Reading list

Histories of Global Underdevelopment

A reading list of history and theory that illuminates the effects of underdevelopment across the globe.

Verso Books11 November 2021

Histories of Global Underdevelopment

Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa is a major work of underdevelopment theory, but it is also a key text in understanding global politics generally. Rodney's work shows that colonialism was not simply a phase of exploitation banished to the past. Rather, the legacy of colonialism is a major cause of the developmental gap between the global north and south. This legacy is therefore central to understanding the entire history of global politics. The readings below analyze the history, theory, and effects of underdevelopment beyond Africa to the entire post-colonial world, outlining the various ways advanced countries halted or fundamentally altered paths of development in the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, India, and beyond, leading to many of the conflicts that continue to hinder the developing world today. 

Until January 2, 2023 at 11:59PM EST, we have 40% off ALL books (see full details here)!

See our Gift Guide and all our reading lists, including The Year in 10 BooksRadicalize Your NiblingsRadical HappinessTis the Season to Abolish the FamilyUnderstanding the Cost of Living CrisisChristianity and Anticapitalism.

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An exemplary work of political, economic, and historical analysis, powerfully introduced by Angela Davis.

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The Argentine-born writer Adolfo Gilly has directly observed many of Latin America’s most dramatic events, from the Bolivian Revolution of the 1950s and Cuba during the Missile Crisis to the guerrilla wars of Central America and Mexico’s Zapatista uprising. Paths of Revolution presents the first representative selection from across his extensive body of work, collecting close-quarters reportage, sharp political analyses and reflections on art and letters.

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Building on a growing body of transnational and interdisciplinary research on the political imaginaries of settler colonialism as a specific mode of domination, this book uncovers and subjects to critique an autonomous, influential, and coherent political tradition—a tradition still relevant today.

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The occupation of Afghanistan is over, and a balance sheet can be drawn. These essays on war and peace in the region reveal Tariq Ali at his sharpest and most prescient.

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Vivek Chibber offers the most comprehensive response yet to postcolonial theory. Focusing on the hugely popular Subaltern Studies project, Chibber shows that its foundational arguments are based on a series of analytical and historical misapprehensions.

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A magisterial melding of global ecological and political history, disclosing the nineteenth-century roots of underdevelopment in what became the Third World.

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“An approachable yet erudite reconsideration of Brazilian politics between 1994 and Bolsonaro’s first year in office … The prose is light, delightfully romping through the twists and turns of Brazilian political life and skewering everyone along the way.” – Matthew M. Taylor, Latin American Research Review

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How rebellious colonies changed British attitudes to empire.

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“Stella Dadzie has given us another chapter in women's history by uncovering resistance that is uniquely rooted in controlling reproduction. This is a meticulously researched narrative that privileges the people who were so brutally treated that it was easy to assume they had no agency. We now know that such an assumption would be mistaken. This is an essential addition to the corpus of historical study into the nature, legacy and impacts of the period of African enslavement. It's finally a work that allows us to better understand and recognise how women disrupted the principal economic principles supporting the enslavement of generations of people.”

– Arike Oke, Director of The Black Cultural Archives

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The Indian Ideology caused uproar on first publication in 2012, not least for breaking with euphemisms for Delhi’s occupation of Kashmir. This new, expanded edition includes the author’s reply to his critics, an interview with the Indian weekly Outlook, and a postscript on India under the rule of Narendra Modi.

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The reactions of the British state to post-war immigration reflected the shift in world politics from empires to decolonization.

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 The definitive analysis of Hindu nationalism in contemporary India and the challenges for the radical Left.

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The classic, brilliant, best-selling account of the rise of the world’s slums, where, according to the United Nations, one billion people now live.

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The definitive account of exploitation in the Congo, introduced by Adam Hochschild.

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How the political violence of modern jihad echoes the crises of western liberalism.

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In this definitive historical investigation, Italian author and philosopher Domenico Losurdo argues that from the outset liberalism, as a philosophical position and ideology, has been bound up with the most illiberal of policies: slavery, colonialism, genocide, racism and snobbery. 

Further Reading

Radicalize Your Niblings

Radical Happiness

Tis the Season to Abolish the Family

Understanding the Cost of Living Crisis

Christianity and Anticapitalism

I Do Not Dream of Labour: books that imagine a different working world

We all live in a country called Capitalism

Imagining Radical Futures: utopian thinking for a different world

Abolition is the only solution: a reading list for breaking police power

10 Books Every Student Should Read

Decolonize your bookshelf!

Histories of Global Underdevelopment

Theorizing the Climate Crisis

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa
How Europe Underdeveloped Africa is an ambitious masterwork of political economy, detailing the impact of slavery and colonialism on the history of international capitalism. In this classic book, R...
Paths of Revolution

Paths of Revolution

The Argentine-born writer Adolfo Gilly has directly observed many of Latin America’s most dramatic events, from the Bolivian Revolution of the 1950s and Cuba during the Missile Crisis to the guerri...
The World Turned Inside Out
Many would rather change worlds than change the world. The settlement of communities in ‘empty lands’ somewhere else has often been proposed as a solution to growing contradictions. While the lands...
The Forty-Year War in Afghanistan
The NATO occupation of Afghanistan is over, and a balance-sheet can be drawn. These essays on war and peace in the region reveal Tariq Ali at his sharpest and most prescient.Rarely has there been s...
Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital
Postcolonial theory has become enormously influential as a framework for understanding the Global South. It is also a school of thought popular because of its rejection of the supposedly universali...
Late Victorian Holocausts
Examining a series of El Niño-induced droughts and the famines that they spawned around the globe in the last third of the 19th century, Mike Davis discloses the intimate, baleful relationship betw...
Brazil Apart
What does Brazil’s lurch to the hard right under Jair Bolsonaro portend for Latin America’s most populous society, and how has it come about? Perry Anderson, foremost observer of the Brazilian scen...
Insurgent Empire
Much has been written on the how colonial subjects took up British and European ideas and turned them against empire when making claims to freedom and self-determination. The possibility of reverse...
A Kick in the Belly
The forgotten history of women slaves and their struggle for liberation.Enslaved West Indian women had few opportunities to record their stories for posterity. In this riveting work of historical r...
The Indian Ideology
The historiography of modern India is largely a pageant of presumed virtues: harmonious territorial unity, religious impartiality, the miraculous survival of electoral norms in the world’s most pop...
We're Here Because You Were There
What are the origins of the hostile environment against immigrants in the UK? Patel retells Britain's recent history in an often shocking account of state racism that still resonates today. In a se...
The Rise of Hindu Authoritarianism
With the Hindu nationalist BJP now replacing the Congress as the only national political force, the communalization of the Indian polity has qualitatively advanced since the earlier edition of this...
Planet of Slums
According to the United Nations, more than one billion people now live in the slums of the cities of the South. In this brilliant and ambitious book, Mike Davis explores the future of a radically u...
Lord Leverhulme's Ghosts

Lord Leverhulme's Ghosts

In the early twentieth century, the worldwide rubber boom led British entrepreneur Lord Leverhulme to the Belgian Congo. Warmly welcomed by the murderous regime of King Leopold II, Leverhulme set u...
The Apocalypse and the End of History
In this authoritative, accessible study, historian Suzanne Schneider examines the politics and ideology of the Islamic State (better known as ISIS). Schneider argues that today’s jihad is not the r...
In this definitive historical investigation, Italian author and philosopher Domenico Losurdo argues that from the outset liberalism, as a philosophical position and ideology, has been bound up wi...

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