by Rhodri C. Williams
Complain as I might about life in the frozen wastes of Scandinavia, the long dark nights are not without their benefits. I am just back from a few weeks of largely voluntary internet abstinence and believe it may have done some good. That said, its nice to be dipping my toe back into the news junkie mainstream again. Before I get too carried away by blogging as usual, I thought I might step back and work on my wish list for 2012.
First of all, I hope the hits keep coming – WordPress checked in with its annual report on the blog for 2011, and it seems TN received 16,000 hits last year, a 33% increase over its first full year and the equivalent of six sold-out performances at the Sydney Opera House. Of which speaking, I am also pleased to say that the Australians appear to have forgiven me for the injudicious title of the blog and are a significant chunk of my readership, while the US and the UK top the chart. Sweden placed third, gratifyingly, and large contingents also checked in from Colombia, Egypt and Kenya. My weakest region is Asia, which seems odd given the heavy coverage of Cambodia last year (including the single most popular post of 2011).
Second, I would love to see even more active participation, comments and guest-postings. Housing, land and property (HLP) might be flatteringly portrayed as a niche field of practice or less flatteringly as a broad cross-cutting issue. Either way, readers should feel free to contact me if they feel that they would like to describe their own experience and insights or otherwise contribute to the discussion that still, by all appearances, remains all too sporadic and infrequent between humanitarian actors, human rights advocates, transitional justice and rule of law practitioners and those in the development field. And, lest we forget that ordinary human beings and communities are profoundly affected by these issues, I would like to extend the invitation beyond the expat experts as well.
Third, I would like to express my hope that TN readers will forgive (and even embrace) the shift in emphasis over the course of 2011 from a tight focus on HLP questions to a broader focus on the significance of land to questions of self-determination and minority rights. Given the relevance of HLP to so many other fields and the window that examining HLP issues provides on broader social and political questions in any given context, it can sometimes seem like a bit of an international law and policy gateway drug. Last year, it would simply have been remiss to ignore the way in which the Arab Spring re-ignited history. I trust 2012 will be similarly eventful, and I hope TN will continue to serve as a place where the legal, political, economic and cultural implications of the relationship between people and their patch of turf can be highlighted.