Issue Number Nine: Little Development Devices / Humanitarian Goods

Edited by: Stephen J. Collier, Jamie Cross, Peter Redfield and Alice Street

Coming soon! This issue of Limn examines the recent profusion of micro-technologies in the worlds of humanitarianism and development, some focused on fostering forms of social improvement, others claiming to alleviate suffering, and many seeking to accomplish both. From water meters, micro-insurance and cash transfers, to solar lanterns, water filtration systems, and sanitation devices, examples proliferate across the early 21st century landscapes of international aid. Although small-scale endeavors are far from novel, today these devices are animated by different intellectual and moral energy, drawing on novel financial and organizational resources. Many blur distinctions between public and private interests, along with divisions between obligations, gifts and commodities. At the same time, they entail novel configurations of expertise, political obligation and forms of care. The articles in this issue explore these new convergences of developmental and humanitarian projects, alongside reworked relationships between experts, governments, and purported beneficiaries, focused on fostering “participation” and “partnerships” rather than nation-building.

Contributors include:

Jacqueline Best on micro-devices and development failure
Marc Boeckler on micro-insurance in the global South
Brenda Chalfin and Xhulio Binjaku on ‘dwelling based public toilets’ in Ghana
Jamie Cross on the photovoltaic cell
Vincent Duclos on mobile health in Burkina Faso
Robert Foster on customer care in Papua New Guinea
Christopher Kelty on participatory development
Meena Khandelwal and Kayley Lain on cook stoves in India
Austin Lord on small hydro-electric devices in Nepal
Amy Moran Thomas on the gluclometer
Jonathan Morduch on microcredit
Peter Redfield on band-aids and magic bullets
David Reubi on sin taxes
Anke Schwittay and Paul Braund on humanitarian design cultures
Tom Scott Smith on IKEA’s ‘Better Shelter’
Alice Street on point of care diagnostics
Tatiana Thieme on sanitation in urban Kenya

Governing Development Failure

How did little development devices make their way into big development institutions? Jacqueline Best explores the history of policy failure at the World Bank.

Rational Sin

David Reubi explores how Chicago Economics remade Global Public Health.

Demanding Mobile Health

What are the infrastructural requirements of mobile health? Vincent Duclos reports on the MOS@N experiment in Burkina Faso.

Glucometer Foils

Amy Moran-Thomas examines why diabetes patients worldwide still struggle to measure glucose.

Customer Care

Robert Foster explores how mobile phones in Papua New Guinea offer new ways for both companies and consumers to give and receive care.