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New Book, Intimate Economies of Development, out from Chris Lyttleton

23 April, 2014

Lyttleton book coverCulture Matters is pleased to announce that Assoc. Prof. Chris Lyttleton’s new book, Intimate Economies of Development: Mobility, Sexuality and Health in Asia, has been launched by Routledge Press. The book explores the intimate dimensions of migration and development in Southeast Asia, including their impact on individuals’ health: “Aspirations, desires, opportunism and exploitation are seldom considered as fundamental elements of donor-driven development as it impacts on the lives of people in poor countries. Yet, alongside structural interventions, emotional or affective engagements are central to processes of social change and the making of selves for those caught up in development’s slipstream.”

The book has been well received by a wide variety of readers. Professor Pál Nyiri of Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, calls Intimate Economies of Development, a ‘highly original and sometimes heartrending book’ in which ‘Lyttleton reconsiders the ways development projects and the global market are changing people’s lives in remote corners of Southeast Asia through the lens of intimacy and desire.’ Instead of considering sex and affect as epiphenomenal to development, ‘Lyttleton places them at the centre, showing that intimate entanglements between strangers are crucial to understanding how contemporary globalisation actually works, not just in “global cities” but also along rural byways.’

Professor Peter Aggleton of the University of New South Wales writes that the book is ‘a real wakeup call demonstrating the energy, enthusiasm and creativity of poor people in Southeast Asia searching for a better life.’ Professor Peggy Levitt of Wellesley College and Harvard University argues that Lyttleton’s ‘intensive, long-term fieldwork in places as diverse as rubber plantations and massage parlors located throughout the Greater Mekong’ offers a view of an ‘emotional’ economy of development with ‘rich theoretical insights and innovative methodological models for understanding the production and consumption of “progress.”’

This innovative approach to the relationship between intimate lives and large-scale development doesn’t simply offer a new theoretical lens, according to Prof. Yos Santasombat of Chiang Mai University: ‘The path-breaking connections between material and affective aspects of development allow us to probe deeper than is customary to understand the “side effects” of development and clearly explain why many good projects failed miserably’.

For those of us who have been watching Chris’ work from the sidelines, the publication of Intimate Economies of Development is a great chance to see up close how anthropology helps us to understand macrosocial processes on a human scale. The publisher is offering a discount for those wishing to purchase the book for a limited time. Just download the flyer linked at the bottom of this news story if you’re interested.  And congratulations to Chris on a landmark publication.

For more information: go to the Taylor and Francis Group website.

For book flyer, link here (pdf).  Flyer Intimate Economies of Development

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