Books from around the world, of universal political relevance
This package includes:
With her characteristic brilliance, grace and radical audacity, Angela Yvonne Davis has put the case for the latest abolition movement in American life: the abolition of the prison. As she notes, American life is replete with abolition movements, and when they were engaged in these struggles, their chances of success seemed almost unthinkable. For generations of Americans, the abolition of slavery was sheerest illusion. Similarly, the entrenched system of racial segregation seemed to last forever, and generations lived in the midst of the practice, with few predicting its passage from custom. The brutal, exploitative (dare one say lucrative?) convict-lease system that succeeded formal slavery reaped millions to southern jurisdictions (and untold miseries for tens of thousands of men, and women). Few predicted its passing from the American penal landscape. Davis expertly argues how social movements transformed these social, political and cultural institutions, and made such practices untenable.
The burakumin, Japan’s largest minority group, have been the focus of an extensive yet strikingly homogeneous body of Japanese language research. The master narrative in much of this work typically links burakumin to premodern occupational groups engaged in a number of socially polluting tasks like tanning and leatherwork. This narrative, when subjected to close scrutiny, tends to raise more questions than it answers, particularly for the historian. Is there really firm historical continuity between premodern outcaste and modern burakumin communities? Does the discrimination faced by these communities actually remain the same? Does the way burakumin frame their own experience significantly affect mainstream understandings of their plight?
Carpentaria starts before time begins. It offers a portrait of a fictional town called Desperance in the Gulf country of north-western Queensland, where whites have pushed the Aboriginal people to the margins. This is where the protagonists, Norm Phantom and Angel Day, live. And their lives are larger than life. They are, at once, the Gulliver to the Government Giants, and they also are the Queen of Night and the King of the Ocean, powerful spirits that entire towns and seas cannot hold down. Norm seduces all the fish in all the oceans, and no man who could resist Angel’s charms has ever lived.Then there’s the mayor, Stan Bruiser, a bigot capable of limitless brutality, with the credo: ‘If you can’t use it, eat it, or fuck it, then it’s no bloody use to you.’ He abets the entry of the mining company that turns the earth upside down and inside out, bringing out ancient spirits buried with the ore, which then threaten to wipe out the silly town from the face of earth.
Wright’s storytelling is operatic and surreal: a blend of myth and scripture, farce and politics.
Nobody wants to acknowledge that Google has grown big and bad. But it has. The firm’s geopolitical aspirations are firmly enmeshed within the foreign-policy agenda of the world’s largest superpower.
—Google, whose logo is imprinted on human retinas almost six billion times each day, has made petabytes of personal data available to the US intelligence community
—In 2008, Google helped launch an NGA spy satellite, GeoEye-1. It shares the photographs from the satellite with the US military and intelligence communities
—In 2010, NGA awarded Google a $27 million contract for ‘geospatial visualization services’
—In 2012, Google arrived on the list of top-spending Washington lobbyists
In June 2011, Julian Assange received an unusual visitor: the chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt. For several hours the besieged leader of the world’s most famous insurgent publishing organization and the billionaire head of the world’s largest information empire locked horns. For Assange, the liberating power of the Internet is based on its freedom and statelessness. For Schmidt, emancipation is at one with US foreign policy objectives and is driven by connecting non-Western countries to American companies and markets. When Google Met WikiLeaks presents the story of the Assange–Schmidt encounter.
Labour in Bangladesh flows like its rivers—in excess of what is required. Often, both take a huge toll. Labour that costs $1.66 an hour in China and 52 cents in India can be had for a song in Bangladesh—18 cents. It is mostly women and children working in fragile, flammable buildings who bring in 70 per cent of the country’s foreign exchange. Bangladesh today does not clothe the nakedness of the world, but provides it with limitless cheap garments—through Primark, Walmart, Benetton, Gap.
In elegiac prose, Jeremy Seabrook dwells upon the disproportionate sacrifices demanded by the manufacture of such throwaway items as baseball caps. He shows us how Bengal and Lancashire offer mirror images of impoverishment and affluence. In the eighteenth century, the people of Bengal were dispossessed of ancient skills and the workers of Lancashire forced into labour settlements. In a ghostly replay of traffic in the other direction, the decline of the British textile industry coincided with Bangladesh becoming one of the world’s major clothing exporters. With capital becoming more protean than ever, it wouldn’t be long before the global imperium readies to shift its sites of exploitation in its nomadic cultivation of profit.
‘The drama unfolds with all the poetry and eclecticism of a Bob Dylan song’—Publisher’s Weekly, on Carpentaria
‘A fascinating conversation with one of the most far-sighted thinkers in technology. Assange is consistently ahead of the curve’—Edward Snowden, on When Google Met Wikileaks
‘Few writers are at once as lyrical or as precise about the living conditions of peasants and indigents’—The Guardian, on The Song of the Shirt
‘There are very few monographs in English on the problem of burakumin or outcaste identity in Japan… Timothy Amos has written a clear, readable account of the contingencies of buraku identity in Japan’—Elyssa Faison, on Embodying Difference
‘Angela Davis swings a wrecking ball into the racist and sexist underpinnings of the American prison system’—Cynthia McKinney, on Are Prisons Obsolete?
'A thought-provoking meditation on the corrosive legacy of slavery from the 16th century to the present and a welcome illustration of the powers of innovative scholarship to help us better understand how history shapes identity'—The New York Times, on Lose Your Mother