Tuesday, January 24, 2017

"Intimations of Modernity"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Intimations of Modernity: Civil Culture in Nineteenth-Century Cuba by Louis A. Pérez.

About the book, from the publisher:
Louis A. Pérez Jr.’s new history of nineteenth-century Cuba chronicles in fascinating detail the emergence of an urban middle class that was imbued with new knowledge and moral systems. Fostering innovative skills and technologies, these Cubans became deeply implicated in an expanding market culture during the boom in sugar production and prior to independence. Contributing to the cultural history of capitalism in Latin America, Pérez argues that such creoles were cosmopolitans with powerful transnational affinities and an abiding identification with modernity. This period of Cuban history is usually viewed through a political lens, but Pérez, here emphasizing the character of everyday life within the increasingly fraught colonial system, shows how moral, social, and cultural change that resulted from market forces also contributed to conditions leading to the collapse of the Spanish colonial administration.

Pérez highlights women’s centrality in this process, showing how criollas adapted to new modes of self-representation as a means of self-fulfillment. Increasing opportunities for middle-class women’s public presence and social participation was both cause and consequence of expanding consumerism and of women’s challenges to prevailing gender hierarchies. Seemingly simple actions--riding a bicycle, for example, or deploying the abanico, the fan, in different ways--exposed how traditional systems of power and privilege clashed with norms of modernity and progress.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 23, 2017

"Killing Others"

New from Cornell University Press: Killing Others: A Natural History of Ethnic Violence by Matthew Lange.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Killing Others, Matthew Lange explores why humans ruthlessly attack and kill people from other ethnic communities. Drawing on an array of cases from around the world and insight from a variety of disciplines, Lange provides a simple yet powerful explanation that pinpoints the influential role of modernity in the growing global prevalence of ethnic violence over the past two hundred years. He offers evidence that a modern ethnic mind-set is the ultimate and most influential cause of ethnic violence.

Throughout most of human history, people perceived and valued small sets of known acquaintances and did not identify with ethnicities. Through education, state policy, and other means, modernity ultimately created broad ethnic consciousnesses that led to emotional prejudice, whereby people focus negative emotions on entire ethnic categories, and ethnic obligation, which pushes people to attack Others for the sake of their ethnicity. Modern social transformations also provided a variety of organizational resources that put these motives into action, thereby allowing ethnic violence to emerge as a modern menace. Yet modernity takes many forms and is not constant, and past trends in ethnic violence are presently transforming. Over the past seventy years, the earliest modernizers have transformed from champions of ethnic violence into leaders of intercommunal peace, and Killing Others offers evidence that the emergence of robust rights-based democracy—in combination with effective states and economic development—weakened the motives and resources that commonly promote ethnic violence.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 22, 2017

"Madhouse: Psychiatry and Politics in Cuban History"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Madhouse: Psychiatry and Politics in Cuban History by Jennifer L. Lambe.

About the book, from the publisher:
On the outskirts of Havana lies Mazorra, an asylum known to--and at times feared by--ordinary Cubans for over a century. Since its founding in 1857, the island’s first psychiatric hospital has been an object of persistent political attention. Drawing on hospital documents and government records, as well as the popular press, photographs, and oral histories, Jennifer L. Lambe charts the connections between the inner workings of this notorious institution and the highest echelons of Cuban politics. Across the sweep of modern Cuban history, she finds, Mazorra has served as both laboratory and microcosm of the Cuban state: the asylum is an icon of its ignominious colonial and neocolonial past and a crucible of its republican and revolutionary futures.

From its birth, Cuban psychiatry was politically inflected, drawing partisan contention while sparking debates over race, religion, gender, and sexuality. Psychiatric notions were even invested with revolutionary significance after 1959, as the new government undertook ambitious schemes for social reeducation. But Mazorra was not the exclusive province of government officials and professionalizing psychiatrists. U.S. occupiers, Soviet visitors, and, above all, ordinary Cubans infused the institution, both literal and metaphorical, with their own fears, dreams, and alternative meanings. Together, their voices comprise the madhouse that, as Lambe argues, haunts the revolutionary trajectory of Cuban history.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 21, 2017

"Just Violence"

New from Stanford University Press: Just Violence: Torture and Human Rights in the Eyes of the Police by Rachel Wahl.

About the book, from the publisher:
Police who engage in torture are condemned by human rights activists, the media, and people across the world who shudder at their brutality. Stark revelations about torture by American forces at places like Guantanamo Bay have stoked a fascination with torture and debates about human rights. Yet despite this interest, the public knows little about the officers who actually commit such violence. How do the police understand what they do? How do their beliefs inform their responses to education and activism against torture?

Just Violence reveals the moral perspective of perpetrators and how they respond to human rights efforts. Through interviews with law enforcers in India, Rachel Wahl uncovers the beliefs that motivate officers who use and support torture, and how these beliefs shape their responses to international human rights norms. Although on the surface Indian officers' subversion of human rights may seem to be a case of "local culture" resisting global norms, officers see human rights as in keeping with their religious and cultural traditions—and view Western countries as the primary human rights violators. However, the police do not condemn the United States for violations; on the contrary, for Indian police, Guantanamo Bay justifies torture in New Delhi. This book follows the attempts of human rights workers to both persuade and coerce officers into compliance. As Wahl explains, current human rights strategies can undermine each other, leaving the movement with complex dilemmas regarding whether to work with or against perpetrators.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 20, 2017

"Tainted Witness"

New from Columbia University Press: Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives by Leigh Gilmore.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1991, Anita Hill's testimony during Clarence Thomas's Senate confirmation hearing brought the problem of sexual harassment to a public audience. Although widely believed by women, Hill was defamed by conservatives and Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court. The tainting of Hill and her testimony is part of a larger social history in which women find themselves caught up in a system that refuses to believe what they say. Hill's experience shows how a tainted witness is not who someone is, but what someone can become.

Why are women so often considered unreliable witnesses to their own experiences? How are women discredited in legal courts and in courts of public opinion? Why is women's testimony so often mired in controversies fueled by histories of slavery and colonialism? How do new feminist witnesses enter testimonial networks and disrupt doubt? Tainted Witness examines how gender, race, and doubt stick to women witnesses as their testimony circulates in search of an adequate witness. Judgment falls unequally upon women who bear witness, as well-known conflicts about testimonial authority in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries reveal. Women's testimonial accounts demonstrate both the symbolic potency of women's bodies and speech in the public sphere and the relative lack of institutional security and control to which they can lay claim. Each testimonial act follows in the wake of a long and invidious association of race and gender with lying that can be found to this day within legal courts and everyday practices of judgment, defining these locations as willfully unknowing and hostile to complex accounts of harm. Bringing together feminist, literary, and legal frameworks, Leigh Gilmore provides provocative readings of what happens when women's testimony is discredited. She demonstrates how testimony crosses jurisdictions, publics, and the unsteady line between truth and fiction in search of justice.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 19, 2017

"Invisible Weapons"

New from Cornell University Press: Invisible Weapons: Liturgy and the Making of Crusade Ideology by M. Cecilia Gaposchkin.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1098, three years into the First Crusade and after a brutal eight-month siege, the Franks captured the city of Antioch. Two days later, Muslim forces arrived with a relief army, and the victors became the besieged. Exhausted and ravaged by illness and hunger, the Franks were exhorted by their religious leaders to supplicate God, and for three days they performed a series of liturgical exercises, beseeching God through ritual prayer to forgive their sins and grant them victory. The following day, the Christian army, accompanied by bishops and priests reciting psalms and hymns, marched out of the city to face the Muslim forces and won a resounding and improbable victory.

From the very beginning and throughout the history of the Crusades, liturgical prayer, masses, and alms were all marshaled in the fight against the Muslim armies. During the Fifth Crusade, Pope Honorius III likened liturgy to "invisible weapons." This book is about those invisible weapons; about the prayers and liturgical rituals that were part of the battle for the faith. M. Cecilia Gaposchkin tells the story of the greatest collective religious undertaking of the Middle Ages, putting front and center the ways in which Latin Christians communicated their ideas and aspirations for crusade to God through liturgy, how liturgy was deployed in crusading, and how liturgy absorbed ideals or priorities of crusading. Liturgy helped construct the devotional ideology of the crusading project, endowing war with religious meaning, placing crusading ideals at the heart of Christian identity, and embedding crusading warfare squarely into the eschatological economy. By connecting medieval liturgical books with the larger narrative of crusading, Gaposchkin allows us to understand a crucial facet in the culture of holy war.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Assassination of a Saint"

New from the University of California Press: Assassination of a Saint: The Plot to Murder Óscar Romero and the Quest to Bring His Killers to Justice by Matt Eisenbrandt.

About the book, from the publisher:
On March 24, 1980, the assassination of El Salvador’s Archbishop Óscar Romero rocked that nation and the world. Despite the efforts of many in El Salvador and beyond, those responsible for Romero’s murder remained unpunished for their heinous crime. Assassination of a Saint is the thrilling story of an international team of lawyers, private investigators, and human-rights experts that fought to bring justice for the slain hero. Matt Eisenbrandt, a lawyer who was part of the investigative team, recounts in this gripping narrative how he and his colleagues interviewed eyewitnesses and former members of death squads while searching for evidence on those who financed them. As investigators worked toward the only court verdict ever reached for the murder of the martyred archbishop, they uncovered information with profound implications for El Salvador and the United States.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

"The Technocratic Antarctic"

New from Cornell University Press: The Technocratic Antarctic: An Ethnography of Scientific Expertise and Environmental Governance by Jessica O'Reilly.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Technocratic Antarctic is an ethnographic account of the scientists and policymakers who work on Antarctica. In a place with no indigenous people, Antarctic scientists and policymakers use expertise as their primary model of governance. Scientific research and policymaking are practices that inform each other, and the Antarctic environment—with its striking beauty, dramatic human and animal lives, and specter of global climate change—not only informs science and policy but also lends Antarctic environmentalism a particularly technocratic patina.

Jessica O'Reilly conducted most of her research for this book in New Zealand, home of the "Antarctic Gateway" city of Christchurch, and on an expedition to Windless Bight, Antarctica, with the New Zealand Antarctic Program. O’Reilly also follows the journeys Antarctic scientists and policymakers take to temporarily “Antarctic” places such as science conferences, policy workshops, and the international Antarctic Treaty meetings in Scotland, Australia, and India. Competing claims of nationalism, scientific disciplines, field experiences, and personal relationships among Antarctic environmental managers disrupt the idea of a utopian epistemic community. O’Reilly focuses on what emerges in Antarctica among the complicated and hybrid forms of science, sociality, politics, and national membership found there. The Technocratic Antarctic unfolds the historical, political, and moral contexts that shape experiences of and decisions about the Antarctic environment.
--Marshal Zeringue

"The Great Leveler"

New from Princeton University Press: The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century by Walter Scheidel.

About the book, from the publisher:
Are mass violence and catastrophes the only forces that can seriously decrease economic inequality? To judge by thousands of years of history, the answer is yes. Tracing the global history of inequality from the Stone Age to today, Walter Scheidel shows that inequality never dies peacefully. Inequality declines when carnage and disaster strike and increases when peace and stability return. The Great Leveler is the first book to chart the crucial role of violent shocks in reducing inequality over the full sweep of human history around the world.

Ever since humans began to farm, herd livestock, and pass on their assets to future generations, economic inequality has been a defining feature of civilization. Over thousands of years, only violent events have significantly lessened inequality. The "Four Horsemen" of leveling—mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolutions, state collapse, and catastrophic plagues—have repeatedly destroyed the fortunes of the rich. Scheidel identifies and examines these processes, from the crises of the earliest civilizations to the cataclysmic world wars and communist revolutions of the twentieth century. Today, the violence that reduced inequality in the past seems to have diminished, and that is a good thing. But it casts serious doubt on the prospects for a more equal future.

An essential contribution to the debate about inequality, The Great Leveler provides important new insights about why inequality is so persistent—and why it is unlikely to decline anytime soon.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

"Expelling the Poor"

New from Oxford University Press: Expelling the Poor: Atlantic Seaboard States and the Nineteenth-Century Origins of American Immigration Policy by Hidetaka Hirota.

About the book, from the publisher:
Historians have long assumed that immigration to the United States was free from regulation until anti-Asian racism on the West Coast triggered the introduction of federal laws to restrict Chinese immigration in the 1880s. Studies of European immigration and government control on the East Coast have, meanwhile, focused on Ellis Island, which opened in 1892.

In this groundbreaking work, Hidetaka Hirota reinterprets the origins of immigration restriction in the United States, especially deportation policy, offering the first sustained study of immigration control conducted by states prior to the introduction of federal immigration law. Faced with the influx of impoverished Irish immigrants over the first half of the nineteenth century, nativists in New York and Massachusetts built upon colonial poor laws to develop policies for prohibiting the landing of destitute foreigners and deporting those already resident to Europe, Canada, or other American states. These policies laid the foundations for federal immigration law. By investigating state officials' practices of illegal removal, including the overseas deportation of citizens, this book reveals how the state-level treatment of destitute immigrants set precedents for the use of unrestricted power against undesirable aliens. It also traces the transnational lives of the migrants from their initial departure from Ireland and passage to North America through their expulsion from the United States and postdeportation lives in Europe, showing how American deportation policy operated as part of the broader exclusion of nonproducing members from societies in the Atlantic world.

By locating the roots of American immigration control in cultural prejudice against the Irish and, more essentially, economic concerns about their poverty in nineteenth-century New York and Massachusetts, Expelling the Poor fundamentally revises the history of American immigration policy.
--Marshal Zeringue