Tag Archives: History

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:

  • A download featuring Rodney’s Preface, Chapter 4: “Europe and the Roots of African Underdevelopment – To 1885” (plus a foreword from Angela Davis exploring the book’s lasting contributions to a revolutionary and feminist practice of anti-imperialism).
  • A 30 minute programme from CaribNation TV featuring an interview with Prof Rupert Lewis – author of “Walter Rodney’s Intellectual and Political Thought”
  • Podcast episodes with Dr Patricia Rodney (discussing her own book on the Caribbean state, healthcare, and women, and labour of preserving her husband’s legacy over the decades), and Asha Rodney (looking at the assassination of her father by the hands of an immensely repressive Guyanese government in 1980, and discussing how to implement her father’s work and legacy today). Both episodes are from the Groundings Podcast, named in honor of Rodney, “whose concept of “groundings” as a form of radical, political, dialogic, and communal education inspires the conversations” .

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.

November 25th: (B)Ordering Britain – Nadine El-ENany

Please join us online on November 25th, 7.30-9.30pm, to discuss “(B)Ordering Britain: Law, race and empire” by Nadine El-Enany. Register to access the free event via Eventbrite.

(B)ordering Britain argues that Britain is the spoils of empire, its immigration law is colonial violence and irregular immigration is anti-colonial resistance. The British Empire, about which Britons know little, can be remembered fondly as a moment of past glory, as a gift once given to the world. Meanwhile immigration laws are justified on the basis that they keep the undeserving hordes out.

Bordering Britain argues that – no matter what the law, media and political discourse dictate – people with personal, ancestral or geographical links to colonialism, or those existing under the weight of its legacy of race and racism, should have every right to come to Britain and take back what is theirs.

We will focus our discussion on the introduction to Bordering Britain – available free online (pdf) as a sample chapter from the publishers. You are welcome and encouraged to read more. The book is currently available from the publishers for £12 for the hardcover book (reduced from £20). You can also listen to the author, Nadine El-Enany, discussing the content and themes of the book with the Surviving Society podcast hosts (53 minutes), or read her blogpost, “Britain as the spoils of empire“.

You will need to register for the event via Eventbrite in order to access details of the video calls (this is free, will prevent any ‘trolling’ of calls, and enable reminders).

As ever, 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 topics. 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 to the discussion. Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to know more about how the sessions are run. If you are on Facebook, please also join our Facebook group.

This book concludes our “Geographies and Histories of Racial Capitalism” series – but people are welcome to join if they have not attended previous events.

October 28th – “The Black Jacobins”

On October 28th we will discuss “The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo revolution” by C.L.R. James. The discussion will take place on a Zoom video call – please register (free) to access the details and be sent a reminder on the day.

In Black Jacobins, CLR James provides the definitive account of the Haitian Revolution of 1794-1803 and the story of the French colony of San Domingo. It is also the story of Toussaint L’Ouverture, who led the black people of San Domingo in a successful struggle against successive invasions by overwhelming French, Spanish, and English forces – helping to form the first independent nation in the Caribbean, and inspiring anti-colonial movements around the world.

The book obviously contains considerable references to the brutality of enslavement, and to racist ideas and commentary.

The full text of The Black Jacobins is available online for free in different formats. We encourage people to read the whole book, and as much as possible if not.

For those who know they will only have time for a section, our introducer Jeremy Green recommends Chapter 2 – The Owners. Click below to download Chaper 2 and introductory pages.

Black Jacobins as full text .pdf or .mobi files via link

This is the third session in our Geographies and Histories of Racial Capitalism series – but readers are welcome to join if they have not attended previous events.

Geographies and Histories of Racial Capitalism. SRRG 2020 series 3

Between July 29th and November 25th, Stroud Radical Reading Group will host a series of discussions exploring Racial Capitalism. Each of these events will be held on the last Wednesday of the month, 7.30-9.30pm – online via video call (we will continue to assess when it may be appropriate to host indoor events). You will need to register for the events via Eventbrite in order to access details of the video calls (this is free, will prevent any ‘trolling’ of calls, and enable reminders).

As ever, 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 topics. 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 to the discussion. Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to know more about how the sessions are run. If you are on Facebook, please also join our Facebook group.

July 29th – Geographies of Racial Capitalism with Ruth Wilson Gilmore

We will start this series by focussing our discussion not on a text but on a 17 minute Antipode Foundation film – “Geographies of Racial Capitalism with Ruth Wilson Gilmore”.

For those who wish to read a short text to accompany this video, we recommend “Black matters are spatial matters: Black geographies for the twenty-first century (pdf)” by Camilla Hawthorne. Referencing the work of Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and the Black Radical tradition, this paper explores how “scholars of Black Geographies insist that racism and capitalism are fundamentally intertwined and that this relationship is both structured by and structuring of space”.

September 30th – “The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, slaves, commoners, and the hidden history of the revolutionary Atlantic” by Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker

The expansion of trade and colonization in the early seventeenth century launched the first global economy, a vast, diverse, and landless workforce was born. These workers crossed national, ethnic, and racial boundaries, as they circulated around the Atlantic world on trade ships and slave ships, from England to Virginia, from Africa to Barbados, and from the Americas back to Europe.

Marshalling an impressive range of original research from archives in the Americas and Europe, the authors show how ordinary working people led dozens of rebellions on both sides of the North Atlantic. The rulers of the day called the multiethnic rebels a ‘hydra’ and brutally suppressed their risings, yet some of their ideas fuelled the age of revolution. The full text of The Many-Headed Hydra is available online as a pdf. We will focus our discussion on the Introduction and Chapter 6 – “The Outcasts of The Nations of The Earth”, but please read as much of the book beyond this as you are able to. For more details of the event: Many Headed Hydra.

October 28th – “The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo revolution” by C.L.R. James

CLR James provides the definitive account of the Haitian Revolution of 1794-1803 and the story of the French colony of San Domingo. It is also the story of Toussaint L’Ouverture, who led the black people of San Domingo in a successful struggle against successive invasions by overwhelming French, Spanish, and English forces – helping to form the first independent nation in the Caribbean, and inspiring anti-colonial movements around the world.

The full text of The Black Jacobins is available online as a “.mobi” ebook file. We encourage people to read the whole book, and as much as possible if not. More details of this event: The Black Jacobins. Download the intro and Chapter 2 as a pdf via the link below:

November 25th – “(B)Ordering Britain: Law, race and empire” by Nadine El-Enany.

(B)ordering Britain argues that Britain is the spoils of empire, its immigration law is colonial violence and irregular immigration is anti-colonial resistance. The British Empire, about which Britons know little, can be remembered fondly as a moment of past glory, as a gift once given to the world. Meanwhile immigration laws are justified on the basis that they keep the undeserving hordes out.

Bordering Britain argues that – no matter what the law, media and political discourse dictate – people with personal, ancestral or geographical links to colonialism, or those existing under the weight of its legacy of race and racism, should have every right to come to Britain and take back what is theirs.

We will focus our discussion on the introduction to Bordering Britain – available free online (pdf) as a sample chapter from the publishers. You are welcome and encouraged to read more, but we appreciate that the £20 price tag for the hardcover book (and sadly the e-book version as well) may be unaffordable – which is why the focus of our discussion will be on the freely available text.

20th November – Post-War to Post-Wall, an event with Berliner Zeitgeist

Stroud Radical Reading Group is collaborating with Uta Baldauf and Katharina Child to host a session as part of the Berliner Zeitgeist programme of events.

For our November session we will read and discuss two texts exploring the past and present of Berlin, and how memory of history affects society, in a German context. We will meet at Atelier Stroud, 19A Lower St, Stroud, GL5 2HT, 7.00-9.00pm (there is a small amount of parking at Atelier, alternatively a short walk from Parliament St car park, or a 15 minute walk from Stroud train and bus stations). The two texts we will discuss are

  • “Understanding the City through Crisis. Neoliberalization in Post-Wall Berlin” by Henrik Lebuhn, and
  • “On How Postwar Germany Has Faced Its Recent Past” by Jurgen Habermas.

1. “Understanding the City through Crisis. Neoliberalization in Post-Wall Berlin” by Henrik Lebuhn (read online or download via link). This article discusses how “Two watershed events are crucial for an in-depth understanding of the dynamics at work [in modern Berlin]: The collapse of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in 1989, followed by a neo-conservative and nationalist, entrepreneurial strategy for the reunified German Capital; and the financial crisis of 2001, which brought a coalition between Social-Democrats and Socialists into power that strongly emphasized Berlin’s (sub-)cultural and cosmopolitan identity, but effectively put the city on a fierce austerity track.”

2. “On How Postwar Germany Has Faced Its Recent Past“, by Jurgen Habermas (word document download via link). Habermas argues that “Since reunification in 1989, Germany’s attitude toward its past has remained ambivalent. Today a New Right calls for the self-confident reassertion of a German nation unburdened by its past. But the past will lose its hold over Germany, Habermas argues, only through the work of a truly faithful memory.” The piece explores what Habermas identifies as four phases of how “postwar Germany attempted to come to terms with its ‘unmasterable past'”

Find out more about the Berliner Zeitgeist programme of events.

This event follows our 25th September session on Insurgent Empire by Dr Priyamvada Gopal, and 23rd October session on Antonio Gramsci.

Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend but we ask for a donation of £2-3 from anyone who can afford it to cover venue costs. 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.

Culture, Memory, and Resistance – Autumn 2019 Series

Our Autumn 2019 series explores the way in which the status quo is maintained or resisted through culture and memory, looking at this through different historical contexts: the British Empire, and postwar Italy and Germany.

25th September – Insurgent Empire: anticolonial resistance and British dissent

Insurgent Empire by Dr Priyamvada Gopal “examines a century of dissent on the question of empire and shows how British critics of empire were influenced by rebellions and resistance in the colonies, from the West Indies and East Africa to Egypt and India. In addition, a pivotal role in fomenting resistance was played by anticolonial campaigners based in London, right at the heart of empire.” (from publishers Verso, who are helpfully selling the book 50% at £12.50 till 23rd September)

23rd October – Antonio Gramsci (reading TBC)

In October we will discuss work by Italian Marxist philosopher and communist politician, Antonio Gramsci. A short reading will be chosen ASAP, focusing on Gramsci’s ideas about the role of culture and ideology in maintaining the status quo through the development of “common sense” values and norms, rather than merely through violence, economic force, or coercion.

20th November – Post-War to Post-Wall, an event with Berliner Zeitgeist

Stroud Radical Reading Group is collaborating with Uta Baldauf and Katharina Child to host a session as part of the Berliner Zeitgeist programme of events.

For our November session we will read and discuss two texts exploring the past and present of Berlin, and how memory of history affects society, in a German context:

“Understanding the City through Crisis. Neoliberalization in Post-Wall Berlin” by Henrik Lebuhn, and “On How Postwar Germany Has Faced Its Recent Past” by Jurgen Habermas.

 

Insurgent Empire – 25th September 2019

For September’s session we will be discussing Dr. Priyamvada Gopal’s recently published book: Insurgent Empire: anticolonial resistance and British Dissent (as part of our Autumn 2019 series on “Culture, Memory and Resistance“).

The session will be on Wednesday September 25th at a NEW VENUE: Atelier Stroud, 19A Lower St, Stroud GL5 2HT (just up the road from Black Book, which is sadly now closed).

Download the Introduction and Chapter 1 as a Word document. These are the sections we will focus on, but as ever you are welcome to read more if you have the time!

A summary from the publishers: “Insurgent Empire shows how Britain’s enslaved and colonial subjects were active agents in their own liberation. What is more, they shaped British ideas of freedom and emancipation back in the United Kingdom.

Priyamvada Gopal examines a century of dissent on the question of empire and shows how British critics of empire were influenced by rebellions and resistance in the colonies, from the West Indies and East Africa to Egypt and India. In addition, a pivotal role in fomenting resistance was played by anticolonial campaigners based in London, right at the heart of empire.

Much has been written on how colonized peoples took up British and European ideas and turned them against empire when making claims to freedom and self-determination. Insurgent Empire sets the record straight in demonstrating that these people were much more than victims of imperialism or, subsequently, the passive beneficiaries of an enlightened British conscience—they were insurgents whose legacies shaped and benefited the nation that once oppressed them.”

You may be interested in listening to a Modern Myth podcast, Insurgent Empire and the Lost Voices in Colonialism with Dr. Priyamvada Gopal, or watching videos with Gopal speaking about the book, such as the one below:

Stroud Radical Reading Group events are free to attend but we ask for a donation of £2-3 from anyone who can afford it to cover venue costs. 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.