Lecoutteux, Fiorella

Lecoutteux, Fiorella

Fiorella Lecoutteux

11 December 2020Review

Penguin, 2019; 416pp; £10.99

This book is the result of a five-month journey Johny Pitts made through Europe investigating the concept of ‘Afropean’ – that is, both African and European – culture. Travelling with a backpack, notebook and camera, Pitts followed in the steps of Caryl Phillips’s 1987 travelogue, The European Tribe, which effectively reversed the black gaze onto white Europeans.

Here, Pitts flips the concept on its head, specifically investigating black Europe in the 21st century. Each…

1 June 2020Review

OR Books, 2019 ; 273pp ; £16; available online here

This is a rich and compelling examination of Daniel Defoe’s 1719 literary classic Robinson Crusoe - the story of a shipwrecked man who survives on a desert island for 28 years, two months and 19 days.

Read in turn as a realistic adventure story, a spiritual pilgrimage and a parable about the rise of the economic capitalist, Crusoe has become ‘one of the most influential [books] in and beyond the Western world… exercising a profound impact not just on literature but…

1 December 2019Review

University of Chicago Press, 2018; 272pp; £17

This is a book about farmed animals: about their exploitation and the complex web of factors that serves to normalise this exploitation. Kathryn Gillespie invites us to re-think our relationship to non-human animals and to how their lives have been co-opted for human consumption.

From the outset, she challenges some common assumptions about the dairy industry.

First and foremost, the myth that cows always produce milk.

Just like other mammals, dairy cows only…

1 August 2019Review

Zed, 2018; 272pp; £9.99

This short book addresses current feelings of disempowerment in Europe and shows us how to solve the crisis of the nation-state: together!

The writers are founders of the transnational European Alternative movement which promotes democracy, equality, and culture beyond the nation-state.

For Marsili and Milanese, Europe is a multitude of paradoxical things.

It is the European elites saving the banks rather than their citizens during the 2008 financial crash and forcing…

1 June 2019Review

Verso; 2019; 320pp; £16.99

‘This is a war story.’

Thus begins Nick Estes’ historical recounting of the survival of – and the resistance waged by – Native American people, the ‘first sovereigns’ of – and the ‘oldest political authority’ in – America.

US history saw the first white settlers attempt to ‘permanently and completely replace Natives with a settler population’. This is a war that continues to rage to this day, as seen in the horrific police violence against Native Americans fighting to resist…

1 April 2019Review

OR Books; 2018; 226pp; £16 (purchase online here)

How can we hold dictators to account? The list of those who have enjoyed complete impunity is long. Lawyer Wolfgang Kaleck has spent his whole life fighting to reverse this state of affairs: using the law to challenge Latin American ex-dictators, representing the families of US drone-attack victims in Yemen, and filing criminal complaints against the likes of ex-US secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld.

Kaleck’s latest book is a manifesto for international law and how it can be…

1 October 2018Review

OR Books, 2018; 366pp; £13, available to purchase online here

The title of this book refers to a line in Mike Marqusee’s poem ‘Egypt’. In it, Egyptian people are filling a public square, presumably Cairo’s Tahrir Square, their images captured on TV. Much like a dream, Marqusee writes, what is happening is ‘turbulent and calm, much wished for, full of surprise.’ But unlike a dream, this is a revolution that will leave ‘definable traces in the atmosphere, like incense.’ He concludes: ‘I know this is not a dream because like a dream / everything is…

1 August 2018Review

The New Press, 2018; 368pp; £24.99

Two of the most pressing questions for the Left today are: Who are Trump’s supporters? And why did they vote for him?

A liberal Democrat based in California, US sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild has spent years researching the US right in its geographic heart, the South. She has attempted to cross the ‘empathy wall’ that blocks you from understanding someone with a wildly different worldview.

Hochschild’s research leads her to wrestle with a major paradox in the US…

1 August 2017Review

Pluto Press, 2016; 192pp; £18.99

At the heart of this book lies the unresolvable dilemma between economic growth and ecological sustainability. Its key contribution is to combine a global study of the Anthropocene (the ‘proposed epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on the Earth’s geology and ecosystems’ – Wikipedia) with an anthropological analysis of how it is perceived locally. The result is an informative, multi-scaled account of our fast-paced times.

Over five chapters, Eriksen…

1 April 2017Review

Verso, 2016; 512pp; £25

Don’t be deterred by this book’s hefty appearance or its purely historical premise. Using archival research, Sheila Rowbotham has retraced the lives of six US and British radicals in the late 19th century. Her commitment to mingling the personal and the political results in a fascinating mosaic of stories.

In the decades that Rowbotham reconstructs before our eyes, women could still not speak in public without ‘odium and ostracism’. Divorce and contraception were highly…

1 June 2016Review

Melville House, 2016; 176pp; £17.99

Seeing Power is a thought-provoking manifesto on the artist’s position within a system where making money is inextricably linked to producing culture. Setting out to critique the 21st-century culture industry, Thompson demonstrates how it ‘plucks the fruit of art and activism’s labors, ingests it, and regurgitates a new substance for a voracious and growing nest of consumers.’

Thompson asks: can art function outside the capitalist system? Is there such a thing as activist…

1 April 2016Review

New Internationalist, 2016; 232pp; £7.99

In this short but timely introduction, leading US anti-war academic and activist Phyllis Bennis examines the rapid growth of Islamic State and the rise of the new global war on terror waged by the US and its allies in the Middle East.

Written in a question/answer format, Bennis addresses a series of questions including: What are the origins of ISIS? What was behind the US decision to escalate military involvement in the Middle East in 2014? and: Isn’t military force necessary when…

1 February 2016Review

Pluto Press, 2015; 224pp; £17

This book makes an original and thought-provoking contribution to a rapidly growing list of publications taking on the orthodoxies of mainstream economics. At its heart is the critical question: who controls money?

Since money doesn’t enter the economy naturally, the means by which it is created are contingent on political choices. To expose the ideology behind our financial system, Mellor meticulously debunks four myths about modern finance.

The first is the assumption…

1 December 2015Review

Verso, 2015; 256pp; £12.99

In the next two decades, 47% to 80% of current jobs will be lost to automation. According to Srnicek and Williams, this is good news; and the contemporary left needs to embrace this future if it is to transform the status quo with a sustainable economic alternative.

An exciting manifesto, written by two prominent left-accelerationists (who believe that technological expansion can generate social change, beyond capitalism), it begins by recognising our current state of over-…