PAGE 4 Bridges for Enterprise
PAGE 10 Ethnography In Uganda
PAGE 14 Developing with ActionAid
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
E D I TO R ’ S N O T E
DEAR READERS, Welcome to the Michaelmas 2018 edition of Vision! Through this magazine we aim to provide a platform where students can discuss their experiences and voice their opinions on topics which concern global social enterprises, international policies, and the changes that we can make as individuals. The theme for this term’s magazine was ‘Decolonising Development’. We acknowledge that the use of the term ‘decolonising’ can be perceived as controversial as its use can be interpreted as an attempt to simply lift the rhetorical power of the word. Whilst it is true that we are not practically implementing the process of ‘decolonisation’ here, our intention for this magazine was to generate discussion regarding if and how it is possible for ‘development’ to move away from Eurocentric tendencies, one of the key criticisms of the field. Our aim is to bring a critical perspective to Western dominance within the development movement and to challenge the viewing of development through a European lens. Our authors have produced nuanced articles which grapple the problem of Eurocentrism in development. We have been impressed with the range of work that has been produced and by how the authors have drawn on their own experiences and applied this to the key problems involved in the practicing of development. From discussions on ethnographic fieldwork in Uganda; to the impact of tourism in Vanuatu; to the revival of Special Economic Zones; to the use of visual imagery to foster personal connections across oceans; to taking a human rights based approach to development; to an interview with the co-founder of a non-profit start-up. We would like to say a huge thank you to our artistic director for doing an amazing job in bringing all the authors’ works together in this magazine, to all our sub-editors for their hard work in polishing up our insightful articles, and finally to the whole CUiD team for the work and support that went into the making of ‘Vision: Decolonising Development’. We hope that you enjoy reading the following articles as much as we have and that they can leave you with a new insight into what the participation of the West in development really means. As always, we welcome all feedback and suggestions. Happy reading! Shraddha and Beatrice, Vision Co-Editors 2018/19
C O N T E N T S BRIDGES FOR ENTERPRISE Ankur Desai REVIVAL OF SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES Diana Spehar DIVLOPMEN, TOURISM AND KASTOM Francesca Dakin ETHNOGRAPHIC FIELDWORK IN UGANDA Jacqueline Gallo HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEVELOPMENT Rhiannon Osbourne DECOLONISATION AND DEVELOPOMENT Sophia Georgescu DECOLONISING DEVELOPMENT? Shraddha Rathi A VISIT FROM MICHELA WRONG Charly Pressdee
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Bridges for Enterprise I spoke to Shaun Teo, co-founder of Bridges for Enterprise (BfE), a non-profit organisation that provides pro-bono incubation services to start-ups in developing countries. Ankur Desai
Hi Shaun, could you explain where the idea for BfE came from?
gapore. That was quite interesting as I went to the other extreme of thinking about how social entrepreneurs can really raise capital. This made me realise that there was a gap in the market where, before social entrepreneurs were ready to be funded by institutional capital, these startups could do with support. This was where BfE comes in—to plug this gap. I formed a team with like-minded individuals from Cambridge, and our first clients were the people I met in Tanzania.
Yeah sure. So I studied economics because I was really interested in development. With development, there are really two main schools of thought—Sachs’ “top-down” approach versus Easterly’s “bottom-up” approach. What I gathered from that was they were both really important, but I wanted to be part of a community that did our part for international development and so wanted to follow Easterly’s idea for a “ground-up” approach to development, which I believe BfE falls under.
BfE has been operating for three years now—is there any particular success story that sticks out?
After my first year of university, I worked in Tanzania with some social entrepreneurs, and it really opened my eyes to the latent power of social entrepreneurship. I saw that locals who were passionate and wanted to make a difference in their communities were best placed to make local, sustainable change and that the most sustainable way of doing that was through a profitable, self-funding business that gives back to society. However, I also saw that there were many obstacles for these entrepreneurs—things that we take for granted like access to capital markets, resources and skill-sets. This is where the idea for BfE and “Bridging the Gap” came from: being able to gather students and professionals around world to provide pro-bono services to help startups in developing countries overcome these obstacles.
There are a couple I will mention briefly. One was startup in Palestine called Gravilog, which developed an app to help women monitor their health during pregnancy, as well as an online system to help doctors manage electronic medical records. BfE provided them with consulting and financial advice, and through our help they won an award for the best mobile application in Palestine a few years ago. It was rewarding for us, because it shows working together allowed for them to be successful.
Another example just recently was that one of the entrepreneurs from Biofood Tech, Japhet Sekenya, was announced as a winner of the 2018 RUFORUM Young African Entrepreneurs Competition. The successes of our startups and being able to support them through their journey makes me very happy.
After you had this idea whilst working in Tanzania, how did you move to actually making BfE a reality? In the same summer after Tanzania, I did a twomonth internship in an impact investment firm in Sin4
ANKUR DESAI Do you then think that the impact “ground-up” development will have is limited by these macroframeworks? To a certain extent I do, but I also think that the beauty of these “ground-up” localised changes is that they can start now. It’s proactive and allows change agents to have this empowerment instead of a having a very passive view that “the government is corrupt” or “we have to rely on aid”.
What do you think our role is, from our place of privilege in the West, in contributing to positive development outcomes? Our role is not to have a “saviour of the world” mentality that we can change the world on out own, but instead to have a partnering, collaborative and twoway learning approach. This is a more beneficial approach when thinking about development. We shouldn’t be thinking that we in the West know everything, and that we are here to teach them how to live their life and rule their country, but instead are here to be their friend and see how to best support them. This is a value that I hope BfE will always have—using friendships across to world to achieve a common goal of trying to make the world a better place. That’s something that is quite big in my heart.
What type of trends have you seen through BfE’s work, and have you noticed a shift in the ideology of how development should be done? I think there is definitely a shift towards impact investing and the private sector trying to play a role in supporting development causes. There seems to be a bit more “ground-up” intervention. It’s quite comforting and exciting that the private sector is coming more and more onboard with impact investing.
What does the future hold for you? My dream is to do well in the corporate world and use this skill-set to make a difference in the world. That would involve doing well in finance and trying to use the resources and skill-sets of that world to assist BfE and other charitable organisations. I hope that we can be a community that inspires and makes a difference together.
What do you think are the obstacles that are preventing “ground-up” investing from becoming the norm? Personally, I think that whilst these startups can cause localised change, the macro-frameworks often make it difficult to have a large scale impact. Things like corruption, access to banking or inadequate infrastructure can limit the ability of startups to flourish. Without a conducive macro-framework for “ground-up” initiatives to thrive, it becomes very difficult to have sustainable development. I do think that “top-down” approaches and coordination are very important.
This text has been edited slightly for clarity 5
Revival of Special Economic Zones Can SEZs deliver on their promise of empowering local communities, and how much do we understand about their social and environmental footprints? Diana Spehar
While special economic zones (SEZs) are by no means a modern phenomenon, they are gaining increasing traction with African governments. SEZs are known to have taken on many guises, i.e., free-trade zones, industrial parks, export-processing zones, science and technology parks, free ports, despite having kept its core structural features. Broadly, SEZs can be defined as geographically delineated areas under one management offering fiscal incentives for investors and boasting a separate customs area. Established in the interest of attracting FDI, promoting exports and industrialisation, alleviating large-scale unemployment and supporting economic reform1, the zones have so far reported mixed results in delivering socioeconomic outcomes2. According to the World Bank, SEZ exports currently account for c. 41 percent of global trade3. It is no wonder then, that their health and environmental footprints are beginning to take on gigantic proportions. For every SEZ success story evidencing the dizzyingly high employment growth or export rates, there are at
least a few equally staggering SEZ metrics concerning decline in health, violation of labour standards or environmental degradation. Consider the latest World Bank statistic, according to which 40% of the SEZ apparel workforce in Lesotho is reported to be affected by HIV, largely due to insufficient health service provision. 2 Shining a light on the methodologies and motivations of international investors and donors might offer some initial clues as to this discord. Further understanding of how SEZ programmes are executed, entailing its design, management, reinforcement and benefit measurement could, in turn, help fill the remaining knowledge gaps. A large proportion of zone-specific public debate revolves around the measurement of SEZ performance. The timeline for determining the likelihood of meeting each programmeâ€™s objectives is traditionally between 10-15 years. Even assuming the provision of sufficiently accurate longitudinal performancerelated data on SEZs, it may not be feasible to isolate 6
DIANA SPEHAR the effects of the SEZs from the wider investment climate.
power from the host countries and local communities to international investors, from contractual labour (often women with already weak bargaining power) to a group of enterprises, and from SME suppliers to multinational corporations.
The case study of China points to the misleading nature of economic success indicators so easily attributed to the SEZ phenomenon. Estimates show that the national-level Chinese SEZs have created over 30 million jobs and make up c. 22 percent of national GDP, 46 percent of FDI, and 60 percent of exports. By contrast, China’s traditional growth model has been heavily reliant on resource intensive manufacturing and as such, it has invariably contributed to some harmful environmental practices within the SEZs and bloated the country’s environmental bill, estimated at c. 8% of GDP by the World Bank. Examples abound as to the perils of relying on a few traditional economic indicators in providing a comprehensive worldview.
In response, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) are promoting a ‘Framework for Sustainable Economic Zones’, introducing a set of scalable SEZ standards concerning labour, the environment, anti-corruption and health and safety issues. The WTO, on the other hand, are instituting a new competitiveness approach. Their method consists of offering more than fiscal incentives to the foreign investors and advocating synergies arising from close multi-stakeholder alliances. The new vision of success entails close collaboration between enterprises, SMEs, research and development institutions, a well qualified workforce and trade facilitation programmes.
Another challenging metric associated with measuring SEZ’s impact is often interpreted as a ‘location advantage’ or an ‘investment cost’, and concerns the land on which SEZs are built. In acquiring land from local farmers, project donors should distinguish between land as a tradable commodity as opposed to land as a way of life for the locals. For the farmers of Sri Lanka and Myanmar, the land simultaneously provides employment and sustenance, as well as health and environmental services through provision of certain foods, medicinal plants and wild fodder.
The return of the SEZs onto the global stage coincides with the shifts within the broader development sector. With ‘aid for trade’ approaches gaining a stronghold and the ever-increasing involvement of the private sector in delivering development solutions, the trade-offs between economic and societal benefits may need to re-enter the public debate. Part of the controversy associated with the SEZs stems from the disparity between the perception of their development benefits and the reality on the ground. While the new approaches, spearheaded by the UNCTAD and WTO, are slowly introducing ‘sustainable economic zones’, it won’t be until the establishment of strong regulatory support and closer multistakeholder collaboration that these initiatives can have a lasting impact. In the meantime, the SEZs are undergoing a revival on the African soil with mixed consequences for the local communities.
SEZs are uniquely positioned to act as laboratories for untested economic policies before their positive effects spill over into the wider society. However, any positive impacts generated by the SEZs are largely dependent upon their design and management. Certain scholars propose a causal link between the nature of incentives offered to investors and the key activities undertaken by the zones and their industrial culture. Where investors are inclined to broaden their focus from cost savings to capability development and mid-term competitive advantage, the host area is more likely to reap the socio-economic benefits. 6
Yet another notable trend over the last 15-20 years is a shift toward the private sector SEZ ownership and development. This, coupled with the fact that developing economies claim the highest levels of SEZbased exports, may indicate an incentive problem. As with any policy instrument with far-reaching geopolitical consequences, SEZs are tipping the balance of 7
Divlopmen, Tourism and Kastom in Vanuatu
The word divlopmen, in Vanuatu’s lingua franca of Bislama, describes an abstract barrier to the continuation of kastom - traditional life and customs - that is enacted in and created through development. One result of this has been a significant rise in tourism for the nation. In this short article I will be discussing what kind of impact the clash of ideologies bound up in divlopmen tourism and local kastom tradition has on the lived experiences of the individual, their kastom and their identity.
Vanuatu, making up 46.1% (USD365.7mn) of GDP in 2017 (statistics provided by World Travel & Tourism Council). The elements of kastom most prevalent in tourism activities involve public rituals and performances - such as the Nagol land diving on Pentecost or the Nekowiar/Toka access-granting, performative ceremony involved in visiting Mt. Yasur on Tanna island.
I feel that it would be misleading to dive into such a discussion without explicitly stating my position and the contribution I hope to make as a non-indigenous person engaging with indigenous issues. I would first acknowledge my own position as a mere visitor to the nation. As such, the version of the tourism trade that I have seen is largely from the perspective of the tourist - or at least tourist-adjacent - through a critical and anthropological lens which, I hope, helped me to remain more reflexive and respectful. I do not claim to speak for or generalise about the experiences of ni-Vanuatu (local Melanesian people); I am rather attempting to elucidate a conflict that I have observed in the hope that it would prompt readers to think critically about their own travels and interaction with local communities. I would hope that such thinking would engender a more respectful and compassionate tourist, and perhaps open up new avenues for productive discussions about what sustainable tourism looks like in Vanuatu.
Those tourists wishing to see a more domestic side of Vanuatu may visit ‘kastom villages’. The point of such villages, as Tabani reported from his fieldwork on Tanna island, is to ‘lukluk vilej laef (to observe villagers’ everyday life)’. However, the voyeuristic desire to experience kastom everyday life has led to such villages incorporating exoticised practices and styles of dress/ architecture that are more catered to foreign aesthetics. The word itself - kastom - has been co -opted and subverted by the tourism trade. Traditionally, kastom and money were opposing concepts, as Tabani reports; ‘older Tannese regularly remind the younger generation that kastom hemi bitem mani (custom is more powerful than money) or likewise that long kastom evrisamting hemi fri (with custom you don’t need money).’ Yet, traditional ceremonies and rituals are performed for purely economic benefit and labelled as kastom to draw in tourists, creating a false image of kastom as a mere style of performance - devoid of the complexities of personal and cul-
Vanuatu’s sharp increase in the tourism trade has commodified and affected the ways kastom is practised and interpreted by ni-Vanuatu and tourists, with the tourism sector making up 39.3% of total employment. It is now the largest sector contributing to economic development in 8
FRANCESCA DAKIN tural identity produced and reproduced through day-to-day life, binding people together over generations.
atic image. However, it is important to point out that steps are being taken to reduce reliance on the tourism trade. Most notable of these are the grassroots initiatives of the Vanuatu Kaljoral Senta (Vanuatu Cultural Centre) aiming to strengthen kastom, and protect cultural and intellectual property. The VKS is achieving this through its volunteer fieldwork network, and the use of radio/television programmes, cultural festivals and workshops, and by working directly with government and NGOs to maximise indigenous resources. These and other efforts are described by Geismar in her 2013 publication.
The push for cultural tourism has created an idyllic vision of Vanuatu as ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’, yet in the advertisements and activities undertaken by the ‘cultural tourist’, there remains an insidious air of ethnocentric fetishization. Thus many peoples' livelihoods revolve around allowing themselves and their kastom to be commodified and consumed as an exotic spectacle, perpetuating ethnocentric and often racist stereotypes in the minds of some tourists through economic reliance. Exposure to such stereotypes must be frustrating and offensive to local people employed in the industry. This is particularly evident in activities that are repeated regularly, such as the aforementioned Nekowiar/Toka ceremony, which is performed on Tanna twice a day to a crowd of clicking and flashing cameras. True kastom is of course still strong, but the extent to which it is faithfully represented in the tourism trade seems to depend upon the degree to which it can be manipulated to suit the aesthetics of that idyllic and problem-
Tourism’s position as the current main industry for economic development has resulted in a prostitution of kastom; and therein a false representation of cultural identity. The profits of which are often absent from the pockets of locals, rather being redirected to offshore companies or individuals. However, it is clear from the commitment of ni-Vanuatu to keep their traditions strong, and the efforts of the VKS, that kastom prevails in the face of commodification.
‘I want to start transforming so they see that Karamoja can develop.’ Considering ethnographic fieldwork as an agent of decolonisation Jacqueline Gallo The final interviews were the most poignant. During the last weeks of my fifteen-month ethnography in Karamoja, Uganda, young women were more critical and demanding than ever before. ‘I want to start transforming so they see that Karamoja can develop,’ one young woman said as she described her plans to improve the quality of girls’ lives in her village.
ment research; this is what many international agencies generously fund. What many of these studies lack is a way to acknowledge and address the multidimensionality of the human experience and the complexity of women’s lives. Quantitative research is necessary, but the academy and international development need more qualitative research to address the more nuanced aspects of people’s lives.
Ethnography, developed in social anthropology, is a social science methodology characterised by longterm living in a community to study the behaviours, culture, language, and values of a given group helping us better understand what it means to be human. By implementing future and critiquing existing ethnographic research, we can begin redressing Westerncentric and outdated portraits of marginalised people in the Global South, some of the exact people development is supposed to benefit.
Social anthropology and feminist research have both, for decades, been emphasising the importance of subverting the othering process as a way to improve how research investigates the lives of women globally. Women of colour and people of the global South, we know, have historically been mis- and under-
International development has been transformed by luminaries in economics such as the late Mahbub ul Haq, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, and Sabina Alkire in their quest to diversify how economists measure poverty and international development. Whilst acknowledging the importance of their contributions, economics specifically, and quantitative research in general, only begin to answer questions about the effectiveness of development projects. For example, economic measurements can evaluate how foreign aid is improving child enrolment rates in schools across the globe. Yet simultaneously, these measurements implore questions further. What exactly are students learning? With the international push to get girls enrolled, how do they experience schooling? Nevertheless, much research which directly impacts women’s lives rely on statistical models and economic measurements of well-being. Quantitative research still dominates in education, economics, and develop-
JACQUELINE GALLO initiatives arguing that, ‘failing aid in Karamoja has been in the best interest of all the players involved in the aid apparatus, irrespective of their relative power and agency’. My own ethnographic research highlights many ways development aid is failing the Karamojong. Living at a secondary boarding school among girls who mostly rely on foreign aid schemes for school fees alerted me to various concerns that cannot be addressed through quantitative research. (Disclaimer: in so many cases, universal or free secondary school is far from either ideal). Time and again, I found ineffective and poorly organised aid programmes. Students experiencing extreme hardship were promised mentoring support from NGOs funding their studies. I can attest that many services simply were not offered. In other cases, students were promised autonomy in planning for tertiary studies but this was in name alone.
represented in research. Mohanty’s 1984 critique of the ‘third world women’ trope and Crenshaw’s 1989 introduction of ‘intersectionality’ in studying race and gender are pioneering works that have inspired a generation of researchers.
One student in my study was adamant to study accounting post-secondary school. Following up with her recently, I discovered that she is enrolled in teacher training – the one programme she had no desire to pursue. She attempted to exhibit some strength as she justified ‘her’ decision explaining that she, personally, completed the application. Because we have a trusting relationship, I was able to uncover that both her family and funder were rather coercive in the process. What real choice does she have if her funder will only support teacher training, even after promising other tertiary options?
Ethnography can decolonise. Ethnography does address the limitations of quantitative research and redress the misrepresentation of those for whom aid is intended. Ethnography has evolved and been reimagined across the social sciences since its origins as the ‘writing the people’ in the British colonial project. Following in the footsteps of Mills and Morton, I believe ethnography is being, doing, and writing. To me, it is living uncomfortably and remaining reflexive about one’s place in a new community. It is demonstrating empathy and compassion whilst maintaining academic integrity. It is about building honest and meaningful relationships with those who have given you the gift of their life histories. It is juggling ethical commitments as a researcher whilst being able to sleep at night as a human being. It is recognising what Geertz named the ‘anthropological irony’ of your relationships with others, attempting to break down barriers and power structures whilst taking responsibility for what can never be levelled. It can mean isolation, but it is responsibility.
Lessons from the field…
One non-governmental organisation made wonderful claims about the variety of programming offered to bursary scheme students. My quotidian experience in schools and relationships with students helped uncover that many advertised services simply do not exist. I also found some organisations manipulated, if put generously, or falsified, if put more bluntly, the claims in their reports in order to prove their effectiveness. When questioning the NGO representative about the discrepancies between their reports and my lived experience, he appeared embarrassed by the directness of my question and promised to try harder next time.
Before my study, development economist Matteo Caravani carried out research among the Karamojong, an agro-pastoralist community in Northeastern Uganda. He critiques international development
My study is helping funding bodies improve their evaluation of development programme effectiveness and outcomes. This research has highlighted chal-
lenges in aid effectiveness, which the funders are now keen to improve. This only happened because ethnographic research listens. It allows time to respect people’s dignity and study the complex web of structures and norms that influence their lives.
Writing Women's Worlds: Bedouin Stories helped me devise appropriate research methods, strategies, and reflexivity as I studied the lives of Karamojong women. Such reflection points out the very strengths of ethnographic research such as its intimacy to the human experience. Studying and critiquing ethnographic research challenges the academy to craft innovative methods, appropriate to each cultural, religious, and social setting, which will maximise what can be learnt from the knowledge-bearers we encounter in our research.
Independent from aid agencies, my research autonomy makes possible the needed critique of the development apparatus. We cannot become complacent to development’s ‘efforts’ without holding agencies accountable for outcomes. International development, as the Pulitzer Centre reported in 2014, is a 195 billion dollar industry. Ethnographic research supports improved transparency and accountability of aid effectiveness through long-term relationship building with those who are on the receiving end of development projects.
Illuminating the uplifting successes alongside the messy, heart-breaking challenges of the world’s most vulnerable people is perhaps our greatest duty and the most beautiful gift we researchers can offer the world. If we are to decolonise development, we must unequivocally reject the notion that we are ‘giving voice’ to the voiceless. The poor, the marginalised, the vulnerable – these are not monoliths to be dissected in statistical software but human beings with dignity, agency, and voice. The question is, will we genuinely and empathetically listen to them?
We must continue to support small scale and in depth research. We also must interrogate such research that claims to be a decolonising agent. Examining such qualitative work allows us to improve the process of decolonisation. Studying Abu-Luhgod’s 12
Witnessing a Human Rights Based Approach to Development Rhiannon Osbourne Over the summer, I did an 8-week internship with the development organisation, ActionAid, in their India office. The work of ActionAid India is wide ranging, and includes advocating for the rights of women and children, promoting people’s control over their livelihood and upholding the rights of minority groups. They aim to “end poverty, patriarchy and injustice” through a human rights based approach (HRBA) to development, and I was able to witness how they put this into practice in their work. The UN defines a HRBA as “a conceptual framework for the process of human development that is normatively based on international human rights standards and operationally directed to promoting and protecting human rights.” Empowering people to have the knowledge, courage and skills to claim their rights is a large part of the work of ActionAid. A major problem I encountered was that people didn’t know what rights they were entitled to. To address this, ActionAid collaborated with local community leaders to educate them about entitlements, such as pensions, and how to claim them. The leaders were then able to assist the wider community and tackle some of the intimidating challenges together. An ambitious project attempting to tackle the inaccessibility of the legal system and empowering people to claim their rights was the creation of a ‘mayla panchayat’ with a local women’s group. The ‘mayla panchayat’ was essentially a parliament of women who took on cases of domestic violence within their informal settlement and tried to find a contextually appropriate solution, bearing in mind that most women did not have the finances or confidence to take a case to court. In addition, the societal norms meant that most women did not believe they had a right to speak up about their situation. It had failed to occur to me that many of these women had no reason to believe that their rights were violated, or that their degrading treatment was anything more than a
normal part of their lives. ActionAid India provided a group of female leaders with legal training and education on women’s rights, which they put into use to counsel and advise victims of domestic violence, as well as make recommendations for an attempt at resolution. The resulting system was a group of highly respected, knowledgeable women from the community reaching out to other women, using their skills to promote women’s rights in their community, and making informed judgments on the best course of action, such as divorce, prosecution and alcohol ad-
RHIANNON OSBOURNE made by the ‘mayla panchayat’ were readily accepted by men and women alike, and the creation of the group greatly increased the discussions around gender based violence in the community. These examples showed clearly how education and empowerment can work in hand in hand to create local solutions to large issues.
ers shared their knowledge for their locality, and later went to speak to people about these issues, feeding this information back to ActionAid. When I asked what the organisations intended to do with this information, both replied that they didn’t know yet, because their plan moving forward would be directed by the needs and wishes of the community, not their own prior agendas.
Including the views and objectives of the local people was seen throughout a variety of different projects, reflecting attempts at genuine collaborative develop-
However, there were instances where I felt that the rights based approach could conflict with the needs of the community. For example, it was clear that many homeless children didn’t attend school and lacked even basic education. It was suggested that the ActionAid volunteers working in homeless shelters could provide an informal education curriculum, but quickly it was pointed out that this conflicted with ActionAid’s principles, because, in reality, they should be supporting each child’s right to a free education from the government. If ActionAid were to provide education, this would undermine this human right. The compromise was an agreement to assist the shelters in enrolling the children in school, but it was disheartening to know that, often because of a lack of birth certificate or because they were already so far behind, most of these children would never receive their right to an education. There were many more examples of a HRBA being implemented across the board, from research to water policy. Alongside their local work, ActionAid lobby at the national and international level for the rights of the most marginalized, and their passion for creating a more equal society is something that everyone can act on, in a small way, in their own lives.
ment, which focused on the rights of individuals in need. ActionAid functions by forming long term partnerships with local, smaller NGOs. By combining their grassroots influence with the resources of ActionAid, they tackle a wide range of issues at the local and national level. At a planning meeting between ActionAid and a local partner, what I witnessed was a twoway discussion with continuous feedback, rather than instruction. ActionAid discussed their overall aims for the following year, including, for example, equal accessibility to drinking water, and the community lead-
What do the terms ‘decolonisation’ and ‘development’ really mean? Sophia Georgescu
Discussions around concepts of humanity and our interrelations are not new; you’ve probably opened
their futures and identities, at least under the status quo Western gaze.
this magazine precisely to answer some of the big questions the world has been asking itself for a long time. Considering our ‘postcolonial world,’ however, understanding and thinking critically about how and what we live can prove to be a challenging task. Whilst social media and the Internet can make us feel easily connected to others across the globe, it is simultaneously easy for these connections to become emotionless and feel defunct. Social media platforms such as Instagram place images of refugees in the Global South in contradictory yet normalizing adjacency to photos of Londoners’ dogs.
A profound method by which it is possible to relate abstract ideas of decolonization to the bodies and individuals at the heart of the communities concerned is through visual imagery. Symbols and pictures portraying those who live in the Global South often create the perception that these populations
In short, what do the terms “decolonization” and “development” really mean to us as people? How can we tackle them without encountering conflicting issues? As feminist academics Ananya Roy and Ann Mclintock have noted, when studied within the framework of academia, attempts to navigate past colonial legacies often result in the orientation of theory and ideas around Western values and language, thus proving to be a paradox in itself. Surely we cannot simply stick to the status quo any longer. Intertwined in this confusion is access; it is generally much harder to comprehend and emotionally connect to a formal theoretical framework than it is to an easily worded popular catch-phrase or stereotype. Here lies the problem that simplified narratives of humanity may spread pejorative stereotyping, hence preventing peoples and communities of the “underdeveloped” world from moving forward with 16
SOPHIA GEORGESCU tographic point of view, choosing to focus her motives around the stories and connections she shares with the individuals she meets around the world. In a unique approach, she removes people from the kinds of portrayals described previously by photographing them against neutral black backgrounds. Especially powerful is a series of images of nomads in Somaliland published in 2018, captured during a severe drought. Aedy empowers affected communities by visually resonating with the viewer on an emotional level, free from the context of “underdevelopment”. She overcomes inherently problematic issues of consent as a privileged Westerner by only creating work with people she meets and gets to know on a personal level, allowing them to contribute to their own portrayals. The viewer is left with an image of another another person, simply as is; separated from a “duty to develop” or any other such constructed perception. Connecting “underdeveloped” communities and “developed” countries in a raw, personal manner may be the key to decolonizing development; seeing
people for who they are as individuals, postcolonial context or no context at all, can be an incredibly powerful tool for positive change. It helps us all globally to move past normalized, unequal connections and importantly is accessible and easy to understand. Perhaps empowerment must come from individuals upwards, rather than solely from theory and policy, as has often been practiced in the past.
require the pity of privileged inhabitants of the Global North, inscribing a sense of duty to “develop” others. Take the Band Aid charity song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” of the 1980s, meant to raise money to help those affected by the devastating droughts in Ethiopia; even today, that country’s name conjures up mental pictures of starving children. In reality, Ethiopian society is much more complex than a lot of
I ma g e s c o p y r i g h t A l i c e A e d y www.aliceaedy.com
helpless people living in the desert. The danger of simple portrayals is their ability to both raise money by prescribing a difficult-to-dissociate pity but also lead to erasure of complex social factors in the communities depicted. Moving past this may sound daunting, especially when put into the context of many, many decades and even centuries of global power imbalances, but it is entirely and in fact quite simply possible to do. The work of freelance visual journalist Alice Aedy is a fantastic example. She is entirely self-taught from a pho17
With Dr Sian Lazar, Dr Hazel Gray and Professor Shraddha Rathi Cheryl McEwan On the 25th of October, CUiD and the Cambridge Society for Economic Pluralism presented a jointly hosted panel discussion: 'Decolonising Development'. The event featured Dr Sian Lazar (University of Cambridge), Dr Hazel Gray (University of Edinburgh), and Professor Cheryl McEwan (Durham University), seeking to provide a critical perspective on our understanding of ‘development’.
initiatives. Professor McEwan instead proposed a reconfiguration of our understanding of ‘development’, explaining how it remains a Eurocentric notion, rooted in Western ideas about progress and that it reduces problems to a statistical measure when poverty is actually a lived, psychological experience. She explained that Western centric understandings are limiting because they create a barrier to thinking from the margins.
Through her speech, Dr Sian Lazar sought to deconstruct the meaning of ‘development’ drawing links to bind together the past and present. Discussing the Dependency Theory, which looks at the unequal relationship dynamic between the Global North and the South, she examined modern development and the way in which it could follow on from colonial relations.
She questioned what could happen if the discourse were different: if we looked at development through the framework of what had made rich countries rich in the first place. These would be factors such as diversity, entrepreneurs, resources and culture.
She spoke about how value is extracted from ‘primary products’ in the Global South, looking at this as a historical continuation: from the extreme of the slave trade in the colonial period to the elements of this present in the mass movement of workers towards the metropolis as ‘cheap labour’ today.
Dr Grey spoke about New Institutional Economics (NIE), the economic ideology seeking to extend neoclassical thought to include institutions such as social and legal norms, an approach which is influencing organisations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. She discussed how this new way of thinking is changing how international organisations understand development and thus, affecting how different institutions develop in different countries. She questioned what the definition ‘good’ institutions might be, and whether it was actually the nature of institutions that resulted in more rapid economic development, or whether the development aided in the advancement of stronger institutions.
She explored how extraction can occur within development efforts as well, presenting the example of donations such as tractors, which are useful for the agricultural industry but ultimately require maintenance and parts, payment for which is siphoned off to multinationals. Similarly, she explained how value is extracted from foreign loans to developing countries, which through interest, can generate a profit.
She challenged the work of Robinson and Acemoglu, in how they analyse the impact of European colonialism on development, with those areas in which Europeans did not settle, due to factors such as malaria prevalence, leading to better institutions than those where Europeans settled and expropriated resources.
This notion of extraction was discussed not only in terms of economic or political means, but also from the perspective of the land, looking at environmental destruction as a result from development efforts, and practices such as ‘monocropping’. This involves the cultivation of a single crop year after year on the same land, rather than rotating through, in order to create an economy of scale which maximises profits and minimises costs. She ended on looking at alternatives to development, questioning whether we could move beyond the way we understand politics, the economy, and modernity, instead supporting anti-capitalist movements such as de-growth
She concluded by alluding to how such an approach highlights the importance of institutions in development, but refers to colonial history by seeking to reaffirm the dominance of the free market; a view which she believes must be interrogated thoroughly to ensure the human aspect of colonialism is not overlooked. 18
A visit from Michela Wrong Charly Pressdee On 8th November CUiD and CAMWIB welcomed Michela Wrong to Cambridge. Michela came to share her experience as an investigative journalist working across Africa and also shared her thoughts on intervention in the continent after being confronted with this first hand.
highlighted that her inability to safely drink with military men in local bars meant that she was unable to extract the confidential murmurings which build a story when officials are a few drinks down, where her male counterparts perhaps could. However, Michela did note that, in many ways, being female could also be a benefit. Her presence put people more at ease than male journalists which led her to obtain stories from those who felt comfortable around her.
Michela began by outlining her career ; she began at Reuters in the early 1980s which saw her posted to Italy, France and the Ivory Coast as a foreign correspondent. In 1994 she switched to freelance work and her career in Africa began in earnest. On moving to Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, Michela was launched into covering the Rwandan genocide and the collapse of Mobutu Sese Seko’s totalitarian regime. The last post in Michela’s career as a journalist was in Kenya where she spent four years reporting on east, west and central Africa for the Financial Times. After a fruitful career in journalism Michela, encouraged by her agent, began writing non-fiction books. Her debut book focussed on her time in Zaire. In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz (2001) documented the transition of the country from Mobutu Sese Seko to Laurent -Désiré Kabila. Her second book was focussed on colonialism. I Didn't Do It For You: How the World Betrayed a Small African Nation (2004) considering Eritrea’s experience of Italian, British, American and Ethiopian occupation. Her third, and most recent, non -fiction book turned to corruption. It's Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle-Blower (2009) follows John Githongo who exposed widespread and high level corruption in the government of President Mwai Kibaki. The book is highly critical of the response of the international aid community to the uncovered criminality. The World Bank and the British Department for International Development, in particular, are individually rebuked.
A further question centred on the attitudes towards colonialism across the continent. Michela highlighted how she perceived there to be a generational divide in opinion, with younger generations feeling a fresh anger toward past colonialists. Interestingly, Michela also contrasted the perceptions between countries. Each country, she explained, seemed to perceive that neighbouring countries had had a more preferable experience of colonial rule. There was finally a brief discussion on China as a new colonial power. Michela recognised that the intervention of China has been through investment not aid, a change which was welcome. Yet, she noted that the extremely high levels of debt accrued to pursue this investment gave reason to be sceptical. China’s attempts to reposes major infrastructure when governments default on their debt obligations creates a notably sinister undertone. This, Michela argues, is what is moving China, incrementally, toward becoming a new colonial power.
After guiding us through her career, Michela opened the floor to questions. The first pertinently queried the difficulty of securing stories as a woman, particularly in highly conservative countries. Her gender was, Michela argued, a limitation to some extent. She
Cambridge Global Health Partnerships For our last event this term, CUiD will be welcoming Cambridge Global Health Partnerships (CGHP) for a presentation on their experiences of global healthcare systems. CGHP is part of ACT, the charitable arm of Addenbrookeâ€™s hospital in Cambridge. This program is the international arm which supports and enables NHS staff from Cambridge University Hospitals (which includes Addenbrooke's and the Rosie) to train and assist health workers in low- and middle-income countries through global health partnerships. The program currently works in Botswana, Myanmar, El Salvador and Uganda and is in the process of establishing a link in the Philippines. CGHP manages long term health partnerships with hospitals, governments and health organizations to support shared learning, knowledge exchange, both clinical and academic, and sustainable change. Volunteering abroad in turn helps staff improve care for patients at home through an increase in their skills base and a renewed vision. Evelyn Brealey, program director at CGHP, will be speaking about the project and sharing the experiences of doctors who have taken part. Through her insight we hope to explore the impacts of reciprocal knowledge and skills exchanges across countries and what this means for global health. Please join us to hear these insights in the Lightfoot Room of St. Johnâ€™s Old Divinity School on Monday 26th November at 5:30pm.
Co-editors: BEATRICE McCARTNEY SHRADDHA RATHI Artistic Director: FRANCESCA RIGG
CREDITS Sub-editors: JACOB ARBEID J A C K C O NW A Y ALVIN DJAJADIKERTA MARGAUX SPRIET
A S P E C I A L T H A NK S T O O U R S P O NS O R S & T O A L - K H A I R F O R SPONSORING THIS ISSUE OF VISION
A JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT