WBG ECN Feminist Economics Book ClubBook of the Month | Meetings | Reviews
In 2021 we’ll be keeping our book club meetings virtual, and extending them to both ECN and non-ECN members. See below for the full list, upcoming meeting dates and past reviews!
28 January 2021
‘Lowborn: Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain’s Poorest Towns’ (Kerry Hudson)
Kerry Hudson is proudly working class but she was never proudly poor. The poverty she grew up in was all-encompassing, grinding and often dehumanising. Always on the move with her single mother, Kerry attended nine primary schools and five secondaries, living in B&Bs and council flats. She scores eight out of ten on the Adverse Childhood Experiences measure of childhood trauma.
Lowborn is Kerry’s exploration of where she came from. She revisits the towns she grew up in to try to discover what being poor really means in Britain today and whether anything has changed.
25 February 2021
‘Labours of Love: The Crisis of Care’ (Madeleine Bunting)
Granta Books, 2020
We’re facing a crisis in care likely to affect every one of us over the course of our lives. Care-work is underpaid; its values disregarded. Britain’s society lauds economic growth, productivity and profit over compassion, kindness and empathy. For centuries the caring labours of women have been taken for granted, but with more women now in work, with increasing numbers of elderly and with austerity dismantling the welfare state, care is under pressure as never before.
Over five years, Madeleine Bunting travelled the country, speaking to charity workers, doctors, social workers, in-home carers, nurses, palliative care teams and parents, to explore the value of care, the hidden glue that binds us together. She finds remarkable stories, in GP surgeries, in work undertaken by parents for their disabled children and in end-of-life teams, that conjure a different way of imagining our society and the connections between us. Blending these revelatory testimonies with a history and language of care, and with Bunting’s own experiences of caring for the young and old in her family, Labours of Love is a hugely important portrait of our nation today – and of how it might be – which raises a clarion call for change.
25 March 2021
‘Revolutionary Feminisms: Conversations on Collective Action and Radical Thought’ (Edited by Brenna Bhandar and Rafeef Ziadah)
In a moment of rising authoritarianism, climate crisis, and ever more exploitative forms of neoliberal capitalism, there is a compelling and urgent need for radical paradigms of thought and action. Through interviews with key revolutionary scholars, Bhandar and Ziadah present a thorough discussion of how anti-racist, anti-capitalist feminisms are crucial to building effective political coalitions.
22 April 2021
‘Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis’ (Nancy Fraser)
Second Wave feminism emerged as a struggle for women’s liberation and took its place alongside other radical movements. But feminism’s subsequent immersion in identity politics coincided with a decline in its utopian energies and the rise of neoliberalism. Now, foreseeing a revival in the movement, Fraser argues for a reinvigorated feminist radicalism able to address the global economic crisis.
27 May 2021
‘Crunch Time: How Married Couples Confront Unemployment’ (Aliya Hamid Rao)
University of California Press, 2020
In Crunch Time, Aliya Hamid Rao gets up close and personal with college-educated, unemployed men, women, and spouses to explain how comparable men and women have starkly different experiences of unemployment. Traditionally gendered understandings of work—that it’s a requirement for men and optional for women—loom large in this process, even for marriages that had been not organized in gender-traditional ways. These beliefs serve to make men’s unemployment an urgent problem, while women’s unemployment—cocooned within a narrative of staying at home—is almost a non-issue. Crunch Time reveals the minutiae of how gendered norms and behaviors are actively maintained by spouses at a time when they could be dismantled, and how gender is central to the ways couples react to and make sense of unemployment.
25 June 2021
‘Witches, Witch-Hunting and Women ‘ (Silvia Federici)
Common Notions/Autonomedia/PM Press, 2020
In this new work that revisits some of the main themes of Caliban and the Witch, Silvia Federici examines the root causes of these developments and outlines the consequences for the women affected and their communities. She argues that, no less than the witch hunts in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe and the “New World,” this new war on women is a structural element of the new forms of capitalist accumulation. These processes are founded on the destruction of people’s most basic means of reproduction. Like at the dawn of capitalism, what we discover behind today’s violence against women are processes of enclosure, land dispossession, and the remolding of women’s reproductive activities and subjectivity.
‘To Exist is to Resist: Black Feminism in Europe ‘ (Edited by Akwugo Emejulu and Francesca Sobande)
Pluto Press, 2019
This book brings together activists, artists and scholars of colour to show how Black feminism and Afrofeminism are being practiced in Europe today, exploring their differing social positions in various countries, and how they organise and mobilise to imagine a Black feminist Europe.
Deeply aware that they are constructed as ‘Others’ living in a racialised and hierarchical continent, the contibutors explore gender, class, sexuality and legal status to show that they are both invisible – presumed to be absent from and irrelevant to European societies – and hyper-visible – assumed to be passive and sexualised, angry and irrational.
Through imagining a future outside the neocolonial frames and practices of contemporary Europe, this book explores a variety of critical spaces including motherhood and the home, friendships and intimate relationships, activism and community, and literature, dance and film.
TBC August 2021
‘Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-Made World’ (Leslie Kern)
In Feminist City, through history, personal experience and popular culture Leslie Kern exposes what is hidden in plain sight: the social inequalities built into our cities, homes, and neighborhoods. Kern offers an alternative vision of the feminist city. Taking on fear, motherhood, friendship, activism, and the joys and perils of being alone, Kern maps the city from new vantage points, laying out an intersectional feminist approach to urban histories and proposes that the city is perhaps also our best hope for shaping a new urban future. It is time to dismantle what we take for granted about cities and to ask how we can build more just, sustainable, and women-friendly cities together.
TBC September 2021
‘Social Reproduction Theory and the Socialist Horizon: Work, Power and Political Strategy’ (Aaron Jaffe)
Pluto Press, 2020
How do we integrate the theoretical underpinnings of social reproduction theory (SRT) into our understanding of the social harms inflicted upon us? How can we use it to inform our struggles and affect societal change under capitalism?
Using social reproduction theory to appreciate distinct forms of social domination, this unique and necessary book will have vital strategic implications for anti-capitalists, anti-racists, LGBT activists, disability activists and feminists.
TBC October 2021
‘Why Women Are Poorer Than Men and What We Can Do About It’ (Annabelle Williams)
Discover why it is that women are poorer than men in this intelligent dissection of the gender wealth gap.
The modern world is rigged unfairly in men’s favour, from pensions to the tampon tax, bearing children to boardroom bullying. Exploring these injustices, Annabelle Williams, former financial journalist for The Times, shows how society conspires to limit women’s wealth.
TBC November 2021
‘Data Feminism’ (Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein)
The MIT Press, 2020
Today, data science is a form of power. It has been used to expose injustice, improve health outcomes, and topple governments. But it has also been used to discriminate, police, and surveil. This potential for good, on the one hand, and harm, on the other, makes it essential to ask: Data science by whom? Data science for whom? Data science with whose interests in mind? The narratives around big data and data science are overwhelmingly white, male, and techno-heroic. In Data Feminism, Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren Klein present a new way of thinking about data science and data ethics—one that is informed by intersectional feminist thought.
TBC December 2021
‘Heading Home: Motherhood, Work and the Failed Promise of Equality’ (Shani Orgad)
Columbia University Press, 2019
Heading Home reveals the stark gap between the promise of gender equality and women’s experience of continued injustice. Shani Orgad draws on in-depth, personal, and profoundly ambivalent interviews with highly educated London women who left paid employment to take care of their children while their husbands continued to work in high-powered jobs. Despite identifying the structural forces that maintain gender inequality, these women still struggle to articulate their decisions outside the narrow cultural ideals that devalue motherhood and individualize success and failure.