Saturday, November 26, 2022

"Violent Victors"

New from Princeton University Press: Violent Victors: Why Bloodstained Parties Win Postwar Elections by Sarah Zukerman Daly.

About the book, from the publisher:
One of the great puzzles of electoral politics is how parties that commit mass atrocities in war often win the support of victimized populations to establish the postwar political order. Violent Victors traces how parties derived from violent, wartime belligerents successfully campaign as the best providers of future societal peace, attracting votes not just from their core supporters but oftentimes also from the very people they targeted in war.

Drawing on more than two years of groundbreaking fieldwork, Sarah Daly combines case studies of victim voters in Latin America with experimental survey evidence and new data on postwar elections around the world. She argues that, contrary to oft-cited fears, postconflict elections do not necessarily give rise to renewed instability or political violence. Daly demonstrates how war-scarred citizens reward belligerent parties for promising peace and security instead of blaming them for war. Yet, in so casting their ballots, voters sacrifice justice, liberal democracy, and social welfare.

Proposing actionable interventions that can help to moderate these trade-offs, Violent Victors links war outcomes with democratic outcomes to shed essential new light on political life after war and offers global perspectives on important questions about electoral behavior in the wake of mass violence.
Follow Sarah Zukerman Daly on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 25, 2022

"Perpetrator Disgust"

New from Oxford University Press: Perpetrator Disgust: The Moral Limits of Gut Feelings by Ditte Marie Munch-Jurisic.

About the book, from the publisher:
What is the significance of our gut feelings? In this volume, Munch-Jurisic considers this question through the phenomenon of perpetrator disgust. Across time and cultures, individuals who have committed atrocities have been known to exhibit severe emotional and physical distress during the act of violence or upon recalling it, with symptoms as severe as vomiting and convulsions. Munch-Jurisic explores whether such responses reflect a moral judgment on the part of the perpetrator and asks what conclusions we can draw about the relationship of our gut feelings to human nature, cognition, and moral frameworks.

Drawing on a broad range of historical examples of perpetrator disgust and the latest philosophical and scientific research on emotions, Munch-Jurisic argues that gut feelings do not carry a straightforward and transparent intentionality in themselves, nor do they motivate any core, specific response. Instead, she suggests, they are templates that can embody a broad range of values and morals. With this core insight, she proposes a contextual understanding of emotions, by which an agent's environment shapes their available hermeneutic equipment (such as concepts, categories, and names) that an agent relies on to understand their emotions and navigate the world.

Grounded in empirical evidence and historical context, Perpetrator Disgust explores intriguing new avenues of inquiry in moral psychology and promises to be of interest to any student or scholar of philosophy, psychology, or sociology whose research considers violence, ethics, or emotions.
Follow Ditte Marie Munch-Jurisic on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 24, 2022

"Unsettling the University"

New from Johns Hopkins University Press: Unsettling the University: Confronting the Colonial Foundations of US Higher Education by Sharon Stein.

About the book, from the publisher:
Shifts the narrative around the history of US higher education to examine its colonial past.

Over the past several decades, higher education in the United States has been shaped by marketization and privatization. Efforts to critique these developments often rely on a contrast between a bleak present and a romanticized past. In Unsettling the University, Sharon Stein offers a different entry point—one informed by decolonial theories and practices—for addressing these issues.

Stein describes the colonial violence underlying three of the most celebrated moments in US higher education history: the founding of the original colonial colleges, the creation of land-grant colleges and universities, and the post–World War II "Golden Age." Reconsidering these historical moments through a decolonial lens, Stein reveals how the central promises of higher education—the promises of continuous progress, a benevolent public good, and social mobility—are fundamentally based on racialized exploitation, expropriation, and ecological destruction.

Unsettling the University invites readers to confront universities' historical and ongoing complicity in colonial violence; to reckon with how the past has shaped contemporary challenges at institutions of higher education; and to accept responsibility for redressing harm and repairing relationships in order to reimagine a future for higher education rooted in social and ecological accountability.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

"Poverty and Wealth in East Africa"

New from Duke University Press: Poverty and Wealth in East Africa: A Conceptual History by Rhiannon Stephens.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Poverty and Wealth in East Africa Rhiannon Stephens offers a conceptual history of how people living in eastern Uganda have sustained and changed their ways of thinking about wealth and poverty over the past two thousand years. This history serves as a powerful reminder that colonialism and capitalism did not introduce economic thought to this region and demonstrates that even in contexts of relative material equality between households, people invested intellectual energy in creating new ways to talk about the poor and the rich. Stephens uses an interdisciplinary approach to write this history for societies without written records before the nineteenth century. She reconstructs the words people spoke in different eras using the methods of comparative historical linguistics, overlaid with evidence from archaeology, climate science, oral traditions, and ethnography. Demonstrating the dynamism of people’s thinking about poverty and wealth in East Africa long before colonial conquest, Stephens challenges much of the received wisdom about the nature and existence of economic and social inequality in the region’s deeper past.
Follow Rhiannon Stephens on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

"Beijing's Global Media Offensive"

New from Oxford University Press: Beijing's Global Media Offensive: China's Uneven Campaign to Influence Asia and the World by Joshua Kurlantzick.

About the book, from the publisher:
A major analysis of how China is attempting to become a media and information superpower around the world, seeking to shape the politics, local media, and information environments of both East Asia and the World.

Since China's ascendancy toward major-power status began in the 1990s, many observers have focused on its economic growth and expanding military. China's ability was limited in projecting power over information and media and the infrastructure through which information flows. That has begun to change. Beijing's state-backed media, which once seemed incapable having a significant effect globally, has been overhauled and expanded. At a time when many democracies' media outlets are consolidating due to financial pressures, China's biggest state media outlets, like the newswire Xinhua, are modernizing, professionalizing, and expanding in attempt to reach an international audience. Overseas, Beijing also attempts to impact local media, civil society, and politics by having Chinese firms or individuals with close links buy up local media outlets, by signing content-sharing deals with local media, by expanding China's social media giants, and by controlling the wireless and wired technology through which information now flows, among other efforts.

In Beijing's Global Media Offensive--a major analysis of how China is attempting to build a media and information superpower around the world, and how this media power integrates with other forms of Chinese influence--Joshua Kurlantzick focuses on how all of this is playing out in both China's immediate neighborhood--Southeast Asia, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand--and also in the United States and many other parts of the world. He traces the ways in which China is trying to build an information and influence superpower, but also critically examines the new conventional wisdom that Beijing has enjoyed great success with these efforts. While China has worked hard to build a global media and information superpower, it often has failed to reap gains from its efforts, and has undermined itself with overly assertive, alienating diplomacy. Still, Kurlantzick contends, China's media, information and political influence campaigns will continue to expand and adapt, helping Beijing exports its political model and protect the ruling Party, and potentially damaging press freedoms, human rights, and democracy abroad. An authoritative account of how this sophisticated and multi-pronged campaign is unfolding, Beijing's Global Media Offensive provides a new window into China's attempts to make itself an information superpower.
Follow Joshua Kurlantzick on Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: Charm Offensive.

The Page 99 Test: A Great Place to Have a War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 21, 2022

"Drastic Dykes and Accidental Activists"

New from The University of North Carolina Press: Drastic Dykes and Accidental Activists: Queer Women in the Urban South by La Shonda Mims.

About the book, from the publisher:
After World War II, Atlanta and Charlotte emerged as leading urban centers in the South, redefining the region through their competing metropolitan identities. Both cities also served as home to queer communities who defined themselves in accordance with their urban surroundings and profited to varying degrees from the emphasis on economic growth. Uniting southern women's history with urban history, La Shonda Mims considers an imaginatively constructed archive including feminist newsletters and queer bar guides alongside sources revealing corporate boosterism and political rhetoric to explore the complex nature of lesbian life in the South.

Mims's work reveals significant differences between gay men's and lesbian women's lived experiences, with lesbians often missing out on the promises of prosperity that benefitted some members of gay communities. Money, class, and race were significant variables in shaping the divergent life experiences for the lesbian communities of Atlanta and Charlotte; whiteness especially bestowed certain privileges. In Atlanta, an inclusive corporate culture bolstered the city's queer community. In Charlotte, tenacious lesbian collectives persevered, as many queer Charlotteans leaned on Atlanta's enormous Pride celebrations for sanctuary when similar institutional community supports were lacking at home.
Follow La Shonda Mims on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 20, 2022

"Jewish Soldiers in the Civil War"

New from NYU Press: Jewish Soldiers in the Civil War: The Union Army by Adam D. Mendelsohn.

About the book, from the publisher:
Offers an engaging account of the experiences of Jewish soldiers in the Union Army during the Civil War

What was it like to be a Jew in Lincoln’s armies? The Union army was as diverse as the embattled nation it sought to preserve, a unique mixture of ethnicities, religions, and identities. Almost one Union soldier in four was born abroad, and natives and newcomers fought side-by-side, sometimes uneasily. Yet though scholars have parsed the trials and triumphs of Irish, Germans, African Americans, and others in the Union ranks, they have remained largely silent on the everyday experiences of the largest non-Christian minority to have served.

In ways visible and invisible to their fellow recruits and conscripts, the experience of Jews was distinct from that of other soldiers who served in Lincoln’s armies. Adam D. Mendelsohn draws for the first time upon the vast database of verified listings of Jewish soldiers serving in the Civil War collected by The Shapell Roster, as well as letters, diaries, and newspapers, to examine the collective experience of Jewish soldiers and to recover their voices and stories. The volume examines when and why they decided to enlist, explores their encounters with fellow soldiers, and describes their efforts to create community within the ranks. This monumental undertaking rewrites much of what we think we know about Jewish soldiers during the Civil War.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 19, 2022


New from Cornell University Press: Euromissiles: The Nuclear Weapons That Nearly Destroyed NATO by Susan Colbourn.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Euromissiles, Susan Colbourn tells the story of the height of nuclear crisis and the remarkable waning of the fear that gripped the globe.

In the Cold War conflict that pitted nuclear superpowers against one another, Europe was the principal battleground. Washington and Moscow had troops on the ground and missiles in the fields of their respective allies, the NATO nations and the states of the Warsaw Pact. Euromissiles—intermediate-range nuclear weapons to be used exclusively in the regional theater of war—highlighted how the peoples of Europe were dangerously placed between hammer and anvil. That made European leaders uncomfortable and pushed fearful masses into the streets demanding peace in their time.

At the center of the story is NATO. Colbourn highlights the weakness of the alliance seen by many as the most effective bulwark against Soviet aggression. Divided among themselves and uncertain about the depth of US support, the member states were riven by the missile issue. This strategic crisis was, as much as any summit meeting between US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, the hinge on which the Cold War turned.

Euromissiles is a history of diplomacy and alliances, social movements and strategy, nuclear weapons and nagging fears, and politics. To tell that history, Colbourn takes a long view of the strategic crisis—from the emerging dilemmas of allied defense in the early 1950s through the aftermath of the INF Treaty thirty-five years later. The result is a dramatic and sweeping tale that changes the way we think about the Cold War and its culmination.
Visit Susan Colbourn's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 18, 2022

"The Dragon Roars Back"

New from Stanford University Press: The Dragon Roars Back: Transformational Leaders and Dynamics of Chinese Foreign Policy by Suisheng Zhao.

About the book, from the publisher:
China is unique in modern world history. No other rising power has experienced China's turbulent history in its relations with neighbors and Western countries. Its sheer size dominates the region. With leader Xi Jinping's political authority unmatched, Xi's sense of mission to restore what he believes is China's natural position as a great power drives the current course of the nation's foreign policy. When China was weak, it was subordinated to others. Now, China is strong, and it wants others to subordinate, at least on the issues involving what it regards as core national interests.

What are the primary forces and how have these forces driven China's reemergence to global power? This book weaves together complex events, processes, and players to provide a historically in-depth, conceptually comprehensive, and up-to-date analysis of Chinese foreign policy transition since the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC), arguing that transformational leaders with new visions and political wisdom to make their visions prevail are the game changers. Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and Xi Jinping are transformational leaders who have charted unique courses of Chinese foreign policy in the quest for security, prosperity, and power. With the ultimate decision-making authority on national security and strategic policies, these leaders have made political use of ideational forces, tailoring bureaucratic institutions, exploiting the international power distribution, and responding strategically to the international norms and rules to advance their foreign policy agendas in the path of China's ascendance.
Follow Suisheng Zhao on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 17, 2022

"The Mirror and the Mind"

New from Princeton University Press: The Mirror and the Mind: A History of Self-Recognition in the Human Sciences by Katja Guenther.

About the book, from the publisher:
Since the late eighteenth century, scientists have placed subjects—humans, infants, animals, and robots—in front of mirrors in order to look for signs of self-recognition. Mirrors served as the possible means for answering the question: What makes us human? In The Mirror and the Mind, Katja Guenther traces the history of the mirror self-recognition test, exploring how researchers from a range of disciplines—psychoanalysis, psychiatry, developmental and animal psychology, cybernetics, anthropology, and neuroscience—came to read the peculiar behaviors elicited by mirrors. Investigating the ways mirrors could lead to both identification and misidentification, Guenther looks at how such experiments ultimately failed to determine human specificity.

The mirror test was thrust into the limelight when Charles Darwin challenged the idea that language sets humans apart. Thereafter the mirror, previously a recurrent if marginal scientific tool, became dominant in attempts to demarcate humans from other animals. But because researchers could not rely on language to determine what their nonspeaking subjects were experiencing, they had to come up with significant innovations, including notation strategies, testing protocols, and the linking of scientific theories across disciplines. From the robotic tortoises of Grey Walter and the mark test of Beulah Amsterdam and Gordon Gallup, to anorexia research and mirror neurons, the mirror test offers a window into the emergence of such fields as biology, psychology, psychiatry, animal studies, cognitive science, and neuroscience.

The Mirror and the Mind offers an intriguing history of experiments in self-awareness and the advancements of the human sciences across more than a century.
--Marshal Zeringue