D-Econ’s Seasonal Alternative Reading List – 2023, pt. 1

As we are halfway through 2023 and many people across the world are heading off on holiday – or simply looking for new inspirations for readings – we are publishing our top choice of books from the first half of 2023 that you may have missed because of the identity of the author, or their geographical location, or because the topic is not typically considered interesting to those interested in reading about the economy. We include 11 books that cover a range of topics that we think provide a richer understanding of socioeconomic phenomena and are therefore crucial to understanding economics and the world.

We hope you find some time to read these brilliant books. If you’d like to read more, you can find our previous reading lists here. If you enjoy our reading lists, please let us know by emailing us at info@d-econ.org, and please feel free to send us suggestions of books we should read and include in our next reading list!

South-North Dialogues on Democracy, Development and Sustainability

By Cristina Fróes de Borja Reis, Tatiana Berringer (editors)

This book is highly innovative in its approach, as each chapter is written in the form of a dialogue between one scholar from a Brazilian institution and one scholar based either elsewhere in the Global South or in the Global North. These ‘South-North dialogues’ cover many contemporary debates, all with the aim of shedding light on how best to understand and combat global economic, political, and social inequalities. One of the key aims of the book is to move beyond Eurocentrism and to bring theorisation and thinking from the Global South to the forefront of economic and political thought. It does so by bringing in a range of heterodox economic thinkers and putting them in conversation with each other about themes such as democracy, sustainability, geopolitics, urban development, decoloniality, dependency, (de)industrialization, food systems, and racism. Buy the book here.

Zimbos Never Die? Negotiating Survival in a Challenged Economy, 1990s to 2015 

By Ushehwedu Kufakurinani, Eric Kushinga Makombe, Nathaniel Chimhete, and Pius Nyambara (editors)

Economic and financial crises in Zimbabwe have long enjoyed global attention, especially the crises of the 2000s that culminated in the second highest inflation rate globally for an economy not at war. However, what is less known is how Zimbabweans have dealt with these crises in different spheres of economic life. This book fills that gap by exploring how Zimbabwean society and its institutions have survived economic crises in the country, spanning from the 1990s to 2015. The chapters are characterized not only by clarity and depth on a topic that is only superficially understood by most people, but also by careful attention to historiography. Overall, the chapters address survival in informal spaces – such as displacements in Harare’s flea markets, street vendors, and small scale tobacco growers – as well as survival of state and non-state institutions – such as the public health service, social security provision, the army, the education sector, and the banking sector. Finally, it discusses how the crises have impacted patterns of migration and smuggling of humans and commodities. Buy the book here.

Everyday Politics in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

By Matteo Capasso

In this book, Matteo Capasso provides a counterargument to those who frame the history of Libya as a stateless, authoritarian, and rogue state by focusing on international and geopolitical dynamics that have impacted Libya’s governance. Capasso reconstructs the last two decades of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, leading up to the 2011 events that led to its fall. It carefully presents a collection of oral histories, including personal anecdotes, moods, popular jokes and rumors, in order to trace the ‘everyday’ as central for studying regional and international politics. As such, it gives powerful insights into the workings of power from below. Beyond the historical analysis, it also offers an important foundation for understanding the current state of violence, war, and hope in Libya. Buy the book here.

What Is Antiracism?: And Why It Means Anticapitalism

By Arun Kundnani

This book, written by Arun Kundnani – author, activist and scholar – raises and discusses two key questions: ‘What is “racial capitalism”?’ and ‘How do we overcome it?’ The book contrasts modern liberal anti-racism with radical anti-racism. Liberal anti-racism and its focus on individual attitudes, unconscious biases, celebration and understanding of cultural diversity tends to see racism as an extremist mindset. Radical anti-racism understands racism as a matter of power, resource distribution between different racial groups and the role state violence operates in to uphold these inequalities.. It argues that while liberal antiracism has contributed to the transformation which has happened over recent decades in terms of interpersonal exchanges, structural forces have not improved, but rather expanded. Liberal anti-racism methodology cannot enable the structural changes that are needed, but a radical anti-racism is needed. The book delves into how colonialism expresses itself in today’s world, and its direct relationship to capitalism and racism, illustrated with key moments in modern history. It further argues that the role of racism in the class issue is misread, and needs to be understood for a successful united movement. You can buy the book here.

India from Latin America Peripherisation, Statebuilding, and Demand-Led Growth

By Manuel Gonzalo

This book is written by economist Manuel Gonzalo who in addition to his many academic roles assesses the ‘Latin America – India’ relationship focusing on governments, firms, think tanks, and international organisations. The emerging trade partnership between India and Latin America has expanded over the last decades and is expected to grow rapidly in the near future. While much of Indian and Latin American trade is understood through a westernised lens, this book offers a Latin American perspective of India as an economy and trade nation. The author, with personal as well as professional experience, analyses India from three perspectives: Peripherisation, State Building and Demand-led growth. The book is contributing to a common research agenda for the economic development of the Global South.

Deadly and Slick: Sexual Modernity and the Making of Race

By Sita Balani

In Deadly and Slick, Sita Balani draws on the tradition of British cultural studies associated with Stuart Hall and the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. Balani highlights the intimate connection between techniques used to govern sex, domestic life and children – and techniques used to make, maintain and manage ‘race’ as both a set of social structures and a common sense understanding of bodily and social difference. This book draws on histories of sexual and racial governance in colonial India, as well as the racialisation of British Asians in the present. In contemporary Britain, the Conservative government’s support for gay marriage – and policy of aid conditionality for countries where British colonial laws opposing homosexuality were still on the statute books – cannot be understood independently from its embrace of austerity, the privatization of social welfare and a renewed emphasis on ‘family’ as the site of sole economic responsibility. By highlighting these ‘deadly and slick’ operations of power, Balani’s book is replete with reminders that ‘the economy’ cannot be understood independently of the entanglements of race and sexuality. 

Against Racial Capitalism: Selected Writings

Neville Alexander, edited by Salim Vally and Enver Motala

This volume collects the writings of Neville Alexander, a South African activist, educator, trade unionist and founder of the National Liberation Front, who spent many years imprisoned on Robben Island alongside Nelson Mandela and other anti-apartheid freedom fighters. In recent years, ‘racial capitalism’ has become much discussed within and without academia. Yet Neville Alexander’s contributions to theorizing and challenging ‘racial capitalism’ in South Africa have only recently started to garner wider attention. The editors of this volume have collected Alexander’s writing on education, language, and the national question in a post-apartheid South Africa, alongside his direct contributions to theorising ‘racial capitalism’. As they make clear, racism and capitalism were never merely “theoretical constructs requiring reconciliation” for Alexander. Rather, racial capitalism was seen as the material basis of a political economy, of socio-linguistic orders, and even as shaping the consciousness and strategies of the liberation movement itself.

 White Saviorism in International Development: Theories, Practises, and Lived Experiences

Edited by Themrise Khan, Kanakulya Dickson, and Maïka Sondarjee

In this new book, the authors argue that the colonial idea that the Global South is characterized by gaps and inferiorities, which is at the very foundation of the development field. As a result, much of the field is oriented towards White development practitioners trying to “save” racialized communities in the Global South while supporting the capitalist system that perpetuates their exploitation and dispossession. The authors argue that in many instances, not only is this not helpful, it is often actively harming communities in the Global South. The book gives several examples of scandals of violation of privacy and human rights, sexual violence, and bodily harm caused by Western development practitioners. But it goes further to argue that these aren’t standalone instances, but manifestations of a structural feature of the field in which White/Western people in development are seen as experts in all things, often measuring the political, socio-economic, and cultural processes in developing countries against a standard of Northern Whiteness. It is a provocative collection of contributions comprising academic work, practitioner-based approaches and personal stories of those who have experienced what the editors call White Saviorism in global development and is essential reading for anyone interested or involved in the field. 

Work and Alienation in the Platform Economy: Amazon and the Power of Organization

By Sarah Kassem

The world of work has been transformed by platforms like Google, Amazon, Uber, Netflix and many others, and it is very difficult to now avoid using these platforms in our daily lives as they have become an intrinsic part of our social fabric. In this book, Kassem explores the world of workers that power one of the largest platform economy firms, Amazon, and focuses her attention on its e-commerce platform and its digital labour platform MTurk. Notably, she takes the reader through a discussion of how workers organize and reshape the structure of the platform that seeks to atomize them from one another. Even though the structure of work alienates and individualizes the workforce, these platforms are sites for crucial labour struggle. This book is an important read to understand work in the 21st century, and how labour processes and struggles have and can shape the future of Artificial Intelligence.

Divided: Racism, Medicine and Why We Need to Decolonise Healthcare

Annabel Sowemimo

Annabel Sowemimo draws on her experience of medical education, and working as a Sexual and Reproductive Health clinician, in this examination of the persistent – and often unacknowledged – influence of race science on medicine. Sowemimo shows how racial inequalities underpin a health system that doesn’t work for Black patients. But she also traces the history of race science from 18th century Europe, making explicit that unequal health outcomes for Black people are shaped not only by ideas inherited from race science, but by a medical profession often unwilling to unlearn this inheritance. 

Decolonisation and Legal Knowledge – Reflections on Power and Possibility

Folúkẹ́ Adébísí

In this book Folúkẹ́ Adébísí examines how the foundations of law are intertwined in colonial thought and how it [re]produces ideas of commodification of bodies and space-time. Adébísí explores the implications of the law creating, maintaining and reproducing racialised hierarchies which then creates and preserves severe global disparities and injustices. This analysis discusses crucial themes that would be of interest to any social scientist seeking to engage beyond their disciplinary boundaries. With chapters such as: “(Un)Making the Wretched of the Earth and “Another University is Necessary to Take us towards Pluriversal Worlds”, this promises to be a read that both deconstructs, as well as encourages us to reconstruct. In Adébísí’s own words: “In response, the decolonisation movement, gives us an option for imagining together, new ways of thinking, being and doing in the world, to avert global injustice, deprivation and climate disaster.” This book is a vital contribution to anyone who views these ideas as central to our research, teaching and practice.

This list was compiled by Alexandra Arnsten, Devika Dutt, Paul Gilbert, Michelle Groenewald, and Ingrid Harvold Kvangraven.

D-Econ’s Seasonal Alternative Reading List 2022- Part II

2022 is coming to a close and to send it off in style we are back with our second reading list of 2022, which has our recommendations of books published in 2022. These include books you may have missed because of the identity of the author, or their geographical location, or because the topic is not typically considered interesting to those interested in reading about the economy. We include 11 books that cover a range of topics that we think provide a richer understanding of socioeconomic phenomena and are therefore crucial to understanding economics and the world.

This time we include two books on understanding the ecological crisis facing the world: one that exposes the class conflict at the heart of the climate catastrophe, and one that questions whether green capitalism is capable of creating a habitable future for us all. This year, we also read books on how structural racism is reified through education, and how anti-racist and other progressive social movements are undermined by elite capture. Among the great new books this year, we found two books that engaged with Marxist analyses of racial capitalism and slavery, especially in the work of critical Black scholars from the Global South. As always, we cannot help but read about the economics discipline, and especially about the scholars and ideas that the field tends to ignore. This time, we read about the women in the history of economic thought that have been overlooked, about the importance of the vibrant discipline of heterodox economics, and about how Dependency theory has evolved over the past half century. We round out the list with a new volume on post-colonial social theory and a fascinating new book that looks at sex as a political phenomenon. 

We hope you find some time to read these brilliant books. If you’d like to read more, you can find our previous reading lists here. If you enjoy our reading lists, please let us know by emailing us at info@d-econ.org, and please feel free to send us suggestions of books we should read and include in our next reading list!


By Edith Kuiper

Where are the women in the history of economics? In this exciting volume, Edith Kuiper (a feminist historian of economics) uncovers the contributions of many forgotten women in the history of the discipline, showing that the contributions of women go beyond Joan Robinson and Rosa Luxemburg. By transforming the field of history into herstory, Kuiper describes how women economists have contributed to the making and discussion of economics, ranging from production, work, and the economics of the household, to income and wealth distribution, consumption, education, public policy, and much more. Kuiper elegantly shows how many important theories and concepts were left aside from the early formation of classical political economy until the end of the 20th century, providing a thematic summary of these contributions. It is a must read for those interested in economics from a different perspective, putting many unknown and forgotten names under the spotlight in a notably male-dominated discipline.


Claudio Katz (translated by Stanley Malinowitz)

How has Dependency Theory evolved and transformed itself since the 1950s? How can it offer relevant insights for economists, politicians and the public debate today? In this volume, Katz offers a detailed summary of the foundations, evolutions and approaches of Dependency Theory in Latin America, focusing on the regional interpretations of Marxism, Developmentalism and World-Systems Theory. By touching upon structural issues of colonialism, imperialism, hegemony, power, and dominance, Katz eloquently connects Dependency Theory to the most up to date social issues that Latin America faces, as well as the challenges to overcome its permanently dependent condition under a trap of “subimperialism”. It is a must read for those interested in the contemporary economic and political reality of Latin America and the debates surrounding underdevelopment of peripheral countries. 


By Arathi Sriprakash, Sophie Rudolph and Jessica Gerrard

Whiteness is a process of learning: one is not born white, but becomes one. In this rich and compelling volume, Sriprakash, Rudolph and Gerrard offer a meticulous (and eye-opening) reading of educational experiences and structures that endorse systemic racism. They examine the material conditions, knowledge politics and complex feelings that create and relay systems of racial domination, exploring how the structural formations of racial domination tied to European colonialism continue to be reinscribed across all aspects of social life, but particularly in education – which reinforces structural racism and social inequalities. The volume describes the example of Australia, using it to demonstrate how Australian education offered a grounded account of the workings of British settler colonialism as a globally enduring project. Further, they also summarise many educational practices of how one “learns whiteness” through materialities, knowledges, and feelings as a process of capturing and normalising identities. An impressive book for those interested in further deepening their knowledge about the role of education in perpetuating racism.


Edited by Dilip M Menon

This edited volume offers an impressive array of essays aiming to profoundly change the Euro-American episteme of postcolonial theory and the politics of Western academy. It discusses eight main themes (relation; commensuration; the political; the social; language; rooted words; indeterminacy; insurrection) to drastically change social theory from the ground up, putting the theories and frameworks that emerged from the Global South as the main point of departure. Rather than arguing for a geographical South, it discusses the emergence of an “epistemological South”, and how it has been marginalised under centuries of exclusion. By arguing that colonialism and modernity has made us suffer from “intellectual amnesia” from regional knowledge/practices, the volume presents concepts from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, the Arab World, and Latin America to reorient how social theory is (and should be) made. By putting a rich collection of chapters at the availability of the reader, this volume is a must read for social scientists, educationalists, developmentalists, economists, and the general public interested in finding out more about the variety of regional theories and interpretations about modes of living.


By Walter Rodney

This is a fascinating collection of previously unpublished essays on Marxism by Walter Rodney. While the race-class nexus is a unifying theme of the essays, the range of questions and issues he delves into is incredibly broad, including Black Power, Ujamaa villages, forms of resistance to colonialism, radical pedagogy, programs for the newly independent states, anti-colonial historiography, and balance sheets for wars for national liberation. Interestingly, the book also demonstrates the way he explored and reinvented Marxism in light of struggles for economic independence across the globe. This is particularly relevant given the 50th anniversary of Rodney’s classic How Europe Underdeveloped Africa this year. 


By Lynne Chester and Tae-Hee Jo (editors)

This is an important contribution that defends the importance of heterodox economics. It discusses what constitutes heterodox economics as an intellectual, social, and political project, with a range of contributions from leading heterodox thinkers coming from a diversity of theoretical vantage points. Some of the key identifying aspects of heterodox economics that are identified are its  interdisciplinarity, openness, relevance for understanding the real world, pluralism, and social concerns. The purpose of the edited collection is to provide a constructive account of the future of heterodox economics, and it does so in a way that will be intriguing for many readers, including those less familiar with heterodox economics.


By Matthew T. Huber

This is a crucial book at this moment of climate breakdown. Although there are many important books on class out there, there are not that many that integrate issues of climate change with class analysis. Huber’s book is therefore an incredibly important addition to scholarship on climate change thus far. He argues that while the carbon-intensive capitalist class must be confronted with its disproportionate effect on the climate, the contemporary climate movement – which is largely rooted in the professional class – has remained incapable of meeting this challenge. The alternative Huber proposes is a climate politics to appeal to the majority – the working class. His proposal includes building union power and transforming the energy system. Finally, and crucially, he underlines the importance of an internationalist approach based on planetary working-class solidarity. 


By Amia Srinivasan

Amia Srinivasan’s new book is of crucial importance to economists and non-economists alike, and is especially relevant in the wake of the focus on consent that has pervaded public discussions after the #MeToo movement. It traces the meaning of sex in our world, animated by the hope of a different world. She reaches back into an older feminist tradition that was unafraid to think of sex as a political phenomenon. She discusses a range of fraught relationships—between discrimination and preference, pornography and freedom, rape and racial injustice, punishment and accountability, students and teachers, pleasure and power, capitalism and liberation. To grasp sex in all its complexity, including its relationship to gender, class, race and power, Srinivasan argues that we need to move beyond the simplistic views of consent in the form of yes-no, to rather consider the more complex question of wanted-unwanted.


By Adrienne Buller

Limiting global temperature increases to 1.5 degree celsius is the defining challenge of our time. To this end, economic actors have found ways to monetise and trade “ecosystem services”. The idea is that by creating a market in biodiversity and carbon offsets can create investment to prevent the unfolding environmental and climate catastrophe. In part, these efforts show how the Overton window has shifted from outright climate denialism to grappling directly with the realities of environmental degradation. Despite unprecedented levels of public knowledge and concern, commitment from governments, technical innovation, and the staggering impact of climate change and environmental damage on our lives, why are we still so far from a “habitable future and safe present?” In this great new book, Adrienne Buller poses these important questions about green capitalism, the effort to preserve existing capitalist systems and relations and ensure new domains for accumulation in order to respond to the ecological crisis. She argues that the dominance of the approach of green capitalism is self-defeating, and needlessly confines the shape of the society we need to build. Specifically, as regards the role of neo-classical economics and market governance in shaping green capitalism, this book is a must-read. 


By Nick Nesbitt

What is the role played by slavery in the development of capitalism? Nick Nesbitt revisits this question by examining Marx’s analysis of slavery across his seminal Capital. In addition, he outlines the writings of key figures in what he calls the Black Jacobin Marxist critical tradition, such as Toussaint Louverture, Henry Christophe, C.L.R. James, Aime Cesaire, Jacques Stephen Alexis, and Suzanne Cesaire, and argues that the critique of slavery, colonialism, and capitalism can be understood in terms of Marx’s social forms. He argues that even though slave-based production was crucial for the development of capitalism, in the Marxist sense, slavery was an unproductive system, that is, it does not contribute surplus value to the process of accumulation. Nonetheless, production by slave labor captures massive average profits for production even if they do not produce surplus value. He also takes the reader through the Black Jacobin thought on revolutionary overthrow of slavery, Antillean plantation slavery and competing social forms, and critiques of colonial forms of labor and the state. Nesbitt produces a theoretical articulation of slavery and capitalism that is illuminating and worth a read. 


By Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò

In this important and powerful book, Taiwo argues how important political movements are captured and derailed by elite interests, specifically by weaponizing identity politics. Identity politics, he argues, has equipped people, organizations, and institutions with a new vocabulary to describe their politics and aesthetics, even if the substance of those political decisions are irrelevant or counter to the interests of the marginalized people whose identity is used. However, this is not a failing of identity politics per se, but rather how it is used. Elite capture helps explain how political projects are hijacked and by those that are well positioned and well resourced, and how knowledge, attention, and values become distorted and distributed by power structures. He argues that movements need to build constructive politics that focuses on outcome over process rather than mere avoidance of complicity in injustice. It is a thought provoking book for everyone interested in the dynamics of contemporary political movements, and how effective political movements can be built.

This list was compiled by Devika Dutt, Danielle Guizzo, and Ingrid Kvangraven.

D-Econ’s Seasonal Alternative Reading List – 2022

It’s time for Summer/Winter Holidays and we are back with our first reading list of 2022 which has our recommendations of books published in 2022, which you may have missed because of the identity of the author, or their geographical location, or because the topic is not typically considered interesting to those interested in reading about the economy. We include 10 books that cover a range of topics that we think provide a richer understanding of socioeconomic phenomena and are therefore crucial to understanding economics and the world. 

We include a new English translation of a book of essays on coloniality and power, and the persistence of colonial structures and institutions, specifically in the Latin American context. We also include the story of the intellectual history of theories of development in Latin America in general and its connection to the story of the United Nations Economic Commission on Latin America or CEPAL, and economic thought in Brazil. The evolution of economic thought and the influence of economists and economics on policymaking in the United States is the subject of another of our recommendations.

There are some great new books that deal with the history, political economy, and consequences of colonialism and imperialism from different lenses. We recommend a new compelling case for reparations as constructive justice, an account of how the British Empire dealt with/ continues to deal with its former colonies as independent nations, and a biography of one of the leading theorists of empire of the 20th century. We also recommend a new book about lesser known, and somewhat understudied, anti-colonial movements in Oceania. Given the ongoing war in Ukraine, we include in our list a timely new book that considers the relationship of Eastern Europe with decolonization. 

We hope you find some time to read these brilliant books. If you’d like to read more, you can find our previous reading lists here. If you enjoy our reading lists, please let us know by emailing us at info@d-econ.org, and please feel free to send us suggestions of books we should read and include in our next reading list!

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We’re back once again with some recommended reading going into 2022. Due to the identity of the author or their location or the subject of their book, you may have missed these great books in 2021. We include 9 books that cover a range of topics that we think provide a richer understanding of socioeconomic phenomena and are therefore crucial to understanding economics and the world. 

We include two new and important books on social theory in the African context and the colonial origins of social theory and how modern social social theory can be reconstructed. In addition, with the resurgence of scholarship on dependency theories, it is only fitting that we include an examination of the possibilities of development and its limits in Latin America. The policy response of the COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely uneven across the world, partly because of the constrained policy space available to governments in developing countries. Therefore, we have included a new volume that examines the potential for economic and monetary sovereignty in African countries. The recovery from the pandemic induced recession in some advanced industrialized nations has shifted the balance of class power to a certain extent towards the working class. Therefore, revisiting debates of automation and labor power is timely, which you can do with our reading list. 

The pandemic also revealed that public health crises do not affect us all in the same way: some groups are more vulnerable than others within nations and globally. Therefore, we include books on de facto internal borders that often divide groups of people, such as segregation in New York City and resistance to it. We also include a book on national or external borders as functions of imperial domination and culmination of crises of capitalism, assuming greater relevance given the arbitrary restrictions placed on a bid to stop the global movement of people due to the pandemic. 

We hope you find some time to read these brilliant books. If you’d like to read more, you can find the books we selected for the first half of 2021 here. If you enjoy our reading lists, please let us know by emailing us at info@d-econ.org, and please feel free to send us suggestions of books we should read and include in our next reading list!

Dependent Capitalisms in Contemporary Latin America and Europe

By Aldo Madariaga and Stefano Palestini

This edited volume explores how dependency theories can be adapted and applied to understand limits and possibilities for development in Latin America and Europe. It explores core-periphery relations across different sets of countries, specific mechanisms of dependency, as well as the role of race and gender in dependency analysis. Beyond its theoretical explorations and elaborations, it also empirically unpacks a range of “new” situations of dependency in Latin America, Europe and beyond, and how they relate to contemporary concerns such as commodity booms, populism, neo-extractivism, growth, and financialization. This is a timely contribution at a moment when the use of dependency theories in analyses of economic development is being revived across the world. 

Colonialism and Modern Social Theory

By Gurminder Bhambra and John Holmwood

This is an immensely important book for any student of social theory interested in understanding the colonial roots of a lot of contemporary thinking. From a post-colonial perspective, Gurminder Bhambra and John Holmwood unpack how the emergence of modern society in the context of European colonialism and empire impacted the development of modern social theory. They find that colonialism and empire are to a large extent absent from the conceptual understandings of modern society in classics such as Tocqueville, Marx, Weber, Durkheim, and Du Bois, and that their ideas instead tend to be organized around ideas of the nation state and capitalist economy. Ultimately, the book argues for a reconstruction of social theory by taking the limitations addressed into account. Listen to the authors discuss the book on the Connected Sociologies Podcast here.

Economic and Monetary Sovereignty in 21st Century Africa

By Maha Ben Gadha, Fadhel Kaboub, Kai Koddenbrock, Ines Mahmoud and Ndongo Samba Sylla

This is an important contribution both to advancing theoretical and empirical understandings of African monetary sovereignty and to putting problems and possibilities relating to African monetary sovereignty on the political agenda. This is of utmost importance, given that these issues have largely not received much attention in contemporary discussions of economic development. Economic and Monetary Sovereignty in 21st Century Africa traces the recent history of African monetary and financial dependencies, looking at the ways African countries are resisting colonial legacies. The collection of chapters is diverse and highly interesting, offering comparative and historical analyses of how African countries have attempted to increase their policy space and move beyond various forms of monetary dependence. The collection is based on a conference in Tunisia in 2019 (watch the videos from the conference here).

The Harlem Uprising Segregation and Inequality in Postwar New York City

By Christopher Hayes

In this interesting take, the author, Christopher Hayes, explores the reasons for uprisings in the African American neighborhoods in New York City post the second world war in the 1960s. He ascribes these uprising to racial inequalities in various economic opportunities, including housing, schools, jobs, and policing. In this gripping and detailed account, the book explores how those in power have refused to address structural racism, while also examining the limits of liberalism.

Rethinking Development: Marxist Perspectives

By Ronaldo Munck

The book critically engages with various Marxian perspectives on the dynamics on development and social progress.  It specifically engages with some key words in Marxian theory, including Marx’s early work on capitalist development and his later works on underdeveloped Russia, Lenin’s thesis on imperialism as a hurdle for development, and Luxemburg’s contribution to analyzing imperialism as being functional to the needs of capitalism. The author then examines the Latin American dependency school of thought, post-development school and the indgenous development models advanced by Andean Marxism that have enriched the Marxian perspectives on development (and underdevelopment). The book ends with a discussion on the Marxian understandings of the pattern of uneven and combined development and the contradictions that riddle the process of economic development in the current phase of globalized capitalism.

Smart Machines and Service Work: Automation in an Age of Stagnation

By Jason E. Smith

In this new book, Smith returns to Solow’s classic “productivity paradox”, which essentially states that we can see automation everywhere, like the spheres of leisure, sociality, and politics, but not in the productivity statistics. He examines why labor saving automation in the service age in the Global North has not been accompanied by increased productivity, as was predicted. The book convincingly argues that the reasons for this are threefold: that many of the jobs now being automated require an intuitive, embodied, and socially mediated form of knowledge that even the most advanced machine learning algorithms cannot learn; that in the advanced capitalist world, cheap labor is surfeit which has all but removed the incentive for firms to invest their capital in soon-to-be-obsolete machinery to replace them; and that there is a crisis of profitability rooted in the decades-long expansion of “unproductive” labor, that is, labor engaged in supervisory or circulatory activities. It is a great book that critically analyzes potential automation of service work in the world of COVID-19 where frontline workers are sought to be replaced by machines for the safety of the workforce, or where increasing labor militancy is often threatened with automation. 

Social Policy in the African Context 

By Jimi Adesina

African Books Collective: Social Policy in the African Context

This edited volume, put together by Jimi Adesina, based on the proceedings of the Social Policy in African Conference in 2017 provides an overview of social policy in varied country contexts and fields especially in light of decades of the reduction in size and hollowing out of the content of social policy due to the neoliberal retreat of the State. It covers a wide range of topics from agrarian reform and cash transfers to gender dynamics of social policy and mutual support institutions and relates them to structures of production and economic policy as well. The book identifies the importance of deliberative social policy for the continued process of decolonization of African institutions and building state capacity and is a tour de force in critical social policy scholarship. 

Border and Rule: Global Migration, Capitalism, and the Rise of Racist Nationalism

By Harsha Walia

Framing borders as an instrument of capital accumulation, imperial domination, and labor control, Walia argues that what is often described as a “migrant crisis” in Western nations is the outcome for the actual crisis of capitalism, conquest, and climate change.  This book shows the displacement of workers in the global south due to, in many cases, the implementation of structural adjustment policies. Walia argues that borders are managed through exclusion, diffusion, commodified inclusion, and discursive control, which also hinders labor solidarity, by creating additional precarity among and differentiation from migrant workers. The book builds up to argue for a bold no border policy as well as the dismantling of the “political ideology of liberalism, the economic dogma of neoliberalism, and right-wing nationalism” that are built into and facilitated by borders.  

Born in Blackness: Africa, Africans, and the Making of the Modern World, 1471 to the Second World War

By Howard W. French

Amazon.com: Born in Blackness: Africa, Africans, and the Making of the Modern  World, 1471 to the Second World War eBook : French, Howard W.: Kindle Store

In this ambitious and impressive new book, journalist Howard French seeks to excavate the long elided central importance of the African continent as the “linchpin of the machine of modernity.” In the story of modernity, he writes, the role of Africa is diminished, trivialized, and erased, and by filling in some gaps in this story, he retells the story of modernity. He argues that the role of European nations in bringing about enlightenment and modernity is misplaced and this did not happen because of innate European superiority. Instead, he shows, the political economy of the European plunder of African and Caribbean nations set the stage for propelling the continent of Europe past great civilizational centers at the time. was not bea, and that much of its success in doing so is deeply connected with the extraction of gold and slaves from Western Africa. French also argues that this long economic and political assault on Africa has also been one of a war on Black people that has continued at least until the 1960s in the United States. This book does not pretend to have rewritten history, but seeks to start the process of correcting the most egregious form of erasure of the importance of Africa in this story, which he argues is in the minds of people in the rich world. 

This list was compiled for D-Econ by Aditi Dixit, Devika Dutt, Surbhi Kesar and Ingrid H. Kvangraven.

D-Econ’s 2021 Alternative Reading List, pt. 1

It’s time for D-Econ’s alternative reading list. We have picked 11 books that we believe are of particular importance to provide an alternative and richer understanding of the socioeconomic world we live in, that what the mainstream media provides. We include books that we hope not only present a wider selection of books in terms of who writes them, but also in terms of the topic and/or perspective. As you can see from the list, we consider economics to be about more than just money and finance, to also be about race, imperialism, and climate justice.  

Reflecting the ongoing conversation about structural racism, which became a global one after the murder of George Floyd last year, it is only fitting that we include reflections on how this time the resurgent Black Lives Matters movement is different. We situate this in a historical context by including an exploration of the histories of racial capitalism. Any discussion of structural racism is incomplete without a discussion of imperialism and colonialism, and therefore we cannot leave out new books that analyze how capitalism and imperialism have and continue to shape the world. 

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is not only a public health crisis that has exposed fissures in the global health system but is also creating related crises of rising private and public debt and homelessness in many countries. Therefore, we include books that looks at these related crises from a decolonial and feminist lens, which we find quite refreshing and insightful. 

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An Alternative Economics Summer Reading List, 2019

pasted image 0This summer, we take stock of the most interesting economics-related books that have been released over the past year. Every year, Martin Wolf of the Financial Times makes a similar list. However, by his own admission, he only reads within the tradition of his own training in mainstream economics. While his 2019 summer list includes several excellent books, such as The Case for People’s Quantitative Easing by Frances Coppola and The Sex Factor by Victoria Bateman, we are still struck by the strong white-male-mainstream-Western bias in Wolf’s list, with the books almost all written by white (20/21) men (18/21) about topics mostly focused on the US and Europe. 

To complement Wolf’s list, we have put together an Alternative Economics Summer Reading list with authors from across the world, with more varied backgrounds – and writing about more wide-ranging topics, and from a wider variety of critical perspectives. Our alternative list also reflects our belief that issues such as structural racism, imperialism, ideology and the philosophy of science are central to understanding economics.  Continue reading