Browse

You are looking at 11 - 20 of 110 items for :

  • Manchester University Press Journals x
  • Refine by access: All content x
Clear All
The Difficulties of a Randomised Clinical Trial Confronted with Real Life in Southern Niger
Mamane Sani Souley Issoufou

This article describes and analyses the tensions linked to the flaws in the system of a randomised clinical trial conducted by Epicentre, an epidemiological research centre created by the non-governmental organisation Médecins Sans Frontières, in southern Niger. It presents an ethnography of the practice of therapeutic experimentation in the context of a clinical trial in which we observe the meticulousness of a set of monitored practices, framed by a bureaucracy and a hierarchy specific to the medical profession, intended to reduce bias as much as possible in order to produce reliable data. Based on an ethnographic survey with the combined use of participant observations (interviews as part of the real-time follow-up of this clinical trial), this article is part of the literature of Science and Technology Studies (STS), which consists in describing the science in the making (Callon, 1986, 2003; Latour and Woolgar, 2006; Pestre, 2010). It shows the difficulties of a trial that has not taken into account the local contexts of its implementation, the ‘real life’ and its unexpected effects.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Joël Glasman
and
Brendan Lawson

The modern humanitarian sector is gripped by a data frenzy. How can we take a step back and critically engage with what datafication means? This introduction to the special section begins by outlining three broad theoretical positions within the literature: positivist, constructivist, and reflexivity of actors. To dive deeper, and to tie together the four pieces in this special section, we point to ‘ten things we know about humanitarian numbers’. The ten points cover issues of epistemology, institutionalisation, linguistics, social justice, technology, theorisation and power. Taken together, they offer different springboards from which academics can launch into critiques of data in the humanitarian sector.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Cathrine Brun
and
Cindy Horst

In this article we suggest that the call for widening participation as part of the quest for a more localised humanitarianism has overlooked the clash of ethical registers that this would entail. We show that the formal script of the professionalised humanitarian system operates with an individualised ethics, while multiple other actors that exist alongside the humanitarian system operate with a relational ethical register. Based on a literature review on civic humanitarianism and humanitarianism embedded in social practice, we explore dimensions of the web of social interaction within which humanitarian practices often take place. We ask how to conceptualise these humanitarian relationships when relationships in themselves are understood as compromising humanitarian principles. Inspired by decolonial perspectives and relational ontologies and ethics, we then identify key dimensions of a relational humanitarianism: solidarity, responsibility and justice; identity and belonging; social distance and proximity; and temporality. In conclusion we suggest that for calls for localisation to succeed in genuinely changing power relations and practices, better understanding and recognition of relational ethical registers that operate alongside the formal script of the professionalised humanitarian system is required.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Digital Work and Fragile Livelihoods of Women Refugees in the Middle East and North Africa
Dina Mansour-Ille
and
Demi Starks

In the advent of the coronavirus pandemic and the push to digital work, this op-ed argues that the emerging digital economy can be vital for enabling refugee women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to overcome existing livelihood barriers. Since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in 2011, over 6.5 million Syrian refugees have been registered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) globally. Neighbouring countries across the MENA region continue to carry the largest share of the burden. Across the region, refugees live on the margins, in camps, as well as urban and peri-urban communities, and other informal settlements. Existing gender disparities coupled with other social and logistical barriers, as well as restrictive legal and economic structures, exacerbate livelihood challenges for refugee women in MENA. Research demonstrates that the digital economy, particularly crowd and ‘on-demand’ work, could provide opportunities that would enable women refugees to overcome these barriers to work. As it stands, however, the digital economy is still in its infancy, especially in host countries in MENA, and it is still fraught with challenges, including barriers to entry, employee protections and the lack of guarantees to decent work, especially for vulnerable and marginalised communities. We therefore argue that there is a need to direct efforts to maximise the benefits that the digital economy could offer, especially to refugee women – a need that has become even more pertinent since the coronavirus pandemic.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Intermediating the Internet Economy in Digital Livelihoods Provision for Refugees
Andreas Hackl

The global spread of online work opportunities has inspired a new generation of market-based aid that connects forcibly displaced people to a transnational internet economy. Because refugees face barriers to making a livelihood online, aid organisations and private enterprises support them by building bridges across digital divides, connectivity problems or skill gaps. They thereby become intermediaries and brokers that facilitate connections between refugees and online income opportunities, which often lack decent working conditions and adequate protections. Because digital livelihood initiatives lack the power to reshape these conditions and the value of work in the internet economy, they fail to become mediators with a transformative impact. The result is that the internet economy reshapes livelihoods provision far more than aid can reshape its disempowering effects, despite successes in driving forward refugees’ digital inclusion. Based on more than three years of research including interviews, field visits and surveys, this article foregrounds the current risks that result from the inclusion of refugees into precarious forms of online gig work. To ensure a decent future of work for refugees in the internet economy, the current push for digital livelihoods will require an equally strong push for stronger protections, inclusive regulations and rights.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Digital Skills Training and the Systematic Exclusion of Refugees in Lebanon
Rabih Shibli
and
Sarah Kouzi

A decade into the Syrian war, Lebanon remains the country hosting the largest number of refugees per capita worldwide, limiting their work to three sectors of the economy. Most of the employed refugees have therefore been active in the informal market under indecent and insecure working conditions. One solution currently being promoted by humanitarian and development organisations and the private sector is that digital work in web-based labour markets can provide an alternative that circumvents these local restrictions, offering refugees a way to make a livelihood online. This field report contests this assumption, based on analysis of the impact and experience of a digital skills training programme that reached some 3000 beneficiaries by 2021. The report critically examines how a context of regulatory restriction and economic crisis in Lebanon undermines the feasibility of digital refugee livelihoods, thereby offering a critique of the idea that web-based income opportunities transcend local markets, policies and regulations. Due to discriminatory policies, ICT-related exclusion, and financial exclusion, the programme’s objective shifted from online work to local work. Ironically, most of those graduates who found work did so in the local informal labour market once more, having failed to secure any form of sustainable online income opportunity.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Bridging Ethical Divides in Digital Refugee Livelihoods
Evan Easton-Calabria

This op-ed outlines key issues humanitarians should consider when assessing their ‘digital responsibility’ to foster digital refugee livelihoods. This includes in particular the need to develop robust monitoring and evaluation frameworks of outcomes of digital livelihoods trainings for refugees – and spaces for critical engagement with the results of such evaluations, including stopping digital livelihoods programming when risks outweigh benefits. It argues that ethical humanitarian engagement in technology must include the development of coherent, contextualised sets of norms and frameworks for responsibility and protection in the digital sphere, including those that address humanitarian efforts to assist refugees to enter the digital economy.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Swati Mehta Dhawan
and
Julie Zollmann

Humanitarian actors touting financial inclusion posit that access to financial services builds refugees’ resilience and self-reliance. They claim that new digital financial tools create more efficient and dignified pathways for humanitarian assistance and enable refugees to better manage their savings and invest in livelihoods, especially during protracted displacement. Our in-depth, repeat interviews with refugees in Kenya and Jordan refute this narrative. Instead, self-reliance was hindered primarily by refugees’ lack of foundational rights to move and work. Financial services had limited ability to support livelihoods in the absence of those rights. The digital financial services offered to refugees under the banner of ‘financial inclusion’ were not mainstream services designed to empower and connect. Instead, they were segregated, second-class offerings meant to further isolate and limit refugee transactions in line with broader political desires to encamp and exclude them. The article raises questions about the circumstances in which humanitarian funding ought to fund financial service interventions and what those interventions are capable of achieving.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
The Future of Work among the Forcibly Displaced
Evan Easton-Calabria
and
Andreas Hackl

The current scale and duration of displacement prompts renewed urgency about livelihoods prospects for displaced people and the role of humanitarian organisations in fostering them. This special issue focuses on how aid organisations, together with the private sector and other actors, have worked to include refugees in new forms of online work within the web-based digital economy. Building on comparative analysis and a comprehensive review of the field of digital livelihoods among the forcibly displaced, in this introductory article we argue that including refugees in this digital economy is currently neither a sustainable form of humanitarian relief nor is it a development solution that provides large-scale decent work. We show how digital livelihoods approaches have gained a special footing in the middle ground between short-term economic relief and long-term development. Indeed, digital economies seemingly offer a variety of ‘quick-fix’ solutions at the transition from humanitarian emergency towards long-term development efforts. While digital economies harbour significant potential, this cannot be fully realised unless current efforts to include refugees in digital economies are complemented by efforts to address digital divides, uphold refugees’ rights, and ensure more decent working conditions.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Amanda Alencar
and
Julia Camargo

Discourses around the so-called digital economy are increasingly more present in contexts of forced displacement, with digital inclusion of refugees being framed by humanitarian agencies as a fundamental human right and an essential tool to promote access to income and skills development. While digital work can certainly bring about positive changes in forced migration settings, imaginaries around the role of the digital in refugees’ economic lives reflect a broader neoliberal project that envisions a retreat of the welfare state and that places on refugees the responsibility to integrate. This article draws on spatial imaginaries frameworks to advance the theoretical understanding of power differentials that are embodied in the use of technologies to promote refugee livelihoods. A combination of interviews, participant and non-participant observations was used to examine the perspectives of Venezuelan refugee women and humanitarian actors in the context of a digital work initiative in the city of Boa Vista, Brazil. The analysis reveals a mismatch between the imaginaries underpinning digital work opportunities and the expectations and plans of the refugee women themselves about the use of ICTs and engagement in digital forms of employability. Such disconnect can reinforce inequalities for refugee’s agency in the digital economy.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs