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Imperial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization (Yale Agrarian Studies Series)
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Imperial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization (Yale Agrarian Studies Series) [ハードカバー]

Michael Goldman

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Why is the World Bank so successful? How has it gained power even at moments in history when it seemed likely to fall? This pathbreaking book is the first close examination of the inner workings of the Bank, the foundations of its achievements, its propensity for intensifying the problems it intends to cure, and its remarkable ability to tame criticism and extend its own reach.

Michael Goldman takes us inside World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., and then to Bank project sites around the globe. He explains how projects funded by the Bank really work and why community activists struggle against the World Bank and its brand of development. Goldman looks at recent ventures in areas such as the environment, human rights, and good governance and reveals how—despite its poor track record—the World Bank has acquired greater authority and global power than ever before.

The book sheds new light on the World Bank’s role in increasing global inequalities and considers why it has become the central target for anti-globalization movements worldwide. For anyone concerned about globalization and social justice, Imperial Nature is essential reading.


“Michael Goldman’s brilliant book will be widely read, admired, and quoted. Many ships will sail in its wake.”—James C. Scott, Yale University

"In this compelling book, Michael Goldman offers powerful new insights into how the World Bank has emerged as one of the most important sites of knowledge production in the world today. Yet by chronicling the practices and processes through which such knowledges become authoritative—and how they shift under pressure—the book also contributes to the possibilities for more politically enabling alternatives."—Gillian Hart, University of California at Berkeley and author of Disabling Globalization: Places of Power in Post-Apartheid South Africa  
(Gillian Hart)

“Michael Goldman’s brilliant book will be widely read, admired, and quoted. Many ships will sail in its wake.”—James C. Scott, Yale University

"Simply the best analysis we have of an imperial, hegemonic institution ‘at work’: in this case, the World Bank at work containing, colonizing, co-oping and reformulating environmentalism. Imperial Nature is well-argued, ethnographically subtle, and historically deep. Goldman’s work will be the indispensable point of departure for all subsequent work on ‘green’ neo-liberalism."—James C. Scott, Yale University 
(James C. Scott)

"We have grown accustomed to indictments of the World Bank for the devastation it has wrought, but Goldman goes several steps further. Opening up the Bank and its projects to the ethnographic eye he shows not only how environmental catastrophes occur but also how the Bank responds to those catastrophes with an ever more insidious regulation, by creating new knowledges, absorbing opposition, and refabricating states—all in the name of protecting the environment. Grassroots opposition may mount but the Bank''s overarching hegemony is strengthened. A must-read for anyone interested in the role of global agencies in development."—Michael Burawoy, University of California, Berkeley
(Michael Burawoy)

"Highly original and insightful, Goldman reveals how countries are pushed backwards instead of forwards in the name of  ''development.''"—Naomi Klein, author of No Logo

(Naomi Klein)

"Imperial Nature offers novel insights into the Bank’s methods of valuing nature and orchestrating technologies of governance to legitimize its development regime. Rich case studies, interwoven with intriguing biographies of developers and resisters, ground this engaging account of the Bank’s unrivalled, and yet always fragile, power to produce and monopolize development knowledge."—Philip McMichael, Cornell University 

(Philip McMichael)

"Anyone puzzled by why globalization is increasing poverty and destitution in poor countries should read Imperial Nature. Through detailed research Goldman shows how the secretive unaccountable workings of the World Bank aimed only at increasing its own profits and the corporations it serves are killing ecological and economic democracy and dispossessing the poor of their resources and rights."—Vandana Shiva, author of Earth Democracy

(Vandana Shiva)

"[A] scholarly, incisive and damning study of the Bank."—David Moore, Journal of Agrarian Change
(David Moore Journal of Agrarian Change 2006-09-20)


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星1つ で最も参考になったカスタマーレビュー (beta) 5つ星のうち 3.7  16 件のカスタマーレビュー
3 人中、3人の方が、「このレビューが参考になった」と投票しています。
5つ星のうち 3.0 Informative Read 2006/5/30
By Daneo - (
Michael Goldman's Imperial Nature provides a compelling account of the ongoing struggles between the World Bank and its borrowers. It is unbiased in analyzing World Bank activities and their effects on the global South. The Bank's financial support for various projects merits applause from authoritative figures in diverse intellectual fields. However, its dealings in implementing policies stemming from this support can be viewed as less than wholesome. Goldman provides a good deal of history behind this, from American involvement in 19th century world development to the creation and expansion of the World Bank in the mid-twentieth century.

Goldman describes Robert McNamara's reign as a period of change for the World Bank. It was made both highly efficient and hegemonic. The efficiency factor allowed the World Bank to accrue funding from many international sources, and complete projects within short time spans. However, this same efficiency set the standard for future projects- that those researchers who wanted project funding and promotions would abide by bank rules. Important information involving local peoples would be excluded, adding to the bank's increasing hegemony. Negative consequences for the environment would also be ignored, so long as a neoliberal agenda for development was promoted.

The World Bank wields enormous power over the global South, as many national governments rely on it for economic prosperity. It has no system of checks and balances, nor is there another entity fit to replace it. As Goldman states, "A few well timed political victories could send tidal waves through the international financial system and create many new opportunities for social movements to create alternative structures." Thus we are left with the question: is there an alternative to promote economic development while maintaining environmental and social sustainability?
1 人中、1人の方が、「このレビューが参考になった」と投票しています。
5つ星のうち 4.0 Solid framework of World Bank 2006/5/31
By J. Santopadre - (
Michael Goldman's Imperial Nature provides a concrete basis for the understanding of the World Bank's infrastructure and policies. Not only does Goldman explain how the World Bank functions, but he gives specific examples of projects from around the world such as the Nam Theun 2 dam in Laos. Goldman attempts to explain how the bank achieves its powerful status and remains a dominant structure worldwide. A passage reads, "From this perspective, the World Bank functions by borrowing capital from a global bond market (that it helped to create), lending it to governments that are deemed in need, and then requiring these governments to spend a substantial percentage of these loans to procure goods and services from firms of the Big Five creditor countries" (Goldman 155). Previously unaware of the World Bank's actual workings, passages like these opened our eyes to a somewhat startling power relationship the World Bank attains with underdeveloped nations. Although the World Bank is portrayed as a dominant "bully" in a way, they are a money lending institution similar to other businesses around the globe.

For somebody who has hardly any previous knowledge regarding the World Bank and its operations, this book will give you the basic understanding of how it works. For somebody who understands the inner-workings of the dominant World Bank, this book might seem monotonous and vaguely informative. But overall, the book is fairly entertaining and revealing.
1 人中、1人の方が、「このレビューが参考になった」と投票しています。
5つ星のうち 5.0 A Concerned Citizen's Must-Read 2006/5/30
By Marissa Knodel - (
Michael Goldman's Imperial Nature presents a well-grounded, in-depth analysis of the structure, formation, and implementation of World Bank development policies and the political, economic, social, and environmental ramifications for those who seek to benefit from them. The time Michael Goldman spent researching and working within the World Bank itself provides the reader with a critique that is well-informed and thorough as it brings together anecdotes and arguments from those working within and outside the World Bank. Throughout the book, Goldman emphasizes the complexity of the process of development and how one of the World Bank's primary flaws is its simple measurement of increase in yields or gross domestic product (GDP) as adequate assessments of development progress. The combination of this neoliberalism, promoted by the finance ministry, and civil society's pressure to be more socially just and environmentally sustainable has created a new developmental doctrine, what Goldman calls "green neoliberalism." The central tenet of green neoliberalism, environmentally sustainable development in combination with export-led capitalist growth, has allowed the World Bank to spread its influence and hegemony throughout the globe, primarily due to its efficacy in producing systems of knowledge and ideas that have since become the framework for development policies. Goldman traces the history of the World Bank from its first inception after World War II to the present day, noting how its "development for the poor" through providing financial loans more frequently benefits the Northern corporate investors and firms from which the World Bank borrows its money rather than the poor who really need it. Goldman, in a clear, effective style, reveals the World Bank as an institution concerned more with funding and profit than providing for basic human needs and a sustainable environment, with ensuring the completion and implementation of its projects over their efficacy and benefit for the poor, and with maintaining a status quo and contradictory public image over allowing critique, dissent, and reform.
4 人中、3人の方が、「このレビューが参考になった」と投票しています。
5つ星のうち 3.0 Interesting, but lacking 2006/5/31
By J. Fleisher - (
Michael Goldman's Imperial Nature is not the page-turner of Stiglitz's Globalization and it's Discontents. That isn't - necessarily - a criticism; Goldman's work is significantly more academic, and involves a fairly comprehensive history of the World Bank and an in depth case study. Unfortunately, the criticisms that Goldman levies are not based on systematic analysis but on anecdotal arguments. Which can only be overlooked in light of the fact that the approach he took was one of immersion, not of external analysis. This forces Goldman, seemingly, to walk a fine-line of making generalized criticisms from relatively specific and isolated information. Given the limitations of his approach, however, the book does a surprisingly good job of pointing out the structural problems that are hindering the World Bank's performance, and, furthermore, it addresses these issues with a much more convincing, open-minded and balanced approach than much of the polemical arguments that claim the World Bank is Satan and starving little children.

One particularly interesting element of Goldman's book is his examination of the World Bank's dominate role "[a]s a producer of scientific knowledge," (Goldman, p. 101). This less frequently heard criticism of the bank is well, if anecdotally, discussed in Imperial Nature. In chapter 3, Goldman addresses the Bank's institutional impediments to creating unbiased information. By examining the organizational structure limitations, skewed staff incentives, top-down internal political limitations, and time constraints, Goldman makes a fairly compelling case that there are serious structural problems that can bias the Banks panoply of research.

The rest of the book, and even the chapter on knowledge production, however, could have been better served by a more systematic analysis. In Goldman's defense, he did not intend to write an empirical critique of the bank. In the preface, he writes that his book can "be read as an adventure travelogue," or as a "sociological inquiry," (Goldman, p. xvii). Judged on those grounds, the book may take a different shape, but it still does not satisfy one looking for a compelling and empirical analysis of the World Bank's institutional failures.
3 人中、2人の方が、「このレビューが参考になった」と投票しています。
5つ星のうち 2.0 Good Only as an Introduction 2006/5/29
By Laura A. Liston - (
Michael Goldman's Imperial Nature would best serve those readers who are unfamiliar with the World Bank and looking for a basic introduction, especially Chapter 2. In this chapter, Goldman details the four distinct periods that relate the history of the World Bank. Perhaps, a better title for his book would be Imperial Knowledge as the real highlight of his discussion focuses on how the World Bank produces knowledge to achieve its interests. For example, the World Bank gives the project evaluators inadequate amounts of time to properly evaluate the situation/project. And if they disagree with the World Bank, someone else can be brought in who will agree.

For the reader with more knowledge of the World Bank, however, this book will seem repetitive, boring, and leave you wondering why Goldman did not delve further into his research to answer some of the questions he poses. First, the information he offers on Laos and the privatization of water can easily be found elsewhere in numerous articles. The analysis does not "shed new light" on this material. Second, he makes sweeping generalizations like "From Mexico to Nigeria, the World Bank's green neoliberalism framework finds resonance in diverse ways in different institutional settings" (220). It would have been better if he actually explored and expanded on this statement. Third, green neoliberalism, which Goldman seems to pass off as something new, is really structural adjustment as applied to loans, policies, and projects that involve the environment in some way. Finally, Goldman often asks questions such as, "why has the process of networking become the privileged site of transnational social relations for political civil society actors, and what other types of political processes are erased, undermined, and subordinated by this privileging?" (270-71). These questions leave the reader asking, "Why does Goldman leave it up to others to provide further analysis?"

The bottom line is that Goldman's book will only benefit you if you have no or little knowledge of the World Bank. Otherwise, look for another book that will offer new insights and better analysis.
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