From The Web – Transparency International

TransparencyOne global movement sharing one vision: a world in which government, business, civil society and the daily lives of people are free of corruption.
In 1993, a few individuals decided to take a stance against corruption and created Transparency International. Now present in more than 100 countries, the movement works relentlessly to stir the world’s collective conscience and bring about change. Much remains to be done to stop corruption, but much has also been achieved, including:
– the creation of international anti-corruption conventions
– the prosecution of corrupt leaders and seizures of their illicitly gained riches
– national elections won and lost on tackling corruption
– companies held accountable for their behaviour both at home and abroad.

GLOBAL REACH, LOCAL KNOWLEDGE
Through more than 100 national chapters worldwide and an international secretariat in Berlin, we work with partners in government, business and civil society to put effective measures in place to tackle corruption.

INDEPENDENT AND ACCOUNTABLE
We are politically non-partisan and place great importance on our independence. We alone determine our programmes and activities – no donor has any input into Transparency International’s policies. Our sources of funding are made transparent as is our spending.

Read more: http://www.transparency.org/

 

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Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar – The World Needs More Slums

nextcity.org – May, 7, 2013 – In a guest blog post, Indian journalist Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar argues that, contrary to their reputation for squalor and crime, slums provide a critical low-cost way for the rural poor to access a better life in cities.

What constitutes the perfect city? It’s easy to make a list of utopian must-haves: Electricity and water round the clock; unpolluted air; plentiful road space for cars, bicycles and pedestrians; good educational and health facilities; lots of parks and museums. Those with an institutional mindset will argue for elected mayors with strong tax and administrative powers, giving them independence from callous state capitals.

Photo – Shack Dwellers International – nextcity.org

No matter how desirable, such utopian longings fail to place cities in the context of a poor, rural society. Cities must not be elite islands in a rural sea of despond[dency]. They must provide income and social ladders for the poor and unskilled to climb up. Cities must be havens of opportunity for those without opportunity in rural and tribal settings.

This has an implication that will make many blanch — we must have more slums. These are the entry points of the poor into urban havens of opportunity. When urban land costs crores (millions) per plot, the poor can’t dream of buying land. Cities lack the funds for even basic facilities, let alone massive public housing. So rural migrants encroach on public land, creating shanty towns. These slums are eyesores — just looking at them makes urban folk shudder. Yet this should drive home to the elite how truly wretched rural India must be if poor people see more hope in filthy urban shanties than in the countryside.

Read more: http://nextcity.org/informalcity/entry/we-need-more-slums

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Lévi-Strauss – A Propos Tristes Tropiques


P.S. This is intended for non-profit commentary and educational purposes. No copyright infringement intended. Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

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Michael Kihato – The Problem Is Housing

housingfinanceafrica.org. May 6, 2013

At the heart of the Arab spring was a lack of affordable housing, a bold statement I read in a magazine article, which went on to say that:  the shortage of affordable homes is one of the underlying causes of the social unrest and the resulting political turmoil that has spread across the MENA region during the Arab Spring of 2011.

I was initially quite skeptical and thought as many would, this was simplification of a much more complex problem. Further, common sense dictates that it is more about poverty and a lack of jobs. If you have money, you can afford and buy a house. Let us deal with the underlying problem of poverty, and housing the masses will follow.

Well, maybe it is not such a wild notion. There is some merit to singling out lack of housing as a catalyst to social unrest. One is that it has potent symbolism. Houses in a very tangible and visible way capture the life aspirations of people. A man’s (and woman’s) home is their castle, goes the saying. The “American Dream” has homeownership at its core. The political symbolism is also obvious. This was said of the Apartheid state and its housing policies: Housing was about control. It was about excluding people from urban areas. It was about regimentation. It was about the administration of deprivation. (South African Minister of Housing, Joe Slovo addressing the Housing Summit, Botshabelo, 27 October 1994)

Read more: http://www.housingfinanceafrica.org/the-problem-is-housing/

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An Introduction To Three Nambikwara Ethnohistories

January, 2019: Edwin B. Reesink – Allegories of Wildness – Three Nambikwara ethnohistories of sociocultural and linguistic change and continuity – Rozenberg Publishers – ISBN 978 90 3610 173 8 – 2010 – will be online soon.

International fame for the Nambikwara came from the central role they play in the work of the late Claude Lévi-Strauss. In his most popular book, Tristes Tropiques, over fifty years ago, he already had painted a particular picture of the Nambikwara way of life. Until the end of his long life this great scholar reminisced about his formative years in anthropology and the influence of the several Indian peoples he encountered during his travels in the interior of Brazil. In effect, the Nambikwara, as seen in the quote, occupy a special place, one not just of scientific interest but particularly one of a sympathy and feeling sometimes not readily associated with this anthropologist. At the time of the travels by Lévi-Strauss and the other people of his expedition, the dry season of 1938, the Nambikwara happened to be in an intermediate phase of their history: enjoying their political autonomy yet already shaped and devastated by the encroachment of Brazilian society.

The sparse, intermediate but regular contacts with Brazilians made them susceptible to being devastated yet further by epidemics. Previously, from 1907 onward, the Brazilians by means of the so-called Rondon Mission penetrated into the vast territories in which lived a large number of different local groups who each considered themselves to be different from their neighbours. Rondon, the State and later researchers recognized this diversity but ultimately still tended to maintain the idea of “one Nambikwara people”. Rondon’s purpose was to build a telegraph line to the Madeira River and hence to connect Amazonia with the rest of the country while, concomitantly, preparing to take possession of an enormous territory inhabited by a number of independent peoples.  Rondon and some of his people succeeded in establishing a pacific relation with a number of local peoples of the Nambikwara ensemble: mainly those of the Parecis Plateau and north of Vilhena (in what is now Rondônia).
*
All I can say to you is that the few months I spent among the Nambikwara may have been those I retain the best memories of, among all of the contacts I had with other populations in Brazil. (…) there has been no Indian population I have known that has attracted so much and with whom I felt so close.

(Lévi-Strauss; from interviews with Marcelo Fiorini, end of 2004 and beginning of 2005, published in Ethnies nr. 33-34, pp. 108-9; my translation).

*

The building of the Telegraph Line and the establishment of stations and agricultural activities to support the annual expeditions and the posterior sustenance of the people manning the telegraph posts, already meant a significant penetration into their lands. The best known Nambikwarist, the late David Price, estimated the overall territory of all local peoples at this time to have been some 500.000 square kilometers, something like the size of France. One might say that the actual land taken in the beginning represented a very small amount of this total. However, the peaceful relations established with a few villages already implied that contagion of unknown diseases would necessarily follow. The very fact that Rondon represented the Republic – that is so-called “national sovereignty” – when he penetrated these lands and simply took possession of what he needed is also highly significant. The Line was a line of colonialist penetration initiating the expropriation of natural resources and potential genocide which such a venture always engendered. Rondon knew he was entering the homelands of another people and, being uninvited, felt violent reactions against him and his subordinates were justified. Hence he was determined not to retaliate and to find ways of establishing and maintaining friendly relations. Yet there was never any doubt that the Republic came first and was entitled to take factual possession of what “already belonged” to it. On the other hand, Indians were people, and precisely because of that human condition could be elevated to higher levels of “civilization”, even to be “citizens”: if the Republic subtracted territory from “its Indians” then it should take care of them by “civilizing” these people and, for example, by “educating” such “semi-nomads” so they could henceforth live comfortably in the very much smaller area that was to be magnanimously granted to them by the State. At the end of his life Rondon is said to have regretted his actions as they did not produce the beneficial effects he expected. If so, he was right in the end. The official State policy of civilizing did neither work in the expected way nor offer real benevolent protection against the greed of colonialist expansion and expropriation of territory, tremendous riches and wealth by Brazilian society. Nor against genocidal practices, sometimes even promoted – camouflaged but real – by the State itself. Only very recently in history the legal protection became more efficient, recognized ampler territorial rights and expanded to include cultural and linguistic rights. Needless to say that Brazilian society in general still holds on to evolutionary and ethnocentric views that demote Indian peoples to either innocent or brutal savages. And, even today, for what seems to be the great majority, these abstract “Indians” are granted far too many rights when they are held to be standing in the way of “progress”. Read more

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From The Web – Global Voices

GlobalVoicesGlobal Voices is a community of more than 700 authors and 600 translators around the world who work together to bring you reports from blogs and citizen media everywhere, with emphasis on voices that are not ordinarily heard in international mainstream media.
Millions of people are blogging, podcasting, and uploading photos, videos, and information across the globe, but unless you know where to look, it can be difficult to find respected and credible voices. Our international team of authors,volunteer authors and part-time editors are active participants in the blogospheres they write about on Global Voices.
Global Voices is incorporated in the Netherlands as Stichting Global Voices, a nonprofit foundation. We do not have an office, but work as a virtual community across multiple time zones.

Our History

Global Voices was founded in 2005 by former CNN Beijing and Tokyo Bureau Chief, Rebecca MacKinnon and technologist and Africa expert, Ethan Zuckerman while they were both fellows at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. The idea for the project grew out of an international bloggers’ meeting held at Harvard in December 2004 and it began as a simple blog.
Global Voices quickly expanded thanks to patronage of the Berkman Center, support from Reuters, the MacArthur Foundation, and the energy and creativity of our contributors.

Read more: http://globalvoicesonline.org

 

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