Black History Month Blog Series: Human Zoos by Yiwen Zhang

A Neglected Series of Human Rights Violations in our Modern History Textbooks: Human Zoos

Yiwen Zhang

 

Our history textbooks frequently shed light on the positive, vibrant aspects of European and American popular culture in the 19th to 20th century, with a particular emphasis on film, fashion, theatre, literature, and music. However, Western school curriculums and media continually fail to address the horrific realities their ancestors are guilty of, cherry-picking only the progressive elements of Western modern history.

Human zoos otherwise referred to as ‘ethnological expositions’, epitomize an inarguable violation of human rights in black history; black and indigenous human beings were kidnapped from their lands, locked up in cages, and placed on display often with animals for enormous crowds in European countries like the UK, Germany, and France, as well as American states like New York, for millions of white people – friends and families – to enjoy. These human beings were viewed as ‘savages’ who existed in a ‘primitive’ state and were devalued to a mere source of public entertainment for white people. Whilst slavery had been abolished in 1833 under the Slavery Abolition Act, it is more than apparent that the objectification and dehumanization of black people continued to perpetuate in the eyes and activities of the Western world well beyond the early 19th century.

 

How did human zoos become popularised?

In the 1870s, Carl Hagenbeck, a German wild animal merchant and business operator of multiple zoos in Europe in the 19thcentury served as a key figure in popularising the emergence of this deeply racist and horrifying human exhibition chain in Europe. After being faced with rising costs of acquiring and maintaining animals, Hagenbeck searched for alternative methods to alleviate the financial strains endured by his company. Upon suggestion from his friend Heinrich Leutemann, who proposed that humans from foreign lands were to be seized to accompany the animals on display, Hagenbeck ordered a group of Sami and Samoan individuals from Lapland to complement his shipment of reindeer; these indigenous people, derogatorily known as ‘Laplanders’, were showcased at an exhibition in his Hamburg Tierpark in 1874, sparking the rise and popularisation of human zoos.

Whilst Hagenbeck’s shows did not constitute the first historical event in which foreigners were captured for display – which can be traced back to the Ancient Romans – he has undoubtedly boasted about his first shows parading ‘cultures’ from foreign lands. Thus, in an era prior to mass technological innovation and globalization, such inhumane exhibitions were excused as a way for white people to ‘learn about the culture’ of black and indigenous populations. White Europeans and Americans observed behind barriers, whilst these indigenous individuals apparently carried on with their lives in an unnatural, inhumane and enclosed environment, equivalent to zoo enclosures for animals.

Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II meeting Ethiopians standing behind a wooden fence in Hamburg, Germany (1909

Some example exhibitions of black people

In 1876, Hagenbeck directed an associate to the Egyptian Sudan in pursuit of bringing back both wild beasts and Nubians as European collections to be on public exhibition. This exhibition served as a huge ‘success’ in Paris, London, and Berlin. The 1878 and 1889 Parisian World’s Fair presented a ‘Negro Village’; the 1889 World’s Fair showcased 400 indigenous people, attracting 28 million visitors, unveiling the extent of support towards human zoos harvested in the West.

Ota Benga, a member of the Baschelel tribe in the Belgian Congo served as a notable victim of human zoos, having been on display at the 1904 World Fair in St. Louis in the US. As a pygmy captured by Samuel Phillips Verna, a Presbyterian minister from South Carolina who originally tried to kill him, Verna conceptualized Benga as the ideal image of a ‘savage’: dark skin, short stature, and teeth filed down into spikes. Thus, Benga was put on display with several other pygmies, and forced to reside in makeshift village huts. As a result of tips paid to pygmies by visitors at the World’s Fair, pygmies spent earnings on Western habits like smoking cigars and wearing stylish top hats. However, such substances and objects were confiscated by white organizers, due to its direct paradox with the notion that these individuals were ‘primitive natives’ incapable of appreciating other cultures.

 

Benga, who gained significant recognition for being good with animals was further profited off by Bronx Zoo director William Temple Hornaday in New York City; here, he was placed in his own exhibition in a monkey cage, receiving countless sneers from visitors on a daily basis. Isolating Benga in a cage with an ape epitomizes the total defilement of basic human rights, highlighting the cruel, inhumane manner in which black people were treated.

Ota Benga at the Bronx Zoo in 1906

Shockingly, human zoos were still in operation around 60 years ago – the final human zoo exhibition was not until 1958: The World’s Fair in Brussels which comprised of a Congolese village. This culminated in the tragic death of a number of black people during the show, who were buried in a large, unmarked grave, a further exemplification of the absence of empathy and consideration of black lives, and the dehumanizing nature of human zoos. Fortunately, the popularity of human zoos had overall faded by then, and the majority of human zoos were condemned and banned; the Brussels World’s Fair had served as a historical outlier.

Brussels World Fair (1958) 

Key Implications

Ultimately, it is shocking that a horrific series of events attracting millions of people, embodying a rampant form of entertainment in the 19th and 20th centuries, has been fully neglected in our curriculum. White Europeans’ cruel treatment of black people, in particular, has been downplayed and ignored in our history textbooks.

Upon reflection, Hagenbeck writes in his memoirs: ‘it was my privilege to be the first in the civilized world to present these shows of different races’. His statement only fortifies the existence of white privilege; even after the abolishment of slavery in 1833, white people have continued to unethically and cruelly profit off the mere existence of black people. Referring to the West as the ‘civilized’ world only reinforces the white supremacist sentiment that white people are intrinsically superior; considering that this alleged ‘civility’ comes as a product of centuries of slavery, colonialism, imperialism, and the dehumanization of black people as zoo exhibitions, his statement must be re-evaluated.

With the present-day rising level of controversy surrounding the morality of zoo enclosures for animals, it is difficult to comprehend that just six decades ago, human beings were locked in cages, shut behind barriers, and placed on display, to be sneered upon by millions of people. Nonetheless, this mirrors the fast-paced nature of change in modern societal perceptions; this provides a glimmer of hope that the systemic racism that remains rooted in today’s society could be defeated sooner, rather than later.

https://www.popularresistance.org/deep-racism-the-forgotten-history-of-human-zoos/ 

 

Black History Month Blog

Hello Everyone,

This year, for Black History Month we’ll be putting up a series of blog posts. This week’s blog is by Rafi Ahmed.

Seneca Village: The Forgotten Victim of Central Park’s Racial Past

Rafi Ahmed

 

 

Everyone knows Central Park at New York City – a sprawling beautiful green space with walkways, ecosystems and sculptures at the heart of Manhattan. However, very little know about how Central Park was previously a majority-black community named Seneca Village. What happened to Seneca Village and why is it an important period of black history?

 

Read along to find out!

 

How was Seneca Village established?

 

In the early 19th century Upper Manhattan was mainly a countryside while Lower Manhattan was a dense and crowded urban area with white, blacks and immigrants. From 1800 to 1830, the number of black slaves decreased from 21000 to just 75. Hence, more and more freed black men and women joined the workforce. This created racial tensions between whites and blacks as whites felt that black people were stealing their jobs. Racial tensions led to racial violence that made lower Manhattan too dangerous to live in.

 

That’s when a solution arose. In 1825 plots of land started going up for sale in the area now known as Central Park. Andrew Williams, a 25-year-old African-American shoe-shiner, bought the first three lots for $125. Word spread around the black community and more plots were sold to black households and churches. By the mid-1850s, Seneca Village comprised 50 homes and three churches, as well as burial grounds, and a school for African-American students. Thus, between 82nd and 89th street that the community of Seneca village was born.

(Courtesy of NYC Municipal Archives)

 

Why was Central Park made?

 

Over the next three decades after Seneca Village was established, the population of Lower Manhattan nearly quadrupled in size. The city’s white elite feared that New York would turn into a concrete jungle. They wished that the city had a park that could serve as both the lungs and a sight of beauty for the city similar to the Kensington Park or the Champ Elysees in Europe.

Hence, in 1853, the New York State Legislature enacted a law that set aside approximately 750-800 acres of land in Manhattan – from 59th to 106th Streets, between Fifth and Eighth Avenues – to create the country’s first major landscaped park: The Central Park.

Unfortunately, some of the area allotted to the Central Park belonged to Seneca Village. The village was destroyed so that Central Park could be built.

 

(Courtesy of MYC Municipal Archives)

Why was Seneca Village destroyed?

Urban re-development projects are designed by demolishing old buildings to create space for new ones. We see it everywhere, across time and geography. However, Seneca Village is not just another example of a strategic re-development project. The plight of Seneca Village speaks to racial injustice in modern America. It speaks to the reductive ways white America viewed racial communities and weaponized race to justify their actions and words.

 

In order to facilitate the park’s development, the city’s newspapers started to downplay who really lived there. They described the residents as living in miserable broken-down shanties. From their perspective, poor people of debased cultures lived in these ‘No Man’s Land’ infested with dogs and rats. These stereotypes were commonly used to describe people of colour and immigrants, as a way of showing the superiority of the white elite in America. The stereotypes were used to explain how unsightly these communities were compared to a potentially beautiful park.

 

However, the descriptions were simply not true. In 2011, Cynthia and a team of archaeologists excavated in the former Seneca Village. They came away with 250 bags of objects to analyse. These objects suggest that Seneca village was wealthier than one assumed. For instance, a commonly found object was a toothbrush that was not common amongst working- and middle-class people till the 1920s. Compared to other African-Americans living in New York, residents of Seneca Village seem to have been more stable and prosperous — by 1855, approximately half of them owned their own homes. While some residents lived in shanties and in crowded conditions, most lived in two-story homes. Census records show that residents were employed, with African-Americans typically employed as laborers and in-service jobs, the main options for them at the time. Records also show that most children who lived in Seneca Village attended school.

 

But to the white NY elite it was not worth saving. A July 1956 article referred to it with a slur calling it the ‘N**** village’. They were notified to leave by early August. Many residents fought to keep their land by filing objections to their forced removal only to be met by failure…

 

Why is learning about Seneca Village important?

 

Seneca Village is a testament of Black excellence. It was a community of well-educated, prosperous black men, women and children in a world not willing, at the time, to grant wealth or education to people of colour. The village was also a representation of black political capital. In 1821, New York State required African-American men to own at least $250 in property and hold residency for at least three years to be able to vote. Fast forward to 1845, of the 100 black New Yorkers eligible to vote, 10 lived in Seneca Village. Lastly, Seneca Village was a symbol of inclusive America. By 1855, the village consisted of approximately 225 residents, made up of roughly two-thirds African-Americans, one-third Irish immigrants, and a small number of individuals of German descent.

The demolition of Seneca Village was an attack on racial minority and immigrant power, excellence and integration. Eviction of families from their own homes meant cutting down the intergenerational passage of wealth in the form of property and education. The attack was motivated by racial prejudice to make way for the luxuries of the white elite. While Central Park is certainly an important architectural and environmental feat, it could be built including – not excluding – Seneca Village.

Seneca Village is important because, in principle, it is relatable for all of us who have been looked down upon for our race, sex, religion or skin colour. We need to know, write and speak about Seneca Village because truth is power and black lives matter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

InterDev Journal Volume I

The LSESU International Development Society is pleased to announce the publication of the first edition of our journal, Voices. Focusing on the interdisciplinary nature of the field, the articles explore the impact of development policies through socio-economic and political lenses as well as assessing issues across the domestic, regional, and international realm in an ever-changing world. We offer our gratitude to the committee of 2019-2020 for all their hard work and efforts with a special mention for outgoing President Nicolas Feil and Head of Research Johann Power. We hope to continue to uphold this initiative under our new team and look forward to sharing further editions throughout the year. We hope you enjoy reading it!

Voices Volume I 2020pdf

Apply for leadership roles for 2020/21

Nominate yourself here

See below for role descriptions.

Applications are only open to current members of InterDev and those students who will for sure be at LSE next academic year.

Positions are slightly flexible, however you are held accountable by the InterDev Constitution which describes specific remits for your role.

Why InterDev?

  • Lead one of LSE’s medium-sized societies that also has an SU Gold Star award. We had 200 members in 2018/19, and have currently more than 300 in 2020/21.
  • Learn more about development and job opportunities in the sector, network with professionals (i.e. our speakers) and future professionals (i.e. our members and committee!)

Why an executive position?

  • Prove yourself
  • Hone general skills like general organisation, time management
  • Hone skills specific to the role, e.g. leadership skills by leading a subcommittee (Head of Research, Head of Events, two Co-Directors of the London Development Symposium)
  • Network with other societies and their leaders
  • Make like-minded friends

The positions require constant effort from April 2020 until March 2021, including making time in your schedule for attending biweekly 1-hour meetings.

The Election is taking place online via the LSESU website here – and the dates for nominations and voting are below. 

Nominations:

  • Open: Monday 9th March 9am
  • Close: Thursday 19th March (midnight)

Voting:

  • Open: Monday 23rd March 12pm
  • Close: Tuesday 31st March (midnight)

President

The President’s role is to oversee the society’s activities as a whole. You’re responsible for developing ideas to guide InterDev and our activities into the coming year. In addition, you have responsibility for maintaining relations with the Students’ Union, from ensuring compliance to communicating with relevant officers on society activities. You take charge of managing your team and ensuring everyone is contributing and involved (which is definitely easier said than done). Plus, formal/informal outreach and maintaining partnerships comprises a very time-consuming part of your role. Some responsibilities super specific, and contingent on your team’s involvement: for example, writing an event proposal form to the SU, organising an event yourself, or making sure we win SU STARS. Versatility is key.

Ideally, the President should be very enthusiastic and willing to devote lots of time and energy to the society’s development (five to ten hours a week, incl. before Michaelmas Term 2019). Whether meeting other student-run initiatives or introducing an event, your role is unavoidably outward-facing, so it’s important to be a clear communicator and confident public speaker. An interest in international development (academic or otherwise) is crucial.

Has room booking rights (and duty!). Effort: 10-15 hours a week.


Vice President

Key responsibilities include supporting the president in the running of the society; this can include filling in for the President when necessary and working with the President in key decision-making and outreach (within the LSESU, i.e. to other student societies, and outside campus, i.e. with organisations or potential partners).

Also, you play a role in event organisation and management; for instance through liaising with outside speakers and the co-ordination of event logistics.

Effort: 5-10 hours a week.


Secretary

The Secretary’s role on the Executive Committee is to act as a liaison between society leadership and society members. This crucially includes sending out the newsletter. In addition, you should be responsible for administrative tasks, including booking venues, sending out society emails and taking detailed meeting notes on all internal committee meetings, society meetings and events. Plus, you are encouraged to get involved and lend administrative back-up to event project reams.

The Secretary should attend all society meetings and events, and aim to devote a couple hours a week to completing administrative tasks. As an official liaison between leadership and members, your role is socially demanding and it’s critical to be an effective, clear communicator with admirable time and information management.

Effort: 5-10 hours a week.


Head of PR & Marketing

This position is responsible for managing the reputation of the society; this encompasses marketing events, messaging with individuals, and posting on our social media outlets. Essentially, the duty is to use media and communications to build and maintain a positive relationship with our society members as well as with the LSE student body and the general public.

The ideal person for the job is creative, works well in a team, and has great communication skills.

Effort: 5-10 hours a week.


Treasurer

Being Treasurer for LSESU InterDev is an immensely rewarding experience and will allow you to learn about the inner financials of the student society.

As treasurer you are responsible for the society’s finances and funding. Job Description:

1. Ensure the society is financially healthy and has funds to execute events

2. Approve expenses and reimbursement claims on 365Expenses app

3. Apply for LSE/SU funding (via activates fund, annual fund or similar etc.)

4. Secure sponsorship from an external organisation

Has room booking rights (and duty!)

Effort: 5-10 hours a week.


Head of Events

As a Head of Events, you come up with and organise events that would cater to the interests of our members. You liaise with external organisations and individuals, as well as work on logistics along with other society members. You also manage a team of events sub-committee who assist with the above.

Effort: 10-15 hours a week.


Head of Research

You organise InterDev’s journal, recruit a subcommittee of editors, designers and researchers, make sure we get accredited with LSE’s prestigious Houghton Street Press.

Effort: 10-15 hours a week.


Co-Head of Conferences (two positions)

You organise the London Development Symposium, which is InterDev’s Flagship event. It will run in February/March 2021. You liaise with external organisations and individuals, as well as work on logistics along with other society members. You also manage a team of events sub-committee who assist with the above. You work with external universities (we have an established contact with King’s College International Development Society and SOAS World Development Society). You recruit a subcommittee in April-June 2020 and start to recruit speakers in June.

Effort: 10-15 hours a week.

Rethinking the Development agenda: an interview with Alia Amirali.

Alia Amirali is a left-wing political worker from Pakistan, an academic and a current PhD candidate in the LSE Gender Studies department. She sits down with Frances from InterDev to talk women’s political organising, neoliberal capitalism and the development sector.

FL: How did you become a political worker?

AA: I grew up in Islamabad, Pakistan and I was politicised before I became a political worker as such, in large part because my parents were politically conscious. As I became older, there were movements happening around me; there were slum dwellers’ movements to resist forced evictions from their homes; there were movements by peasant-farmers in the centre of Punjab – the most populated province of the country and Pakistan’s political heartland.

The Okara peasant’s movement in 2002 that I am referring to was a completely unprecedented event for someone of my generation– tens of thousands of farmers were getting up and opposing the biggest political force in the country- the military. These farmers were being evicted from their lands and trying to be brought onto a contract system which was not acceptable to them. That movement was my big, you could say, political ‘awakening’.

After that I actively started to organise when I became a student in a university in Islamabad. Since then, I’ve been organising students, slum dwellers, and various sections of the working classes and labour groups. I was initially associated with a political group that was called the Peoples’ Rights Movement which then decided to merge with other Left parties. This spurred a series of mergers that took place subsequently, culminating in the creation of a new political party in Pakistan which is called the Awami Workers Party, of which I am a member and have also served as an office-bearer.

FL: Can you talk more about the role of women within your political work?

AA: Many of the ‘people’ I have worked with have always been women, whether you look within the student community, the peasants, or the slum dwellers. But they’ve always been invisible in terms of not having a political voice. Pakistan is an extremely patriarchal society, so it’s not surprising that the women within each of these social groups have never had the kind of visibility that men in their communities have had. But it’s not like men in these instances are simply ‘powerful’ or ‘perpetrators’; there are also powerless men in the world, which I think we tend to forget when we hear the word ‘men’! But this should not obscure the fact that relative to women within these communities, men certainly have forms of privilege that women do not.

Being a political worker seriously complicates, in a good way, these hard categories or images that we have when we’re on the outside and we think – oh, these groups are privileged, those groups are victims. It changes that a lot. And it’s very clear that women in these communities have been very active in all of these movements, for example in the movements against the forced evictions of slums in urban cities across Pakistan. They’ve not been the leaders; they haven’t had the visibility so nobody really knows that in these movements if women had not come out, whatever victories have been won would never have been possible. That’s also true of the Okara peasant’s movement. Women across a number of villages actually formed a force called the Thapa force. The thapa is a wooden log that Punjabi villagers use to wash clothes. These women basically used their thapa as a weapon to beat back the military which was coming into their homes to pick up the men and to spread fear amongst the community. It was these ‘oppressed’ rural women who were at the forefront of physical confrontations with the military during the Okara movement– so much for the docile, passive, victim image of the ‘poor, oppressed Third World woman’!

FL: And what do you think perpetuates this image of the ‘passive’ or ‘docile’ woman?

AA: I think some of that has to do with the need for a ‘saviour.’ Every saviour needs a victim to help, right? All such institutions which include the state, the military and the development sector (on the global, national and local levels) need ‘victims’ which are straightforwardly projected as passive beings who need to be helped and liberated by the ‘saviour(s)’.

The invasion of Afghanistan by the US was underpinned very strongly by this image of Afghan women supposedly ‘asking’ to be liberated from these terrible, oppressive, patriarchal Muslim men and the US being the enlightened, civilised saviour of Afghan women. We’ve seen these tropes in many forms for many years and I think the reason they continue to persist despite the fact that they certainly don’t depict ground realities is precisely because if those images go away, then the entire justification for intervention then also falls apart.

And that doesn’t mean that all of these people: women, students and the working class in much of the third world, are not oppressed. They are victims of the system and they have to deal with the consequences of global capitalism, imperialism and patriarchy every day in a way that you and I don’t. But their oppressions are used and manipulated and then presented in a particular way by the development sector, by the media, states and militaries to pin the problem elsewhere; away from where it really lies.

Distorting the problem itself by painting a picture of helpless, passive Third World women whose primary ‘problem’ is their own patriarchal men (with religion often thrown into the mix) basically positions white, rich countries (and men in particular) as the saviours of these people. It hides the complicity of the rich and the powerful, of capitalism, corporations and of the development sector – which refuses to acknowledge that at the root of all of these problems is actually global capitalism and imperialism.

FL: In light of this, how should the development sector be working to achieve the aim of empowering women?

AA: First of all, the development sector looks at problems in a very sectoral and compartmentalised way; for instance, ‘women’ is a category, ‘poverty’ is a category, ‘education’ is a category. This way of categorising different sorts of victims or problems is a problem, because all of these problems are connected.

Many of the programs that I’ve come across in Pakistan and which are probably similar all over the global South have to do with ‘skills training’, micro-credit schemes and things like that. If you look at the logic that is underpinning these schemes and initiatives, you just have to read their descriptions to know that they’re legitimised by being proven to be good for economic growth. There needs to be a recognition that when we talk about ‘development,’ we are talking about the development of a particular economic system which has a name: it is called capitalism.

And anyone who is educated enough to be employed in the development sector knows that capitalism is a system which functions around the needs, interests, and logic of capital, not of people. By trying to solve people’s problems through expanding and further entrenching a system that is inherently anti-people; it’s just an oxymoron. So, first of all, the development sector would have to seriously change its relationship to global capital and rethink which system it’s trying to develop.

Second, we live in the real world where a lot of the money for the development sector comes precisely from capitalist states, capitalist individuals and organisations. So, if what I just said earlier is considered to be absolutely utopian then okay, something that might be more ‘realistic’ could be to demand that the development sector at least try and counter the effects of neoliberal capitalism in particular, which is forcing massive cutbacks on ‘development spending’ and public funds across the globe.

We live in a period now where nation states are pulling back from providing all kinds of social services which citizens need in order to be healthy, or at least functional human beings. The state has, over the last few decades in particular, through what we call neoliberalism, very rapidly stepped away from the provision of these services, thanks to economic policies peddled by institutions like the IMF and World Bank and enforced through international ‘agreements’. If the development sector really wants to help people, it cannot avoid taking a stand against some of the very institutions that comprise the ‘development sector’ itself, like the World Bank and the IMF. The UN, for instance, if it is to become a meaningful and respectable institution in my eyes, cannot continue to be a toothless bystander which goes in and puts band-aids on bullet wounds of people that are being shot right under its nose (both in a literal and figurative sense) and refuses to acknowledge and challenge the realities of capitalist-patriarchy, imperialism, racism, and the systemic production of the very ‘problems’ it seeks to solve.

FL: On an individual level, what advice would you give to LSE students thinking of working in the development sector?

AA: The first thing I would say is that because you are a student at LSE, this means that you are privileged now and you are going to be in a position of privilege later as well. You will have decision-making power, you will have resources at your disposal, you will be influential. And if you go into the development sector, do not assume like everyone around you, that you know what the problem is. So, whatever your project may be, whatever association you may be working with, you must first step back and learn about the context in which you are working rather than assume that you already know what kind of interventions need to be made.

I’m not casting doubt on anyone’s intentions here but more often than not, people with good intentions end up doing really bad things that they didn’t even know were bad and will never really know the consequences of because they don’t have to live with those consequences, unlike the recipients of their ‘benevolent’ interventions.

So, do what you can, understand your limitations in whatever institutions you will be employed in, but remember that a job is always going to be a job. It will not be your politics. Make sure you keep time and space and energy to be able to invest in political work because ultimately that is what’s going to change the world – not your job and not the development sector.

Follow Alia on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/AliaAmiraliOfficial/

Interviewed by Frances Li, LSE International Development Society

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Today is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty!

In light of today, we bring to your attention the recent winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics: Banerjee, Duflo and Kremer. The Nobel was awarded for their “experimental approach to alleviating global poverty”. It’s increasingly important that the Nobel committee and other economists identify the significance of development economics and provide its researchers with a platform to encourage conversation.

Click on the link below to find out more about their innovative work:

https://www.wionews.com/opinions/economics-nobel-prize-2019-why-abhijit-banerjee-esther-duflo-and-michael-kremer-won-256045

Recruitment for 2019/20

Apply here

General prerequisite: Applications are only open to current members of InterDev.

Leadership positions

The 2019/20 Executive Committee of InterDev is thrilled to announce that our Annual General Meeting (AGM) is scheduled for Week 1 of Michaelmas Term 2019. At the AGM, we will elect the following two positions. If you want to apply, please just show up and/or fill out the form linked above in order to hear when and where the AGM will take place exactly.

Head of PR & Marketing: Direct the society’s online image, including Instagram, Facebook and website; Manage the PR/Marketing sub-committee; Takes responsibility for copy-editing public content (e.g. blog). Lead the society’s PR & Marketing subcommittee. Desirable: Experience with graphic software, photography skills, good camera

NOW FILLED: Head of Conferences: Direct the society’s flagship conference, the London Development Symposium. This is a week-long conference to be held in LT 2020. Duties will include managing the Conferences sub-committee and liaising with LSE and intercollegiate partners. The sub-committee is jointly responsible for inviting and managing speakers, event management, catering, security, ticketing etc.

General time commitment for leadership positions: six hours per week.

Subcommittee positions

Subcommittee members will be selected by the current Executive Committee. Applications close on Sunday, 6 October 2019 at 23:59. Successful candidates will be invited to an interview in the following week and be notified by the end of that week.

Events manager: The events sub-committee will meet regularly with the Head of Events to organise events. This is including but not limited to ticketing, budgeting, security as well as finding, securing and managing guest speakers. The sub-committee will have the opportunity to chair specific events and to organise their own events.

Sponsor relations manager: The Sponsor relations sub-committee will meet regularly with the Treasurer. Key responsibilities will include finding sponsors via emailing and calling, as well as through personal relationships. Sub-committee members will gain an overview over the whole society and gain marketing skills, as they market the society to potential sponsors.

PR & Marketing manager: The PR & Marketing sub-committee will meet regularly with the Head of Marketing. Key responsibilities will include updating social media (Facebook, Instagram) with publicity for upcoming events, overseeing the InterDev blog and updating the website. Sub-committee members may also help to produce photos and videos for social media pages, help out with producing flyers and photographing events. Desirable: Clear communication skills and experience with graphic software

Conferences: The Conferences sub-committee will organise the society’s flagship event, the London Development Symposium. This is a week-long conference to be held in LT 2020. Duties will include inviting and managing speakers, event management, catering, security, ticketing etc. Desirable: Experience in event management

General time commitment for subcommittee positions: three hours per week.

Society Leadership: Looking Ahead

Calling all InterDev members!

The 2018/2019 Executive Committee of InterDev is thrilled to announce that our Annual General Meeting (AGM) is scheduled for Lent Term, Week 10.

Ahead of the upcoming AGM, the current Executive Committee is hosting an informal drop-in session for all those interested in society leadership positions on Wednesday, 27th February from 12:00-15:00 in Room 2.03, New Academic Building. Come along with any questions or concerns.

In the meantime, see below for role descriptions, with blurbs written by the current Executive Committee.

General prerequisites: Applications are only open to current undergraduates and members of InterDev. We advise interested postgraduate applicants to consider executive involvement in our partner society, DESTIN.


President

The President’s role is to oversee the society’s activities as a whole. You’re responsible for developing ideas to guide InterDev and our activities into the coming year. In addition, you have responsibility for maintaining relations with the Students’ Union, from ensuring compliance to communicating with relevant officers on society activities. You take charge of managing your team and ensuring everyone is contributing and involved (which is definitely easier said than done). Plus, formal/informal outreach and maintaining partnerships comprises a very time-consuming part of your role. Some responsibilities super specific, and contingent on your team’s involvement: for example, sending the weekly newsletter, an event proposal form, or sponsorship application. Versatility is key.

Ideally, the President should be very enthusiastic and willing to devote lots of time and energy to the society’s development (approx. five hours a week, inc. before Michaelmas Term 2019). Whether meeting other student-run initiatives or introducing an event, your role is unavoidably outward-facing, so it’s important to be a clear communicator and confident public speaker. An interest in international development (academic or otherwise) is crucial.


Vice President

Key responsibilities include supporting the president in the running of the society; this can include filling in for the President when necessary and working with the President in key decision-making and outreach (within the LSESU, i.e. to other student societies, and outside campus, i.e. with organisations or potential partners).

Also, you play a role in event organisation and management; for instance through liaising with outside speakers and the co-ordination of event logistics.


Secretary

The Secretary’s role on the Executive Committee is to act as a liaison between society leadership and society members. In addition, you should be responsible for administrative tasks, including booking venues, sending out society emails and taking detailed meeting notes on all internal committee meetings, society meetings and events. Plus, you are encouraged to get involved and lend administrative back-up to event project reams.

The Secretary should attend all society meetings and events, and aim to devote a couple hours a week to completing administrative tasks. As an official liaison between leadership and members, your role is socially demanding and it’s critical to be an effective, clear communicator with admirable time and information management.


Head of PR & Marketing

This position is responsible for managing the reputation of the society; this encompasses marketing events, messaging with individuals, and posting on our social media outlets. Essentially, the duty is to use media and communications to build and maintain a positive relationship with our society members as well as with the LSE student body and the general public.

The ideal person for the job is creative, works well in a team, and has great communication skills.


Treasurer

Being Treasurer for LSESU InterDev is an immensely rewarding experience and will allow you to learn about the inner financials of the student society.

As treasurer you are responsible for the society’s finances and funding. Job Description:

1. Ensure the society is financially healthy and has funds to execute events

2. Approve expenses and reimbursement claims on 365Expenses app

3. Apply for LSE/SU funding (via activates fund, annual fund or similar etc.)

4. Secure sponsorship from an external organisation


Head of Events

As a Head of Events, you come up with and organise events that would cater to the interests of our members. You liaise with external organisations and individuals, as well as work on logistics along with other society members. You also manage a team of events sub-committee who assist with the above.

Smita Sanghrajka, Partner in the KPMG IDAS Africa practice

Smita Sanghrajka, Partner in the KPMG IDAS Africa practice

How would you describe your experience at KPMG?

I have been with KPMG in East Africa for several years and had the privilege of being part of one of the first teams that began doing international development work in the region at KPMG. I joined KPMG in a junior position and eventually became Partner. Through my experience at KPMG, I have been able to grow and learn continuously and I am now in a position to grow and develop others which is very fulfilling.  When I first joined KPMG, it was a small office in Nairobi with a small team.  We now have four offices in the region (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda) with over 1,000 staff.  It has been exciting to see and experience these changes and growth as well as be able to work in different sectors and service areas.  It is important to take initiative, be proactive and be open to different challenges which I have found has enriched my experience and opened up opportunities.

What inspires you to work in international development?

My inspiration for working in development has probably changed over time.  Development initiatives usually take time and are interconnected.  They may address basic needs such as health and education but also help in developing economies, creating jobs and reducing inequalities.  Not only am I inspired to see how development programmes make a difference to the lives of the poor and vulnerable, but there are development issues facing us globally such as climate change.  Being involved in initiatives to address these is very inspiring knowing that it will have an impact on a wider scale.  For example, I have been involved as a fund manager in a flood resilience programme which ran a competition for innovative solutions to withstand the shocks and stresses of flooding in South and South East Asia.  One of the initiatives selected was building floating houses in Bangladesh to enhance the resilience of households and communities before, after and during floods!  Being exposed to such innovative solutions that may have a transformational impact is very inspirational.

How did you make the transition from accountancy and finance into International Development?

After graduating from LSE, I qualified as a Chartered Accountant and worked in finance for a year in the steel industry before moving to Kenya. I began working in management consultancy at KPMGin Kenya. The skills I developed in private sector became very relevant to the work we began to do in Development at KPMG in East Africa where we started to experience a greater demand for private sector practices in the Development sector, especially to build organisational and institutional capacity. As programmes became large, a need for fund managers or management agents grew, particularly to manage the fiduciary risk of the funds in development programmes.  Managing fiduciary risk means ensuring the funds are accounted for properly and used for the purposes intended to ultimately make an impact in the programme’s focus area such as climate change, health, agribusiness, financial inclusion etc.

Can you talk about a project you’re currently undertaking, or a project you’ve done in the past? What was it, how did it come about, what did you achieve etc.

I have worked in programmes in a range of sectors which include health, resilience, agribusiness, governance and financial inclusion. One of the large programmes that I am currently involved in is MasterCard Foundation’s Funds for Rural Prosperity (FRP). FRP is a US$50 million challenge fund being implemented over seven years to extend financial services to people living in rural sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on small holder farmers. KPMG is the fund manager of this programme. FRP’s aim is to improve 1 million lives with better financial access.  This will help contribute to alleviating poverty.  FRP came about as people making a living in agriculture make up two thirds of Africa’s workforce and mainly live in poor rural areas with limited access to finance.  The challenge fund runs competitions to select innovative solutions that expand and deepen financial inclusion for the poor in rural areas in Africa.  The fund is just over halfway and results from the participating projects are showing that the 1 million target may already have been reached which is a key achievement.  The fund is also making an impact in creating jobs, improving financial literacy and reaching customers that would not normally have access to finance.

What was your biggest/most memorable achievement in your current role?

There have been so many. One of the most memorable was being instrumental in KPMG being selected to manage the Capacity Building Trust Fund in South Sudan. At the time, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement had just been signed in 2005 to end the civil war and this Fund was set up to help form the Government of South Sudan and support recovery.  Being involved in such an important nation building initiative in a post conflict context was a very memorable experience.

How do you think you, as well as your team at KPMG, have made a difference to the field of International development?

KPMG IDAS in East Africa has made a difference in development through its fund management work which it began over twenty years ago.  For example, over the years it has been involved in programmes that: support agricultural transformation; facilitate adaptation to climate change and innovation in renewable energy access; build countries’ resilience to climate change, shocks and stresses; and strengthen national capacities to deliver health services.  These are just some of the areas where KPMG has been involved in making a difference.  The following link provides useful information and detail on the work done and the difference it has made in the range of sectors we work in: IDAS information.

Smita Sanghrajka is a Partner in KPMG’s International Development Advisory Services (IDAS) in East Africa with over twenty years’ international development experience.  As Engagement Partner, Smita has been leading various fund management programmes with Regional, Africa and Global reach in a range of sectors such as Resilience, Financial Inclusion and Agribusiness.  Not only has she spearheaded various service delivery performance initiatives in IDAS, she has provided quality assurance in large programmes such as Global Resilience Partnership and Funds for Rural Prosperity.  In addition, she has oversight of Compete, Check and Manage services in IDAS.

Smita has worked with various local and international non-governmental agencies as well as private foundations, public sector players and donor agencies such as DFID, MasterCard Foundation, SIDA, USAID, Z Zurich Foundation.  She has experience in grant and fund management, programme design and management, financial management and sustainability, performance improvement, organisational development and capacity building.

As a testament to her tenacity and determination, Smita has conquered the tallest freestanding mountain in the world and Africa’s highest point– Mount Kilimanjaro. She brings this same energy to the workplace with a solution-oriented approach. Although her development career began with the firm, she diversified her path as an independent consultant working with a range of entities in various countries such as Guyana and Bangladesh, before returning to KPMG.

Over twenty years’ of development experience contributing to transformation and change, particularly in East Africa, has only driven her passion for seeing impact at community level further.  She has been involved in various education and health initiatives.  Currently, Smita is a Board member of Dignitas Project.  Dignitas Project operates in informal settlements around Nairobi to empower teachers, students and communities to transform schools in Kenya.

She is a graduate of the London School of Economics and a UK qualified chartered accountant.

Interviewed by Xin Jing Yu, LSESU International Development Society

LSESU International Development Society

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