How Europe Underdeveloped Africa – Nov 17th 2021

On November 17th, we will discuss Walter Rodney’s 1972 classic book “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”. This is an online event, which will be held via videocall. Anyone is welcome, but we keep link details private – please contact us for the Zoom details. The book is part of a series on how modern inequality was built which included Silvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch, David Graeber’s Debt and Jason Hickel’s The Divide – but you do not need to have attended preceding events to join us to discuss Rodney’s book.

Walter Rodney was a leader of Black Power and Pan-African movements, including the Guyanese Working People’s Alliance. He was internationally reknowned as a historian of colonialism – and for linking struggles for independence on the African continent with struggles of working class Black people in North America and the Caribbean.

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa is an ambitious masterwork of political economy, detailing the impact of slavery and colonialism on the history of international capitalism. In this classic book, Rodney makes the unflinching case that African “mal-development” is not a natural feature of geography, but a direct product of imperial extraction from the continent, a practice that continues up into the present. Meticulously researched, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa remains a relevant study for understanding the so-called “great divergence” between Africa and Europe, just as it remains a prescient resource for grasping the multiplication of global inequality today.” – publishers, Verso

Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend. You are welcome to attend to listen to the discussion even if you do not have time to engage with any of the content. Free resources are listed below, but if you can, please buy a copy of the book from the Yellow Lighted Bookshop using the following link (adding the “StroudRadical” Coupon Code will get you 10% off the £16.99 standard price): How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney.

You can access the following free:

Chapter 4 audio:

CaribNation TV featuring an interview with Prof Rupert Lewis:

The Divide – Jason Hickel

We will discuss Jason Hickel’s book “The Divide” on Wednesday October 20th. This is an online event, which will be held via videocall. Anyone is welcome, but we keep link details private – please contact us for the Zoom details.

Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend. You are welcome to attend to listen to the discussion even if you do not have time to engage with any of the content. You can access the following free:

Please contact us about any accessibility requirements.

You can buy a copy of The Divide by Jason Hickle from the local Yellow Lighted Bookshop and get a 10% discount on the £9.99 standard price by entering “StroudRadical” to the “Coupon Code” box at the checkout. You can then either collect from Nailsworth, Tetbury or Chalford shops, or have the book(s) delivered by RoyalMail or the Bike Drop (delivery charges may apply).

The Divide : a brief guide to global inequality and its solutions” was published in 2017. According to the publishers, Windmill Books, it “tracks the evolution of global inequality from the expeditions of Christopher Columbus to the present day – offering a provocative, urgent and ultimately uplifting account of how the world works, and how we can change it for the better.”

The book is part of a series on how modern inequality was built which will include How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney on November 17th (using the “StroudRadical” Coupon Code will get you 10% off the £16.99 standard price), and included Debt by David Graeber on September 15th, and Caliban and the Witch by Silvia Federici (both links take you to pages which include further links to purchase discounted copies of these books).

September 15th – Debt by David Graeber

Last September 2nd, David Graeber died unexpectedly, aged 59. He was an influential American anthropologist and anarchist activist, known particularly for his role in the Occupy movement and his book, Debt: The First 5,000 Years. We felt it would be appropriate to mark his death – and his life and work – with an anniversary event.

We will discuss Graeber’s book “Debt” on Wednesday September 15th. This is an online event, which will be held via videocall. Anyone is welcome, but we keep link details private – please contact us for the Zoom details.

Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend. You are welcome to attend to listen to the discussion even if you do not have time to engage with any of the content. We will focus our discussion on Chapter 7: Honour and Degradation, and there is also a 90 minute video recording below for those who have limited time but would like to engage with the book. Below are links to buy the book at a reduced price, access a full pdf for free, download the chapter we will focus our discussion on, or watch the video of Graeber discussing the book. Please contact us about any accessibility requirements.

You can buy a copy of Debt by David Graeber from the local Yellow Lighted Bookshop and get a 10% discount on the £17.99 standard price by entering “StroudRadical” to the “Coupon Code” box at the checkout. You can then either collect from Nailsworth, Tetbury or Chalford shops, or have the book(s) delivered by RoyalMail or the Bike Drop (delivery charges may apply).

Debt: The First 5,000 Years was published in 2011. Graeber maps out the history of debt from ancient civilisations to current times, suggesting it has been one of the great catalysts for social and political strife throughout. Social institutions such as barter, marriage, friendship, slavery, law, religion, war and government are explored through the lens of Debt. The book draws on the history and anthropology of a number of civilizations, large and small, from the first known records of debt from Sumer in 3500 BC until the present.

The book is part of a series on how modern inequality was built which will also include The Divide by Jason Hickle on October 20th (click the link for 10% off the £9.99 standard price via Yellow Lighted Bookshop), and How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney on November 17th (again, using the “StroudRadical” Coupon Code will get you 10% off the £16.99 standard price). Further details on these events will be added to the website ASAP.

You can access a full pdf of the book ‘Debt’ via libcom.org, but it is a long book. We will focus our discussion on Chapter 7: Honour and Degradation – in order to make it easier for people with limited time to participate (please read more of the book if you are able!

Below is a video recording of David Graeber in conversation with Jonathan Conning, Associate Professor of Economics at Hunter College at the Graduate Center, CUNY

David Graeber is an anthropologist and activist based in New York, and London, where he holds the position of Reader in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of six books, including Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value, Lost People: Magic and History in Central Madagascar, Direct Action: An Ethnography, and most recently, Debt: The First Five Thousand Years, alongside popular and political writings that have appeared in venues like Harpers, The Baffler, and The Nation. He is currently working on two books: one on bureaucracy, the other about his involvement in the formation of Occupy Wall Street.

Jonathan Conning joined the economics department in the fall of 2002. His research and teaching interests include Development Economics, applied microeconomic theory and financial contracting, as well as trade and modern political economy. His research has explored the structure and operation of rural financial markets, microfinance and social investment, as well as topics in agrarian production organization, property rights, economic history, and impact evaluation.



Aug 18th 2021: CALIBAN AND THE WITCH

We will discuss Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation by Silvia Federici on Wednesday August 18th, from 7.30pm.

We encourage people to read the full book (see links to buy the book/read a free pdf below), but appreciate not everyone will have time. Please read the Preface and Introduction if you can, or engage with either the video or podcast interview below. You are welcome to attend to listen to the discussion even if you do not have time to engage with any of the content.

“A cult classic since its publication in the early years of this century, Caliban and the Witch is Silvia Federici’s history of the body in the transition to capitalism. Moving from the peasant revolts of the late Middle Ages through the European witch-hunts, the rise of scientific rationalism and the colonisation of the Americas, it gives a panoramic account of the often horrific violence with which the unruly human material of pre-capitalist societies was transformed into a set of predictable and controllable mechanisms.

It is a study of indigenous traditions crushed, of the enclosure of women’s reproductive powers within the nuclear family, and of how our modern world was forged in blood.”- Book jacket text from the publisher

This is an online event, which will be held via Zoom. For Zoom details, which we keep private to group members, please contact us. Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend. Please contact us about any accessibility requirements.

Download the Preface and Introduction below, and read on for other content options include link to buy the book and details of how to get a 10% discount.


We aim to make the sessions a welcoming space for anyone interested in the topic, you do not need to have a university education or have ever been to a reading group before, and we welcome people who have not read the book but would like to listen! Please contact us if you have any questions.

This is the third in a series of three texts on Feminism, and the first in a series on the makings of modern inequality. You are welcome to attend this event standalone, but may be interested in catching up on the preceding events discussing Lola Olufemi’s Feminism Interrupted, and Audre Lorde’s Zami.

Silvia Federici is an Italian and American scholar, teacher, and activist from the radical autonomist feminist Marxist and anarchist tradition. She has taught at several universities in the US and also in Nigeria, and is the author of many works, which also include Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle. She was co-founder of the International Feminist Collective, an organizer with the Wages for Housework Campaign.

July 21st 2021: Zami by Audre Lorde

Our next session will be on Wednesday 21st July, 7.30-9.30pm on Zoom (contact us for details).

We will discuss Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde on 21st July. This is the second in a series of three texts on Feminism, to be followed by Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation by Silvia Federici (August 18th). Full details for that session to be added to the website ASAP. In June we discussed Lola Olufemi’s Feminism, Interrupted – Disrupting Power (click to catch up with free excerpts/audio-visual content).

Order the book from the Yellow Lighted Bookshop. Once you’ve ordered the book(s) you want, enter “StroudRadical” to the “Coupon Code” box at the checkout, click “Apply Coupon” – and the bill will be reduced by 10%. You can then either collect from Nailsworth, Tetbury or Chalford shops, or have the book(s) delivered by RoyalMail or the Bike Drop (£3.50 for delivery.

Audrew Lorde was an American writer, feminist, womanist, librarian, and civil rights activist. Zami is a “biomythography”, a term coined by Lorde that combines “biography” and “mythology”. As well as Lorde’s life, the book explores racism, lesbianism, mother-daughter relationships, and McCarthyism (accusations of treason related to Communism, named after the US Senator and the ‘red scare’ era of 1940s and 1950s America).

“A little black girl opens her eyes in 1930s Harlem, weak and half-blind. On she stumbles – through teenage pain and loneliness, but then to happiness in friendship, work and sex, from Washington Heights to Mexico, always changing, always strong. This is Audre Lorde’s story. A rapturous, life-affirming autobiographical novel by the ‘Black, lesbian, mother, warrior poet’, it changed the literary landscape.”

– from the Penguin Classics edition

There is a 50 minute audio recording of Audre Lorde reading excerpts of the book and speaking about her life available on YouTube (at the link and embedded below).

Want to read more? You can read Lorde’s 1980 paper “Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference” (pdf) at the link.

23rd June 2021: Feminism Interrupted by Lola Olufemi

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Our next session will be on Wednesday 23rd June, 7.30-9.30pm on Zoom (contact us for details).

We will discuss Lola Olufemi’s Feminism, Interrupted – Disrupting Power. This will be the first in a series of three texts in a series on Feminism, also featuring Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde (July 21st), and Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation by Silvia Federici (August 18th). Full details for those sessions will be added to the website ASAP.

This is an online event, which will be held via Zoom. For Zoom details, which we keep private to group members, please contact us. Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend. Please contact us about any accessibility requirements.

We aim to make the sessions a welcoming space for anyone interested in the topic, you do not need to have a university education or have ever been to a reading group before, and we welcome people who have not read the book but would like to listen! Please contact us if you have any questions.

For this session, if you do not read the book, or are interested in additional material, please take a look at one or more of the below:

“More than just a slogan on a t-shirt, feminism is a radical tool for fighting back against structural violence and injustice. Feminism, Interrupted is a bold call to seize feminism back from the cultural gatekeepers and return it to its radical roots.

Lola Olufemi explores state violence against women, the fight for reproductive justice, transmisogyny, gendered Islamophobia and solidarity with global struggles, showing that the fight for gendered liberation can change the world for everybody when we refuse to think of it solely as women’s work. Including testimonials from Sisters Uncut, migrant groups working for reproductive justice, prison abolitionists and activists involved in the international fight for Kurdish and Palestinian rights, Olufemi emphasises the link between feminism and grassroots organising.

Reclaiming feminism from the clutches of the consumerist, neoliberal model, Feminism, Interrupted shows that when ‘feminist’ is more than a label, it holds the potential for radical transformative work.”

Lola Olufemi is a black feminist writer and organiser from London. She facilitates workshops on feminism and histories of political organising in schools, universities and local communities. She is the co-author of A FLY Girl’s Guide to University: Being a Woman of Colour at Cambridge and Other Institutions of Power and Elitism (Verve Poetry Press, 2019).

The Disconnect – 26th May 2021

On Wednesday 26th May, we will discuss The Disconnect: A Personal Journey Through the Internet, by Roisin Kiberd. Freely available written and audio-visual resources are linked below. Regular attendee Mar will introduce the book to place these pieces in context, and enable anyone attending to hear about the work. You are welcome to attend to listen to the discussion even if you have not read any of the texts or listened to the audio-visual material.

This is an online event, which will be held from 7.30-9.30pm via Zoom. For Zoom details, which we keep private to group members, please contact us. Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend. Please contact us about any accessibility requirements. We aim to make the sessions a welcoming space for anyone interested in the topic, you do not need to have a university education or have ever been to a reading group before, and we welcome people who have not read the text but would like to listen! Please contact us if you have any questions.

For this session, if you do not read the book, or are interested in additional material, please take a look at one or more of the below:

This event is the third and final in a series on digital technology. You don’t need to come have to the previous sessions on TechGnosis or Surveillance Capitalism to attend – but you may like to catch up a little via our write-ups of the sessions for Amplify Stroud.

“We all live online now: the line between the internet and IRL has become porous to the point of being meaningless. Roisin Kiberd knows this better than anyone. She has worked for tech startups and as the online voice of a cheese brand; she’s witnessed the bloated excesses of tech conferences and explored the strangest communities on the web. She has traced the ripples these hidden worlds have sent through our culture and politics, and experienced the disorienting effects on her own life. In these interlinked essays, she illuminates the subject with fierce clarity, revealing the ways we are more connected than ever before, and the disconnect this breeds. From the lure of the endless scroll, to the glamour of self-optimisation; from the cult of Energy Drinks to the nostalgic world of Vaporwave music; and from silicon town centres to dating tech bros, Kiberd explores the strange worlds, habits and people that have grown with the internet. She asks what we have gained, what we have lost, and what we have given willingly away in exchange for this connected life.”

– Publisher information (Serpent’s Tail)

Surveillance Capitalism (and How to Destroy It)

On Wednesday 28th April we will discuss Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff and How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism by Cory Doctorow. There are links to freely-available pieces we will focus our discussion on below. As ever, it’s great if people are able to read more of the book than the focus texts. Two people with present short introductions to both pieces to place the focus texts in context, and enable anyone attending to hear about the work. You are welcome to attend to listen to the discussion even if you have not read any of the texts.

This is an online event, which will be held from 7.30-9.30pm via Zoom. For Zoom details, which we keep private to group members, please contact us. Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend. Please contact us about any accessibility requirements. We aim to make the sessions a welcoming space for anyone interested in the topic, you do not need to have a university education or have ever been to a reading group before, and we welcome people who have not read the text but would like to listen! Please contact us if you have any questions.

For the discussion, please read either or both of:

The Introduction to Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff.

How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism by Cory Doctorow. This ha been published in full online, freely available, by OneZero. The word count means it is auto-described as an 109 minute read (roughly two hours) Paperback and e-reader editions of the book, each with an extra print-only chapter, are now available — you can get a copy here.

If you’d like to read more, the full text of Surveillance Capitalism is available online as a free pdf here.

If you prefer to engage through audio/visual material, there are some options below:

Watch an interview with Shoshana Zuboff on Democracy now, in two parts (transcripts are available):

Part 1: “We Thought We Were Searching Google, But Google Was Searching Us

Part 2: “Big Tech Stole Our Data While Democracy Slept

You can listen to an interview with Cory Doctorow on the Srsly Wrng podcast – episode 220 – Stop Techno Dystopia!

There is a 50-minute documentary from Dutch broadcaster VPRO below, where “Zuboff takes the lid off Google and Facebook and reveals a merciless form of capitalism in which no natural resources, but the citizen itself, serves as a raw material” and deals with the questions “What is surveillance capitalism? How can citizens regain control of their data?”

This event is the second in a series on digital technology. You don’t need to come have to the previous session on TechGnosis to attend. You may also be interested in attending the third and final session on the 26th May, Roisin Kiberd’s The Disconnect: A Personal Journey Through the Internet.

31st March 2021: Techgnosis

On Wednesday 31st March we will discuss sections from TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information by Erik Davis. Download the chapters via the link below. As ever, it’s great if people are able to read more of the book than the focus text. Rupert Howe, a regular attendee who recommended the book, will introduce it for us and place the chapters we will discuss in context.

Download the focus chapters – the introduction and chapter 10 “Third Mind from the Sun” via the link below, or access the full book in pdf format.

This is an online event, which will be held from 7.30-9.30pm via Zoom. For Zoom details, which we keep private to group members, please contact us. Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend. Please contact us about any accessibility requirements. We aim to make the sessions a welcoming space for anyone interested in the topic, you do not need to have a university education or have ever been to a reading group before, and we even welcome people who have not read the text but would like to listen! Please contact us if you have any questions.

You can buy second-hand copies from WorldOfBooks and Stroud Bookshop or the Yellow Lighted Bookshop will hopefully be able to order new copies in for you.

This event is the start of a series on digital technology. On the 28th April we will discuss Surveillance Capitalism (and How to Destroy It), and on the 26th May, Roisin Kiberd’s The Disconnect: A Personal Journey Through the Internet.

How does our fascination with technology intersect with the religious imagination? In TechGnosis—a cult classic now updated and reissued with a new afterword and a foreword by Eugene Thacker—Erik Davis argues that while the realms of the digital and the spiritual may seem worlds apart, esoteric and religious impulses have in fact always permeated (and sometimes inspired) technological communication. Davis uncovers startling connections between such seemingly disparate topics as electricity and alchemy; online roleplaying games and religious and occult practices; virtual reality and gnostic mythology; programming languages and Kabbalah. The final chapters address the apocalyptic dreams that haunt technology, providing vital historical context as well as new ways to think about a future defined by the mutant intermingling of mind and machine, nightmare and fantasy.

– From Erik Davis’ website

If you prefer to engage through audio, the author has a podcast, Expanding Mind, and though no episode is directly on TechGnosis or the focus chapters, there are several episodes that should be relevant:

24th February: Twilight of Democracy

On Wednesday 24th February, we will discuss “New Years Eve” and “How Demagogues Win” – the first two chapters of Anne Applebaum’s 2020 book “Twilight of Democracy”. Download the chapters via the link below. As ever, it’s great if people are able to read more of the book than the focus text, which we have picked primarily because it is freely available. Chas de Whalley, a regular attendee who recommended the book, will introduce it for us and place the chapters we will discuss in context.

This is an online event, which will be held from 7.30-9.30pm via Zoom. For Zoom details, which we keep private to group members, please contact us. Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend. Please contact us about any accessibility requirements. We aim to make the sessions a welcoming space for anyone interested in the topic, you do not need to have a university education or have ever been to a reading group before, and we even welcome people who have not read the text but would like to listen! Please contact us if you have any questions.

Twilight of Democracy: The Failure of Politics and the Parting of Friends” (or, in the US “The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism“) discusses democratic decline and the rise of right-wing populist politics with authoritarian tendencies in Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States. You can buy Twilight of Democracy from Hive for £12.65 (reduced from £16.99) and Stroud Bookshop or the Yellow Lighted Bookshop will surely be able to order it in for you.

“When politics becomes polarized, which side do you back?

If you are a journalist, an intellectual, a civic leader, how do you deal with the re-emergence of authoritarian or nationalist ideas in your country?

When your leaders appropriate history, or pedal conspiracies, or eviscerate the media and the judiciary, do you go along with it?

Twilight of Democracy is an essay that combines the personal and the political in an original way and brings a fresh understanding to the dynamics of public life in Europe and America, both now and in the recent past.”

– From the Publisher’s webpage (Penguin Books)

If you prefer to engage through audio, you can listen to a 50 minute Talking Politics podcast with the author discussing the book. This looks at Poland, Trump and Brexit, Hungary and Spain – asking the questions “What explains the prevalence of conspiracy theories in contemporary politics? Why are so many conservatives drawn to the politics of despair? Is history really circular? And is democracy doomed?”

Anne Applebaum is the author of the 2004 Pullitzer Prize-winning “Gulag: A History”, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe” (2012), “Between East and West: Across the Borderlands of Europe” (1994), and “Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine” (2017). She is a historian and journalist (at one time on the editorial board of the Washington Post, she now writes for The Atlantic). She was born in America and has been a Polish citizen since 2013 (she is married to Radosław Sikorski, who has been Poland’s Defence Minister, and Foreign Minister).

Stroud Radical Reading Group meets once a month. Here you can find details of sessions, links, and further information