Grassroots Postmodernism

Remaking the Soil of Cultures

Gustavo Esteva and Madhu Suri Prakash
With a Foreword by Vandana Shiva


In this classic text Gustavo Esteva and Madhu Suri Prakash examine the post-modern epic unfolding at the grassroots and the mass movement away from the monoculture of a single global society.
With the publication of this remarkable book in 1998, Gustavo Esteva and Madhu Suri Prakash instigated a complete epistemological rupture.

Grassroots Post-modernism attacks the three sacred cows of modernity: global thinking, the universality of human rights and the self-sufficient individual. Rejecting the constructs of development in all its forms, Esteva and Prakash argue that even alternative development prescriptions deprive the people of control over their own lives, shifting this control to bureaucrats, technocrats and educators. Rather than presuming that human progress fits a predetermined mould, leading towards an increasing homogenization of cultures and lifestyles, the authors argue for a ‘radical pluralism’ that honours and nurtures distinctive cultural variety and enables many paths to the realization of self-defined aspirations.

This classic text is essential reading for those looking beyond neoliberalism, the global project and the individual self.

Author Bio

Gustavo Esteva is one of Latin America’s leading critics of the development paradigm. An author of more than thirty books, he was advisor to the Zapatistas for their negotiations with the government in 1996 and is the founder of Universidad de la Tierra in the Mexican city of Oaxaca.

Madhu Suri Prakash is a philosopher of education at Penn State University.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword by Vandana Shiva
  • Preface to the critique influence change edition
  • 1. Grassroots Post-modernism: Beyond the Individual Self, Human Rights and Development
  • 2. From the Global to the Local: Beyond Neoliberalism to the International of Hope
  • 3. Beyond the Individual Self: Regenerating Ourselves.
  • 4. Human Rights: The Trojan Horse of Recolonization?
  • 5. People's Power: Radical Democracy for the Autonomy of their Commons
  • 6. Epilogue: The Grassroots Post-modern Epic


'Beyond its definite "no" to the global project, this book takes a stimulating glance at the renewed life of social majorities and offers good reasons for a common hope.'
Gilbert Rist, author of The History of Development

'Do you look for a book which is both subversive and common sense? Reach for Grassroots Post-modernism, a compelling account of how western civilization is being transformed from below.'
Wolfgang Sachs, Wuppertal Institute

'Esteva and Prakash courageously and clear-sightedly take on some of the most entrenched of modern certainties, such as the universality of human rights, the individual self and global thinking. Grassroots Post-modernism is a much-needed and most welcome counterpoint both to the nihilism of much post-modern thinking as well as to those who view the spread of the global market and of global thinking too triumphantly.'
Frédérique Apffel-Marglin, professor emeritus, Smith College

'Quite simply, a book which will transform how one sees the world.'
North and South


Publication Date: 14 August 2014
248 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback 2nd Edition: 9781783601820
eBook ePub 2nd Edition: 9781783601844
eBook PDF 3rd Edition: 9781783601837
eBook Kindle 2nd Edition: 9781783601851
Library Edition: 9781856495455

Previous Editions: Paperback 1st Edition: 9781856495462

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