Author: Robert Simpson

Hell on a hill-side?

The Economist recently ran a fascinating feature on Hell (December 22nd-January 4th). In its ‘Infernal Tourist Board’ promotional flyer for visits to Hell, it was described as ‘strikingly cosmopolitan’, the ‘ultimate workout’ and a place where ‘time stands still’ and ‘the ocean boils and the great abyss yawns before you’. At the same time, there is an ever increasing focus on urban issues, particularly slums, when it comes to humanitarian and development activity in the developing world. There is an unfortunate tendency in a lot of mainstream literature, no better exemplified than by Mike Davis’ Planet of Slums (2007), to paint...

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Mali puts coup forecasting in the spotlight

A lot has happened since the March 2012 military coup in Mali. At the time, very little news of it made its way into the Western press and attention has only recently focused on the West African country following French military intervention that began in January this year. Furthermore, the coup came as somewhat of a surprise to many, with Mali ranked 77th on the Failed States Index of 2011, in the middle of the international pack. However, attention has recently focused on a piece of research that predicted the coup, and questions are being asked as to the potential for, and benefits...

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Ennis et al.: role models for girls

We are told that the London Olympics has provided girls with some great female role models. And it has. Yet this stance does more than state a fact; it invites an uncomfortable question. Can these female athletes not be great role models for boys too? The framing of recent Olympic success suggests that it would be unthinkable for this to be the case. Whilst clearly, at times, girls need strong female role models, and boys need strong male role models – and, doubtless, the Olympics has provided these – by channelling the ‘news’ story in this direction, it undermines the fact...

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A true Olympics moment

Regardless of who heads the medal table come the end of the Olympics, Hammadou Djibo Issaka’s efforts, if not his name, will be one of the defining memories once the competition is over. The rower from Niger, a country many will never have heard of and even more would struggle to place on a map, finished a full 1 minute 39 seconds behind the winner in the men’s single sculls repechage, having only taken up the sport three months before competing. The crowds cheered his row to the end, and Hammadou ‘won the hearts’ of many of those there....

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A Rally With The Gender Lens

Everyone sees every thing and every other person through some kind of lens, to filter what we want from what we believe from what we care about. Today, the fashion seems to be gender. Almost unavoidably so. Yet sometimes, in constantly using our respective lenses, we lose sight of the real story. To explore this, we will stoke the Wimbledon flames, get out our rackets and rally with Gilles Simon. Indeed, cometh Wimbledon and cometh the inevitable debate about the equal pay given to both the male and female competitors. Cue one male player, our finely-named Gilles, to come out and say that all of the male competitors agreed with him in...

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