Arturo Escobar has not produced a single-authored book in English since 1995, although he has a string of other publications. This book, magisterial in its command of an impressive range of theory and literature, is a provocative and cutting-edge guide to thinking about place, capital, nature, development, identity, and networks (the six main chapter titles). It was well worth waiting for. Escobar grounds his discussion of theory in the lived realities of Colombia’s Pacific coastal region and the Afro-Colombian social movements there that seek to protect territories, livelihoods (and indeed lives), ecologies, and cultural identities. He draws on some 15 years of working with these movements, especially the Proceso de Comunidades Negras (PCN).

Escobar’s key theme is the possibility of “alternatives to modernity,” ways of thinking and living outside of modernity that go even further than what Escobar terms “alternative modernities,” which, while they contest Eurocentric values of development do...

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