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Showing posts from July, 2014

Letters Left Unsent (book review)

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I find it difficult to categorize J.’s latest and first non-fictional work Letters Left Unsent.
I think it is a collection of essays that weave together J’s autobiographical journey through the humanitarian industry with contemporary reflections on aid work, aid workers and being a global professional in a line of work where popular perceptions and field realities often drift apart quite a bit.

As a core, probably even founding member of the aid blogosphere J.’s writings as Tales from the Hood and now on Aid Speak form an essential core of the book which includes many of his well-known comments on getting into and surviving the aid industry.

But Letters Left Unsent is certainly more than a compilation of blog posts and diary-style vignettes. As with his previous fictional takes on humanitarian aid and dating work he manages to tell a story-the story of humanitarian aid in the 21st century: Aid work and workers are compassionate professionals, operate in complex environments and their…

A picture says more than (03)...what facebook & Indigo Travel know about my desire to pay for voluntourism in Nepal

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Hope youenjoy thewarmthandholiday inSwedenjustnow!But there will befallthis year.What should you dothen?Continuewith your normaltreadmill?Ordo something newandexciting-liketeachinginNepal?After almost 7 years on facebook and petabytes of data and sophisticated algorithms later they put together the keywords 'Nepal', 'Sweden' and 'something with learning' to advertise this fantastic offer by a voluntourism agency registered in Bangkok/Thailand...


Starting from about USD 760 Dollar per week you can teach in a school in a monastery in Nepal-pictures with girls in blue school uniforms and/or the cool sunglasses shot are probably included...

Nepal is a wonderful country and worth every trip! But please, travel as a regular tourist, spend as much money locally with tour operators etc. as possible and just enjoy a peaceful monastery on one of your treks.

But thanks, facebook and Indigo Travel, for encouraging me to post a short PSA on the don'ts of voluntourism...

It’s about the thesis-PhD and PWFP (People With Formal Power)

Thesiswhisperer Inger Mewburn is undoubtedly one of the finest writers on PhD- and academia-related issues.
So me not really agreeing with one of her latest posts It's not just about the thesis is based on the respectful and collegial spirit with which PhD education issues should be discussed. 
In fact, this is the second time I feel inspired to respond to a post and add my two cents to an important debate ().
What is really examined? Maybe not just the thesis http://t.co/y0KdIYlvOK#phdchat
— Dr Inger Mewburn (@thesiswhisperer) July 23, 2014The thesiswhisperer is quite clear about getting involved in as many extra-PhD-thesis activities as possible to build up your CV and profile-the more committee memberships, teaching opportunities and marketable skills, the better. So don’t lose out on a mixer and do take that NVivo course just in case!

In my response I want to focus on three points: First, when conte…

Links & Contents I Liked 122

Hello all,

Between my academic vacation (i.e. a non-holiday dedicated to reading and writing and enjoying it very much!) and preparing high quality new blog content my weekly link review is a bit off balance...this is actually not a bad thing as it gives me more time to select slightly less time-urgent content or include replies to more news-ish items...anyway...a great review starts with 'Devsplaining', IDS going open access, sex & the aid worker, World Bank self-praise, Canada's destructive development climate, the state of humanitarian research, a long read on Kari Polanyi's long live and open access reading tips!
The highlights in Our Digital Lives is an essay on why social transformation needs friction and the challenges of data journalism; finally, a look at netnography, Snowden & the 'burning paradise' of the academic sector.

Enjoy!

New from aidnography
I’m getting tired of ‘corporatization’ claims regarding the development industry
As always, MSF pro…

My summer readings on communication, ethnography, digital culture, development & expat aid work

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Hi all,

I have to admit that my initial reading list turned into several reading piles... yes, I have gone a bit crazy and I am not quite sure yet how to cope with all these fantastic books...but one of the great privileges of being an academic is that reading, collecting and curating books is actually part of my job :)!

The different piles are hopefully pretty self-explanatory: 

'Classic' new material on global development from - and on - a who-is-who list including Easterly, Chambers and Sachs.


From Nepal to Central Asia, from the street of the U.S. to the inside of multilateral organizations-I was actually a bit surprised to discover that my biggest pile is on ethnography and anthropology...

This is probably the most directly work- and teaching-related pile-updating the reading list for our ComDev course on New Media, ICT & Development:

Closer related to the core of 'aidnography' are these books on aid work, (expat) aid workers and writing about expat aid workers doin…

I’m getting tired of ‘corporatization’ claims regarding the development industry

Did you read the news recently? It is full of the same old stories: How MSF struck at huge tax evasion deal with British authorities, how PLAN is essentially a foundation based in Liechtenstein, how Save The Children is stashing away hundreds of millions of dollars of their donations in Caribbean bank accounts and how the WFP is basically a one-person entity with headquarters in Guernsey. And then there were those stories of how Action Aid started to sell submarines to dodgy governments and how the ICRC bought up all the local charities, sacked everybody and made them re-apply for their old jobs on minimum wages and without benefits.

Obviously none of these are true stories. They cannot be true, because no humanitarian or development charity, foundation or NGO works like a corporate entity (although the recent story that the American Red Cross responded with corporate lawyers to information requests about their post-Sandy spending is not exactly encouraging...). But it is easy and to…

Links & Contents I Liked 121

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Dear all,

Aidnography and many parts of the digital development and communication world are not on holidays (yet) and great (summer) readings continue to show up on my screens and get the proper Aidnography vetting, summarizing and commenting before shared here!
This week's review features Development News from World Bank's (non-)struggles to become a different organization, the 'Agony of UNMISS', the half-forgotten crises of Western Sahara, BRAC's gender challenges, the dark sides of volunteering & tourism in Nepal, reflections from the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum and new reports-including reflections from Jennifer Lentfer's Georgetown students on the future of development communication.
Our digital lives looks at being smart in meetings, World Reader, business travel & #JerkTech; Finally, Academia focuses on Southern scholars, journal representation and academic self-governance/governmentality.

Enjoy!

New from aidnography
Former German minister for de…

Former German minister for development becomes arms lobbyist-why it matters for #globaldev

Dirk Niebel, the former German minister for development cooperation, has joined Rheinmetall as a lobbyist.
Given his abysmal performance as politician in charge of development, good governance and human rights this is not at all surprising, or, as the German version of The Onion, Der Postillon puts it: ‘0% of respondents were surprised about his career move in a recent poll’ (in German).
But this is not simply about a former politician moving into the famed ‘private sector’, but it raises (at least) three critical issues that I want to point out in the following:
First, it shows that traditional, government-run development policy is really in a state of crisis-not just in Germany.
Second, Niebel’s case highlights some of the structural problems that ‘open aid’ and open data initiatives still have when faced with unaccountable, yet powerful people and institutions.
Third, very much linked to the second point, when arms (deals) are involved development is certainly not in the driver’s s…