February 2011 Archives

All IPID Potluck and Documentary Night

Date: March 3
Time: 6:00 pm to 8:45 pm
Location: Peter Ehresmann's house

Hosted at the home of IPID's Interim President and programming committee co-chair, Peter Ehresmann

Come and meet your fellow IPID members and officers!  IPID's Interim President, Peter Ehresmann (MDP 2012), will be hosting an evening of informal socializing and critical discussion on international development. The night will feature a viewing of the documentary, Good Fortune (2009), about Kibera slum in Nairobi Kenya, where Peter spent summer 2003 as a Human Rights Fellow interning with an active non-violence NGO.  60% of Nairobi lives in slums, but the political situation is extremely complicated with no clear solutions. This documentary's critical view of development is the epitome of "Development Reconsidered."  This will be a great and engaging way to wrap up your week, so don't miss it! BYOB and a dish to share.  If you need a ride, contact Peter (ehres014@umn.edu), otherwise bicycling from campus is only 25min and the bus system gets within 5 blocks or so.

Evening Itinerary:

6:00pm - drinks, food prep, mingling
6:30 - dinner
7:30 - watch Documentary:  Good Fortune
8:45 - discussion

About Good Fortune:

Many African communities are in worse shape despite trillions of foreign aid dollars aimed at ending world poverty. Good Fortune, a provocative new documentary, explores the possibility that this failure may not be despite the best efforts of Western do-gooders, but sometimes because of them.


Good Fortune explores how massive international efforts to alleviate poverty in Africa may be undermining the very communities they aim to benefit. Through intimate portraits of two Kenyans battling to save their homes from large-scale development organizations, the film presents a unique opportunity to experience foreign aid through the people it is intended to benefit.

Watch the Trailer at: http://www.goodfortunefilm.com/
Date: February 25
Time: 12:00-1:00 pm
Location: Room 70, Minnesota Population Center (Willey Hall)

The next IPID talk will be on Friday, February 25th at 12:00 noon in Room 70 of the Minnesota Population Center (50 Willey Hall).  All are welcome!  Click here for a campus map.

Portrayals of women with disabilities living in poverty often focus on their status as victims: victims of abuse, neglect, discrimination, scarcity, systems, and circumstances.  Often, the goal is to visibilize suffering and injustice they face on a regular basis.  The goal of this visibilization, at least from a Western stance, is to bring attention to these women so that their lives can be improved.  But are these portrayals themselves victimizing?

This discussion compares portrayals of women with disabilities living in poverty from multiple sources: advocacy organizations, film, scholarly research, and INGO reports.  Portrayals from the global south and global north tend to differ in their representation: from the north, Human Rights Watch shows women with disabilities as marginalized and vulnerable; in the south, African filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambety makes a young disabled girl the spunky protagonist in a short film about street children.  On one hand, these portayals victimize and on the other, they empower.

How the field of international development responds to women with disabilities living in poverty is often based on how it perceives them.  What are the larger consequences of these portrayals, and, more broadly, how do representations of the impoverished 'other' shape the activities and outcomes of international development?

In preparation for the talk, please read and view these quick resources (but come even if you don't!)

Human Rights Watch.  "As if We Weren't Human: Discrimination and Violence Against Women with Disabilities in Uganda." August 2010.  http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2010/08/24/if-we-weren-t-human
Read the intro, summary and recommendations (also, look at the images throughout the report).

Kiani, S. (2009). Women with disabilities in the North West province of Cameroon: Resilient and deserving of greater attention. Disability & Society , 24 (4), 517-531. (Kiani.pdf)

Clip (3:47) of "La Petite Vendeuse de Soleil (The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun)" film by Djibril Diop Mambety

Critical review - "La Petite Vendeuse de Soleil (The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun)" film by Djibril Diop Mambety

Clip (2:38) of "Advocacy (Liberia): Young Voices Campaign"

Browse website: Stars of Hope Palestine (when I just checked the webpage the site was down, but the intro page is worth viewing.  Hopefully this is a temporary glitch)

Discussion questions:

-What kind of linkages exist between portrayals of victims and models of charity? How do these linkages help or hurt the so-called "victims"?

-What are the implications of combining two historical victim identities - gender (women) and disability?  Once a person is perceived as a victim, is there any way out of that categorization?

-Visibilization of "invisible" problems often deliberately seeks to "shock" people into action.  This is evident in the tactics of many human rights organizations.  But, what is the desired end of visibilization and when does it become sensationalized spectacle?  What does it mean for the women in these articles and images to have their vulnerabilities so exposed?

-Portrayals of empowerment are encouraging and uplifting, but do they also have consequences? If so, what?

-There are many associations between disability and poverty, but is the reaction of the international development field to people with disabilities making disability itself a form of poverty? (think about Sen's capability approach and people with disabilities' perceived lack of capabilities) 

Date: February 4
Time: 12:00-1:00 pm
Location: Room 70, Minnesota Population Center (Willey Hall)

The next IPID talk will be on Friday, February 4th at 12:00 noon in Room 70 of the Minnesota Population Center (50 Willey Hall).  All are welcome!  Click here for a campus map.

The topic will be: "How free are we?  Lifestyle choice, global responsibility, the end goal of development, and the meaning of life."  Peter Ehresmann from the new Master of International Development Practice (MDP) program at the Humphrey Institute will be the host. 

In preparation for the talk, please read these short articles (but come either way!):

1) Ehresmann, Peter.  "Life as Freedom: A critique of Sen." (October 2010).  Unpublished. (Sen - Life as Freedom - A critque of Sen (Peter Ehresmann) Oct 2010.doc)
a.      (If needed) A brief summary of Amartya Sen's Development as Freedom book: http://dannyreviews.com/h/Development_Freedom.html

3)  Two VERY short news articles about the dramatic increase of 1,000 and now 2,000 new cars on the road in Beijing every day.
Huang, S. & Wills, K. "China grapples to reduce cars in congested Beijing."  (2010, December 8).  http://in.reuters.com/article/idINIndia-53425920101208
BBC.  "Record car ownership in Beijing." (2008, January 14).    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7186635.stm

5) The Story of Stuff 20 min video www.storyofstuff.com  (if you haven't watched it already)

Discussion Questions:
1)     Cars in China: How much freedom does one really have to live the life one wants?
2)     The trend of older generations in the US assuming their children will have a better quality of life than they had is changing.  Is this necessarily bad and cause for doom and gloom?  Is it really possible to continually improve the human condition (The Redistribution of Hope)?  What does it look like and how can we measure it?  GDP, HDI, Happiness, Social Capital..?  That is, what ought the end goal of international development be?
a.      Sen answers in Development as Freedom that every person ought to be able to have the freedom to choose to live the kind of life they deem worth living.  Is this socially, economically, and environmentally possible?

3)     How might we really develop into a global society that sustainably follows Sen's "Development as Freedom" or "Life as Freedom"?  

4)     Freedom VS. The Global Responsibility of Lifestyle Choice: If everyone cannot live at an average US level, on what ethical basis should I?  How ought I to spend my life and in what kind of lifestyle?
"Am I more important than another person, so selfish as to knowingly use significantly more than my fair share of global resources that both denies others their Senian freedom (and arguably their right) to their fair share of global resources, to not change my lifestyle?  Am I too pretentious to bicycle, take mass transit, or carpool instead of driving a car alone?  What if every Chinese and Indian drove their own car to work or school every day, let alone everyone in the world?  Am I now encroaching on your freedom to drive a car?  Or are car drivers encroaching on our freedoms to clean air, less climate change, a viable future for our posterity, and the security of saving some oil for our future?  What about the people who would lose their jobs at the automobile plant if we all stopped buying cars, is that reason enough to continue buying?  Who's freedom is "more equal" than others'?"  (Ehresmann)

5)     How do you imagine a reformed sustainable world economy of the future?  What does it look like?

6)     The richest countries are not necessarily the happiest countries.  How might we reassess the underlying assumption that developed countries should become more like developed countries if they want to improve?  Are there lessons for the developed world from developing countries - truths about life and happiness - that have been lost?
7)     What is the future of the West (US) with a rising BRIC (Brazil, India, China)?
8)     Can capitalism, now via Multi-National Corporations, lead to sustainability, social justice, and peace?


12:00-12:15pm Introduction of the topic.

12:15-12:50pm Structured discussion. 

12:50-1:00pm   Last thoughts.

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