Guest Roast

Guest Roast: Is Poverty a State of Mind?

By Erin Taylor

What is the psychology of poverty? This question has been a contentious one in anthropology, particularly during the last half a century. In La Vida (1966), a study of poor Puerto Rican families, Oscar Lewis argued that poverty produces certain psychological traits and social behaviours that become enculturated. His ideas caused an uproar because they were widely interpreted to imply that so-called poor people are not capable of escaping poverty. Critics lamented that his book was being misappropriated by the U.S. Government to implement paternalistic, “blame the victim” policies among poor African-American communities that stripped them of their agency, treating them like hopeless cases that needed to be disciplined rather than assisted.

Since then, a plethora of research in poor communities around the world has overturned the idea of a global culture of poverty. Read More »

Powering the forest sector in Bolivia with renewable energy

Miguel RodriguezBy: Miguel Rodríguez Tejerina

Despite half of Bolivia being covered by forest, the forest sector represents only 1-2% of GDP. According to Supreme Decree 26075 of 2001, more than 40 million hectares are destined by the State for sustainable forest use, but currently only about 9 million hectares are being sustainably managed for wood production, mostly by private companies (5 million hectares) and indigenous and peasant communities. The rest is either not being used, or being exploited in an illegal and haphazard manner.

Read More »

Theory Bites: Can war create strong states today?

By Edvin Arnby Machata 

Historically, war has been a crucial factor in the evolution of today’s developed states. War both increases the direct need for state institutions like a tax authority and an organisation to manage conscription and training of soldiers. It has also weeded out weaker states to be assimilated into stronger ones.

How well this past experience remain true today is however unclear. There are a few important differences with developing state capacity in our time compared to 100, 500 and 1500 years ago (depending on the area). The most important is probably globalisation. If a state would emerge in isolated territories with limited external influence, it could much easier establish and maintain authority, as its main rivals would likely be tribes or states with similar resource levels but with authority centred in different areas. Read More »

Theory Bites: The violent origin of states

By Edvin Arnby Machata

The state is a key player in implementing successful development strategies. The state collects taxes and uses these for public investment like roads and schools, from which society will reap rewards in the form of a growing economy and better way of living. More fundamentally, the state provides the legal framework – courts, laws, and police forces – that shape economic activity in the country. A state that effectively maintains these functions is called a strong state.

Too many developing countries however have weak states, which instead of facilitating economic development are often inhibiting it through corrupt policies that only benefit a small part of the population. In the search for ways to improve the capacity of today’s weak states, it is useful to consider how today’s strong states emerged. Read More »

GUEST ROAST: The Battle for Green Growth—The New Politics of Sustainable Development

By Michael Jacobs

Over the past four years the concept of ‘green growth’ has burst onto the international policy scene. A term rarely heard before 2008, it now occupies a prominent position in the international policy discourse. The last two G20 Summits—international meetings of the heads of government of the largest 20 economies that began in response to the financial crash in 2008—declared their support for this goal.  The World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development  (OECD) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) are all now committed to it.  A new body, the Global Green Growth Institute, has been created to advise governments on its implementation. A whole panoply of green growth networks, forums and ‘knowledge platforms’ has sprung up.

Why? Read More »

GUEST ROAST: Symbiotic demand—A new mechanism to reward sustainable farms’ ecosystem services

By Tim Gieseke

“Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand, and I will move the world.” Archimedes, 230 BC

Nothing seems to loom larger than the degradation of the environment at the hand of the growing global economy. This antagonistic relationship has been recognized for centuries and was made famous by Garrett Hardin’s 1967 essay of the “Tragedy of the Commons”. Read More »

Guest Roast: 9 Development Phrases We Hate and Suggestions for a New Lexicon

Last month the team at WhyDev wrote an article describing nine of their most hated international development phrases, which are often over- and misused,  and asked their readers what they should be called instead. Today, as part of the Fun Economics month at INESAD, they share with Development Roast the results of the humorous public poll and ask for your thoughts and further suggestions. Read More »

Guest Roast: From Crisis to Resilience: Rethinking Macroeconomic Vulnerability

By Anuradha Seth

The frequency of global financial and economic crises has increased over the past decade and a half, and they appear to have become a systemic feature of the international economy. The risk of economic growth and human development achievements being undermined by such volatile international developments is fostering an overall re-think about the inner nature of crises, the growing vulnerability of developing countries and their capacity to be resilient in the face of these shocks. Read More »

Guest Roast: Mining Companies’ Violations In Developing Countries—Who Is Responsible?

By Grahame Russel

Increasingly, over the past few years, information has been published about serious human rights violations and health and environmental harms being caused in Guatemala by (mainly) Canadian mining company operations: Goldcorp Inc., Radius Gold Inc., Tahoe Resources Inc., Hudbay Minerals, and others.

It is not possible to understand how these violations and harms occur, and will continue to occur, without understanding the political context.  Read More »

Guest Roast: A Native Perspective on Gold Mining in Guatemala

By Cathy Gerrior

My name is Cathy Gerrior. My spirit name is white turtle woman and I am a Mi’kmaq Elder and Ceremony Keeper from TurtleIsland.  I was given an opportunity to visit Guatemala by a group called Breaking the Silence, an organization who works towards justice and fair treatment of the Mayan People in Guatemala.

We joined a delegation in Guatemala led by Grahame Russell with the Rights Action group to learn the truth about Canadian mining companies and what they are doing to our Mayan brothers and sisters in Latin America.  Grahame was very thorough in his teachings around this issue.  At one point I asked him if this work was his passion.  He thought about it for a moment and replied Read More »


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