In the 11 years since I launched this blog, it’s churned out getting on for 2 million words across 2,500+ posts, generating 12,600 comments (thanks everyone). It’s time to change things up.
Up to now, I’ve been running the blog as pretty much a solo effort – roughly a day and a half a week to generate 5 posts, deal with comments, and read lots of guest blogs from people keen to share their ideas on FP2P. Right now I have 8 potential posts in the queue. The trouble is that most of them are from my demographic: northern, white, working in high-profile spaces (although pretty well balanced on gender).
These are the voices that largely continue to frame global debates and skew discussions.
Which means FP2P readers are missing out on other views and voices, and we want to fix that. We want to include more ideas and content from thinkers, researchers and doers in the Global South, in a wider range of formats (video, podcasts, forums and debates etc). We want to spotlight unheard (at least in the North) voices and amplify stories that are often ignored. Essentially, we want to start rebalancing some of the asymmetries that continue to characterise a large chunk of development communications, and start making these conversations more horizontal (easy job, right?).
But it’s not just about what gets posted here, or whether we need to expand our list of authors. We want this project to be a part of a broader effort to challenge our assumptions, ask hard questions, and strengthen efforts to tackle the blind spots in conversations about local and global development. Because we know development itself as a concept and practice is deeply embedded in power relationships, involving issues of representation and the way we produce knowledge. So if we want to better understand the depth of issues, we can’t really afford to exclude the perspectives of those actually affected by them.
There will be more discussions on this in later posts, with more details on the blind spots we will be trying to identify and challenge. For now, here’s some exciting news.
Thanks to a bit of funding from Ford and Hewlett Foundations, we have recruited a person (half time) to begin sourcing content outside of the northern bubble, and to help me run the blog. She is María Faciolince (left), a whip smart Colombian-Antillean woman, with a degree in Anthropology and Psychology, a Masters in Anthropology and Development, and an activist with lots of experience generating multimedia content.
Here’s our plan: for the next 3 months, we’re going to try lots of new stuff, and then take stock on what works, what doesn’t. That will include:
- Stories of endogenous change that may not have external/aid element to them
- Links to breaking stories, like what to read on Yemen, Syria, Venezuela, etc. from authors in those countries.
- Reposting top commentary from Southern thinkers, or reviews of their books.
- Turning the tables, including commentary on Northern events from Southern perspectives
- Measurement: Poverty? Power? What counts? Including debates around indicators and methodology.
- New Issues: What’s coming up the development agenda? And what isn’t but ought to be?
But we’re open to other suggestions too – the whackier the better.
I’m very excited but also a bit anxious – I’m guessing that being decolonised may involve rethinking many things, and learning to ‘hand over the stick’ more often.
But FP2P is not going away – I’ll still be posting several times a week, along the lines that have interested enough readers in the past to generate good traffic and great commentary. My ugly mug will still be on the homepage. We’re still committed to avoiding the worst excesses of devspeak, to wallowing in real life ambiguity and confusion, and to sticking to the central core theme of the move from poverty to power. We just want to try some new, cool stuff out, and then we’ll ask you what you think.
And the first job is to choose a name for the project – Global Voices was taken, Southern Voices sounds too ….. Northern. I can only come up with naff ones like ‘New Voices’, ‘Changing the Record’ or ‘FP2P, but we really mean it this time’. ‘Decolonising Duncan’ is obscure and insufficiently serious. So please help us out with some suggestions, (no Boaty McBoatfaces please), then we’ll pick the best ones, and have a vote…..