100 books like Postcolonial Lack

By Gautam Basu Thakur,

Here are 100 books that Postcolonial Lack fans have personally recommended if you like Postcolonial Lack. 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 Black Skin, White Masks

Ilan Kapoor Author Of Global Libidinal Economy

From my list on psychoanalysis and politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scholar of global politics, and I am drawn to psychoanalysis because it studies the unseen in politics, or rather, those things that are often in plain sight but remain unacknowledged. For example, why is it that, especially in this information economy, we are well aware of the inequality and environmental destruction that our current capitalist system is based on, but we still continue to invest in it (through shopping, taking out loans, using credit cards, etc.)? Psychoanalysis says that it's because we are unconsciously seduced by capitalism—we love shopping despite knowing about the socioeconomic and environmental dangers of doing it. I’m fascinated by that process of disavowal.

Ilan's book list on psychoanalysis and politics

Ilan Kapoor Why did Ilan love this book?

This is one of the first books that “blew my mind” when I was a young university student: it remains the one I constantly return to because it seeks to understand the psychoanalytic foundations of racism under French colonialism.

Fanon was only 27 when his book was first published in 1952, but his reflections provide a stunningly passionate and layered view on how anti-Black racism (de)forms the subjectivity of both white and Black people, locking them into constructions of whiteness/blackness that require constant questioning.

His arguments on the psychoanalytic and political underpinnings of racism remain as relevant today as they were in his time.

By Frantz Fanon, Richard Philcox (translator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Black Skin, White Masks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Few modern voices have had as profound an impact on the black identity and critical race theory as Frantz Fanon, and Black Skin, White Masks  represents some of his most important work. Fanon’s masterwork is now available in a new translation that updates its language for a new generation of readers.
A major influence on civil rights, anti-colonial, and black consciousness movements around the world, Black Skin, White Masks is the unsurpassed study of the black psyche in a white world. Hailed for its scientific analysis and poetic grace when it was first published in 1952, the book remains a…


Book cover of Capital: Volume I

William Clare Roberts Author Of Marx's Inferno: The Political Theory of Capital

From my list on understanding how power works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a teacher, a student, and a reader by trade (that is, a university professor), and I spend most of my time trying to understand social and political power: why some people have it, and others don’t, how it circulates and changes (gradually or suddenly), why it sometimes oppresses us and sometimes liberates, how it can be created and destroyed. I mostly do this by reading and teaching the history of political theory, which I am lucky enough to do at McGill University, in conversation and cooperation with some wonderful colleagues.

William's book list on understanding how power works

William Clare Roberts Why did William love this book?

I have spent more time with this book than with probably any other, and I still learn new things from it all the time.

Parts of it are very hard, but that’s because Marx is trying to show how the whole world is put into motion by economic power, money, and competition. But he also knows how to liven up even very technical parts of the argument with dark humor, arresting images, and biting sarcasm. 

By Karl Marx, Ben Fowkes (translator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Capital as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A groundbreaking work of economic analysis. It is also a literary masterpice' Francis Wheen, Guardian

One of the most notorious and influential works of modern times, Capital is an incisive critique of private property and the social relations it generates. Living in exile in England, where this work was largely written, Marx drew on a wide-ranging knowledge of its society to support his analysis. Arguing that capitalism would cause an ever-increasing division in wealth and welfare, he predicted its abolition and replacement by a system with common ownership of the means of production. Capital rapidly acquired readership throughout the world,…


Book cover of The Sublime Object of Ideology

Ilan Kapoor Author Of Global Libidinal Economy

From my list on psychoanalysis and politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scholar of global politics, and I am drawn to psychoanalysis because it studies the unseen in politics, or rather, those things that are often in plain sight but remain unacknowledged. For example, why is it that, especially in this information economy, we are well aware of the inequality and environmental destruction that our current capitalist system is based on, but we still continue to invest in it (through shopping, taking out loans, using credit cards, etc.)? Psychoanalysis says that it's because we are unconsciously seduced by capitalism—we love shopping despite knowing about the socioeconomic and environmental dangers of doing it. I’m fascinated by that process of disavowal.

Ilan's book list on psychoanalysis and politics

Ilan Kapoor Why did Ilan love this book?

For me, Žižek is the most brilliant and insightful, even if controversial, philosopher of our times, and this work is largely considered his masterpiece.

Drawing on popular culture (movies, jokes, science fiction), it provides a psychoanalytic view of ideology, exploring the unconscious foundations of such phenomena as totalitarianism, capitalism, and racism.

Žižek beckons us to pay close attention to any ideology that attempts to present reality as unified or harmonious (e.g., “Make America Great Again,” or “happy shopping”), as it most often hides (“disavows,” in psychoanalysis) its many contradictions (e.g., how “greatness” is often built on a history of colonialism or slavery; or how consumerism most often depends on the exploitation of workers, many of whom are women and racialized people working under sweatshop conditions). 

By Slavoj Zizek,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Slavoj Zizek, the maverick philosopher, author of over 30 books, acclaimed as the "Elvis of cultural theory", and today's most controversial public intellectual. His work traverses the fields of philosophy, psychoanalysis, theology, history and political theory, taking in film, popular culture, literature and jokes-all to provide acute analyses of the complexities of contemporary ideology as well as a serious and sophisticated philosophy. His recent films The Pervert's Guide to the Cinema and Zizek! reveal a theorist at the peak of his powers and a skilled communicator. Now Verso is making his classic titles, each of which stand as a core…


Book cover of What is Sex?

Ilan Kapoor Author Of Global Libidinal Economy

From my list on psychoanalysis and politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scholar of global politics, and I am drawn to psychoanalysis because it studies the unseen in politics, or rather, those things that are often in plain sight but remain unacknowledged. For example, why is it that, especially in this information economy, we are well aware of the inequality and environmental destruction that our current capitalist system is based on, but we still continue to invest in it (through shopping, taking out loans, using credit cards, etc.)? Psychoanalysis says that it's because we are unconsciously seduced by capitalism—we love shopping despite knowing about the socioeconomic and environmental dangers of doing it. I’m fascinated by that process of disavowal.

Ilan's book list on psychoanalysis and politics

Ilan Kapoor Why did Ilan love this book?

This is one of the most intriguing books published in recent times, in my view, providing a lucid and beautifully written psychoanalytic account of both the strangeness and emancipatory potential of sexuality.

Sex for Zupančič is not about genital sexuality. Instead, it has an amorphous and undefinable quality to it; and this lack of meaning implies we can never get enough of it—e.g., the reason porn watchers get hooked on porn is because even the “full” view of sexual activity doesn’t quite satisfy, so one looks for more “fullness” (which one never finds) and watches more porn. And this elusiveness is what sex is about.

I love that Zupančič draws out the political potential of this viewpoint, seeing the excess and indefinability of sex as “trouble”/“troubling,” opening up ways for the subject to break out of the everyday status quo. 

By Alenka Zupancic,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What is Sex? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why sexuality is at the point of a “short circuit” between ontology and epistemology.

Consider sublimation—conventionally understood as a substitute satisfaction for missing sexual satisfaction. But what if, as Lacan claims, we can get exactly the same satisfaction that we get from sex from talking (or writing, painting, praying, or other activities)? The point is not to explain the satisfaction from talking by pointing to its sexual origin, but that the satisfaction from talking is itself sexual. The satisfaction from talking contains a key to sexual satisfaction (and not the other way around)—even a key to sexuality itself and its…


Book cover of The Sign of the Cannibal: Melville and the Making of a Postcolonial Reader

Wyn Kelley and Christopher Sten Author Of "Whole Oceans Away": Melville and the Pacific

From my list on understanding Herman Melville’s itch for adventure.

Why are we passionate about this?

We approached our book, theme, and recommendations as readers and lovers of Melville’s work who were inspired by following in his footsteps to places “whole oceans away,” as he describes the Pacific in Moby-Dick. Melville traveled widely and kept up his travels throughout a lifetime of further exploration, as well as voluminous writing. We want to share the exhilaration of traveling with a writer: that is, by reading of Melville’s travels, traveling to the places he visited, and also hearing from people who know those places too. We hope our book gives readers contact with the many dimensions of global travel, in whatever form they find for themselves.

Wyn and Christopher's book list on understanding Herman Melville’s itch for adventure

Wyn Kelley and Christopher Sten Why did Wyn and Christopher love this book?

Sanborn’s is one of the best books for tracing a thought process experienced by Melville, or many a Western traveler in the Pacific trying to make sense of challenging cultural differences. Focusing on the taboo topic of cannibalism, Sanborn breaks down Western anxieties and fears of the unknown, showing how Melville balanced different cultural perspectives against his own experience. The result is a profoundly informative guide to how one may rethink cultural norms and how Melville’s later works reflected on his foundational early experiences and travels.

By Geoffrey Sanborn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In The Sign of the Cannibal Geoffrey Sanborn offers a major reassessment of the work of Herman Melville, a definitive history of the post-Enlightenment discourse on cannibalism, and a provocative contribution to postcolonial theory. These investigations not only explore mid-nineteenth century resistance to the colonial enterprise but argue that Melville, using the discourse on cannibalism to critique colonialism, contributed to the production of resistance.
Sanborn focuses on the representations of cannibalism in three of Melville's key texts-Typee, Moby-Dick, and "Benito Cereno." Drawing on accounts of Pacific voyages from two centuries and virtually the entire corpus of the post-Enlightenment discourse on…


Book cover of Performing Whiteness: Postmodern Re/Constructions in the Cinema

Frederick W. Gooding Jr. Author Of Black Oscars: From Mammy to Minny, What the Academy Awards Tell Us about African Americans

From my list on the impact of movies outside the theater.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of pop culture, so I know personally that talking about race can be so incredibly awkward at times – but it does not always have to be! Often, many restrict themselves from fully participating in these necessary dialogues only because of a profound fear of “saying the wrong thing.” As individuals responsible for preparing a new generation of thinkers prepared to innovate improved solutions for the society we share, inevitably, the topic of race must not only be broached, but broached productively. I write to provide tools to help make such difficult conversations less difficult.

Frederick's book list on the impact of movies outside the theater

Frederick W. Gooding Jr. Why did Frederick love this book?

This book is both valuable and important primarily because whenever most conversations get started about race relations, magically white people as a group are “left out” as attention is turned to black, indigenous, Latino, or other people of color.

This book prompts readers to reconcile with whiteness as a larger category of analysis to deepen our understanding of complex race relations.

By Gwendolyn Audrey Foster,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Explores how whiteness is culturally constructed in American films.

Performing Whiteness crosses the boundaries of film study to explore images of the white body in relation to recent theoretical perspectives on whiteness.

Drawing on such diverse critical methodologies as postcolonial studies, feminist film criticism, anthropology, and phenomenology, Gwendolyn Audrey Foster examines a wide variety of films from early cinema to the present day in order to explore the ways in which American cinema imposes whiteness as a cultural norm, even as it exposes its inherent instability.

In discussions that range from The Philadelphia Story to Attack…


Book cover of Duress: Imperial Durabilities in Our Times

Glenda R. Carpio Author Of Migrant Aesthetics: Contemporary Fiction, Global Migration, and the Limits of Empathy

From my list on migration, migrant lives, and how they shape our common world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I embody the “American Dream” mythology: I came to the United States as a child who did not speak English and had few means. And now I am the Chair of the English Department at Harvard. But I am the exception, not the rule. So many migrants die on perilous journeys or survive only to live marginal lives under surveillance. Yet we don’t always ask why people risk their lives and those of their children to migrate. And when we do, we don’t often go beyond the first layer of answers. The list of books I recommend allows us to think deeply about the roots of forced migration.

Glenda's book list on migration, migrant lives, and how they shape our common world

Glenda R. Carpio Why did Glenda love this book?

In this book, Stoler rightly warns us against assuming that colonial violence existed only in the past. But she also shows that it is hard to grasp the effects of colonial power in our contemporary world.

This is because that power wraps “around contemporary problems,” including “toxic dumping in Africa, devastated ‘waste lands,’ precarious sites of residence, ongoing dispossession, or pockets of ghettoized urban quarters,” as well as migration crises the world over.

Imperial formations of power have transformed, adhering “in the logics of governance,” plaiting “through racialized distinctions,” and holding “tight to the less tangible emotional economies of humiliations, indignities, and resentments that manifest in bold acts of refusal to abide by territorial restrictions.”

Empires, old and new, intentionally conceal and silence their brutality, failures, and disorderliness and thus keep us in the dark while making us complicit in their violence.

By Ann Laura Stoler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How do colonial histories matter to the urgencies and conditions of our current world? How have those histories so often been rendered as leftovers, as "legacies" of a dead past rather than as active and violating forces in the world today? With precision and clarity, Ann Laura Stoler argues that recognizing "colonial presence" may have as much to do with how the connections between colonial histories and the present are expected to look as it does with how they are expected to be. In Duress, Stoler considers what methodological renovations might serve to write histories that yield neither to smooth…


Book cover of Epidemic Empire: Colonialism, Contagion, and Terror, 1817–2020

Pamela K. Gilbert Author Of Mapping the Victorian Social Body

From my list on how epidemics relate to bigger narratives.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began college as a science major, but then switched to literature from a minor to my major. In graduate school, as I worked on my dissertation (which became my first book), I found that metaphors of the body and health were everywhere in the literary field in the mid-nineteenth century. Suffice it to say that the sciences, including the rapid development of modern medicine, are both fundamental to this period and deeply shape its literary culture. In Mapping the Victorian Social Body, I became fascinated with the history of data visualization. Disease mapping completely transformed the ways we understand space and how our bodies exist within it.

Pamela's book list on how epidemics relate to bigger narratives

Pamela K. Gilbert Why did Pamela love this book?

This book begins with cholera and the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and vampire novels, and then moves forward in time to examine the longstanding continued use of epidemic disease as a metaphor to describe political revolt and terror. Kolb argues that the colonial state has long positioned itself as a hygienic "doctor" treating political "disease," and shows clearly why understanding political activity within the frame of disease is so damaging. Moving through the mid-twentieth century with Camus and Algeria, to Rushdie, 2001, and the shameful history of the US torture memo, Kolb's argument is both historically sweeping and persuasive.   

By Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Terrorism is a cancer, an infection, an epidemic, a plague. For more than a century, this metaphor has figured insurgent violence as contagion in order to contain its political energies. In Epidemic Empire, Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb shows that this trope began in responses to the Indian Mutiny of 1857 and tracks its tenacious hold through 9/11 and beyond. The result is the first book-length study to approach the global war on terror from a postcolonial literary perspective.

Raza Kolb assembles a diverse archive from colonial India, imperial Britain, French and independent Algeria, the postcolonial Islamic diaspora, and the neo-imperial…


Book cover of Shame On Me: A Memoir of Race And Belonging

Haroon Khalid Author Of Walking with Nanak

From my list on merging genres and writing styles.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love reading history that is told in an experimental, interesting manner – history merged with travel, fiction, magical realism, etc. I began my writing career as a travel writer, bringing together history with travel but increasingly I have begun to experiment more. My book Walking with Nanak brings together 4 genres. One intellectual question that I have pursued through my writing is challenging modern notions of national, religious, and ethnic identities. I see my writing style as an extension of that pursuit, breaking away from the neat compartmentalization of genres. 

Haroon's book list on merging genres and writing styles

Haroon Khalid Why did Haroon love this book?

This book is also a fascinating and completely new way of telling history, merging travel writing with personal family history. The author in this remarkable book travels through her own body to talk about the history of her family, and her own story – a story that is connected with the broader stories of colonization, post-colonialism, racism, capitalism, and many other macro, structural issues.

By Tessa McWatt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shame On Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2020 OCM BOCAS PRIZE FOR CARIBBEAN LITERATURE

'What are you?'

Tessa McWatt knows first-hand that the answer to this question, often asked of people of colour by white people, is always more complicated than it seems. Is the answer English, Scottish, British, Caribbean, Portuguese, Indian, Amerindian, French, African, Chinese, Canadian? Like most families, hers is steeped in myth and the anecdotes of grandparents and parents who view their histories through the lens of desire, aspiration, loss, and shame.

In Shame On Me she unspools all the interwoven strands of her inheritance, and knits them back together using…


Book cover of Beyond Coloniality: Citizenship and Freedom in the Caribbean Intellectual Tradition

Carole Boyce Davies Author Of Caribbean Spaces: Escapes from Twilight Zone

From my list on Caribbean reparative justice.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Caribbean-American literary scholar who has spent many years studying, lecturing and writing about the interrelated fields of African Diaspora literature and culture, meaning the creative and theoretical productions of writers from Africa, the United States, Latin America, Brazil, and the Caribbean. I teach a variety of these subjects and enjoy the combinations of politics, creativity, and cultural expression that they contribute. These books provide you with a good cross-section of what is available in the Caribbean and the Caribbean diaspora.

Carole's book list on Caribbean reparative justice

Carole Boyce Davies Why did Carole love this book?

Kamugisha, is an able representative of a new generation of scholars who offers a contemporary examination which presents some of the theoretical issues and ideas that inform Caribbean studies and history. The reader will get a good sense of some of the major historical contributors who have shaped Caribbean history, philosophy, and culture as they attempted to move “beyond” the colonial experience.

By Aaron Kamugisha,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Against the lethargy and despair of the contemporary Anglophone Caribbean experience, Aaron Kamugisha gives a powerful argument for advancing Caribbean radical thought as an answer to the conundrums of the present. Beyond Coloniality is an extended meditation on Caribbean thought and freedom at the beginning of the 21st century and a profound rejection of the postindependence social and political organization of the Anglophone Caribbean and its contentment with neocolonial arrangements of power. Kamugisha provides a dazzling reading of two towering figures of the Caribbean intellectual tradition, C. L. R. James and Sylvia Wynter, and their quest for human freedom beyond…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in postcolonialism, psychoanalysis, and presidential biography?

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