“The world has changed, the syllabus hasn’t – is it time to something about it?”
The tagline of the Post-Crash Economics Society – disillusioned Economics students at the University of Manchester who believe that “the content of the economics syllabus and teaching methods could and should be seriously rethought”. They recently published a 57-page report and look to revolutionise economics education.
And in that spirit, we present our Alt-Reading List for undergraduates of the humanities, social sciences, politics, and of course, economics.
The seven different topics included are: Development, Africa, Gender Studies, Asia, Latin America, Economics and Environment.
Culture, Development and Social Theory
Culture, Development and Social Theory places culture back at the centre of debates in development studies. It introduces new ways of conceptualizing culture in relation to development by linking development studies to cultural studies, studies of social movements, religion and the notion of ‘social suffering’. Any conception of post-capitalist society, he argues, requires cultural, as well as economic and political, dimensions.
The History of Development
A classic development text, which has both defined and changed its field. Gilbert Rist provides a complete and powerful overview of what the idea of development has meant throughout history. He traces it from its origins in the Western view of history, through the early stages of the world system, the rise of US hegemony, and the supposed triumph of Third-Worldism, through to new concerns about the environment and globalization.
Linda Tuhiwai Smith
This essential volume explores intersections of imperialism and research – specifically, the ways in which imperialism is embedded in disciplines of knowledge and tradition as ‘regimes of truth.’ Concepts such as ‘discovery’ and ‘claiming’ are discussed and an argument presented on how the decolonization of research methods will help to reclaim control over indigenous ways of knowing and being.
Thinking about Development
This book is a concise and accessible introduction to development thinking, contemporary development theory and practice and – a critical analysis of the values that lie behind them.
The Development Dictionary
ed. Wolfgang Sachs
In this classic collection, some of the world’s most eminent critics of development review the key concepts of the development discourse. Each essay examines one concept from a historical and anthropological point of view, highlights its particular bias, and exposes its historical obsolescence and intellectual sterility. The combined result forms a must-read invitation to experts, grassroots movements and students of development to recognize the tainted glasses they put on whenever they participate in the development discourse.
Africa’s Urban Revolution
Susan Parnell and Edgar Pieterse
By 2030 African cities will have grown by more than 350 million people and over half the continent’s population will be urban. Yet in the minds of many, Africa remains a quintessentially rural place. Africa’s Urban Revolution provides a comprehensive insight into the key issues – demographic, cultural, political, technical, environmental and economic – surrounding African urbanisation.
Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War?
Maria Eriksson Baaz and Maria Stern
All too often in conflict situations, rape is referred to as a ‘weapon of war’, a term presented as self-explanatory through its implied storyline of gender and warring. In this provocative but much-needed book, Eriksson Baaz and Stern challenge the dominant understandings of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings.
The Trouble with Aid
Africa is poor. If we send it money it will be less poor. It seems perfectly simple, doesn’t it? But it isn’t. In this book, Jonathan Glennie argues that, along with its many benefits, government aid to Africa has often caused more poverty and damage. Rather than doubling aid to Africa, it is time to reduce aid dependency. Through an honest assessment of both the positive and negative consequences of aid, this book will show you why.
China in Africa
Nowhere in the world is China’s rapid rise to power more evident than in Africa. This book investigates the emerging relationship between China and Africa to determine whether this engagement will be that of a development partner, economic competitor or new hegemony.
Britain in Africa
In Britain in Africa Tom Porteous seeks to answer numerous questions about Britain’s role in Africa since 1997, highlighting the key players, the policies they constructed and the future of Britain’s engagement with the continent. This book sets out the balance sheet of what Britain has achieved, and where and why it failed in Africa. A compelling read, whose importance for international politics reaches far beyond Britain or Africa.
Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva
This groundbreaking work remains as relevant today as when it was when first published in the early 90s. Two of Zed’s best-known authors argue that ecological destruction and industrial catastrophes constitute a direct threat to everyday life, the maintenance of which has been made the particular responsibility of women.
Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale
First published in 1986, Maria Mies’s progressive book was hailed as a major paradigm shift for feminist theory, and it remains a major contribution to development theory and practice today. Tracing the social origins of the sexual division of labour, it offers a history of the related processes of colonization and ‘housewifization’ and extends this analysis to the contemporary new international division of labour.
Changing Narratives of Sexuality
ed. Charmaine Pereira
Changing Narratives of Sexuality examines the tensions and contradictions in constructions of gender, sexuality and women’s empowerment in the various narrations of sexuality told by and about women. The authors analyse what scope exists for women to subvert repressive norms and conceptions of heterosexuality, interweaving rich, contextual detail with theoretical concerns.
Feminism is Queer
Feminism is Queer is an introduction to the intimately related disciplines of gender and queer theory. An essential guide to anyone with an interest in gender or sexuality, this accessible and comprehensive textbook carefully explains nuanced theoretical terminology and provides extensive suggested further reading to provide the reader with full and thorough understanding of both disciplines.
Sexuality in Muslim Contexts
ed. Anissa Hélie and Homa Hoodfar
This groundbreaking book explores resistance against the harsh policing of sexuality in some Muslim societies. Many Muslim majority countries still use religious discourse to enforce stigmatization and repression of those, especially women, who do not conform to sexual norms promoted either by the state or by non-state actors. In this context, Islam is often stigmatized in Western discourse for being intrinsically restrictive with respect to women’s rights and sexuality.
Leta Hong Fincher
After the 1949 revolution in China, Chairman Mao famously proclaimed that “women hold up half the sky.” In the early years of the People’s Republic, the Communist Party sought to transform gender relations with expansive initiatives. Yet those gains are being eroded in China’s post-socialist era. A provocative exposé about how state-perpetuated myths about ‘leftover’ women are part of the Chinese government’s efforts to promote marriage and social stability in the midst of widespread discontent.
North Korea continues to make headlines, arousing curiosity and fear in equal measure. As an already unstable country grows ever more unpredictable, antagonizing enemies and allies alike, North Korea: State of Paranoia delivers a provocative and frightening account of a potentially explosive nuclear tripwire.
China’s Urban Billion
By 2030, China’s cities will be home to 1 billion people – one in every eight people on earth. What kind of lives will China’s urban billion lead? And what will China’s cities be like? Combining on-the-ground reportage and up-to-date research, this pivotal book explains why China has failed to reap many of the economic and social benefits of urbanization, and suggests how these problems can be resolved.
China’s plans to expand exponentially its exploitation of Tibet’s natural resources will have terrifying consequences for land and people. This book is an entirely unique, authoritative guide through the torrent of online posts, official propaganda and exile speculation.
Ballot Box China
This book looks at the recent history of local government elections in China, how they arose, what they have achieved and where they might be going, exploring the specific experience of elections by those who have taken part in them – the villagers in some of the most deprived areas of China.
Land and Freedom
The Zapatistas of Chiapas and the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST) of Brazil are often celebrated as shining examples in the global struggle against neoliberalism. But what have these movements achieved for their members in more than two decades of resistance and can any of these achievements realistically contribute to the rise of a viable alternative?
Leadership in the Cuban Revolution
Most conventional readings of the Cuban Revolution have seemed mesmerised by the personality and role of Fidel Castro, often missing a deeper political understanding. In this ground-breaking work, Antoni Kapcia focuses instead on a wider cast of characters. Essential reading for anyone interested in Cuba’s history and its future.
Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions
Roger Burbach, Michael Fox and Federico Fuentes
Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions investigates the recent rise of radical left governments in many Latin American countries, exploring why this profound shift has taken place and how this new, so-called ‘Twenty-First Century Socialism’ actually manifests itself.
Civil Society and the State in Left-led Latin America
Barry Cannon and Peadar Kirby
Featuring a broad range of case studies from across the region, this timely and innovative volume provides a critical examination of the role of civil society and its relation to the state throughout left-led Latin America, and the extent to which these new initiatives are redefining state-civil society relations.
Latin America in the 21st Century
Gian Luca Gardini
In this fascinating and insightful analysis, Gardini looks at contemporary developments in Latin America at the state, regional and global level, arguing that despite the numerous challenges to be faced, the region is now more wealthy, autonomous and better-placed in global geopolitics than at any time in its recent history.
Europe on the Brink
ed. Tony Phillips
Europe is suffering from a bipolar economic disorder. Financial journalists divide the continent into two groups of nations – centre and periphery – not by geography but by credit rating. Europe on the Brink is a critical investigation of the root causes of this sovereign debt crisis, and the often misguided policy choices made to resolve it.
In this radically updated and greatly expanded new edition of Debunking Economics, Keen builds on his scathing critique of conventional economic theory whilst explaining what mainstream economists cannot: why the crisis occurred, why it is proving to be intractable, and what needs to be done to end it.
The Economics Anti-Textbook
Rod Hill and Tony Myatt
Mainstream textbooks present economics as an objective science free from value judgements. This is a myth – one which is not only dangerously misleading but also bland and boring. The Economics Anti-Textbook is the students’ guide to decoding the textbooks and shows how real economics is much more interesting than most economists are willing to let on.
Gross Domestic Problem
In this startling insight into the politics of a number that has come to dominate our everyday lives, Lorenzo Fioramonti takes apart the ‘content’ of GDP – what it measures, what it doesn’t and why – and reveals the powerful political interests that have allowed it to dominate today’s economies, while also demonstrating how GDP has little relevance to moral principles such as equity, social justice and redistribution.
How Capitalism Failed the Arab World
Richard Javad Heydarian
Economic liberalization has failed in the Arab world. In How Capitalism Failed the Arab World, Richard Javad Heydarian shows how years of economic mismanagement, political autocracy and corruption have encouraged people to revolt. A unique and provocative analysis of some of the key social and political events of the last decade.
Introducing Just Sustainabilities
Introducing Just Sustainabilities discusses key topics, such as food justice, sovereignty and urban agriculture; community, space,; the democratization of our streets and public spaces; how to create culturally inclusive spaces;; and alternative economic models, such as co-production. This unique and insightful text offers an exploration of the origins and subsequent development of the concept of just sustainability.
The Environmental Responsibility Reader
ed. Martin Reynolds, Chris Blackmore and Mark J. Smith
A collection of works on the field of environmental responsibility. It is suitable for those involved with managing environmental decisions making. It promotes various ways of understanding and taking responsibility for actions in the context of our ‘natural’ world through a selection of edited readings accompanied with an editorial narrative.
Soil Not Oil
In Soil Not Oil, bestselling author Vandana Shiva connects the food crisis, peak oil, and climate change to show that a world beyond a dependence on fossil fuel and globalization is both possible and necessary. Bold and visionary, Shiva reveals how three crises are inherently linked and that any attempt to solve one without addressing the others will get us nowhere.
Energy Justice in a Changing Climate
ed. Karen Bickerstaff, Gordon Walker, Harriet Bulkeley
This is an essential new work for anyone with a focus on the human dimensions of energy transitions and policy, climate change and sustainable development. It offers new thinking on how interactions between climate change, energy policy and equity and social justice can be understood.
Negotiating Climate Change
Climate change is the greatest challenge of the age, and yet fierce disagreement still exists over the best way to tackle the problem – if at all. Amanda Machin draws on radical democratic theory to show that such disagreement does not have to hinder collective action; rather, democratic differences are necessary if we are to have any hope of acting against climate change. This is an important read for researchers, students, policy makers and anyone concerned about the current (lack of) politics in climate change.