Book Review Essay: Raj Patel

stuffed_and_starvedStuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System. Raj Patel. Brooklyn, NY: Melville House. 2007. 398pp. US$19.95 pb.

The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy. Raj Patel. NY, NY: Picador. 2010. 256pp. US$14.00 pb.

Read the review by Sean Johnson Andrews of Columbia College Chicago, forthcoming in the Review of Radical Political Economics and now available in OnlineFirst:

RRPE_v45_72ppiRGB_150pixWFor a scholar of economic development, Raj Patel has received an unusual level of media attention. He has appeared many times on Democracy Now, MSNBC, and NPR to discuss both of his books and their intersection with current events. He even received the legendary “Colbert bump” by appearing on The Colbert Report upon the publication of his latest book, The Value of Nothing. This last appearance did more than just introduce his book to a larger audience; it also affirmed (for a certain sect) his status as a deity (James 2010).1 In a subsequent appearance on Colbert’s program, Patel addressed his newfound status, saying

I’m the last person who should be the messiah. I’ve spent a lot of time arguing that what we need is not to believe in great leaders and people bringing hope and change; [arguing instead] we can change the world, actually, through small acts of rebellion and mutual aid. So I think the whole idea of being the messiah is entirely bogus. […] The whole point of social change is not to follow leaders, but actually that we can think for ourselves. […] Questioning the world around you; questioning why it is that resources are distributed the way that they are is a good start. (Colbert 2010)

This exchange provides an excellent insight into Patel’s basic reflex, which informs both of his books as well as his other more academic work. That reflex is to inform a popular audience of the benefits of “thinking for themselves,” especially about the basic frameworks of our culture and society, including but not limited to food, property, and the social production and measurement of value.

Click here to continue reading; follow this link to see the latest issue of the Review of Radical Political Economics and this one to see new articles and reviews in OnlineFirst.

This entry was posted in Book Review, Economics and tagged , , , , , by Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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