01 May 2012

Robert Chambers: Blogger, Poet and Provocateur

Robert Chambers, IDS Associate and all round inspiration has just released a book, Provocations for Development.  The book is a collection of short pieces over the past  30 or so years, only one of which has appeared in one of Robert's books before.

The book is great--Robert designed it so you could dip in and out with ease, and he has achieved this.

So, for example, I read with interest about his word content dissection of the Paris declaration on Aid Effectiveness (please don't do this on one of my papers Robert), his views on mobile phones (and why he keeps taking photos of his knees), the six blind spots of deprivation (e.g. the poverty of time), the story of Chapter 11 in the World Bank's Development Report of 2000/1 (very pertinent with all the talk of Voices of the Poor 2) and the participation of children in shaping our futures (children will astonish us if only the adults would let them).

I also realised Robert was a blogger before any of us were (he just did his first formal one here, but as you can see from the book he has been doing them since the 70s).

He is also a poet. There are loads of poems in the book. One verse "Empowerment means having voice; You enjoy the right of choice; You are free in every way; To run your country as we say". And this is one of the less raucous ones.

But he is above all a provocateur, someone who can make you think about things that are outside your comfort zone.

I found his final entry in the book to be the most provocative.

When posed the question, "what would it take to eliminate poverty in the world?" Robert starts making his wish list of policy outcomes and other things... then he stops and says, yes, but this is just a wish list, and it is mostly a list of things others should do. What about us, the non-poor, the better off, the wealthy, the powerful? He then lays out 3 areas in which he is continuously learning to do better: around power and wealth, social relations and personal behaviours. It is a fascinating list.

So Robert has now gotten me to think about my own list--which is the kind of thing the book does. And he knows where I live.


Lee Crawfurd said...

I want a kindle edition!

TB said...

ditto. kindle please.

Jo A said...

There is a huge Kindle audience for those of us based overseas I am sure. I would love to read while it's fresh and was v tempted by your blog..

Lawrence Haddad said...

Folks, here is a note in response to your questions. Thanks, Lawrence

"The two e-book versions we plan are already announced but not due to be published until July. One is a library e-book for multiple concurrent users for use in an institutional setting and the other a consumer e-book for individual users that should be available from the Kindlestore amongst other platforms.

I hope this clarifies the situation.


Toby Milner
Managing Director
Practical Action Publishing"

aidnography said...

One ebook is a great start, but we need other works by Robert as ebooks, too...ideally with a Creative Common licence so they can be shared freely around the world :)!