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Tag: Nicholas Kristof

The Ethical Obligations of Writing About Poverty and Conflict

The Ethical Obligations of Writing About Poverty and Conflict

I. A Long Way Gone The other day I finished reading “A Long Way Gone”, the autobiography of Ishmael Beah, a child soldier during the country’s civil in the 1990’s. After his village was attacked by the rebel army known as the RUF (Revolutionary United Front), Beah remained in a small town called Mattru Jong, before fleeing another attack. Eventually, he made his way across the country to a village controlled by the national army, where he becomes a drug-addicted…

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Films about Africa: “Blood Diamond”

Films about Africa: “Blood Diamond”

I watched the film “Blood Diamond” for the first time the other day.  For those who have not seen it, the movie is graphic, placing the horror of armed conflict in Africa on full display.  The director does not seem to pull any punches in terms of violence, choosing to show child soldiers doing drugs and killing women and other children.  The main storyline, however, tracks the odyssey of Danny Archer, a white mercenary from Rhodesia played by Leonardo DiCaprio,…

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The Unintended Consequences of Female Empowerment

The Unintended Consequences of Female Empowerment

In social sciences, unintended consequences are outcomes that are different from those expected.  In development, unintended consequences are common, and often negative by nature. As a generalization, there are two approaches to development: top-down and bottom-up.  The top-down approach, favored by Jeffrey Sachs, calls for a prescriptive methodology – government-to-government aid, debt relief, and targeted interventions designed to reduce poverty and increase incomes.  The best example of the top-down approach in action is the Millenium Villages Project (read about it…

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Nicholas Kristof and the Marketing of Development

Nicholas Kristof and the Marketing of Development

The other day I listened to an interview with Nicholas Kristof on the role of storytelling in development and its importance for advancing the cause.  Kristof has received a lot of flak from development bloggers for oversimplifying issues and focusing the narrative around a single, white, typically American protagonist.   In doing so, Kristof misrepresents the problem, which leads his readers to believe that, for example, Western sex tourists are the reason for child prostitution in Cambodia, or diamond mining is…

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The Awareness Dilemma: How Nicholas Kristof Gets Us to Care

The Awareness Dilemma: How Nicholas Kristof Gets Us to Care

For those who do not know, Nicholas Kristof is an incurable optimist who writes a column for the New York Times on aid, development, foreign policy, and all things related.  In a video posted to his blog, he took questions from readers.  The author of one development blog point out that most of Kristof’s articles follow a standard narrative that: “one that often focused on the foreign, typically American “savior” helping the poor Africans in need, to the exclusion of…

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