Issue Number Nine: Little Development Devices / Humanitarian Goods

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

November 2017. 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, Marc Boeckler, Brenda Chalfin and Xhulio Binjaku, Jamie Cross, Vincent Duclos, Robert Foster, Christopher Kelty, Meena Khandelwal and Kayley Lain, Austin Lord, Amy Moran Thomas,
Jonathan Morduch, Peter Redfield, David Reubi, Anke Schwittay and Paul Braund, Tom Scott Smith, Alice Street, and Tatiana Thieme

EXCREMENTA II: The Legitimizing Model

Xhulio Binjaku  explores the role of the model in upholding regimes of power, expertise, and commerce and explains the inspiration for Excrementa Estates.

The Humble Cookstove

Meena Khandelwal and Kayley Lain reflect on half a century of failed efforts to change how people cook in rural India, before adding a little device of their own to the fire.

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.