Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"Yellow Fever, Race, and Ecology in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans"

New from the LSU Press: Yellow Fever, Race, and Ecology in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans by Urmi Engineer Willoughby.

About the book, from the publisher:
Through the innovative perspective of environment and culture, Urmi Engineer Willoughby examines yellow fever in New Orleans from 1796 to 1905. Linking local epidemics to the city’s place in the Atlantic world, Yellow Fever, Race, and Ecology in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans analyzes how incidences of and responses to the disease grew out of an environment shaped by sugar production, slavery, and urban development.

Willoughby argues that transnational processes—including patterns of migration, industrialization, and imperialism—contributed to ecological changes that enabled yellow fever–carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to thrive and transmit the disease in New Orleans, challenging presumptions that yellow fever was primarily transported to the Americas on slave ships. She then traces the origin and spread of medical and popular beliefs about yellow fever immunity, from the early nineteenth-century contention that natives of New Orleans were protected, to the gradual emphasis on race as a determinant of immunity, reflecting social tensions over the abolition of slavery around the world.

As the nineteenth century unfolded, ideas of biological differences between the races calcified, even as public health infrastructure expanded, and race continued to play a central role in the diagnosis and prevention of the disease. State and federal governments began to create boards and organizations responsible for preventing new outbreaks and providing care during epidemics, though medical authorities ignored evidence of black victims of yellow fever. Willoughby argues that American imperialist ambitions also contributed to yellow fever eradication and the growth of the field of tropical medicine: U.S. commercial interests in the tropical zones that grew crops like sugar cane, bananas, and coffee engendered cooperation between medical professionals and American military forces in Latin America, which in turn enabled public health campaigns to research and eliminate yellow fever in New Orleans.

A signal contribution to the field of disease ecology, Yellow Fever, Race, and Ecology in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans delineates events that shaped the Crescent City’s epidemiological history, shedding light on the spread and eradication of yellow fever in the Atlantic World.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

"To Be a Man Is Not a One-Day Job"

New from the University of Chicago Press: To Be a Man Is Not a One-Day Job: Masculinity, Money, and Intimacy in Nigeria by Daniel Jordan Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:
Refrains about financial hardship are ubiquitous in contemporary Nigeria, frequently expressed through the idiom “to be a man is not a one-day job.” But while men talk constantly about money, underlying their economic worries are broader concerns about the shifting meanings of masculinity, amid changing expectations and practices of intimacy.

Drawing on twenty-five years of experience in southeastern Nigeria, Daniel Jordan Smith takes readers through the principal phases and arenas of men’s lives: the transition to adulthood; searching for work and making a living; courtship, marriage, and fatherhood; fraternal and political relationships; and finally, the attainment of elder status and death. He relates men’s struggles both to fulfill their own aspirations and to meet society’s expectations. He also considers men who behave badly, mistreat their wives and children, or resort to crime and violence. All of these men face similar challenges as they navigate the complex geometry of money and intimacy. Unraveling these connections, Smith argues, provides us with a deeper understanding of both masculinity and society in Nigeria.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Litigating Across the Color Line"

New from Oxford University Press: Litigating Across the Color Line: Civil Cases Between Black and White Southerners from the End of Slavery to Civil Rights by Melissa Milewski.

About the book, from the publisher:
As a result of the violence, segregation, and disfranchisement that occurred throughout the South in the decades after Reconstruction, it has generally been assumed that African Americans in the post-Reconstruction South litigated few civil cases and faced widespread inequality in the suits they did pursue. In this groundbreaking work, Melissa Milewski shows that black men and women were far more able to negotiate the southern legal system during the era of Jim Crow than previously realized. She explores how, when the financial futures of their families were on the line, black litigants throughout the South took on white southerners in civil suits and, at times, succeeded in finding justice in the Southern courts.

Between 1865 and 1950, in almost a thousand civil cases across eight southern states, former slaves took their former masters to court, black sharecroppers litigated disputes against white landowners, and African Americans with little formal education brought disputes against wealthy white members of their communities. As black southerners negotiated a legal system with almost all white gate-keepers, they found that certain kinds of cases were much easier to gain whites' support for than others. But in the suits they were able to litigate, they displayed pragmatism and a savvy understanding of how to get whites on their side. Their negotiation of this system proved surprisingly successful: in the civil cases African Americans litigated in the highest courts of eight states, they won more than half of their suits against whites throughout this period.

Litigating Across the Color Line shows that in a tremendously constrained environment where they were often shut out of other government institutions, seen as racially inferior, and often segregated, African Americans found a way to fight for their rights in one of the only ways they could. Through these suits, they adapted and at times made a biased system work for them under enormous constraints. At the same time, Milewski considers the limitations of working within a white-dominated system at a time of great racial discrimination--and the choices black litigants had to make to get their cases heard.
Visit Melissa Milewski's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 20, 2017

"The Tiger in the Smoke"

New from Yale University Press: The Tiger in the Smoke: Art and Culture in Post-War Britain by Lynda Nead.

About the book, from the publisher:
Taking an interdisciplinary approach that looks at film, television, and commercial advertisements as well as more traditional media such as painting, The Tiger in the Smoke provides an unprecedented analysis of the art and culture of post-war Britain. Art historian Lynda Nead presents fascinating insights into how the Great Fogs of the 1950s influenced the newfound fashion for atmospheric cinematic effects. She also discusses how the widespread use of color in advertisements was part of an increased ideological awareness of racial differences.  Tracing the parallel ways that different media developed new methods of creating images that variously harkened back to Victorian ideals, agitated for modern innovations, or redefined domesticity, this book’s broad purview gives a complete picture of how the visual culture of post-war Britain expressed the concerns of a society that was struggling to forge a new identity.
Lynda Nead is Pevsner Chair of History of Art at Birkbeck, University of London.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Soviet and Muslim"

New from Oxford University Press: Soviet and Muslim: The Institutionalization of Islam in Central Asia by Eren Tasar.

About the book, from the publisher:
Central Asia was the sole Muslim region of the former Russian Empire that lacked a centralized Islamic organization, or muftiate. When Soviet leader Joseph Stalin created such a body for the region as part of his religious reforms during World War II, he acknowledged that the Muslim faith could enjoy some legal protection under Communist rule. From a skeletal and disorganized body run by one family of Islamic scholars out of a modest house in Tashkent's old city, this muftiate acquired great political importance in the eyes of Soviet policymakers and equally significant symbolic significance for many Muslims.

Relying on recently declassified Central Asian archival sources, most of them never seen before by historians, Eren Tasar argues that Islam did not merely "survive" the decades from World War II until the Soviet collapse in 1991, but actively shaped the political and social context of Soviet Central Asia. Muslim figures, institutions, and practices evolved in response to the social and political reality of Communist rule. Through an analysis that spans all aspects of Islam under Soviet rule-from debates about religion inside the Communist Party, to the muftiate's efforts to acquire control over mosques across Central Asia, changes in Islamic practices and dogma, and overseas propaganda targeting the Islamic World-Soviet and Muslim offers a radical new reading of Islam's resilience and evolution under atheism.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 19, 2017

"A Kingdom Divided"

New from the LSU Press: A Kingdom Divided: Evangelicals, Loyalty, and Sectionalism in the Civil War Era by April E. Holm.

About the book, from the publisher:
A Kingdom Divided uncovers how evangelical Christians in the border states influenced debates about slavery, morality, and politics from the 1830s to the 1890s. Using little-studied events and surprising incidents from the region, April E. Holm argues that evangelicals on the border powerfully shaped the regional structure of American religion in the Civil War era.

In the decades before the Civil War, the three largest evangelical denominations diverged sharply over the sinfulness of slavery. This division generated tremendous local conflict in the border region, where individual churches had to define themselves as being either northern or southern. In response, many border evangelicals drew upon the “doctrine of spirituality,” which dictated that churches should abstain from all political debate. Proponents of this doctrine defined slavery as a purely political issue, rather than a moral one, and the wartime arrival of secular authorities who demanded loyalty to the Union only intensified this commitment to “spirituality.” Holm contends that these churches’ insistence that politics and religion were separate spheres was instrumental in the development of the ideal of the nonpolitical southern church. After the Civil War, southern churches adopted both the disaffected churches from border states and their doctrine of spirituality, claiming it as their own and using it to supply a theological basis for remaining divided after the abolition of slavery. By the late nineteenth century, evangelicals were more sectionally divided than they had been at war’s end.

In A Kingdom Divided, Holm provides the first analysis of the crucial role of churches in border states in shaping antebellum divisions in the major evangelical denominations, in navigating the relationship between church and the federal government, and in rewriting denominational histories to forestall reunion in the churches. Offering a new perspective on nineteenth-century sectionalism, it highlights how religion, morality, and politics interacted—often in unexpected ways—in a time of political crisis and war.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Becoming Better Muslims"

New from Princeton University Press: Becoming Better Muslims: Religious Authority and Ethical Improvement in Aceh, Indonesia by David Kloos.

About the book, from the publisher:
How do ordinary Muslims deal with and influence the increasingly pervasive Islamic norms set by institutions of the state and religion? Becoming Better Muslims offers an innovative account of the dynamic interactions between individual Muslims, religious authorities, and the state in Aceh, Indonesia. Relying on extensive historical and ethnographic research, David Kloos offers a detailed analysis of religious life in Aceh and an investigation into today’s personal processes of ethical formation.

Aceh is known for its history of rebellion and its recent implementation of Islamic law. Debunking the stereotypical image of the Acehnese as inherently pious or fanatical, Kloos shows how Acehnese Muslims reflect consciously on their faith and often frame their religious lives in terms of gradual ethical improvement. Revealing that most Muslims view their lives through the prism of uncertainty, doubt, and imperfection, he argues that these senses of failure contribute strongly to how individuals try to become better Muslims. He also demonstrates that while religious authorities have encroached on believers and local communities, constraining them in their beliefs and practices, the same process has enabled ordinary Muslims to reflect on moral choices and dilemmas, and to shape the ways religious norms are enforced.

Arguing that Islamic norms are carried out through daily negotiations and contestations rather than blind conformity, Becoming Better Muslims examines how ordinary people develop and exercise their religious agency.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 18, 2017

"Morale: A Modern British History"

New from Oxford University Press: Morale: A Modern British History by Daniel Ussishkin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Arguably no nation is as closely associated with the term morale as Great Britain. Yet this concept that seems so innate to the British people was carefully cultivated within many spheres of modern national life.

In this first critical history of morale, Daniel Ussishkin asks how is it that modern Britons have come to regard morale as a category of conduct, vital for the success of collective effort in war and peace, and a mark of good, modern, and human managerial practice, appropriate for a democratic age. He narrates the intellectual, cultural, and institutional history of morale in modern imperial Britain: its emergence as a new concept during the long nineteenth century, its changing meanings and significations, and the social and political goals those who discussed, observed, or managed morale sought to achieve. Formalized as a new military disciplinary problem during the long nineteenth century, morale came to permeate nearly every civilian sphere of life during the era of the two world wars as a new way of managing human conduct. This book traces how it gradually emerged from a problem that was regarded as residual at best to one that was seen as the epitome of proper managerial practice, its institutional manifestations and promotion by myriad organizations and the social-democratic state, and its emergence as a potent political concept from Britain's social-democratic moment until the ascendancy of the New Right.

Daniel Ussishkin's Morale tells the history of concept central to the management of war, business, and civic society not just in Britain but in modern culture writ large.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Owners of the Map"

New from the University of California Press: Owners of the Map: Motorcycle Taxi Drivers, Mobility, and Politics in Bangkok by Claudio Sopranzetti.

About the book, from the publisher:
On May 19, 2010, the Royal Thai Army deployed tanks, snipers, and war weapons to disperse the thousands of Red Shirts protesters who had taken over the commercial center of Bangkok to demand democratic elections and an end to inequality. Key to this mobilization were motorcycle taxi drivers, who slowed down, filtered, and severed mobility in the area, claiming a prominent role in national politics and ownership over the city and challenging state hegemony. Four years later, on May 20, 2014, the same army general who directed the dispersal staged a coup, unopposed by protesters. How could state power have been so fragile and open to challenge in 2010 and yet so seemingly sturdy only four years later? How could protesters who had once fearlessly resisted military attacks now remain silent?

Owners of the Map provides answers to these questions—central to contemporary political mobilizations around the globe—through an ethnographic study of motorcycle taxi drivers in Bangkok. Claudio Sopranzetti advances an analysis of power that focuses not on the sturdiness of hegemony or the ubiquity of everyday resistance but on its potential fragility and the work needed for its maintenance.
Visit Claudio Sopranzetti's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 17, 2017

"Who Speaks for Nature?"

New from the University of Pennsylvania Press: Who Speaks for Nature?: On the Politics of Science by Laura Ephraim.

About the book, from the publisher:
When natural scientists speak up in public about the material phenomena they have observed, measured, and analyzed in the lab or the field, they embody a distinctive version of political authority. Where does science derive its remarkably resilient, though often contested, capacity to give voice to nature? What efforts on the part of scientists and nonscientists alike determine who is regarded as a legitimate witness to material reality and whose speech is discounted as idle chatter, mere opinion, or noise?

In Who Speaks for Nature?, Laura Ephraim reveals the roots of scientific authority in what she calls "world-building politics": the collection of practices through which scientists and citizens collaborate with and struggle against each other to engage natural things and events and to construct a shared yet heterogeneous world. Through innovative readings of some of the most important thinkers of science and politics of the near and distant past, including René Descartes, Thomas Hobbes, Giambattista Vico, and Hannah Arendt, Ephraim argues that the natural sciences are political because they are crucial sites in which the worldly relationships that bind together the human and nonhuman are inherited, augmented, and reconstructed.

Who Speaks for Nature? opens a novel conversation between political theory, science, and technology studies and augments existing efforts by feminists, environmentalists, and democratic theorists to challenge the traditional binary separating nature and politics. In an age of climate change and climate-change denial, Ephraim brings theoretical understandings of politics to bear on real-world events and decisions and uncovers fresh insights into the place of scientists in public life.
--Marshal Zeringue