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Critical visions of development from the Global Development Institute: Uniting the strengths of IDPM and BWPI.

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Can artistic endeavours enhance research? Migration Lab at the MIF17

Can artistic endeavours enhance research? Migration Lab at the MIF17

Dr Cathy Wilcock – Migration Lab Co-ordinator and Researcher

This post originally appeared on the Migration Lab blog

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…

The value of stepping outside your comfort zone: a journey to discovery at the ICCCAD in Dhaka

The value of stepping outside your comfort zone: a journey to discovery at the ICCCAD in Dhaka

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…

Launch of ICT4D Research Network in the North of England

Launch of ICT4D Research Network in the North of England

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…

Gradually unpacking “global development”

Gradually unpacking “global development”

Dr Rory Horner, Lecturer in Globalisation and Political Economy

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.

read more…

Not the Fake News

Not the Fake News

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.

Stephen Kingston, one of the journalists involved in the project, has written the below article about the paper. It originally appeared in the Salford Star and has been re-blogged here. read more…

What are the relationships between ageing, depression, non-communicable diseases and disabilities in South Africa?

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

Read the working paper: What are the relationships between ageing, depression, non-communicable diseases and disabilities in South Africa?

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.

read more…

Chronic and transient poverty in El Salvador: What are their determinants and how to better fight against poverty

Chronic and transient poverty in El Salvador: What are their determinants and how to better fight against poverty

By Werner Peña

Read  Werner Peña’s working paperWhat are the determinants of chronic and transient poverty in El Salvador?’

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…

Dr Saman Kelegama: scholar, policy influencer and caring human being

Professor David Hulme pays tribute to Dr Saman Kelegama

The sad news of Dr Saman Kelegama’s untimely death had shocked friends and academic collaborators across the world. At Manchester, as elsewhere, we feel the loss. Our condolences go out to all of his family and colleagues – we understand how deeply you will grieve.

Saman had been Sri Lanka’s leading economist and public policy analyst since the 1990s. He directed the Institute of Policy Studies in Colombo for many years until his death, applying his sharp intellect and well heeled diplomatic skills to ensure evidence and careful analysis informed debates about economic and social conditions across the country. He was a real scholar, thinking deeply about theory, methods, data and analysis, while feeding ‘useful knowledge’ into national policy debates at times that were often very politically charged.

The loss is not just for Sri Lanka – it is felt deeply across South Asia and amongst all who study the region. Saman was a leading member of the region’s economic associations and policy analysis networks, thinking carefully about the work of colleagues and constructively guiding them into more rigorous and accurate studies and developing regional perspectives.

Beyond his academic and policy work, Dr Saman Kelegama was a kind and caring human being. My professional image of Saman is of him presenting excellent papers at scholarly meetings. My personal memory of Saman will be of cups of tea in the garden of the Galle Face Hotel in the 1990s, gently mulling over ideas about the ways in which human progress might be achieved across the world.

 

Read further reflections from the Institute for Policy Studies staff.

 

Note: This article gives the views of the author/academic featured and does not represent the views of the Global Development Institute as a whole.

UK political parties are shifting from ‘international’ to ‘global’ development

UK political parties are shifting from ‘international’ to ‘global’ development

By Dr Eleni Sifaki, Research Associate, Global Development Institute

The geography of global development in the 21st century is shifting. Horner and Hulme call for a shift in academic development studies and development policy from ‘international development’ to ‘global development’ to address emerging global inequalities that transform dichotomies between developed and developing world.

Today the world is faced with global development challenges that transcend North/South divisions such as climate change and the refugee crisis. The 2015 SDGs reflect this change in understanding of development, as they are universal, applying to all countries irrespective of their development status.

In light of this shift in the geography and consequently the understanding of development, I have been working with David Hulme to examine the extent to which political parties in the UK have a) shifted from ‘international’ development to a recognition of ‘global’ development in response to economic, environmental and social challenges, and b) the extent of their commitment to global development. read more…

How can development academics help change the world?

How can development academics help change the world?

Chris Jordan, Communications and Impact Manager, Global Development Institute

For most development-focused academics, the main reason they join the profession is to contribute towards positive social change.  Contrary to the increasingly outdated image of out of touch academics, IDS’s James Georgalakis recently observed, “hard as I look, I can’t see any ivory towers – only scientists desperately worried about fake news, academic freedoms and results-based research agendas.”

Traditionally, many joined Development Studies departments following years of practice in NGOs and international organisations, seeking the space to inform or challenge the broader intellectual frameworks that guide development, rather than working on individual projects. The academics I work with at the Global Development Institute are incredibly well networked, attuned to the big issues on the horizon and motivated to do something about them.

But despite the practical orientation of development studies and the intrinsic drive of most academics working within the discipline, it’s not always clear exactly how academics with particular specialisms, at different stages of their career, can most effectively contribute to changing the world for the better.

Academics in the UK are now working in a context in which ‘Impact’ is demanded more and more by donors and assessment agencies. There are clear benefits to this agenda, which helps to raise the status of engaged, problem-solving research and can provide the resources researchers need to ensure their ideas gain traction beyond academia. But there’s also a risk that the impact agenda ends up instrumentalising research, possibly squeezing out the potential for more conceptual and theoretical work.     read more…

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