The Nineteenth Annual
Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies
Northwest Conference


Panel 3A
Deconstructing Development: New Frameworks and approaches to Development Theory and Practice

3:30-5:00 PM

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Brokers Beyond Borders: Moldova's Countertraffickers
Walker Frahm, Sociology Department, UW

Building Gendered Human Security Inside and Out: A case Study in Post-Conflict Kosovo
Elizabeth Zherka, REECAS / Evans, UW

Modern Russian Reforms in Education: Critical Challenges for the Future
Tatyana Tsyrlina-Spady, School of Education, Seattle Pacific University; ROSI


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Brokers Beyond Borders: Moldova's Countertraffickers
Walker Frahm

In this paper I first propose a new analytical lens through which to examine the structure and strategies of actors and fields of actors in the arena of international aid and development. Subsequently, I illustrate this new perspective through a case study of the field of organizations fighting human trafficking in Moldova.

The development landscape is growing increasingly complex, but current approaches have been unable to adequately account for this complexity without becoming mired in it. Rather than engaging with the full field of actors, researchers frequently limit the scope of their analysis to include only NGOs, or only “advocacy” NGOs (Prakash and Gugerty 2010). Other scholars take a broader view of development by widening their focus to include entire coalitions of state and non-state actors working toward a common cause (Keck and Sikkink 1998, e.g.), or through stepping back to analyze the world cultural polity as a whole (Meyer 1980, e.g.). If the former approaches – of looking only at NGOs – neglect to account for a wide array of players in a development field, the latter strategies make it difficult to carefully investigate heterogeneities within a field and how they relate to development outcomes. In their recent review of the relevant literature, Susan Watkins, Ann Swidler, and Thomas Hannan call for researchers to “situate [NGOs] among the wider set of organizations and individuals attempting to meet similar needs, by mapping the key dimensions of the organizational field of which they are a part, including their overlaps and interpenetrations with other organizations and actors, from nation-states and intergovernmental organizations to churches, missionaries, and individual altruists” (2012: 304). It is my ambition to do just that.

I propose what I call a development brokerage organization (DBO) perspective. Borrowing from network analysis, this approach places special emphasis upon triadic relationships wherein brokers connect otherwise unconnected side parties in order to facilitate the flow of goods and information between them. Whereas previous researchers treated brokers exclusively as individuals, however, I advocate for the redeployment of the brokerage concept in reference to organizations. Moreover, while brokers are often thought of as reaping greater rewards due to their superior structural position, I draw from Katherine Stovel’s work on the particular challenges brokers face to make the case that brokerage organizations are simultaneously presented with high payoffs and a special class of challenges, which largely stem from the difficulty of being the principal for two dissimilar agents. This is what Stovel calls the broker’s dilemma. I advance the notion that the development context is not only dominated by brokers, but it is also particularly prone to creating deep dilemmas for the DBOs who find themselves in the middle. Thus, the emergence, persistence, and evolution of a particular development field depends not simply on the supply and demand of development goods, but also on the presence of structural gaps, the capacity of brokers to successfully span these gaps, and the particular strategies they take to stabilize their advantageous network position.

To flesh out this new analytical approach, I conduct a case study of the field of DBOs working to prevent and mitigate the effects of human trafficking in the Republic of Moldova. The data for this case study are drawn from over four dozen personal interviews with experts in the field, along with a decade's worth of information on project funding and five years of records showing the ebb and flow of ties between organizations. The combination of formal network analytical methods and qualitative contextualization of the evidence make for a rich case study that is strong enough to bear the weight of a new theoretical perspective.

To read the full article click here.

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Building Gendered Human Security Inside and Out: A case Study in Post-Conflict Kosovo
Elizabeth Zherka

Kosovo’s transitional period was not just post-war, but post-communist; it lacked not only basic infrastructure, but a functioning political system. The international community, development theorists and academics focused Kosovo’s post-war reconstruction and development efforts towards the creation of a strong civil society. Civil society is lauded as representative of the interests of citizen groups, including the marginalized and disadvantaged, as capable of monitoring human rights, being a ballast to the government, and capable of building bridges between communities.

Civil society is a fundamental part of a healthy, secure, democratic society. It is comprised of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) which I divide into three categories: 1. International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs); 2. Local Non-Governmental Organizations (LNGOs); 3. Community Based Organizations (CBOs). Many development-focused CSOs aim to promote democracy, peace, stability, or human security through their interventions, especially in post-crisis situations. Transcending human rights, human security is a more holistic way of looking at security for nations and individuals. A major pillar of human security is the respect for women’s human rights, an area which this paper explores.

It is my contention that gendered human security can be created through projects/interventions by CSOs (namely LNGOs/INGOs) and through the organization’s internal operations; the organization can build human security for the project beneficiaries and the staff/organization members.

LNGOs/INGOs carry out appropriate human security focused interventions/projects that recognize the multifaceted and gendered nature of human security needs and respond in customized ways, especially in post-crisis/post-conflict contexts in which women face a unique set of challenges. For these organizations to have both scalable and sustainable interventions, they must also build gendered human security into their organizational design as it is critical to creating a longer-term positive impact and more effective development.

This paper will use a case study of an organization as a base of analysis and relies on empirical research, in tandem with bodies of literature on NGOs, civil society and human security, and non-profit management. I begin the paper by setting the scene for the case study, proceeding to give an overview of Kosovo’s post-conflict NGO climate, addressing INGO involvement and LNGO creation. I then discuss the critiques and capacity building of Kosovo’s post-conflict CSOs before exploring the relationship between gendered human security and CSOs. I then move on to my case study of Medica Gjakova, analyzing the organization’s origins and asking: How did they build gendered human security within their organization? I proceed to analyze their activities, chronologically, asking: How did
they build gendered human security into their interventions? Based on lessons learned from this case study, I provide recommendations and a tool for INGOs/LNGOs in future post-crisis settings, especially in the Western Balkans, seeking to ‘do development’ and advance gendered human security both through their interventions and within their organizations.

To read the full paper click here.

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Modern Russian Reforms in Education: Critical Challenges for the Future
Tatyana Tsyrlina-Spady

The last twenty years in Russia are known for its numerous attempts to change the system of public education in the country and build it on the basis of the following principles: decentralization, de-ideologization, democratization, diversification, humanization, and “humanitization” (increasing a number of humanitarian subjects in the school curriculum). Since 2010 the field of Russian education has looked like a battlefield, especially after the introduction of a draft of a new federal education law and the official acceptance of the fact that the previous law (1992, 1996) could no longer meet modern educational needs.

The first draft was openly published on the website of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science for a wide public discussion, and during a short period of time it received so many critical comments and responses that it has even become a subject of the federal policymakers’ “investigation.” Still, a new law on education has been recently adopted by the State Duma and signed by President Putin, and the public education system is facing even more challenges than before in terms of how to reconstruct its curriculum, methods, and textbooks to live up to the announced state demands. Interestingly enough, among its recent acts the Ministry published a list of 100 books, recommended for independent reading and a list of 100 best Russian films to watch. We are going to briefly analyze those documents too.

The reaction of the public and the professional community to the publication of State Education Standards (SES) was even more bitter and critical. With very few positive comments, primarily from the SES creators themselves, the rest of the respondents felt that if the Standards were implemented, then there would ‘come generations of idiots, strong enough to defend their motherland but unable to critically analyze the reality.’

The key principles of developing SES, as announced by their authors (Alexander Kondakov and his team), include:

• Building new ideas on the basis of the best Russian and Soviet practices, and world experience.
• Using the concept of “education aimed at developing students,” and the “activity approach” as a theoretical foundation for SES.
• Adopting the concept of “a nucleus and a shell” while constructing an educational content.
• Introducing and promoting the principle of multiculturalism.

In the presentation we will give a brief analysis of the main pros and cons of the new law on education and new State Education Standards, comparing them with the previous Russian education acts and their inconsistency along many lines as well as challenges and problems for the future of the nation.

To read the full paper click here.

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REECAS Program
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