Seven Books to Read in 2023
Before the year ends we would like to take a moment to reflect on 2022 lying behind us, and the hard work and effort our ever growing group of writers and our editorial team put into Bluebird.
In Michaelmas Term alone we published ten articles thus raising our output from last year, and we began diversifying our article formats to include interviews and live reports from political conferences. We want to say a heartfelt thank you to you, our writers and readers, for all your great ideas, feedback, and commitment to the project!
We hope to start the new year by exploring new ideas for how to better empower our writers to take on larger individual projects, leading more in-person writing and journalism workshops on campus, and perhaps even publishing a selection of our best articles in an anthology – so stay tuned for what is to come!
In the meantime, we decided to recommend seven timely and critical books on current International Relations debates and geopolitical events to read during the new year, which you can find below. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.
Best wishes for 2023 and Happy New Year!
Malou (Managing Editor)
and the Bluebird Team
#1 The Idea of the Muslim World - A Global Intellectual History (2019) by Cemil Aydin
“Cemil Aydin explains in this provocative history, it is a misconception to think that the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims constitute a single religio-political entity. How did this belief arise, and why is it so widespread? The Idea of the Muslim World searches for the intellectual origins of a mistaken notion and explains its enduring allure for non-Muslims and Muslims alike.” (Harvard University Press)
#2 The Long Game - How the Chinese Negotiate with India (2022) by Vijay Gokhale, Former Foreign Secretary of India
“This book explores the dynamics of negotiation between the two countries, from the early years after Independence until the current times, through the prism of six historical and recent events in the India-China relationship. The purpose is to identify the strategy, tactics and tools that China employs in its diplomatic negotiations with India, and the learnings for India from its past dealings with China that may prove helpful in future negotiations with the country.” (Penguin Books)
#3 Soliders of Empire (2017) by Tarak Barkawi
“How are soldiers made? Why do they fight? Re-imagining the study of armed forces and society, Barkawi examines the imperial and multinational armies that fought in Asia in the Second World War, especially the British Indian army in the Burma campaign. Going beyond conventional narratives, Barkawi studies soldiers in transnational context, from recruitment and training to combat and memory. Drawing on history, sociology and anthropology, the book critiques the 'Western way of war' from a postcolonial perspective.” (Cambridge University Press)
#4 Naming a Transnational Black Feminist Framework: Writing in Darkness (2020) by K. Melchor Quickhall
“Situated at the intersection of IR and Black feminist theory and praxis, the book argues that a Black feminist tradition of engaging the international exists, has been neglected by mainstream IR, and can be written into the IR canon using the TBF Framework. Using research within the Black indigenous Garifuna community of Honduras, as well as the scholarship of feminists, especially Black feminist anthropologists working in Brazil, the author illustrates how five TBF guiding principles—intersectionality, solidarity, scholaractivism, attention to borders/boundaries, and radically transparent author positionality—offer a critical alternative for engaging IR studies.” (Routledge)
#5 Oilcraft – the myths of Scarcity and Security that haunt U.S. Energy Policy (2020) by Robert Vitalis
“Vitalis shows how we can reconsider the question of the U.S.–Saudi special relationship, which confuses and traps many into unnecessarily accepting what they imagine is a devil's bargain. The House of Saud does many things for U.S. investors, firms, and government agencies, but guaranteeing the flow of oil, making it cheap, or stabilizing the price isn't one of them.” (Stanford University Press)
#6 ReORIENT: Global Economy in the Asian Age (1998) by Andre Gunder Frank
“Andre Gunder Frank asks us toReOrientour views away from Eurocentrism-to see the rise of the West as a mere blip in what was, and is again becoming, an Asia-centered world. In a bold challenge to received historiography and social theory he turns on its head the world according to Marx, Weber, and other theorists, including Polanyi, Rostow, Braudel, and Wallerstein.” (University of California Press)
#7 Imagining Africa - Whiteness and the Western Gaze (2018) by Clive Gabay
“Challenging traditional postcolonial accounts that see the West imagine itself as superior to Africa, Clive Gabay argues that the centrality of racial anxieties concerning white supremacy make Africa appear, at moments of Western crisis, as the saviour of Western ideals, specifically democracy, bureaucracy, and neoclassical economic order. Uncommonly, this book turns its lens as much inwards as outwards, interrogating how changing attitudes to Africa over the course of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries correspond to shifting anxieties concerning whiteness, and the growing hope that Africa will be the place where the historical genius of whiteness might be saved and perpetuated.” (Cambridge University Press)