Links & Contents I Liked 259

Hi all,

It has been a loooong week-as you probably guessed by the delayed publication of this week's review.


However, as always there is plenty of food for thought on everything from war crimes to labeling a 'hut', from sexual violence to empowering stories featuring women from Kenya and Bolivia, from misguided stereotypes about India to revolutionary global ecosocialism, from laptop humanitarians to civil society claqueurs, from Bono to Louise Linton!

Enjoy!

New from aidnography
Blogging and curating content as strategies to decolonize development studies

In our crowded digital lives this means that curation and facilitation will become more important skills for those working in academia because there is already an abundance of diverse material from many sources. Strengthening connections and discussions, often with the aid of technological tools, thereby creating a global understanding of ‘development’ from social movements to debating inequalities and power/powerlessness will remain a bigger challenge than simply replacing a book on a course reading list or sharing a link with students.
Development news
Chris Murphy Accuses U.S. of Complicity in War Crimes from the Floor of the Senate

The outbreak is often portrayed in the media as a random and tragic event in a war-torn country, but it is a predictable, even intended, consequence of the coalition’s campaign of collective punishment. As Murphy argued on the Senate floor, Saudi Arabia, led by its headstrong crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is hoping to use disease and starvation to force the country to surrender to its terms, a strategy that is on its face a war crime.
(...)
Murphy explained exactly how U.S. support for Saudi Arabia allowed them to create the epidemic.
“That bombing campaign that targeted the electricity infrastructure in Yemen could only happen with U.S. support,” Murphy said. “It is the United States that provides the targeting assistance for the Saudi planes.”
The United States has been a silent partner in the war since the beginning, providing weapons, targeting intelligence, and refueling support for the Saudi Air Force. The Obama administration provided more than $100 billion worth of weapons to the Saudis, and fragments of U.S.-made weapons have been found at the scene of some of the war’s worst atrocities. President Donald Trump has vowed to continue the policy, signing a commitment for more than $110 billion in weapons during his trip to Riyadh.
Alex Emmons for The Intercept. I usually keep US news to a minimum here to not distract too much from 'development' content, but there are moment when it is important to stress that very often it's not as simple as 'the UN is failing' or the 'humanitarian system' could do better. It's supporting a regime like Saudi Arabia that creates a 'humanitarian crisis' in the first place!

‘Like Bond villains’: What happened when Steven Mnuchin and his wife posed with a sheet of money

For many, there was something comical about the picture of the couple, no strangers to accusations of flaunting their wealth and privilege. Mnuchin holds the sheet on both sides, a smile on his face. His wife stands behind him, her hand on the sheet’s corner.
“Only way this could be worse would be if Linton and Mnuchin were lighting cigars with flaming dollar bills,” wrote the writer James Surowiecki.
Eli Rosenberg for the Washington Post with the latest story of the never-ending saga 'Louise Linton making a slightly disturbing public appearance again'...

Sex abuse cases stalk aid sector with dozens fired

Save the Children said it received 31 allegations of sex abuse over the last year, and referred 10 cases to authorities.
"Unfortunately, there are incidents of sexual harassment in every sector and every country around the world, and the aid sector is no exception," a spokeswoman for Save The Children said in an email to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"We welcome transparency and accountability in the international development and humanitarian sector," added the group, which employs about 25,000 people around the world.
Aid groups International Committee of the Red Cross, Plan International, CARE International, Norwegian Refugee Council and Mercy Corps said in email statements that they had strict policies to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace, but most admitted it remained an under-reported issue.
Lin Taylor for Thomson Reuters Foundation continues the debate on sexual violence in the aid sector.

When Women Rule: El Alto's first female mayor defies Bolivia's old boys' network

Chapeton said women find it hard to get financial backing to run campaigns and often face personal attacks on social media.
Of El Alto's 14 deputy mayors, three are women. Chapeton said her goal was to achieve gender parity only to find that some women deputy mayors left because of intimidation.
"Several of the women declined to participate afterwards because it's much easier to attack a woman," Chapeton said.
"It's not easy for a woman to enter political life."
Chapeton, from the indigenous Aymara group, resonates with other indigenous women who aspire to enter politics.
While she speaks Spanish rather than Aymara in public and wears black stilettos and trousers instead of the traditional bowler hats and colourful, layered skirts, many indigenous women identify with her, calling her "brave".
Anastasia Moloney, also for Thomson Reuters Foundation, with an uplifting story from Bolivia.

Inside Bono’s boundless hypocrisy
My insider at One, who asked not to be identified for professional reasons, told me that the organization’s direction needs to be reevaluated. “It’s time to take a close look at whether or not the One model works anymore,” she said, adding that, “(Bono) catapulted himself through charity to a different social level of importance — otherwise he’d just be another aging rockstar. He’s the frontman not just for U2 but for One and … he’s a complicated guy. He’s very earnest but he does like to hear himself talk.”
(...)
But here’s the bottom line. Yes, Bono is a successful musician who has saved a lot of tax dollars — a smart business move. He’s raised awareness for issues in Africa by throwing galas and offering trips, while pressuring governments to do more — good for him. All the while, he is rewarded by a sycophantic media honoring his every utterance with a magazine cover or an accolade.
Paula Froelich for the NY Post with the latest critical take on one of those guys who put celebrity into celebrity humanitarianism...

The war on aid: the hidden battle inside Priti Patel’s own department

One reason that aid is proving so suddenly vulnerable is that nobody ever made the argument about what modern development involves. It’s not just grain handouts and paying for teachers or nurses. Often our support goes on things which, when ripped from its context and placed in size 72 font on a tabloid headline, can look like a waste. One such project was created in Ethiopia, an innovative crackdown on an epidemic of child marriage.
(...)
The British model of aid and development is not perfect. It has led us to ally ourselves with dictators and avert our eyes from human rights abuses. Some of the money has, of course, been wasted—what government department doesn’t spend on projects that come to nothing? But it has undoubtedly saved lives and changed lives across the developing world. At a time when few nations have a good word to say about Britain, our aid is rightly praised. The 0.7 target is, as one aid official put it, “a symbol that we give a shit”. That matters, not just for how Britain is viewed, but as a spur for other nations to do more.
Steve Bloomfield for Prospect Magazine with a very good essay on the past, present and uncertain future of British aid.

Is It Insulting To Call This A 'Hut'?

"It helps you to position someone in the economic context. What types of materials they use, what kind of roofing," said Olayo. If someone lives in a mud hut with a thatched roof that "helps to tell you this person is in the lowest quintile."
But it's important to be sensitive to the way Africa has been historically portrayed in the Western world, opined Dixon Chibanda, a psychiatrist from Zimbabwe. And too often, he said, "the word 'hut' has been associated not only with poverty, but with an inferior type of lifestyle."
Others felt that just because someone lives in a hut doesn't necessarily mean that they're poor. "In my village," said Phyllis Omido, an environmental rights actvist in Kenya, "it's the culture that after a [teenaged] boy is circumcised he has to build a hut [on the family's land]. And it's always a hut. I have uncles who are doctors, and they still built a hut."
Nurith Aizenmen for NPR Goats & Soda dissects a quintessential 'development' term and masterfully outlines the complexities of 'the hut'!

Stunning new images celebrate Kenyan female icon who stood up to colonialists

Mekatilili's courage has inspired many women across Kenya and Africa to stand up for their rights and defend themselves and their communities against undue oppression. A statue has been erected in honour of her efforts at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi, and the garden has been renamed Mekatilili wa Menza Gardens.
Munachim Amah for CNN on the 'African Queens' photo project.

Can “Laptop Humanitarians” Solve History’s Largest Refugee Crisis?

Not everyone appreciates the wildly unorganized style that characterizes laptop humanitarians’ efforts.
To Lynda Elliott, there seemed to be a lot of people — thousands, perhaps — who were interested in helping. Yet, she was dismayed to see that refugees’ posts were often met with simple “clucks of sympathy.” Plans to help were dropped as volunteers became wrapped up in their own lives, which is, she argued, “quite dangerous if you’re talking about people who are suicidal or self-harming.”
And there were ethical concerns. It was nearly impossible to verify refugees’ stories from hundreds of miles away. For instance, Elliott was once horrified to discover that a homeless refugee she had raised money to shelter wasn’t homeless at all. She worried about the cavalier way some volunteers spread the photos and personal details of vulnerable people around the internet. Sometimes, she felt the aid offered was inappropriate.
“You get people sending refugees used underwear and stilettos,” she said. “Then there’s the people telling them, ‘Sew up your lips and go on a hunger strike.’”
Elizabeth Stuart for Bright Magazine with a great long-read on the challenges of online volunteering, good intentions and the complexities of life...

The Sustainable Development Goals: Elite Pluralism, not Democratic Governance
In the end, UN members states finalized the agenda behind closed doors. CSOs were once again relegated to serving as commentators and claqueurs. When push came to shove, the UN leadership thus followed its half-century-old practice of elitist international governance. Even though the UN leadership has been relentless in praising the virtues of accountability for post-2015 development cooperation, it has so far shied away from institutionalizing accountability in a way that would really make a difference: between the UN system and its powerful national agenda setters on one side, and CSOs, taxpayers, and intended beneficiaries on the other.
Daniel Esser for The Business of Society is not happy with the state of global governance...and since he is a dear friend and co-author I can give extra praise for the use of the word 'claqueur' ;)!

Rescuing Economics from Neoliberalism

Critics often point out that this emphasis on economics debases and sacrifices other important values such as equality, social inclusion, democratic deliberation, and justice. Those political and social objectives obviously matter enormously, and in some contexts they matter the most. They cannot always, or even often, be achieved by means of technocratic economic policies; politics must play a central role.
But neoliberals are not wrong when they argue that our most cherished ideals are more likely to be attained when our economy is vibrant, strong, and growing. Where they are wrong is in believing that there is a unique and universal recipe for improving economic performance to which they have access. The fatal flaw of neoliberalism is that it does not even get the economics right. It must be rejected on its own terms for the simple reason that it is bad economics.
Dani Rodrik for the Boston Review with an important essay to challenge 'neoliberalism' on its economic foundations.

The Long Ecological Revolution

But to achieve these things, we will need to break with “business as usual,” that is, with the current logic of capital, and introduce an entirely different logic, aimed at the creation of a fundamentally different social metabolic system of reproduction. To overcome centuries of alienation of nature and human labor, including the treatment of the global environment and most people—divided by class, gender, race, and ethnicity—as mere objects of conquest, expropriation, and exploitation, will require nothing less than a long ecological revolution, one which will necessarily entail victories and defeats and ever-renewed striving, occurring over centuries. It is a revolutionary struggle, though, that must commence now with a worldwide movement toward ecosocialism—one capable from its inception of setting limits on capital. This revolt will inevitably find its main impetus in an environmental proletariat, formed by the convergence of economic and ecological crises and the collective resistance of working communities and cultures—a new reality already emerging, particularly in the global South.
John Bellamy Foster for the Monthly Review with another thoughtful long-read with plenty of food for thought and discussion-even if you disagree with 'ecosocialism'...

Our digital lives


Nonprofit capacity in disinformation age
There needs to be deep reckoning — on all issues — about what is the counter message, where is it coming from, and how do you respond to it in ethical, safe, and effective ways?This is, in part, a communications issue. And much more. It is really a mission and strategy issue and a reality check on how well we, the people running nonprofits and foundations, understand the digital environment in which we live, the way it can be used to manipulate people, and the ways in which our actions — or inaction — matter.
Lucy Bernholz for Digital Impact with important food for thought on digital charity communication in an age of manipulation.

Publications

The techno-centric gaze: incorporating citizen participation technologies into participatory governance processes in the Philippines

Much of the existing research on citizen participation technologies takes the technology as its starting point, focusing primarily on the identification and analysis of technical barriers to adoption and assessing opportunities for technical improvements. We argue that this techno-centric gaze obscures non-use and the reasons why many citizens remain excluded. Instead, this research adopts a human-centric approach, selecting specific user groups as case studies rather than specific technologies, and identifying the contextual social norms and structural power relations that explain the use and non-use of citizen participation technologies.
Tony Roberts & Kevin Hernandez for IDS with another interesting product of the Making All Voices Count project.

When Technology Meets Participation, Part 1: Lessons from South Africa

Information shared with governments by communities through research processes can potentially be used against them and can make the communities more vulnerable rather than empowered in certain instances.
Technologies such as digital storytelling and exhibitions make invisible citizen knowledge/experience visible and visceral to government actors in a way that traditional research cannot.
Technology can help make visible systemic forms of injustice. The interpretation of this data by citizens adds additional validation and specificity to such meta-analyses.
Felix Bivens for Empyrean Research is also sharing findings from the Making All Voices Count project adding great insights from South Africa!

Academia



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