Tuesday, June 19, 2018

"Rules, Paper, Status"

New from Stanford University Press: Rules, Paper, Status: Migrants and Precarious Bureaucracy in Contemporary Italy by Anna Tuckett.

About the book, from the publisher:
Whether motivated by humanitarianism or concern over "porous" borders, dominant commentary on migration in Europe has consistently focused on clandestine border crossings. Much less, however, is known about the everyday workings of immigration law inside borders. Drawing on in-depth ethnographic fieldwork in Italy, one of Europe's biggest receiving countries, Rules, Paper, Status moves away from polarized depictions to reveal how migration processes actually play out on the ground. Anna Tuckett highlights the complex processes of inclusion and exclusion produced through encounters with immigration law.

The statuses of "legal" or "illegal," which media and political accounts use as synonyms for "good" and "bad," "worthy" and "unworthy," are not created by practices of border-crossing, but rather through legal and bureaucratic processes within borders devised by governing states. Taking migrants' interactions with immigration regimes as its starting point, this book sheds light on the productive nature of legal and bureaucratic encounters and the unintended consequences they produce. Rules, Paper, Status argues that successfully navigating Italian immigration bureaucracy, which is situated in an immigration regime that is both exclusionary and flexible, requires and induces culturally specific modes of behavior. Exclusionary laws, however, can transform this social and cultural learning into the very thing that endangers migrants' right to live in the country.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 18, 2018

"Rich Russians"

New from Oxford University Press: Rich Russians: From Oligarchs to Bourgeoisie by Elisabeth Schimpfössl.

About the book, from the publisher:
The lives of wealthy people have long held an allure to many, but the lives of wealthy Russians pose a particular fascination. Having achieved their riches over the course of a single generation, the top 0.1 percent of Russian society have become known for ostentatious lifestyles and tastes. Nevertheless, as Elisabeth Schimpfössl shows in this book, their stories reveal a bourgeois existence that is distinct in its circumstances and self-definition, and far more complex than the caricatures suggest.

Rich Russians takes a deep and unprecedented look at this group: their personal stories, trajectories, ideas about life and how they see their role and position both on top of Russian society as well as globally. These people grew up and lived through a historically unique period of economic turmoil and social change following the collapse of the Soviet Union. But when taken in a wider historical context, their lives follow a familiar path, from new money to respectable money; parvenus becoming part of Society. Based on interviews with millionaires, billionaires, their spouses and children, Rich Russians concludes that, as a class, they have acquired all sorts of cultural and social resources which help consolidate their personal power. They have developed distinguished and refined tastes, rediscovered their family history, and begun actively engaging in philanthropy. Most importantly, they have worked out a narrative to justify why they deserve their elitist position in society - because of who they are and their superior qualities - and why they should be treated as equals by the West. This is a group whose social, cultural and political influence is likely to outlast any regime change. As the first book to examine the transformation of Russia's former "robber barons" into a new social class, Rich Russians provides insight into how this nation's newly wealthy tick.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 17, 2018

"The Siege of Acre, 1189-1191"

New from Yale University Press: The Siege of Acre, 1189-1191: Saladin, Richard the Lionheart, and the Battle That Decided the Third Crusade by John D. Hosler.

About the book, from the publisher:
The first comprehensive history of the most decisive military campaign of the Third Crusade and one of the longest wartime sieges of the Middle Ages

The two-year-long siege of Acre (1189–1191) was the most significant military engagement of the Third Crusade, attracting armies from across Europe, Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Maghreb. Drawing on a balanced selection of Christian and Muslim sources, historian John D. Hosler has written the first book-length account of this hard-won victory for the Crusaders, when England’s Richard the Lionheart and King Philip Augustus of France joined forces to defeat the Egyptian Sultan Saladin. Hosler’s lively and engrossing narrative integrates military, political, and religious themes and developments, offers new perspectives on the generals, and provides a full analysis of the tactical, strategic, organizational, and technological aspects on both sides of the conflict. It is the epic story of a monumental confrontation that was the centerpiece of a Holy War in which many thousands fought and died in the name of Christ or Allah.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 16, 2018

"Indigenous Prosperity and American Conquest"

New from The University of North Carolina Press: Indigenous Prosperity and American Conquest: Indian Women of the Ohio River Valley, 1690-1792 by Susan Sleeper-Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:
Indigenous Prosperity and American Conquest recovers the agrarian village world Indian women created in the lush lands of the Ohio Valley. Algonquian-speaking Indians living in a crescent of towns along the Wabash tributary of the Ohio were able to evade and survive the Iroquois onslaught of the seventeenth century, to absorb French traders and Indigenous refugees, to export peltry, and to harvest riparian, wetland, and terrestrial resources of every description and breathtaking richness. These prosperous Native communities frustrated French and British imperial designs, controlled the Ohio Valley, and confederated when faced with the challenge of American invasion.

By the late eighteenth century, Montreal silversmiths were sending their best work to Wabash Indian villages, Ohio Indian women were setting the fashions for Indigenous clothing, and European visitors were marveling at the sturdy homes and generous hospitality of trading entrepôts such as Miamitown. Confederacy, agrarian abundance, and nascent urbanity were, however, both too much and not enough. Kentucky settlers and American leaders—like George Washington and Henry Knox—coveted Indian lands and targeted the Indian women who worked them. Americans took women and children hostage to coerce male warriors to come to the treaty table to cede their homelands. Appalachian squatters, aspiring land barons, and ambitious generals invaded this settled agrarian world, burned crops, looted towns, and erased evidence of Ohio Indian achievement. This book restores the Ohio River valley as Native space.
--Marshal Zeringue

"The Battle for Fortune"

New from Cornell University Press: The Battle for Fortune: State-Led Development, Personhood, and Power among Tibetans in China by Charlene Makley.

About the book, from the publisher:
In a deeply ethnographic appraisal, based on years of in situ research, The Battle for Fortune looks at the rising stakes of Tibetans’ encounters with Chinese state-led development projects in the early 2000s. The book builds upon anthropology’s qualitative approach to personhood, power and space to rethink the premises and consequences of economic development campaigns in China's multiethnic northwestern province of Qinghai.

Charlene Makley considers Tibetans’ encounters with development projects as first and foremost a historically situated interpretive politics, in which people negotiate the presence or absence of moral and authoritative persons and their associated jurisdictions and powers. Because most Tibetans believe the active presence of deities and other invisible beings has been the ground of power, causation, and fertile or fortunate landscapes, Makley also takes divine beings seriously, refusing to relegate them to a separate, less consequential, "religious" or "premodern" world. The Battle for Fortune, therefore challenges readers to grasp the unique reality of Tibetans’ values and fears in the face of their marginalization in China. Makley uses this approach to encourage a more multidimensional and dynamic understanding of state-local relations than mainstream accounts of development and unrest that portray Tibet and China as a kind of yin-and-yang pair for models of statehood and development in a new global order.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 15, 2018

"The Scientific Journal"

New from The University of Chicago Press: The Scientific Journal: Authorship and the Politics of Knowledge in the Nineteenth Century by Alex Csiszar.

About the book, from the publisher:
Not since the printing press has a media object been as celebrated for its role in the advancement of knowledge as the scientific journal. From open communication to peer review, the scientific journal has long been central both to the identity of academic scientists and to the public legitimacy of scientific knowledge. But that was not always the case. At the dawn of the nineteenth century, academies and societies dominated elite study of the natural world. Journals were a relatively marginal feature of this world, and sometimes even an object of outright suspicion.

The Scientific Journal tells the story of how that changed. Alex Csiszar takes readers deep into nineteenth-century London and Paris, where savants struggled to reshape scientific life in the light of rapidly changing political mores and the growing importance of the press in public life. The scientific journal did not arise as a natural solution to the problem of communicating scientific discoveries. Rather, as Csiszar shows, its dominance was a hard-won compromise born of political exigencies, shifting epistemic values, intellectual property debates, and the demands of commerce. Many of the tensions and problems that plague scholarly publishing today are rooted in these tangled beginnings. As we seek to make sense of our own moment of intense experimentation in publishing platforms, peer review, and information curation, Csiszar argues powerfully that a better understanding of the journal’s past will be crucial to imagining future forms for the expression and organization of knowledge.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 14, 2018

"Constructing the Dynamo of Dixie"

New from The University of North Carolina Press: Constructing the Dynamo of Dixie: Race, Urban Planning, and Cosmopolitanism in Chattanooga, Tennessee by Courtney Elizabeth Knapp.

About the book, from the publisher:
What can local histories of interracial conflict and collaboration teach us about the potential for urban equity and social justice in the future? Courtney Elizabeth Knapp chronicles the politics of gentrification and culture-based development in Chattanooga, Tennessee, by tracing the roots of racism, spatial segregation, and mainstream “cosmopolitanism” back to the earliest encounters between the Cherokee, African Americans, and white settlers. For more than three centuries, Chattanooga has been a site for multiracial interaction and community building; yet today public leaders have simultaneously restricted and appropriated many contributions of working-class communities of color within the city, exacerbating inequality and distrust between neighbors and public officials. Knapp suggests that “diasporic placemaking”—defined as the everyday practices through which uprooted people create new communities of security and belonging—is a useful analytical frame for understanding how multiracial interactions drive planning and urban development in diverse cities over time. By weaving together archival, ethnographic, and participatory action research techniques, she reveals the political complexities of a city characterized by centuries of ordinary resistance to racial segregation and uneven geographic development.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

"An Anthropology of the Machine"

New from the University of Chicago Press: An Anthropology of the Machine: Tokyo's Commuter Train Network by Michael Fisch.

About the book, from the publisher:
With its infamously packed cars and disciplined commuters, Tokyo’s commuter train network is one of the most complex technical infrastructures on Earth. In An Anthropology of the Machine, Michael Fisch provides a nuanced perspective on how Tokyo’s commuter train network embodies the lived realities of technology in our modern world. Drawing on his fine-grained knowledge of transportation, work, and everyday life in Tokyo, Fisch shows how fitting into a system that operates on the extreme edge of sustainability can take a physical and emotional toll on a community while also creating a collective way of life—one with unique limitations and possibilities.

An Anthropology of the Machine is a creative ethnographic study of the culture, history, and experience of commuting in Tokyo. At the same time, it is a theoretically ambitious attempt to think through our very relationship with technology and our possible ecological futures. Fisch provides an unblinking glimpse into what it might be like to inhabit a future in which more and more of our infrastructure—and the planet itself—will have to operate beyond capacity to accommodate our ever-growing population.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

"The Proper Order of Things"

New from Stanford University Press: The Proper Order of Things: Language, Power, and Law in Ottoman Administrative Discourses by Heather L. Ferguson.

About the book, from the publisher:
The "natural order of the state" was an early modern mania for the Ottoman Empire. In a time of profound and pervasive imperial transformation, the ideals of stability, proper order, and social harmony were integral to the legitimization of Ottoman power. And as Ottoman territory grew, so too did its network of written texts: a web of sultanic edicts, aimed at defining and supplementing imperial authority in the empire's disparate provinces. With this book, Heather L. Ferguson studies how this textual empire created a unique vision of Ottoman legal and social order, and how the Ottoman ruling elite, via sword and pen, articulated a claim to universal sovereignty that subverted internal challengers and external rivals.

The Proper Order of Things offers the story of an empire, at once familiar and strange, told through the shifting written vocabularies of power deployed by the Ottomans in their quest to thrive within a competitive early modern environment. Ferguson transcends the question of what these documents said, revealing instead how their formulation of the "proper order of things" configured the state itself. Through this textual authority, she argues, Ottoman writers ensured the durability of their empire, creating the principles of organization on which Ottoman statecraft and authority came to rest.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 11, 2018

"Bible Culture and Authority in the Early United States"

New from Princeton University Press: Bible Culture and Authority in the Early United States by Seth Perry.

About the book, from the publisher:
Early Americans claimed that they looked to "the Bible alone" for authority, but the Bible was never, ever alone. Bible Culture and Authority in the Early United States is a wide-ranging exploration of the place of the Christian Bible in America in the decades after the Revolution. Attending to both theoretical concerns about the nature of scriptures and to the precise historical circumstances of a formative period in American history, Seth Perry argues that the Bible was not a "source" of authority in early America, as is often said, but rather a site of authority: a cultural space for editors, commentators, publishers, preachers, and readers to cultivate authoritative relationships.

While paying careful attention to early national bibles as material objects, Perry shows that "the Bible" is both a text and a set of relationships sustained by a universe of cultural practices and assumptions. Moreover, he demonstrates that Bible culture underwent rapid and fundamental changes in the early nineteenth century as a result of developments in technology, politics, and religious life. At the heart of the book are typical Bible readers, otherwise unknown today, and better-known figures such as Zilpha Elaw, Joseph Smith, Denmark Vesey, and Ellen White, a group that includes men and women, enslaved and free, Baptists, Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, Mormons, Presbyterians, and Quakers. What they shared were practices of biblical citation in writing, speech, and the performance of their daily lives. While such citation contributed to the Bible's authority, it also meant that the meaning of the Bible constantly evolved as Americans applied it to new circumstances and identities.
--Marshal Zeringue