Development Studies books – must reads of 2022

Published on 14 December 2022

We have chosen a range of books selected by our Research Fellows as their must-reads of 2022. These books cover a whole range of themes within development studies: from the climate crisis; political settlements; the Green revolution; gender justice and many more.

All are thought-provoking, not only about thinking about where we are now in development in 2022, but issues that will impact development studies into the next year.


Creative Universities: Reimagining Education for Global Challenges and Alternative Futures
By Anke Schwittay
In this wide-ranging book, Anke Schwittay argues that, in order to inspire and equip students to generate better responses to global challenges, we need a pedagogy that develops their imagination, creativity, emotional sensibilities and practical capabilities. Listen to the podcast.

Political Settlements and Development: Theory, Evidence, Implications
By Tim Kelsall, Nicolai Schulz, William D. Ferguson, Matthias vom Hau, Sam Hickey, and Brian Levy

IDS Fellow, Max Gallien says
“Given how quickly ‘political settlements’ have spread as a buzzword through the development community in the past few years, it is easy to lose track of the theories and hypotheses behind it. Kelsall et al have not only taken stock of this field, but provided a reminder of what makes political settlements so exciting – its role in the quest for a grand theory of development. With fascinating new data and even more applications than authors, they have written a “development scholar’s development book” – and one of the most interesting reads of the year”.

Intimacy and injury: In the wake of #MeToo in India and South Africa
Edited by Nicky Falkof, Srila Roy and Shilpa Phadke

Through the lens of the #MeToo moment, this book tracks histories of feminist’s organising in both countries, while also revealing how newer strategies extended or limited these struggles. Intimacy and injury is a timely mapping of a shifting political field around gender-based violence in the global south.
Listen to the podcast.

Trade Links: New Rules for a New World
By James Bacchus
The author, posits that this global organization can survive and continue to succeed only if the trade links among WTO members are revitalized and reimagined. He explains how to bring the WTO into the twenty-first century, exploring the ways it can be utilized to combat future pandemics and climate change and advance sustainable development, all while continuing to foster free trade. This book is among the first to comprehensively explain the new trade rules needed for our new world. Listen to the podcast.

The Globalization of Wheat. A Critical History of the Green Revolution
By Marci Baranski

IDS Fellow, Dominic Glover says
“A growing list of recent publications is challenging uncritical histories of the post-WW2 Green Revolution in global agriculture as a triumph of scientific plant breeding, which allowed humanity to attain global food security and saved billions of lives. This brand-new book attacks a key claim that underpins this Green Revolution mythology: that modern crop varieties were ‘widely adapted’ for cultivation across broad agro-ecological zones. In fact, scientific breeding was used to create wheat and other crop varieties that thrived in the most fertile areas, and depended on costly inputs of chemical fertiliser, irrigation, and other inputs. Poorer farmers and marginal farmland were systematically neglected by the institutions of agricultural research and development”.

Split Waters: The Idea of Water Conflicts
Edited by Luisa Cortesi

The book looks at the existence of the idea of water conflict, and asks what it is and what it produces in how it is used to pursue particular interests and to legitimise specific historical, technological and environmental relations. Listen to the podcast.

Books from IDS researchers

What About Us? Global Perspectives on Redressing Religious Inequalities
Edited by Mariz Tadros

Robert Chambers, Research Associate, Institute of Development Studies says
“This inspiring book draws attention to a blind spot in development thinking and action. After this book, the depth and extent of religious inequalities can no longer be overlooked. Readers personally affected by religious discriminations will recognise that they are not alone. Their struggles for equality and tolerance are found in many forms all over the world”.

Rebel Populism: Revolution and Loss Among Syrian Labourers in Beirut
By Philip Proudfoot

Joe Glenton, author of Veteranhood: Rage and Hope in British Ex-Military Life says
“Proudfoot’s Rebel populism is a ground-breaking study into how and why working-class and rural Syrian migrants were drawn to the promise of revolutionary politics and rebel militias. This fascinating book provides an intimate portrayal of young male lives shaped not only by warfare and violence but also hope”.

Youth Active Citizenship for Decent Jobs: A Handbook for Policy and Practice
Edited by David Mpofu, Michael Ndiweni, Kwanele Moyo and Samuel Wadzai, S. and Marjoke Oosterom

Ideas in this Handbook recognise that politics influence youth employment opportunities. This is particularly the case in contexts commonly referred to as fragile, conflict-affected and violent settings (FCVS). Approaches to youth employment interventions need to respond to these dynamics to avoid that powerful actors capture them to serve their interests and avoid increasing risks to conflict.

The Routledge Handbook of Smuggling
Edited by Max Gallien and Florian Weigand

The book – which has just been made open access – offers a comprehensive survey of interdisciplinary research related to smuggling, reflecting on key themes, and charting current and future trends.

Related material

IDS, along with our project partners, IDS publishes a range of publications each year, many of which are open access and can be found on our core websites:

IDS Publications
Our world-class research brings an understanding of people’s lived experiences to policy and practice.

IDS Bulletin
The IDS Bulletin is an open access, peer-reviewed journal focusing on international development. In continual publication since 1968, it has a well-established reputation for intellectually rigorous articles developed through learning partnerships on emerging and evolving development challenges presented in an accessible manner in themed issues that bridge academic, practice and policy discourse.

OpenDocs is a digital repository of research on international development brought to you by IDS. The Research Repository is an active repository of digital publications by IDS members and research partners. It consists of a number of curated communities and collections.

IDS Between the Lines podcast
This podcast series explores books with ideas for positive social and environmental change. Each month we feature a book and an interview with its author. The discussions give an insight on the themes covered in the book, exploring the challenges and discoveries, and why the issues matter for progressive and sustainable development globally.

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