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21 · DICIEMBRE · 2020

IBEI Holiday Reading List

Discover some of the books our faculty members recommend you for these holidays.
Merry Christmas everyone & have a nice reading! 📖 🎄

Playing with Fire: Deepened Financial Integration and Changing Vulnerabilities of the Global South

Playing with Fire: Deepened Financial Integration and Changing Vulnerabilities of the Global South (Yilmaz Akyuz)

This book offers a very informative discussion on the financial integration experiences of emerging and developing countries and maps out their vulnerabilities, especially in the face of external financial shocks. In doing so, it provides a critical take on the role of portfolio flows and foreign direct investment.

 

Playing with Fire: Deepened Financial Integration and Changing Vulnerabilities of the Global South

Why do you recommend the book?

It offers an out-of-the-box take on economic development by critically examining the role of financial liberalization in the Global South. The author presents an eye-opening, yet nuanced account of the downsides of global financial integration--well worth a read!

Did this book inspire your current or past work? How?

My own research on the political implications of financial liberalization is very much inspired by this book.

More about the book

Brexitland: Identity, Diversity and the Reshaping of British Politics

Brexitland: Identity, Diversity and the Reshaping of British Politics (Maria Sobolewska and Rob Ford)

This book argues that Brexit and the divisions it created were the results of long-term social and demographic changes. Sobolewska and Ford show how deep the roots of this polarisation and volatility run, drawing out decades of educational expansion and rising ethnic diversity as key drivers in the emergence of new divides within the British electorate over immigration, identity and diversity. They argue that choices made by political parties from the New Labour era onwards mobilised these divisions into politics, first through conflicts over immigration, then through conflicts over the European Union, culminating in the 2016 EU referendum.

Brexitland: Identity, Diversity and the Reshaping of British Politics

Why do you recommend the book?

The most authoritative and accessible survey of political science research over the last decade, with a clear explanation - which is plausible up to a point.

Did this book inspire your current or past work? How?

I'm writing on racism and Brexit and this book fascinates me because it analyses much of what I'm dealing with, without giving racism an analytically important role. (I've written a lengthy review of it on openDemocracy.)

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The Struggle for Catalonia. Rebel Politics in Spain

The Struggle for Catalonia. Rebel Politics in Spain (Raphael Minder)

Written by the New York Times correspondent in Spain and Portugal since 2010, this essay provides one of the best interpretations of the intricacies of the Catalan territorial conflict in recent years. Minder has interviewed most of the protagonists in this conflict and combines a detailed description of the political process with an in-depth perspective on the contextual factors that triggered the push for independence in Catalonia.

The Struggle for Catalonia. Rebel Politics in Spain

The author introduces the reader to the cultural history of Catalonia, reviews the previous decades of political and social tensions that created the background, the emergence of the conflict and the force of the social movements that supported the indepedence claims.

Why do you recommend the book?

This is a very clear and well-informed approach from outside the Catalan political and social conflict, that will satisfy readers in search of balanced and inteligent answers.

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Factfulness

Factfulness (Hans Rosling with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund)

This best-selling book examines the preconceptions and prejudices that we have that stop us processing facts and making balanced decision. The book is divided into 10 chapters covering instinctive reactions that we have to situations, such as the gap instinct, the urgency instinct, the single perspective instinct. Each chapter gives examples and explains why we should view the situation differently, written in a very conversational style that is easy to read.

Factfulness

Why do you recommend the book?

The subtitle of this book is "Ten reasons we're wrong about the world - and why things are better than you think" and to me that sounds like a good book to read in 2020. In a year when I've been constantly refreshing my computer screen to update the data on cases of covid, this book has helped me prioritize a scientific reaction and spot it (or the lack of it) in political responses.

Did this book inspire your current or past work? How?

I have been using some examples in my Research Methods classes.

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The Historical Roots of Political Violence: Revolutionary Terrorism in Affluent Countries

The Historical Roots of Political Violence: Revolutionary Terrorism in Affluent Countries (Ignacio Sánchez-Cuenca)

This book offers a study of the determinants of violent conflict that followed the late 1960s circle of protest. The central idea is that the political and economic system explains terrorism: the countries that followed a non-liberal path in the interwar period, suffered left-wing terrorism in the late 1960s and beyond.

The Historical Roots of Political Violence: Revolutionary Terrorism in Affluent Countries

The author uses a stimulating mix of historical, statistic and comparative analysis that challenge those explanations of terrorism based only on security approaches or centred on explaining subject’s 'radicalisation'.

Why do you recommend the book?

The book opens new avenues for research on terrorism and promotes interdisciplinary approaches in social sciences.

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Lost Children Archive

Lost Children Archive (Valeria Luiselli)

A family -- two parents, two kids -- takes a roadtrip from New York to Arizona, in principle for the father's new job. Both parents are sound archivists. Along the way the mother seeks answers about what happened to migrant children arrested at the border with Mexico and lost in the administrative maze that is US immigration policy, a quest that the kids adopt as well.

Lost Children Archive

Why do you recommend the book?

This novel addresses in fiction the emotions behind and around a lot of the research we do as academics. Both rigorous and moving, it draws you into the human element within a story shaped by cruel (and real) immigration policies.

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Lines in the sand

Lines in the Sand (A. A. Gill)

This is a selection of journalism articles written by Adrian Gill between 2011 and 2016. The book’s main theme is refugee journeys, with vivid and engaging descriptions of the ongoing human tragedy of forced displacement of Syrians, the Rohingyas, the Congolese, etc. But there are also very interesting accounts of his travels to countries and cities in all corners of the world: from Botswana to Colombia; from New York to Dhaka. And there is a one-day visit to Trump University, foreshadowing the times to come.

LINES IN THE SAND

Why do you recommend the book?

When I read Lines in the Sand I highly recommended it to my students as a rich source of those important things missing in academic books and official reports: insightful and from-the-ground accounts of events full of intelligence, wit, and humanity.

Did this book inspire your current or past work? How?

Not directly, but it inspired me to think differently about things, and gave me an insight into places I have never visited.

More about the book

The Europeans

The Europeans (Orlando Figes)

The Europeans is a richly enthralling, panoramic cultural history of nineteenth-century Europe, told through the intertwined lives of three remarkable people: a great singer, Pauline Viardot; a great writer, Ivan Turgenev; and a great connoisseur, Pauline's husband Louis. Their passionate, ambitious lives were bound up with an astonishing array of writers, composers and painters all trying to make their way through the exciting, prosperous and genuinely pan-European culture that came about as a result of huge economic and technological changes.

The Europeans

Why do you recommend the book?

This book is a fantastic cultural panorama that ilustrates the cosmopolitanism vs. nationalism cleavage in pre-First World War Europe.

Did this book inspire your current or past work? How?

The cleavage underlying the book is always present in IR.

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Popular culture, geopolitics and identity

Popular culture, geopolitics and identity (Jason Dittmer and Daniel Bos)

This is an accessible and very complete introduction to popular geopolitics, which is the branch of critical geopolitics that explores the mark and the making of global politics in everyday life. After this read, common and popular activities, such as visiting a museum, enjoying a film or attending a football match, will no longer be perceived as experiences detached from the realm of international relations.

Popular culture, geopolitics and identity

Why do you recommend the book?

It bridges international relations with cultural studies and by doing so stimulates curiosity and expands the horizons of the discipline.

Did this book inspire your current or past work? How?

This and other works on popular geopolitics inspired new research in the framework of Project VISIONS on geopolitics in EU's neighbourhood.

More about the book

The Weirdest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous

The Weirdest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous (Joseph Henrich)

In this book, Joe Henrich explores a particularly strange phenomenon: the rise Western Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic, or “WEIRD," societies. Historically and geographically speaking, WEIRD societies have become “particularly prosperous,” and Henrich aims to explain why. Offering an answer that falls very much in the Weberian tradition, he puts this down to shifts in thinking. In contrast with much of the world, and in a major break with the past, WEIRDos are highly individualistic, tend to think analytically, and define themselves in terms of their membership in voluntary groups. They are less embedded in and defined by familial relationships, and more trusting of others, on average. This difference, he argues, has underpinned the growth of market-based societies and democracy. But how did this come about? Henrich highlights a radical shift in family policy promoted by the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages that was then amplified by protestantism. This forced individuals to marry beyond immediate family members, leading to a breakdown of traditional kinship structures and rewarding an entirely difference cultural “package.” It’s a fascinating argument.

The Weirdest People in the World

Why do you recommend the book?

I’ve really enjoyed Henrich’s writing, and here he is at the top of his game. The Weirdest People in the World falls within in the “Big History” books tradition that includes works like Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel, Gregory Clark’s A Farewell to Alms, and Joel Mokyr’s The Lever of Riches. These tend to offer simple but compelling answers to the complex questions of human prosperity. While they aren’t always right they are always fun and inspiring to read. This is a great contribution that will provoke a lot of great conversations.

Did this book inspire your current or past work? How?

In a weird way, yes. One of the studies Henrich published before this book found that the people psychologists study are especially strange: nearly all studies of “human” behaviour are actually based on undergraduates in Europe and North America. This gives a misleading picture of “humans” overall, since most people in history don’t think like these WEIRDos. When I first I read that, I thought: we do a similar thing in IR! We study the same incidents, institutions, and regions, over and over, and take these to be “representative" of global politics. That spurred me to think about how this leads to misunderstandings in IR, too, which is something I’ve been working recently.

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Lara Klossek_foto
Lara Klossek
Investigadora predoctoral, proyecto GLOBAL INDIA, Marie S. Curie European Training Network, H2020

Equal Opportunity Peacekeeping. Women, Peace and Security in Post-Conflict States

Equal Opportunity Peacekeeping. Women, Peace and Security in Post-Conflict States (Sabrina Karim and Kyle Beardsley)

The book is driven by the question: to what extent have reforms relating to gender equality in peace operations been successful? The main argument of the book is that gender power imbalances in the domestic security sector (police and military) are replicated in peacekeeping operations. The book discusses three such gender power imbalances. Firstly, specific roles assigned to men and women in the mission scenario based on the notion of men as natural warriors and women as peacemakers. Secondly, the gendered norm of protection, which gives the role of protector to men, while women are to be protected. Finally, militarization processes which increase the possibilities for sexual exploitation, abuse, harassment, and violence.

Equal Opportunity Peacekeeping

Why do you recommend the book?

The book offers an excellent insight into the debates on gender and peacekeeping, which is an important discussion, given that gender mainstreaming in peace operations has faced many obstacles, and the numbers of female peacekeepers have remained low. Furthermore, the book uses an innovative combination of data from household surveys, qualitative interviews, focus group, cross-national data, and lab-in-the-field experiments, which can be interesting to scholars working in other fields. Lastly, it is refreshing that the book ends with recommendations on how to overcome current gender imbalances, rather than simply pointing out an existing problem.

Did this book inspire your current or past work? How?

It helped me to further reflect on the question of gender mainstreaming in the context of Indian female peacekeepers.

More about the book

A Theory of Global Governance

A Theory of Global Governance (Michael Zuern)

Michael Zuern draws together his work over the last couple of decades into a single long essay that addresses, in his view, the changing way states recognise, respect and re-evaluate the delegation of authority to institutions beyond the state. He challenges conventional thinking that focuses on why states do (or do not) in a particular moment take the plunge and make a commitment to an international agreement or treaty or agree to be bound by an organisation’s rules. Instead, states are increasingly ‘reflexive’ in assessing authority beyond the sovereign state. This is how global governance will function in an increasingly changing international order.

A Theory of Global Governance

Why do you recommend the book?

Because I knew his previous work, it was easy for me to see the pieces of this longer essay fall into place. But it is written clearly, logically and concisely, so I think anyone could get a lot from it.

Did this book inspire your current or past work? How?

I have been looking at the evolution of blockchain technology, and specifically the way the authority governing them is entirely private among the community of developers and coin-holders, both in the original coding and in subsequent modifications. His discussion of the changing nature of authority was especially useful.

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Patria

Patria / Homeland (Fernando Aramburu)

This novel, a literary sensation in Spain shortly after its publication in 2016 and recently turned into an HBO series, puts the spotlight on some of the micro-level, everyday dimensions of the Basque conflict. It tells the story of two families in a small town close to San Sebastian. Their friendship is ripped apart when the father of the first family is blackmailed and later assassinated by ETA, while one of the second family’s sons joins ETA, becomes involved in attacks, and finally ends up in prison.

Patria

Patria is a 800-page brick of a book, but highly readable and better than the TV series, not the least because the narrative constantly changes perspective between the different family members and their motivations, emotions and experiences. It also shows how each of them is ultimately forced to take sides in the conflict, even against his/her will.

Why do you recommend the book?

Powerful and highly readable illustration of a well-established point in the conflict and nationalism literature: Violent conflict engenders ethnonational identifications, and not the other way around, as it is often assumed.

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Homeland

Patria / Homeland (Fernando Aramburu)

A novel about two families during the final stages of the terrorist conflict in the Basque country. Tensions rise, relationships fracture, and events race towards a violent, tragic conclusion.

Homeland

Why do you recommend the book?

A compelling story which is also an unforgiving exploration of the human dilemmas of living with terrorism. 'It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that was so persuasive and moving, so intelligently conceived.' - Mario Vargas Llosa

Did this book inspire your current or past work? How?

It confirms conclusions about the social effects of violence which I arrived at a long time ago.

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The Cost of Free Money: How Unfettered Capital Threatens Our Economic Future

The Cost of Free Money: How Unfettered Capital Threatens Our Economic Future (Paola Subacchi)

This book offers an accessible account of how unfettered mobility of capital has led to a series of financial and economic crises. It questions the oft-promoted benefits of financial openness, and argues that policies that favor greater financial liberalization also harm international cooperation, with dire consequences.

The Cost of Free Money: How Unfettered Capital Threatens Our Economic Future

Why do you recommend the book?

This is a relatively easy to read book with an interesting argument and provides a wealth of details on the history of financial globalization.

Did this book inspire your current or past work? How?

My own research on the political implications of financial liberalization also speak to the main themes in this book, so I enjoyed reading it very much.

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Vermeer's Hat

Vermeer's Hat (Timothy Brook)

It's a great ilustration of the XVII century world through the prism of globalization.

Vermeer's Hat

Why do you recommend the book?

I love Vermeer. In this book the author takes the details of Vermeer's paintings (such a porcelain vase or a fur hat) to make us travel around the world and, so, understand how China, Europe and Latin America were so close in the XVIIth century.

Did this book inspire your current or past work? How?

The book is about great painting and globalization. Both of them inspire IR work by definition.

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The Shadow King

The Shadow King (Maaza Mengiste)

This is a novel about an Ethiopian women named Hirut and primarily takes place during the Italian Ethiopian war in the mid-1930s. Hirut is an orphan who has worked as a servant to a couple, Kidane and Aster. When the war starts, Kidane is responsible for raising an army. Hirut and Aster both wish to fight, but Kidane will not permit it—at first. Eventually, after resisting and cruelly punishing their efforts, he allows Hirut to serve as a guard to the “shadow king.” The shadow king is actually just someone who is impersonating Haile Selassie, who is really in exile, waiting out the war in England. This leads Hirut to cross paths with several Italians, and these events culminate years later in a complex reunion that frames the story as a whole.

The Shadow King

Why do you recommend the book?

Mengiste’s book was shortlisted for the Booker Prize this year, which is no surprise. It's beautifully written. The story is told in quite small chapters, like pictures in an album that one has returned to. This aligns with the overall story, which begins with Hirut at a train station in Addis Ababa holding a box of photos, years after the main event has taken place. It’s all set during a fascinating period of Ethiopian history, and the characters are all vividly rendered. This book involved a tremendous amount of work, and it shows. I greatly enjoyed reading it.

Did this book inspire your current or past work? How?

I’ve worked in Ethiopia in the past, and I am very interested in the history, art, politics and people of the country. It hasn’t inspired my current research, but this was a lovely way to reconnect with Ethiopia since I haven’t been there in a while now.

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Orders of Exclusion: Great Powers and the Strategic Sources of Foundational Rules in International Relations

Orders of Exclusion: Great Powers and the Strategic Sources of Foundational Rules in International Relations (Kyle Lascurettes)

The argument of this book is that international orders are built to exclude. Great powers order the world in ways that reflect their threat perceptions and their willingness to target the sources of such threats. Different kinds of threats will lead to different sorts of order rules. If they have to do with the distribution of power, rules will affect behaviour. If there is an ideological aspect to them, rules will govern membership into the club too. From this vantage point the book looks at cases of order change (or lack thereof) from Westphalia to the end of the Cold War.

Orders of Exclusion: Great Powers and the Strategic Sources of Foundational Rules in International Relations (Kyle Lascurettes) The argument of this book is that international orders are built to exclude. Great powers order the world in ways that reflect their threat perceptions and their willingness to target the sources of such threats. Different kinds of threats will lead to different sorts of order rules. If they have to do with the distribution of power, rules will affect behaviour. If there is an ideological aspect to them, rules will govern membership into the club too. From this vantage point the book looks at cases of order change (or lack thereof) from Westphalia to the end of the Cold War.

Why do you recommend the book?

Great book to think about the challenges that the global power shift poses to the international order.

Did this book inspire your current or past work? How?

It has helped me think about the strange, intimate ways in which change and continuity (and drivers of both) combined during the decade and a half the followed 1989. I teach a class on the contemporary international system at the UAB, so I think this will help me tackle that issue next year.

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