Books by my bedside

Three books that I’m excited to read:

  • Love in the Time of AIDS, by Mark Hunter. It has been acclaimed as the best book about HIV/AIDS in South Africa, and I’m not surprised. I was in South Africa when Mark was doing his fieldwork, working within a community over the course of years, trusted enough to be given access to love letters. When he presented his findings, it was always dynamite.
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It *Is* Micro Usury

My new friend Ananya Roy was on DemocracyNow! yesterday, talking about the links between microfinance, sub-prime lending, the recent news of farmer suicides assisted by microcredit lenders, and the transformation of poverty into global big business.
Her latest book, Poverty Capital, is fantastic. I’m learning not just about the ambiguities of microfinance, but about the organisations that promote it. For instance: the largest microfinance lender and urban developer in the Middle East? Hezbollah. Find out more here.

One Penny More

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers today launch a new phase of their struggle, by taking on some of the country’s largest supermarkets. To help, they’ve produced a splendid two minute video. It’s worth a watch, not least because twenty seconds in, the campaign video has a cracking dissolve, taking us from supermarket aisle to tomato field in a handful of frames. It’s  a leap that most of us still find hard to comprehend. Perhaps seeing it makes it easier both to believe, and to remember. Check out the actions below, and save the dates.

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FYI: Is it Micro Usury?

I get asked a lot about whether I think micro-credit can help save the Global South. The article I most often send people to is Walden Bello’s fine summary in The Nation, written in 2006 on the occasion of Mohammed Yunus’ receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize. In short: micro-credit is a great way to survive poverty, but a poor way to beat its structural causes, or to address the relations of power the produce it in the first place. People in the Global North are generally surprised to learn the interest rates on micro-credit loans – between 20-70% from the more reputable lenders – and a new article in Outlook India is a reminder that it’s not the interest rate that kills, it’s the people who break down the door demanding repayment. Continue reading