Decline of empires

Someone has figured out a clever way to look at the fall of maritime empires (from Andrew Sullivan):

It is a neat way to show the diffusion of modern nation-states (as well as the decline of colonial empires). One can imagine a similar video showing the expansion of various global organizations, with lots of little bubbles representing a bunch of smaller NGOs. Or, maybe someone can figure out a way to show the proliferation of micronations?

Philanthropic Affinity Groups

One of the organizations I have come across in my dissertation research is Grantmakers Without Borders, a philanthropic affinity group that works to build networks between grantmakers in the global North and grantees (and some grantmakers) in the global South.

I had a great conversation yesterday with John Harvey, the executive director. From what I can tell, Gw/oB is one of six or seven affinity groups that provide a key infrastructure for transnational philanthropy. For example, they sponsor various “philanthropic learning” activities , such as workshops and “learning calls” for individuals and organizations who want to donate their cash to global projects (in this case, especially projects with a sustainability or social justice theme).

Organizations like this one provide a jazzy lens for studying transnational fields in formation. Philanthropy is particularly interesting given its unique blend of voluntarism and general do-gooderness with massive amounts of wealth. My early impressions are that the field is also a stratified one, with the big fish (i.e. Gates) at the top and a bunch of smaller fish in the middle.

All in all, Gw/oB is an impressive organization. Definitely worth following up on…