Tuesday, March 31, 2020

"Love in the Drug War"

New from the University of Texas Press: Love in the Drug War: Selling Sex and Finding Jesus on the Mexico-US Border by Sarah Luna.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sex, drugs, religion, and love are potent combinations in la zona, a regulated prostitution zone in the city of Reynosa, across the border from Hidalgo, Texas. During the years 2008 and 2009, a time of intense drug violence, Sarah Luna met and built relationships with two kinds of migrants, women who moved from rural Mexico to Reynosa to become sex workers and American missionaries who moved from the United States to forge a fellowship with those workers.

Luna examines the entanglements, both intimate and financial, that define their lives. Using the concept of obligar, she delves into the connections that tie sex workers to their families, their clients, their pimps, the missionaries, and the drug dealers—and to the guilt, power, and comfort of faith. Love in the Drug War scrutinizes not only la zona and the people who work to survive there, but also Reynosa itself—including the influences of the United States—adding nuance and new understanding to the current US-Mexico border crisis.
Sarah Luna is the Kathryn A. McCarthy Assistant Professor in Women's Studies in the Department of Anthropology and the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Tufts University, with a focus on issues of sexual labor, migration, race, borderlands, and queer studies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 30, 2020

"Crippling Leviathan"

New from Cornell University Press: Crippling Leviathan: How Foreign Subversion Weakens the State by Melissa M. Lee.

About the book, from the publisher:
Policymakers worry that "ungoverned spaces" pose dangers to security and development. Why do such spaces exist beyond the authority of the state? Earlier scholarship—which addressed this question with a list of domestic failures—overlooked the crucial role that international politics play. In this shrewd book, Melissa M. Lee argues that foreign subversion undermines state authority and promotes ungoverned space. Enemy governments empower insurgents to destabilize the state and create ungoverned territory. This kind of foreign subversion is a powerful instrument of modern statecraft. But though subversion is less visible and less costly than conventional force, it has insidious effects on governance in the target state.

To demonstrate the harmful consequences of foreign subversion for state authority, Crippling Leviathan marshals a wealth of evidence and presents in-depth studies of Russia's relations with the post-Soviet states, Malaysian subversion of the Philippines in the 1970s, and Thai subversion of Vietnamese-occupied Cambodia in the 1980s. The evidence presented by Lee is persuasive: foreign subversion weakens the state.

She challenges the conventional wisdom on statebuilding, which has long held that conflict promotes the development of strong, territorially consolidated states. Lee argues instead that conflictual international politics prevents state development and degrades state authority. In addition, Crippling Leviathan illuminates the use of subversion as an underappreciated and important feature of modern statecraft. Rather than resort to war, states resort to subversion. Policymakers interested in ameliorating the consequences of ungoverned space must recognize the international roots that sustain weak statehood.
Visit Melissa M. Lee's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 29, 2020

"Inhaling Spirit"

New from Oxford University Press: Inhaling Spirit: Harmonialism, Orientalism, and the Western Roots of Modern Yoga by Anya P. Foxen.

About the book, from the publisher:
Recent scholarship has shown that modern postural yoga is the outcome of a complex process of transcultural exchange and syncretism. This book doubles down on those claims and digs even deeper, looking to uncover the disparate but entangled roots of modern yoga practice. Anya Foxen shows that some of what we call yoga, especially in North America and Europe, is genealogically only slightly related to pre-modern Indian yoga traditions. Rather, it is equally, if not more so, grounded in Hellenistic theories of the subtle body, Western esotericism and magic, pre-modern European medicine, and late-nineteenth-century women's wellness programs. The book begins by examining concepts arising out of Greek philosophy and religion, including Pythagoreanism, Stoicism, Neo-Platonism, Galenic medicine, theurgy, and other cultural currents that have traditionally been categorized as "Western esotericism," as well as the more recent examples which scholars of American traditions have labeled "metaphysical religion." Marshaling these under the umbrella category of "harmonialism," Foxen argues that they represent a history of practices that were gradually subsumed into the language of yoga.

Orientalism and gender become important categories of analysis as this narrative moves into the nineteenth century. Women considerably outnumber men in all studies of yoga except those conducted in India, and modern anglophone yoga exhibits important continuities with women's physical culture, feminist reform, and white women's engagement with Orientalism. Foxen's study allows us to recontextualize the peculiarities of American yoga--its focus on aesthetic representation, its privileging of bodily posture and unsystematic incorporation of breathwork, and above all its overwhelmingly white female demographic. In this context it addresses the ongoing conversation about cultural appropriation within the yoga community.
Visit Anya P. Foxen's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"The American Robot"

New from the University of Chicago Press: The American Robot: A Cultural History by Dustin A. Abnet.

About the book, from the publisher:
Although they entered the world as pure science fiction, robots are now very much a fact of everyday life. Whether a space-age cyborg, a chess-playing automaton, or simply the smartphone in our pocket, robots have long been a symbol of the fraught and fearful relationship between ourselves and our creations. Though we tend to think of them as products of twentieth-century technology—the word “robot” itself dates to only 1921—as a concept, they have colored US society and culture for far longer, as Dustin A. Abnet shows to dazzling effect in The American Robot.

In tracing the history of the idea of robots in US culture, Abnet draws on intellectual history, religion, literature, film, and television. He explores how robots and their many kin have not only conceptually connected but literally embodied some of the most critical questions in modern culture. He also investigates how the discourse around robots has reinforced social and economic inequalities, as well as fantasies of mass domination—chilling thoughts that the recent increase in job automation has done little to quell. The American Robot argues that the deep history of robots has abetted both the literal replacement of humans by machines and the figurative transformation of humans into machines, connecting advances in technology and capitalism to individual and societal change. Look beneath the fears that fracture our society, Abnet tells us, and you’re likely to find a robot lurking there.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 28, 2020

"Exit from Hegemony"

New from Oxford University Press: Exit from Hegemony: The Unraveling of the American Global Order by Alexander Cooley and Daniel Nexon.

About the book, from the publisher:
We live in a period of great uncertainty about the fate of America's global leadership. Many believe that Donald Trump's presidency marks the end of liberal international order-the very system of global institutions, rules, and values that shaped the American international system since the end of World War II. Trump's repeated rejection of liberal order, criticisms of long-term allies of the US, and affinity for authoritarian leaders certainly undermines the American international system, but the truth is that liberal international order has been quietly eroding for at least 15 years.

In Exit from Hegemony, Alexander Cooley and Daniel Nexon develop a new, integrated approach to understanding the rise and decline of hegemonic orders. Their approach identifies three distinct ways in which the liberal international order is undergoing fundamental transformation. First, Russia and China have targeted the order, positioning themselves as revisionist powers by establishing alternative regional institutions and pushing counter-norms. Second, weaker states are hollowing out the order by seeking patronage and security partnership from nations outside of the order, such as Saudi Arabia and China. Even though they do not always seek to disrupt American hegemony, these new patron-client relationships lack the same liberal political and economic conditions as those involving the United States and its democratic allies. Third, a new series of transnational networks emphasizing illiberalism, nationalism, and right-wing values increasing challenges the anti-authoritarian, progressive transnational networks of the 1990s. These three pathways erode the primacy of the liberal international order from above, laterally, and from below. The Trump administration, with its "America First" doctrine, accelerates all three processes, critically lessening America's position as a world power.
The Page 99 Test: Daniel Nexon's The Struggle for Power in Early Modern Europe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 27, 2020

"Coffeeland"

New from Penguin Press: Coffeeland: One Man’s Dark Empire and the Making of Our Favorite Drug by Augustine Sedgewick.

About the book, from the publisher:
The epic story of how coffee connected and divided the modern world

Coffee is an indispensable part of daily life for billions of people around the world–one of the most valuable commodities in the history of global capitalism, the leading source of the world’s most popular drug, and perhaps the most widespread word on the planet. Augustine Sedgewick’s Coffeeland tells the hidden and surprising story of how this came to be, tracing coffee’s five-hundred-year transformation from a mysterious Muslim ritual into an everyday necessity.

This story is one that few coffee drinkers know. It centers on the volcanic highlands of El Salvador, where James Hill, born in the slums of Manchester, England, founded one of the world’s great coffee dynasties at the turn of the twentieth century. Adapting the innovations of the Industrial Revolution to plantation agriculture, Hill helped to turn El Salvador into perhaps the most intensive monoculture in modern history, a place of extraordinary productivity, inequality, and violence.

Following coffee from Hill family plantations into supermarkets, kitchens, and workplaces across the United States, and finally into today’s ubiquitous caf├ęs, Sedgewick reveals how coffee bred vast wealth and hard poverty, at once connecting and dividing the modern world. In the process, both El Salvador and the United States earned the nickname “Coffeeland,” but for starkly different reasons, and with consequences that reach into the present. This extraordinary history of coffee opens up a new perspective on how the globalized world works, ultimately provoking a reconsideration of what it means to be connected to faraway people and places through the familiar things that make up our day-to-day lives.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Appetite and Its Discontents"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Appetite and Its Discontents: Science, Medicine, and the Urge to Eat, 1750-1950 by Elizabeth A. Williams.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why do we eat? Is it instinct? Despite the necessity of food, anxieties about what and how to eat are widespread and persistent. In Appetite and Its Discontents, Elizabeth A. Williams explores contemporary worries about eating through the lens of science and medicine to show us how appetite—once a matter of personal inclination—became an object of science.

Williams charts the history of inquiry into appetite between 1750 and 1950, as scientific and medical concepts of appetite shifted alongside developments in physiology, natural history, psychology, and ethology. She shows how, in the eighteenth century, trust in appetite was undermined when researchers who investigated ingestion and digestion began claiming that science alone could say which ways of eating were healthy and which were not. She goes on to trace nineteenth- and twentieth-century conflicts over the nature of appetite between mechanists and vitalists, experimentalists and bedside physicians, and localists and holists, illuminating struggles that have never been resolved. By exploring the core disciplines in investigations in appetite and eating, Williams reframes the way we think about food, nutrition, and the nature of health itself.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 26, 2020

"OD: Naloxone and the Politics of Overdose"

New from the MIT Press: OD: Naloxone and the Politics of Overdose by Nancy D. Campbell.

About the book, from the publisher:
The history of an unnatural disaster—drug overdose—and the emergence of naloxone as a social and technological solution.

For years, drug overdose was unmentionable in polite society. OD was understood to be something that took place in dark alleys—an ugly death awaiting social deviants—neither scientifically nor clinically interesting. But over the last several years, overdose prevention has become the unlikely object of a social movement, powered by the miracle drug naloxone. In OD, Nancy Campbell charts the emergence of naloxone as a technological fix for overdose and describes the remaking of overdose into an experience recognized as common, predictable, patterned—and, above all, preventable. Naloxone, which made resuscitation, rescue, and “reversal” after an overdose possible, became a tool for shifting law, policy, clinical medicine, and science toward harm reduction. Liberated from emergency room protocols and distributed in take-home kits to non-medical professionals, it also became a tool of empowerment.

After recounting the prehistory of naloxone—the early treatment of OD as a problem of poisoning, the development of nalorphine (naloxone's predecessor), the idea of “reanimatology”—Campbell describes how naloxone emerged as a tool of harm reduction. She reports on naloxone use in far-flung locations that include post-Thatcherite Britain, rural New Mexico, and cities and towns in Massachusetts. Drawing on interviews with approximately sixty advocates, drug users, former users, friends, families, witnesses, clinicians, and scientists—whom she calls the “protagonists” of her story—Campbell tells a story of saving lives amid the complex, difficult conditions of an unfolding unnatural disaster.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

"Across the Great Divide"

New from Stanford University Press: Across the Great Divide: Between Analytic and Continental Political Theory by Jeremy Arnold.

About the book, from the publisher:
The division between analytic and continental political theory remains as sharp as it is wide, rendering basic problems seemingly intractable. Across the Great Divide offers an accessible and compelling account of how this split has shaped the field of political philosophy and suggests means of addressing it. Rather than advocating a synthesis of these philosophical modes, author Jeremy Arnold argues for aporetic cross-tradition theorizing: bringing together both traditions in order to show how each is at once necessary and limited.

Across the Great Divide engages with a range of fundamental political concepts and theorists—from state legitimacy and violence in the work of Stanley Cavell, to personal freedom and its civic institutionalization in Philip Pettit and Hannah Arendt, and justice in John Rawls and Jacques Derrida—not only illustrating the shortcomings of theoretical synthesis but also demonstrating a productive alternative. By outlining the failings of "political realism" as a synthetic cross-tradition approach to political theory and by modeling an aporetic mode of engagement, Arnold shows how we can better understand and address the pressing political issues of civil freedom and state justice today.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

"Power in Modernity"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Power in Modernity: Agency Relations and the Creative Destruction of the King's Two Bodies by Isaac Ariail Reed.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Power in Modernity, Isaac Ariail Reed proposes a bold new theory of power that describes overlapping networks of delegation and domination. Chains of power and their representation, linking together groups and individuals across time and space, create a vast network of intersecting alliances, subordinations, redistributions, and violent exclusions. Reed traces the common action of “sending someone else to do something for you” as it expands outward into the hierarchies that control territories, persons, artifacts, minds, and money.

He mobilizes this theory to investigate the onset of modernity in the Atlantic world, with a focus on rebellion, revolution, and state formation in colonial North America, the early American Republic, the English Civil War, and French Revolution. Modernity, Reed argues, dismantled the “King’s Two Bodies”—the monarch’s physical body and his ethereal, sacred second body that encompassed the body politic—as a schema of representation for forging power relations. Reed’s account then offers a new understanding of the democratic possibilities and violent exclusions forged in the name of “the people,” as revolutionaries sought new ways to secure delegation, build hierarchy, and attack alterity.

Reconsidering the role of myth in modern politics, Reed proposes to see the creative destruction and eternal recurrence of the King’s Two Bodies as constitutive of the modern attitude, and thus as a new starting point for critical theory. Modernity poses in a new way an eternal human question: what does it mean to be the author of one’s own actions?
Visit Isaac Ariail Reed's website.

--Marshal Zeringue