ARCADIA’s recommended reads

International development is a continuous developing field itself. In order to keep on being updated with the latest interesting projects, the most inspirational texts, the newest approaches in the field, we are going to jot down a handy compilation of recent books published on connected topics, from poverty reduction, gender and health issues, to freedom and democracy related topics.

Are you looking for some provocative  analysis of the current international development rhetoric, new discussions about the post-development era and both the benefits and pitfalls of the humanitarian aid?

If so, the cross-disciplinary field of international development is full of thought-provoking examples that prove that we all live in a web of interconnected local, regional and global debates.

Browse ARCADIA’s latest recommendations below and feel invited to to review the readings and suggest us new titles as well.

Compedium to International Development

1) The Companion to Development Studies, 3rd edition, Vandana Desai and Robert B.Potter (eds.), Routledge, London, 2014

 The Companion to Development Studies, written by leading international experts from several institutes and organizations, seeks to concisely bring together pressing contemporary issues in the field, including transnationality, migration, urbanism, gender related rights, terrorism, aid conditionality and many others. An introductory must reading for all those who want to become familiar with both theoretical and practical issues dominating the discipline, the book is without any doubts a gateway to further readings and experiences in the field of international development.

2) Economic Development, 12th edition, Michael Todaro, Stephen C.Smith, Pearson, 2014

Already a leading textbook among students, scEconomic developmentholars and practitioners, the 12th edition of Economic Development  by Michael Todaro and Stephen C. Smith presents update economic theories in the context of contemporary policy debates and comes up with numerous country-specific case studies which show how theory connects to practice and vice versa. Therefore, authors try to offer a balanced full coverage of different points of view on major policies with a focus on new and critical topics such as rural-urban migration, fertility and demography, gender gap in education, rain forest destruction, etc. The lecture of this Economic development fosters our critical thinking and analytical capabilities on issues that go from problems encountered by Kenyan women farmers in their villages to neglected tropical diseases and the phenomena of brain drain.

3from recipients to donors) From Recipients to Donors: Emerging powers and the changing development landscape, Emma Mawwdsley, Zad Books, London and New-York, 2012

Emma Mawwdsley tries to address a critical question that is at the core of many debates in the field of international development, a question related to the real incentives and reasons behind the official development aid (ODA). Thus, what are specific actors in the field and at home trying to achieve and how do they understand and interpret development?

 In addition to this, the changing aid-related architecture driven by old recipients and nowadays new donors, the difficulties of interpreting the benefits brought by international aid in the field, the new shifts produced in the aid paradigm are all addressed in this book in a very multidisciplinary approach backed up by several country-specific examples.

aid on the edge of chaos

4) Aid on the Edge of Chaos: Rethinking International Cooperation in a Complex Word, Ben Ramalingam, OUP Oxford, 2013

The book presents a much needed condensed analysis of international development aid in the context of globalization and various emerging needs, problems, actors and interests. It addresses not only the pitfalls of aid usually highly criticized for being uneven, disproportionate, politicized, undemocratic, the narratives wowed by aid agencies, their policies and high or not so high priorities, but it is providing inspiring examples of how complexity theories can be meaningfully put into practice.

the unfinished revolution

5) The Unfinished revolution: Voices from the Global Fight for Women’s Right, Minky Worden, The Policy Press, 2012

Edited by Minky Worden, the director of Global Initiatives for Human Rights Watch, the books is a valuable collection of narratives of world’s most important advocates for women and girls rights. Former Nobel Laureate, Jody Williams, former Irish president Mary Robinson, together with other scholars, Human Rights activists and policy makers tried to map the state of women and girls in the world and come up with effective solutions for those exposed daily to domestic violence, abuses of human rights, unequal treatment, and other injustices. By offering a vivid image of this unequal gender-based world the volume tries to show the world the revolution that women and girls are fighting on daily basis in their lives, an unfinished revolution that none of us should ever give up.

6) Flip-Flop: A Journey Through Globalisation’s Backroads, Karoline Knowles, Pluto Press, 2014

How many of us have known that flip-flops represent the highest selling shoe in the world and help thousands of people from being barefoot?

Sociologist Karoline Knowles from University of London follows a pair of flip-flops all over the world to discover a story about interconnectedness, migration, precarious work conditions from China to Egypt and Somaliland. If you get inspired by her meaningful research and have some questions to ask, then have a look on her website as well.

the limits of institutional reforms

7)  The limist of Institutional Reform in Development: Changing Rules for Realistic Solutions, Matt Andrews, Cambridge University Press, 2013

Institutional reforms are considered by all development players, such as the World Bank and other multilateral or bilateral agencies, a trigger to insert democratic rules and stability in developing countries. The latter usually try to adopt several institutional measures in order to strengthen their governance capabilities and improve their government. However, despite countless trial-and-error efforts, statistics and several evidences around the world show that reforms remain meaningless in many cases.

This volume tries to answer why institutional reforms in development often do not lead to improved government and how they can be better structured to achieve such a goal. 

Development aid confronts politics

8) Development Aid Confronts Politics: The Almost Revolution, Thomas Carothers, Diane de Gramont, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2013

Nothing can stay away from politics. Or in other words, politics are deeply rooted in every aspect of our lives.

While offering us a brief introduction to the history of development assistance, the volume Development Aid confronts politics: The Almost Revolution is mainly focused on the strongly interlinked relation between politics and development aid.

In order to fully understand it and achieve a synthesis of political and socioeconomic concerns, authors try to consider all the multiple meanings of working politically in development assistance and thus, seem to open up a Pandora’s box full of challenges, problematic issues and critics, all related to international development aid.


Many great readings and authors are missing from this list (James Ferguson, Charles Tilly, Amartya Sen, Jeffrey Sachs, and many others).

However, our intention was not to come up with an exhaustive list, but to give you a glimpse of what has been recently published in the field of international development in the last two years.

Get connected to global and regional debates! Happy reading!