What We Are Reading Today: Microfinance and Its Discontents by Lamia Karim

What We Are Reading Today: Microfinance and Its Discontents by Lamia Karim
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Updated 26 November 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Microfinance and Its Discontents by Lamia Karim

What We Are Reading Today: Microfinance and Its Discontents by Lamia Karim

In 2006, the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh won the Nobel Peace Prize for its innovative microfinancing operations.

This path-breaking study of gender, grassroots globalization, and neoliberalism in Bangladesh look critically at the Grameen Bank and three of the leading NGOs in the country.

Amid euphoria over the benefits of microfinance, Lamia Karim offers a timely and sobering perspective on the practical, and possibly detrimental, realities for poor women inducted into microfinance operations.

In a series of ethnographic cases, Karim shows how NGOs use social codes of honor and shame to shape the conduct of women and to further an agenda of capitalist expansion, according to a review on goodreads.com

These unwritten policies subordinate poor women to multiple levels of debt that often lead to increased violence at the household and community levels, thereby weakening women’s ability to resist the onslaught of market forces.


What We Are Reading Today: The Verdict

What We Are Reading Today: The Verdict
Updated 05 February 2023

What We Are Reading Today: The Verdict

What We Are Reading Today: The Verdict

Authors: Prannoy Roy & Dorab R. Sopariwala

“The Verdict” unwraps many a fascinating but hidden story behind the stale and often intimidating numbers and tables on Indian elections over decades. It is also anecdotal, and in part, a political history of the country.

“The Verdict” discusses the key factors that win or lose elections in India, what does, or does not, make India’s democracy tick, and is this the end of anti-incumbency.

It also discusses whether opinion polls and exit polls are reliable, and does the Indian woman’s vote matter.

“The Verdict” uses rigorous psephology, original research, and facts to talk about the entire span of India’s entire electoral history-from the first elections in 1952, till today, according to a review on goodreads.com.

Written by Prannoy Roy, renowned for his knack of demystifying electoral politics, and Dorab Sopariwala, this book is regarded a compulsory reading for anyone interested in politics and elections in India.


What We Are Reading Today: The China Questions

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Updated 05 February 2023

What We Are Reading Today: The China Questions

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Author: Jennifer Rudolph

“The China Questions” provides a window into the challenges Beijing faces today and the uncertainties its meteoric ascent on the global horizon has provoked.
In only a few decades, the most populous country on Earth has moved from relative isolation to center stage. Thirty-six of the world’s leading China experts answer key questions about where this new superpower is headed and what makes its people and their leaders tick.
They distill a lifetime of cutting-edge scholarship into short, accessible essays about Chinese identity, culture, environment, society, history, or policy.
The book raises questions about whether China can embrace the sacrifices required for a clean environment.

 


What We Are Reading Today: Ugliness and Judgment

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Updated 04 February 2023

What We Are Reading Today: Ugliness and Judgment

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Author: Timothy Hyde

When buildings are deemed ugly, what are the consequences? In Ugliness and Judgment, Timothy Hyde considers the role of aesthetic judgment — and its concern for ugliness — in architectural debates and their resulting social effects across three centuries of British architectural history. From 18th-century ideas about Stonehenge to Prince Charles’s opinions about the National Gallery, Hyde uncovers a new story of aesthetic judgment, where arguments about architectural ugliness do not pertain solely to buildings or assessments of style, but intrude into other spheres of civil society.
Hyde explores how accidental and willful conditions of ugliness — including the gothic revival Houses of Parliament, the brutalist concrete of the South Bank, and the historicist novelty of Number One Poultry — have been debated in parliamentary committees, courtrooms, and public inquiries. He recounts how architects such as Christopher Wren, John Soane, James Stirling, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe have been summoned by tribunals of aesthetic judgment.

 


What We Are Reading Today: Waco Rising

What We Are Reading Today: Waco Rising
Updated 02 February 2023

What We Are Reading Today: Waco Rising

What We Are Reading Today: Waco Rising

Author: Kevin Cook

Kevin Cook’s “Waco Rising” provides the full story of what happened at Waco, Texas in 1993 when David Koresh and a band of heavily armed evangelical Christians took on the might of the US government.

A two-month siege of their compound ended in a firefight that killed seventy-six, including twenty-five children. 

Cook harnesses never-reported material to reconstruct the FBI’s 51-day siege of the compound in minute-to-minute detail and sheds new light on the Clinton administration’s approval of a lethal assault that ended so many lives and triggered the rise of today’s militia movements while drawing the battle lines for extremists.

 


What We Are Reading Today: Trading at the Speed of Light by Donald MacKenzie

What We Are Reading Today: Trading at the Speed of Light by Donald MacKenzie
Updated 02 February 2023

What We Are Reading Today: Trading at the Speed of Light by Donald MacKenzie

What We Are Reading Today: Trading at the Speed of Light by Donald MacKenzie

In today’s financial markets, trading floors on which brokers buy and sell shares face- to-face have increasingly been replaced by lightning-fast electronic systems that use algorithms to execute astounding volumes of transactions.

“Trading at the Speed of Light” tells the story of this epic transformation.

Donald MacKenzie shows how in the 1990s, in what were then the disreputable margins of the US financial system, a new approach to trading — automated high-frequency trading or HFT— began and then spread throughout the world.