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Katherine Boo to talk on global inequality

By Anne Brice

Boy in Indian slum
(Photo by Sudip Sengupta)

Katherine Boo, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, will be making two appearances this week as part of UC Berkeley’s On the Same Page program.

Boy in Indian slum

(Photo by Sudip Sengupta)

On Thursday, she will be speaking at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley at 7 p.m. Her talk, called “The Hidden Human Costs of Global Inequality: An Ethical and Economical Inquiry from the Mumbai Slums” will pull from her more than three years in Mumbai’s Annawadi slum, where she spent time with people living in devastating poverty as part of her research for her book, which won the National Book Award for nonfiction in 2012.

The talk is free and open to the public; seating is first-come, first-served.

On Friday, Boo will join Berkeley faculty members for a panel discussion on “Beyond the Beautiful Forevers: What Works for Tackling Poverty” at 3 p.m. on Friday at the Banatao Auditorium in Sutardja Dai Hall. The program addressing current efforts to reduce poverty, what is and isn’t working, and ideas for future action, also is free and open to the public.

Faculty panelists include Jason Corburn , an associate professor of city and regional planning whose research looks at the links between environmental health and social justice in cities; Tapan Parikh , an associate professor at the School of Information, whose work looks at applying information technologies to international development, governance and education; and Isha Ray , an associate professor with the Energy and Resources Group, whose research focuses on access to water and san­i­ta­tion for the rural and urban poor, as well as using technology to improv­e liveli­hoods.

Panel moderator Jennifer Bussell , an associate professor of political science and public policy, has conducted research in South Asia and Africa on public service delivery in democratic states, and studies the politics of disaster management policies in developing countries.

In an interview with NPR about her book, Boo said that over time, she learned about the residents of Annawadi not by bringing them together and asking them questions, but by becoming a part of their everyday lives. “I was just going where they went,” she said. “I was doing what they did, whether it was teaching kindergarten or stealing scrap metal at the airport or sorting garbage. And I would sit and listen and talk to them intermittently as they did their work.”

Now in its 10th year, On the Same Page offers a free copy of a select book to new undergraduates — freshmen and transfers — as a way of welcoming them into the campus’s intellectual community.

This year, faculty chose a handful of books to be reviewed by a team of students who provided feedback to deans in the College of Letters and Science, who selected Boo’s book.

To learn more about On the Same Page events and related classes, visit the program’s website .