New Books By Section Members

Digital Nomads: In Search of Freedom, Community, and Meaningful Work in the New Economy by Rachael A. Woldoff and Robert C. Litchfield

A small but growing group of today’s knowledge workers actively seek a lifestyle of freedom, using technology to perform their jobs, traveling far and wide, and moving as often as they like. These digital nomads have left their local coffee shops behind and now proudly post their “office of the day” photos from exotic locales, but what do their lives really look like?

In Digital Nomads, Rachael Woldoff and Robert Litchfield take readers into an expatriate digital nomad community in Bali, Indonesia to better understand this growing demographic of typically Millennial workers. Through dozens of interviews and several stints living in a digital nomad hub, Woldoff and Litchfield present new answers to classic questions about community, creativity, and work. They further show why digital nomads leave their conventional lives behind, arguing that creative class and Millennial workers, though successful, often feel that their “world class cities” and desirable jobs are anything but paradise. They first follow their transitions into freelancing, entrepreneurship, and remote work, then explain how digital nomads create a fluid but intimate community abroad in the company of like-minded others. Ultimately, Woldoff and Litchfield provide insight into digital nomads’ efforts to live and work in ways that balance freedom, community, and creative fulfillment in the digital age.

A sympathetic yet critical take on this emerging group of workers, Digital Nomads provides a revealing take on the changing nature of work and the problems of the new economy.

Chasing World-Class Urbanism: Global Policy versus Everyday Survival in Buenos Aires by Jacob Lederman

What makes some cities world class? Increasingly, that designation reflects the use of a toolkit of urban planning practices and policies that circulates around the globe. These strategies—establishing creative districts dedicated to technology and design, “greening” the streets, reinventing historic districts as tourist draws—were deployed to build a globally competitive Buenos Aires after its devastating 2001 economic crisis. In this richly drawn account, Jacob Lederman explores what those efforts teach us about fast-evolving changes in city planning practices and why so many local officials chase a nearly identical vision of world-class urbanism.

Lederman explores the influence of Northern nongovernmental organizations and multilateral agencies on a prominent city of the global South. Using empirical data, keen observations, and interviews with people ranging from urban planners to street vendors he explores how transnational best practices actually affect the lives of city dwellers. His research also documents the forms of resistance enacted by everyday residents and the tendency of local institutions and social relations to undermine the top-down plans of officials. Most important, Lederman highlights the paradoxes of world-class urbanism: for instance, while the priorities identified by international agencies are expressed through nonmarket values such as sustainability, inclusion, and livability, local officials often use market-centric solutions to pursue them. Further, despite the progressive rhetoric used to describe urban planning goals, in most cases their result has been greater social, economic, and geographic stratification.

Chasing World-Class Urbanism is a much-needed guide to the intersections of culture, ideology, and the realities of twenty-first-century life in a major Latin American city, one that illuminates the tension between technocratic aspirations and lived experience.

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