Monday, October 20, 2014

"Pemmican Empire"

New from Cambridge University Press: Pemmican Empire: Food, Trade, and the Last Bison Hunts in the North American Plains, 1780-1882 by George Colpitts.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the British territories of the North American Great Plains, food figured as a key trading commodity after 1780, when British and Canadian fur companies purchased ever-larger quantities of bison meats and fats (pemmican) from plains hunters to support their commercial expansion across the continent. Pemmican Empire traces the history of the unsustainable food-market hunt on the plains, which, once established, created distinctive trade relations between the newcomers and the native peoples. It also resulted in the near annihilation of the Canadian bison herds north of the Missouri River. Drawing on fur company records and a broad range of Native American history accounts, George Colpitts offers new perspectives on the market economy of the western prairie that was established during this time, one that created asymmetric power among traders and informed the bioregional history of the West where the North American bison became a food commodity hunted to nearly the last animal.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Heaven's Gate: America's UFO Religion"

New from New York University Press: Heaven's Gate: America's UFO Religion by Benjamin E. Zeller.

About the book, from the publisher:
In March 1997, thirty-nine people in Rancho Santa Fe, California, ritually terminated their lives. To outsiders, it was a mass suicide. To insiders, it was a graduation. This act was the culmination of over two decades of spiritual and social development for the members of Heaven’s Gate, a religious group focused on transcending humanity and the Earth, and seeking salvation in the literal heavens on board a UFO.

In this fascinating overview, Benjamin Zeller not only explores the question of why the members of Heaven’s Gate committed ritual suicides, but interrogates the origin and evolution of the religion, its appeal, and its practices. By tracking the development of the history, social structure, and worldview of Heaven’s Gate, Zeller draws out the ways in which the movement was both a reflection and a microcosm of larger American culture.The group emerged out of engagement with Evangelical Christianity, the New Age movement, science fiction and UFOs, and conspiracy theories, and it evolved in response to the religious quests of baby boomers, new religions of the counterculture, and the narcissistic pessimism of the 1990s. Thus, Heaven’s Gate not only reflects the context of its environment, but also reveals how those forces interacted in the form of a single religious body.

In the only book-length study of Heaven’s Gate, Zeller traces the roots of the movement, examines its beliefs and practices, and tells the captivating story of the people of Heaven’s Gate.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Collective Violence and the Agrarian Origins of South African Apartheid"

New from Cambridge University Press: Collective Violence and the Agrarian Origins of South African Apartheid, 1900-1948 by John Higginson.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book examines the dark odyssey of official and private collective violence against the rural African population and Africans in general during the two generations before apartheid became the primary justification for the existence of the South African state. John Higginson discusses how Africans fought back against the entire spectrum of violence ranged against them, demonstrating just how contingent apartheid was on the struggle to hijack the future of the African majority.
John Higginson is Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is also a research Fellow in the College of Human Sciences and the department of history at the University of South Africa in Pretoria, South Africa. He is the author of A Working Class in the Making: Belgian Colonial Labor Policy, Private Enterprise and the African Mineworker, 1907–1951 (1989).

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 17, 2014

"K-Pop"

New from the University of California Press: K-Pop: Popular Music, Cultural Amnesia, and Economic Innovation in South Korea by John Lie.

About the book, from the publisher:
K-Pop: Popular Music, Cultural Amnesia, and Economic Innovation in South Korea seeks at once to describe and explain the emergence of export-oriented South Korean popular music and to make sense of larger South Korean economic and cultural transformations. John Lie provides not only a history of South Korean popular music—the premodern background, Japanese colonial influence, post-Liberation American impact, and recent globalization—but also a description of K-pop as a system of economic innovation and cultural production. In doing so, he delves into the broader background of South Korea in this wonderfully informed history and analysis of a pop culture phenomenon sweeping the globe.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 16, 2014

"The Birth of Hedonism"

New from Princeton University Press: The Birth of Hedonism: The Cyrenaic Philosophers and Pleasure as a Way of Life by Kurt Lampe.

About the book, from the publisher:
According to Xenophon, Socrates tried to persuade his associate Aristippus to moderate his excessive indulgence in wine, women, and food, arguing that only hard work can bring happiness. Aristippus wasn’t convinced. Instead, he and his followers espoused the most radical form of hedonism in ancient Western philosophy. Before the rise of the better known but comparatively ascetic Epicureans, the Cyrenaics pursued a way of life in which moments of pleasure, particularly bodily pleasure, held the highest value. In The Birth of Hedonism, Kurt Lampe provides the most comprehensive account in any language of Cyrenaic ideas and behavior, revolutionizing the understanding of this neglected but important school of philosophy.

The Birth of Hedonism thoroughly and sympathetically reconstructs the doctrines and practices of the Cyrenaics, who were active between the fourth and third centuries BCE. The book examines not only Aristippus and the mainstream Cyrenaics, but also Hegesias, Anniceris, and Theodorus. Contrary to recent scholarship, the book shows that the Cyrenaics, despite giving primary value to discrete pleasurable experiences, accepted the dominant Greek philosophical belief that life-long happiness and the virtues that sustain it are the principal concerns of ethics. The book also offers the first in-depth effort to understand Theodorus’s atheism and Hegesias’s pessimism, both of which are extremely unusual in ancient Greek philosophy and which raise the interesting question of hedonism’s relationship to pessimism and atheism. Finally, the book explores the “new Cyrenaicism” of the nineteenth-century writer and classicist Walter Pater, who drew out the enduring philosophical interest of Cyrenaic hedonism more than any other modern thinker.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"Moral Laboratories"

New from the University of California Press: Moral Laboratories: Family Peril and the Struggle for a Good Life by Cheryl Mattingly.

About the book, from the publisher:
Moral Laboratories is an engaging ethnography and a groundbreaking foray into the anthropology of morality. It takes us on a journey into the lives of African American families caring for children with serious chronic medical conditions, and it foregrounds the uncertainty that affects their struggles for a good life. Challenging depictions of moral transformation as possible only in moments of breakdown or in radical breaches from the ordinary, it offers a compelling portrait of the transformative powers embedded in day-to-day existence. From soccer fields to dinner tables, the everyday emerges as a moral laboratory for reshaping moral life. Cheryl Mattingly offers vivid and heart-wrenching stories to elaborate a first-person ethical framework, forcefully showing the limits of third-person renderings of morality.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"The Good Life"

New from Stanford University Press: The Good Life: Aspiration, Dignity, and the Anthropology of Wellbeing by Edward F. Fischer.

About the book, from the publisher:
What could middle-class German supermarket shoppers buying eggs and impoverished coffee farmers in Guatemala possibly have in common? Both groups use the market in pursuit of the "good life." But what exactly is the good life? How do we define wellbeing beyond material standards of living? While we all may want to live the good life, we differ widely on just what that entails.

In The Good Life, Edward Fischer examines wellbeing in very different cultural contexts to uncover shared notions of the good life and how best to achieve it. With fascinating on-the-ground narratives of Germans' choices regarding the purchase of eggs and cars, and Guatemalans' trade in coffee and cocaine, Fischer presents a richly layered understanding of how aspiration, opportunity, dignity, and purpose comprise the good life.
Visit Ted Fischer's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 13, 2014

"Wine, Sugar, and the Making of Modern France"

New from Cambridge University Press: Wine, Sugar, and the Making of Modern France: Global Economic Crisis and the Racialization of French Citizenship, 1870-1910 by Elizabeth Heath.

About the book, from the publisher:
This is an innovative study of how race and empire transformed French republican citizenship in the early Third Republic. Elizabeth Heath integrates the histories of the wine-producing department of Aude and the sugar-producing colony of Guadeloupe to reveal the ways in which empire was integral to the Third Republic's ability to stabilize a republican regime that began to unravel in an age of economic globalization. She shows how global economic factors shaped negotiations between local citizens and the Third Republic over the responsibilities of the Republic to its citizens leading to the creation of two different and unequal forms of citizenship that became constitutive of the interwar imperial nation-state and the French welfare state. Her findings shed important new light on the tensions within republicanism between ideals of liberty and equality and on the construction of race as a meaningful social category at a foundational moment in French history.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 12, 2014

"Power Lines"

New from Princeton University Press: Power Lines: Phoenix and the Making of the Modern Southwest by Andrew Needham.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1940, Phoenix was a small, agricultural city of sixty-five thousand, and the Navajo Reservation was an open landscape of scattered sheepherders. Forty years later, Phoenix had blossomed into a metropolis of 1.5 million people and the territory of the Navajo Nation was home to two of the largest strip mines in the world. Five coal-burning power plants surrounded the reservation, generating electricity for export to Phoenix, Los Angeles, and other cities. Exploring the postwar developments of these two very different landscapes, Power Lines tells the story of the far-reaching environmental and social inequalities of metropolitan growth, and the roots of the contemporary coal-fueled climate change crisis.

Andrew Needham explains how inexpensive electricity became a requirement for modern life in Phoenix—driving assembly lines and cooling the oppressive heat. Navajo officials initially hoped energy development would improve their lands too, but as ash piles marked their landscape, air pollution filled the skies, and almost half of Navajo households remained without electricity, many Navajos came to view power lines as a sign of their subordination in the Southwest. Drawing together urban, environmental, and American Indian history, Needham demonstrates how power lines created unequal connections between distant landscapes and how environmental changes associated with suburbanization reached far beyond the metropolitan frontier. Needham also offers a new account of postwar inequality, arguing that residents of the metropolitan periphery suffered similar patterns of marginalization as those faced in America’s inner cities.

Telling how coal from Indian lands became the fuel of modernity in the Southwest, Power Lines explores the dramatic effects that this energy system has had on the people and environment of the region.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 11, 2014

"Earth's Deep History"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Earth's Deep History: How It Was Discovered and Why It Matters by Martin J. S. Rudwick.

About the book, from the publisher:
Earth has been witness to mammoths and dinosaurs, global ice ages, continents colliding or splitting apart, comets and asteroids crashing catastrophically to the surface, as well as the birth of humans who are curious to understand it all. But how was it discovered? How was the evidence for it collected and interpreted? And what kinds of people have sought to reconstruct this past that no human witnessed or recorded? In this sweeping and magisterial book, Martin J. S. Rudwick, the premier historian of the earth sciences, tells the gripping human story of the gradual realization that the Earth’s history has not only been unimaginably long but also astonishingly eventful.

Rudwick begins in the seventeenth century with Archbishop James Ussher, who famously dated the creation of the cosmos to 4004 BC. His narrative then turns to the crucial period of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when inquisitive intellectuals, who came to call themselves “geologists,” began to interpret rocks and fossils, mountains and volcanoes, as natural archives of Earth’s history. He then shows how this geological evidence was used—and is still being used—to reconstruct a history of the Earth that is as varied and unpredictable as human history itself. Along the way, Rudwick defies the popular view of this story as a conflict between science and religion and reveals that the modern scientific account of the Earth’s deep history retains strong roots in Judaeo-Christian ideas.

Extensively illustrated, Earth’s Deep History is an engaging and impressive capstone to Rudwick’s distinguished career. Though the story of the Earth is inconceivable in length, Rudwick moves with grace from the earliest imaginings of our planet’s deep past to today’s scientific discoveries, proving that this is a tale at once timeless and timely.
--Marshal Zeringue