Top summer reading recommendations

Published on 16 August 2017

For students starting their international development courses in the autumn and for anyone with an interest in development studies we have put together a selection of top titles to read over the Summer. These titles from IDS’ history and current research reflect a wide range of themes in development studies.


Agronomy for Development: The Politics of Knowledge in Agricultural Research (2017) Jim Sumberg Routledge This book demonstrates how the analysis of knowledge politics can shed valuable new light on current debates about agricultural development and food security. Using bio-physical and social sciences perspectives to address the political economy of the production and use of knowledge in development, this edited collection reflects on the changing politics of knowledge within the field of agronomy and the ways in which these politics feed and reflect the interests of a broad set of actors.

The Aid Lab: Understanding Bangaldesh’s Unexptected Success (2017) Naomi Hossain Oxford University Press In chapters examining the environmental, political and socioeconomic crisis of the 1970s, the book shows how the lessons of the famine led to a robustly pro-poor growth and social policy agenda, empowering the Bangladeshi state and its non-governmental organizations to protect and enable its population to thrive in its engagements in the global economy.

Feminism, Power and Development (2014) Edited by Andrea Cornwall and Jenny Edwards Zed Books An indispensible text for anyone interested in gender and development, this book shows that policies and approaches to development that view women as instrumental to other objectives will never promote women’s empowerment as they fail to address the structures by which gender inequality is perpetuated over time.

Farmer First Revisited: Innovation for Agricultural Research and Development (2009) Ian Scoones and John Thompson Practical Action ‘Farmer First Revisited is a powerful testament to the impact of the Farmer First approach. From an almost subversive critical movement that challenged the prevailing linear science-driven paradigm, Farmer First has won broad acceptance by rigorously proving its superior efficiency in making science work for the poorest and most marginal farmers…’ Joachim Voss, Independent Consultant, formerly Director General, International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Cali, Colombia

The Democratic Developmental State (1999) Gordon White and Mark Robinson Oxford University Press ‘It is required reading for those interested in the strategic change objective on right to a say’, Oxfam

Misreading the African Landscape: Society and Ecology in a Forest Savanna Mosaic (1997) James Fairhead and Melissa Leach Cambridge University Press ‘This is a bold and important book, an analytical tour de force. It mounts a forceful attack against the received wisdom on deforestation and the spread of the desert.’ Wendy James and Richard P. Werbner Amaury Talbot Prize 1997

Whose Reality Counts? (1997) Robert Chambers Practical Action Publishing ‘Uncomfortable, sometimes funny, but essential reading.’ New Scientist

IDS Bulletin

Engaged Excellence IDS Bulletin 47.6, 2017 Edited by: Melissa Leach, John Gaventa and Katy Oswald Who defines good quality research? How, why and with whom should we co-construct knowledge? How do we build enduring partnerships? The articles in this IDS Bulletin aim to answer these questions based on IDS’ approach of ‘engaged excellence’.

Exploring Power for Change Edited by Rosalind Eyben, Colette Harris and Jethro Pettit IDS Bulletin 37.6, 2006 Concepts and methods of participation’ are used increasingly to shape policy and deliver services. Such approaches throw new light on complex interactions within and between society and state institutions at all levels. They lead to questions about how different kinds of knowledge and values shape policy choices.

New Politics of Taxation and Accountability

Edited by: Mick Moore and Lise Rakner IDS Bulletin 33.3, 2002 Why the title ‘New politics of taxation’? What then were the ‘old’? This Bulletin discusses the increasing prominence of taxation issues on policy and political agendas in developing countries. Dismissing the premise that taxation is a dry and technical topic with no implications for development, the contributing authors reflect on the reasons for this rise, both in discussions about region-specific factors and on the underpinning global issue of the defeat of the neo-liberal aim to ‘roll back the state’.

IDS Reports

Ten Frontier Technologies for International Development Ben Ramalingam, Kevin Hernandez, Pierre Prieto Martin and Becky Faith 2017 As new technologies and digital business models reshape economies and disrupt incumbencies, interest has surged in the potential of novel frontier technologies to also contribute to positive changes in international development and humanitarian contexts.

The Social Realities of Knowledge for Development: Sharing Lessons of Improving Development Processes with Evidence ? 2017 James Georgalakis, Nasreen Jessani, Rose Oranje and Ben Ramalingam This edited collection of peer-reviewed papers explores critical challenges faced by organisations and individuals involved in evidence-informed development through a diverse set of case studies and think-pieces.

Sustainable Rural Livelihoods: A Framework for Analysis Ian Scoones IDS Working Paper 72, 1998 The concept of ‘sustainable livelihoods’ is increasingly important in the development debate. This paper outlines a framework for analysing sustainable livelihoods, defined here in relation to five key indicators.

Sustainable Rural Livelihoods: Practical Concepts for the 21st Century Robert Chambers and Gordon Conway IDS Discussion Paper 296, 1992

Money Can’t Buy Me Love? Re-evaluating Gender, Credit and Empowerment in Rural Bangladesh Naila Kabeer IDS Discussion Paper 363,1998

This list is not exhaustive and you can search the IDS Publications pages for 1000’s of books, journal articles and other publications.

The IDS Bulletin website also offers over 2500 articles which you can access for free dating back to 1968 to see how the development agenda has evolved.

Send us your reading recommendations

If we have missed anything we also want to know your international development reading recommendations. Please add your own favourites in the comment box below and share them via Twitter using #globaldevreading.

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