Friday, July 3, 2015

"#iranelection"

New from Stanford University Press: #iranelection: Hashtag Solidarity and the Transformation of Online Life by Negar Mottahedeh.

About the book, from the publisher:
The protests following Iran's fraudulent 2009 Presidential election took the world by storm. As the Green Revolution gained protestors in the Iranian streets, #iranelection became the first long-trending international hashtag. Texts, images, videos, audio recordings, and links connected protestors on the ground and netizens online, all simultaneously transmitting and living a shared international experience.

#iranelection follows the protest movement, on the ground and online, to investigate how emerging social media platforms developed international solidarity. The 2009 protests in Iran were the first revolts to be catapulted onto the global stage by social media, just as the 1979 Iranian Revolution was agitated by cassette tapes. And as the world turned to social media platforms to understand the events on the ground, social media platforms also adapted and developed to accommodate this global activism. Provocative and eye-opening, #iranelection reveals the new online ecology of social protest and offers a prehistory, of sorts, of the uses of hashtags and trending topics, selfies and avatar activism, and citizen journalism and YouTube mashups.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 2, 2015

"Forging Trust Communities"

New from the Johns Hopkins University Press: Forging Trust Communities: How Technology Changes Politics by Irene S. Wu.

About the book, from the publisher:
Bloggers in India used social media and wikis to broadcast news and bring humanitarian aid to tsunami victims in South Asia. Terrorist groups like ISIS pour out messages and recruit new members on websites. The Internet is the new public square, bringing to politics a platform on which to create community at both the grassroots and bureaucratic level. Drawing on historical and contemporary case studies from more than ten countries, Irene S. Wu’s Forging Trust Communities argues that the Internet, and the technologies that predate it, catalyze political change by creating new opportunities for cooperation. The Internet does not simply enable faster and easier communication, but makes it possible for people around the world to interact closely, reciprocate favors, and build trust. The information and ideas exchanged by members of these cooperative communities become key sources of political power akin to military might and economic strength.

Wu illustrates the rich world history of citizens and leaders exercising political power through communications technology. People in nineteenth-century China, for example, used the telegraph and newspapers to mobilize against the emperor. In 1970, Taiwanese cable television gave voice to a political opposition demanding democracy. Both Qatar (in the 1990s) and Great Britain (in the 1930s) relied on public broadcasters to enhance their influence abroad. Additional case studies from Brazil, Egypt, the United States, Russia, India, the Philippines, and Tunisia reveal how various technologies function to create new political energy, enabling activists to challenge institutions while allowing governments to increase their power at home and abroad.

Forging Trust Communities demonstrates that the way people receive and share information through network communities reveals as much about their political identity as their socioeconomic class, ethnicity, or religion. Scholars and students in political science, public administration, international studies, sociology, and the history of science and technology will find this to be an insightful and indispensable work.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

"American Artists against War, 1935-2010"

New from the University of California Press: American Artists against War, 1935-2010 by David McCarthy.

About the book, from the publisher:
Beginning with responses to fascism in the 1930s and ending with protests against the Iraq wars, David McCarthy shows how American artists—including Philip Evergood, David Smith, H. C. Westermann, Ed Kienholz, Nancy Spero, Leon Golub, Chris Burden, Robert Arneson, Martha Rosler, and Coco Fusco—have borne witness, registered dissent, and asserted the enduring ability of imagination to uncover truths about individuals and nations. During what has been called the American Century, the United States engaged in frequent combat overseas while developing technologies of unprecedented lethality. Many artists, working collectively or individually, produced antiwar art to protest the use or threat of military violence in the service of an expansionist state. In so doing, they understood themselves to be fighting on behalf of two liberal beliefs: that their country was the guarantor of liberty against empire, and that modern art was a viable means of addressing the most compelling events and issues of the moment. For many artists, creative work was a way to participate in democratic exchange by challenging and clarifying government and media perspectives on armed conflict. Charting a seventy-five-year history of antiwar art and activism, American Artists against War, 1935–2010 lucidly tracks the continuities, preoccupations, and strategies of several generations.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"German Rocketeers in the Heart of Dixie"

New from Yale University Press: German Rocketeers in the Heart of Dixie: Making Sense of the Nazi Past during the Civil Rights Era by Monique Laney.

About the book, from the publisher:
This thought-provoking study by historian Monique Laney focuses on the U.S. government–assisted integration of German rocket specialists and their families into a small southern community soon after World War II. In 1950, Wernher von Braun and his team of rocket experts relocated to Huntsville, Alabama, a town that would celebrate the team, despite their essential role in the recent Nazi war effort, for their contributions to the U.S. Army missile program and later to NASA’s space program. Based on oral histories, provided by members of the African American and Jewish communities, and by the rocketeers’ families, co-workers, friends, and neighbors, Laney’s book demonstrates how the histories of German Nazism and Jim Crow in the American South intertwine in narratives about the past. This is a critical reassessment of a singular time that links the Cold War, the Space Race, and the Civil Rights era while addressing important issues of transnational science and technology, and asking Americans to consider their country’s own history of racism when reflecting on the Nazi past.
Visit Monique Laney's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 29, 2015

"Emperor Wu Zhao and Her Pantheon of Devis, Divinities, and Dynastic Mothers"

New from Columbia University Press: Emperor Wu Zhao and Her Pantheon of Devis, Divinities, and Dynastic Mothers by N. Harry Rothschild.

About the book, from the publisher:
Wu Zhao (624-705), better known as Wu Zetian or Empress Wu, is the only woman to have ruled China as emperor over the course of its 5,000-year history. How did she--in a predominantly patriarchal and androcentric society--ascend the dragon throne? Exploring a mystery that has confounded scholars for centuries, this multifaceted history suggests that China's rich pantheon of female divinities and eminent women played an integral part in the construction of Wu Zhao's sovereignty.

Wu Zhao deftly deployed language, symbol, and ideology to harness the cultural resonance, maternal force, divine energy, and historical weight of Buddhist devis, Confucian exemplars, Daoist immortals, and mythic goddesses, establishing legitimacy within and beyond the confines of Confucian ideology. Tapping into powerful subterranean reservoirs of female power, Wu Zhao built a pantheon of female divinities carefully calibrated to meet her needs at court. Her pageant was promoted in scripted rhetoric, reinforced through poetry, celebrated in theatrical productions, and inscribed on steles.

Rendered with deft political acumen and aesthetic flair, these affiliations significantly enhanced Wu Zhao's authority and cast her as the human vessel through which the pantheon's divine energy flowed. Her strategy is a model of political brilliance and proof that medieval Chinese women enjoyed a more complex social status than previously known.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 28, 2015

"The Political Machine"

New from Princeton University Press: The Political Machine: Assembling Sovereignty in the Bronze Age Caucasus by Adam T. Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Political Machine investigates the essential role that material culture plays in the practices and maintenance of political sovereignty. Through an archaeological exploration of the Bronze Age Caucasus, Adam Smith demonstrates that beyond assemblies of people, polities are just as importantly assemblages of things—from ballots and bullets to crowns, regalia, and licenses. Smith looks at the ways that these assemblages help to forge cohesive publics, separate sovereigns from a wider social mass, and formalize governance—and he considers how these developments continue to shape politics today.

Smith shows that the formation of polities is as much about the process of manufacturing assemblages as it is about disciplining subjects, and that these material objects or “machines” sustain communities, orders, and institutions. The sensibilities, senses, and sentiments connecting people to things enabled political authority during the Bronze Age and fortify political power even in the contemporary world. Smith provides a detailed account of the transformation of communities in the Caucasus, from small-scale early Bronze Age villages committed to egalitarianism, to Late Bronze Age polities predicated on radical inequality, organized violence, and a centralized apparatus of rule.

From Bronze Age traditions of mortuary ritual and divination to current controversies over flag pins and Predator drones, The Political Machine sheds new light on how material goods authorize and defend political order.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 27, 2015

"When Britain Saved the West"

New from Yale University Press: When Britain Saved the West: The Story of 1940 by Robin Prior.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the comfortable distance of seven decades, it is quite easy to view the victory of the Allies over Hitler’s Germany as inevitable. But in 1940 Great Britain’s defeat loomed perilously close, and no other nation stepped up to confront the Nazi threat. In this cogently argued book, Robin Prior delves into the documents of the time—war diaries, combat reports, Home Security’s daily files, and much more—to uncover how Britain endured a year of menacing crises.

The book reassesses key events of 1940—crises that were recognized as such at the time and others not fully appreciated. Prior examines Neville Chamberlain’s government, Churchill’s opponents, the collapse of France, the Battle of Britain, and the Blitz. He looks critically at the position of the United States before Pearl Harbor, and at Roosevelt’s response to the crisis. Prior concludes that the nation was saved through a combination of political leadership, British Expeditionary Force determination and skill, Royal Air Force and Navy efforts to return soldiers to the homeland, and the determination of the people to fight on “in spite of all terror.” As eloquent as it is controversial, this book exposes the full import of events in 1940, when Britain fought alone and Western civilization hung in the balance.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 26, 2015

"Why Did Europe Conquer the World?"

New from Princeton University Press: Why Did Europe Conquer the World? by Philip T. Hoffman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Between 1492 and 1914, Europeans conquered 84 percent of the globe. But why did Europe rise to the top, when for centuries the Chinese, Japanese, Ottomans, and South Asians were far more advanced? Why didn’t these powers establish global dominance? In Why Did Europe Conquer the World?, distinguished economic historian Philip Hoffman demonstrates that conventional explanations—such as geography, epidemic disease, and the Industrial Revolution—fail to provide answers. Arguing instead for the pivotal role of economic and political history, Hoffman shows that if variables had been at all different, Europe would not have achieved critical military innovations, and another power could have become master of the world.

In vivid detail, Hoffman sheds light on the two millennia of economic, political, and historical changes that set European states on a distinctive path of development and military rivalry. Compared to their counterparts in China, Japan, South Asia, and the Middle East, European leaders—whether chiefs, lords, kings, emperors, or prime ministers—had radically different incentives, which drove them to make war. These incentives, which Hoffman explores using an economic model of political costs and financial resources, resulted in astonishingly rapid growth in Europe’s military sector from the Middle Ages on, and produced an insurmountable lead in gunpowder technology. The consequences determined which states established colonial empires or ran the slave trade, and even which economies were the first to industrialize.

Debunking traditional arguments, Why Did Europe Conquer the World? reveals the startling reasons behind Europe’s historic global supremacy.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 25, 2015

"Inventing a Christian America"

New from Oxford University Press: Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding by Steven K. Green.

About the book, from the publisher:
Among the most enduring themes in American history is the idea that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. A pervasive narrative in everything from school textbooks to political commentary, it is central to the way in which many Americans perceive the historical legacy of their nation. Yet, as Steven K. Green shows in this illuminating new book, it is little more than a myth.

In Inventing a Christian America, Green, a leading historian of religion and politics, explores the historical record that is purported to support the popular belief in America's religious founding and status as a Christian nation. He demonstrates that, like all myths, these claims are based on historical "facts" that have been colored by the interpretive narratives that have been imposed upon them. In tracing the evolution of these claims and the evidence levied in support of them from the founding of the New England colonies, through the American Revolution, and to the present day, he investigates how they became leading narratives in the country's collective identity. Three critical moments in American history shaped and continue to drive the myth of a Christian America: the Puritan founding of New England, the American Revolution and the forging of a new nation, and the early years of the nineteenth century, when a second generation of Americans sought to redefine and reconcile the memory of the founding to match their religious and patriotic aspirations. Seeking to shed light not only on the veracity of these ideas but on the reasons they endure, Green ultimately shows that the notion of America's religious founding is a myth not merely in the colloquial sense, but also in a deeper sense, as a shared story that gives deeper meaning to our collective national identity.

Offering a fresh look at one of the most common and contested claims in American history, Inventing a Christian America is an enlightening read for anyone interested in the story of-and the debate over-America's founding.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

"Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference"

New from Princeton University Press: Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference: Race in Early Modern Philosophy by Justin E. H. Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:
People have always been xenophobic, but an explicit philosophical and scientific view of human racial difference only began to emerge during the modern period. Why and how did this happen? Surveying a range of philosophical and natural-scientific texts, dating from the Spanish Renaissance to the German Enlightenment, Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference charts the evolution of the modern concept of race and shows that natural philosophy, particularly efforts to taxonomize and to order nature, played a crucial role.

Smith demonstrates how the denial of moral equality between Europeans and non-Europeans resulted from converging philosophical and scientific developments, including a declining belief in human nature’s universality and the rise of biological classification. The racial typing of human beings grew from the need to understand humanity within an all-encompassing system of nature, alongside plants, minerals, primates, and other animals. While racial difference as seen through science did not arise in order to justify the enslavement of people, it became a rationalization and buttress for the practices of trans-Atlantic slavery. From the work of Fran├žois Bernier to G. W. Leibniz, Immanuel Kant, and others, Smith delves into philosophy’s part in the legacy and damages of modern racism.

With a broad narrative stretching over two centuries, Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference takes a critical historical look at how the racial categories that we divide ourselves into came into being.
Visit Justin E. H. Smith's website.

--Marshal Zeringue