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.

Decolonise your Pandemic Reading List

The article originally appeared on openDemocracy as a part of their `Decolonising the Economy’ series.

To understand the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, it is necessary to draw on insights from a broad range of disciplines and geographies. To this end, D-Econ has put together a list of readings to help you decolonize your reading list about the pandemic. Included in this list you’ll find research based on the West African experience with Ebola, China’s experience with SARS and Zimbabwe’s experience with Cholera, which is all relevant for understanding the present crisis. Furthermore, we’ve included books that unpack the racial inequalities underpinning the American health system, how the World Trade Organization as well as international financial institutions impact and interact with domestic health institutions, and how pandemics historically have shaped all aspects of society. You’ll also find books that present a feminist lens on understanding economies and useful background reading for understanding the risk of new debt crises in Africa.

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Diversify and Decolonise your Holiday Reading List

The D-Econ Winter 2019 Reading List

This article originally appeared on openDemocracy, as a part of their ‘Decolonising the Economy’ series.

Get a head start on your New Year’s Resolution to read more, by reading some or all of our recommended reads from our Winter 2019 Reading List! As the previous year drew to a close, we took stock of best books published last year. While mainstream economics publications (e.g. see the FT list or The Economist’s list) have been celebrating a very narrow range of authors and subjects (mostly white men based in the US and the UK, writing within mainstream economics), we have put together a more diverse list in terms of background, training, and perspective.   

This Alternative Economics list includes authors from across the world, with more varied backgrounds – and writing about more wide-ranging topics from a broader variety of perspectives. Our alternative list also reflects our belief that issues such as structural sexism, imperialism, and the politics of knowledge production are central to understanding economics. 

Due to institutional and language barriers we were unable to include as many scholars from the Global South as we would have liked. For example, we would love to read the new book L’Arme Invisible de la Françafrique by Fanny Pigeaud and Ndongo Samba Sylla on the how the CFA Franc continues to constrain the social, political and economic prospects of its member states, but we are still waiting for the English translation. 

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