Poverty Capital : Microfinance and the Making of Development book cover
1st Edition

Poverty Capital
Microfinance and the Making of Development

ISBN 9780203854716
Published April 23, 2010 by Routledge
272 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Winner of the 2011 Paul Davidoff award!

This is a book about poverty but it does not study the poor and the powerless; instead it studies those who manage poverty. It sheds light on how powerful institutions control "capital," or circuits of profit and investment, as well as "truth," or authoritative knowledge about poverty. Such dominant practices are challenged by alternative paradigms of development, and the book details these as well. Using the case of microfinance, the book participates in a set of fierce debates about development – from the role of markets to the secrets of successful pro-poor institutions. Based on many years of research in Washington D.C., Bangladesh, and the Middle East, Poverty Capital also grows out of the author's undergraduate teaching to thousands of students on the subject of global poverty and inequality.

Table of Contents

1. Small Worlds: The Democratization of Capital and Development  2. Global Order: Circuits of Capital Truth  3. Dissent at the Margins: Development and the Bangladesh Paradox  4. The Pollution of Free Money: Debt, Discipline, and Dependence in the Middle East  5. Subprime Markets: Poverty Capital 

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Ananya Roy is Professor of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley. She is also the founding chair of a new undergraduate curriculum in Global Poverty and Practice. At Berkeley, Roy is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award and Golden Apple Award for Outstanding Teaching, the highest teaching honors bestowed by the campus and its students. Roy's previous research has provided a close look at poverty and inequality in the cities of the global South.


"Poverty Capital is a must read for those interested in issues of poverty and inequality around the world. In taking an unflinching look at "bottom billion capitalism," it shows how development actually works and how global markets are actually constructed.  Although concerned with practices of microfinance in the global South, the book provides an analysis that is strikingly relevant for discussions of subprime markets, the financial crisis, and social justice here in America."
-Robert Reich, Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, USA

"Examining development as poverty management, Roy brings a unique focus to the contradictory relations of global microfinance. Her reflexive observations from local sites offer a provocative perspective on the 'democratization of development' via webs of knowledge spun in the World Bank's circuits of credit."
-Philip McMichael, Development Sociology, Cornell University, USA

"Poverty Capital sends readers on a fascinating journey across Washington, D.C., Beirut, Cairo, and rural Bangladesh, with little choice but to rethink the whole project of development. Along the way, Roy crafts a brilliant study on the seductions of microfinance, the travelling circuits (and circus) of poverty capital, and the ‘end of political economy’. A pure joy to read!"
-Michael Goldman, Sociology and Global Studies, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, USA 

"Thoughtful, probing look at the economic development industry and its received wisdom. The popular microfinance movement is the book's motif. The author thinks like an academic and writes like a poet."
-Jonathan Lewis, Huffington Post, USA

"...a thought-provoking work for those interested in microfinance, poverty, and development economics."
-J. E. Weaver, Drake University, Choice, December 2010

'Ananya Roy's Poverty Capital is a fascinating book: an invigorating study of the practices and discourses of "microfinance".'

'...an important and impressive book....It is an admirable overview of contemporary microfinance in all its proliferating diversity and considerable complexity.'
-Brett Christophers, Uppsala University, in Environment and Planning D, vol 29 2011

'This book has many strengths.  It is a well-conceived, timely, thorough study of a crucial issue; it is grounded by extensive fieldwork; and each chapter is full of nuanced observations on the histories and dynamics of microfinance institutions in Bangladesh, Afghanistan, the USA and elsewhere.'
-Joel Wainwright, Ohio State University, in Environment and Planning D, vol 29 2011