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What we learned about migration by not getting it right (the first time) Editors rarely speak about the moments they edit themselves. This gives far too much credence to the myth that they always get it right. We are challenging that.

Photo: Kobi Gideon/Flash90
Photo: Kobi Gideon/Flash90

Editors rarely speak about the moments they edit themselves.  This gives far too much credence to the myth that they always get it right the first time. We, in our own way, are challenging that and showing you how we compile an issue when the debates surrounding its theme are constantly evolving. The result? Business not as usual.

2 months before release 

Who writes about migration within the Horn? Getting contributions on this migration and mobility in the Horn of Africa theme was more difficult than we anticipated. Contributors were sourced through a call for papers and headhunting specialists and academics in the field. Many of the contributions addressed migration from the Horn to Europe and the Middle East while there seemed to be a significant research gap on the issue of migration that deals specifically with different types of mobility within the Horn. Ironically, this confirmed the rationale behind this thematic issue: mobility and migration within the Horn is a pertinent issue that has not received the attention it deserves. It did not, however, resolve the pressing need to find targeted articles that addressed the theme.

2 days left until release

What does migration look like? When seeking to bring clarity and nuance to an underexplored subject it goes without saying that its visualization should also challenge stereotypical tropes. We source all our images, if not from our own photo archives, from Creative Commons galleries. The options, 15 of them, were limiting: either stereotypical, women walking with their belongings, or inappropriate for the context. Images, as we found with terminologies, obscured the nuances among different kinds of mobility. Ultimately, we found that abstract images (like the one used to accompany this story) were the most suitable.

1 day left until release

The Horn of Africa Bulletin was published on Friday, but you only received it on Monday. Why?

The Horn of Africa Bulletin is in 3 formats: the web version (which you can read here), a PDF (which you can download here) and an email (which arrives to your inbox when you subscribe here). By Friday morning we were ready: editor’s note, articles and coffee. The most profound issue revolved around the use of concepts and language that implicitly bring into the prevailing alarm and emerging policy shifts in relation to refugees and asylum seekers migrating across borders. In other words, this meant revising the entire framing of this issue. The use of the term ‘migrant’ obscures the fact that most people moving across borders within and from the Horn are refugees who qualify for protection under international humanitarian law. This forced us to be aware and reflective of the different terms used in this highly debated topic. This was a humbling and cautionary experience that exposed the hold of dominant narratives on contentious issues, to the extent that a publication like HAB, dedicated ostensibly to providing alternative perspectives and narratives, is inadvertently co-opted.  For more on why word choice matter in this debate, please see UNHCR’s viewpoint on the matter: http://www.unhcr.org/55df0e556.html.

HAB Release Day: Monday 31 August

What’s in an ed’s note? Well, a lot. The editor’s note frames the issue and sets the tone for the HAB and in this edition we needed to ensure that it was reflective of the terms used in this highly debated topic. Our editor, revised the editor’s note originally posted on Friday, our communications officer worked on 23 drafts of the infographic.  In compiling this issue we had to confront our perceptions and we learned that the language we use about migration affects how we, and you, think about migration.  And on this issue, as with all issues of HAB, we hope to bring clarity, depth and insight.

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