What is Development – And why does it matter?
I am teaching a course during the summer term, which I have titled “Understanding development,” a class I developed over the past year or so. This is my second time teaching it and during each class, I try to challenge students about a conception of “development” they have, whether it is local or global. […]
What is cultural humility￼
You may have heard the term “cultural humility,” being used in conversations and wondered “what on earth is that,?”. I was one of those people too, and was instructed in its usage a few weeks ago, by a staff member at Casa Alitas, an NGO that works with asylum seekers and refugees. As Christy […]
Can Philanthropy help fix the refugee crisis?
Beyond the headlines, the noise and clamor that we hear about immigration is a rather simple question: How will we welcome the stranger? The one who is unknown, perhaps vulnerable? The question of refugees is also ultimately about us, especially those living in countries where refugees come to. The U.S, Europe and the Gulf nations […]
“Where are you from” and other questions
In the U.S., ‘Where are you from’ can be a loaded question. It took me a while to realize this. It could range from : a) genuine curiosity about your origins b) ignorance about who you are OR c) An arrogant assumption that you are an ‘outsider,’ even if you are more ‘native’ than the person […]
The Anatomy of Arrogance: How to understand the Donald Trump phenomenon
Pride is one of the cardinal sins, but in today’s America it seems to have become a virtue. If Donald Trump’s rhetoric is anything to go by, and the reaction he is getting from his ‘fans,’ then this ‘sin,’ seems to be the way to win elections. In the language of culture studies, this absolute […]
Should you give ‘Directly,’ for impact? Lessons from my mom’s charitable experiments
What is the best way to help people? Is it to let the market forces determine who should survive and who should sink, or should there be intervention from the state or other players? How should philanthropy be directed towards individuals and communities? These questions have neither clear-cut answers, nor a good way of being […]
How to tell someone they are wrong
I got into an argument with a friend just yesterday. The topic was U.S. Foreign policy in the Middle East. While I do have strong ideas about this issue, so did my friend – who is a Veteran. We had a few strong exchanges and clarified our positions, in no uncertain terms. But after my […]
Ten Commandments for an International Relations Professional
I received an email from a relative in India, requesting me to speak with his niece, who is considering grad school in the U.S. She wants to specialize in International Relations. This is perhaps the fifth or so request I have received in the last year. So, I thought of writing a blog post for […]
Religious Freedom laws in the U.S. : Freedoms used to justify discrimination?
I taught my students about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a law that is being used to pass similar laws in various states in the U.S. The most controversial case involves a similar law in Indiana. The contours of the case point to the idea that private businesses can discriminate against LGBT couples. But […]