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2022 | Best Non-Fiction writing

Updated: Dec 16, 2022


From the anthropologist Nastassja Martin to the economist Thimothée Parrique or the philosopher Paul B. Preciado, our selected essays challenge our conceptions of the world and broaden our perspectives, trying to find a path to survive the current political and climate crises.


Book cover: À l'Est des rêves by Nastassja Martin

À l'Est des Rêves, Nastassja Martin | les Empêcheurs de tourner en rond


Anthropologist Natassja Martin specialises in the indigenous populations of the Far North and their relationship to their environment, especially the changes brought about by the current ecological crisis. Her previous research in Alaska has led her to focus in this essay on the Russian territories located on the other side of the Bering Strait. Indeed, during fieldwork in Alaska among the Gwich'in population, the anthropologist began to posit the idea that the indigenous communities of Siberia may have decided to return to the forest following the Soviet collapse- almost as if the political collapse had allowed them to reappropriate a way of life outside of the mode of existence dictated to them under communism. The French anthropologist chooses to focus on the territory of Kamchatka, with its Alaskan-like characteristics, caught between a wilderness reserve to be protected and a place of energy resources to be exploited. The book tells the story of this intuition, her research in the field and then of her integration into an Even family who indeed returned to the forest when the communist kolkhozes disintegrated. Through several intertwined writing styles, this essay unpacks the complexity of this research work. The more literary writing of the encounters and experiences lived and recounted by the members of this family is contrasted with a writing that is grounded in theory, giving an exacting theoretical and anthropological framework to this research. In the second part of the essay, the author is particularly interested in Even performative dreams as a space of encounter between beings. The EHESS Researcher introduces us to Even cosmologies which discern the relationship to our world differently to western thought. In the present moment of ecological disruption, this important book can only make the readers re-evaluate their position towards their lived environment.


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Book cover: Servir les riches by Alizée Delpierre

Servir les riches, Alizée Delpierre | La Découverte


You thought servants belonged to the past centuries? These domestic servants, employed at home and available days and nights have not disappeared, they work full time in the service of a few ultra-rich. The sociologist Alizée Delpierre conducted an investigation over several years in the homes of these millionaires and those who serve them. How do rich and poor live under the same roof? Alizée Delpierre tells the cohabitation of two opposed social classes through professional and intimate relationships. Her meticulous and fascinating investigation examines daily relationships of domination and exploitation, unravelling more complexity that it seems.


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Book cover: Dysphoria Mundi by Paul B. Preciado

Dysphoria Mundi, Paul B. Preciado | Grasset


Written over the course of the 2021 Covid lockdown, and whilst himself ill with the virus, Paul B Preciado's Dysphoria mundi takes gender dysphoria as a jumping off point in order to argue that the whole world is dysphoric. In the face of mass ecological, political and biomedical unrest, the entire world is undergoing a transitionary phase. Here, Preciado reinterprets the dysphoric state as an element of political dissidence and a site of potential and renewal.


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Book cover: Ralentir ou périr by Timothée Parrique

Ralentir ou périr, Timothée Parrique | Seuil


Since the 1970s, we have known that there can’t be limitless growth in a finite world. Yet our society remains obsessed with economic growth. In this essay, the economist Timothée Parrique deconstructs this contemporary mythology. He explains that we don’t need to produce more to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities, create jobs, finance public services, or improve our quality of life. On the contrary, this modern obsession with accumulation is holding back social progress and accelerating ecological collapse. That’s why Timothée Parrique invites us to write a new story of prosperity: that of a degrowth economy, a planned and democratic reduction of production and consumption in rich countries to reduce environmental pressures and inequality, while improving well-being. Pedagogical and argued, this essay draws a necessary and salutary transition to a more sustainable world.


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