An Alternative Economics Summer Reading List

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by Carolina Alves, Besiana Balla, Devika Dutt and Ingrid H. Kvangraven

This is a response list to Martin Wolf’s FT column recommending Economics books of 2018 for summer reading. While there are many good books listed, we were struck by the consistent monism in his choices, as the books are all by scholars based in either the UK or the US, 12/13 of the authors are men and most of them come from the same theoretical tradition. Such lists perpetuate the strong white male – and mainstream – biases in our field (the recent list by The Economist suffers from the same biases).

To counter these biases, and with the purpose of broadening our field to become more inclusive of diverse approaches and perspectives, we have put together an alternative list. We deliberately chose books by scholars approaching Economics with alternative theoretical frameworks and by scholars from groups that tend to be excluded from the field, namely women, people of color, and scholars from the Global South. We recognize that no one is exempt from biases, which is why we are providing an explanation for the motivation behind our selection. 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 Valsa Brasileira by Laura Carvalho, but we are still waiting for the English translation. We hope you enjoy it and welcome more suggestions in the comments section.

Teaching the History of Economic Thought – Integrating Historical Perspectives into Modern Economics

By Daniela Tavasci and Luigi Ventimiglia | 2018, Edward Elgar Publishing

53584380.jpgStemming from the idea that economics is a social science that tends to forget its own history, this refreshing book reflects on the role of teaching with historical perspectives. It offers novel ways of integrating the history of economics into the curriculum, both in history of economic thought modules and in other sub-disciplines. Coming from a wide diversity of experiences, the chapters share the idea that studying the history of thought exposes students to pluralism and is therefore an essential pedagogical tool.

See more here.

Building Power from Below: Chilean Workers Take On Walmart

By Carolina Bank Munoz | 2018, Combined Academic Publishers


This book attributes Chilean workers’ success in challenging the world’s largest corporation to their organizations’ commitment to union democracy and building strategic capacity. Chilean workers have spent years building grassroots organizations committed to principles of union democracy. Retail workers’ unions have less structural power, but have significant associational and symbolic power. Their most notable successes have been in fighting for respect and dignity on the job. Warehouse workers by contrast have substantial structural power and have achieved significant economic gains. While the model in Chile cannot necessarily be reproduced in different countries, we can gain insights from the Chilean workers’ approaches, tactics, and strategies.

See more here.

When Things Don’t Fall Apart – Global Financial Governance and Developmental Finance in an Age of Productive Incoherence

By Ilene Grabel | 2018, MIT Press

?collid=books_covers_0&isbn=9780262037259.jpgIlene Grabel challenges the dominant view that the global financial crisis had little effect on global financial governance and developmental finance. Most observers discount all but grand, systemic ruptures in institutions and policy. Grabel argues instead that the global crisis induced inconsistent and ad hoc discontinuities in global financial governance and developmental finance that are now having profound effects on emerging market and developing economies. Grabel’s chief normative claim is that the resulting incoherence in global financial governance is productive rather than debilitating. Inspired by Albert Hirschman, Grabel demonstrates that meaningful change often emerges from disconnected, erratic, experimental, and inconsistent adjustments in institutions and policies as actors pragmatically manage in an evolving world.

See more  here.

International Trade Policy and Class Dynamics in South Africa. The Economic Partnership Agreement

By Simone Claar | 2018, Palgrave Macmillan

Image result for "International Trade Policy and Class Dynamics in South Africa. The Economic Partnership Agreement"This book provides an innovative perspective on class dynamics in South Africa, focusing specifically on how different interests have shaped economic and trade policy. As an emerging market, South African political and economic actions are subject to the attention of international trade policy.. Claar provides an in-depth class analysis of the contradictory negotiation processes that occurred between South Africa and the European Union on Economic-Partnership Agreements (EPA), examining the divergent roles played by the political and economic elite, and the working class. The author considers their relationships with the new global trade agenda, as well as their differing standpoints on the EPA.

See more here.

Modern Imperialism, Monopoly Finance Capital, and Marx’s Law of Value

By Samir Amin | 2018, Monthly Review Press

Image result for ""Modern Imperialism, Monopoly Finance Capital, and Marx’s Law of Value"Samir Amin extends Marx’s analysis to describe a concept of “imperialist rent” derived from the radically unequal wages paid for the same labor done by people in both the Global North and the Global South, the rich nations and the poor ones. This is global oligopolistic capitalism, in which finance capital has come to dominate worldwide production and distribution. Amin also advances Baran and Sweezy’s notion of economic surplus to explain a globally monopolized system in which Marx’s “law of value” takes the form of a “law of globalized value,” generating a super-exploitation of workers in the Global South. This book offers readers a complete collection of Amin’s work on Marxian value theory and includes Amin’s answers to his critics.

See more here.

Work: The Last 1,000 Years

By Andrea Komlosy | 2018, Verso

Image result for "Work: The Last 1,000 Years"

By the end of the nineteenth century, the general Western conception of work had been reduced to simply gainful employment. But this limited perspective contrasted sharply with the personal experience of most people in the world—whether in colonies, developing countries or in the industrializing world. Moreover, from a feminist perspective, reducing work and the production of value to remunerated employment has never been convincing. Andrea Komlosy argues in this important intervention that, when we examine it closely, work changes its meanings according to different historical and regional contexts. Globalizing labour history from the thirteenth to the twenty-first centuries, she sheds light on the complex coexistence of multiple forms of labour on the local and the world levels.

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Extracting Profit – Imperialism, Neoliberalism and the New Scramble for Africa

By Lee Wengraf  | 2018, Haymarket Books

Image result for Extracting Profit – Imperialism, Neoliberalism and the New Scramble for Africa  by Lee Wengraf.Extracting Profit argues that the roots of today’s social and economic conditions lie in the historical legacies of colonialism and the imposition of so-called “reforms” by global financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. And while the scramble for Africa’s resources has heightened the pace of ecological devastation, examples from Somalia and the West African Ebola outbreak reveal a frightening surge of militarization on the part of China and the U.S. Yet this “new scramble” has not gone unchallenged. Extracting Profit offers several narratives of grassroots organizing and protest, pointing to the potential for resistance to global capital and fundamental change, in Africa and beyond.

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Algorithms of Oppression – How Search Engines Reinforce Racism

By Safiya Umoja Noble | 2018, NYU Press.

Image result for Algorithms of Oppression – How Search Engines Reinforce Racism  By Safiya Umoja Noble. From NYU Press.

Safiya Umoja Noble challenges the idea that search engines like Google offer an equal playing field for all forms of ideas, identities, and activities. Data discrimination is a real social problem; Noble argues that the combination of private interests in promoting certain sites, along with the monopoly status of a relatively small number of Internet search engines, leads to a biased set of search algorithms that privilege whiteness and discriminate against people of color, specifically women of color. Through an analysis of textual and media searches as well as extensive research on paid online advertising, Noble exposes a culture of racism and sexism in the way discoverability is created online.

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Economics of Real-Life – A New Exposition

By C.T. Kurien | 2018,  Academic Foundation

Image result for Economics of Real-Life - A New ExpositionEconomics of Real-Life: A New Exposition is possibly the first book attempting to introduce interested readers to the working of contemporary economies with special reference to India. Unlike most introductory books in economics its objective is not to concentrate on a priori logic based on untested (and untestable) premises, but to rely on the history of the evolution of human communities from the rudimentary state to the latest because economic activities—social interaction to provide the material basis for survival and to go beyond—is common to all. The book relies on ‘capsule history’ and ‘thought experiments’ as expository devises.

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Turbulence and Order in Economic Development: Institutions and Economic Transformation in Tanzania and Vietnam

By Hazel Gray | 2018, Oxford University Press

Image result for Turbulence and Order in Economic Development: Institutions and Economic Transformation in Tanzania and Vietnam  By Hazel GrayThe terms of debate on the role of institutions in economic development are changing. Stable market institutions, in particular, secure private property rights and democratically accountable governments that uphold the rule of law, are widely seen to be a pre-requisite for economic transformation in low income countries, yet over the last thirty years, economic growth and structural transformation has surged forward in a range of countries where market and state institutions have differed these ideals, as well as from each other. Gray studies the role of the state in two such countries, examining the interplay between market liberalization, institutions, and the distribution of power in Tanzania and Vietnam.

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Classical Economics Today – Essays in Honor of Alessandro Roncaglia

By Marcella Corsi, Jan Kregel, and Carlo D’Ippoliti | 2018, Anthem Press

Classical Economics TodayThis book is a collection of essays that investigates and applies the method and principles of Classical political economy to current issues of economic theory and policy. The contributors to the volume, like all classical economists in general, regard history as a useful tool of analysis rather than a specialist object of investigation. By denying that a single, all-encompassing mathematical model can explain everything we are interested in, Classical political economy necessarily requires a comparison and integration of several pieces of theory as the only way to discuss economics and economic policy. Economists inspired by the Classical approach believe that economic theory is historically conditioned: as social systems evolve, the appropriate theory to represent a certain phenomenon must evolve too.

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Sense And Solidarity – Jholawala Economics for Everyone

by Jean Drèze | 2018, Indian Books & Periodicals

Image result for Sense And Solidarity - Jholawala Economics for EveryoneJean Drèze has a rare and distinctive understanding of the Indian economy and its relationship with the social life of ordinary people. He has travelled widely in rural India and done fieldwork of a kind that few economists have attempted. This has enabled him to make invaluable contributions not only to public debates on economic and social policy but also to our knowledge of the actual state of the country. Drèze’s insights on India’s “unfashionable” issues – hunger, poverty, inequality, corruption, and conflict – are all on display here and offer a unique perspective on the evolution of social policy over roughly the past two decades. Historic legislations and initiatives of the period, relating for instance to the right to food and the right to work, are all scrutinised and explained, as are the fierce debates that often accompanied them.

See more here.

10 thoughts on “An Alternative Economics Summer Reading List

  1. I like this list very much, thank you for sharing. One more addition to the list, though the author is white, male and from the global North, and thus does not meet the diversity criterion, it is still a good read: David Pilling, The Growth Delusion. Wealth, Poverty and the Well-being of Nations.


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