Sunday, May 31, 2015

"The Great Endarkenment"

New from Oxford University Press: The Great Endarkenment: Philosophy for an Age of Hyperspecialization by Elijah Millgram.

About the book, from the publisher:
Human beings have always been specialists, but over the past two centuries division of labor has become deeper, ubiquitous, and much more fluid. The form it now takes brings in its wake a series of problems that are simultaneously philosophical and practical, having to do with coordinating the activities of experts in different disciplines who do not understand one another. Because these problems are unrecognized, and because we do not have solutions for them, we are on the verge of an age in which decisions that depend on understanding more than one discipline at a time will be made badly. Since so many decisions do require multidisciplinary knowledge, these philosophical problems are urgent.

Some of the puzzles that have traditionally been on philosophers' agendas have to do with intellectual devices developed to handle less extreme forms of specialization. Two of these, necessity and the practical `ought', are given extended treatment in Elijah Millgram's The Great Endarkenment. In this collection of essays, both previously published and new, Millgram pays special attention to ways a focus on cognitive function reframes familiar debates in metaethics and metaphysics. Consequences of hyperspecialization for the theory of practical rationality, for our conception of agency, and for ethics are laid out and discussed. An Afterword considers whether and how philosophers can contribute to solving the very pressing problems created by contemporary division of labor.
Visit Elijah Millgram's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 30, 2015

"The Emotional Logic of Capitalism"

New from Stanford University Press: The Emotional Logic of Capitalism: What Progressives Have Missed by Martijn Konings.

About the book, from the publisher:
The capitalist market, progressives bemoan, is a cold monster: it disrupts social bonds, erodes emotional attachments, and imposes an abstract utilitarian rationality. But what if such hallowed critiques are completely misleading? This book argues that the production of new sources of faith and enchantment is crucial to the dynamics of the capitalist economy. Distinctively secular patterns of attraction and attachment give modern institutions a binding force that was not available to more traditional forms of rule. Elaborating his alternative approach through an engagement with the semiotics of money and the genealogy of economy, Martijn Konings uncovers capitalism's emotional and theological content in order to understand the paradoxical sources of cohesion and legitimacy that it commands. In developing this perspective, he draws on pragmatist thought to rework and revitalize the Marxist critique of capitalism.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 29, 2015

"Settler Society in the Australian Colonies"

New from Oxford University Press: Settler Society in the Australian Colonies: Self-Government and Imperial Culture by Angela Woollacott.

About the book, from the publisher:
The 1820s to the 1860s were a foundational period in Australian history, arguably at least as important as Federation. Industrialization was transforming Britain, but the southern colonies were pre-industrial, with economies driven by pastoralism, agriculture, mining, whaling and sealing, commerce, and the construction trades. Convict transportation provided the labour on which the first settlements depended before it was brought to a staggered end, first in New South Wales in 1840 and last in Western Australia in 1868.

The numbers of free settlers rose dramatically, surging from the 1820s and again during the 1850s gold rushes. The convict system increasingly included assignment to private masters and mistresses, thus offering settlers the inducement of unpaid labourers as well as the availability of land on a scale that both defied and excited the British imagination. By the 1830s schemes for new kinds of colonies, based on Edward Gibbon Wakefield's systematic colonization, gained attention and support. The pivotal development of the 1840s-1850s, and the political events which form the backbone of this story were the Australian colonies' gradual attainment of representative and then responsible government.

Through political struggle and negotiation, in which Australians looked to Canada for their model of political progress, settlers slowly became self-governing. But these political developments were linked to the frontier violence that shaped settlers' lives and became accepted as part of respectable manhood. With narratives of individual lives, Settler Society shows that women's exclusion from political citizenship was vigorously debated, and that settlers were well aware of their place in an empire based on racial hierarchies and threatened by revolts. Angela Woollacott particularly focuses on is settlers' dependence in these decades on intertwined categories of paid labour, including poorly-compensated Aborigines and indentured Indian and Chinese labourers, alongside convicts.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 28, 2015

"The Physicist and the Philosopher"

New from Princeton University Press: The Physicist and the Philosopher: Einstein, Bergson, and the Debate That Changed Our Understanding of Time by Jimena Canales.

About the book, from the publisher:
On April 6, 1922, in Paris, Albert Einstein and Henri Bergson publicly debated the nature of time. Einstein considered Bergson’s theory of time to be a soft, psychological notion, irreconcilable with the quantitative realities of physics. Bergson, who gained fame as a philosopher by arguing that time should not be understood exclusively through the lens of science, criticized Einstein’s theory of time for being a metaphysics grafted on to science, one that ignored the intuitive aspects of time. The Physicist and the Philosopher tells the remarkable story of how this explosive debate transformed our understanding of time and drove a rift between science and the humanities that persists today.

Jimena Canales introduces readers to the revolutionary ideas of Einstein and Bergson, describes how they dramatically collided in Paris, and traces how this clash of worldviews reverberated across the twentieth century. She shows how it provoked responses from figures such as Bertrand Russell and Martin Heidegger, and carried repercussions for American pragmatism, logical positivism, phenomenology, and quantum mechanics. Canales explains how the new technologies of the period—such as wristwatches, radio, and film—helped to shape people’s conceptions of time and further polarized the public debate. She also discusses how Bergson and Einstein, toward the end of their lives, each reflected on his rival’s legacy—Bergson during the Nazi occupation of Paris and Einstein in the context of the first hydrogen bomb explosion.

The Physicist and the Philosopher reveals how scientific truth was placed on trial in a divided century marked by a new sense of time.
The Page 99 Test: A Tenth of a Second.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Propositions"

New from Oxford University Press: Propositions by Trenton Merricks.

About the book, from the publisher:
Propositions has two main goals. The first is to show that there are propositions. The second is to defend an account of their nature. While pursuing these goals, Trenton Merricks draws a variety of controversial conclusions about related issues, including, among others, supervaluationism, the nature of possible worlds, truths about non-existent entities, and whether and how logical consequence depends on modal facts.

An argument is modally valid just in case, necessarily, if its premises are true, then its conclusion is true. Propositions begins with the assumption that some arguments are modally valid. Merricks then argues that the premises and conclusions of modally valid arguments are not sentences. Instead, he argues, they are propositions. So, because there are modally valid arguments, there are propositions.

Merricks defends the claim that propositions are not structured and are not sets of possible worlds. He thereby presents arguments against the two leading accounts of the nature of propositions. Those arguments are intended not only to oppose those accounts, but also to deliver conclusions about what a satisfactory account of the nature of propositions should say. Of particular importance in this regard are arguments concerning the alleged explanations of how a set of possible worlds or a structured proposition would manage to represent thing as being a certain way. Merricks then defends his own account of the nature of propositions, which says only that each proposition is a necessary existent that essentially represents things as being a certain way.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

"How Propaganda Works"

New from Princeton University Press: How Propaganda Works by Jason Stanley.

About the book, from the publisher:
Our democracy today is fraught with political campaigns, lobbyists, liberal media, and Fox News commentators, all using language to influence the way we think and reason about public issues. Even so, many of us believe that propaganda and manipulation aren’t problems for us—not in the way they were for the totalitarian societies of the mid-twentieth century. In How Propaganda Works, Jason Stanley demonstrates that more attention needs to be paid. He examines how propaganda operates subtly, how it undermines democracy—particularly the ideals of democratic deliberation and equality—and how it has damaged democracies of the past.

Focusing on the shortcomings of liberal democratic states, Stanley provides a historically grounded introduction to democratic political theory as a window into the misuse of democratic vocabulary for propaganda’s selfish purposes. He lays out historical examples, such as the restructuring of the US public school system at the turn of the twentieth century, to explore how the language of democracy is sometimes used to mask an undemocratic reality. Drawing from a range of sources, including feminist theory, critical race theory, epistemology, formal semantics, educational theory, and social and cognitive psychology, he explains how the manipulative and hypocritical declaration of flawed beliefs and ideologies arises from and perpetuates inequalities in society, such as the racial injustices that commonly occur in the United States.

How Propaganda Works shows that an understanding of propaganda and its mechanisms is essential for the preservation and protection of liberal democracies everywhere.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

"Women without Men"

New from Cornell University Press: Women without Men: Single Mothers and Family Change in the New Russia by Jennifer Utrata.

About the book, from the publisher:
Women without Men illuminates Russia's "quiet revolution" in family life through the lens of single motherhood. Drawing on extensive ethnographic and interview data, Jennifer Utrata focuses on the puzzle of how single motherhood—frequently seen as a social problem in other contexts—became taken for granted in the New Russia. While most Russians, including single mothers, believe that two-parent families are preferable, many also contend that single motherhood is an inevitable by-product of two intractable problems: “weak men” (reflected, they argue, in the country’s widespread, chronic male alcoholism) and a “weak state” (considered so because of Russia’s unequal economy and poor social services). Among the daily struggles to get by and get ahead, single motherhood, Utrata finds, is seldom considered a tragedy.

Utrata begins by tracing the history of the cultural category of “single mother,” from the state policies that created this category after World War II, through the demographic trends that contributed to rising rates of single motherhood, to the contemporary tension between the cultural ideal of the two-parent family and the de facto predominance of the matrifocal family. Providing a vivid narrative of the experiences not only of single mothers themselves but also of the grandmothers, other family members, and nonresident fathers who play roles in their lives, Women without Men maps the Russian family against the country’s profound postwar social disruptions and dislocations.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 25, 2015

"Science in Wonderland"

New from Oxford University Press: Science in Wonderland: The scientific fairy tales of Victorian Britain by Melanie Keene.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Victorian Britain an array of writers captured the excitement of new scientific discoveries, and enticed young readers and listeners into learning their secrets, by converting introductory explanations into quirky, charming, and imaginative fairy-tales; forces could be fairies, dinosaurs could be dragons, and looking closely at a drop of water revealed a soup of monsters.

Science in Wonderland explores how these stories were presented and read. Melanie Keene introduces and analyses a range of Victorian scientific fairy-tales, from nursery classics such as The Water-Babies to the little-known Wonderland of Evolution, or the story of insect lecturer Fairy Know-a-Bit. In exploring the ways in which authors and translators - from Hans Christian Andersen and Edith Nesbit to the pseudonymous 'A.L.O.E.' and 'Acheta Domestica' - reconciled the differing demands of factual accuracy and fantastical narratives, Keene asks why the fairies and their tales were chosen as an appropriate new form for capturing and presenting scientific and technological knowledge to young audiences. Such stories, she argues, were an important way in which authors and audiences criticised, communicated, and celebrated contemporary scientific ideas, practices, and objects.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 24, 2015

"Baptists in America: A History"

New from Oxford University Press: Baptists in America: A History by Thomas S. Kidd and Barry Hankins.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Puritans called Baptists "the troublers of churches in all places" and hounded them out of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Four hundred years later, Baptists are the second-largest religious group in America, and their influence matches their numbers. They have built strong institutions, from megachurches to publishing houses to charities to mission organizations, and have firmly established themselves in the mainstream of American culture. Yet the historical legacy of outsider status lingers, and the inherently fractured nature of their faith makes Baptists ever wary of threats from within as well as without.

In Baptists in America, Thomas S. Kidd and Barry Hankins explore the long-running tensions between church, state, and culture that Baptists have shaped and navigated. Despite the moment of unity that their early persecution provided, their history has been marked by internal battles and schisms that were microcosms of national events, from the conflict over slavery that divided North from South to the conservative revolution of the 1970s and 80s. Baptists have made an indelible impact on American religious and cultural history, from their early insistence that America should have no established church to their place in the modern-day culture wars, where they frequently advocate greater religious involvement in politics. Yet the more mainstream they have become, the more they have been pressured to conform to the mainstream, a paradox that defines--and is essential to understanding--the Baptist experience in America.

Kidd and Hankins, both practicing Baptists, weave the threads of Baptist history alongside those of American history. Baptists in America is a remarkable story of how one religious denomination was transformed from persecuted minority into a leading actor on the national stage, with profound implications for American society and culture.
Learn more about the book at the Oxford University Press website.

Thomas Kidd is professor of history at Baylor University and resident scholar at Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion. His books include American Christians and Islam: Evangelical Culture and Muslims from the Colonial Period to the Age of Terrorism, The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America, and The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism.

Barry Hankins is Professor of History, graduate program director in the history department, and Resident Scholar at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University.

The Page 99 Test: American Christians and Islam.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 23, 2015

"Do Guns Make Us Free?"

New from Yale University Press: Do Guns Make Us Free?: Democracy and the Armed Society by Firmin DeBrabander.

About the book, from the publisher:
Possibly the most emotionally charged debate taking place in the United States today centers on the Second Amendment to the Constitution and the rights of citizens to bear arms. In the wake of the Sandy Hook school massacre in Connecticut, the gun rights movement, headed by the National Rifle Association, appears more intractable than ever in its fight against gun control laws. The core argument of Second Amendment advocates is that the proliferation of firearms is essential to maintaining freedom in America, providing private citizens with a defense against possible government tyranny, and thus safeguarding all our other rights. But is this argument valid? Do guns indeed make us free?

In this insightful and eye-opening analysis, the first philosophical examination of every aspect of the contentious and uniquely American debate over guns, Firmin DeBrabander examines the claims offered in favor of unchecked gun ownership. By exposing the contradictions and misinterpretations inherent in the case presented by gun rights supporters, this provocative volume demonstrates that an armed society is not a free society but one that actively hinders democratic participation.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 22, 2015

"Blood and Water"

New from the University of California Press: Blood and Water: The Indus River Basin in Modern History by David Gilmartin.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Indus basin was once an arid pastoral watershed, but by the second half of the twentieth century, it had become one of the world’s most heavily irrigated and populated river basins. Launched under British colonial rule in the nineteenth century, this irrigation project spurred political, social, and environmental transformations that continued after the 1947 creation of the new states of India and Pakistan. In this first large-scale environmental history of the region, David Gilmartin focuses on the changes that occurred in the basin as a result of the implementation of the world’s largest modern integrated irrigation system. This masterful work of scholarship explores how environmental transformation is tied to the creation of communities and nations, focusing on the intersection of politics, statecraft, and the environment.
David Gilmartin is Distinguished Professor of History at North Carolina State University and the author of Empire and Islam: Punjab and the Making of Pakistan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 21, 2015

"The Size of Others' Burdens"

New from Stanford University Press: The Size of Others' Burdens: Barack Obama, Jane Addams, and the Politics of Helping Others by Erik Schneiderhan.

About the book, from the publisher:
Americans have a fierce spirit of individualism. We pride ourselves on self-reliance, on bootstrapping our way to success. Yet, we also believe in helping those in need, and we turn to our neighbors in times of crisis. The tension between these competing values is evident, and how we balance between these competing values holds real consequences for community health and well-being. In his new book, The Size of Others' Burdens, Erik Schneiderhan asks how people can act in the face of competing pressures, and explores the stories of two famous Americans to develop present-day lessons for improving our communities.

Although Jane Addams and Barack Obama are separated by roughly one hundred years, the parallels between their lives are remarkable: Chicago activists-turned-politicians, University of Chicago lecturers, gifted orators, crusaders against discrimination, winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. Addams was the founder of Hull-House, the celebrated American "settlement house" that became the foundation of modern social work. Obama's remarkable rise to the presidency is well known.

Through the stories of Addams's and Obama's early community work, Erik Schneiderhan challenges readers to think about how many of our own struggles are not simply personal challenges, but also social challenges. How do we help others when so much of our day-to-day life is geared toward looking out for ourselves, whether at work or at home? Not everyone can run for president or win a Nobel Prize, but we can help others without sacrificing their dignity or our principles. Great thinkers of the past and present can give us the motivation; Addams and Obama show us how. Schneiderhan highlights the value of combining today's state resources with the innovation and flexibility of Addams's time to encourage community building. Offering a call to action, this book inspires readers to address their own American dilemma and connect to community, starting within our own neighborhoods.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

"Soft Force"

New from Princeton University Press: Soft Force: Women in Egypt's Islamic Awakening by Ellen Anne McLarney.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the decades leading up to the Arab Spring in 2011, when Hosni Mubarak’s authoritarian regime was swept from power in Egypt, Muslim women took a leading role in developing a robust Islamist presence in the country’s public sphere. Soft Force examines the writings and activism of these women—including scholars, preachers, journalists, critics, actors, and public intellectuals—who envisioned an Islamic awakening in which women’s rights and the family, equality, and emancipation were at the center.

Challenging Western conceptions of Muslim women as being oppressed by Islam, Ellen McLarney shows how women used “soft force”—a women’s jihad characterized by nonviolent protest—to oppose secular dictatorship and articulate a public sphere that was both Islamic and democratic. McLarney draws on memoirs, political essays, sermons, newspaper articles, and other writings to explore how these women imagined the home and the family as sites of the free practice of religion in a climate where Islamists were under siege by the secular state. While they seem to reinforce women’s traditional roles in a male-dominated society, these Islamist writers also reoriented Islamist politics in domains coded as feminine, putting women at the very forefront in imagining an Islamic polity.

Bold and insightful, Soft Force transforms our understanding of women’s rights, women’s liberation, and women’s equality in Egypt’s Islamic revival.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"Horse Nations"

New from Oxford University Press: Horse Nations: The Worldwide Impact of the Horse on Indigenous Societies Post-1492 by Peter Mitchell.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Native American on a horse is an archetypal Hollywood image, but though such equestrian-focused societies were a relatively short-lived consequence of European expansion overseas, they were not restricted to North America's Plains.

Horse Nations provides the first wide-ranging and up-to-date synthesis of the impact of the horse on the Indigenous societies of North and South America, southern Africa, and Australasia following its introduction as a result of European contact post-1492. Drawing on sources in a variety of languages and on the evidence of archaeology, anthropology, and history, the volume outlines the transformations that the acquisition of the horse wrought on a diverse range of groups within these four continents. It explores key topics such as changes in subsistence, technology, and belief systems, the horse's role in facilitating the emergence of more hierarchical social formations, and the interplay between ecology, climate, and human action in adopting the horse, as well as considering how far equestrian lifestyles were ultimately unsustainable.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 18, 2015

"Bread from Stones"

New from the University of California Press: Bread from Stones: The Middle East and the Making of Modern Humanitarianism by Keith David Watenpaugh.

About the book, from the publisher:
Bread from Stones, a highly anticipated book from historian Keith David Watenpaugh, breaks new ground in analyzing the theory and practice of modern humanitarianism. Genocide and mass violence, human trafficking, and the forced displacement of millions in the early twentieth century Eastern Mediterranean form the background for this exploration of humanitarianism’s role in the history of human rights.

Watenpaugh’s unique and provocative examination of humanitarian thought and action from a non-Western perspective goes beyond canonical descriptions of relief work and development projects. Employing a wide range of source materials—literary and artistic responses to violence, memoirs, and first-person accounts from victims, perpetrators, relief workers, and diplomats—Watenpaugh argues that the international answer to the inhumanity of World War I in the Middle East laid the foundation for modern humanitarianism and the specific ways humanitarian groups and international organizations help victims of war, care for trafficked children, and aid refugees.

Bread from Stones is required reading for those interested in humanitarianism and its ideological, institutional, and legal origins, as well as the evolution of the movement following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the advent of late colonialism in the Middle East.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 17, 2015

"Talking to Our Selves"

New from Oxford University Press: Talking to Our Selves: Reflection, Ignorance, and Agency by John M. Doris.

About the book, from the publisher:
The unconscious, according to contemporary psychology, determines much of our lives: very often, we don't know why we do what we do, or even exactly what we are doing. This realization undermines the philosophical-and common sense-picture of human beings as rational, responsible, agents whose behavior is ordered by their deliberations and decisions. Drawing on the latest scientific psychology and philosophical ethics, Talking to Our Selves develops a philosophically viable theory of agency and moral responsibility that fully accounts for the unsettling challenges posed by the sciences of mind.
John Doris is Professor in the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program and Philosophy Department, Washington University in St. Louis. He works at the intersection of cognitive science, moral psychology, and philosophical ethics, and has published in many leading journals. Doris has been awarded fellowships from Michigan's Institute for the Humanities, Princeton's University Center for Human Values, the National Humanities Center, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the National Endowment for the Humanities (three times), and is a winner of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology's Stanton Prize. He authored Lack of Character: Personality and Moral Behavior (Cambridge, 2002) and, with his colleagues in the Moral Psychology Research Group, edited The Moral Psychology Handbook (Oxford, 2010).

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 16, 2015

"Islam in Saudi Arabia"

New from Cornell University Press: Islam in Saudi Arabia by David Commins.

About the book, from the publisher:
“Royal power, oil, and puritanical Islam are primary elements in Saudi Arabia’s rise to global influence. Oil is the reason for Western interest in the kingdom and the foundation for commercial, diplomatic, and strategic relations. Were it not for oil, the government of Saudi Arabia would lack the resources to construct a modern economy and infrastructure, and to thrust the kingdom into regional prominence. Were it not for oil, Saudi Arabia would not be able to fund institutions that spread its religious doctrine to Muslim and non-Muslim countries. That doctrine, commonly known as Wahhabism, is a puritanical form of Islam that is distinctive in a number of ways, most visibly for how it makes public observance of religious norms a matter of government enforcement rather than individual disposition and social conformity, as it is in other Muslim countries.”—from the Introduction

Saudi Arabia is often portrayed as a country where religious rules dictate every detail of daily life: where women may not drive; where unrelated men and women may not interact; where women veil their faces; and where banks, restaurants, and caf├ęs have dual facilities: one for families, another for men. Yet everyday life in the kingdom does not entirely conform to dogma. David Commins challenges the stereotype of Saudi Arabia as a country immune to change by highlighting the ways that urbanization, education, consumerism, global communications, and technological innovation have exerted pressure against rules issued by the religious establishment.

Commins places the Wahhabi movement in the wider context of Islamic history, showing how state-appointed clerics built on dynastic backing to fashion a model society of Sharia observance and moral virtue. Beneath a surface appearance of obedience to Islamic authority, however, he detects reflections of Arabia’s heritage of diversity (where Shi’ite and Sufi tendencies predating the Saudi era survive in the face of discrimination) and the effects of its exposure to Western mores.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 15, 2015

"The Emotional Politics of Racism"

New from Stanford University Press: The Emotional Politics of Racism: How Feelings Trump Facts in an Era of Colorblindness by Paula Ioanide.

About the book, from the publisher:
With stop-and-frisk laws, new immigration policies, and cuts to social welfare programs, majorities in the United States have increasingly supported intensified forms of punishment and marginalization against black, Latino, Arab and Muslim people in the United States, even as a majority of citizens claim to support "colorblindness" and racial equality. With this book, Paula Ioanide examines how emotion has prominently figured into these contemporary expressions of racial discrimination and violence. How U.S. publics dominantly feel about crime, terrorism, welfare, and immigration often seems to trump whatever facts and evidence say about these politicized matters.

Though four case studies—the police brutality case of Abner Louima; the exposure of torture at Abu Ghraib; the demolition of New Orleans public housing units following Hurricane Katrina; and a proposed municipal ordinance to deny housing to undocumented immigrants in Escondido, CA—Ioanide shows how racial fears are perpetuated, and how these widespread fears have played a central role in justifying the expansion of our military and prison system and the ongoing divestment from social welfare. But Ioanide also argues that within each of these cases there is opportunity for new mobilizations, for ethical witnessing: we must also popularize desires for justice and increase people's receptivity to the testimonies of the oppressed by reorganizing embodied and unconscious structures of feeling.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 14, 2015

"Life and Death in Captivity"

New from Cornell University Press: Life and Death in Captivity: The Abuse of Prisoners during War by Geoffrey P. R. Wallace.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why are prisoners horribly abused in some wars but humanely cared for in others? In Life and Death in Captivity, Geoffrey P. R. Wallace explores the profound differences in the ways captives are treated during armed conflict. Wallace focuses on the dual role played by regime type and the nature of the conflict in determining whether captor states opt for brutality or mercy. Integrating original data on prisoner treatment during the last century of interstate warfare with in-depth historical cases, Wallace demonstrates how domestic constraints and external incentives shape the fate of captured enemy combatants. Both Russia and Japan, for example, treated prisoners very differently in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–5 and in World War II; the behavior of any given country is liable to vary from conflict to conflict and even within the same war.

Democracies may be more likely to treat their captives humanely, yet this benevolence is rooted less in liberal norms of nonviolence than in concerns over public accountability. When such concerns are weak or absent, democracies are equally capable of brutal conduct toward captives. In conflicts that devolve into protracted fighting, belligerents may inflict violence against captives as part of a strategy of exploitation and to coerce the adversary into submission. When territory is at stake, prisoners are further at risk of cruel treatment as their captors seek to permanently remove the most threatening sources of opposition within newly conquered lands. By combining a rigorous strategic approach with a wide-ranging body of evidence, Wallace offers a vital contribution to the study of political violence and wartime conduct.
Visit Geoffrey P. R. Wallace's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"The Death of the Mehdi Army"

New from Oxford University Press: The Death of the Mehdi Army: The Rise, Fall, and Revival of Iraq's Most Powerful Militia by Nicholas Krohley.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Mehdi Army militia was a towering force in Iraq during the early years of the post-Saddam era. As an aggressive opponent of foreign occupation and one of the principal antagonists in Iraq's brutal sectarian civil war, the militia was central to the violence that ravaged the country and a pivotal political actor. Growing rapidly in size and strength, and controlling entire districts of Baghdad and broad swathes of southern and central Iraq, the Mehdi Army seemed poised to become a Hezbollah-like 'state within a state' that would remain enormously powerful for years to come.

Drawing from extensive field experience in one of Baghdad's most volatile militia-held districts, Krohley exposes how, and why, the militia suddenly and unexpectedly collapsed in the midst of the Americans' 'Surge' of forces during 2008. Building from an examination of the Mehdi Army's social and ideological roots, he presents a neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood study of the militia's changing fortunes that offers unparalleled local detail and specificity. Krohley shows how the Mehdi Army's demise was ultimately a self-inflicted 'death' as opposed to a triumph of its foes. In so doing, he not only challenges prevailing orthodoxies of counterinsurgency doc- trine and the mythology of the Surge, but also offers penetrating insights into the battered state of Iraqi society after decades of dictatorship, privation and war.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

"The Spectacular Favela"

New from the University of California Press: The Spectacular Favela: Violence in Modern Brazil by Erika Robb Larkins.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, traffickers assert power through conspicuous displays of wealth and force, brandishing high-powered guns, gold jewelry, and piles of cash and narcotics. Police, for their part, conduct raids reminiscent of action films or video games, wearing masks and riding in enormous armored cars called “big skulls.” Images of these spectacles circulate constantly in local, national, and global media, masking everyday forms of violence, prejudice, and inequality. The Spectacular Favela offers a rich ethnographic examination of the political economy of spectacular violence in Rocinha, Rio’s largest favela. Based on more than two years of residence in the community, the book explores how entangled forms of violence shape everyday life and how that violence is, in turn, connected to the market economy.

Erika Robb Larkins shows how favela violence is produced as a marketable global brand. While this violence is projected in disembodied form through media, the favela is also sold as an embodied experience through the popular practice of favela tourism. The commodification of the favela becomes a form of violence itself; favela violence is transformed into a commercially viable byproduct of a profit-driven war on drugs, which serves to keep the poor marginalized. This book tells the story of how traffickers, police, cameras, tourists, and even anthropologists come together to create what the author calls the “spectacular favela.”
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 11, 2015

"The Origins of Right to Work"

New from ILP Press: The Origins of Right to Work: Antilabor Democracy in Nineteenth-Century Chicago by Cedric de Leon.

About the book, from the publisher:
“Right to work” states weaken collective bargaining rights and limit the ability of unions to effectively advocate on behalf of workers. As more and more states consider enacting right-to-work laws, observers trace the contemporary attack on organized labor to the 1980s and the Reagan era. In The Origins of Right to Work, however, Cedric de Leon contends that this antagonism began a century earlier with the Northern victory in the U.S. Civil War, when the political establishment revised the English common-law doctrine of conspiracy to equate collective bargaining with the enslavement of free white men.

In doing so, de Leon connects past and present, raising critical questions that address pressing social issues. Drawing on the changing relationship between political parties and workers in nineteenth-century Chicago, de Leon concludes that if workers’ collective rights are to be preserved in a global economy, workers must chart a course of political independence and overcome long-standing racial and ethnic divisions.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 10, 2015

"Jim Crow's Last Stand"

New from LSU Press: Jim Crow's Last Stand: Nonunanimous Criminal Jury Verdicts in Louisiana by Thomas Aiello.

About the book, from the publisher:
The last remnant of the racist Redeemer agenda in the Louisiana’s legal system, the nonunanimous jury-verdict law permits juries to convict criminal defendants with only ten out of twelve votes. A legal oddity among southern states, the ordinance has survived multiple challenges since its ratification in 1880. Despite the law’s long history, few are aware of its existence, its original purpose, or its modern consequences. At a time when Louisiana’s penal system has fallen under national scrutiny, Jim Crow’s Last Stand presents a timely, penetrating, and concise look at the history of this law’s origins and its troubling legacy.

The nonunanimous jury-verdict law originally allowed a guilty verdict with only nine juror votes, funneling many of those convicted into the state’s burgeoning convict lease system. Yet the law remained on the books well after convict leasing ended. Historian Thomas Aiello describes the origins of the statute in Bourbon Louisiana—a period when white Democrats sought to redeem their state after Reconstruction—its survival through the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s, and the Supreme Court’s decision in Johnson v. Louisiana (1972), which narrowly validated the state’s criminal conviction policy.

Spanning over a hundred years of Louisiana law and history, Jim Crow’s Last Stand investigates the ways in which legal policies and patterns of incarceration contribute to a new form of racial inequality.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 9, 2015

"History, heritage, and colonialism"

New from Manchester University Press: History, heritage, and colonialism: Historical consciousness, Britishness, and cultural identity in New Zealand, 1870-1940 by Kynan Gentry.

About the book, from the publisher:
History, heritage and colonialism offers an internationally relevant examination of the nexus between empire and colonial identity, by exploring the politics of history-making and interest in preserving the material remnants of the past in late nineteenth and early twentieth century colonial society. It covers both indigenous pasts, and those of European origin.

Focusing on New Zealand, but also looking at the Australian and Canadian experiences, it explores how different groups and political interests have sought to harness historical narrative in support of competing visions of identity and memory. Considering this within the frames of the local and national as well as imperial, the book offers a valuable critique of the study of colonial identity-making and colonial cultures of colonisation, which to date have tended to focus almost exclusively on the idea of 'the nation', and given particular weight to so-called 'high' cultural forms such as art, literature and poetry. History, heritage and colonialism, by comparison, seeks to highlight the complex network of separate and often conflicting influences upon national identity, ranging from the individual, to the community, to the national, to the transnational. The study of colonial nationalism, furthermore, needs to be understood in relation to the importance of identity in so-called 'new nations', where parallel to conscious efforts to establish legitimacy through the identification of a distinct heritage, the cultural baggage of imperial ideologies typically saw settler societies view themselves as countries 'without history'.

Offering important insights for societies negotiating the legacy of a colonial past in a global present, this book will be of particular value to all those concerned with museum, heritage, and tourism studies, and imperial history, at undergraduate and postgraduate level, as well as among scholars in these fields. It will also be of interest to a wider public interested in heritage and the history of museums.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 8, 2015

"Potsdam: The End of World War II and the Remaking of Europe"

New from Basic Books: Potsdam: The End of World War II and the Remaking of Europe by Michael Neiberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
The definitive account of the 1945 Potsdam Conference: the historic summit where Truman, Stalin, and Churchill met to determine the fate of post-World War II Europe

After Germany's defeat in World War II, Europe lay in tatters. Millions of refugees were dispersed across the continent. Food and fuel were scarce. Britain was bankrupt, while Germany had been reduced to rubble. In July of 1945, Harry Truman, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin gathered in a quiet suburb of Berlin to negotiate a lasting peace: a peace that would finally put an end to the conflagration that had started in 1914, a peace under which Europe could be rebuilt.

The award-winning historian Michael Neiberg brings the turbulent Potsdam conference to life, vividly capturing the delegates' personalities: Truman, trying to escape from the shadow of Franklin Roosevelt, who had died only months before; Churchill, bombastic and seemingly out of touch; Stalin, cunning and meticulous. For the first week, negotiations progressed relatively smoothly. But when the delegates took a recess for the British elections, Churchill was replaced—both as prime minster and as Britain's representative at the conference—in an unforeseen upset by Clement Attlee, a man Churchill disparagingly described as "a sheep in sheep's clothing." When the conference reconvened, the power dynamic had shifted dramatically, and the delegates struggled to find a new balance. Stalin took advantage of his strong position to demand control of Eastern Europe as recompense for the suffering experienced by the Soviet people and armies. The final resolutions of the Potsdam Conference, notably the division of Germany and the Soviet annexation of Poland, reflected the uneasy geopolitical equilibrium between East and West that would come to dominate the twentieth century.

As Neiberg expertly shows, the delegates arrived at Potsdam determined to learn from the mistakes their predecessors made in the Treaty of Versailles. But, riven by tensions and dramatic debates over how to end the most recent war, they only dimly understood that their discussions of peace were giving birth to a new global conflict.
Learn more about Postdam at the Basic Books website.

The Page 99 Test: Potsdam.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 7, 2015

"Unbuttoning America"

New from Cornell University Press: Unbuttoning America: A Biography of "Peyton Place" by Ardis Cameron.

About the book, from the publisher:
Published in 1956, Peyton Place became a bestseller and a literary phenomenon. A lurid and gripping story of murder, incest, female desire, and social injustice, it was consumed as avidly by readers as it was condemned by critics and the clergy. Its author, Grace Metalious, a housewife who grew up in poverty in a New Hampshire mill town and had aspired to be a writer from childhood, loosely based the novel’s setting, characters, and incidents on real-life places, people, and events. The novel sold more than 30 million copies in hardcover and paperback, and it was adapted into a hit Hollywood film in 1957 and a popular television series that aired from 1964 to 1969. More than half a century later, the term “Peyton Place” is still in circulation as a code for a community harboring sordid secrets.

In Unbuttoning America, Ardis Cameron mines extensive interviews, fan letters, and archival materials including contemporary cartoons and cover images from film posters and foreign editions to tell how the story of a patricide in a small New England village circulated over time and became a cultural phenomenon. She argues that Peyton Place, with its frank discussions of poverty, sexuality, class and ethnic discrimination, and small-town hypocrisy, was more than a tawdry potboiler. Metalious’s depiction of how her three central female characters come to terms with their identity as women and sexual beings anticipated second-wave feminism. More broadly, Cameron asserts, the novel was also part of a larger postwar struggle over belonging and recognition. Fictionalizing contemporary realities, Metalious pushed to the surface the hidden talk and secret rebellions of a generation no longer willing to ignore the disparities and domestic constraints of Cold War America.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

"Pious Practice and Secular Constraints"

New from Stanford University Press: Pious Practice and Secular Constraints: Women in the Islamic Revival in Europe by Jeanette Jouili.

About the book, from the publisher:
The visible increase in religious practice among young European-born Muslims has provoked public anxiety. New government regulations seek not only to restrict Islamic practices within the public sphere, but also to shape Muslims', and especially women's, personal conduct. Pious Practice and Secular Constraints chronicles the everyday ethical struggles of women active in orthodox and socially conservative Islamic revival circles as they are torn between their quest for a pious lifestyle and their aspirations to counter negative representations of Muslims within the mainstream society.

Jeanette S. Jouili conducted fieldwork in France and Germany to investigate how pious Muslim women grapple with religious expression: for example, when to wear a headscarf, where to pray throughout the day, and how to maintain modest interactions between men and women. Her analysis stresses the various ethical dilemmas the women confronted in negotiating these religious duties within a secular public sphere. In conversation with Islamic and Western thinkers, Jouili teases out the important ethical-political implications of these struggles, ultimately arguing that Muslim moral agency, surprisingly reinvigorated rather than hampered by the increasingly hostile climate in Europe, encourages us to think about the contribution of non-secular civic virtues for shaping a pluralist Europe.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

"Whose Child Am I?"

New from the University of California Press: Whose Child Am I?: Unaccompanied, Undocumented Children in U.S. Immigration Custody by Susan J. Terrio.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 2014, the arrest and detention of thousands of desperate young migrants at the southwest border of the United States exposed the U.S. government's shadowy juvenile detention system, which had escaped public scrutiny for years. This book tells the story of six Central American and Mexican children who are driven from their homes by violence and deprivation, and who embark alone, risking their lives, on the perilous journey north. They suffer coercive arrests at the U.S. border, then land in detention, only to be caught up in the battle to obtain legal status. Whose Child Am I? looks inside a vast, labyrinthine system by documenting in detail the experiences of these youths, beginning with their arrest by immigration authorities, their subsequent placement in federal detention, followed by their appearance in deportation proceedings and release from custody, and, finally, ending with their struggle to build new lives in the United States. This book shows how the U.S. government got into the business of detaining children and what we can learn from this troubled history.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 4, 2015

"Police Encounters"

New from Stanford University Press: Police Encounters: Security and Surveillance in Gaza under Egyptian Rule by Ilana Feldman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Egypt came to govern Gaza as a result of a war, a failed effort to maintain Arab Palestine. Throughout the twenty years of its administration (1948–1967), Egyptian policing of Gaza concerned itself not only with crime and politics, but also with control of social and moral order. Through surveillance, interrogation, and a network of local informants, the police extended their reach across the public domain and into private life, seeing Palestinians as both security threats and vulnerable subjects who needed protection. Security practices produced suspicion and safety simultaneously.

Police Encounters explores the paradox of Egyptian rule. Drawing on a rich and detailed archive of daily police records, the book describes an extensive security apparatus guided by intersecting concerns about national interest, social propriety, and everyday illegality. In pursuit of security, Egyptian policing established a relatively safe society, but also one that blocked independent political activity. The repressive aspects of the security society that developed in Gaza under Egyptian rule are beyond dispute. But repression does not tell the entire story about its impact on Gaza. Policing also provided opportunities for people to make claims of government, influence their neighbors, and protect their families.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 3, 2015

"Class Divide"

New from Cornell University Press: Class Divide: Yale '64 and the Conflicted Legacy of the Sixties by Howard Gillette, Jr.

About the book, from the publisher:
Members of the Yale College class of 1964—the first class to matriculate in the 1960s—were poised to take up the positions of leadership that typically followed an Ivy League education. Their mission gained special urgency from the inspiration of John F. Kennedy’s presidency and the civil rights movement as it moved north. Ultimately these men proved successful in traditional terms—in the professions, in politics, and in philanthropy—and yet something was different. Challenged by the issues that would define a new era, their lives took a number of unexpected turns. Instead of confirming the triumphal perspective they grew up with in the years after World War II, they embraced new and often conflicting ideas. In the process the group splintered.

In Class Divide, Howard Gillette Jr. draws particularly on more than one hundred interviews with representative members of the Yale class of ’64 to examine how they were challenged by the issues that would define the 1960s: civil rights, the power of the state at home and abroad, sexual mores and personal liberty, religious faith, and social responsibility. Among those whose life courses Gillette follows from their formative years in college through the years after graduation are the politicians Joe Lieberman and John Ashcroft, the Harvard humanities professor Stephen Greenblatt, the environmental leader Gus Speth, and the civil rights activist Stephen Bingham.

Although their Ivy League education gave them access to positions in the national elite, the members of Yale ’64 nonetheless were too divided to be part of a unified leadership class. Try as they might, they found it impossible to shape a new consensus to replace the one that was undone in their college years and early adulthood.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 2, 2015

"The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism"

New from Yale University Press: The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, 1815–1860 by Calvin Schermerhorn.

About the book, from the publisher:
Calvin Schermerhorn’s provocative study views the development of modern American capitalism through the window of the nineteenth-century interstate slave trade. This eye-opening history follows money and ships as well as enslaved human beings to demonstrate how slavery was a national business supported by far-flung monetary and credit systems reaching across the Atlantic Ocean. The author details the anatomy of slave supply chains and the chains of credit and commodities that intersected with them in virtually every corner of the pre–Civil War United States, and explores how an institution that destroyed lives and families contributed greatly to the growth of the expanding republic’s capitalist economy.
Calvin Schermerhorn teaches history in the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies at Arizona State University. He is the author of Money over Mastery, Family over Freedom: Slavery in the Antebellum Upper South.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 1, 2015

"Forgotten Men and Fallen Women"

New from Cornell University Press: Forgotten Men and Fallen Women: The Cultural Politics of New Deal Narratives by Holly Allen.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the Great Depression and into the war years, the Roosevelt administration sought to transform the political, institutional, and social contours of the United States. One result of the New Deal was the emergence and deployment of a novel set of narratives—reflected in social scientific case studies, government documents, and popular media—meant to reorient relationships among gender, race, sexuality, and national political power. In Forgotten Men and Fallen Women, Holly Allen focuses on the interplay of popular and official narratives of forgotten manhood, fallen womanhood, and other social and moral archetypes. In doing so, she explores how federal officials used stories of collective civic identity to enlist popular support for the expansive New Deal state and, later, for the war effort.

These stories, she argues, had practical consequences for federal relief politics. The “forgotten man,” identified by Roosevelt in a fireside chat in 1932, for instance, was a compelling figure of collective civic identity and the counterpart to the white, male breadwinner who was the prime beneficiary of New Deal relief programs. He was also associated with women who were blamed either for not supporting their husbands and family at all (owing to laziness, shrewishness, or infidelity) or for supporting them too well by taking their husbands’ jobs, rather than staying at home and allowing the men to work.

During World War II, Allen finds, federal policies and programs continued to be shaped by specific gendered stories—most centrally, the story of the heroic white civilian defender, which animated the Office of Civilian Defense, and the story of the sacrificial Nisei (Japanese-American) soldier, which was used by the War Relocation Authority. The Roosevelt administration’s engagement with such widely circulating narratives, Allen concludes, highlights the affective dimensions of U.S. citizenship and state formation.
--Marshal Zeringue