Austerity and optimism: development books to look out for in 2014

The Guardian‘s Poverty Matters blog has put up a list this morning featuring a number of books that it believes will define the oeuvre of development literature in 2014. Pluto and Paradigm (our sister publisher in the USA) have four titles in the mix – two each; something we’re delighted about!

9781612055589Firstly Guardian blogger Mark Tran writes about Kofi Annan’s We The Peoples: A UN for the 21st Century (Paradigm, July 2014):

As secretary-general of the UN, Kofi Annan played a crucial role in launching the millennium development goals, and he retains an interest in development through various bodies. He serves as chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and the Africa Progress Panel, the latter of which has argued for stronger action on illicit financial flows and for greater transparency and accountability in mining. This book of key speeches during his time at the UN, to be published in April, covers subjects from development, health, and climate change to the prevention of genocide and the ideal of diversity, and provides an insight into how his ideas and priorities were incubated.

Next up is Richard Seymour’s highly anticipated polemic Against Austerity: How We Can Fix the Crisis They Made (Pluto, March 2014). Tran writes:

Fed up with austerity and puzzled at why so little has changed in the world economic order? Richard Seymour, the British Marxist writer and activist who runs the blog Lenin’s Tomb, offers this analysis of how austerity is just one part of a wider elite plan to radically re-engineer society and everyday life in the interests of profit, consumerism and speculative finance. It’s an argument others on the left, such as Susan George, have made, so Seymour’s book – which will hit bookshelves in March – is the latest addition to the oeuvre. Seymour argues that it is possible to forge a new collective resistance and come up with alternatives to the current system.

Martin Mowforth’s The Violence of Development: Resource Depletion, Environmental Crises and Human Rights Abuses in Central America (Pluto, March 2014) brings the Pluto contingent to a close. Again, Mark Tran summarises:

The title of Martin Mowforth’s forthcoming book, which will be published by Pluto Press in March, speaks volumes about his view of the subject. He argues that “development” in Central America is a failure. In his view, despite billions of dollars of development funding and positive indicators of economic growth, poverty remains entrenched and violence endemic. To back up his thesis, Mowforth, who lectures at the University of Plymouth, draws on development project case studies and many interviews with a range of people in Central America, including nuns, politicians, NGO representatives, trade unionists, indigenous leaders and human rights defenders.

Finally, Liz Ford, writing in the same post, assesses the new edition of Jackie Smith’s Global Democracy and the World Social Forums (Paradigm, August 2014). She writes:

The World Social Forum was established in 2001 as a counter to the dominant narrative of globalisation coming from the World Economic Forum. The two could not be further apart – not just in message, but in structure and organisation. The WSF I attended in Senegal in 2011 was a chaotic, loud affair, but it was real, passionate and – coinciding with Mubarak’s resignation in Egypt – optimistic that the world could change. The second edition of this book is published by Paradigm in May, and will offer first-hand experiences of the forum’s meetings, explain why it was founded and explore its continuing relevance.

There are many other excellent looking books on the Poverty Matters list, and you can read the whole thing on the Guardian website, here.

For more information about the forthcoming Pluto and Paradigm titles, simply click on the cover images.

Seymour T02680Mowforth T02743

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