Sunday, July 23, 2017

"Unprepared"

New from the University of California Press: Unprepared: Global Health in a Time of Emergency by Andrew Lakoff.

About the book, from the publisher:
Recent years have witnessed an upsurge in global health emergencies—from SARS to pandemic influenza to Ebola to Zika. Each of these occurrences has sparked calls for improved health preparedness. In Unprepared, Andrew Lakoff follows the history of health preparedness from its beginnings in 1950s Cold War civil defense to the early twenty-first century, when international health authorities carved out a global space for governing potential outbreaks. Alert systems and trigger devices now link health authorities, government officials, and vaccine manufacturers, all of whom are concerned with the possibility of a global pandemic. Funds have been devoted to cutting-edge research on pathogenic organisms, and a system of post hoc diagnosis analyzes sites of failed preparedness to find new targets for improvement. Yet, despite all these developments, the project of global health security continues to be unsettled by the prospect of surprise.
Andrew Lakoff is Professor of Sociology and Communication at the University of Southern California. He is the author of Pharmaceutical Reason: Knowledge and Value in Global Psychiatry and coeditor of Biosecurity Interventions: Global Health and Security in Question.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 22, 2017

"Hospitals and Charity"

New from Manchester University Press: Hospitals and charity: Religious culture and civic life in medieval northern Italy by Sally Mayall Brasher.

About the book, from the publisher:
This is the first book in English to provide a comprehensive examination of the hospital movement that arose and prospered in northern Italy between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries. Throughout this flourishing urbanised area hundreds of independent semi-religious facilities appeared, offering care for the ill, the poor and pilgrims en route to holy sites in Rome and the eastern Mediterranean. Over three centuries they became mechanisms for the appropriation of civic authority and political influence in the communities they served, and created innovative experiments in healthcare and poor relief which are the precursors to modern social welfare systems.

Will appeal to students and lecturers in medieval, social, religious, and urban history and includes a detailed appendix that will assist researchers in the field.
Sally Mayall Brasher is Associate Professor of Medieval and Renaissance History at Shepherd University.

--Marshal Zeringue

"A Social Revolution"

New from the University of California Press: A Social Revolution: Politics and the Welfare State in Iran by Kevan Harris.

About the book, from the publisher:
For decades, political observers and pundits have characterized the Islamic Republic of Iran as an ideologically rigid state on the verge of collapse, exclusively connected to a narrow social base. In A Social Revolution, Kevan Harris convincingly demonstrates how they are wrong. Previous studies ignore the forceful consequences of three decades of social change following the 1979 revolution. Today, more people in the country are connected to welfare and social policy institutions than to any other form of state organization. In fact, much of Iran’s current political turbulence is the result of the success of these social welfare programs, which have created newly educated and mobilized social classes advocating for change. Based on extensive fieldwork conducted in Iran, Harris shows how the revolutionary regime endured through the expansion of health, education, and aid programs that have both embedded the state in everyday life and empowered its challengers. This focus on the social policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran opens a new line of inquiry into the study of welfare states in countries where they are often overlooked or ignored.
Visit Kevan Harris's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 21, 2017

"Convicted and Condemned"

New from NYU Press: Convicted and Condemned: The Politics and Policies of Prisoner Reentry by Keesha M. Middlemass.

About the book, from the publisher:
Through the compelling words of former prisoners, Convicted and Condemned examines the lifelong consequences of a felony conviction.

Felony convictions restrict social interactions and hinder felons’ efforts to reintegrate into society. The educational and vocational training offered in many prisons are typically not recognized by accredited educational institutions as acceptable course work or by employers as valid work experience, making it difficult for recently-released prisoners to find jobs. Families often will not or cannot allow their formerly incarcerated relatives to live with them. In many states, those with felony convictions cannot receive financial aid for further education, vote in elections, receive welfare benefits, or live in public housing. In short, they are not treated as full citizens, and every year, hundreds of thousands of people released from prison are forced to live on the margins of society.

Convicted and Condemned explores the issue of prisoner reentry from the felons’ perspective. It features the voices of formerly incarcerated felons as they attempt to reconnect with family, learn how to acclimate to society, try to secure housing, find a job, and complete a host of other important goals. By examining national housing, education and employment policies implemented at the state and local levels, Keesha Middlemass shows how the law challenges and undermines prisoner reentry and creates second-class citizens.

Even if the criminal justice system never convicted another person of a felony, millions of women and men would still have to figure out how to reenter society, essentially on their own. A sobering account of the after-effects of mass incarceration, Convicted and Condemned is a powerful exploration of how individuals, and society as a whole, suffer when a felony conviction exacts a punishment that never ends.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 20, 2017

"Subjects and Sovereign"

New from Oxford University Press: Subjects and Sovereign: Bonds of Belonging in the Eighteenth-Century British Empire by Hannah Weiss Muller.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the aftermath of the Seven Years' War, when a variety of conquered and ceded territories became part of an expanding British Empire, crucial struggles emerged about what it meant to be a "British subject." Individuals in Grenada, Quebec, Minorca, Gibraltar, and Bengal debated the meanings and rights of subjecthood, with many capitalizing on legal ambiguities and local exigencies to secure access to political and economic benefits. Inhabitants and colonial administrators transformed subjecthood into a shared language, practice, and opportunity as individuals proclaimed their allegiance to the crown and laid claim to a corresponding set of protections. Approaching subjecthood as a protean and porous concept, rather than an immutable legal status, Subjects and Sovereign demonstrates that it was precisely subjecthood's fluidity and imprecision that rendered it so useful to a remarkably diverse group of individuals.

In this book, Hannah Weiss Muller reexamines the traditional bond between subjects and sovereign and argues that this relationship endured as a powerful site for claims-making throughout the eighteenth century. Muller analyzes both legal understandings of subjecthood, as well as the popular tradition of declaring rights, in order to demonstrate why subjects believed they were entitled to make requests of their sovereign. She reconsiders narratives of upheaval during the Age of Revolution and insists on the relevance and utility of existing structures of state and sovereign. Emphasizing the stories of subjects who successfully leveraged their loyalty and negotiated their status, she also explores how and why subjecthood remained an organizing and contested principle of the eighteenth-century British Empire.

By placing the relationship between subjects and sovereign at the heart of her analysis, Muller offers a new perspective on a familiar period and suggests that imperial integration was as much about flexible and expansive conceptions of belonging as it was about shared economic, political, and intellectual networks.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Vexed with Devils"

New from NYU Press: Vexed with Devils: Manhood and Witchcraft in Old and New England by Erika Gasser.

About the book, from the publisher:
Stories of witchcraft and demonic possession from early modern England through the last official trials in colonial New England.

Those possessed by the devil in early modern England usually exhibited a common set of symptoms: fits, vomiting, visions, contortions, speaking in tongues, and an antipathy to prayer. However, it was a matter of interpretation, and sometimes public opinion, if these symptoms were visited upon the victim, or if they came from within. Both early modern England and colonial New England had cases that blurred the line between witchcraft and demonic possession, most famously, the Salem witch trials. While historians acknowledge some similarities in witch trials between the two regions, such as the fact that an overwhelming majority of witches were women, the histories of these cases primarily focus on local contexts and specifics. In so doing, they overlook the ways in which manhood factored into possession and witchcraft cases.

Vexed with Devils is a cultural history of witchcraft-possession phenomena that centers on the role of men and patriarchal power. Erika Gasser reveals that witchcraft trials had as much to do with who had power in the community, to impose judgement or to subvert order, as they did with religious belief. She argues that the gendered dynamics of possession and witchcraft demonstrated that contested meanings of manhood played a critical role in the struggle to maintain authority. While all men were not capable of accessing power in the same ways, many of the people involved—those who acted as if they were possessed, men accused of being witches, and men who wrote possession propaganda—invoked manhood as they struggled to advocate for themselves during these perilous times. Gasser ultimately concludes that the decline of possession and witchcraft cases was not merely a product of change over time, but rather an indication of the ways in which patriarchal power endured throughout and beyond the colonial period.

Vexed with Devils reexamines an unnerving time and offers a surprising new perspective on our own, using stories and voices which emerge from the records in ways that continue to fascinate and unsettle us.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"Gandhi Against Caste"

New from Oxford University Press: Gandhi Against Caste: An Evolving Strategy to Abolish Caste System in India by Nishikant Kolge.

About the book, from the publisher:
The book seeks to examine Gandhi's understanding of the caste and varna system, and his evolving strategies to abolish it. It argues that in 1915, after returning to India from South Africa, Gandhi had started talking about the positive aspects of caste system and proclaimed his faith in it because he understood that the Hindu masses were not yet ready for radical reform, and that they must be gradually educated before being asked to abandon their faith in the doctrine of the caste system and the practices based on it. In order to substantiate the argument and to exhibit Gandhi's evolving strategy against the caste system, the book employs a close and chronological reading of Gandhi's writings and outlines the continuity and changes in Gandhi's views between 1915 (when he returned to India from South Africa) to 1948 (when he died). The book divides the entire phase into five periods-1915 to 1920, 1920 to 1927, 1927 to 1932, 1932 to 1945, and 1945 to 1948-based on the themes that emerge in his writings during those years. These are on the issues of untouchability, caste, varna, sanatani Hindu, inter-dining, and inter-caste marriage. Within each demarcated period, the book delineates the evolution of Gandhi's views, tracing shifts and turns in the context of political and social development of the time.
--Marshal Zeringue

"One Hot Summer"

New from Yale University Press: One Hot Summer: Dickens, Darwin, Disraeli, and the Great Stink of 1858 by Rosemary Ashton.

About the book, from the publisher:
A unique, in-depth view of Victorian London during the record-breaking summer of 1858, when residents both famous and now-forgotten endured “The Great Stink” together

While 1858 in London may have been noteworthy for its broiling summer months and the related stench of the sewage-filled Thames River, the year is otherwise little remembered. And yet, historian Rosemary Ashton reveals in this compelling microhistory, 1858 was marked by significant, if unrecognized, turning points. For ordinary people, and also for the rich, famous, and powerful, the months from May to August turned out to be a summer of consequence.

Ashton mines Victorian letters and gossip, diaries, court records, newspapers, and other contemporary sources to uncover historically crucial moments in the lives of three protagonists—Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, and Benjamin Disraeli. She also introduces others who gained renown in the headlines of the day, among them George Eliot, Karl Marx, William Thackeray, and Edward Bulwer Lytton. Ashton reveals invisible threads of connection among Londoners at every social level in 1858, bringing the celebrated city and its citizens vibrantly to life.
Rosemary Ashton is Emeritus Quain Professor of English Language and Literature, University College London.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

"First Martyr of Liberty"

New from Oxford University Press: First Martyr of Liberty: Crispus Attucks in American Memory by Mitch Kachun.

About the book, from the publisher:
First Martyr of Liberty explores how Crispus Attucks's death in the 1770 Boston Massacre led to his achieving mythic significance in African Americans' struggle to incorporate their experiences and heroes into the mainstream of the American historical narrative. While the other victims of the Massacre have been largely ignored, Attucks is widely celebrated as the first to die in the cause of freedom during the era of the American Revolution. He became a symbolic embodiment of black patriotism and citizenship.

This book traces Attucks's career through both history and myth to understand how his public memory has been constructed through commemorations and monuments; institutions and organizations bearing his name; juvenile biographies; works of poetry, drama, and visual arts; popular and academic histories; and school textbooks. There will likely never be a definitive biography of Crispus Attucks since so little evidence exists about the man's actual life. While what can and cannot be known about Attucks is addressed here, the focus is on how he has been remembered--variously as either a hero or a villain--and why at times he has been forgotten by different groups and individuals from the eighteenth century to the present day.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter?"

New from NYU Press: Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter? by Heath Fogg Davis.

About the book, from the publisher:
Goes beyond transgender to question the need for gender classification.

Beyond Trans pushes the conversation on gender identity to its limits: questioning the need for gender categories in the first place. Whether on birth certificates or college admissions applications or on bathroom doors, why do we need to mark people and places with sex categories? Do they serve a real purpose or are these places and forms just mechanisms of exclusion? Heath Fogg Davis offers an impassioned call to rethink the usefulness of dividing the world into not just Male and Female categories but even additional categories of Transgender and gender fluid. Davis, himself a transgender man, explores the underlying gender-enforcing policies and customs in American life that have led to transgender bathroom bills, college admissions controversies, and more, arguing that it is necessary for our society to take real steps to challenge the assumption that gender matters.

He examines four areas where we need to re-think our sex-classification systems: sex-marked identity documents such as birth certificates, driver’s licenses and passports; sex-segregated public restrooms; single-sex colleges; and sex-segregated sports. Speaking from his own experience and drawing upon major cases of sex discrimination in the news and in the courts, Davis presents a persuasive case for challenging how individuals are classified according to sex and offers concrete recommendations for alleviating sex identity discrimination and sex-based disadvantage.

For anyone in search of pragmatic ways to make our world more inclusive, Davis’ recommendations provide much-needed practical guidance about how to work through this complex issue. A provocative call to action, Beyond Trans pushes us to think how we can work to make America truly inclusive of all people.
Visit Heath Fogg Davis's website.

--Marshal Zeringue