Workshop on pluri-nationality in Bolivia and Ecuador: Different perspectives and Janus-faced experiences

By Jonathan Alderman and Britta K. Matthes

On Friday, 12th of January, the ECR/PGR workshop “Pluri-national state, autonomy and ‘good living’/’living well’: Approaches to and reflections on tensions in Bolivia and Ecuador” took place at the University of Bath. The event, supported by the Centre for Development Studies (CDS), aimed at bringing together junior academics from different disciplines, who investigate the transformations taking place in Bolivia and Ecuador.

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Our individual responsibility to face down the rise of the far right

(This blog was originally published at The Conversation)

By Aurelie Charles

Ever since the financial crisis of 2008, American society has become increasingly divided. In among its deep fissures, the far right has found a place to incubate and speak out.

Declining demographically and struggling economically, this voice shouts out a violent identity crisis of class, whiteness, and masculinity. So how did that voice get so loud?  Continue reading

How activism pushes companies to be political

(This blog was originally posted at The Conversation)

By Michael Bloomfield

Have you ever wondered why some companies seem more politically engaged than others? When activists shine a spotlight on an industry for alleged links to social or environmental exploitation, most companies seek to remain in the shadows, fearful of unwanted publicity. But there are often one or two that respond proactively, working with activists to hammer out a solution.

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Concrete Utopia: (Re)producing life in, against and beyond the open veins of capital

(This blog was originally published at Public Seminar)

By Ana Dinerstein

Where is Utopia today? Is this question relevant? One might argue that the term utopia is incongruous with the politics of our time, to say the least. Not only does the term ‘utopia’ indicate no place, when it found a place, it was mistreated and mutilated. What would be the place for utopian thinking in a world that is desperate to solve the accrued problems that it has created for itself? Would utopian thinking distract us from the real tribulations besetting the world? No. In fact, we live in a time when utopia can be no longer objected to. On the contrary, utopia has become necessary and indispensable for millions of people in the world, struggling for survival. The problem is not whether we should seek a utopia or not. The question is what kind of utopia and where to look for it. Continue reading

The Patel case: an aid worker’s perspective

(This blog was originally published at the IPR blog)

By Elise Reslinger

On 8 November, Priti Patel resigned from her position as UK Secretary of State for International Development. This resignation followed the revelation, three months after the fact, of unauthorised meetings with Israeli officials including the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Protocol requires these meetings to be authorised to ensure their compliance with UK foreign affairs priorities, and for a risk assessment to be undertaken. Following these meetings, Patel asked her team to investigate the possibility of funding the Israeli army’s field hospitals based in the Golan Heights – a territory toward which the UK Government, in keeping with UN Resolution 497, rejects Israel’s claim of sovereignty. Officially, the UK views the Golan Heights as illegally occupied Syrian land. What happened has been commented on heavily since in the media and among government circles; such conversations have raised the implications of this breach of protocol for UK politics, the question of a tacit acceptance on the part of the UK for Patel to meet the various interlocutors, subsequent questions about collusion between the UK and Israeli governments and concerns about a lack of accountability to British taxpayers[1]. I would like to consider the Patel case from the perspective of a former aid worker in the occupied Palestinian territory. My main focus is how this case affects existing aid beneficiaries, in this case Palestinians, and what the impact of this public lack of impartiality and neutrality on humanitarian aid and aid workers will be. Continue reading

Women and war: after Afghanistan, there’s a chance to deploy gender-led approaches to conflict

(This blog was originally published at The Conversation)

By Hannah West

As a member of the Royal Navy, I never really thought that being a woman affected my work. Whether I was making safety decisions about flying helicopters or participating in operational planning, my contribution was listened to and respected.

I wasn’t sidelined or disadvantaged for being a woman in a military largely populated by men. I was just one of the team.

I joined Britannia Royal Naval College straight from school so I grew up in the institution. As a young recruit, I knuckled down to basic training and got on with it, accepting the history and tradition we were presented with. It’s true that we were surrounded by men – as instructors, commanders and famous historical figures – but this seemed logical. I had joined a male dominated British organisation, so what did I expect?

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Regulating Across the Digital Divide

(This blog was originally published at Project Syndicate)

By Shamel Azmeh

The increasing digitization of the global economy is changing how products and services are produced, distributed, and sold across borders. Technologies like cloud computing, artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, and “smart devices” are spawning new industries, and revolutionizing old ones.

But, while these changes could bring important benefits, the speed of digitization has also created daunting governance challenges, both within and across countries. Existing global rules – embedded in multilateral, regional, and bilateral trade and investment agreements – are being challenged by the new processes that digitization is enabling.

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Beyond ‘Send Money Home’: The Complex Gender Dynamics Behind Mobile Money Usage

(This blog was originally published at Next Billion)

By Susan Johnson

In spite of the rise of mobile money in sub-Saharan Africa, just 12 percent of people age 15 and older now have a mobile account, compared with 29 percent who have an account at a formal institution. But the gender gap for mobile money accounts is lower than that for formal accounts; women have 7.6 percent less access than men to formal accounts (32.7 percent vs. 25.1 percent) but just 2.5 percent less access to mobile money (12.8 percent vs. 10.3 percent). More detailed regression findings for Kenya in particular show that gender is not a significant variable in determining access to mobile money accounts in Kenya – though it is for formal financial institution accounts.

This is surprising. For information and communication technologies generally, the evidence suggests that gender gaps are significant, with the World Bank reporting that women are 50 percent less likely than men to use the internet in Africa and significantly less likely to use cell phones. So the question is: Why is mobile money different?

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Should Business Take the Lead in Promoting Wellbeing?

(This blog was originally published at Network of Wellbeing)

By Sarah White

In a world where many of the largest economies in the world are companies rather than countries, it is vital that businesses see social and environmental responsibility as core to their everyday practice.

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(This blog was originally published at Borderlands Asia)

By Oliver Walton

“It is true that Hambantota is the periphery and is in need of development. However, we should not blame people (from the centre). We must portray the periphery as a partner. Not as a hotbed of resistance”

The quotation comes from an interview with a prominent local businessman and political figure from Hambantota, a district in the deep south of Sri Lanka. Like many local leaders from marginal districts, this individual performs a complex role – balancing a concern with garnering support and resources from politicians and businesspeople at the centre, with a need to maintain the trust and confidence of his own constituency in the district. Continue reading