Short Guide to Readings for Critical Humanism

Here is a short tour of some selected readings to Critical Humanism.

Detailed references can be found in the notes.

A detailed annotated guide to reading, websites – and more – can also be found on the website.

I add new references on the site too, usually first on the blog page.

Introducing Humanism

Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

(Vintage, 2011): See also the

comic book version: Sapiens: A Graphic History (Harvill

Secker, 2020).

Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Human: A Portrait of Our World

(Thames and Hudson, 2015). http://www.yannarthusbertrand.


Steven Pinker, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason,

Science, Humanism and Progress (Allen Lane, 2018).

Recent Humanist Writings

Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, 2nd edn (University

of Chicago Press, 1998 [1958]).

Martha Nussbaum, Creating Capabilities: The Human

Development Approach (Harvard University Press,


Christian Smith, What Is a Person? Rethinking Humanity,

Social Life, and the Moral Good from the Person Up

(University of Chicago Press, 2011).

Marcus Morgan, Pragmatic Humanism: On the Nature and

Value of Sociological Knowledge (Routledge, 2016).

Daniel Chemillo, Debating Humanity: Towards a Philosophical

Sociology (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

Andrew Copson and A. C. Grayling, eds, The Wiley Blackwell

Handbook of Humanism (Wiley-Blackwell, 2015).

Critical Problems

Anne Phillips, The Politics of the Human (Cambridge

University Press, 2015).

Rosi Braidotti, The Posthuman (Polity, 2013).

Raewyn Connell, Southern Theory: The Global Dynamics of

Knowledge in Social Science (Polity, 2007).

Boaventura de Sousa Santos, The End of the Cognitive

Empire: The Coming of Age of Epistemologies of the

South (Duke University Press, 2018).

Ali Meghji, Decolonizing Sociology: An Introduction (Polity,


Gurminder K. Bhambra, Connected Sociologies (Bloomsbury,


The World: A Background circa 2020

Manuel Castells, Rupture: The Crisis of Liberal Democracy,

trans. Rosie Marteau (Polity, 2018).

Peter N. Stearns, World History: The Basics (Routledge,


Fareed Zakaria, Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World

(Allen Lane, 2020).

Nick Couldry and Ulises A. Mejias, The Costs of Connection:

How Data is Colonizing Human Life and Appropriating It

for Capitalism (Stanford University Press, 2019).

Heinrich Geiselberger, ed., The Great Regression (Polity,


Roy Scranton, Learning to Die in the Anthropocene:

Reflections on the End of a Civilization (City Lights

Publishers, 2015).

Damaged Humanity

Iain Wilkinson and Arthur Kleinman, A Passion for Society:

How We Think about human Su!ering (University of

California Press, 2016).

David Wallace-Wells, The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of

the Future (Allen Lane, 2019).

Jonathan Porritt, Hope in Hell: A Decade to Confront the

Climate Emergency (Simon & Schuster, 2020).

Derek Wall, Economics After Capitalism: A Guide to the

Ruins and a Road to the Future (Pluto Press, 2015


Kate Raworth, Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think

Like a 21st-Century Economist (Random House, 2017).

Thomas Piketty, Capital and Ideology (Harvard University

Press, 2020).

Shoshana Zubo!, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The

Fight for a New Future at the New Frontier of Power

(Profile Books, 2019).

Saksia Sassen, Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the

Global Economy (Harvard University Press, 2014).

Michiko Kakutani, The Death of Truth (William Collins,


John D. Caputo, Truth: The Search for Wisdom in the

Postmodern Age (Penguin, 2013).

Lothar Brock, Hans-Henrik Holm, Georg Sorensen and

Michael Stohl, Fragile States: Violence and the Failure of

Intervention (Polity, 2012).

On a practical level, see Mike Berners-Lee, There Is No Planet

B: A Handbook for the Make or Break Years (Cambridge

University Press, 2019), which is very down to earth.

Divided Humanity

Ryszard Kapuscinski, The Other (Verso, 2008) is a readable

and short introduction to thinkers and issues.

David Livingstone Smith. On Inhumanity: Dehumanization

and How to Resist It (Oxford University Press, 2020).

Patricia Hill Collins and Sirma Bilge. 2016. Intersectionality,

2nd edn (Polity, 2020).

Kwame Anthony Appiah (2018) The Lies that Bind:

Rethinking Identity (Liveright, 2018).

Traumatised Humanity

Tzvetan Todorov, Hope and Memory: Reflections on the

Twentieth Century (Atlantic Books, 2005).

John K. Roth, The Failures of Ethics: Confronting the

Holocaust, Genocide and Other Mass Atrocities (Oxford

University Press, 2015).

Jean Franco, Cruel Modernity (Duke University Press, 2013).

Robert Gildea, Empires of the Mind: The Colonial Past and the

Politics of the Present (Cambridge University Press, 2019).

Je!rey C. Alexander, Trauma: A Social Theory (Polity, 2012).

Pankaj Mishra, Age of Anger: A History of the Present

(Macmillan, 2017).

Martha Minow, Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing

History after Genocide and Mass Violence (Beacon Press,


Catherine Lu, Justice and Reconciliation in World Politics

(Cambridge University Press, 2017).

Susan Neiman, Learning from the Germans: Confronting

Race and the Memory of Evil (Allen Lane, 2019)

Narrative Humanity

Ken Plummer, Narrative Power: The Struggle for Human

Value (Polity, 2019).

Kay Schafer and Sidonie Smith, Human Rights and Narrated

Lives: The Ethics of Recognition (Palgrave Macmillan,


Arthur W. Frank, Letting Stories Breathe: A Socio-Narratology

(University of Chicago Press, 2010).

Emerging ideas of Humanity

David Christian, Origin Story: A Big History of Everything

(Penguin, 2018). See also the Big History Project website:

Bruce Mazlish, The Idea of Humanity in a Global Era

(Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).

Siep Stuurman, The Invention of Humanity: Equality and

Cultural Di!erence in World History (Harvard University

Press, 2017).

Jeremy Rifkin, The Empathic Civilization: The Race to

Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis (Polity, 2010).

Nigel Clark and Bronislaw Szerszynski, Planetary Social

Thought: The Anthropocene Challenge to the Social

Sciences (Polity, 2020).

Valuing Humanity

Kenan Milk, The Quest for a Moral Compass: A Global

History of Ethics (Atlantic Books, 2014).

Michael Ignatie!, The Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a

Divided World (Harvard University Press, 2017).

Michael Sandel and Paul J. d’Ambrosio, eds, Encountering

China: Michael Sandel and Chinese Philosophy (Harvard

University Press, 2018).

Philip Kitcher, The Ethical Project (Harvard University Press,


Nira Yuval-Davis, The Politics of Belonging: Intersectional

Contestations (Sage, 2011).

Owen Flanagan, The Geography of Morals: Varieties of

Moral Possibility (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Transformative Humanities

John Urry, What is the Future? (Polity, 2016)

Toby Ord, The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of

Humanity (Bloomsbury, 2020).

Amitav Ghosh, The Great Derangement: Climate Change

and the Unthinkable (University of Chicago Press,


Rickie Solinger, Madeline Fox and Kayhan Irani, eds, Telling

Stories to Change the World: Global Voices on the Power

of Narrative to Build Community and Make Social Justice

Claims (Routledge, 2008).

Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild

Possibilities (Haymarket Books, 2016).

The Politics of Humanity

Arturo Escobar, Pluriversal Politics: The Real and the Possible

(Duke University Press, 2020).

The Care Collective, The Care Manifesto: The Politics of

Interdependence (Verso, 2020).

Steve Crenshaw and John Jackson, eds, Small Acts of

Resistance: How Courage, Tenacity, and Ingenuity Can

Change the World (Union Square Press, 2010).

Peter Weibel, ed., Global Activism: Art and Conflict in the

21st Century (MIT Press, 2014).

Paul Mason, Clear Bright Future: A Radical Defence of the

Human Being (Allen Lane, 2019).

Rutger Bregman, Utopia for Realists – and How We Can Get

There (Bloomsbury, 2017).

Hilary Cottam, Radical Help: How We Can Remake the

Relationships between Us and Revolutionise the Welfare

State (Virago, 2018).

William Martin, The Activist’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient

Advice for a Modern Revolution (New World Library,


Closing Thoughts

David Attenborough, A Life on Our Planet: My Witness

Statement and a Vision for the Future (Ebury Press,


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