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Welcoming Spirits: Colonial Development and the Politics of Affliction x Recovering Histories

“This country really wants to kill us.” Uncle Zoda, a troubled husband, father and host of the author, makes this provocative comment after learning of a Chinese government plan to relocate villagers into state-built apartment buildings. Ting Hui Lau’s dissertation, “Colonial Development and the Politics of Affliction on the China-Myanmar Border” (Cornell University 2020a), provides a fascinating, unsettling exploration of …

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Book forum: Julie Livington’s Self-Devouring Growth

This article is part of the following series:

This book forum brings together seven scholars to discuss Julie Livingston’s Self-Devouring Growth: A Planetary Parable as Told from Southern Africa (Duke 2019), a story of what grows alongside “growth” and the price of “a good life.” Botswana offers lessons that are peopled and elemental; lessons that tug between the local and the global. Livingston shows how water, food, transportation…

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On Genre and Politics in the Parable of Self-Devouring Growth

At the start of Season of the Shadow, Léonora Miano’s haunting novel about the Atlantic slave trade, a group of women whose sons have gone missing are separated from the rest of the Mulongo clan. It is Ebeise, midwife to the village, who suggests isolating the women until the elders can understand what has transpired. “In that way…their pain …

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All Roads Lead to Ruin: Terminality and Julie Livingston’s Self-Devouring Growth

It is a testament to the distilled clarity and prescience of Julie Livingston’s parable of a book that its title, Self-Devouring Growth, can strike one immediately as both so true and suddenly so evident that everything that follows in its slim 120 odd pages will then appear as the confirmation of all that the title had come to pre-organize …

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Consuming Tales, Powerful Tools

Why is it so difficult to write about such a nice book––a book that offers an elegant and important argument about industrial capitalism and growth that is devouring the world in which we live? The originality of how this story is recounted through a succession of tales that come to be imbricated into each other, skillfully looped together in the …

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Self-Devouring or Predator/Prey? A Question About Racial Capitalism

In 2017, the recently elected Guatemalan president Jimmy Morales launched a nutrition campaign called Crecer Sano: Niñez con futuro (Grow Healthy: Childhood with a Future). Backed by a World Bank loan for $100 million, his program was based on a widely accepted idea that financial investment in children’s early life yields a long-term payback—it’s a good return on investment, to …

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