Global Health Justice

December 13, 2022

[BOOKS] on Structural Violence

By Fatima Al-Shimari

Structural violence refers to the social, economic, or political harm ingrained in the underlying systems and structures of a society, causing long-term suffering and disadvantage for certain groups or individuals. Here are some suggested books on the topic:


“Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic” by James Gilligan (1997)

    • Gilligan, a psychiatrist and expert on violence, explores the roots of violence in society, shedding light on the structural factors that contribute to its prevalence. This book is essential for understanding the deep-seated causes of violence.

“The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness” by Erich Fromm (1973)

    • Fromm delves into the roots of human aggression, examining societal structures and conditions that can foster destructive behavior. This book offers profound insights into the structural dimensions of violence.

“The Wretched of the Earth” by Frantz Fanon (1961)

    • Fanon’s seminal work on colonialism and its psychological impact on the colonized explores how structural violence is embedded in colonial systems. This book is crucial for understanding the intersections of power, violence, and colonialism.

“The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander (2010)

    • Alexander meticulously examines the racial disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system, highlighting how policies and structures perpetuate systemic violence against Black communities. Reading this book is essential for comprehending the structural underpinnings of racial injustice.

“Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” by Matthew Desmond (2016)

    • Desmond provides a compelling account of the eviction crisis in America, revealing how systemic economic forces and housing policies contribute to cycles of poverty and instability. This book offers a stark portrayal of structural violence in urban settings.

“The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism” by Edward E. Baptist (2014)

    • Baptist traces the economic foundations of American slavery, demonstrating how this brutal institution was central to the nation’s economic development. This book is essential for understanding the structural violence inherent in the history of American capitalism.

“Globalization and Its Discontents” by Joseph E. Stiglitz (2002)

    • Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, critiques the negative impacts of globalization on developing nations, highlighting how structural economic policies can lead to social dislocation and inequality. This book provides important insights into the structural dimensions of global health.

“The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America” by Richard Rothstein (2017)

    • Rothstein meticulously uncovers the government policies and practices that enforced racial segregation in American cities, exposing the structural violence inherent in housing and urban planning. This book is crucial for comprehending the systemic roots of racial inequality.

“Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy” by Kevin Bales (1999)

    • Bales investigates modern-day slavery and its deep connections to global economic structures. He reveals how systemic factors contribute to the persistence of slavery in the contemporary world. This book provides essential insights into the structural dimensions of exploitation and violence.


These books collectively offer a profound exploration of the concept of structural violence, examining how systemic factors and societal structures contribute to various forms of harm and inequality. They provide critical perspectives for anyone seeking to understand and address the underlying causes of violence and injustice in society.


All books should be available at your public library, including audiobooks.