“Why all economists? And why all from the global North? It’s 2018, and I just think that that’s not acceptable anymore. It’s about balance.”

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Episode notes

Alex is an independent researcher who strives to build better bridges between the global North and South, promoting constructive dialogue and putting power imbalances higher on the agenda than they currently sit.

This is a tough ask in a sector that is pretty much defined by imbalances — between those who pay, and those who are supposed to benefit. And that also has its more than its share of old-fashioned  attitudes to human resources.

For more you can find Alex’s personal website at: https://www.alexmartinsdev.com/

Topics discussed:

[02:20] The life of a consultant researcher. Complicated accents that attract gentle mockery no matter where you are.

[07:00] Early days in the development sector. Bottom-up and top-down perspectives, and seeing structural challenges and disparities.

[17:00] Barriers to entry and advancement in the development sector for people from the global South.

[22:00] How “expertise” is defined and produced, the real role and importance of formal qualifications, and the place of economics in development.

[34:15] Possible approaches to amplify the voice of “southern” interlocutors in the policy conversation.

[37:00] The intersection of the #AidToo moment with broader structural inequalities in the development sector.

[47:45] How women are impacted differently by structural problems. The need for the development sector to modernise its human resources practices. The role of so-called “national staff”.

[55:30] Unconscious biases, and “markers” that we tend to apply to the disadvantage of particular groups. Practical steps to remedy this.

[1:03:00] Barriers to constructive critique and activism in the aid sector. The different kinds of fears and risks that people face, depending on where they sit.