Who is behind this?
This consultation is run by the ‘Track Changing’ group of the Kampala Initiative. The Kampala Initiative is a democratic civil society community of over independent, critical-thinking activists and over 90 organizations from the Global South and North. The ‘Track Changing’ Group researches the language of so called ‘international development’ and health cooperation, believing that the way we speak about concepts effects how we think, feel and act on them.
This work is supported by the Open Society Foundations (OSF).
What is the timeline?
October 11: online survey opens
November 2: Webinar series begins
December 10: online survey closes
December 13 to 15: Screening committee reviews submissions.
February 2022: New narrative announced
Why is language so important?
Social psychology and cognitive linguistics have shown us that how we communicate issues actually changes how we respond to them. For example, if we describe people seeking refuge or those convicted of a crime as ‘migrants’ and ‘criminals’, we bring to mind many unhelpful associations that change the way we think and feel about these groups. This, in turn, will impact how we act towards these groups. Not all differences of language are so dramatic, but even subtle changes in words used can trap us into certain ways of thinking and acting. If we always describe a problem in the same way we will always come up with the same set of answers. See this toolkit for more information.
Are you saying aid is bad?
This is not a comment on the merits (or otherwise) of aid itself. Other groups of the Kampala initiative are working on that question. Our focus is the way language (including the term ‘aid’) masks global power inequalities.
Is it only the term ‘aid’ that is a problem?
Not at all. Much of the language around so called ‘international development’ and health cooperation needs decolonizing. We have chosen aid, in this instance, as it is perhaps the most obvious candidate.
Do you think changing a name will change global power dynamics?
No. We recognise there are many power imbalances within the so called ‘international development’ and ‘aid’ industry itself. We are absolutely clear that language alone won’t solve them. But it’s our belief that decolonizing our language and communicating honestly about the causes of global inequality is a step towards exposing global power inequities and contribute to wider efforts to change them.
Are you working on issues of global inequality beyond language?
We are! Members of the Kampala Initiative work on a range of campaigns on issues such as trade, access to medicines and drug policy, whilst collectively the group works to: Decolonize health cooperation; decolonize the critique of aid and; decolonize the promotion of solidarity.
How can I contact you?
Track Changing Initiative:
· Hamimu Masudi, Health Poverty Action [email protected]
Kampala Initiative: Secretariat
· Ravi Ram, People’s Health Movement [email protected]
· Thomas Schwarz, MMI Network [email protected]