Wednesday, January 26, 2022

"The Immigrant Superpower"

New from Oxford University Press: The Immigrant Superpower: How Brains, Brawn, and Bravery Make America Stronger by Tim Kane.

About the book, from the publisher:
An insightful, persuasive, and honest defense of immigration as central to the United States' economic power and national security.

America was built by immigrants, yet there has long been strong political opposition to immigration. In recent years, the hostility toward immigration has reached a tipping point. While partisan fighting and confusion over basic policy dominate a broken conversation, we often overlook a fundamental American truth: immigration makes America great.

In The Immigrant Superpower, Tim Kane argues that immigration has been a source of American strength and American exceptionalism since the nation's founding. This book explores how immigration is essential to the military strength, economic power, and innovation of the United States. By combining stories of immigrants who have contributed to the American experience, including in the military and business, with analysis of immigration's effects on wages and unemployment, Kane presents a clear defense of greater immigration as a matter of national security. The only way to win the great power competition of the twenty-first century is to embrace America's identity as a nation of immigrants. As politicians in Washington continue to negotiate with no intention to reach an agreement, Kane exposes the immigration consensus hiding in plain sight. Using original, in-depth surveys of American attitudes toward immigration reform he maps out a step-by-step process to achieve reform.

Straight-talking and full of common sense, The Immigrant Superpower stands in sharp contrast to the wholly dysfunctional debate about immigration in the United States.
Follow Tim Kane on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

"Powers of Pilgrimage"

New from New York University Press: Powers of Pilgrimage: Religion in a World of Movement by Simon Coleman.

About the book, from the publisher:
A groundbreaking reframing of religious pilgrimage

Pious processions. Sites of miraculous healing. Journeys to far-away sacred places. These are what are usually called to mind when we think of religious pilgrimage. Yet while pilgrimage can include journeying to the heart of sacred shrines, it can also occur in apparently mundane places. Indeed, not everyone has the resources or mobility to take part in religiously inspired movement to foreign lands, and some find meaning in religious movement closer to home and outside of officially sanctioned practices. Powers of Pilgrimage argues that we must question the universality of Western assumptions of what religion is and where it should be located, including the notion that “genuine” pilgrimage needs to be associated with discrete, formally recognized forms of religiosity.

This necessary volume makes the case for expanding our gaze to reconsider the salience, scope, and scale of contemporary forms of pilgrimage and pilgrimage-related activity. It shows that we need to reflect on how pilgrimage sites, journeys, rituals, stories, and metaphors are entangled with each other and with wider aspects of people’s lives, ranging from an action as trivial as a stroll down the street to the magnitude of forced migration to another country or continent.

Offering a new theoretical lexicon and framework for exploring human pilgrimage, Powers of Pilgrimage presents a broad overview of how we can understand pilgrimage activity and proposes that it should be understood not solely as going to, staying at, and leaving a sacred place, but also as occurring in ordinary times, places, and practices.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 24, 2022

"The War That Doesn't Say Its Name"

New from Princeton University Press: The War That Doesn't Say Its Name: The Unending Conflict in the Congo by Jason K. Stearns.

About the book, from the publisher:
Well into its third decade, the military conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been dubbed a “forever war”—a perpetual cycle of war, civil unrest, and local feuds over power and identity. Millions have died in one of the worst humanitarian calamities of our time. The War That Doesn’t Say Its Name investigates the most recent phase of this conflict, asking why the peace deal of 2003—accompanied by the largest United Nations peacekeeping mission in the world and tens of billions in international aid—has failed to stop the violence. Jason Stearns argues that the fighting has become an end in itself, carried forward in substantial part through the apathy and complicity of local and international actors.

Stearns shows that regardless of the suffering, there has emerged a narrow military bourgeoisie of commanders and politicians for whom the conflict is a source of survival, dignity, and profit. Foreign donors provide food and urgent health care for millions, preventing the Congolese state from collapsing, but this involvement has not yielded transformational change. Stearns gives a detailed historical account of this period, focusing on the main players—Congolese and Rwandan states and the main armed groups. He extrapolates from these dynamics to other conflicts across Africa and presents a theory of conflict that highlights the interests of the belligerents and the social structures from which they arise.

Exploring how violence in the Congo has become preoccupied with its own reproduction, The War That Doesn’t Say Its Name sheds light on why certain military feuds persist without resolution.
Follow Jason Stearns on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 23, 2022

"Choosing Freedom"

New from Oxford University Press: Choosing Freedom: A Kantian Guide to Life by Karen Stohr.

About the book, from the publisher:
An exploration of everything Kant's philosophy can teach us about being the best people we can be, from using our human reasoning to its fullest potential to being affably drunk at dinner parties.

Immanuel Kant is well known as one of the towering figures of Western philosophical history, but he is less well known for his savvy advice about hosting dinner parties. This philosophical genius was a man of many interests and talents: his famously formal and abstract ethical system is only part of his story. But Kant not only made a profound impact on how people think about big questions like how to treat one another -- he also offered wise insights on things people confront in everyday life: things like gossip, friendship, manners, self-respect, cheerfulness, gratitude, mockery, contempt, and yes, dinner parties. In this book, philosopher Karen Stohr shows how Kant's whole ethical picture fits together. It's a picture that is as relevant and useful now as it was in the 18th century--and maybe even more so.

A Kantian way of living means using reason to guide your choices so that your life reflects your true nature as a free, rational being. This nature is one we share with others; Kantianism emphasizes the fundamental dignity and equality of each person. It presents an ideal for how we should live together without downplaying the challenges we face in the actual world. Though realistic about human weaknesses, Kant remained optimistic about our capacities and possibilities. He had great faith in the ability of human reason to point us in the direction of moral progress and to get us there. Each of us has the power within us to know and choose the right path--we just have to be willing to make that choice, and to discover how worthwhile life can be in the process.
The Page 99 Test: Karen Stohr's Minding the Gap.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 22, 2022

"An American Brothel"

Coming February 15 from Cornell University Press: An American Brothel: Sex and Diplomacy during the Vietnam War by Amanda Boczar.

About the book, from the publisher:
In An American Brothel, Amanda Boczar considers sexual encounters between American servicemen and civilians throughout the Vietnam War, and she places those fraught and sometimes violent meetings in the context of the US military and diplomatic campaigns.

In 1966, US Senator J. William Fulbright declared that "Saigon has become an American brothel." Concerned that, as US military involvement in Vietnam increased so, too, had prostitution, black market economies, and a drug trade fueled by American dollars, Fulbright decried an arrogance of power on the part of Americans and the corrosive effects unchecked immorality could have on Vietnam as well as on the war effort. The symbol, at home and abroad, of the sweeping social and cultural changes was often the so-called South Vietnamese bar girl.

As the war progressed, peaking in 1968 with more than half a million troops engaged, the behavior of soldiers off the battlefield started to impact affect the conflict more broadly. Beyond the brothel, shocking revelations of rapes and the increase in marriage applications complicated how the South Vietnamese and American allies cooperated and managed social behavior. Strictures on how soldiers conducted themselves during rest and relaxation time away from battle further eroded morale of disaffected servicemen. The South Vietnamese were loath to loosen moral restrictions and feared deleterious influence of a permissive wWestern culture on their society.

From the consensual to the coerced, sexual encounters shaped the Vietnam War. Boczar shows that these encounters—sometimes facilitated and sometimes banned by the US military command—restructured the South Vietnamese economy, captivated international attention, dictated military policies, and hung over diplomatic relations during and after the war.
Follow Amanda Boczar on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 21, 2022

"Walking Mannequins"

New from the University of California Press: Walking Mannequins: How Race and Gender Inequalities Shape Retail Clothing Work by Joya Misra and Kyla Walters.

About the book, from the publisher:
In malls across the United States, clothing retail workers navigate low wages and unpredictable schedules. Despite these problems, they devote time and money to mirror the sleek mannequins stylishly adorned with the latest merchandise. Bringing workers' voices to the fore, sociologists Joya Misra and Kyla Walters demonstrate how employers reproduce gendered and racist "beauty" standards by regulating workers' size and look. Interactions with customers, coworkers, and managers further reinforce racial hierarchies. New surveillance technologies also lead to ineffective corporate decision-making based on flawed data. By focusing on the interaction of race, gender, and surveillance, Walking Mannequins sheds important new light on the dynamics of retail work in the twenty-first century.
Joya Misra is Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She studies inequality from an intersectional perspective, including within workplace organizations.

Kyla Walters is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University. She studies race, gender, labor, and education politics using qualitative methods.

Follow Joya Misra on Twitter and Kyla Walters on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 20, 2022

"The Border Within"

New from Stanford University Press: The Border Within: Vietnamese Migrants Transforming Ethnic Nationalism in Berlin by Phi Hong Su.

About the book, from the publisher:
When the Berlin Wall fell, Germany united in a wave of euphoria and solidarity. Also caught in the current were Vietnamese border crossers who had left their homeland after its reunification in 1975. Unwilling to live under socialism, one group resettled in West Berlin as refugees. In the name of socialist solidarity, a second group arrived in East Berlin as contract workers. The Border Within paints a vivid portrait of these disparate Vietnamese migrants' encounters with each other in the post-socialist city of Berlin. Journalists, scholars, and Vietnamese border crossers themselves consider these groups that left their homes under vastly different conditions to be one people, linked by an unquestionable ethnic nationhood. Phi Hong Su's rigorous ethnography unpacks this intuition. In absorbing prose, Su reveals how these Cold War compatriots enact palpable social boundaries in everyday life. This book uncovers how 20th-century state formation and international migration—together, border crossings—generate enduring migrant classifications. In doing so, border crossings fracture shared ethnic, national, and religious identities in enduring ways.
Visit Phi Hong Su's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

"Carbon Technocracy"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Carbon Technocracy: Energy Regimes in Modern East Asia by Victor Seow.

About the book, from the publisher:
A forceful reckoning with the relationship between energy and power through the history of what was once East Asia’s largest coal mine.

The coal-mining town of Fushun in China’s Northeast is home to a monstrous open pit. First excavated in the early twentieth century, this pit grew like a widening maw over the ensuing decades, as various Chinese and Japanese states endeavored to unearth Fushun’s purportedly “inexhaustible” carbon resources. Today, the depleted mine that remains is a wondrous and terrifying monument to fantasies of a fossil-fueled future and the technologies mobilized in attempts to turn those developmentalist dreams into reality.

In Carbon Technocracy, Victor Seow uses the remarkable story of the Fushun colliery to chart how the fossil fuel economy emerged in tandem with the rise of the modern technocratic state. Taking coal as an essential feedstock of national wealth and power, Chinese and Japanese bureaucrats, engineers, and industrialists deployed new technologies like open-pit mining and hydraulic stowage in pursuit of intensive energy extraction. But as much as these mine operators idealized the might of fossil fuel–driven machines, their extractive efforts nevertheless relied heavily on the human labor that those devices were expected to displace. Under the carbon energy regime, countless workers here and elsewhere would be subjected to invasive techniques of labor control, ever-escalating output targets, and the dangers of an increasingly exploited earth.

Although Fushun is no longer the coal capital it once was, the pattern of aggressive fossil-fueled development that led to its ascent endures. As we confront a planetary crisis precipitated by our extravagant consumption of carbon, it holds urgent lessons. This is a groundbreaking exploration of how the mutual production of energy and power came to define industrial modernity and the wider world that carbon made.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

"Global Calvinism"

New from Yale University Press: Global Calvinism: Conversion and Commerce in the Dutch Empire, 1600-1800 by Charles H. Parker.

About the book, from the publisher:
A comprehensive study of the connection between Calvinist missions and Dutch imperial expansion during the early modern period

Calvinism went global in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as close to a thousand Dutch Reformed ministers, along with hundreds of lay chaplains, attached themselves to the Dutch East India and West India companies. Across Asia, Africa, and the Americas where the trading companies set up operation, Dutch ministers sought to convert “pagans,” “Moors,” Jews, and Catholics and to spread the cultural influence of Protestant Christianity. As Dutch ministers labored under the auspices of the trading companies, the missionary project coalesced, sometimes grudgingly but often readily, with empire building and mercantile capitalism. Simultaneously, Calvinism became entangled with societies around the world as encounters with indigenous societies shaped the development of European religious and intellectual history. Though historians have traditionally treated the Protestant and European expansion as unrelated developments, the global reach of Dutch Calvinism offers a unique opportunity to understand the intermingling of a Protestant faith, commerce, and empire.
--Marsahl Zeringue

Monday, January 17, 2022

"The Bankers' Blacklist"

New from Cornell University Press: The Bankers' Blacklist: Unofficial Market Enforcement and the Global Fight against Illicit Financing by Julia C. Morse.

About the book, from the publisher:
In The Banker's Blacklist, Julia C. Morse demonstrates how the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has enlisted global banks in the effort to keep "bad money" out of the financial system, in the process drastically altering the domestic policy landscape and transforming banking worldwide.

Trillions of dollars flow across borders through the banking system every day. While bank-to-bank transfers facilitate trade and investment, they also provide opportunities for criminals and terrorists to move money around the globe. To address this vulnerability, large economies work together through an international standard-setting body, the FATF, to shift laws and regulations on combating illicit financial flows. Morse examines how this international organization has achieved such impact, arguing that it relies on the power of unofficial market enforcement—a process whereby market actors punish countries that fail to meet international standards. The FATF produces a public noncomplier list, which banks around the world use to shift resources and services away from listed countries. As banks restrict cross-border lending, the domestic banking sector in listed countries advocates strongly for new laws and regulations, ultimately leading to deep and significant compliance improvements.

The Bankers' Blacklist offers lessons about the peril and power of globalized finance, revealing new insights into how some of today's most pressing international cooperation challenges might be addressed.
Follow Julia C. Morse on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue