Laying foundations for the future — emerging social welfare programs in Southern Africa, book review by Stefan Granlund

During the spring term I taught African Studies at Uppsala University. Students created a blog Uppsala African Reviews where they published reviews of books with a focus on contemporary African issues. Stefan Granlund was one of the students.

Give a Man a Fish: Reflections on the new politics of distribution

by James Ferguson
Duke University Press, 2015

More and more voices today reflect and discuss giving money directly to people living in poverty as a poverty alleviation tool. It gets mentioned in articles and blog posts in e.g Washington Post, in scientific articles by researchers and social justice activists, and economists and technocrats from left to right advocates it (Hickel 2015, Bregman 2013). In the development arena, social protection (in this case meaning cash transfers to people living in poverty) is today a firmly established concept within different actors such as the World Bank, the ILO, UNICEF but also civil society organisations. It’s rise in developing countries have for the last 15 years been remarkable (De Haan 2014, Barrientos et al. 2010). While there is significant differences betweens regions and countries in the design of the programmes, the trend is clear. Social protection in low and middle income countries is on the up. It is no longer an exclusivity for richer welfare nations in the West. Continue reading

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Can you win a war on Facebook? By Simon Turner

Recently, I have been trying to keep up with the situation in Bujumbura, the capital city of Burundi in light of the protests and the violence. And while mainstream Western media only mention the situation sporadically, Burundians are busy on social media like Facebook and Twitter. I am struck by the amount of detail that is uploaded every day. It is as if every single arrest is documented, place, name and time recorded and spread through social media together with photos and video clips, recorded on smart phones. Not only do the updates seem to cover a lot of ground and document as many incidents as possible; they are also uploaded so fast that we almost can follow the events in real time – in front of our screens in our offices, on the train to work or at home. The various groups posting these pictures and updates such as ‘Journalistes Et Societé Civile En Danger De Mort Au Burundi’ appear thus to be pretty media savvy and up beat in the social media. The question then whether social media and mobile phones make a big difference. Is the present online, real-time coverage having an impact on the nature of the conflict? In order to answer this, let us go back in time and see how power, violence and media have played themselves out in Burundi’s tumultuous past. Continue reading

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Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How there is Another Way for Africa’ — Book Review by Thomas Perring

During the spring term I taught African Studies at Uppsala University. Students created a blog Uppsala African Reviews where they published reviews of books with a focus on contemporary African issues. Thomas Perring is one of the students.

Dambisa Moyo, Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is Another Way for Africa, Penguin Books (2010), ISBN 978–0–141–03118–7

Branded as a ‘polemic’ by The Guardian, international economist Dambisa Moyo, in her book Dead Aid, aims to prove that the aid system put in place for Africa does not work and is — contrarily to popular thought within ‘Western’ countries — damaging for the African continent. Despite at least $1 trillion of foreign aid being transferred to Africa in the past 60 years, Moyo suggests that the ‘high hopes and ambitions’ of early independence have been replaced with juxtaposing notions of ‘near destitution and renewed dependency’ (p. 19). Continue reading

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Liberia: The Violence of Democracy, a book review by Elin Carlsson

During the spring term I taught African Studies at Uppsala University. Students created a blog Uppsala African Reviews where they published reviews of books with a focus on contemporary African issues. Elin Carlsson is one of the students.

Mary H. Moran. Ethnograpy of Political Violence : Liberia : The Violence of Democracy. Philadelphia, PA, USA: University of Pennsylvania Press. 2006.
199 pp. ISBN 9780812220285.

In her book ”Liberia: The violence of Democracy”, the american anthropologist Mary Moran explores a phenomenon that has been widely discussed by several scholars of different areas of study; democracy. Moran puts democracy in a different shed of light as she challenge the popular western view of violence and democracy as two separate ontological states. According to Moran there is no such separation. There is violence in democracy as well as there is democracy in violence, a thesis which she intends to prove through the lens of Liberia. Continue reading

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A review of Maria Eriksson Baaz and Maria Sterns book Sexual violence as a weapon of war? Perceptions, prescriptions, problems in the Congo and beyond, by Nadja Piiroinen (2015).

During the spring term I taught African Studies at Uppsala University. Students created a blog Uppsala African Reviews where they published reviews of books with a focus on contemporary African issues. Nadja Piiroinen is one of the students.

As a feminist I have had many reasons to feel hopeful during the last few years. As a consumer of entertainment I’ve watched Tina Fey and Amy Poehler slay the last three Golden Globes, Taylor Swift make a 180, going from ignorant to feminist-spokes person with her now bff Lena Dunham, I’ve binged through SVT‘s Full Patte twice, and I cried as Beyoncé, standing tall in front giant letters spelling out the word feminist, became a gif, not talk about the whole Emma Watson amazingness. As a Swede I have seen a growing political movement for mainstreaming an intersectional feminist agenda, I’ve seen that movement intimidate the political establishment to include more feminist talking points, to form a ‘feminist government’, and appointing a minister of foreign affairs that has promised a ‘feminist’ foreign policy. These are some of the examples that have opened up for my hopefulness and enthusiasm, the atmosphere feels changed, and not just in Sweden anymore, slowly but surely being a feminist in Hollywood is going from taboo to norm, and personally, I’m loving it. Continue reading

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Things are never going to be the same again? Burkina Faso after the brush-up, by Cristiano Lanzano

Plus rien ne sera comme avant (things are never going to be the same again)! The slogan cried by protesters in the streets of Ouagadougou and other cities of Burkina Faso last October, right before the fall of Blaise Compaoré’s regime, appeared here and there in casual conversations – but this time, colored with irony. A power blackout lasting longer than usual, a workers’ strike stopping the distribution of beer all around the country, the new academic year starting with a few months delay: all everyday events and problems could become an opportunity to reflect, joke or complain on what the transitional government (leading the country until new elections scheduled for next October) had, or had not, accomplished.

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Burundi: after the coup attempt, by Gudrun Sif Fridriksdottir

A month ago, on the 25th April the CNDD-FDD, the ruling party in Burundi, announced its presidential candidate for the upcoming elections scheduled for June 26. To nobody’s surprise the candidate was Pierre Nkurunziza, the current President who has already served for two terms. This decision was met with heavy protests in the streets of Bujumbura, also to nobody’s surprise. These were the two events that had been predicted and anticipated since long before my arrival in the country early this year. How things would evolve from there was anyone’s guess. But I feel like few people actually thought the protests would last this long, be this organised, and this determined. Now we have witnessed a month of protests, about 30 dead, hundreds injured. And on the 13th of this month there was the failed coup attempt. Continue reading

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