terms of their immediate impact but also in the ripples they create over time. How does our survival, resilience, loss, and search for identity and belonging look like? While my earlier works might have explored the immediacy of events, more recent ones, like How Shall We Greet The Sun, dive deeper into the lasting, often nuanced, emotions and memories that remain.
Farah Abdessamad talks to Thana Faroq for the New Arab.

The Crown, the Cabinet and the UK's legacy of slavery
The story of the merchant whose descendants include the king and Britain's finance minister offers more than a look at that nation's slavery economy. It also reveals how the British system shaped slavery in America.
Tom Bergin for Reuters continues their investigative work on American & British ties to slavery.

Reading corner
The Substitute and the Excuse: Growing Sustainability, Growing Sugarcane in São Paulo, Brazil
Sugarcane was brought to the country in the 1500s, spurring slavery-based colonial industry, and over the past five centuries the crop has seen widespread dispossession of land, environmental destruction, and notoriously difficult, even deadly, labor conditions. Brazil still grows more sugarcane than any other country today. Would renewables promote further land use and exacerbate enduring social issues? Proponents of sugarcane renewables nonetheless maintain that especially with new scientific developments, these concerns are unwarranted and renewables would truly prove sustainable—as well as promote bioeconomic growth. A key variable in this logic is that these new scientific developments include making more sugar extractable from sugarcane, so that more sugar is produced per same area of land. This increases efficiency and, the thinking goes, sustainability. One form of growth, economic, is decoupled from another, land expansion.
Katie Ulrich with a great new open access article for Cultural Anthropology.

Group think? Questioning the individual global health expert
The persistence of group think around the individual expert is reflected in the visibility, ownership and leadership of research. In reality, global health thrives on collective expertise, with multiple knowledge bearers. Building on important calls for redistribution to promote equitable leadership in global health, we argue that the very idea of individual expertise requires rethinking. For real improvements in public health, the field will need a healthy dose of humility to move beyond the predominant language of individual expertise and one-way capacity building to recognising joint knowledge building, leadership, and contributions. Acknowledging collective expertise begins with simple terms, from meeting times that do not revolve around one time zone, to the complex negotiations extensively written about to ensure equity in global health research, publishing, teaching, and practice.
Sapna Desai & Sabina F. Rashid for the Lancet Global Health with a new open access article.

Becoming A Young Farmer-Young People’s Pathways Into Farming: Canada, China, India and Indonesia
Focusses on youth who are aspiring to be farmers, instead of why youth leave the countryside
Uses a life-course approach to understand the experiences of young farmers
First systematic research collection focused on farmers in Asia, in 3 countries with the largest youth population
Sharada Srinivasan edited this new open access book for Palgrave.

Disrupted Development in the Congo-The Fragile Foundations of the African Mining Consensus
Returns to and adapts some of the classic critiques of peripheral development to challenge the consensus view that transnational mining corporations are best placed to drive mining-led industrialization in Africa
Argues efforts to mechanize labour-intensive forms of local mining better meet the needs of low-income African economies for rising productivity, labour absorption and the domestic retention of the value generated by productive activity
Ben Radley's new book for Oxford University Press is also open access.

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 288, 29 June 2018)

Psychosocial Support for Humanitarian Aid Workers (book review)
As a researcher and teacher I am always a bit skeptical when authors or endorsements promise a book with relevance ‘for everybody in the industry’, but Psychological Support delivers on that front: There are parts written with a self-help framework in mind, but most importantly, as the subtitle suggest, it is a self-mapping book. It provides a roadmap for individuals about how to prevent trauma or get help and at the same time provides a professional framework for those who provide or manage care, have humanitarian aid worker family and friends or have a research or pedagogical interest in models around such support.
Dunkley’s vignettes, based on extensive work in- and outside the humanitarian industry, are powerful, tough stories and the theoretical framework around psychology and cognitive science helps the reader not to feel overwhelmed while at the same time being reminded compassionately that psychosocial support is not a simple ‘toolbox’ or ‘guideline’ that should be buried inside your computer.
Me reviewing a book that seems as timely as it was five years ago when it came out...

Logos On Aid Supplies: Helpful, Demeaning ... Or Dangerous?
Habiyaremye says he used to peel the WFP labels off bottles of cooking oil to decorate his toys. "No one complained that the logos were demeaning or humiliating," he says. "I feel that I am glad I got to know who served me at the refugee camp."
And that kind of connection is what aid groups want — on a global scale. Research has shown that there's a relationship between a brand's visibility — its public recognition — and donations, says Dmitry Chernobrov, a lecturer in journalism and politics at the University of Sheffield.
"When agencies post these logos on toilets, schools, objects, it's very much about gaining visibility to donor audiences through the international media," he says.
Malaka Gharib for NPR Goats & Soda. has always bee complicated-just last week there was another contribution in the review after a post went viral on LinkedIn.

Feminist labour at the ISA: White manels, the politics of citation and mundane productions of disciplinary sexism and racism
We showed up. We engaged. We explained. We were met with hostility by some panelists. We clarified. We walked out. And we reflected. This is about more than the optics of a white, male panel, it is about the politics of it. It is actually about more than all-male panels. It is part of a broader conversation on decolonizing the curriculum. It is about addressing the hostile environment academia represents for many of us, highlighted in the stories told at the inaugural ISA pressing politics panel on #metoo. It is about reclaiming our discipline. When will ISA catch-up?
Linda Åhäll, Sam Cook, Roberta Guerrina, Toni Haastrup, Cristina Masters, Laura Mills, Saara Särmä & Katharine A. M. Wright for the Disorder of Things.
All-male panels seem less of an issue today than they were five or so years ago (e.g. when I wrote this post in 2016), but of course many other structural issues remain with conferences, gendered work in academia & inequalities more deeply + broadly...


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Links & Contents I Liked 499