We’re 3 months into trying to change up/decolonize FP2P. How are we doing?

We recently spent some time reviewing the first 3 months of #PowerShifts, the new iteration of FP2P, aimed at transforming its messengers, messages and formats over the next two years. The project is in the hands of Maria Faciolince, a Colombian-Antillean anthropologist and activist, supported by Oxfam’s Amy Moran (if you’ve noticed an improvement in the way this blog looks and functions, that’s her doing).

Back in April, the launch post set out the ambition:

‘We want to include more ideas and content from thinkers, researchers and doers in the Global South, in a wider range of formats (video, podcasts, forums and debates, etc). We want to spotlight unheard (at least in the North) voices and amplify stories that are often ignored. Essentially, we want to start rebalancing some of the asymmetries that continue to characterise a large chunk of development communications, and start making these conversations more horizontal.’

The first 3 months have been pretty manic for Maria, sourcing piles of content from different authors and sites. On top of that she has been writing some well-received resources guides (e.g this one on collective mapping), which I reckon could become the basis for a very useful publication down the line.


From April to end of June, the 5 most widely read #PowerShifts posts have been:

  1. Naila Kabeer on Why Randomized Controlled Trials need to include Human Agency
  2. The UK’s ridiculous, self-harming scandal of visa rejections for visiting academics
  3. What’s New in the Private Education Pandora’s Box? A look at developments in the Global South
  4. How to have Difficult Conversations
  5. How to Write About Africa: RIP Binyavanga Wainaina

Seeing this list demonstrates that ´big name´ contributors like Naila Kabeer will always do well, and (surprise surprise) that it helps when the Observer links to a story like the “UK’s ridiculous, self-harming….” post on visas on its front page, or when you are putting something as high profile as The Economist right on its uncritical infatuation with private education.

Readers and contributors

It’s still very early days, but according to Google Analytics (aka the Oracle) the main impact in terms of readers is an upsurge in the readership from Africa (see bar chart). That is probably down to the make-up of the new #PowerShifts authors – nearly half of the contributors have come from African countries (see pie chart).

We also had a good discussion with one of the project’s funders. David Sasaki of Hewlett Foundation put us through a surprisingly gruelling ‘5 whys’ exercise, pushing us to define more clearly our ultimate goal(s) with the project. We ended up with two:

1. Bring new ideas and perspectives into the existing ‘aid sector’, broadly defined as all those working in international development, in order to challenge and enrich its ways of thinking and working.

2. Give a wider range of contributors and activists in the Global South access to the platform and profile of FP2P in order to increase their impact, and shift the power towards their self-representation and voice.

We’re now trying to come up with suitable metrics to track how well we’re doing in achieving them.

What’s Next?

We reckon we need another 3 months of fairly scattergun sourcing, to find out what works and build relationships with a wide range of organizations and networks. We´ll also be introducing more multimedia content, perhaps a new podcast channel for Power Shifts interviews and content. At the same time, we need to move forward on the ‘horizontal exchange’ aspect of the proposal. Sharing the fairly hierarchical blog soapbox with a wider range of speakers is not enough; we need to find ways to encourage more genuine conversations.

I’m hugely enjoying working with Maria and Amy, and the new focus of the blog (not only that, but the overall traffic is going up – what’s not to like?). But what would you like to see? How do you think it’s going so far? What would you like to see more/less of?

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3 Responses to “We’re 3 months into trying to change up/decolonize FP2P. How are we doing?”
  1. Priyanthi Fernando

    Great initiative and I can’t think how I missed its launch given that I am such an avid follower of FP2P. Look forward to seeing more. Just want to caution that ‘decolonising’ means going beyond just the ‘participation’ of southern contributors and readers to actually changing the frameworks of analysis and agendas of knowledge generation and development practice… was thinking also that you could also have as a indicator of #Powershifts the number of southern readers making comments and contributing to the discussion (so not just passively absorbing) – Good luck!

    • Duncan Green

      Excellent advice Priyanthi. If we can find a way of measuring southern-ness of comments, we’ll add it to the metrics. Although these days, a lot of the convos around individual posts takes place on twitter anyway – v hard to keep track of it all!

  2. Ken Smith

    Great to see a wide range of locations of new contributors, but I think there is a wider question than geography if they are all still development professionals all educated ijn the same qualifications in the same universities. How about more posts from Southern faith leaders , politicians , even celebrities or footballers ?