Department of Global Development Studies

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Queen's National Scholar in Development in Practice Position: Applications due 3Dec2019

Department of Global Development Studies
Queen’s National Scholar in Development in Practice
Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

The Department of Global Development Studies (DEVS) at Queen’s University invites applications for a Queen’s National Scholar (QNS) position at the rank of Assistant Professor or Associate Professor in the field of ‘Development in Practice’. This is a tenured or tenure-track position with a preferred start date of July 1, 2020. Further information on the Queen’s National Scholar Program can be found on the website of the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research) at: http://queensu.ca/vpr/prizes-awards/queens-national-scholars.

We welcome applicants whose research examines the social and political dynamics of development projects as they unfold in practice. Areas of expertise would include the politics of knowledge and the practices of engagement, accommodation, and contestation that occur between implementing agencies and target populations. With strong experience working within or conducting research upon development projects, the successful candidate would have the ability to teach an undergraduate course on the practical elements of project design, implementation, and evaluation while also guiding students in the practices of reflexive cross-cultural exchange and cooperation. The successful candidate will assume responsibility for undergraduate and graduate courses in this field while also contributing to the established curriculum in the department. While not a requirement, a geographic focus on North Africa, the Middle East, Central or Southeast Asia would be considered an asset.

Candidates must have a PhD or equivalent degree completed at the start date of the appointment. The main criteria for selection are academic and teaching excellence. The successful candidate will provide evidence of high quality scholarly output that demonstrates potential for independent research leading to peer assessed publications and the securing of external research funding, as well as strong potential for outstanding teaching contributions at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and an ongoing commitment to academic and pedagogical excellence in support of the department’s programs. Candidates must provide evidence of an ability to work collaboratively in an interdisciplinary and student-centred environment. The successful candidate will also be expected to make contributions through service to the department, the Faculty, the University, and/or the broader community. Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. 

People from across Canada and around the world come to learn, teach and carry out research at Queen’s University. Faculty and their dependents are eligible for an extensive benefits package including prescription drug coverage, vision care, dental care, long term disability insurance, life insurance and access to the Employee and Family Assistance Program. You will also participate in a pension plan. Tuition assistance is available for qualifying employees, their spouses and dependent children.  Queen’s values families and is pleased to provide a ‘top up’ to government parental leave benefits for eligible employees on maternity/parental leave.  In addition, Queen’s provides partial reimbursement for eligible daycare expenses for employees with dependent children in daycare. Details are set out in the Queen’s-QUFA Collective Agreement. For more information on employee benefits, see Queen’s Human Resources.

Additional information about Queen’s University can be found on the Faculty Recruitment and Support website. The University is situated on the traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee and Anishnaabe, in historic Kingston on the shores of Lake Ontario. Kingston’s residents enjoy an outstanding quality of life with a wide range of cultural, recreational, and creative opportunities. Visit Inclusive Queen’s for information on equity, diversity and inclusion resources and initiatives.

The University invites applications from all qualified individuals. Queen’s is committed to employment equity and diversity in the workplace and welcomes applications from women, visible minorities, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, and LGBTQ persons.  All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, in accordance with Canadian immigration requirements, Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada will be given priority.

To comply with federal laws, the University is obliged to gather statistical information as to how many applicants for each job vacancy are Canadian citizens / permanent residents of Canada.  Applicants need not identify their country of origin or citizenship; however, all applications must include one of the following statements: “I am a Canadian citizen / permanent resident of Canada”; OR, “I am not a Canadian citizen / permanent resident of Canada”. Applications that do not include this information will be deemed incomplete.

In addition, the impact of certain circumstances that may legitimately affect a nominee’s record of research achievement will be given careful consideration when assessing the nominee’s research productivity. Candidates are encouraged to provide any relevant information about their experience and/or career interruptions.

A complete application consists of:

  • A cover letter (including one of the two statements regarding Canadian citizenship / permanent resident status specified in the previous paragraph);
  • A current Curriculum Vitae (including a list of publications, awards and grants received);
  • A statement of current and prospective research interests;
  • A statement of teaching interests and experience (including teaching philosophy, as well as teaching outlines and evaluations if available);
  • A statement of experience with, and commitment to, facilitation and promotion of equity, diversity, and inclusion; and,
  • A sample of academic writing or other research and advocacy publications.

Short-listed candidates will be further requested to provide three letters of reference.

The deadline for applications is December 3, 2019. Applicants are encouraged to send all documents in their application package electronically as PDFs to Barbra Lalonde at devsmngr@queensu.ca although hard copy applications may be submitted to:

Queen’s National Scholar in Development and Practice Appointments Committee
c/o Department of Global Development Studies
Mackintosh-Corry Hall B412
68 University Avenue
Queen’s University
Kingston, Ontario CANADA K7L 3N9

The University will provide support in its recruitment processes to applicants with disabilities, including accommodation that takes into account an applicant’s accessibility needs.  If you require accommodation during the interview process, please contact Barbra Lalonde in the Department of Global Development Studies, 68 University Avenue, B413 Mackintosh-Corry Hall, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON K7L 3N9 Telephone 613-533-6000, extension 77210

Academic staff at Queen’s University are governed by a Collective Agreement between the University and the Queen’s University Faculty Association (QUFA), which is posted at http://queensu.ca/facultyrelations/faculty-librarians-and-archivists/col... and at http://www.qufa.ca. 

Appointments are subject to review and final approval by the Principal. Candidates holding an existing tenure-track or continuing-adjunct appointment at Queen’s will not be considered.

Click here to view the position posting in PDF format.

Indigeneity through the Lens of “Development”: Disputes over Meanings and Spaces



Title:  Indigeneity through the Lens of “Development”: Disputes over Meanings and Spaces

Date: November 15, 2019
Venue: MacDonald Hall, Room 2
Time: 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Speaker: Inés Duran Matute

The main purpose of this talk is to show how the rhetoric of ‘development’ influence the creation, representation, experience, and use of indigeneity. In parallel, it demonstrates how the struggle over meanings to ‘development’ and ‘indigeneity’ correlates to the dispute over territories. I wonder: How development impacts identity formations? What are its implications over territories and peoples’ lives? To answer these questions, I draw on knowledges and experiences of the diasporic Coca indigenous community of Mezcala (Mexico) collected since 2008 as a scholar-activist. This community can be used as a striking example since it is at a juncture of economic, political, social, and cultural changes linked to neoliberal governance, and is confronting the developmentalist political agenda of elites who want to transform the region into a tourist destination. Mezcala can thus shed light on how ‘development’ can be seen to act as an epistemological frame that shapes identity formations and influences glocal processes related to power and space. Indigeneity can respond to national fantasies or capitalist interests associated with ‘development’, but it can also be used strategically against the ‘development’ incursion into territories. In this way, I present an encouraging picture of how indigeneity can be revived and dignified in a sort of ethnogenesis to incite the defense of territory while cultivating new modes of understanding development away from neoliberal governance.

 

 

 
Susan Belyea

Inés Duran Matute is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (Center for Research and Higher Studies in Social Anthropology - CIESAS) in Mexico.

Dr. Duran Matute's dissertation entitled "Between Autonomy and Subsistence: Mezcala's Narratives of Neoliberal Governance" was completed at the University of Sydney, Australia.

 

Indigenous Resurgence in “a world backwards”: Of Relations, Mining and Raw Economy/Raw Law in the Context of Colombia’s Armed Conflict

Title:  Indigenous Resurgence in “a world backwards”: Of Relations, Mining and Raw Economy/Raw Law in the Context of Colombia’s Armed Conflict

Date: November 14, 2019
Venue: Jeffery Hall, Room 128
Time: 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Speaker:  Viviane Weitzner

This talk traces the evolution and practice of a decade of activist research supporting Indigenous and Afro-Descendant peoples in the context of Colombia’s internal armed conflict. Emphasizing the importance of building relations and engaging in critical self-reflection, I describe an unlikely alliance between Indigenous and Afro-Descendant peoples towards territorial defense in the face of both legal and outlawed armed actors interested in extracting the gold riches from their ancestral territories. I discuss both autonomous and ‘inter-ethnic’ strategies for survival and self-determination, and hone-in on the experience of the Embera Chamí Indigenous People of the Resguardo Indígena Cañamom Lomaprieta (Caldas) to examine the contested sovereignties and legalities of diverse actors vying to access and regulate the Embera Chami’s ancestral gold.

Grounding my analysis in long-term, fine-grained ethnography of key moments in exercising Indigenous law, governance—and ultimately, resurgence—I tease out implications for the theory and practice of legal pluralities; and for collaborative ethnography and research. Specifically, I argue the need for a sharper theoretical
lens that makes visible and takes as a starting point the violent realities that shape day-to-day life for Indigenous peoples in Colombia, without losing analytical purchase on their extraordinary efforts towards Indigenous resurgence in this lethal context.

 

“Our exercise of self-government, a contribution to peace”

“Our exercise of self-government, a contribution to peace”

 
Viviane Weitzner

Dr. Viviane Weitzner is a SSHRC-funded Postdoctoral Researcher at McGill University’s Centre for Indigenous Conservation and Development Alternatives (CICADA), Department of Anthropology, specializing in the anthropology of legal pluralities in the Americas.

Dr. Weitzner's dissertation entitled "Raw Economy/Raw Law: Ancestral Peoples, Mining, Law and Violence in Columbia" was completed at Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropologia Social (Centre for Research and Higher Studies in Social Anthropology, CIESAS-CDMX), Mexico City

 


DEVS Fall Convocation

Fall Convocation 2019

Congratulations to the 2019 DEVS students who convocated on Wednesday November 13, 2019.  As shared at the convocation reception “One person cannot do everything but everyone can do something”.  Wishing you the best in your future endeavours.

DEVS Fall 2019 Graduates

DEVS MA Graduates (left to right): Jessica Siddall, Lauren Morash, Fikir Haille, Rana Kamh, Kaitlyn Gibson, Kathleen Daly, Dairon Morejon Perez

 

 

 

Era mejor cuando éramos ilegales – it was better when we were illegals’: Indigenous people, the State and ‘public interest’ indigenous radio stations in Colombia



Title:  Era mejor cuando éramos ilegales – it was better when we were illegals’: Indigenous people, the State and ‘public interest’ indigenous radio stations in Colombia

Date: November 8, 2019
Venue: MacDonald Hall, Room 2
Time: 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM
Speaker: Diego Mauricio Cortes

This talk critically analyzes state intervention for the development of indigenous radio stations in Colombia. Similar to other studies on Latin American community media, my research illustrates how these radio stations have contributed positively to the livelihoods of indigenous communities. Importantly, community radio has fostered a new generation of leaders, promoted indigenous languages, and encouraged political action for the protection of indigenous territories against drug traffickers, illegal miners, and State-supported developmental projects. However, there is evidence that these media projects have brought new challenges for these communities such as hefty financial costs, dependency on external donors, and legal restrictions for radio networking, calling for a more nuanced consideration of the complexities of State intervention in community radio projects. For this reason, for many local indigenous community members who were the subject of state intervention in such projects, ‘it was better when we were illegals.’ As a conclusion, I argue that the logic of the contradictory State legislation, instead of empowering indigenous media projects, tamed their political potential.

 

 

 
Diego Mauricio Cortes

Dr. Diego Cortes is a Visiting Faculty-Diversity Fellow at the University of Pittsburg.

Dr. Cortes' dissertation is entitled "Community Oriented Radio Stations and Indigenous Inclusion in Cauca, Colombia" was completed at University of California, San Diego.

 


 

Migrant strawberry pickers face deadly risks living in flammable shacks By Reena Kukreja

Migrant strawberry pickers face deadly risks living in flammable shacks


Migrant workers picking strawberries in Greece live in unhealthy and highly flammable shacks. Author provided

Reena Kukreja, Queen's University, Ontario

Each growing season, from October to May, as many as 12,000 undocumented Bangladeshi migrant men work in the agrarian labour market in Greece.

Although they consider Greece a transit stop to other European countries, most end up staying for years. The migrant farm workers say the farmers reap rich profits but are so far unwilling to provide decent housing for them. Nor can the seasonal workers find local accommodation.

The workers are forced to rent unused farmland and build highly inflammable makeshift shacks called barangas. Baranga is a Bangladeshi colloquial term derived from a Greek word, paranga, which translates as “a shack.” Workers construct the barangas out of salvaged plastic sheets, cardboard and reeds.

Greece is the 10th biggest exporter of strawberries in the world. Strawberry farming is labour-intensive. Once picked, the fruit perishes quickly. This puts a huge demand on the fast-paced yet careful harvest of unblemished strawberries. Migrant workers form the backbone of this farming, and it’s work that locals appear unwilling to do.

‘…we earn huge profits for farmers who treat us worse than animals …’. Author provided

I arrived in the village of Nea Manolada, Greece this past summer to research Bangladeshi migrant men working on strawberry farms. Since 2017, I have studied temporary labour migration of South Asian men from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan in Greece.

A group of Bangladeshi strawberry pickers, living there for eight years, took me on an oral history tour. They pointed to refrigerated trucks used to transport strawberries to wider markets and newly constructed, multi-level farmer’s homes. A young migrant in his early 20s said: “Look how they live in comfort – all due to our hard work. What do we get in return? Discarded plastic sheets as our roof.”

A group of 25 Bangladeshi farm workers in Nea Manolada released this statement:

“Sweating our blood in the field, we earn huge profits for farmers who treat us worse than animals. We want people to learn how we live a rough life in barangas.”

Captive labour

Labour force surveys reveal that more than 50 per cent of agricultural workers in Greece are migrants. Factoring in undocumented migrants, that figure comes closer to 90 per cent. Strawberry farmers fully exploit migrant willingness to do the dirty, dangerous and demeaning jobs (known as 3D jobs). They give them long work hours, high targeted outputs and depressed wages.

Migrant labour has enabled farmers to undertake a scale increase, expand their agricultural activity by leasing under-utilized farmlands to make larger farms, modernize farming and market their produce to wider markets.

The majority of Nea Manolada’s 700-strong population is engaged in strawberry cultivation, either as independent producers or as sharecroppers. Almost 95 per cent of strawberries grown in Greece come from this region. Since the mid-1970s, this highly profitable cash crop has replaced the traditional potato crop.

The conditions of work can be described as forced or unfree labour. Withholding of wages is a common practice here and tie the workers to the farmers. In 2013, protests by Bangladeshi workers against delayed wages led to Greek farmers shooting at them. The workers won a landmark human rights case, and Greece was forced to pay more than US$648,000 to 42 of them.

Workers lose everything in frequent fires

Clusters of 10-17 barangas each house a minimum of 200-350 workers. With a rent of US$33-38 per baranga, a farmer stands to earn US$500-550 per month from just one baranga alone during the season.

When this sum is calculated for housing 12,000 workers for seven months, it reveals that staggering profits are made off the backs of this flexible labour force that is paid a less than minimum wage of US$32 per day.

Agreements are informal, with no receipts. There have even been instances where the failure to pay timely rent has resulted in harassment and intimidation from local police.


The migrant workers live in highly flammable shacks. Author provided

Barangas offer no running water, electricity or sanitation facilities. These structures are human tragedies waiting to happen. The danger of the inflammable construction material is heightened with cooking done inside in crude partitioned kitchens, with propane gas cylinders, and lighting provided by candles. Because barangas are located on wastelands with no proper road access, firefighters have difficulty accessing them.

In June 2018, a massive fire broke out in a migrant settlement in Nea Manolada. It spread from one baranga to engulf all before help could arrive. More than 340 Bangladeshi workers lost everything they had, including identification papers, passports, work permits, proof of stay and saved wages. In 2019, seven fires, fuelled by strong winds, charred entire sets of barangas in the same region in a matter of minutes.

So far, no one has died. But the men worry about what might happen if a fire breaks out at night, when everyone is sleeping. Blazes in similar migrant housing have resulted in fatalities.

Within Canada, fire outbreaks on dormitories for migrant workers are not uncommon. In August 2019, in St. Catharines, Ont., a blaze devastated a farm and five residential buildings for migrant workers.

Constant threat of deportation

Interior of a ‘baranga.’ Author provided

Besides the dangers of fire, barangas present other challenges. They don’t insulate against the elements. In the summer, the temperature inside reaches 50C and in winter, it is below freezing. Thin mattresses and blankets lie on dirt-packed floors covered with a patchwork of cardboard.

Because there’s no electricity, there are no fans or heaters. The men are also unable to charge cell phones, a vital link to their families. As well, dead phones can mean a loss of wages. Each evening, workers wait for the supervisors’ call, asking them to report to work the next day. The only place to charge phones is at ethnic grocery stores or cafes with long queues to do so.

Untreated piped ground water can be used for bathing and washing of clothes but drinking water must be paid for, eating into the meagre monthly wage. Outdoor toilets consist of holes dug in the ground covered with wood slats and plastic sheets wrapped around four poles to provide privacy. “Showers” are open-air platforms. Waste water gathers in pools around the barangas, breeding grounds for mosquitoes and flies.

The negative impact of poor housing on the health of workers has been studied elsewhere The inadequate sanitation, waste-disposal facilities and drainage create ripe conditions for infectious diseases. Frequent diarrhea, fever, asthma and respiratory problems appear widespread.

The workers are deterred from demanding better living conditions because they are undocumented. That means Greek farmers are able to exploit them without fear of reprisals, especially because of the disciplinary practices of border control, and the regime of deportability based on migrant “illegality.”

The ever-present threat of potential deportation scares undocumented migrant workers who then discipline themselves as efficient but invisible workers. Local authorities, aware of their plight, have turned a blind eye to improving migrant housing, leaving the men with little recourse.

As a labourer in his mid-30s who has been working on the farms for seven years said: “Everyone exploits our desperation to earn wages while profiting from our labour.”

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The Conversation

Reena Kukreja, Assistant Professor, Global Development Studies, Queen's University, Ontario

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

DEVS 305: Cuban Society and Culture Information Session October 3, 2020 at 5:30 PM in Dunning 14

Want to challenge your perceptions, stereotypes and fantasies about Cuba,
the Caribbean, and Latin America?   Take a Queen’s Course in Havana!

 


DEVS 305 Student Group in Havana

Global Development Studies 305: Cuban Culture and Society is an interdisciplinary 6.0 unit course. It is open to all qualified students and counts towards degree requirements in the departments of: Film and Media, Sociology, Language Literatures and Culture, Gender Studies, and History.

The Queen’s portion of the course begins January 9, 2020. After exams there is a pre-departure sessions on campus from April 27 to May 1, 2020, then we leave for two weeks in Havana, hosted by the University of Havana from May 3 to May 17, 2020.

Fourth year students can take this course and graduate Spring 2020

Information Session:

For further information attend the Information Session on Thursday October 3, 2019 at 5:30 PM in Dunning Hall, Room 14

Additional information and the application form can be found at https://www.queensu.ca/devs/undergraduate-program/international-study-program-cuba or contact the DEVS office via email at devs.student@queensu.ca

Application Deadlines:

Applications are to be submitted to the DEVS main office located in room B412 of Mackintosh-Corry Hall no later than 4:00 PM on Wednesday October 16, 2019. Applicants will be notified by October 25, 2019 of the decision.

 

 

 

DEVS hosts visitors from the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa)

DEVS welcomes visitors from the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa)

 

Visitors from WITS University
University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) visits Queen's University

On the 20th of September 2019, DEVS hosted a team of seven administrators from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, who are researching best practices for graduate-level education.

Wits is one of the premier universities in Africa, and is seeking to develop closer ties to Queen's University. Says team leader Prof. Robert Muponde, Wits Director of Postgraduate Affairs, "I hope to be back soon to learn more about your amazing Wellness Centre, the International Centre, DEVS, CUST and other excellent programs. I felt we learned a lot during our lightning visit, and also that people here are keen to learn from our experiences as well."

DEVS also hosted Dr. Mucha Musemwa, Head of the School of Social Sciences at Wits. Dr. Musemwa gave lectures, the SNID seminar, and met with a range of students, faculty, and administrators during his week on campus. The hope is to lay the foundation for a broad and sustainable partnership between Queen’s and one of Africa’s leading universities as it transitions to a research-intensive, graduate-focused institution. Wits will be hosting the first cohort of Queen’s students for a Semester Abroad this coming summer (Johannesburg’s winter!).

 

 

Indigenous Resurgence and Development Tenure Track Position: Applications due 9Sept2019

Department of Global Development Studies, Queen’s University
Tenure-Track Position
Indigenous Resurgence and Development

The Department of Global Development Studies (DEVS) invites applications for a tenure-track faculty position at the rank of Assistant Professor in the field of Indigenous Resurgence and Development. We welcome applicants addressing any geographical region who examine the relationships between Indigenous social and political movements and the discourses and practices of development. Candidate specialisations might include Indigenous land, food and resource management; domestic and international Indigenous laws and politics; and local and global processes of colonization and decolonization. Experience in Indigenous knowledges and approaches to development would be considered an asset.

Candidates must have a PhD or equivalent degree completed at the start date of the appointment. The main criteria for selection are research and teaching excellence. Candidates’ community involvement, community knowledge production, traditional knowledge, and lived experience would be included in this assessment. The successful candidate will provide evidence of strong potential for outstanding teaching contributions at the undergraduate and graduate levels.  They will be expected to work collaboratively with other members in the department in the area of curriculum design. Methodological innovation and comfort with current and emergent teaching technologies will also be assets.

The successful candidate will provide evidence of high quality scholarly output that demonstrates potential for independent research moving beyond a dissertation and leading to peer-assessed publications. Candidates must provide evidence of strong communicative and interpersonal skills combined with a flexible attitude and ability to work in an interdisciplinary, collaborative environment. The successful candidate will also be expected to make substantive contributions through service to the department, to the Faculty, to the University, and/or to the broader community. Salary is commensurate with qualifications and experience.

The University invites applications from all qualified individuals. Queen's is committed to employment equity and diversity in the workplace and welcomes applications from women, visible minorities, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, and LGBTQ persons. DEVS is enriched intellectually, socially and culturally by the presence and participation of people from diverse educational backgrounds, including from the Global South. 

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, in accordance with Canadian Immigration requirements, Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents of Canada will be given priority. 

To comply with Federal laws, the University is obliged to gather statistical information about how many applicants for each job vacancy are Canadian citizens / permanent residents of Canada. Applicants need not identify their country of origin or citizenship; however, all applications must include one of the following statements:

  • “I am a Canadian citizen / permanent resident of Canada”; OR,
  • “I am not a Canadian citizen / permanent resident of Canada”.

Applications that do not include this information will be deemed incomplete.

A complete application consists of: 

  • a cover letter (including one of the two statements regarding Canadian citizenship / permanent resident status specified in the previous paragraph); 
  • a current Curriculum Vitae (including a list of publications); 
  • a sample of academic writing;
  • a statement of research interests; and
  • a teaching dossier or statement of teaching interests and experience (including teaching outlines and evaluations if available). 

Short-listed candidates will be further requested to provide three letters of reference. 

The deadline for applications is 11:59 PM EST on September 9, 2019.

Applications should be addressed to Dr. Marcus Taylor, Department Head, Global Development Studies.  We encourage applicants to send all documents in their application packages electronically (either as PDFs or MS Word files) to Barbra Lalonde at devsmanager@queensu.ca, although hard copy applications may be submitted to:

Department of Global Development Studies
Mackintosh-Corry Hall, B401, Queen’s University
68 University Avenue
Kingston, Ontario CANADA K7L 3N6
Attn:  Barbra Lalonde, Department Manager
Email:  devsmanager@queensu.ca (preferred)

The University will provide support in its recruitment processes to applicants with disabilities, including accommodation that takes into account an applicant’s accessibility needs. If you require accommodation during the interview process, please contact Barbra Lalonde at 613-533-6000 x 77210 or via email at devsmanager@queensu.ca.

Academic staff at Queen’s University are governed by a Collective Agreement between the University and the Queen’s University Faculty  Association (QUFA), which is posted at http://queensu.ca/facultyrelations/faculty-librarians-and-archivists/col... at http://www.qufa.ca.

Click here to view the position posting in PDF format.

Botswana recognizes LGBTQ rights, leading the way in southern Africa (Article by Dr. Marc Epprecht, Published in The Conversation )

Botswana recognizes LGBTQ rights, leading the way in southern Africa


Activists celebrate outside the High Court in Gaborone, Botswana on June 11, 2019. Botswana became the latest country to decriminalize gay sex. (AP Photo)

Marc Epprecht, Queen's University, Ontario

Botswana is a small country by population, but a big one by its role in the history of multi-party democracy and human rights in southern Africa. Botswana, although it did not sacrifice as much as many of the other frontline states, just got bigger. Last month, its High Court determined that the law that criminalized “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” was discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional.

Botswana now joins a select group of African countries that recognizes the rights and dignity of its sexual minorities.

This ruling is a tremendous victory for all LGBTQ people in Botswana. The path is now open to liberate LGBTQ people from fear of arrest and harassment by the police, of shaming and outing by health-care professionals and of extortion by ex-lovers, among other presently common experiences.


Read more: Botswana court ruling is a ray of hope for LGBT people across Africa


It has the potential to liberate LGBTQ people psychologically from the stigma of being criminalized. That stigma often drove men who have sex with men (MSM) to hide their sexuality behind a façade of heterosexual relationships. This ruling provides some hope for a safer and greater dignity as the need to hide from the law is removed.

The ruling has significance far beyond Botswana’s borders.

Botswana is widely respected

Although human rights monitors in South Africa have reported failures by security forces to uphold rights of lesbians and transgender men, it was the first country in the world to enshrine freedom from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in its national constitution. It was also one of the first governments in the world to recognize full equality of marriage for sexual and gender minorities.

While Cape Town markets itself as “Africa’s gay capital,” South Africa has been cautious to avoid the accusation of exporting its approach to human rights. Some consider the South African laws an idiosyncrasy linked to white settler colonialism.

But Botswana was never a colony. It was a protectorate in which core aspects of traditional authority and culture were preserved and almost no white settlement was allowed. Botswana, Angola, Mozambique and Zimbabwe are widely respected throughout Africa for their role in the liberation of South Africa from white supremacy.

The Botswana ruling may slightly embolden South African’s Minister of International Affairs. Now that South Africa is just one of four nations in the region to have decriminalized consenting homosexual acts, it may become more forthright in speaking out against gross violations of the human rights of sexual and gender minorities in other African countries.


In this May 2010 photo, women protest against a sentence of 14 years in prison, with hard labour, given to two men in Malawi under Malawi’s anti-gay legislation, in the city of Cape Town, South Africa, (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

Urbanized and progressive

The common assumption is that traditional culture in Botswana is inimical to gay rights. That assumption is mistaken.

Botswana is one of the most urbanized countries on the continent (more so than South Africa, and not much behind Switzerland). LEGABIBO (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals of Botswana, whose CEO testified as a friend of the court in this case), is one of the oldest sexual minority rights associations on the continent outside of South Africa.

While Sotho-Tswana remain strong and integral to national identity, traditional culture is actually more open than commonly assumed. The concept of batho (often translated as “African humanism”) is perhaps relevant to that understanding. How can you be a human being with dignity and meaning if you do not respect your fellow humans — alive, yet-born and ancestral — as equally endowed with dignity and humanness, notwithstanding their (and our own) many differences and flaws? The current president appears to share the same view.

Former president Festus Mogae hinted at this cultural attribute a few years ago when he admitted that, as president, he quietly ordered the police not to enforce the-then law. Why enforce something that humiliates our family members and ourselves, especially when that law is a relic of a colonial, racist system?


Read more: Botswana joins list of African countries reviewing gay rights


Judicial independence

Botswana has a long and proud tradition of judicial independence and of the courts taking a stand against the misuse of power.

The current ruling is actually the culmination of an incremental process of legal victories over the past decade, including winning the rights to non-discrimination in places of employment, change gender identity on official documents and form civil society associations. This process of respect for the rule of law is powerful testimony to the strength of Botswana’s democratic institutions.

But democracy, of course, does not always favour progressive change. Botswana’s Attorney General has already filed an appeal against the new ruling. Although, without providing a strong rationale and running counter to the President’s earlier sympathetic statements toward sexual minorities, it is difficult to see the appeal as much more than a performance of rectitude.


Activists celebrate inside the High Court in Gaborone on June 11, 2019 after Botswana became the latest country to recognize LGBTQ human rights. (AP Photo)

Several African countries have used appeals to democracy to cement majoritarian cultural preference into their constitutions precisely to block sexual minority rights. This was the main argument in the Kenya case, where decriminalization of sodomy theoretically opened the door to a challenge on the constitutional definition of marriage as heterosexual.

In Botswana, a public health crisis clarified that democracy means more than majority preference. Botswana has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS prevalence in the world, roughly 100 times that of Canada’s. Botswana was among the first governments on the continent to recognize the imperative of a holistic, science-based approach to fighting the pandemic.

Since men who have sex with men (MSM) and trans people have disproportionately high rates of HIV , it only makes sense to help that “key population” protect itself (and hence the non-key majority, who can now be equipped with honest sexuality education). Rationally, and compassionately, who can oppose this logic on the most basic public health grounds?

Bravo, Botswana, for saying so loudly and clearly that they cannot.

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The Conversation

Marc Epprecht, Professor of Global Development Studies, Queen's University, Ontario

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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