Wasafiri’s New Year Reading List 

Happy new year from the team at Wasafiri! This week we have been away on our annual company retreat in Kenya, busy discussing what we’re most excited about in our work and planning how we’re going tackle the year ahead.

In the meantime, we thought we’d highlight a few of the interesting things we’ve been reading and listening to over the festive break, that have been encouraging and challenging our thinking on many of the complex issues that we work on.

  • Maia, from our Conflict portfolio team, has been listening to episodes from the Talking Terror podcast, which features interviews with world leading experts and researchers on terrorism and violent extremism. (On a related note, just in case you missed the New York Times’ hugely popular and gripping Caliphate podcast, which follows an investigative journalist following ISIS and the fall of Mosul, we would really recommend a listen, whether or not you work in this sector.)
  • Still on the violent extremism theme, Flora – also from the Conflict team – re-listened to a podcast from The Atlantic over the break, which discusses the US mid-term elections from the context of patterns of political and extremist violence in the States. In the context of Wasafiri’s own countering violent extremism work in East Africa, this podcast was both fascinating and important.
  • According to Ian, head of Wasafiri US, Kate Raworth’s book Doughnut Economics is a “gift to the world.” Raworth reframes the purpose of economics away from relentless growth, and towards meeting the needs of all within the means of the planet. Chapter 4 “Get Savvy with Systems” offers a particularly brilliant call for economists to embrace the dynamic complexity of the economy, and to think more like gardeners than mechanics. Watch this short video summarising the ideas.
  • From Kate, our Managing Director: It may be a new year but shouldn’t mean ‘out with ALL the old’. This TED talk from Hans Rosling is a classic and shows us that there is often a distance between the data and our assumptions about development. His amazing bubble graphs show how, in many ways and for many people, the world is getting better. Along the way he also challenges the whole notion of a distinctions between developed and developing countries.
  • And last but not least, our Ops Manager Scott recommends a podcast by Jonathan Haidt. Haidt is a psychologist interested in the drivers of political division, creating happiness in modern times from ancient wisdom, and his most recent book is about the huge increase in teen depression and suicide for children born in the 2000s. It resonates with our work because his research is about building personal and societal resilience.

Happy reading/listening!