Sunday, January 17, 2021

"Empire of Convicts"

New from the University of California Press: Empire of Convicts: Indian Penal Labor in Colonial Southeast Asia by Anand A. Yang.

About the book, from the publisher:
Empire of Convicts focuses on male and female Indians incarcerated in Southeast Asia for criminal and political offenses committed in colonial South Asia. From the seventeenth century onward, penal transportation was a key strategy of British imperial rule, exemplified by deportations first to the Americas and later to Australia. Case studies from the insular prisons of Bengkulu, Penang, and Singapore illuminate another carceral regime in the Indian Ocean World that brought South Asia and Southeast Asia together through a global system of forced migration and coerced labor. A major contribution to histories of crime and punishment, prisons, law, labor, transportation, migration, colonialism, and the Indian Ocean World, Empire of Convicts narrates the experiences of Indian bandwars (convicts) and shows how they exercised agency in difficult situations, fashioning their own worlds and even becoming “their own warders.” Anand A. Yang brings long journeys across kala pani (black waters) to life in a deeply researched and engrossing account that moves fluidly between local and global contexts.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 16, 2021

"An Equal Place"

New from Oxford University Press: An Equal Place: Lawyers in the Struggle for Los Angeles by Scott L. Cummings.

About the book, from the publisher:
An Equal Place is a monumental study of the role of lawyers in the movement to challenge economic inequality in one of America's most unequal cities: Los Angeles. Breaking with the traditional focus on national civil rights history, the book turns to the stories of contemporary lawyers, on the front lines and behind the scenes, who use law to reshape the meaning of low-wage work in the local economy.

Covering a transformative period of L.A. history, from the 1992 riots to the 2008 recession, Scott Cummings presents an unflinching account of five pivotal campaigns in which lawyers ally with local movements to challenge the abuses of garment sweatshops, the criminalization of day labor, the gentrification of downtown retail, the incursion of Wal-Mart groceries, and the misclassification of port truck drivers.

Through these campaigns, lawyers and activists define the city as a space for redefining work in vital industries transformed by deindustrialization, outsourcing, and immigration. Organizing arises outside of traditional labor law, powered by community-labor and racial justice groups using levers of local government to ultimately change the nature of labor law itself.

Cummings shows that sophisticated legal strategy — engaging yet extending beyond courts, in which lawyers are equal partners in social movements — is an indispensable part of the effort to make L.A. a more equal place. Challenging accounts of lawyers' negative impact on movements, Cummings argues that the L.A. campaigns have achieved meaningful reform, while strengthening the position of workers in local politics, through legal innovation. Dissecting the reasons for failure alongside the conditions for success, this groundbreaking book illuminates the crucial role of lawyers in forging a new model of city-building for the twenty-first century.
The Page 99 Test: Blue and Green.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 15, 2021

"America and Iran"

New from Knopf: America and Iran: A History, 1720 to the Present by John Ghazvinian.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this rich, fascinating history, John Ghazvinian traces the complex story of the relations of these two powers back to the Persian Empire of the eighteenth century–the subject of great admiration of Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams–and an America seen by Iranians as an ideal to emulate for their own government. Drawing on years of archival research both in the United States and Iran–including access to Iranian government archives rarely available to Western scholars–the Iranian-born, Oxford-educated historian leads us through the four seasons of U.S.-Iran relations: the “spring” of mutual fascination; the “summer” of early interactions; the “autumn” of close strategic ties; and the long, dark “winter” of mutual hatred. Ghazvinian, with grasp and a storyteller’s ability, makes clear where, how, and when it all went wrong. And shows why two countries that once had such heartfelt admiration for each other became such committed enemies; showing us, as well, how it didn’t have to turn out this way.
Follow John Ghazvinian on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 14, 2021

"Goering's Man in Paris"

New from Yale University Press: Goering's Man in Paris: The Story of a Nazi Art Plunderer and His World by Jonathan Petropoulos.

About the book, from the publisher:
A charged biography of a notorious Nazi art plunderer and his career in the postwar art world

Bruno Lohse (1911–2007) was one of the most notorious art plunderers in history. Appointed by Hermann Göring to Hitler’s art looting agency in Paris, he went on to help supervise the systematic theft and distribution of more than thirty thousand artworks, taken largely from French Jews, and to assist Göring in amassing an enormous private art collection. By the 1950s Lohse was officially denazified but was back in the art dealing world, offering masterpieces of dubious origin to American museums. After his death, dozens of paintings by Renoir, Monet, and Pissarro, among others, were found in his Zurich bank vault and adorning the walls of his Munich home. Jonathan Petropoulos spent nearly a decade interviewing Lohse and continues to serve as an expert witness for Holocaust restitution cases. Here he tells the story of Lohse’s life, offering a critical examination of the postwar art world.
Writers Read: Jonathan Petropoulos (December 2014).

The Page 99 Test: Artists Under Hitler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

"From Raj to Republic"

New from Stanford University Press: From Raj to Republic: Sovereignty, Violence, and Democracy in India by Sunil Purushotham.

About the book, from the publisher:
Between 1946 and 1952, the British Raj, the world's largest colony, was transformed into the Republic of India, the world's largest democracy. Independence, the Constituent Assembly Debates, the founding of the Republic, and India's first universal franchise general election occurred amidst the violence and displacement of the Partition, the uncertain and contested integration of the princely states, and the forceful quelling of internal dissent. This book investigates the ways in which these violent conjunctures constituted a postcolonial regime of sovereignty and shaped the historical development of democracy in India at the foundational moment of decolonization and national independence. From Raj to Republic presents a multifaceted history of sovereignty and democracy in India by linking together the princely state of Hyderabad's attempt to establish itself as an independent sovereign state, the partitioning of Punjab, and the communist-led revolutionary movement in the southern Indian region of Telangana. A national, territorial, republican, and liberal polity in India emerged out of a violent and contested process that forged new power relations and opened up historical trajectories with lasting consequences for modern India.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

"Forever Prisoners"

New from Oxford University Press: Forever Prisoners: How the United States Made the World's Largest Immigrant Detention System by Elliott Young.

About the book, from the publisher:
Stories of non-US citizens caught in the jaws of the immigration bureaucracy and subject to indefinite detention are in the headlines daily. These men, women, and children remain almost completely without rights, unprotected by law and the Constitution, and their status as outsiders, even though many of have lived and worked in this country for years, has left them vulnerable to the most extreme forms of state power. Although the rhetoric surrounding these individuals is extreme, the US government has been locking up immigrants since the late nineteenth century, often for indefinite periods and with limited ability to challenge their confinement.

Forever Prisoners offers the first broad history of immigrant detention in the United States. Elliott Young focuses on five stories, including Chinese detained off the coast of Washington in the late 1880s, an "insane" Russian-Brazilian Jew caught on a ship shuttling between New York and South America during World War I, Japanese Peruvians kidnapped and locked up in a Texas jail during World War II, a prison uprising by Mariel Cuban refugees in 1987, and a Salvadoran mother who grew up in the United States and has spent years incarcerated while fighting deportation. Young shows how foreigners have been caged not just for immigration violations, but also held in state and federal prisons for criminal offenses, in insane asylums for mental illness, as enemy aliens in INS facilities, and in refugee camps. Since the 1980s, the conflation of criminality with undocumented migrants has given rise to the most extensive system of immigrant incarceration in the nation's history. Today over half a million immigrants are caged each year, some serving indefinite terms in what has become the world's most extensive immigrant detention system. And yet, Young finds, the rate of all forms of incarceration for immigrants was as high in the early twentieth century as it is today, demonstrating a return to past carceral practices.

Providing critical historical context for today's news cycle, Forever Prisoners focuses on the sites of limbo where America's immigration population have been and continue to be held.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 11, 2021

"A Contest of Civilizations"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: A Contest of Civilizations: Exposing the Crisis of American Exceptionalism in the Civil War Era by Andrew F. Lang.

About the book, from the publisher:
Most mid-nineteenth-century Americans regarded the United States as an exceptional democratic republic that stood apart from a world seemingly riddled with revolutionary turmoil and aristocratic consolidation. Viewing themselves as distinct from and even superior to other societies, Americans considered their nation an unprecedented experiment in political moderation and constitutional democracy. But as abolitionism in England, economic unrest in Europe, and upheaval in the Caribbean and Latin America began to influence domestic affairs, the foundational ideas of national identity also faced new questions. And with the outbreak of civil war, as two rival governments each claimed the mantle of civilized democracy, the United States’ claim to unique standing in the community of nations dissolved into crisis. Could the Union chart a distinct course in human affairs when slaveholders, abolitionists, free people of color, and enslaved African Americans all possessed irreconcilable definitions of nationhood?

In this sweeping history of political ideas, Andrew F. Lang reappraises the Civil War era as a crisis of American exceptionalism. Through this lens, Lang shows how the intellectual, political, and social ramifications of the war and its meaning rippled through the decades that followed, not only for the nation’s own people but also in the ways the nation sought to redefine its place on the world stage.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 10, 2021

"Shredding Paper"

New from Cornell University Press: Shredding Paper: The Rise and Fall of Maine's Mighty Paper Industry by Michael G. Hillard.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the early twentieth century until the 1960s, Maine led the nation in paper production. The state could have earned a reputation as the Detroit of paper production, however, the industry eventually slid toward failure. What happened? Shredding Paper unwraps the changing US political economy since 1960, uncovers how the paper industry defined and interacted with labor relations, and peels away the layers of history that encompassed the rise and fall of Maine's mighty paper industry.

Michael G. Hillard deconstructs the paper industry's unusual technological and economic histories. For a century, the story of the nation's most widely read glossy magazines and card stock was one of capitalism, work, accommodation, and struggle. Local paper companies in Maine dominated the political landscape, controlling economic, workplace, land use, and water use policies. Hillard examines the many contributing factors surrounding how Maine became a paper powerhouse and then shows how it lost that position to changing times and foreign interests.

Through a retelling of labor relations and worker experiences from the late nineteenth century up until the late 1990s, Hillard highlights how national conglomerates began absorbing family-owned companies over time, which were subject to Wall Street demands for greater short-term profits after 1980. This new political economy impacted the economy of the entire state and destroyed Maine's once-vaunted paper industry. Shredding Paper truthfully and transparently tells the great and grim story of blue-collar workers and their families and analyzes how paper workers formulated a "folk" version of capitalism's history in their industry. Ultimately, Hillard offers a telling example of the demise of big industry in the United States.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 9, 2021

"Mobilizing Black Germany"

New from the University of Illinois Press: Mobilizing Black Germany: Afro-German Women and the Making of a Transnational Movement by Tiffany N. Florvil.

About the book, from the publisher:
The women and groups behind Black German thought and resistance of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries

In the 1980s and 1990s, Black German women began to play significant roles in challenging the discrimination in their own nation and abroad. Their grassroots organizing, writings, and political and cultural activities nurtured innovative traditions, ideas, and practices. These strategies facilitated new, often radical bonds between people from disparate backgrounds across the Black Diaspora.

Tiffany N. Florvil examines the role of queer and straight women in shaping the contours of the modern Black German movement as part of the Black internationalist opposition to racial and gender oppression. Florvil shows the multifaceted contributions of women to movement making, including Audre Lorde’s role in influencing their activism; the activists who inspired Afro-German women to curate their own identities and histories; and the evolution of the activist groups Initiative of Black Germans (ISD) and Afro-German Women (ADEFRA). These practices and strategies became a rallying point for isolated and marginalized women (and men) and shaped the roots of contemporary Black German activism.

Richly researched and multidimensional in scope, Mobilizing Black Germany offers a rare in-depth look at the emergence of the modern Black German movement and Black feminists’ politics, intellectualism, and internationalism.
Visit Tiffany N. Florvil's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 8, 2021

"White Freedom"

New from Princeton University Press: White Freedom: The Racial History of an Idea by Tyler Stovall.

About the book, from the author:
The era of the Enlightenment, which gave rise to our modern conceptions of freedom and democracy, was also the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. America, a nation founded on the principle of liberty, is also a nation built on African slavery, Native American genocide, and systematic racial discrimination. White Freedom traces the complex relationship between freedom and race from the eighteenth century to today, revealing how being free has meant being white.

Tyler Stovall explores the intertwined histories of racism and freedom in France and the United States, the two leading nations that have claimed liberty as the heart of their national identities. He explores how French and American thinkers defined freedom in racial terms and conceived of liberty as an aspect and privilege of whiteness. He discusses how the Statue of Liberty—a gift from France to the United States and perhaps the most famous symbol of freedom on Earth—promised both freedom and whiteness to European immigrants. Taking readers from the Age of Revolution to today, Stovall challenges the notion that racism is somehow a paradox or contradiction within the democratic tradition, demonstrating how white identity is intrinsic to Western ideas about liberty. Throughout the history of modern Western liberal democracy, freedom has long been white freedom.

A major work of scholarship that is certain to draw a wide readership and transform contemporary debates, White Freedom provides vital new perspectives on the inherent racism behind our most cherished beliefs about freedom, liberty, and human rights.
--Marshal Zeringue