Interstitial EP013

Self-Devouring Growth
by Julie Livingston

Tracing the change in scope of political responsibility in Botswana amidst unchecked development, anthropologist Julie Livingston offers an urgent parable for understanding the world as a web of relationships that condense past, present, and future.


Self-Devouring Growth: A Planetary Parable as Told from Southern Africa

'Self-Devouring Growth: A Planetary Parable as Told from Southern Africa' book cover

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Julie Livingston
Duke University Press
September 2019

Julie Livingston is Silver Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and History at New York University. Her work is at the intersection of history, anthropology, and public health. She is the author of Self-Devouring Growth: A Planetary Parable as Told from Southern Africa (Duke University Press, 2019); Improvising Medicine: An African Oncology Ward in an Emerging Cancer Epidemic (Duke University Press, 2012), and Debility and the Moral Imagination in Botswana (Indiana University Press, 2005). In 2013, she was named a MacArthur Fellow.


The Parable of the Sower and The Parable of the Talents

Octavia Butler

She is our prophetess. She laid it out. She shows you a different political form. She shows you self-devouring growth as naked as can be. She shows you all the perils. She shows you California on fire. I believe strongly in this moment that there are people who have been working in other forms to try to grapple their way to the tools that we may need, the imagination we may need, in order to create a new world. And some of the most brilliant people at doing that have been people who’ve been working in speculative fiction.

Limits: Why Malthus Was Wrong and Why Environmentalists Should Care

Giorgos Kallis

It's a really curious, provocative read that gets underneath both environmental and economic thought simultaneously, through a novel reading of Malthus. There is so much to think with in this slim book.

Water & Power: A California Heist

Marina Zenovich

It’s a fantastic documentary that shows you in part how almond farming in California’s Central Valley worked as a way to basically privatize the aquifer. My point in showing you the cattle economy or beef economy in Botswana is not to say, Now everybody should become vegan and we won’t have this problem (although if you choose to become a vegan, I salute you). But it is a system of agribusiness and growth farming that is the deeper problem. The film, I think, really shows it quite clearly.

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