Monday, August 21, 2017

"The Biopolitics of Embryos and Alphabets"

New from Oxford University Press: The Biopolitics of Embryos and Alphabets: A Reproductive History of the Nonhuman by Ruth A. Miller.

About the book, from the publisher:
Biopolitics and posthumanism have been passé theories in the academy for a while now, standing on the unfashionable side of the fault line between biology and liberal thought. These days, if people invoke them, they do so a bit apologetically. But, as Ruth Miller argues, we should not be so quick to relegate these terms to the scholarly dustbin. This is because they can help to explain an increasingly important (and contested) influence in modern democratic politics-that of nostalgia. Nostalgia is another somewhat embarrassing concept for the academy. It is that wistful sense of longing for an imaginary and unitary past that leads to an impossible future. And, moreover for this book, it is ordinarily considered "bad" for democracy. But, again, Miller says, not so fast. As she argues in this book, nostalgia is the mode of engagement with the world that allows thought and life to coexist, productively, within democratic politics.

Miller demonstrates her theory by looking at nostalgia as a nonhuman mode of "thought" embedded in biopolitical reproduction. To put this another way, she looks at mass democracy as a classically nonhuman affair and nostalgic, nonhuman reproduction as the political activity that makes this democracy happen. To illustrate, Miller draws on the politics surrounding embryos and the modernization of the Turkish alphabet. Situating this argument in feminist theories of biopolitics, this unusual and erudite book demonstrates that nostalgia is not as detrimental to democratic engagement as scholars have claimed.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Keeping It Halal"

New from Princeton University Press: Keeping It Halal: The Everyday Lives of Muslim American Teenage Boys by John O’Brien.

About the book, from the publisher:
A compelling portrait of a group of boys as they navigate the complexities of being both American teenagers and good Muslims

This book provides a uniquely personal look at the social worlds of a group of young male friends as they navigate the complexities of growing up Muslim in America. Drawing on three and a half years of intensive fieldwork in and around a large urban mosque, John O’Brien offers a compelling portrait of typical Muslim American teenage boys concerned with typical teenage issues—girlfriends, school, parents, being cool—yet who are also expected to be good, practicing Muslims who don’t date before marriage, who avoid vulgar popular culture, and who never miss their prayers.

Many Americans unfamiliar with Islam or Muslims see young men like these as potential ISIS recruits. But neither militant Islamism nor Islamophobia is the main concern of these boys, who are focused instead on juggling the competing cultural demands that frame their everyday lives. O’Brien illuminates how they work together to manage their “culturally contested lives” through subtle and innovative strategies—such as listening to profane hip-hop music in acceptably “Islamic” ways, professing individualism to cast their participation in communal religious obligations as more acceptably American, dating young Muslim women in ambiguous ways that intentionally complicate adjudications of Islamic permissibility, and presenting a “low-key Islam” in public in order to project a Muslim identity without drawing unwanted attention.

Closely following these boys as they move through their teen years together, Keeping It Halal sheds light on their strategic efforts to manage their day-to-day cultural dilemmas as they devise novel and dynamic modes of Muslim American identity in a new and changing America.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 20, 2017

"The Littlehampton Libels"

New from Oxford University Press: The Littlehampton Libels: A Miscarriage of Justice and a Mystery about Words in 1920s England by Christopher Hilliard.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Littlehampton Libels tells the story of a poison-pen mystery that led to a miscarriage of justice in the years following the First World War. There would be four criminal trials before the real culprit was finally punished, with the case challenging the police and the prosecuting lawyers as much any capital crime.

When a leading Metropolitan Police detective was tasked with solving the case, he questioned the residents of the seaside town of Littlehampton about their neighbours' vocabularies, how often they wrote letters, what their handwriting was like, whether they swore-and how they swore, for the letters at the heart of the case were often bizarre in their abuse. The archive that the investigation produced shows in extraordinary detail how ordinary people could use the English language in inventive and surprising ways at a time when universal literacy was still a novelty. Their personal lives, too, had surprises. The detective's inquiries and the courtroom dramas laid bare their secrets and the intimate details of neighbourhood and family life. Drawing on these records, The Littlehampton Libels traces the tangles of devotion and resentment, desire and manipulation, in a working-class community. We are used to emotional complexity in books about the privileged, but history is seldom able to recover the inner lives of ordinary people in this way.
--Marshal Zeringue

"The Great Han"

New from the University of California Press: The Great Han: Race, Nationalism, and Tradition in China Today by Kevin Carrico.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Great Han is an ethnographic study of the Han Clothing Movement, a neotraditionalist and racial nationalist movement that has emerged in China since 2001. Participants come together both online and in person in cities across China to revitalize their utopian vision of the authentic “Great Han” and corresponding “real China” through pseudotraditional ethnic dress, reinvented Confucian ritual, and anti-foreign sentiment. Analyzing the movement’s ideas and practices, this book argues that the vision of a pure, perfectly ordered, ethnically homogeneous, and secure society is in fact a fantasy constructed in response to the challenging realities of the present. Yet this national imaginary is reproduced precisely through its own perpetual elusiveness. The Great Han is a pioneering analysis of Han identity, nationalism, and social movements in a rapidly changing China.
Kevin Carrico is Lecturer in the Department of International Studies at Macquarie University and the translator of Tsering Woeser’s Tibet on Fire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 19, 2017

"The City of London and Social Democracy"

New from Oxford University Press: The City of London and Social Democracy: The Political Economy of Finance in Post-war Britain by Aled Davies.

About the book, from the publisher:
The City of London and Social Democracy evaluates the changing relationship between the United Kingdom financial sector - the 'City of London' - and the post-war social democratic State.

The key argument made in Aled Davies's study is that changes to the British financial system during the 1960s and 1970s undermined a number of the key components of social democratic economic policy practised by the post-war British State. The institutionalization of investment in pension and insurance funds; the fragmentation of an oligopolistic domestic banking system; the emergence of an unregulated international capital market centred on London; the breakdown of the Bretton Woods international monetary system; and the popularization of a City-centric, anti-industrial conception of Britain's economic identity, all served to disrupt and undermine the social democratic economic strategy which had attempted to develop and maintain Britain's international competitiveness as an industrial economy since the Second World War. These findings assert the need to place the Thatcher governments' subsequent economic policy revolution, in which a liberal market approach accelerated deindustrialization and saw the rapid expansion of the nation's international financial service industry, within a broader material and institutional context previously underappreciated by historians.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 18, 2017

"Raised under Stalin"

New from Cornell University Press: Raised under Stalin: Young Communists and the Defense of Socialism by Seth Bernstein.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Raised under Stalin, Seth Bernstein shows how Stalin's regime provided young people with opportunities as members of the Young Communist League or Komsomol even as it surrounded them with violence, shaping socialist youth culture and socialism more broadly through the threat and experience of war. Informed by declassified materials from post-Soviet archives, as well as films, memoirs, and diaries by and about youth, Raised under Stalin explains the divided status of youth for the Bolsheviks: they were the "new people" who would someday build communism, the potential soldiers who would defend the USSR, and the hooligans who might undermine it from within.

Bernstein explains how, although Soviet revolutionary youth culture began as the preserve of proletarian activists, the Komsomol transformed under Stalin to become a mass organization of moral education; youth became the targets of state repression even as Stalin’s regime offered them the opportunity to participate in political culture. Raised under Stalin follows Stalinist youth into their ultimate test, World War II. Even as the war against Germany decimated the ranks of Young Communists, Bernstein finds evidence that it cemented Stalinist youth culture as a core part of socialism.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 17, 2017

"The Last Ottoman Generation and the Making of the Modern Middle East"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Last Ottoman Generation and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Michael Provence.

About the book
, from the publisher:
The modern Middle East emerged out of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, when Britain and France partitioned the Ottoman Arab lands into several new colonial states. The following period was a charged and transformative time of unrest. Insurgent leaders, trained in Ottoman military tactics and with everything to lose from the fall of the Empire, challenged the mandatory powers in a number of armed revolts. This is a study of this crucial period in Middle Eastern history, tracing the period through popular political movements and the experience of colonial rule. In doing so, Provence emphasises the continuity between the late Ottoman and Colonial era, explaining how national identities emerged, and how the seeds were sown for many of the conflicts which have defined the Middle East in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. This is a valuable read for students of Middle Eastern history and politics.
Michael Provence teaches Middle East history at the Department of History, University of California, San Diego. He is the author of The Great Syrian Revolt and the Rise of Arab Nationalism (2005).

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"Medical Misadventure in an Age of Professionalisation"

New from Manchester University Press: Medical Misadventure in an Age of Professionalisation, 1780-1890 by Alannah Tomkins.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book looks at medical professionalisation from a new perspective, one of failure rather than success. It questions the existing picture of broad and rising medical prosperity across the nineteenth century to consider the men who did not keep up with professionalising trends. It unpicks the life stories of men who could not make ends meet or who could not sustain a professional persona of disinterested expertise, either because they could not overcome public accusations of misconduct or because they struggled privately with stress. In doing so it uncovers the trials of the medical marketplace and the pressures of medical masculinity. All professionalising groups risked falling short of rising expectations, but for doctors these expectations were inflected in some occupationally specific ways.
Alannah Tomkins is a Professor in History at Keele University.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Stalin's Defectors"

New from Oxford University Press: Stalin's Defectors: How Red Army Soldiers became Hitler's Collaborators, 1941-1945 by Mark Edele.

About the book, from the publisher:
Stalin's Defectors is the first systematic study of the phenomenon of frontline surrender to the Germans in the Soviet Union's 'Great Patriotic War' against the Nazis in 1941-1945. No other Allied army in the Second World War had such a large share of defectors among its prisoners of war. Based on a broad range of sources, this volume investigates the extent, the context, the scenarios, the reasons, the aftermath, and the historiography of frontline defection.

It shows that the most widespread sentiments animating attempts to cross the frontline was a wish to survive this war. Disgruntlement with Stalin's 'socialism' was also prevalent among those who chose to give up and hand themselves over to the enemy. While politics thus played a prominent role in pushing people to commit treason, few desired to fight on the side of the enemy. Hence, while the phenomenon of frontline defection tells us much about the lack of popularity of Stalin's regime, it does not prove that the majority of the population was ready for resistance, let alone collaboration. Both sides of a long-standing debate between those who equate all Soviet captives with defectors, and those who attempt to downplay the phenomenon, then, over-stress their argument. Instead, more recent research on the moods of both the occupied and the unoccupied Soviet population shows that the majority understood its own interest in opposition to both Hitler's and Stalin's regime. The findings of Mark Edele in this study support such an interpretation.
Visit Mark Edele's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

"What Remains"

New from Columbia University Press: What Remains: Everyday Encounters with the Socialist Past in Germany by Jonathan Bach.

About the book, from the publisher:
What happens when an entire modern state's material culture becomes abruptly obsolete? How do ordinary people encounter what remains? In this ethnography, Jonathan Bach examines the afterlife of East Germany following the fall of the Berlin Wall, as things and places from that vanished socialist past continue to circulate and shape the politics of memory.

What Remains traces the unsettling effects of these unmoored artifacts on the German present, arguing for a rethinking of the role of the everyday as a site of reckoning with difficult pasts. Bach juxtaposes four sites where the stakes of the everyday appear: products commodified as nostalgia, amateur museums dedicated to collecting everyday life under socialism, the "people's palace" that captured the national imagination through its destruction, and the feared and fetishized Berlin Wall. Moving from the local, the intimate, and the small to the national, the impersonal, and the large, this book's interpenetrating chapters show the unexpected social and political force of the ordinary in the production of memory. What Remains offers a unique vantage point on the workings of the everyday in situations of radical discontinuity, contributing to new understandings of postsocialism and the intricate intersection of material remains and memory.
Visit Jonathan Bach's website.

--Marshal Zeringue