On a warm Friday evening in May, we joined 130 of our fellow postgraduate students on fieldwork from the Global Development Institute at our hotel in Paris, France. We had gathered to meet two outstanding alumni of The University of Manchester and get career advice. Most of us were initially a little sceptical. Could two very successful men from different countries with very different pathways from most of us really give us relevant insights into how to succeed in our careers?
As the speakers introduced themselves, we got to know Mr. Getachew Engida, Deputy Director-General of UNESCO and Mr. Christopher Sharrock, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the OECD, both now settled in Paris and remarkable members of the Manchester alumni network. Our initial thoughts quickly gave way as we listened in. read more…
Dr Tom Gillespie joined GDI in January 2017 as Lecturer in International Development, and holds a PhD from the University of Leeds. His research looks at urban development, and we chatted with him about how that research relates to global inequalities and his upcoming fieldwork in Accra, Ghana.
What does your research focus on?
I study global urban development. We live in an increasingly urban world, and this raises important questions about who and what cities are for. I’m interested in how people living in cities use urban space and how those uses become threatened as this same space becomes an increasingly valuable commodity and a target for speculative activities. I’m also interested in how city dwellers take collective action to defend their access to urban space. All of this relates to the question of whether cities are for people or for profit.
Why is urban development an important topic to research?
Rapid urbanisation around the world is raising pressing questions about how are we are going to house growing urban populations and provide them with decent work, sanitation, water, and so on. And this is often particularly challenging in the Global South, where, in some cases, urban growth is occurring without industrialisation. This means that when people move into cities, there may not be job opportunities for them. In addition, in many cities in the Global South both state and market have failed to provide low-income city dwellers with decent housing and basic services. It is increasingly important that we understand and get to grips with these issues as we now live in a world in which more people live in urban than rural areas. read more…
Dr Cathy Wilcock – Migration Lab Co-ordinator and Researcher
The Manchester International Festival 2017 is in full swing. The festival specialises in commissioning new creative work and each year Manchester hosts world premieres of original work. At MIF17, the commissioned works have been based around four themes, one of which is ‘migration, movement and debate’. ToGather, Returning to Reims, One of Two Stories or Both, the Welcoming Party, What is the City but the People? all tackle issues of home, belonging, borders and identity.
As well as their international commissions, the festival has also commissioned 50 Manchester-based artists to produce short digital works which respond to the festival’s main programme. My secret life as a songwriter and musician enabled me to take part as one of the ‘Creative50’. This gave me an opportunity to combine my two main interests: migration research and song-writing. These two activities have always uneasily co-existed for me. As an early career researcher on a temporary contract, I realise that spending spare time on anything but writing journal articles is poor strategy. Nevertheless, this MIF commission gave me the chance to try both hats on at once, and to see if my artistic projects and research could combine somehow.
For my first commission, I made a poem and accompanying video in response to What is the city but the people? Through engaging with the research of those at UoM working on ‘home’, it was important to me to avoid romanticising Manchester. A home is not always perfect and Manchester has its flaws. In many ways, the negative stereotypes of the city do live out. Despite this, there is often a pseudo-divine out-pouring of love for Manchester which I wanted to explore and tenderly poke fun at. Similarly, there is an interesting ‘unplacing’ of ‘home’ in migration research and I wanted to play on this. In the poem, the places of Manchester are hidden in puns. This is partly a cheeky game but it also is my way of unsettling and playfully deriding the notion of ‘place’ as it relates to ‘home’. read more…
By Nadine Suliman
If I was told a year ago that I will be living in Bangladesh for a few months to research climate change and development issues, I wouldn’t have believed it. But then I was encouraged by my thesis supervisor, Dr Joanne Jordan, to apply to be a Visiting Researcher at the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) at the Independent University of Bangladesh. It didn’t take me long to send my application after considering the possibilities that could arise from the six month post, which I began in January after finishing my Master’s degree at the Global Development Institute at The University of Manchester.
It was the perfect opportunity for me after my Master’s, giving me a glimpse of the professional career world, while still maintaining my ties to academia. Having pursued the climate change and development pathway at the Global Development Institute, Bangladesh seemed like the ideal place to be in at the start of my career.
My knowledge of Bangladesh was limited to the few lectures where we discussed the country’s vulnerability to climate change and its overall development status. It seemed unique in comparison to any country I have ever been to, but very far outside my comfort zone. read more…
Jaco Renken, Lecturer, Information and Communication Technology for Development, Global Development Institute
Are there any benefits to be derived from a regional network that would not readily emanate from a smaller institution-based or a wider global research network?
Colleagues from the Manchester Centre for Development Informatics (CDI) and the Sheffield Digital Technologies, Data and Innovation group (DDI) co-organised an inaugural workshop on the 23rd of June to launch such a regional network for ICT4D researchers in the north of England. Twenty-four participants, from six regional institutions[i], gathered in Manchester to share their research interests and build connections. Following this one day networking event, I have concluded that not all research networks are equal; unique benefits can be derived from a meso-level, regional research network. Here are my reasons : read more…
The composition of global inequality is changing. Between-country inequalities, although vast, are mostly falling, while the relative share of within-country inequalities within global inequalities is increasing – what David Hulme and I have recently synthesised as patterns of ‘converging divergence’. New geographies of development are emerging across economic, human and environmental aspects, challenging an assumed divide of a rich, developed North and a poor, developing South. Moreover, it is questionable how much of international development, or its study, would fit with an association of development aid from the Global North to “the poor” in the Global South, driven by a moral geography of charity. While David and I, following others such as Charles Gore, have suggested we may be moving towards an era of global development, we have few elaborations yet as to what that would involve.
Uma Kothari, David Hulme and I recently hosted a small group of leading (mostly UK-based) development researchers to discuss and debate ‘global development’, attempting to understand and explore what it is and its implications. As highlighted below, a lot of questions were raised, with productive scepticism as well as excitement as part of an emerging and intriguing debate as to what global development may involve.
During refugee week, the Migration Lab hosted a newspaper writing workshop that produced ‘Not the Fake News about refuge and asylum. Written in one day by a group of displaced people in collaboration with Manchester-based journalists and migration researchers from The University of Manchester’s Migration Lab, this paper offers real stories of refuge and asylum by the people who have direct experience of these issues and those who research them. It has been delivered to various cafes, museums and libraries around the city and readers are encouraged to pass it on once they have read it. Copies have reached places as far flung as Lancaster and London. For more information and to download a copy, click here.
What are the relationships between ageing, depression, non-communicable diseases and disabilities in South Africa?
By Manoj K. Pandey, Vani S. Kulkarni and Raghav Gaiha
Old age is often characterised by poor health due to isolation, morbidities and disabilities in carrying out activities of daily living (DADLs), which lead to depression. Mental disorders – in different forms and intensities – affect most of the population in their lifetime. In most cases, people experiencing mild episodes of depression or anxiety deal with them without disrupting their productive activities. A substantial minority of the population, however, experiences more disabling conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder type I, severe recurrent depression, and severe personality disorders. Accordingly, a more nuanced and accurate picture of the mental health-related burden is crucial to effective allocation of resources and appropriately designed health systems in response to the nature and the scale of these challenges.
Motivated by these concerns, the latest GDI Working Paper “What are the relationships between ageing, depression, non-communicable diseases and disabilities in South Africa?” focuses on the determinants of depression among the over 60s in South Africa. Much of the recent literature offers an assessment of the influence of demographic, ethnic, living arrangements, marital status, morbidity, ADL limitations (or DADLs) but in a piecemeal and ad hoc manner using a specification that is neither comprehensive nor rigorous. In addition, several studies rely on a single cross-section or a single wave of the National Income Dynamics Study (SA-NIDS) which doesn’t allow incorporation of individual unobservable effects. Such effects are potentially significant as it is frequently observed that there is considerable variation in depressive symptoms even when old persons suffer from a common non-communicable disease and DADL.
Chronic and transient poverty in El Salvador: What are their determinants and how to better fight against poverty
By Werner Peña
The situation of being in poverty can be experienced by households with different intensities over time: some can be trapped in poverty while others can move in or out from it from time to time. These differing experiences allow for the differentiation between chronic poverty and transient poverty. Chronic poverty means living in deprivation for long periods of time. On the other side, transient poverty means being vulnerable to risks that can cause households to fall into poverty. Thus, to better understand poverty, it is important to analyse the characteristics and determinants of these two faces of the same coin. To carry out this exercise, in a recent GDI Working Paper, I analysed the determinants of chronic and transient poverty in El Salvador.
The analysis was based on the construction of two un-intended panel data at household level using the main Salvadoran household survey, one for the period 2008-2009 and another for the period 2009-2010. The proposed determinants of chronic and transient poverty were grouped in five categories: demographic characteristics, access to economic resources, educational characteristics, labour characteristics and residence characteristics. The econometric techniques were the multinomial logit model and simultaneous quantile regression. read more…