Jason Hickel

Author / Journalist

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Jason Hickel is an anthropologist at the London School of Economics. His first books, Democracy as Death (2015) and Ekhaya (2014), explore the cultural dimensions of political conflict in South Africa. In addition to his regional ethnographic work, Hickel writes on global development and political economy, contributing regularly to The Guardian, Al Jazeera, and other popular outlets. His work has been funded by Fulbright, the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Charlotte Newcombe Foundation, and the Leverhulme Trust. 

Upcoming publication:

LESS IS MORE: How Degrowth Will Save the World – William Heinemann - 13 Aug 2020

The world has finally awoken to the reality of climate breakdown and ecological collapse. Now we must face up to its primary cause: capitalism. Our economic system is based on perpetual expansion, which is devastating the living world. There is only one solution that will lead to meaningful and immediate change: degrowth.

If we want to have a shot at surviving the Anthropocene, we need to restore the balance. We need to change how we see the world and our place within it, shifting from a philosophy of domination and extraction to one that’s rooted in reciprocity with our planet’s ecology. We need to evolve beyond the dusty dogmas of capitalism to a new system that’s fit for the twenty-first century.

But what about jobs? What about health? What about progress? This book tackles these questions and offers an inspiring vision for what a post-capitalist economy could look like. An economy that’s more just, more caring, and more fun. An economy that enables human flourishing while reversing ecological breakdown. By taking less, we can become more.


Praise for THE DIVIDE:

‘This book will radically change the way in which you understand the workings of the global economic system and the challenges faced by poor countries trying to advance within it.’ - Ha-Joon Chang, author of 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism and Economics: The User's Guide

"A sharply argued analysis of the traditional explanations for wealth and poverty in the world, offering a program for easing misery while addressing structural inequalities." - Kirkus

‘We all like to think of aid and development as benign in a world full of inequality and violence. Jason Hickel rightly challenges this dangerous myth with a book that crackles with facts, indignation and heart.' - Antony Loewenstein, author of Disaster Capitalism: Making A Killing Out Of Catastrophe

The Divide is myth busting at its best. The West has controlled the rest through colonies, coups, cash (debt), corrupt commerce (unfair trade and unhelpful aid), conscience cleansing charity and climate change. Poor countries are made poor by this; but a dramatic change is coming.’ - Danny Dorling, author of Inequality and the 1%

The Divide provides an evolutionary leap in our understanding of inequality and poverty. It should be required reading for anyone hoping to realize a better world.’ - Alnoor Jadha, Board Member of Greenpeace and Executive Director of The Rules

‘Written in a captivating and easy to read style, this book must become the standard text for everyone studying, working or interested in development.’ - Firoze Manji, author of African Awakening

‘Hickel explains how current models of Western development and philanthropy have actually made the problem worse, as if they were designed explicitly to support entrenched structures of power and privilege. The book is ultimately an outcry for a new politics based on empathy and shared responsibility.’ - Daniel Pinchbeck, author of How Soon is Now?



Publication DetailsNotes

Windmill Books

For decades we have been told a story: that development is working, that poverty is a natural phenomenon and will be eradicated through aid by 2030. But just because it is a comforting tale doesn’t make it true. Poor countries are poor because they are integrated into the global economic system on unequal terms, and aid only helps to hide this.

Drawing on pioneering research and years of first-hand experience, The Divide tracks the evolution of global inequality – from the expeditions of Christopher Columbus to the present day – offering revelatory answers to some of humanity’s greatest problems. It is a provocative, urgent and ultimately uplifting account of how the world works, and how it can change for the better.


University of California Press

The revolution that brought the African National Congress (ANC) to power in South Africa was fractured by internal conflict. Migrant workers from rural Zululand rejected many of the egalitarian values and policies fundamental to the ANC's liberal democratic platform and organized themselves in an attempt to sabotage the movement. This anti-democracy stance, which persists today as a direct critique of freedom" in neoliberal South Africa, hinges on an idealized vision of the rural home and a hierarchical social order crafted in part by the technologies of colonial governance over the past century. In analyzing this conflict, Jason Hickel contributes to broad theoretical debates about liberalism and democratization in the postcolonial world. Democracy as Death interrogates the Western ideals of individual freedom and agency from the perspective of those who oppose such ideals, and questions the assumptions underpinning theories of anti-liberal movements. The book argues that both democracy and the political science that attempts to explain resistance to it presuppose a model of personhood native to Western capitalism, which may not operate cross-culturally.


University of KwaZulu-Natal Press

This book examines the African home as a key site of struggle in the making of modern KwaZulu-Natal, a South African province that instantiates in extreme form many of the transformations that shaped the colonial world. Its essays explore major themes in African and global history, including the colonial manipulation of kinship and the exploitation of labour, modernist practices of social engineering and the changes wrought within intimate relationships by post-industrial decline.

Ranging from the rural to the urban and the pre-colonial era to the presidency of Jacob Zuma, this volume emphasises the affective and ideological dimensions of ikhaya. It offers insight into how the home, which embodies both modernist aspirations and nostalgic longings for the past, has become the touchstone for popular discontent and political activism in recent decades. Just as colonialism in South Africa was a colonialism of the home, so too politics in South Africa are a politics of the home.