Heres information on one event and publication that may be of interest to VPD cluster members, from work I was involved in recently.
The report ‘Paradoxes of Presence: risk management and aid culture in challenging environments’ will be presented at the ODI on Friday 8 November (not sure of the time), based on fieldwork in South Sudan and Afghanistan.
A brief description:
The international policy context and circumstances of development action and humanitarian relief have changed profoundly over the past two decades, with aid agencies now operating in an increasingly diverse array of conflict-affected contexts that are also considered by Western governments as major threats to international peace and security.

The rapid expansion of the aid industry at every level – geographical reach, funding, the number and variety of organisations involved has led to a blurring of the lines between the many different types of contractors and service providers involved. Aid agencies have inevitably experienced the friction and tensions this can engender, including their exposure to insecurity and other risks to a degree that is probably unprecedented, prompting substantial new investment in security management and a proliferation of security-related networks, inter-agency platforms, joint UN/NGO initiatives, good practice guides and security-related consultancy work.

The organisational, ethical, personal and financial difficulties involved in working in challenging environments, and the fundamental tension between ‘staying’ and ‘staying safe’, suggests that bunkerisation and remote management are an unstoppable trend.

The paper argues that recognising the liabilities associated with staying and delivering depends on agencies adopting a broadened risk agenda that is not confined to the immediate preoccupations of ostensibly manageable security risks, but which encompasses attention to the host of interconnected challenges and hazards involved.

The report can be downloaded at: 

*Humanitarianism: Past trends / future directions *

*This** summer series of talks at SOAS **will bring together academics and
practitioners to **discuss trends in humanitarian relief efforts and recent
contributions to humanitarian studies. Over the course of five days we will*
* **chart the evolution of humanitarianism, look at current developments
and tensions and seek to identify future directions and possibilities. **The
week will conclude with a panel of representatives of aid agencies invited
to address future challenges to humanitarian relief across borders on the
basis of their respective mandates and achievements.*

* *

*Monday 3rd June*

2-4pm B111:

Eleanor Davey (ODI Humanitarian Policy Group).

*History and Humanitarianism*

* *

*Tuesday 4th June*

2-4pm B111:

Professor Raymond Apthorpe.

*Why ‘aidand’ is a useful concept for anthropology and humanitarian studies*

* *

*Wednesday 5th June*

2-4pm FB01:

Dr Zoe Marriage

*Formal Peace and Informal War*

* *

*Thursday 6th June*

2-4pm B111:

Professor Johan Pottier

*When the evidence is ‘out there’: reflections on independent research in
Rwanda and eastern DRC*


*Friday 7th June*

2-4pm G51:

Panel including Mona Sadek (ICRC), Anne-Meike Fechter (Sussex),and others
to be announced.

*Future Challenges: where now for Humanitarianism?*


*Free and Open to All.*

Convened by Raymond Apthorpe (SOAS), Richard Axelby (SOAS) and Martin Webb (


Africa Research Day 2013


University of London


Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, SOAS


Monday 29 April 2013








9:30-9:45 Opening Address:



Professor Richard Fardon, Head of Doctoral

School, SOAS-University of London



9:45-11:15 Panel 1:



Interdisciplinary research in Development contexts

Chair: tbc



Christian Laheji (LSE, Anthropology):


rationales and Islamic revival in northern Mozambique




Janna Miletzki (LSE, Human Geography):

Effect of

current refugee policies in Tanzania




Kevin Deane (SOAS, Economics):

Exploring the

relationship between population mobility and HIV risk:


Insights from interdisciplinary PhD fieldwork in







Pritish Behuria (SOAS, Development Studies):


Invoking ‘Anti-Discipline’: Snowballing and Stumbling

through Fieldwork in Rwanda


11:15-11:30 TEA BREAK


11:30-1pm Panel 2:



Researching Violence and Personal Narratives

Chair: Dr Zoe Marriage, Development studies, SOAS



Donald Kuira Maingi (Birkbeck, History):


Narrative After Kenya’s Elections 2013




Gauthier Marchais (LSE):

The importance of honesty,

humour and friendship in doing research in Conflict


zones (Eastern Congo)




Samer Abdelnour (LSE, Management):


Reduce Rape’: Darfur Advocacy and the Global Panacea





Pamela Nzabampema (Bradford, Peace, Security &





Access to Justice and Security in South

Kivu: Ethical Dilemmas & Practical Issues of


Researching in a Conflict-prone Environment




1pm-2pm LUNCH


2pm-3pm Panel 3:



Research Methods: Music & Ethnography

Chair: Siham Rayale (PhD student, SOAS)



Cecile Bushidi (SOAS, History):

Researching Dance in

Africa: ethics, constraints and possiblities





Gemma Jones (LHSTM, Anthropologies of African





Hustling in the village: rural

predictabilities, tensions and the flow of life in Western






3pm-3:15pm Closing Remarks


The event is open to all University of London Research students as well as any other

member of staff. For more information and RSVP contact:



The Afro-Brazilian art of capoeira has transformed from a localised illegal activity to a global phenomenon. Better known for its somatic expression, capoeira uses music as a key source of continuity, individual and group identity, and resistance. As capoeira’s reach depends largely on digital technology and a globalised market, communication between the musicians and their audience has become diffuse and unbounded, and the market presents pressures on capoeira groups both to innovate (to produce more and different music) and to claim authenticity (generate scarcity). This paper examines contemporary digital recordings released by groups based in Salvador with respect to the functions that capoeira music has conventionally played. Specifically it asks: how is continuity mediated through the twin priorities of innovation and authenticity; how is identity relayed to a largely unknown group; and how are the messages of resistance packaged for a global audience? The paper draws conclusions about the contemporary construction of history through music, and how this affects the political sites and processes of contestation described by capoeira music.

My book, Formal Peace and Informal War. Security and Development in Congo, is out today! Published by Routledge

FPIW cover pic


Northern interventions into African countries at war are dominated by security concerns, bolstered by claims of shared returns and reinforcing processes of development and security. As global security and human security became prominent in development policy, Congo was wracked by violent rule, pillage, internal fighting, and invasion. In 2002, the Global and All-Inclusive Peace was promoted by northern donors, placing a formal peace on the mass of informalised wars.

Formal Peace and Informal War: Security and Development in Congo examines how the security interests of the Congolese population have interacted with those of northern donors. It explores Congo’s contemporary wars and the peace agreed on in 2002 from a security perspective and challenges the asserted commonality of the liberal interventions made by northern donors. It finds that the peace framed the multiple conflicts in Congo as a civil war and engineered a power-sharing agreement between elite belligerents. The book argues that the population were politically and economically excluded from the peace and have been subjected to control and containment when their security rests with power and freedom.

UNRISD food security and social protection: two sides of the same coin?

by Philippa Mcmahon – Monday, 11 March 2013, 11:32 PM

UNRISD discussion 19th March – session will be recorded and put online as a podcast. Perhaps of interest to some students?

 How to ensure that everybody has enough to eat in order to survive is one of the oldest development dilemmas. Food security was a dominant topic in the development discourse in the 1980s and 1990s, but it fell out of favour in the 2000s when social protection rose rapidly to prominence. Superficially, the two agendas seem to complement each other: food insecurity describes an inability to secure subsistence needs, and the mandate of social protection is to ensure that subsistence needs are met by public means whenever private means are inadequate. But how well is this mandate being fulfilled?

Stephen Devereux presents the evidence on whether social and productive safety net programmes and policies are successfully reducing food and nutrition insecurity across the globe. In his presentation he will draw on the June 2012 report Social protection for food security commissioned by the FAO’s Committee on World Food Security.


Entitlements and a rights-based approach

The report uses Amartya Sen’s entitlement approach as its analytical framework. Different social protection instruments are examined for their contribution to “production-based entitlements” (e.g. agricultural input subsidies), “labour-based entitlements” (public works programmes), “trade-based entitlements” (food price stabilisation, food subsidies) and “transfer-based entitlements” (school feeding, conditional and unconditional cash transfers).

Although the review is evidence-based, it is grounded in the right to adequate food and the right to social security. In his presentation Devereux argues that holistic systems of social protection are needed to ensure food security for all, and that social protection should be underpinned by

  • a framework law to establish a social contract between governments and citizens or residents, and
  • accountability mechanisms to make rights real and justiciable in social protection implementation.

He also endorses the rights-based social protection floor, but argues that it should be extended or complemented by a ‘food security floor’, to give greater and more explicit prominence to the right to food.

Stephen Devereux is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK, where he is affiliated with the Centre for Social Protection. He works mainly on social protection and food security in Africa. He was Team Leader for the High-Level Panel of Experts’ report on Social protection for food security commissioned by the FAO’s Committee on World Food Security.

Presentations this week!

Posted: March 4, 2013 by pmmcma in Uncategorized

Wednesday 6 March, 3pm-5pm, B320.
Philippa McMahon will be presenting: There’s no place like home: why labour markets are more important than private property rights in the development of Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Friday 8 March, 3-5pm, 266.
Claudia Seymour will be presenting on: Young people’s experiences of and means of coping with violence in North and South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo.