Tuesday, September 19, 2017

"Street Occupations"

New from the University Press of Texas: Street Occupations: Urban Vending in Rio de Janeiro, 1850 by Patricia Acerbi.

About the book, from the publisher:
Street vending has supplied the inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro with basic goods for several centuries. Once the province of African slaves and free blacks, street commerce became a site of expanded (mostly European) immigrant participation and shifting state regulations during the transition from enslaved to free labor and into the early post-abolition period. Street Occupations investigates how street vendors and state authorities negotiated this transition, during which vendors sought greater freedom to engage in commerce and authorities imposed new regulations in the name of modernity and progress.

Examining ganhador (street worker) licenses, newspaper reports, and detention and court records, and considering the emergence of a protective association for vendors, Patricia Acerbi reveals that street sellers were not marginal urban dwellers in Rio but active participants in a debate over citizenship. In their struggles to sell freely throughout the Brazilian capital, vendors asserted their citizenship as urban participants with rights to the city and to the freedom of commerce. In tracing how vendors resisted efforts to police and repress their activities, Acerbi demonstrates the persistence of street commerce and vendors’ tireless activity in the city, which the law eventually accommodated through municipal street commerce regulation passed in 1924.

A focused history of a crucial era of transition in Brazil, Street Occupations offers important new perspectives on patron-client relations, slavery and abolition, policing, the use of public space, the practice of free labor, the meaning of citizenship, and the formality and informality of work.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 18, 2017

"The Rights Turn in Conservative Christian Politics"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Rights Turn in Conservative Christian Politics: How Abortion Transformed the Culture Wars by Andrew R. Lewis.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Rights Turn in Conservative Christian Politics documents a recent, fundamental change in American politics with the waning of Christian America. Rather than conservatives emphasizing morality and liberals emphasizing rights, both sides now wield rights arguments as potent weapons to win political and legal battles and build grassroots support. Lewis documents this change on the right, focusing primarily on evangelical politics. Using extensive historical and survey data that compares evangelical advocacy and evangelical public opinion, Lewis explains how the prototypical culture war issue - abortion - motivated the conservative rights turn over the past half century, serving as a springboard for rights learning and increased conservative advocacy in other arenas. Challenging the way we think about the culture wars, Lewis documents how rights claims are used to thwart liberal rights claims, as well as to provide protection for evangelicals, whose cultural positions are increasingly in the minority; they have also allowed evangelical elites to justify controversial advocacy positions to their base and to engage more easily in broad rights claiming in new or expanded political arenas, from health care to capital punishment.
Visit Andrew R. Lewis's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 17, 2017

"The Dancing Lares and the Serpent in the Garden"

New from Princeton University Press: The Dancing Lares and the Serpent in the Garden: Religion at the Roman Street Corner by Harriet I. Flower.

About the book, from the publisher:
The most pervasive gods in ancient Rome had no traditional mythology attached to them, nor was their worship organized by elites. Throughout the Roman world, neighborhood street corners, farm boundaries, and household hearths featured small shrines to the beloved lares, a pair of cheerful little dancing gods. These shrines were maintained primarily by ordinary Romans, and often by slaves and freedmen, for whom the lares cult provided a unique public leadership role. In this comprehensive and richly illustrated book, the first to focus on the lares, Harriet Flower offers a strikingly original account of these gods and a new way of understanding the lived experience of everyday Roman religion.

Weaving together a wide range of evidence, Flower sets forth a new interpretation of the much-disputed nature of the lares. She makes the case that they are not spirits of the dead, as many have argued, but rather benevolent protectors—gods of place, especially the household and the neighborhood, and of travel. She examines the rituals honoring the lares, their cult sites, and their iconography, as well as the meaning of the snakes often depicted alongside lares in paintings of gardens. She also looks at Compitalia, a popular midwinter neighborhood festival in honor of the lares, and describes how its politics played a key role in Rome’s increasing violence in the 60s and 50s BC, as well as in the efforts of Augustus to reach out to ordinary people living in the city’s local neighborhoods.

A reconsideration of seemingly humble gods that were central to the religious world of the Romans, this is also the first major account of the full range of lares worship in the homes, neighborhoods, and temples of ancient Rome.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 16, 2017

"Demolition on Karl Marx Square"

New from Oxford University Press: Demolition on Karl Marx Square: Cultural Barbarism and the People's State in 1968 by Andrew Demshuk.

About the book, from the publisher:
Communist East Germany's demolition of Leipzig's perfectly intact medieval University Church in May 1968 was an act decried as "cultural barbarism" across the two Germanies and beyond. Although overshadowed by the crackdown on Prague Spring mere weeks later, the willful destruction of this historic landmark on a central site symbolically renamed Karl Marx Square represents an essential turning point in the relationship between the Communist authorities and the people they claimed to serve. As the largest case of public protest in East German history between the 1953 Uprising and 1989 Revolution, this intimate local trauma exhibits the inner workings of a "dictatorial" system and exposes the often gray and overlapping lines between state and citizenry, which included both quiet and open resistance, passive and active collaboration. Through deep analysis of untapped periodicals and archives (including once-classified State documents, Stasi, and police records, and extensive private protest letters), it introduces a broad cast of characters who helped make the inconceivable possible, and restores the voices of not a few ordinary citizens of all stripes who dared in the name of culture, humanism, and civic pride to protest what they saw as an inconceivable tragedy. In this city that later started the 1989 October Revolution which ultimately triggered the fall of the Berlin Wall, residents from every social background desperately hoped to convince their leaders to step back from the brink. But as the dust cleared in 1968, they saw with all finality that their voices meant nothing, that the DDR was a sham democracy awash with utopian rhetoric that had no connection with their everyday lives. If Communism died in Prague in 1968, it had already died in Leipzig just weeks before, with repercussions that still haunt today's politics of memory.
The Page 99 Test: The Lost German East.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 15, 2017

"Flavors of Empire"

New from the University of California Press: Flavors of Empire: Food and the Making of Thai America by Mark Padoongpatt.

About the book, from the publisher:
With a uniquely balanced combination of salty, sweet, sour, and spicy flavors, Thai food burst onto Los Angeles’s and America’s culinary scene in the 1980s. Flavors of Empire examines the rise of Thai food and the way it shaped the racial and ethnic contours of Thai American identity and community. Full of vivid oral histories and new archival material, this book explores the factors that made foodways central to the Thai American experience. Starting with American Cold War intervention in Thailand, Mark Padoongpatt traces how informal empire allowed U.S. citizens to discover Thai cuisine abroad and introduce it inside the United States. When Thais arrived in Los Angeles, they reinvented and repackaged Thai food in various ways to meet the rising popularity of the cuisine in urban and suburban spaces. Padoongpatt opens up the history and politics of Thai food for the first time, all while demonstrating how race emerges in seemingly mundane and unexpected places.
Mark Padoongpatt is Assistant Professor of Asian and Asian American Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 14, 2017

"At the Altar of Lynching"

New from Cambridge University Press: At the Altar of Lynching: Burning Sam Hose in the American South by Donald G. Mathews.

About the book, from the publisher:
The story of a black day-laborer called Sam Hose killing his white employer in a workplace dispute ended in a lynching of enormous religious significance. For many deeply-religious communities in the Jim Crow South, killing those like Sam Hose restored balance to a moral cosmos upended by a heinous crime. A religious intensity in the mood and morality of segregation surpassed law, and in times of social crisis could justify illegal white violence - even to the extreme act of lynching. In At the Altar of Lynching, distinguished historian Donald G. Mathews offers a new interpretation of the murder of Sam Hose, which places the religious culture of the evangelical South at its center. He carefully considers how mainline Protestants, including women, not only in many instances came to support or accept lynching, but gave the act religious meaning and justification.
Donald G. Mathews has taught at Duke and Princeton Universities, as well as at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He has studied and written about religion and the South for over fifty years, publishing three books and over thirty articles. He is the author of Religion in the Old South (1979) and co-author of Sex, Gender, and the Politics of ERA (1993).

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

"Evidence for Hope"

New from Princeton University Press: Evidence for Hope: Making Human Rights Work in the 21st Century by Kathryn Sikkink.

About the book, from the publisher:
A history of the successes of the human rights movement and a case for why human rights work

Evidence for Hope makes the case that, yes, human rights work. Critics may counter that the movement is in serious jeopardy or even a questionable byproduct of Western imperialism. They point out that Guantánamo is still open, the Arab Spring protests have been crushed, and governments are cracking down on NGOs everywhere. But respected human rights expert Kathryn Sikkink draws on decades of research and fieldwork to provide a rigorous rebuttal to pessimistic doubts about human rights laws and institutions. She demonstrates that change comes slowly and as the result of struggle, but in the long term, human rights movements have been vastly effective.

Attacks on the human rights movement’s credibility are based on the faulty premise that human rights ideas emerged in North America and Europe and were imposed on developing southern nations. Starting in the 1940s, Latin American leaders and activists were actually early advocates for the international protection of human rights. Sikkink shows that activists and scholars disagree about the efficacy of human rights because they use different yardsticks to measure progress. Comparing the present to the past, she shows that genocide and violence against civilians have declined over time, while access to healthcare and education has increased dramatically. Cognitive and news biases contribute to pervasive cynicism, but Sikkink’s investigation into past and current trends indicates that human rights is not in its twilight. Instead, this is a period of vibrant activism that has made impressive improvements in human well-being.

Exploring the strategies that have led to real humanitarian gains since the middle of the twentieth century, Evidence for Hope looks at how these essential advances can be supported and sustained for decades to come.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

"What Makes Time Special?"

New from Oxford University Press: What Makes Time Special? by Craig Callender.

About the book, from the publisher:
As we navigate through life we instinctively model time as having a flowing present that divides a fixed past from open future. This model develops in childhood and is deeply saturated within our language, thought and behavior, affecting our conceptions of the universe, freedom and the self. Yet as central as it is to our lives, physics seems to have no room for this flowing present. What Makes Time Special? demonstrates this claim in detail and then turns to two novel positive tasks. First, by looking at the world "sideways" - in the spatial directions -- it shows that physics is not "spatializing time" as is commonly alleged. Even relativity theory makes significant distinctions between the spacelike and timelike directions, often with surprising consequences. Second, if the flowing present is an illusion, it is a deep one worthy of explanation. The author develops a picture whereby the temporal flow arises as an interaction effect between an observer and the physics of the world.

Using insights from philosophy, cognitive science, biology, psychology and physics, the theory claims that the flowing present model of time is the natural reaction to the perceptual and evolutionary challenges thrown at us. Modeling time as flowing makes sense even if it misrepresents it.
--Marshal Zeringue

"In Search of Soul"

New from the University of California Press: In Search of Soul: Hip-Hop, Literature, and Religion by Alejandro Nava.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Search of Soul explores the meaning of “soul” in sacred and profane incarnations, from its biblical origins to its central place in the rich traditions of black and Latin history. Surveying the work of writers, artists, poets, musicians, philosophers and theologians, Alejandro Nava shows how their understandings of the “soul” revolve around narratives of justice, liberation, and spiritual redemption. He contends that biblical traditions and hip-hop emerged out of experiences of dispossession and oppression. Whether born in the ghettos of America or of the Roman Empire, hip-hop and Christianity have endured by giving voice to the persecuted. This book offers a view of soul in living color, as a breathing, suffering, dreaming thing.
Alejandro Nava is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Arizona and author of Wonder and Exile in the New World and The Mystical and Prophetic Thought of Simone Weil and Gustavo Gutierrez.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 11, 2017

"Statelessness in the Caribbean"

New from the University of Pennsylvania Press: Statelessness in the Caribbean: The Paradox of Belonging in a Postnational World by Kristy A. Belton.

About the book, from the publisher:
Without citizenship from any country, more than 10 million people worldwide are unable to enjoy the rights, freedoms, and protections that citizens of a state take for granted. They are stateless and formally belong nowhere. The stateless typically face insurmountable obstacles in their ability to be self-determining agents and are vulnerable to a variety of harms, including neglect and exploitation. Through an analysis of statelessness in the Caribbean, Kristy A. Belton argues for the reconceptualization of statelessness as a form of forced displacement.

Belton argues that the stateless—those who are displaced in place—suffer similarly to those who are forcibly displaced, but unlike the latter, they are born and reside within the country that denies or deprives them of citizenship. She explains how the peculiar form of displacement experienced by the stateless often occurs under nonconflict and noncrisis conditions and within democratic regimes, all of which serve to make such people's plight less visible and consequently heightens their vulnerability. Statelessness in the Caribbean addresses a number of current issues including belonging, migration and forced displacement, the treatment and inclusion of the ethnic and racial "other," the application of international human rights law and doctrine to local contexts, and the ability of individuals to be self-determining agents who create the conditions of their own making.

Belton concludes that statelessness needs to be addressed as a matter of global distributive justice. Citizenship is not only a necessary good for an individual in a world carved into states but is also a human right and a status that should not be determined by states alone. In order to resolve their predicament, the stateless must have the right to choose to belong to the communities of their birth.
--Marshal Zeringue