Book Bundles: The Exploitation of Africa

Drawing of books, open and closed and lined up in a row. A glass inkwell, calligraphy pen, old timey spectacles.

Welcome to the Modcast’s blog series, Book Bundles. This is where we recommend two or more books based around a topic or theme. So you’ve got options!

You’ve seen the humanitarian organization’s ads begging for money, and you’ve seen the viral videos of missionary workers giving them tools and chocolate. Now get ready to confront the messages these types of narratives perpetuate: That African peoples can’t govern or care for themselves. Check these out:

The Looting Machine: Warlords, Oligarchs, Corporations, Smugglers, and the Theft of Africa’s Wealth by Tom Burgis

As someone completely unversed in global economics, this was a semi-accessible read. Burgis does rely on the reader’s basic understanding of how supply and demand and capitalism works. The author does well piecing together the history of the exploitation of Africa, and the narrative is fascinating. I really appreciated the humanization of leaders, pointing out that they can empathize, but they are caught between a rock and a hard place: if they don’t perpetuate the machine that crushes them, they will also be crushed beneath it. Overall an excellent exposé of the industrial powers’ mostly legal methods of exploitation.

“Tom Burgis exposes the truth about the African development miracle: for the resource states, it’s a mirage. The oil, copper, diamonds, gold and coltan deposits attract a global network of traders, bankers, corporate extractors and investors who combine with venal political cabals to loot the states’ value. And the vagaries of resource-dependent economies could pitch Africa’s new middle class back into destitution just as quickly as they climbed out of it. The ground beneath their feet is as precarious as a Congolese mine shaft; their prosperity could spill away like crude from a busted pipeline. / This catastrophic social disintegration is not merely a continuation of Africa’s past as a colonial victim. The looting now is accelerating as never before. As global demand for Africa’s resources rises, a handful of Africans are becoming legitimately rich but the vast majority, like the continent as a whole, is being fleeced. Outsiders tend to think of Africa as a great drain of philanthropy. But look more closely at the resource industry and the relationship between Africa and the rest of the world looks rather different.”

Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence by Christian Parenti

Although this is global, Africa is clearly included. And so here it is.

“From Africa to Asia and Latin America, the era of climate wars has begun. Extreme weather is breeding banditry, humanitarian crisis, and state failure. In Tropic of Chaos, investigative journalist Christian Parenti travels along the front lines of this gathering catastrophe–the belt of economically and politically battered postcolonial nations and war zones girding the planet’s midlatitudes. Here he finds failed states amid climatic disasters. But he also reveals the unsettling presence of Western military forces and explains how they see an opportunity in the crisis to prepare for open-ended global counterinsurgency. / Parenti argues that this incipient “climate fascism”–a political hardening of wealthy states– is bound to fail. The struggling states of the developing world cannot be allowed to collapse, as they will take other nations down as well. Instead, we must work to meet the challenge of climate-driven violence with a very different set of sustainable economic and development policies.”

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

A book about white women coming to terms with guilt/complicity, with each woman in the family having a distinct voice. Overall I liked it and it felt like an authentic narrative. It’s good way to explore the ongoing exploitation of Africa’s people and resources.

The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it — from garden seeds to Scripture — is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.”

Have any book recommendations on the topic? Drop the title in a comment!

Published by modcasters

We’re a group of graduate students studying English Literature and Language on a mission to discuss literature, provide access to those on the deafness and/or blindness spectrum, and rock mustachios.

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