Friday, February 12, 2016

"Engineers of Jihad"

New from Princeton University Press: Engineers of Jihad: The Curious Connection between Violent Extremism and Education by Diego Gambetta & Steffen Hertog.

About the book, from the publisher:
The violent actions of a few extremists can alter the course of history, yet there persists a yawning gap between the potential impact of these individuals and what we understand about them. In Engineers of Jihad, Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog uncover two unexpected facts, which they imaginatively leverage to narrow that gap: they find that a disproportionate share of Islamist radicals come from an engineering background, and that Islamist and right-wing extremism have more in common than either does with left-wing extremism, in which engineers are absent while social scientists and humanities students are prominent.

Searching for an explanation, they tackle four general questions about extremism: Under which socioeconomic conditions do people join extremist groups? Does the profile of extremists reflect how they self-select into extremism or how groups recruit them? Does ideology matter in sorting who joins which group? Lastly, is there a mindset susceptible to certain types of extremism?

Using rigorous methods and several new datasets, they explain the link between educational discipline and type of radicalism by looking at two key factors: the social mobility (or lack thereof) for engineers in the Muslim world, and a particular mindset seeking order and hierarchy that is found more frequently among engineers. Engineers' presence in some extremist groups and not others, the authors argue, is a proxy for individual traits that may account for the much larger question of selective recruitment to radical activism.

Opening up markedly new perspectives on the motivations of political violence, Engineers of Jihad yields unexpected answers about the nature and emergence of extremism.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 11, 2016

"The Gumilev Mystique"

New from Cornell University Press: The Gumilev Mystique: Biopolitics, Eurasianism, and the Construction of Community in Modern Russia by Mark Bassin.

About the book,from the publisher:
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the legacy of the historian, ethnographer, and geographer Lev Nikolaevich Gumilev (1912–1992) has attracted extraordinary interest in Russia and beyond. The son of two of modern Russia's greatest poets, Nikolai Gumilev and Anna Akhmatova, Gumilev spent thirteen years in Stalinist prison camps, and after his release in 1956 remained officially outcast and professionally shunned. Out of the tumult of perestroika, however, his writings began to attract attention and he himself became a well-known and popular figure.

Despite his highly controversial (and often contradictory) views about the meaning of Russian history, the nature of ethnicity, and the dynamics of interethnic relations, Gumilev now enjoys a degree of admiration and adulation matched by few if any other public intellectual figures in the former Soviet Union. He is freely compared to Albert Einstein and Karl Marx, and his works today sell millions of copies and have been adopted as official textbooks in Russian high schools. Universities and mountain peaks alike are named in his honor, and a statue of him adorns a prominent thoroughfare in a major city. Leading politicians, President Vladimir Putin very much included, are unstinting in their deep appreciation for his legacy, and one of the most important foreign-policy projects of the Russian government today is clearly inspired by his particular vision of how the Eurasian peoples formed a historical community.

In The Gumilev Mystique, Mark Bassin presents an analysis of this remarkable phenomenon. He investigates the complex structure of Gumilev's theories, revealing how they reflected and helped shape a variety of academic as well as political and social discourses in the USSR, and he traces how his authority has grown yet greater across the former Soviet Union. The themes he highlights while untangling Gumilev's complicated web of influence are critical to understanding the political, intellectual, and ethno-national dynamics of Russian society from the age of Stalin to the present day.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"Accidental Activists"

New from Cornell University Press: Accidental Activists: Victim Movements and Government Accountability in Japan and South Korea by Celeste L. Arrington.

About the book, from the publisher:
Government wrongdoing or negligence harms people worldwide, but not all victims are equally effective at obtaining redress. In Accidental Activists, Celeste L. Arrington examines the interactive dynamics of the politics of redress to understand why not. Relatively powerless groups like redress claimants depend on support from political elites, active groups in society, the media, experts, lawyers, and the interested public to capture democratic policymakers' attention and sway their decisions. Focusing on when and how such third-party support matters, Arrington finds that elite allies may raise awareness about the victims’ cause or sponsor special legislation, but their activities also tend to deter the mobilization of fellow claimants and public sympathy. By contrast, claimants who gain elite allies only after the difficult and potentially risky process of mobilizing societal support tend to achieve more redress, which can include official inquiries, apologies, compensation, and structural reforms.

Arrington draws on her extensive fieldwork to illustrate these dynamics through comparisons of the parallel Japanese and South Korean movements of victims of harsh leprosy control policies, blood products tainted by hepatitis C, and North Korean abductions. Her book thereby highlights how citizens in Northeast Asia—a region grappling with how to address Japan’s past wrongs—are leveraging similar processes to hold their own governments accountable for more recent harms. Accidental Activists also reveals the growing power of litigation to promote policy change and greater accountability from decision makers.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

"The Soul of Armies"

New from Cornell University Press: The Soul of Armies: Counterinsurgency Doctrine and Military Culture in the US and UK by Austin Long.

About the book,from the publisher:
For both the United States and United Kingdom counterinsurgency was a serious component of security policy during the Cold War and, along with counterterrorism, has been the greatest security challenge after September 11, 2001. In The Soul of Armies Austin Long compares and contrasts counterinsurgency operations during the Cold War and in recent years by three organizations: the US Army, the US Marine Corps, and the British Army.

Long argues that the formative experiences of these three organizations as they professionalized in the nineteenth century has produced distinctive organizational cultures that shape operations. Combining archival research on counterinsurgency campaigns in Vietnam and Kenya with the author's personal experience as a civilian advisor to the military in Iraq and Afghanistan, The Soul of Armies demonstrates that the US Army has persistently conducted counterinsurgency operations in a very different way from either the US Marine Corps or the British Army. These differences in conduct have serious consequences, affecting the likelihood of success, the potential for civilian casualties and collateral damage, and the ability to effectively support host nation governments. Long concludes counterinsurgency operations are at best only a partial explanation for success or failure.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 8, 2016

"Seeking Good Debate"

New from the University of California Press: Seeking Good Debate: Religion, Science, and Conflict in American Public Life by Michael S. Evans.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why do religion and science often appear in conflict in America’s public sphere? In Seeking Good Debate, Michael S. Evans examines the results from the first-ever study to combine large-scale empirical analysis of some of our foremost religion and science debates with in-depth research into what Americans actually want in the public sphere. The surprising finding is that apparent conflicts involving religion and science reflect a more fundamental conflict between media elites and ordinary Americans over what is good debate. For elite representatives, good debate advances an agenda, but, as Evans shows, for many Americans it is defined by engagement and deliberation. This hidden conflict over what constitutes debate’s proper role diminishes the possibility for science and religion to be discussed meaningfully in public life. Challenging our understanding of science, religion, and conflict, Seeking Good Debate raises profound questions about the future of the public sphere and American democracy.
Michael S.Evans is a Neukom Fellow at the Neukom Institute for Computational Science, Dartmouth College. He received a PhD in sociology from the Science Studies Program, University of California, San Diego.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 7, 2016

"Occupational Hazards"

New from Stanford University Press: Occupational Hazards: Sex, Business, and HIV in Post-Mao China by Elanah Uretsky.

About the book, from the publisher:
Doing business in China can be hazardous to your health. Occupational Hazards follows a group of Chinese businessmen and government officials as they conduct business in Beijing and western Yunnan Province, exposing webs of informal networks that help businessmen access political favors. These networks are built over liquor, cigarettes, food, and sex, turning risky behaviors into occupational hazards.

Elanah Uretsky's ethnography follows these powerful men and their vulnerabilities to China's burgeoning epidemics of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS. Examining the relationship between elite masculine networking practices and vulnerability to HIV infection, Occupational Hazards includes the stories of countless government officials and businessmen who regularly visit commercial sex workers but resist HIV testing for fear of threatening their economic and political status. Their fate is further complicated by a political system that cannot publicly acknowledge such risk and by authoritative international paradigms that limit the reach of public health interventions. Ultimately, Uretsky offers insights into how complex socio-cultural and politico-economic negotiations affect the development and administration of China's HIV epidemic.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 6, 2016

"Christians under Covers"

New from the University of California Press: Christians under Covers: Evangelicals and Sexual Pleasure on the Internet by Kelsy Burke

About the book, from the publisher:
Christians under Covers shifts how scholars and popular media talk about religious conservatives and sex. Moving away from debates over homosexuality, premarital sex, and other perceived sexual sins, Kelsy Burke examines Christian sexuality websites to show how some evangelical Christians use digital media to promote the idea that God wants married, heterosexual couples to have satisfying sex lives. These evangelicals maintain their religious beliefs while incorporating feminist and queer language into their talk of sexuality—encouraging sexual knowledge, emphasizing women’s pleasure, and justifying marginal sexual practices within Christian marriages. This illuminating ethnography complicates the boundaries between normal and subversive, empowered and oppressed, and sacred and profane.
Kelsy Burke is Assistant Professor of Sociology at St. Norbert College.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 5, 2016

"Crowds and Party"

New from Verso Books: Crowds and Party by Jodi Dean.

About the book, from the publisher:
How do mass protests become an organized activist collective?

Crowds and Party channels the energies of the riotous crowds who took to the streets in the past five years into an argument for the political party. Rejecting the emphasis on individuals and multitudes, Jodi Dean argues that we need to rethink the collective subject of politics. When crowds appear in spaces unauthorized by capital and the state—such as in the Occupy movement in New York, London and across the world—they create a gap of possibility. But too many on the Left remain stuck in this beautiful moment of promise—they argue for more of the same, further fragmenting issues and identities, rehearsing the last thirty years of left-wing defeat. In Crowds and Party, Dean argues that previous discussions of the party have missed its affective dimensions, the way it operates as a knot of unconscious processes and binds people together. Dean shows how we can see the party as an organization that can reinvigorate political practice.
Visit Jodi Dean's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 4, 2016

"The Separation Solution?"

New from the University of California Press: The Separation Solution?: Single-Sex Education and the New Politics of Gender Equality by Juliet A. Williams.

About the book, from the publisher:
Since the 1990s, there has been a resurgence of interest in single-sex education across the United States, and many public schools have created all-boys and all-girls classes for students in grades K through 12. The Separation Solution? provides an in-depth analysis of controversies sparked by recent efforts to separate boys and girls at school. Reviewing evidence from research studies, court cases, and hundreds of news media reports on local single-sex initiatives, Juliet Williams offers fresh insight into popular conceptions of the nature and significance of gender differences in education and beyond.
Juliet A. Williams is Professor of Gender Studies and Associate Dean of Social Sciences at UCLA. She is also the author of Liberalism and the Limits of Power and contributing coeditor of Public Affairs: Politics in the Age of Sex Scandals.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

"Brother-Making in Late Antiquity and Byzantium"

New from Oxford University Press: Brother-Making in Late Antiquity and Byzantium: Monks, Laymen, and Christian Ritual by Claudia Rapp.

About the book, from the publisher:
Among medieval Christian societies, Byzantium is unique in preserving an ecclesiastical ritual of adelphopoiesis, which pronounces two men, not related by birth, as brothers for life. It has its origin as a spiritual blessing in the monastic world of late antiquity, and it becomes a popular social networking strategy among lay people from the ninth century onwards, even finding application in recent times. Located at the intersection of religion and society, brother-making exemplifies how social practice can become ritualized and subsequently subjected to attempts of ecclesiastical and legal control.

Controversially, adelphopoiesis was at the center of a modern debate about the existence of same-sex unions in medieval Europe. This book, the first ever comprehensive history of this unique feature of Byzantine life, argues persuasively that the ecclesiastical ritual to bless a relationship between two men bears no resemblance to marriage. Wide-ranging in its use of sources, from a complete census of the manuscripts containing the ritual of adelphopoiesis to the literature and archaeology of early monasticism, and from the works of hagiographers, historiographers, and legal experts in Byzantium to comparative material in the Latin West and the Slavic world, Brother-Making in Late Antiquity and Byzantium examines the fascinating religious and social features of the ritual, shedding light on little known aspects of Byzantine society.
--Marshal Zeringue