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"The Self-Help Myth offers a stunning example of the failure of philanthrocapitalism and NGO humanitarianism to solve long-standing problems of poverty in America among migrant farmworkers. Using history and ethnography, Kohl-Arenas shows in gripping detail how oppositional tactics become entangled in day-to-day policy-making practices, reducing real labor crises to rhetorical problems of innovation, self-help and cooperation—the ultimate co-optation of political resistance. This book provides a critical missing link in the literature that critically scrutinizes neoliberal tactics for provisioning the safety net in America."—Vincanne Adams, Professor of Medical Anthropology, University of California, San Francisco, and author of Markets of Sorrow, Labors of Faith
"The Self-Help Myth goes beyond simplistic dichotomies of philanthropic empowerment and cooptation to vividly convey the complex realities and on-the-ground power dynamics behind the funder’s rhetoric. Kohl-Arenas combines nuanced ethnography and compelling historical analysis to show how the structural interests of philanthropic foundations remain at odds with their stated goals to reduce poverty and inequality."—Alyosha Goldstein, Associate Professor of American Studies, University of New Mexico, and author of Poverty in Common: The Politics of Community Action during the American Century
A new University of California Press series: Poverty, Interrupted
Poverty, Interrupted serves as a platform for public scholarship on poverty, inequality, and poverty action. Launched at a historical moment of acute inequalities across and within the global North and global South, the series foregrounds research, analysis, and theory that interrupt mainstream frames of wealth and poverty.
Ananya Roy, University of California, Los Angeles
Clare Talwalker, University of California, Berkeley
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