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An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire by Arundhati Roy
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Feb 15, 09

Recommended for: Anyone interested in the structure of empire
Read in November, 2008, read count: 1

An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire (Paperback)
by Arundhati Roy

I picked up this book while in India last fall. The hotel I was staying at in Jaipur was selling it in their gift shop. I started it while still traveling but didn't finish it until the beginning of the new year. Consisting of a collection of essays and lectures given on the topic of empire, verbalization, trade and resistance within the context of the developing world (especially focusing on India) it is filled with Roy's usual politically charged cries to action. Although I have always been aware of the immense sectarian challenges facing modern India this book was a timely accounting of the issues, given that while I was there there were a number of bombings and "terrorist" incidents some involving and perpetrated by Hindu nationalist ideologues. At times the arguments, facts and figures became repetitive as the general thrust of her polemic was often repeated from lecture to lecture. However, the strength of her conviction and the demand for justice cannot and should not be ignored. The most innovative (read; new to me) idea which was discussed was her critique of the rise of NGO's internationally. The phrase she uses is the "NGO-ization of resistance. While she makes clear that she is not demonizing the work of NGOs she does stress that NGOs can create and facilitate a false sense of engagement, hope and political resistance without any of the real impacts and gains of actual resistance..
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