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Showing posts from July, 2013

‘The field’ is where inequality persists–a reply to ‘Send them to the field!’

Alison Rabe wrote a thought-provoking piece on WhyDev.org last week about the virtues of exposing oneself to the rural realities of developing countries to better understand how aid works, in short: Send them to the field!.
J, the blogger formerly known as Tales from the Hood, posted a more practical reflection on why he thinks ‘the field’ is often overrated and he also reminded us what hands-on skills matter in the industry.

From ‘putting the last first’ to putting ourselves into the picture of aid work in the 21st century
Alison makes a compelling case and I do not disagree with her per se. But as a development anthropologist I feel a bit uneasy about the construction of ‘the field’ as the rural reality compared to ‘the rest’ of aid worker’s geography, attitudes and mindsets. Alison argues along the line of the, shall we say, Chambersian School of Development: Putting the rural last first, field trips by bike rather than Landcruiser and immersing yourself in the realities of ‘the poor…

Links & Contents I Liked 84

Hello all,

Welcome to this Thursday's double feature (book review + link review)!
Amartya Sen's words of wisdom kick off this week's post and there are quite a few more stories to enjoy: From the beltway development industry to participatory video, a call to 'send them to the field!', a balanced view on Kibera slum tourism and MSF's error reporting. Some guy at Yale wants to reinvent social science and African library leadership, advice on choosing the perfect place for a PhD and the reloaded 'prisoner's dilemma' wrap up the academic part of the review.

Enjoy!

New on aidnography
Radical Approaches to Political Science (book review)
You have to be a bit of a polsci nerd to fully enjoy Radical Approaches to Political Science. Roads Less Traveled, a collection of essays by German political scientist Rainer Eisfeld.
But if you choose to indulge in this eclectic collection, I can almost promise you that you will come across new and interesting insights from f…

Radical Approaches to Political Science (book review)

Image
You have to be a bit of a polsci nerd to fully enjoy Radical Approaches to Political Science. Roads Less Traveled, a collection of essays by German political scientist Rainer Eisfeld. 
But if you choose to indulge in this eclectic collection, I can almost promise you that you will come across new and interesting insights from fields of inquiry that are certainly not political science mainstream or well-covered by conventional literature. And even though Rainer Eisfeld does not explicitly talk about ‘international development’ he actually presents quite a few things that are relevant in the context of regime (changes), history and the complex shades of grey that often get lost in dominant black and white narratives. The research and writings that were part of my undergraduate degree in political science in Germany were part of the canon that Eisfeld criticizes right from the beginning as ‘political studies (that) have largely been reduced to a functionalist science of “managing” parlia…

Links & Contents I Liked 83

Hello all,
Even if it's probably quite warm at the moment for readers from the Northern hemisphere, interesting development links don't melt down...photos from Nairobi kick off this week's review; a new initiative in Brussels highlights bad internship recruiting practices and in a stark contrast a war journalist talks about his love for his work whereas Alessandra Pigni reminds us of mindful aid work in the context of Palestine; inquiring into the 'Gates Effect', a long piece engages with the foundation's education work in the USA-and there's more on Spanish underdevelopment, children as tourist attractions and using social media for disaster preparedness.

Enjoy!

Development
Photos from today's work
I'm training a youth group from Dagorretti on communication skills. Practical ones. Motivation is high.My friend Pernille shares some impressions from her work at the outskirts of Nairobi.

WP/2013/068 Evaluating governance indexes: Critical and less critical …

Links & Contents I Liked 82

Hej! (as we say in Sweden)

No summer vacation for aidnography and the link review! This week's emphasis is on anthropology and ethnography, starting with my response to Ed Carr. A look at the brick industry in the Kathmandu Valley, social media and anthropological publishing as well as the question of how ethnography and data science can create fruitful relationships are main features on the anthropological menu.
New research on the global land rush and IDRC's 15 year ICT project round off the development section.
The only issue I disagree with this week another post where British academics once again make the case for 'rigourous, scientific methods in your research help to influence policy'...

Enjoy!

New on aidnography
Do we really need more new development ethnography? – a response to Ed Carr

Development
The politics of evidence: methodologies for understanding the global land rush The most recent ‘land rush’ precipitated by the convergent ‘crises’ of fuel, feed and food i…

Do we really need more new development ethnography? – a response to Ed Carr

Ed Carr asked a few days ago Should ethnographies have an expiration date? and invited me and other colleagues to comment-which I am more than happy to do.
I do not disagree with Ed in principle (he already anticipated on facebook that we are likely ending up ‘hugging it out’ ;) and his argument for more relevant ethnography in development research is very valid as is his main question whether and how such anthropological knowledge ‘expires’.
However, his post triggered a few thoughts of my own and there are some nuances about contemporary development anthropology that I want to elaborate on a bit more:

‘Clusterfication’ of (development) anthropology
Substantial parts of my doctoral field research took place in Nepal, probably one of the best researched places with regard to anthropology, ethnography and development research.
And as much as I have enjoyed meeting fascinating colleagues and learning a lot about various places and spaces, there was a feeling sometimes that Nepal is ‘over…

Links & Contents I Liked 81

Hello all!

This week's link review kicks off with a section on humanitarian standards and development HR topics-from identifying decision-makers to networking and why organizations are 'people places'; Oxfam reflects on Jim Kim's first year at the Bank and laptops and schools in Kenya are part of the review. For anthropological summer reading check out the latest issue of HAU-and finally, the old question whether academic cooperation can change elites is asked in the context of North Korea!

Enjoy!

Development
Setting standards for the aid industry
“Over the last 20 years, the humanitarian sector has grown into a multi-billion dollar enterprise. While the early 1990s saw an absence of standards, the current situation may pose the opposite problem, with over a hundred standards initiatives now in existence in the humanitarian sector. Field workers and others have experienced a challenge in combining and implementing the number of standards in an efficient, complementary and e…