A Student made Radical Reading List

January 31, 2024|Uncategorized|0 comments

We have long recognised the need for consuming literature, media, and academia beyond just Anglo-Saxon contributors and while many strides have been made when it comes to the consumption of work created by those at the margins, the majority of it is still produced and published within a western canon. When everything we consume has been approved of by the West and therefore subjected to its specific ideals of censorship, how can we truly challenge colonial hegemony in literature?

Under an undergraduate library internship, I was tasked with creating a ‘radical reading list.’ Working under Ludi Price and Farzana Qureshi, I was given freedom to explore my interest within the category of a decolonised reading list. As an economics student, I knew I wanted to compile economics resources, but as a student at SOAS I knew I wanted to work within the broader mandate of the political economy of development.

First and foremost, the list is a curation of work from independent actors, not censored by multinationals. This allows ideas to take precedence over money. The need for independent publishing is magnified when it comes to the political economy of development. The hope is that these forms of university based, collective based or forms of self-publishing are less subject to ‘playing by the rules’ and provide a more genuine insight into local political and economic structures.

Secondly, I thought it is essential to take a region-specific approach. Since the resources are written by native communities or people with a more authentic understanding of the region (or diaspora), they have been collected for each region individually and plotted on a map. An attempt has been made to do justice to different parts of the world, but the hope is for it to be a growing database of independent literature. By nature of representing different regions, some work is in other languages, where translations are easily available, but linking the translation alone would feel like losing some knowledge in the process.

You can access the map here.

The nature of the resources varies to account for different levels of interest/understanding. The colour codes represent blue for books, orange for websites, purple for reports/pdfs and green for podcasts, cartoons, images! The focus is on open-source resources, so everyone has easy access, but it also tends to be the nature of this publishing, where they do not want any barriers to distribution. However, it felt imperative to include work from the SOAS library, which has many resources that more traditional academic libraries do not.  I used a Zotero page which made it easy to compile a variety of media types with detailed information about dates, authors, pages, languages, isbns.

You can find the open access reading list with all details here.  

Only when we consider not just who is writing, but who is publishing the literature we curate, can we take a step forward in decolonising the library.

by Shloka Murarka

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