100 books like Friction

By Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing,

Here are 100 books that Friction fans have personally recommended if you like Friction. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Banana Tree at the Gate: A History of Marginal Peoples and Global Markets in Borneo

Carol J. Pierce Colfer Author Of The Longhouse of the Tarsier: Changing Landscapes, Gender and Well Being in Borneo

From my list on Indonesian life and policy.

Who am I?

I worked in Indonesia much of the time between 1979 and 2009, with people living in forests. As an anthropologist, my work was initially ethnographic in nature, later linking such insights to policies relating to forests and people – as I worked at the Center for International Forestry Research in Bogor (1995 – the present). Although later in my career, I worked in forests all over the tropics, my real love remains with Indonesia, where I worked the longest and learned the most. My most recent research was in 2019, when I returned to the first community I studied ethnographically in 1979-80.

Carol's book list on Indonesian life and policy

Carol J. Pierce Colfer Why did Carol love this book?

This book builds on Dove’s longstanding involvement in research on Borneo and his in-depth knowledge of the history of agricultural and nontimber forest products there. His work shows how the people of Borneo have long been involved in international trade, alternately expanding and contracting their attention to rice production as other opportunities (high prices, high demand) wax and wane. His insights contributed to my own research, showing how longstanding and ubiquitous the international involvement I have seen has been.

By Michael R. Dove,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Banana Tree at the Gate as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The "Hikayat Banjar," a native court chronicle from Borneo, characterizes the irresistibility of natural resource wealth to outsiders as "the banana tree at the gate." Michael R. Dove employs this phrase as a root metaphor to frame the history of resource relations between the indigenous peoples of Borneo and the world system. In analyzing production and trade in forest products, pepper, and especially natural rubber, Dove shows that the involvement of Borneo's native peoples in commodity production for global markets is ancient and highly successful and that processes of globalization began millennia ago. Dove's analysis replaces the image of the…


Book cover of Land's End: Capitalist Relations on an Indigenous Frontier

Carol J. Pierce Colfer Author Of The Longhouse of the Tarsier: Changing Landscapes, Gender and Well Being in Borneo

From my list on Indonesian life and policy.

Who am I?

I worked in Indonesia much of the time between 1979 and 2009, with people living in forests. As an anthropologist, my work was initially ethnographic in nature, later linking such insights to policies relating to forests and people – as I worked at the Center for International Forestry Research in Bogor (1995 – the present). Although later in my career, I worked in forests all over the tropics, my real love remains with Indonesia, where I worked the longest and learned the most. My most recent research was in 2019, when I returned to the first community I studied ethnographically in 1979-80.

Carol's book list on Indonesian life and policy

Carol J. Pierce Colfer Why did Carol love this book?

Tania Li shows the impacts of the capitalist process of a highland group’s attempts to adopt commodity production of cacao in central Sulawesi, building on her two decades of ethnographic research there. The book shows how, in this process, relations among people and with their environment change as the forest disappears and land ownership and wealth become more inequitable – not particularly pretty. It taught me how the Sulawesi situation differs from the Bornean situation I know so well.

By Tania Murray Li,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Land's End as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Drawing on two decades of ethnographic research in Sulawesi, Indonesia, Tania Murray Li offers an intimate account of the emergence of capitalist relations among indigenous highlanders who privatized their common land to plant a boom crop, cacao. Spurred by the hope of ending their poverty and isolation, some prospered, while others lost their land and struggled to sustain their families. Yet the winners and losers in this transition were not strangers-they were kin and neighbors. Li's richly peopled account takes the reader into the highlanders' world, exploring the dilemmas they faced as sharp inequalities emerged among them.

The book challenges…


Book cover of The Fourth Circle: A Political Ecology of Sumatraas Rainforest Frontier

Carol J. Pierce Colfer Author Of The Longhouse of the Tarsier: Changing Landscapes, Gender and Well Being in Borneo

From my list on Indonesian life and policy.

Who am I?

I worked in Indonesia much of the time between 1979 and 2009, with people living in forests. As an anthropologist, my work was initially ethnographic in nature, later linking such insights to policies relating to forests and people – as I worked at the Center for International Forestry Research in Bogor (1995 – the present). Although later in my career, I worked in forests all over the tropics, my real love remains with Indonesia, where I worked the longest and learned the most. My most recent research was in 2019, when I returned to the first community I studied ethnographically in 1979-80.

Carol's book list on Indonesian life and policy

Carol J. Pierce Colfer Why did Carol love this book?

I share with John McCarthy an interest in how power operates in Indonesian communities and forests and this book provides a view of this as it plays out in northern Sumatra, ‘up close and personal.’ For me, it provided glimpses of very different ethnographic realities than what I had seen myself in other areas of Sumatra (West Sumatra, Riau) where I had lived for four years and supervised others’ research (in Jambi) as well. The recency of the 2004 tsunami and the separatist movement underway when the book was published lent urgency and excitement to McCarthy’s observations.

By John F. McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fourth Circle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book addresses the politics of environmental change in one of the richest areas of tropical rainforest in Indonesia. Based on field studies conducted in three agricultural communities in rural Aceh, this work considers a number of questions: How do customary (adat) village and state institutions work? What roles do they play in managing local resources? How have they evolved over time? Are villagers, state policies, or corrupt local networks responsible for the loss of tropical rainforest? Will better outcomes emerge from revitalizing customary management, from changing state policies, or from transforming the way the state works? And why do…


Book cover of Rich Forests, Poor People: Resource Control and Resistance in Java

Carol J. Pierce Colfer Author Of The Longhouse of the Tarsier: Changing Landscapes, Gender and Well Being in Borneo

From my list on Indonesian life and policy.

Who am I?

I worked in Indonesia much of the time between 1979 and 2009, with people living in forests. As an anthropologist, my work was initially ethnographic in nature, later linking such insights to policies relating to forests and people – as I worked at the Center for International Forestry Research in Bogor (1995 – the present). Although later in my career, I worked in forests all over the tropics, my real love remains with Indonesia, where I worked the longest and learned the most. My most recent research was in 2019, when I returned to the first community I studied ethnographically in 1979-80.

Carol's book list on Indonesian life and policy

Carol J. Pierce Colfer Why did Carol love this book?

Although I have done very little ethnographic research in Java, I worked closely with Javanese transmigrants in West Sumatra. Peluso’s book provided me with additional understanding of the world from which these folks were likely to have come.  It also provided useful historical and contemporary material on Indonesian policies relating to forests that were very useful for me to know. The book has become a classic in the field!

By Nancy Lee Peluso,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rich Forests, Poor People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Millions of Javanese peasants live alongside state-controlled forest lands in one of the world's most densely populated agricultural regions. Because their legal access and customary rights to the forest have been severely limited, these peasants have been pushed toward illegal use of forest resources. Rich Forests, Poor People untangles the complex of peasant and state politics that has developed in Java over three centuries. Drawing on historical materials and intensive field research, including two contemporary case studies, Peluso presents the story of the forest and its people. Without major changes in forest policy, Peluso contends, the situation is portentous. Economic,…


Book cover of The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization

Scott Waalkes Author Of The Fullness of Time in a Flat World

From my list on the religious ethics of globalization.

Who am I?

My plan to write my book clicked after I bought an apple grown in New Zealand, 10,000 miles away from my home in Ohio. How did it make sense that we could buy apples so cheaply from so far away? What was the carbon footprint of that one transaction? Growing up in Michigan in the 1970s and 1980s, I had seen our industrial cities decay as trade globalized. Later I watched with horror as global financial markets crashed in 2008. With these experiences in mind, I wanted to write about both the benefits and the costs of globalization—and about its ethicsfor religious communities like mine. So I did.  

Scott's book list on the religious ethics of globalization

Scott Waalkes Why did Scott love this book?

Friedman, a longtime New York Times foreign affairs columnist, was one of the first to show me what I should love and hate about globalization, circa 1999, at the peak of Western support for neoliberal globalization.

Although his gee-whiz, gung-ho enthusiasm for the world of the Lexus (high-tech globalization with global supply chains and integrated financial markets) sometimes wears thin, he also covers the problems caused by globalization. He even appeals to the need for the “olive trees” of community, family, and religion to make globalization ethical.

Even when the breezy tone annoys me, this book is still my go-to guide for mapping the effects of globalization on business, economics, politics, culture, and the environment.

By Thomas L. Friedman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Lexus and the Olive Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A brilliant investigation of globalization, the most significant socioeconomic trend in the world today, and how it is affecting everything we do-economically, politically, and culturally-abroad and at home.

As foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman crisscrosses the globe talking with the world's economic and political leaders, and reporting, as only he can, on what he sees. Now he has used his years of experience as a reporter and columnist to produce a pithy, trenchant, riveting look at the worldwide market forces that are driving today's economies and how they are playing out both internationally and…


Book cover of Power & Interdependence

Michael Zürn Author Of A Theory of Global Governance: Authority, Legitimacy, and Contestation

From my list on understanding global governance in disruption.

Who am I?

My interest in global issues developed when I was a student. What was my conviction already then became more obvious every year since then. In order to solve our most urgent problems, we need to have a strong and legitimate global governance system. Global governance, therefore, became the core of my research. I am Michael Zürn, the Director of the Research Unit Global Governance at the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB) and a Professor of International Relations at Free University of Berlin. I have also been the co-spokesperson for the Cluster of Excellence "Contestations of the Liberal Script" (SCRIPTS) since 2019. 

Michael's book list on understanding global governance in disruption

Michael Zürn Why did Michael love this book?

This book is a must-read for everyone who wants to attain a better understanding of global politics and how the current thinking about global governance has evolved.

Keohane and Nye teach us how to analyze interstate affairs through a theoretical lens that is reflective of both interstate competition and interdependence. States compete on their levels of welfare. At the same time, they can benefit from cooperation because the increasing number of cross-border transactions (e.g., flows of money, goods, or people) are often connected to reciprocal costs each state wants to reduce. Embedded in formalized sets of rules and norms, one could think of the GATS agreement supervised by the WTO; these interdependencies must be seen as a dominant structure in an increasingly globalized world.

Though written in the seventies, this book remains a seminal work in the field of international relations, and its relevance to the contemporary world still holds…

By Robert Keohane, Joseph Nye,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Power & Interdependence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A landmark work of international relations theory, Power and Interdependence first published in 1977 and posited a radically comprehensive explanation of the mechanics driving world affairs-"power politics" on one hand and "complex interdependence" on the other hand.

This widely influential book reexamined the military and economic interests of state and non-state actors, and in an argument made before the end of the Cold War, the authors broadened the prevailing realist worldview of the time and anticipated many of the developments in our modern era of globalization. With a new preface by the authors and a foreword by Fareed Zakaria that…


Book cover of Flexible Citizenship: The Cultural Logics of Transnationality

Daromir Rudnyckyj Author Of Beyond Debt: Islamic Experiments in Global Finance

From my list on how anthropology helps us understand the economy.

Who am I?

I'm an economic anthropologist and teach classes and conduct research in this area. Economic anthropology is different from economics in that it questions many of the things that economics takes for granted. For example, most economists assume that allocating goods through the market by buying and selling is the best way to organize human communities. Economic anthropologists have shown, in contrast, that many societies have been organized according to other exchange principles. In fact, some of the oldest communities in the world, such as Sumer and Babylon, based their economies around elaborate systems of redistribution, in which every citizen was guaranteed food shares.

Daromir's book list on how anthropology helps us understand the economy

Daromir Rudnyckyj Why did Daromir love this book?

We often think of national identity as fixed: one is either Canadian or American, British or Chinese, Australian or Indian. 

The Olympic games come along and people pick up a flag to which they apparently belong. In contrast, Ong shows how economic globalization—the integration of production systems, financial activities, and labour markets across national borders—has created a situation in which national belonging is far from fixed and is instead flexible.

She documents, on the one hand, how individuals strategically obtain citizenship from more than one country and use citizenship for goals both personal and economic. On the other hand, she also documents how nation-states are using flexible definitions of citizenship to foster their own ambitions for economic growth.  

By Aihwa Ong,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Flexible Citizenship as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Few recent phenomena have proved as emblematic of our era, and as little understood, as globalization. Are nation-states being transformed by globalization into a single globalized economy? Do global cultural forces herald a postnational millennium? Tying ethnography to structural analysis, Flexible Citizenship explores such questions with a focus on the links between the cultural logics of human action and on economic and political processes within the Asia-Pacific, including the impact of these forces on women and family life.
Explaining how intensified travel, communications, and mass media have created a transnational Chinese public, Aihwa Ong argues that previous studies have mistakenly…


Book cover of Life-Changing Cross-Cultural Friendships: How You Can Help Heal Racial Divides, One Relationship at a Time

MelindaJoy Mingo Author Of The Colors of Culture: The Beauty of Diverse Friendships

From my list on capturing how we learn to celebrate diversity.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by different cultures since I was 14 years old growing up in inner-city Chicago. My passion has given me a curious quest to travel the world and learn about different cultures. My friends have a tagline for me which is ‘From the Hood to Hanoi and All the Stops In Between’ because of my international teaching in Vietnam. As an adult who is now an international professor, sought-out global trainer, and cultural subject matter expert, my passion has increased for bringing an awareness to a broader audience about the beauty of diverse friendships. 

MelindaJoy's book list on capturing how we learn to celebrate diversity

MelindaJoy Mingo Why did MelindaJoy love this book?

This book ties in so closely with what I believe about the beauty of diverse friendships if we allow ourselves to come out of our comfort zones to truly connect with people heart-to-heart.

When I read this book it really affirms what I believe, that it is really possible to heal racial divides through humility, listening, and a willingness to connect with a person from a diverse background that we would have never thought possible.

By Gary Chapman, Clarence Shuler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life-Changing Cross-Cultural Friendships as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

We can heal our communities--one friendship at a time.

Everyone wants to do something to improve race relations, but many of us don't know where to start. In Life-Changing Cross-Cultural Friendships, lifelong friends Gary Chapman and Clarence Shuler will show you how. Through important lessons they have learned, you will learn how to begin and grow authentic friendships across racial and ethnic barriers.

Each chapter will guide you toward deeper understanding of what it takes to foster cross-cultural friendships. These powerful lessons include:

How to overcome the fear of developing cross-cultural friendships How to differentiate true friends from mere acquaintances…


Book cover of So You Want to Talk about Race

Wendy-O Matik Author Of Redefining Our Relationships: Guidelines for Responsible Open Relationships

From my list on to ignite the revolution and smash patriarchy.

Who am I?

As a rebellious woman who is passionate about words and the revolutionary force of books, I know the power of stories. Stories are the seeds that give life to your purpose. Stories give you a reason to fight the good fight, care about something bigger than yourself, and want to be a part of social justice and positive change. The daily grind can kick you down, but a good story can remind you that there's still time to rise up, speak truth to power, help others less fortunate, and commit to what you value most. The books that I’m recommending are meant to be your personal guide to what really matters most in life to you.

Wendy-O's book list on to ignite the revolution and smash patriarchy

Wendy-O Matik Why did Wendy-O love this book?

If you seriously care about racial healing, you have to read this book. White people are so damn afraid to say the wrong thing or to offend anyone when it comes to the topic of race, that we end up not saying anything at all. And silence is death to a movement. If you care about Black and Brown lives, then this book will shake you up in a good way, and remind you of the importance of being a good listener to the concerns of people of color. When you listen, you can have empathy. When you have empathy, you can start to be a part of the racial reckoning and healing that’s starting to take place in our nation.

By Ijeoma Oluo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked So You Want to Talk about Race as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

n So You Want to Talk About Race, editor-at-large of The Establishment Ijeoma Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the "N" word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions readers don't dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans.

Oluo is an exceptional writer with a rare ability to be straightforward, funny, and effective in her coverage of sensitive, hyper-charged…


Book cover of Culture from the Inside out: Travel and Meet Yourself

Diane Lemieux Author Of Culture Smart! Canada

From my list on understanding the locals.

Who am I?

I was born in Quebec, have lived in eleven countries, and speak four languages. In my 20+ years as an author and journalist, my goal has always been to create bridges between cultures and to tell stories that enable individuals to better understand each other. For me, a trip to a new country, no matter how short or long, is incomplete unless I’ve had the chance to meet locals.

Diane's book list on understanding the locals

Diane Lemieux Why did Diane love this book?

"The first person you meet when you travel abroad is yourself.”

I was very happy to discover this self-help book (way back in 2004) on how to deal with ‘the other’ when traveling or living in a foreign culture. It’s a classic in its approach to understanding the people you meet abroad.

Our impressions of other people always start with our own expectations and beliefs of what is right and proper. This book helps us understand our own biases in the process of trying to understand the locals.

By Alan Cornes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Culture from the Inside out as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the first book to take a unique psychological approach to intercultural interactions. The author helps the sojourner to examine his or her own personality traits, both strengths and weaknesses, and how these characteristics may improve one's ability to communicate effectively in a different culture. Most expatriate placements are made on the basis of technical ability to do the job and the candidates circumstances and willingness to relocate. Apart from overseas development organisations, candidate selection that has any specific focus on intercultural aptitude is the exception rather than the rule. In either case, both the development worker and the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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