Aihwa Ong is Professor of Socio-cultural Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. Her most recent publications are Privatizing China, Socialism from Afar (2008) and Asian Biotech: Ethics and Communities of Fate (2010).
This is a book about poverty but it does not study the poor and the powerless; instead it studies those who manage poverty. It sheds light on how powerful institutions control "capital," or circuits of profit and investment, as well as "truth," or authoritative knowledge about poverty. Such dominant practices are challenged by alternative paradigms of development, and the book details these as well. Using the case of microfinance, the book participates in a set of fierce debates about development – from the role of markets to the secrets of successful pro-poor institutions. Based on many years of research in Washington D.C., Bangladesh, and the Middle East, Poverty Capital also grows out of the author's undergraduate teaching to thousands of students on the subject of global poverty and inequality.
City Requiem, Calcutta emphasizes how gender itself is spatialized, and how gender relations are negotiated within the geopolitics of modernity and through the everyday practices of territory. Thus Roy shows how urban developmentalism, in its populist guise, reproduces the relations of masculinist patronage, and, in its entrepreneurial guise, seeks to reclaim a bourgeois Calcutta, gentlemanly in its nostalgias. In doing so, her work expands the field of poverty studies by showing how a politics of poverty is also a poverty of knowledge, a construction and management of social and spatial categories.