Thursday, October 2, 2014

"Why Occupy a Square?"

New from Oxford University Press: Why Occupy a Square?: People, Protests and Movements in the Egyptian Revolution by Jeroen Gunning and Ilan Zvi Baron.

About the book, from the publisher:
On 25 January 2011, tens of thousands of Egyptians came out on the streets to protest against emergency rule and police brutality. Eighteen days later, Mubarak, one of the longest sitting dictators in the region, had gone. How are we to make sense of these events? Was this a revolution, a revolutionary moment? How did the protests come about? How were they able to outmaneuver the police? Was this really a 'leaderless revolution,' as so many pundits claimed, or were the demonstrations an outgrowth of the protest networks that had developed over the past decade? Why did so many people with no history of activism participate? What role did economic and systemic crises play in creating the conditions for these protests to occur? Was this really a Facebook revolution?

Why Occupy a Square? is a dynamic exploration of the shape and timing of these extraordinary events, the players behind them, and the tactics and protest frames they developed. Drawing on social movement theory, it traces the interaction between protest cycles, regime responses and broader structural changes over the past decade. Using theories of urban politics, space and power, it reflects on the exceptional state of non-sovereign politics that developed during the occupation of Tahrir Square.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"The Power of Feasts"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Power of Feasts: From Prehistory to the Present by Brian Hayden.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this book, Brian Hayden provides the first comprehensive, theoretical work on the history of feasting in pre-industrial societies. As an important barometer of cultural change, feasting is at the forefront of theoretical developments in archaeology. The Power of Feasts chronicles the evolution of the practice from its first perceptible prehistoric presence to modern industrial times. This study explores recurring patterns in the dynamics of feasts as well as linkages to other aspects of culture such as food, personhood, cognition, power, politics, and economics. Analyzing detailed ethnographic and archaeological observations from a wide variety of cultures, including Oceania and Southeast Asia, the Americas, and Eurasia, Hayden illuminates the role of feasts as an invaluable insight into the social and political structures of past societies.
Brian Hayden is Professor Emeritus in the Archaeology Department at Simon Fraser University.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Robert Morris's Folly"

New from Yale University Press: Robert Morris's Folly: The Architectural and Financial Failures of an American Founder by Ryan K. Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1798 Robert Morris—“financier of the American Revolution,” confidant of George Washington, former U.S. senator—plunged from the peaks of wealth and prestige into debtors' prison and public contempt. How could one of the richest men in the United States, one of only two founders who signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution, suffer such a downfall?

This book examines for the first time the extravagant Philadelphia town house Robert Morris built and its role in bringing about his ruin. Part biography, part architectural history, the book recounts Morris’s wild successes as a merchant, his recklessness as a land speculator, and his unrestrained passion in building his palatial, doomed mansion, once hailed as the most expensive private building in the United States but later known as “Morris’s Folly.” Setting Morris’s tale in the context of the nation’s founding, this volume refocuses attention on an essential yet nearly forgotten American figure while also illuminating the origins of America’s ongoing, ambivalent attitudes toward the superwealthy and their sensational excesses.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 29, 2014

"Remembering the Modoc War"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Remembering the Modoc War: Redemptive Violence and the Making of American Innocence by Boyd Cothran.

About the book, from the publisher:
On October 3, 1873, the U.S. Army hanged four Modoc headmen at Oregon's Fort Klamath. The condemned had supposedly murdered the only U.S. Army general to die during the Indian wars of the nineteenth century. Their much-anticipated execution marked the end of the Modoc War of 1872–73. But as Boyd Cothran demonstrates, the conflict's close marked the beginning of a new struggle over the memory of the war. Examining representations of the Modoc War in the context of rapidly expanding cultural and commercial marketplaces, Cothran shows how settlers created and sold narratives of the conflict that blamed the Modocs. These stories portrayed Indigenous people as the instigators of violence and white Americans as innocent victims.

Cothran examines the production and circulation of these narratives, from sensationalized published histories and staged lectures featuring Modoc survivors of the war to commemorations and promotional efforts to sell newly opened Indian lands to settlers. As Cothran argues, these narratives of American innocence justified not only violence against Indians in the settlement of the West but also the broader process of U.S. territorial and imperial expansion.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 28, 2014

"The Evolving Sphere of Food Security"

New from Oxford University Press: The Evolving Sphere of Food Security by Rosamond L. Naylor (editor).

About the book, from the publisher:
Hundreds of millions of people still suffer from chronic hunger and food insecurity despite sufficient levels of global food production. The poor's inability to afford adequate diets remains the biggest constraint to solving hunger, but the dynamics of global food insecurity are complex and demand analysis that extends beyond the traditional domains of economics and agriculture. How do the policies used to promote food security in one country affect nutrition, food access, natural resources, and national security in other countries? How do the priorities and challenges of achieving food security change over time as countries develop economically? The Evolving Sphere of Food Security seeks to answer these two important questions and others by exploring the interconnections of food security to security of many kinds: energy, water, health, climate, the environment, and national security.

Through personal stories of research in the field and policy advising at local and global scales, a multidisciplinary group of scholars provide readers with a real-world sense of the opportunities and challenges involved in alleviating food insecurity. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, management of HIV/AIDS, the establishment of an equitable system of land property rights, and investment in solar-powered irrigation play an important role in improving food security---particularly in the face of global climate change. Meanwhile, food price spikes associated with the United States' biofuels policy continue to have spillover effects on the world's rural poor with implications for stability and national security.

The Evolving Sphere of Food Security traces four key areas of the food security field: 1) the political economy of food and agriculture; 2) challenges for the poorest billion; 3) agriculture's dependence on resources and the environment; and 4) food in a national and international security context. This book connects these areas in a way that tells an integrated story about human lives, resource use, and the policy process.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 27, 2014

"The Founders and the Idea of a National University"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Founders and the Idea of a National University: Constituting the American Mind by George Thomas.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book examines the ideas of the founders with regard to establishing a national university and what those ideas say about their understanding of America. It offers the first study on the idea of a national university and how the founders understood it as an important feature in an educational system that would sustain the American experiment in democracy. Their ideas about education suggest that shaping the American mind is essential to the success of the Constitution and that this is something that future generations would need to continue to do.
George Thomas is Associate Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College. He previously taught at Williams College. He is the author of The Madisonian Constitution, as well as numerous articles and essays on American constitutionalism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 26, 2014

"Advice for the Sultan"

New from Oxford University Press: Advice for the Sultan: Prophetic Voices and Secular Politics in Medieval Islam by Neguin Yavari.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Advice for the Sultan Neguin Yavari excavates multiple, conflicting strands of Islamic political thought from the medieval past to the present, reassessing these ideas and their impact over the longue duree. Her aim is to revise our understanding of the relation- ship between modern history and the current master narratives of both Western and Islamic histories of political thought. She does this by re-examinating Islamic advice literature, bringing it to life in novel ways. Yavari argues that if read laterally and closely, it promotes secular values such as reason and moderation as the most effective safeguard against political instability and divine rebuke. Related questions raised in this book include, can Islamic political thought be folded into the discipline of intellectual history? How do we write the history of political thought when its end-product is not seen as the march of a manifest destiny, or progressive secularisation, or the promotion of liberal values, such as is the case with the Islamic world today? Is it possible to read texts for context if the values adumbrated in them do not take hold in society, or to study those that produce political communities that differ radically from those that emerged in eighteenth- and the nineteenth-century Europe?
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 25, 2014

"Angels and the Order of Heaven in Medieval and Renaissance Italy"

New from Cambridge University Press: Angels and the Order of Heaven in Medieval and Renaissance Italy by Meredith J. Gill.

About the book, from the publisher:
From earliest times, angels have been seen as instruments of salvation and retribution, agents of revelation, and harbingers of hope. In effect, angels are situated at the intersections of diverse belief structures and philosophical systems. In this book, Meredith J. Gill examines the role of angels in medieval and Renaissance conceptions of heaven. She considers the character of Renaissance angelology as distinct from the medieval theological traditions that informed it and from which it emerged. Tracing the iconography of angels in text and in visual form, she also uncovers the philosophical underpinnings of medieval and Renaissance definitions of angels and their nature. From Dante through Pico della Mirandola, from the images of angels depicted by Fra Angelico to those painted by Raphael and his followers, angels, Gill argues, are the touchstones and markers of the era's intellectual self-understanding, and its classical revival, theological doctrines, and artistic imagination.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"Writing History in the Global Era"

New from W. W. Norton: Writing History in the Global Era by Lynn Hunt.

About the book, from the publisher:
Leading historian Lynn Hunt rethinks why history matters in today’s global world and how it should be written.

George Orwell wrote that “history is written by the winners.” Even if that seems a bit too cut-and-dried, we can say that history is always written from a viewpoint but that viewpoints change, sometimes radically.

The history of workers, women, and minorities challenged the once-unquestioned dominance of the tales of great leaders and military victories. Then, cultural studies—including feminism and queer studies—brought fresh perspectives, but those too have run their course.

With globalization emerging as a major economic, cultural, and political force, Lynn Hunt examines whether it can reinvigorate the telling of history. She hopes that scholars from East and West can collaborate in new ways and write wider-ranging works.

At the same time, Hunt argues that we could better understand the effects of globalization in the past if we knew more about how individuals felt about the changes they were experiencing. She proposes a sweeping reevaluation of individuals’ active role and their place in society as the keys to understanding the way people and ideas interact. She also reveals how surprising new perspectives on society and the self—from environmental history, the history of human-animal interactions, and even neuroscience—offer promising new ways of thinking about the meaning and purpose of history in our time.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"Packaged Pleasures"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Packaged Pleasures: How Technology and Marketing Revolutionized Desire by Gary S. Cross and Robert N. Proctor.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the candy bar to the cigarette, records to roller coasters, a technological revolution during the last quarter of the nineteenth century precipitated a colossal shift in human consumption and sensual experience. Food, drink, and many other consumer goods came to be mass-produced, bottled, canned, condensed, and distilled, unleashing new and intensified surges of pleasure, delight, thrill—and addiction.

In Packaged Pleasures, Gary S. Cross and Robert N. Proctor delve into an uncharted chapter of American history, shedding new light on the origins of modern consumer culture and how technologies have transformed human sensory experience. In the space of only a few decades, junk foods, cigarettes, movies, recorded sound, and thrill rides brought about a revolution in what it means to taste, smell, see, hear, and touch. New techniques of boxing, labeling, and tubing gave consumers virtually unlimited access to pleasures they could simply unwrap and enjoy. Manufacturers generated a seemingly endless stream of sugar-filled, high-fat foods that were delicious but detrimental to health. Mechanically rolled cigarettes entered the market and quickly addicted millions. And many other packaged pleasures dulled or displaced natural and social delights. Yet many of these same new technologies also offered convenient and effective medicines, unprecedented opportunities to enjoy music and the visual arts, and more hygienic, varied, and nutritious food and drink. For better or for worse, sensation became mechanized, commercialized, and, to a large extent, democratized by being made cheap and accessible. Cross and Proctor have delivered an ingeniously constructed history of consumerism and consumer technology that will make us all rethink some of our favorite things.
--Marshal Zeringue