Ethics

African Philosophy

by David Week on 15 February 2016

Yesterday, I listened to an interview with Katrin Flikschuh of the London School of Economics. Brilliant. Wonderful. It was as if a door opened on a new universe. I’ve been working in international development since 1978. In the late 1980s I began to realise that there was something amiss in our standard cultural understanding of […]

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Democratic accountability

by David Week on 21 June 2014

This was originally published as a comment on this page. If you look at all the political economy of the aid industry, you’ll find that most NGOs and aid researchers are today servants of government. (Disclosure: me too.) Most of these governments—even those traditionally Labor or Social Democrat—now operate under a neoliberal intellectual regime. Most […]

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Beyond moralising about “poverty porn” and “profit”

by David Week 25 June 2013

Over on “KM on a dollar a day” Ian Thorpe has posted an argument about The Perils of Fundraising. Though I agree with his arguments against poverty porn, I don’t agree with his solution: that fundraising “follow” mission. This is like companies who think that marketing follows product design, otherwise known as the myth of […]

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The “developing country” double standard

by David Week 14 April 2012

This is a guest post by three authors: Tom Murphy, Carol Gallo and myself. It came from a conversation. Carol put the words together reporting that conversation, below: Once upon a time, David Week read an article in The Washington Post which revealed that Washington lawmakers not only accepted donations from contributors with a stake […]

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Three Cups of Skywalker

by David Week 6 August 2011

The furore around l’affaire Mortenson has died down. At its height, opinion and speculation filled the blogosphere. Some hoped Mortenson would make it through the flames. Some wrote of how he had inspired them to care. Others pointed out that his development model, based around school construction, was bad from day one; that anthropologists had […]

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The moral frame of development research

by David Week 22 July 2011

I’ve been reading a post by Tom Murphy entitled Aid’s God Complex and Bloggers Groupthink. Towards the end of the post, Tom says this: Critics of research will decry the wonky conversations that do not address the issues at hand. Some will say that things need to get done and it is a waste of resources […]

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Who guards the RCT guardians?

by David Week 27 May 2011

I just today read two good posts by @edwardrcarr, outlining a critique of RCTs based on the qual vs quant distinction: The Qualitative Research Challenge to RCT4D: Part 1 and Part 2. I agree with Ed’s points. My beefs are different. The main ones are: RCTs may well measure “if something worked”. But the tacit […]

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Gangsters, bullies, liars and thieves

by David Week 7 March 2011

I’m a fan of political correctness. As one wag put it, political correctness is just another word for being polite. If the citizens of Indian have renamed their city Mumbai, I’ll call it Mumbai, not Bombay. I call the ni Vanuatu the ni Vanuatu, not Vanuatans. I don’t refer to adult women as girls, except […]

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Eugene Smith, Albert Schweitzer, moral dilemmas, local knowledge

by David Week 27 January 2011

Eugene Smith I’m in Amsterdam, and yesterday I went with my daughter, and with a friend, to see a Eugene Smith exhibition at FOAM, Amsterdam’s photographic museum. Eugene Smith was an American photojournalist who documented WW2, and later worked for Life, and for Magnum. Some of his photographs are iconic, and you may recognise them: […]

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What Tolstoy said to the development worker

by David Week 6 October 2010

Games people play I find two there are two types of commentary on development which I find really push some kind of button with me. Ain’t It Awful The first is “the world is a mess, and it’s only getting worse, and nothing we’re doing is really going to fix it.” In 1964, the psychologist […]

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Questioning our poverty prejudices

by David Week 28 September 2010

Examining our own preconceptions MJ, in a comment here, says: It may be that they actually are happier than city slickers in Sydney, but your experiences do not amount to very much evidence. It’s true that my experience does not amount to evidence, but my experience did lead me to start looking very carefully at […]

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Poverty is not misery

by David Week 21 September 2010

Many events and situations can make people miserable: natural disasters, in which they lose their homes, livelihoods, and loved ones internment in refugee camps with uncertain futures and time frames conflicts in which they are daily put in fear of their lives. But poverty, in and on of itself, does not cause misery. I met a […]

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