What We Are Reading Today: Radical

Updated 12 October 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Radical

Author: Kate Pickert

This book from Kate Pickert is a thorough review of large breakthroughs in breast cancer research.
“Breast cancer is emotional,” Pickert writes. “And then she reveals how physicians, pharmaceutical companies and even patient advocacy groups have tapped into those emotions to prevent patients from making informed decisions about screening and treatment,” said Pauline Chen said in a review for The New York Times.
Chen also said that Pickert, a journalism professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and a former health care reporter for Time magazine, “was diagnosed with a particularly grim form of breast cancer at the age of 35. Soon thereafter, she set out to write a cultural and scientific history of the disease, using narratives of her own experience to anchor her research. Such a whopping undertaking could have easily turned maudlin, strident or just plain eye-glazing; instead, Pickert has produced a powerful and unflinching page-turner.”
Chen is the author of Final Exam: A Surgeon’s Reflections on Mortality.

What We Are Reading Today: Governing the Urban in China and India by Xuefei Ren

Updated 10 July 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Governing the Urban in China and India by Xuefei Ren

Urbanization is rapidly overtaking China and India, the two most populous countries in the world. One-sixth of humanity now lives in either a Chinese or Indian city. 

This transformation has unleashed enormous pressures on land use, housing, and the environment. Despite the stakes, the workings of urban governance in China and India remain obscure and poorly understood.

In this book, Xuefei Ren explores how China and India govern their cities and how their different styles of governance produce inequality and exclusion. Drawing upon historical-comparative analyses and extensive fieldwork (in Beijing, Guangzhou, Wukan, Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata), Ren investigates the ways that Chinese and Indian cities manage land acquisition, slum clearance, and air pollution. 

She discovers that the two countries address these issues through radically different approaches. In China, urban governance centers on territorial institutions, such as hukou and the cadre evaluation system. 

In India, urban governance centers on associational politics, encompassing contingent alliances formed among state actors, the private sector, and civil society groups. Ren traces the origins of territorial and associational forms of governance to late imperial China and precolonial India. She then shows how these forms have evolved to shape urban growth and residents’ struggles today.

As the number of urban residents in China and India reaches beyond a billion, Governing the Urban in China and India makes clear that the development of cities in these two nations will have profound consequences well beyond their borders.