Thursday, December 31, 2020

"Posthuman Bliss?"

New from Oxford University Press: Posthuman Bliss? The Failed Promise of Transhumanism by Susan B. Levin.

About the book, from the publisher:
A tightly argued and expansive examination of the pitfalls of transhumanism that reacquaints us with what it means to live well.

Advocates of transhumanism, or "radical" enhancement, urge us to pursue the biotechnological heightening of select capacities -- above all, cognitive ability -- so far beyond any human limit that the beings with those capacities would exist on a higher ontological plane. For proponents of such views, humanity's self-transcendence through advancements in science and technology may even be morally required. Consequently, the human stakes of how we respond to transhumanism are immeasurably high.

In Posthuman Bliss? The Failed Promise of Transhumanism, Susan B. Levin challenges transhumanists' overarching commitments regarding the mind and brain, ethics, liberal democracy, knowledge, and reality, showing their notion of humanity's self-transcendence into "posthumanity" to be little more than fantasy. Uniting philosophical with scientific arguments, Levin mounts a significant challenge to transhumanists' claim that science and technology support their vision of posthumanity. In a clear and engaging style, she dismantles transhumanists' breezy assurances that posthumans will emerge if we but allocate sufficient resources to that end. Far from offering theoretical and practical "proof of concept" for the vision that they urge upon us, Levin argues, transhumanists engage inadequately with cognitive psychology, biology, and neuroscience, often relying on questionable or outdated views within those fields. Having shown in depth why transhumanism should be rejected, Levin argues forcefully for a holistic perspective on living well that is rooted in Aristotle's virtue ethics but that is adapted to liberal democracy. This holism is thoroughly human, in the best of senses: It directs us to consider worthy ends for us as human beings and to do the irreplaceable work of understanding ourselves rather than relying on technology and science to be our salvation.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

"Reimagining Money"

New from Stanford University Press: Reimagining Money: Kenya in the Digital Finance Revolution by Sibel Kusimba.

About the book, from the publisher:
Technology is rapidly changing the way we think about money. Digital payment has been slow to take off in the United States but is displacing cash in countries as diverse as China, Kenya, and Sweden. In Reimagining Money, Sibel Kusimba describes the rise of M-Pesa, and offers a rich portrait of how this technology changes the economic and social landscape, allowing users to create webs of relationships as they exchange, pool, borrow, lend, and share digital money in user-built networks. These networks, Kusimba argues, will shape the future of financial technologies and their impact on poverty, inclusion, and empowerment. She describes how urban and transnational migrants maintain a presence in rural areas through money gifts; how families use crowdfunding software to assemble donations for emergency medical care; and how new financial groups invest in real estate and fund weddings. The author presents fascinating accounts that challenge accepted wisdom by examining the notion of money as wealth-in-people—an idea long-cultivated in sub-Saharan Africa and now brought to bear on the digital age with homegrown financial technologies such as digital money transfer, digital microloans, and crowdfunding. The book concludes by proposing a new theory of money that can be applied to designing better financial technologies in the future.
Visit Sibel Kusimba's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

"Hot Contention, Cool Abstention"

New from Oxford University Press: Hot Contention, Cool Abstention: Positive Emotions and Protest Behavior During the Arab Spring by Stephanie Dornschneider.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why did people mobilize for the Arab Spring? While existing research has focused on the roles of authoritarian regimes, oppositional structures, and social grievances in the movement, these explanations fail to address differences in the behavior of individuals, overlooking the fact that even when millions mobilized for the Arab Spring, the majority of the population stayed at home. To investigate this puzzle, this book traces the reasoning processes by which individuals decided to join the uprisings, or to refrain from doing so. Drawing from original ethnographic interviews with protestors and non-protestors in Egypt and Morocco, Dornschneider utilizes qualitative methods and computational modeling to identify the main components of reasoning processes: beliefs, inferences (directed connections between beliefs), and decisions.

Bridging the psychology literature on reasoning and the political science literature on protest, this book systematically traces how decisions about participating in the Arab Spring were made. It shows that decisions to join the uprisings were "hot," meaning they were based on positive emotions, while decisions to stay at home were "cool," meaning they were based on safety considerations. Hot Contention, Cool Abstention adds to the extensive literature on political uprisings, offering insights on how and why movements start, stall, and evolve.
Visit Stephanie Dornschneider's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 28, 2020

"Preserving Neighborhoods"

New from Columbia University Press: Preserving Neighborhoods: How Urban Policy and Community Strategy Shape Baltimore and Brooklyn by Aaron Passell.

About the book, from the publisher:
Historic preservation is typically regarded as an elitist practice. In this view, designating a neighborhood as historic is a project by and for affluent residents concerned with aesthetics, not affordability. It leads to gentrification and rising property values for wealthy homeowners, while displacement afflicts longer-term, lower-income residents of the neighborhood, often people of color.

Through rich case studies of Baltimore and Brooklyn, Aaron Passell complicates this story, exploring how community activists and local governments use historic preservation to accelerate or slow down neighborhood change. He argues that this form of regulation is one of the few remaining urban policy interventions that enable communities to exercise some control over the changing built environments of their neighborhoods. In Baltimore, it is part of a primarily top-down strategy for channeling investment into historic neighborhoods, many of them plagued by vacancy and abandonment. In central Brooklyn, neighborhood groups have discovered the utility of landmark district designation as they seek to mitigate rapid change with whatever legal tools they can. The contrast between Baltimore and Brooklyn reveals that the relationship between historic preservation and neighborhood change varies not only from city to city, but even from neighborhood to neighborhood. In speaking with local activists, Passell finds that historic district designation and enforcement efforts can be a part of neighborhood community building and bottom-up revitalization.

Featuring compelling narrative interviews alongside quantitative data, Preserving Neighborhoods is a nuanced mixed-methods study of an important local-level urban policy and its surprisingly varied consequences.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 27, 2020

"Evolution of a Taboo"

New from Oxford University Press: Evolution of a Taboo: Pigs and People in the Ancient Near East by Max D. Price.

About the book, from the publisher:
Pigs are among the most peculiar animals domesticated in the Ancient Near East. Their story, from domestication to taboo, has fascinated historians, archaeologists, and religious studies scholars for decades. Rejecting simple explanations, this book adopts an evolutionary approach that relies on zooarchaeology and texts to unravel the cultural significance of swine in the Near East from the Paleolithic to the present day. Five major themes are covered: The domestication of the pig from wild boars in the Neolithic period, the unique roles that pigs developed in agricultural economies before and after the development of complex societies, the raising of swine in cities, the shifting ritual roles of pigs, and the formation and development of the pork taboo in Judaism and, later, Islam.

The origins and significance of this taboo have inspired much debate. Evolution of a Taboo contends that the well-known taboo described in Leviticus evolved over time, beginning with conflicts between Israelites and Philistines in the early part of the Iron Age, and later was mobilized by Judah's priestly elite in the writing of the Biblical texts. Centuries later, the pig taboo became a point of contention in the ethno-political struggles between Jewish and Greco-Roman cultures in the Levant; later still, between Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Through these conflicts, the pig taboo grew in power. As this rich account illustrates, it came to define the relations between pigs and people in the Near East and beyond, up to the present day.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 26, 2020

"Trouble of the World"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Trouble of the World: Slavery and Empire in the Age of Capital by Zach Sell.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this innovative new study, Zach Sell returns to the explosive era of capitalist crisis, upheaval, and warfare between emancipation in the British Empire and Black emancipation in the United States. In this age of global capital, U.S. slavery exploded to a vastness hitherto unseen, propelled forward by the outrush of slavery-produced commodities to Britain, continental Europe, and beyond. As slavery-produced commodities poured out of the United States, U.S. slaveholders transformed their profits into slavery expansion. Ranging from colonial India to Australia and Belize, Sell’s examination further reveals how U.S. slavery provided not only the raw material for Britain’s explosive manufacturing growth but also inspired new hallucinatory imperial visions of colonial domination that took root on a global scale. What emerges is a tale of a system too powerful and too profitable to end, even after emancipation; it is the story of how slavery's influence survived emancipation, infusing empire and capitalism to this day.
Follow Zach Sell on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 25, 2020

"Absent the Archive"

New from Liverpool University Press: Absent the Archive: Cultural Traces of a Massacre in Paris, 17 October 1961 by Lia Brozgal.

About the book, from the publisher:
Absent the Archive: Cultural Traces of a Massacre in Paris, 17 October 1961 is the first cultural history devoted to literary and visual representations of the police massacre of peaceful Algerian protesters. Covered up by the state and hidden from history, the events of October 17 have nonetheless never been fully erased. Indeed, as early as 1962, stories about the massacre began to find their way their way into novels, poetry, songs, film, visual art, and performance. This book is about these stories, the way they have been told, and their function as both documentary and aesthetic objects. Identified here for the first time as a corpus - an anarchive - the works in question produce knowledge about October 17 by narrativizing and contextualizing the massacre, registering its existence, its scale, and its erasure, while also providing access to the subjective experiences of violence and trauma. Absent the Archive is invested in exploring how literature and culture represent history by complicating it, whether by functioning as first responders and persistent witnesses; reverberating against reality but also speculating on what might have been; activating networks of signs and meaning; or by showing us things that otherwise cannot be seen, while at the same time provoking important questions about the aesthetic, ethical, and political stakes of representation.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 24, 2020


New from Columbia University Press: Underwater: Loss, Flood Insurance, and the Moral Economy of Climate Change in the United States by Rebecca Elliott.

About the book, from the publisher:
Communities around the United States face the threat of being underwater. This is not only a matter of rising waters reaching the doorstep. It is also the threat of being financially underwater, owning assets worth less than the money borrowed to obtain them. Many areas around the country may become economically uninhabitable before they become physically unlivable.

In Underwater, Rebecca Elliott explores how families, communities, and governments confront problems of loss as the climate changes. She offers the first in-depth account of the politics and social effects of the U.S. National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which provides flood insurance protection for virtually all homes and small businesses that require it. In doing so, the NFIP turns the risk of flooding into an immediate economic reality, shaping who lives on the waterfront, on what terms, and at what cost.

Drawing on archival, interview, ethnographic, and other documentary data, Elliott follows controversies over the NFIP from its establishment in the 1960s to the present, from local backlash over flood maps to Congressional debates over insurance reform. Though flood insurance is often portrayed as a rational solution for managing risk, it has ignited recurring fights over what is fair and valuable, what needs protecting and what should be let go, who deserves assistance and on what terms, and whose expectations of future losses are used to govern the present. An incisive and comprehensive consideration of the fundamental dilemmas of moral economy underlying insurance, Underwater sheds new light on how Americans cope with loss as the water rises.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

"New Faces of God in Latin America"

New from Oxford University Press: New Faces of God in Latin America: Emerging Forms of Vernacular Christianity by Virginia Garrard.

About the book, from the publisher:
Combining historical and ethnographic research methods, along with a thorough review of existing literature on the study of Latin American Christianity, New Faces of God in Latin America addresses the important question of how global religion and local culture interact, situating the experience of Latin American Christianity in the broader conversations in the field of world Christianity, particularly with respect to the growing understanding of Christianity as a non-Western religion. Through case studies of different Pentecostal experiences in Latin America, Virginia Garrard explores cross-pollination and interaction with indigenous religions and cultures, finding widely varied responses to the material and spiritual needs of Latin Americans.

The author locates Latin American religious experience within a field known as the "history of non-Western Christianity." This focuses on the experience, perceptions, and adaptations of those who adopt Christianity outside the context of Western missionary or other colonizing projects. The book engages with the intersection of culture and spirit-filled religion, with an eye to how those interactions help frame an alternative religious modernity. Throughout the book, the author uses culture as both a heuristic lens and as a variable within the equation. She argues that culture helps us understand how people engage with and reconfigure global religious flows within their own imaginations and for their own parochial uses.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

"Desertion: Trust and Mistrust in Civil Wars"

New from Cornell University Press: Desertion: Trust and Mistrust in Civil Wars by Theodore McLauchlin.

About the book, from the publisher:

Theodore McLauchlin's Desertion examines the personal and political factors behind soldiers' choices to stay in their unit or abandon their cause. He explores what might spur widespread desertion in a given group, how some armed groups manage to keep their soldiers fighting over long periods, and how committed soldiers are to their causes and their comrades.

To answer these questions, McLauchlin focuses on combatants in military units during the Spanish Civil War. He pushes against the preconception that individual soldiers' motivations are either personal or political, either selfish or ideological. Instead, he draws together the personal and the political, showing how soldiers come to trust each other—or not. Desertion demonstrates how the armed groups that hold together and survive are those that foster interpersonal connections, allowing soldiers the opportunity to prove their commitment to the fight.

McLauchlin argues that trust keeps soldiers in the fray, mistrust pushes them to leave, and political beliefs and military practices shape both. Desertion brings the reader into the world of soldiers and rigorously tests the factors underlying desertion. It asks, honestly and without judgment, what would you do in an army in a civil war? Would you stand and fight? Would you try to run away? And what if you found yourself fighting for a cause you no longer believe in or never did in the first place?
Visit Theodore McLauchlin's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 21, 2020

"Razing Kids"

New from Cambridge University Press: Razing Kids: Youth, Environment, and the Postwar American West by Jeffrey C. Sanders.

About the book, from the publisher:
Children are the future. Or so we like to tell ourselves. In the wake of the Second World War, Americans took this notion to heart. Confronted by both unprecedented risks and unprecedented opportunities, they elevated and perhaps exaggerated the significance of children for the survival of the human race. Razing Kids analyzes the relationship between the postwar demographic explosion and the birth of postwar ecology. In the American West, especially, workers, policymakers, and reformers interwove hopes for youth, environment, and the future. They linked their anxieties over children to their fears of environmental risk as they debated the architecture of wartime playgrounds, planned housing developments and the impact of radioactive particles released from distant hinterlands. They obsessed over how riot-riddled cities, War on Poverty era rural work camps and pesticide-laden agricultural valleys would affect children. Nervous about the world they were making, their hopes and fears reshaped postwar debates about what constituted the social and environmental good.
Jeffrey C. Sanders is Associate Professor in the Department of History, Washington State University. He is the author of Seattle and the Roots of Urban Sustainability: Inventing Ecotopia (2010).

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 20, 2020

"Unceasing Militant"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Unceasing Militant: The Life of Mary Church Terrell by Alison M. Parker.

About the book, from the publisher:
Born into slavery during the Civil War, Mary Church Terrell (1863–1954) would become one of the most prominent activists of her time, with a career bridging the late nineteenth century to the civil rights movement of the 1950s. The first president of the National Association of Colored Women and a founding member of the NAACP, Terrell collaborated closely with the likes of Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, and W. E. B. Du Bois. Unceasing Militant is the first full-length biography of Terrell, bringing her vibrant voice and personality to life. Though most accounts of Terrell focus almost exclusively on her public activism, Alison M. Parker also looks at the often turbulent, unexplored moments in her life to provide a more complete account of a woman dedicated to changing the culture and institutions that perpetuated inequality throughout the United States.

Drawing on newly discovered letters and diaries, Parker weaves together the joys and struggles of Terrell's personal, private life with the challenges and achievements of her public, political career, producing a stunning portrait of an often-under recognized political leader.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 19, 2020

"Automatic Religion"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Automatic Religion: Nearhuman Agents of Brazil and France by Paul Christopher Johnson.

About the book, from the publisher:
What distinguishes humans from nonhumans? Two common answers—free will and religion—are in some ways fundamentally opposed. Whereas free will enjoys a central place in our ideas of spontaneity, authorship, and deliberation, religious practices seem to involve a suspension of or relief from the exercise of our will. What, then, is agency, and why has it occupied such a central place in theories of the human?

Automatic Religion explores an unlikely series of episodes from the end of the nineteenth century, when crucial ideas related to automatism and, in a different realm, the study of religion were both being born. Paul Christopher Johnson draws on years of archival and ethnographic research in Brazil and France to explore the crucial boundaries being drawn at the time between humans, “nearhumans,” and automata. As agency came to take on a more central place in the philosophical, moral, and legal traditions of the West, certain classes of people were excluded as less-than-human. Tracking the circulation of ideas across the Atlantic, Johnson tests those boundaries, revealing how they were constructed on largely gendered and racial foundations. In the process, he reanimates one of the most mysterious and yet foundational questions in trans-Atlantic thought: what is agency?
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 18, 2020

"Multicultural Origins of the Global Economy"

New from Cambridge University Press: Multicultural Origins of the Global Economy: Beyond the Western-Centric Frontier by John M. Hobson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Westerners on both the left and right overwhelmingly conflate globalisation with Westernisation and presume that the global economy is a pure Western-creation. Taking on the traditional Eurocentric Big Bang theory, or the 'expansion of the West' narrative, this book reveals the multicultural origins of globalisation and the global economy, not so as to marginalise the West but to show how it has long been embedded in complex interconnections and co-constitutive interactions with non-Western actors/agents and processes. The central empirical theme is the role of Indian structural power that was derived from Indian cotton textile exports. Indian structural power organised the first (historical-capitalist) global economy between 1500 and c.1850 and performed a vital, albeit indirect, role in the making of Western empire, industrialisation and the second (modern-capitalist) global economy. These textiles underpinned the complex inter-relations between Africa, West/Central/East/Southeast Asia, the Americas and Europe that collectively drove global economic development forward.
John M. Hobson is Professor of Politics & International Relations at the University of Sheffield and is a Fellow of the British Academy. His books include The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation (2004) and The Eurocentric Conception of World Politics (2012).

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 17, 2020

"I Don't Like the Blues"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: I Don't Like the Blues: Race, Place, and the Backbeat of Black Life by B. Brian Foster.

About the book, from the publisher:
How do you love and not like the same thing at the same time? This was the riddle that met Mississippi writer B. Brian Foster when he returned to his home state to learn about Black culture and found himself hearing about the blues. One moment, Black Mississippians would say they knew and appreciated the blues. The next, they would say they didn’t like it. For five years, Foster listened and asked: “How?” “Why not?” “Will it ever change?” This is the story of the answers to his questions.

In this illuminating work, Foster takes us where not many blues writers and scholars have gone: into the homes, memories, speculative visions, and lifeworlds of Black folks in contemporary Mississippi to hear what they have to say about the blues and all that has come about since their forebears first sang them. In so doing, Foster urges us to think differently about race, place, and community development and models a different way of hearing the sounds of Black life, a method that he calls listening for the backbeat.
Visit B. Brian Foster's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Israeli Foreign Policy since the End of the Cold War"

New from Cambridge University Press: Israeli Foreign Policy since the End of the Cold War by Amnon Aran.

About the book, from the publisher:
This is the first study of Israeli foreign policy towards the Middle East and selected world powers including China, India, the European Union and the United States since the end of the Cold War. It provides an integrated account of these foreign policy spheres and serves as an essential historical context for the domestic political scene during these pivotal decades. The book demonstrates how foreign policy is shaped by domestic factors, which are represented as three concentric circles of decision-makers, the security network and Israeli national identity. Told from this perspective, Amnon Aran highlights the contributions of the central individuals, societal actors, domestic institutions, and political parties that have informed and shaped Israeli foreign policy decisions, implementation, and outcomes. Aran demonstrates that Israel has pursued three foreign policy stances since the end of the Cold War - entrenchment, engagement and unilateralism - and explains why.
Amnon Aran is Senior Lecturer in International Politics of the Middle East at City, University of London where his main research focuses on the Arab-Israeli conflict and the foreign policy of Middle Eastern states. He has contributed to the EU's Middle East Peace Task Force and he comments on Middle Eastern affairs for the BBC, Bloomberg, Financial Times and the Guardian.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

"Inventing the Ties That Bind"

New from the University Chicago Press: Imagined Relationships in Moral and Political Life by Francesca Polletta.

About the book, from the publisher:
From deciding to hold the door for the person behind you, to resolving for whom you will cast your vote, every day we find ourselves charged with making moral decisions. What steers our choices? And how do we weigh competing priorities and moral convictions? In Inventing the Ties That Bind, Francesca Polletta shows that we do not solve these dilemmas, whether personal or political, based on self-interest alone. Instead, relationships serve as a kind of moral compass. People consider the nature of their ties to one another to know what their obligations are, and in situations that are unfamiliar, they sometimes figure out the right thing to do by imagining themselves in relationships they do not actually have. Polletta takes up a wide range of cases, from debt settlement agencies to the southern civil rights movement, revealing that our relationships and how we imagine them are at the heart of our moral lives—guiding us as we choose whom to help and how we define what it means to treat someone as our equal. In a time of growing polarization, understanding how we make sense of our ties to one another is more urgent than ever.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Transhumanism: From Ancestors to Avatars"

New from Cambridge University Press: Transhumanism: From Ancestors to Avatars by Jennifer Huberman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Transhumanists argue that science and technology will enable us to overcome our biological limitations, both mental and physical, and create a radically enhanced posthuman species and society. In this book, Jenny Huberman examines the values and visions animating the Transhumanist Movement in the United States today, whilst at the same time using the study of transhumanism as a way to introduce a new generation of students to the discipline of cultural anthropology. She explores transhumanist conceptions of revitalization, immortality, the good life, the self, the body, kinship and economy, and compares them to the belief systems of human beings living in other times and places. Providing lively ethnographic insights into a fascinating contemporary socio-cultural movement, this book will be invaluable to students and researchers in anthropology, as well as anyone interested in the phenomenon of transhumanism.
Jenny Huberman is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

"Shipwrecked: Coastal Disasters and the Making of the American Beach"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Shipwrecked: Coastal Disasters and the Making of the American Beach by Jamin Wells.

About the book, from the publisher:
Reframing the American story from the vantage point of the nation's watery edges, Jamin Wells shows that disasters have not only bedeviled the American beach--they created it. Though the American beach is now one of the most commercialized, contested, and engineered places on the planet, few people visited it or called it home at the beginning of the nineteenth century. By the twentieth century, the American beach had become the summer encampment of presidents, a common destination for millions of citizens, and the site of rapidly growing beachfront communities. Shipwrecked tells the story of this epic transformation, arguing that coastal shipwrecks themselves changed how Americans viewed, used, and inhabited the shoreline.

Drawing on a broad range of archival material--including logbooks, court cases, personal papers, government records, and cultural ephemera--Wells examines how shipwrecks laid the groundwork for the beach tourism industry that would transform the American beach from coastal frontier to oceanfront playspace, spur substantial state and private investment alongshore, reshape popular ideas about the coast, and turn the beach into a touchstone of the American experience.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 14, 2020

"Debauched, Desperate, Deranged"

New from Oxford University Press: Debauched, Desperate, Deranged: Women Who Killed, London 1674-1913 by Carolyn A. Conley.

About the book, from the publisher:
Contemporary studies have concluded that women are far less likely to kill than men and that when women do kill, they do so within the family. Debauched, Desperate, Deranged: Women Who Killed, London 1674-1913 examines the evolution of this pattern in the over 1400 trials in which women were prosecuted for homicide in London from the late seventeenth century until just before the First World War. Which deaths were considered homicides and in what circumstances women were culpable illustrates profound changes in the prevailing assumptions about women. The outcomes of trials and the portrayals of these women in the press illuminate changes in perceptions of women's status and their physical and mental limitations. Debauched, Desperate, Deranged breaks new ground in existing studies of gender and homicide, using a long time frame to discern which trends are brief anomalies and which represent significant change or continuity.

Debauched, Desperate, Deranged is the first empirical, quantitatively as well as qualitatively based study of women and homicide from the seventeenth century to the twentieth. It presents new and significant conclusions on changing incidence of maternal homicides and the remarkable constancy of spousal homicides.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 13, 2020

"Reinventing Licentiousness"

New from Cornell University Press: Reinventing Licentiousness: Pornography and Modern China by Y. Yvon Wang.

About the book, from the publisher:
Reinventing Licentiousness navigates an overlooked history of representation during the transition from the Qing Empire to the Chinese Republic—a time when older, hierarchical notions of licentiousness were overlaid by a new, pornographic regime.

Y. Yvon Wang draws on previously untapped archives—ranging from police archives and surveys to ephemeral texts and pictures—to argue that pornography in China represents a unique configuration of power and desire that both reflects and shapes historical processes. On the one hand, since the late imperial period, pornography has democratized pleasure in China and opened up new possibilities of imagining desire. On the other, ongoing controversies over its definition and control show how the regulatory ideas of premodern cultural politics and the popular products of early modern cultural markets have contoured the globalized world.

Reinventing Licentiousness emphasizes the material factors, particularly at the grassroots level of consumption and trade, that governed "proper" sexual desire and led to ideological shifts around the definition of pornography. By linking the past to the present and beyond, Wang's social and intellectual history showcases circulated pornographic material as a motor for cultural change. The result is an astonishing foray into what historicizing pornography can mean for our understandings of desire, legitimacy, capitalism, and culture.
Follow Y. Yvon Wang on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 12, 2020

"Being Evil"

New from Oxford University Press: Being Evil: A Philosophical Perspective by Luke Russell.

About the book, from the publisher:
We regularly encounter appalling wrongdoing, with the media offering a depressing parade of violent assault, rape, and murder. Yet sometimes even the cynical and world-weary amongst us are taken aback. Sometimes we confront a crime so terrible, so horrendous, so deeply wrong, that we reach for the word 'evil'. The 9/11 terrorist attacks were not merely wrong, but evil. A serial killer who tortures their victims is not merely a bad person. They are evil. And as the Holocaust showed us, we must remain vigilant against the threat of evil. But what exactly is it? If we use the word 'evil', are we buying into a naive Manichean worldview, in which two cosmic forces of good and evil are pitted against one another? Are we guilty of demonizing our enemies? How does 'evil' go beyond what is merely bad or wrong?

This book explores the answers that philosophers have offered to these questions. Luke Russell discusses why some philosophers think that evil is a myth or a fantasy, while others think that evil is real, and is a concept that plays an important role in contemporary secular morality. Along the way he asks whether evil is always horrific and incomprehensible, or if it can be banal. Considering if there is a special psychological hallmark that sets the evildoers apart from the rest of us, Russell also engages with ongoing discussions over psychopathy and empathy, analysing the psychology behind evildoing.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 11, 2020

"Remains of the Everyday"

New from the University of California Press: Remains of the Everyday: A Century of Recycling in Beijing by Joshua Goldstein.

About the book, from the publisher:
Remains of the Everyday traces the changing material culture and industrial ecology of China through the lens of recycling. Over the last century, waste recovery and secondhand goods markets have been integral to Beijing’s economic functioning and cultural identity, and acts of recycling have figured centrally in the ideological imagination of modernity and citizenship. On the one hand, the Chinese state has repeatedly promoted acts of voluntary recycling as exemplary of conscientious citizenship. On the other, informal recycling networks—from the night soil carriers of the Republican era to the collectors of plastic and cardboard in Beijing’s neighborhoods today—have been represented as undisciplined, polluting, and technologically primitive due to the municipal government’s failure to control them. The result, Joshua Goldstein argues, is the repeatedly re-inscribed exclusion of waste workers from formations of modern urban citizenship as well as the intrinsic liminality of recycling itself as an economic process.
Joshua Goldstein is Associate Professor of History and East Asian Languages and Cultures at USC.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 10, 2020

"The Making of a Terrorist"

New from Oxford University Press: The Making of a Terrorist: Alexandre Rousselin and the French Revolution by Jeff Horn.

About the book, from the publisher:
Much has been written about the French Revolution and especially its bloody phase known as the Reign of Terror. The actions of the leaders who unleashed the massacres and public executions, especially Maximilien Robespierre and Georges Danton, are well known. They inspired many soldiers in the Revolutionary cause, who did not survive, let alone thrive, in the post-Revolutionary world.

In this work of historical reconstruction, Jeff Horn recounts the life of Alexandre Rousselin and narrates the history of the age of the French Revolution from the perspective of an eyewitness. From a young age, Rousselin worked for and with some of the era's most important men and women, giving him access to the corridors of power. Dedication to the ideals of the Revolution led him to accept the need for a system of Terror to save the Republic in 1793-94. Rousselin personally utilized violent methods to accomplish the state's goals in Provins and Troyes. This terrorism marked his life. It led to his denunciation by its victims. He spent the next five decades trying to escape the consequences of his actions. His emotional responses as well as the practical measures he took to rehabilitate his reputation illuminate the hopes and fears of the revolutionaries. Across the first four decades of the nineteenth century, Rousselin acquired a noble title, the comte de Saint-Albin, and emerged as a wealthy press baron of the liberal newspaper Le Constitutionnel. But he could not escape his past. He retired to write his own version of his legacy and to protect his family from the consequences of his actions as a terrorist during the French Revolution.

Rousselin's life traces the complex twists and turns of the Revolution and demonstrates how one man was able to remake himself, from a revolutionary to a liberal, to accommodate regime change.
--Marshal Zeringue

"The Dead of the Irish Revolution"

New from Yale University Press: The Dead of the Irish Revolution by Eunan O'Halpin and Daithí Ó Corráin.

About the book, from the publisher:
The first comprehensive account to record and analyze all deaths arising from the Irish revolution between 1916 and 1921

This account covers the turbulent period from the 1916 Rising to the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921—a period which saw the achievement of independence for most of nationalist Ireland and the establishment of Northern Ireland as a self-governing province of the United Kingdom. Separatists fought for independence against government forces and, in North East Ulster, armed loyalists. Civilians suffered violence from all combatants, sometimes as collateral damage, often as targets.

Eunan O’Halpin and Daithí Ó Corráin catalogue and analyze the deaths of all men, women, and children who died during the revolutionary years—505 in 1916; 2,344 between 1917 and 1921. This study provides a unique and comprehensive picture of everyone who died: in what manner, by whose hands, and why. Through their stories we obtain original insight into the Irish revolution itself.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

"Disorienting Neoliberalism"

New from Oxford University Press: Disorienting Neoliberalism: Global Justice and the Outer Limit of Freedom by Benjamin L. McKean.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the world neoliberalism has made, the pervasiveness of injustice and the scale of inequality can be so overwhelming that meaningful resistance seems impossible. Disorienting Neoliberalism argues that combatting the injustices of today's global economy begins with reorienting our way of seeing so that we can act more effectively. Within political theory, standard approaches to global justice envision ideal institutions, but provide little guidance for people responding to today's most urgent problems. Meanwhile, empirical and historical research explains how neoliberalism achieved political and intellectual hegemony, but not how we can imagine its replacement.

Disorienting Neoliberalism argues that people can and should become disposed to solidarity with each other once they see global injustices as a limit on their own freedom. Benjamin L. McKean reorients us by taking us inside the global supply chains that assemble clothes, electronics, and other goods, revealing the tension between neoliberal theories of freedom and the hierarchical, coercive reality of their operations. In this new approach to global justice, he explains how neoliberal institutions and ideas constrain the freedom of people throughout the supply chain from worker to consumer. Rather than a linked set of private market exchanges, supply chains are political entities that seek to govern the rest of us. Where neoliberal institutions train us to see each other as competitors, McKean provides a new orientation to the global economy in which we can see each other as partners in resisting a shared obstacle to freedom — and thus be called to collective action.

Drawing from a wide range of thinkers, from Hegel and John Rawls to W. E. B. Du Bois and Iris Marion Young, Disorienting Neoliberalism shows how political action today can be meaningful and promote justice, moving beyond the pity and resentment global inequality often provokes to a new politics of solidarity.
Visit Benjamin L. McKean's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Principles in Power"

New from Cornell University Press: Principles in Power: Latin America and the Politics of U.S. Human Rights Diplomacy by Vanessa Walker.

About the book, from the publisher:
Vanessa Walker's Principles in Power explores the relationship between policy makers and nongovernment advocates in Latin America and the United States government in order to explain the rise of anti-interventionist human rights policies uniquely critical of U.S. power during the Cold War. Walker shows that the new human rights policies of the 1970s were based on a complex dynamic of domestic and foreign considerations that was rife with tensions between the seats of power in the United States and Latin America, and the growing activist movement that sought to reform them.

By addressing the development of U.S. diplomacy and politics alongside that of activist networks, especially in Chile and Argentina, Walker shows that Latin America was central to the policy assumptions that shaped the Carter administration's foreign policy agenda. The coup that ousted the socialist president of Chile, Salvador Allende, sparked new human rights advocacy as a direct result of U.S. policies that supported authoritarian regimes in the name of Cold War security interests. From 1973 onward, the attention of Washington and capitals around the globe turned to Latin America as the testing ground for the viability of a new paradigm for U.S. power.

This approach, oriented around human rights, required collaboration among activists and state officials in places as diverse as Buenos Aires, Santiago, and Washington, DC. Principles in Power tells the complicated story of the potentials and limits of partnership between government and nongovernment actors. Analyzing how different groups deployed human rights language to reform domestic and international power, Walker explores the multiple and often conflicting purposes of U.S. human rights policy.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 8, 2020


New from Oxford University Press: Empiricisms: Experience and Experiment from Antiquity to the Anthropocene by Barry Allen.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this sweeping volume of comparative philosophy and intellectual history, Barry Allen reassesses the values of experience and experiment in European and world traditions. His work traces the history of empirical philosophy from its birth in Greek medicine to its emergence as a philosophy of modern science. He surveys medical empiricism, Aristotlean and Epicurean empiricism, the empiricism of Gassendi and Locke, logical empiricism, radical empiricism, transcendental empiricism, and varieties of anti-empiricism from Parmenides to Wilfrid Sellars.

Throughout this extensive intellectual history, Allen builds an argument in three parts. A richly detailed account of history's empiricisms in Part One establishes a context in Part Two for reconsidering the work of the radical empiricists--William James, Henri Bergson, John Dewey, and Gilles Deleuze, each treated in a dedicated chapter. What is "radical" about them is their effort to return empiricism from epistemology to the ontology and natural philosophy where it began.

In Part Three, Allen sets empirical philosophy in conversation with Chinese tradition, considering technological, scientific, medical, and alchemical sources, as well as selected Confucian, Daoist, and Mohist classics. The work shows how philosophical reflection on experience and a profound experimental practice coexist in traditional China with no interaction or even awareness of each other, slipping over each other instead of intertwining as they did in European history, a difference Allen attributes to a different understanding of the value of knowledge.

Allen's book recovers empiricism's neglected, multi-textured contexts, and elucidates the enduring value of experience, to arrive at an idea of what is living and dead in philosophical empiricism.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Kingly Splendor"

New from Columbia University Press: Kingly Splendor: Court Art and Materiality in Han China by Allison R. Miller.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Western Han dynasty (202 BCE–9 CE) was a foundational period for the artistic culture of ancient China, a fact particularly visible in the era’s funerary art. Iconic forms of Chinese art such as dazzling suits of jade; cavernous, rock-cut mountain tombs; fancifully ornate wall paintings; and armies of miniature terracotta warriors were prepared for the tombs of the elite during this period. Many of the finest objects of the Western Han have been excavated from the tombs of kings, who administered local provinces on behalf of the emperors.

Allison R. Miller paints a new picture of elite art production by revealing the contributions of the kings to Western Han artistic culture. She demonstrates that the kings were not mere imitators of the imperial court but rather innovators, employing local materials and workshops and experimenting with new techniques to challenge the artistic hegemony of the imperial house. Tombs and funerary art, Miller contends, functioned as an important vehicle of political expression as kings strove to persuade the population and other elites of their legitimacy. Through case studies of five genres of royal art, Miller argues that the political structure of the early Western Han, with the emperor as one ruler among peers, benefited artistic production and innovation. Kingly Splendor brings together close readings of funerary art and architecture with nuanced analyses of political and institutional dynamics to provide an interdisciplinary revisionist history of the early Western Han.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 7, 2020

"Trust in a Polarized Age"

New from Oxford University Press: Trust in a Polarized Age by Kevin Vallier.

About the book, from the publisher:
Americans today don't trust each other and their institutions as much as they once did. The collapse of social and political trust has arguably fueled our increasingly ferocious ideological conflicts and hardened partisanship. But is today's decline in trust inevitable or avoidable? Are we caught in a downward spiral that must end in institutional decay or even civil war, or can we restore trust through our shared social institutions?

In Trust in a Polarized Age, political philosopher Kevin Vallier offers a powerful counter-narrative to the prevailing sense of hopelessness that dogs the American political landscape. In an unapologetic defense of liberalism that synthesizes political philosophy and empirical trust research, Vallier restores faith in our power to reduce polarization and rebuild social and political trust. The solution is to strengthen liberal democratic political and economic institutions--high-quality governance, procedural fairness, markets, social welfare programs, freedom of association, and democracy. These institutions not only create trust, they do so justly, by recognizing and respecting our basic human rights.

Liberal institutions have safeguarded trust through the most tumultuous periods of our history. If we heed the arguments and data in this book, trust could return.
Visit Kevin Vallier's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"How Civic Action Works"

New from Princeton University Press: How Civic Action Works: Fighting for Housing in Los Angeles by Paul Lichterman.

About the book, from the publisher:
How Civic Action Works renews the tradition of inquiry into collective, social problem solving. Paul Lichterman follows grassroots activists, nonprofit organization staff, and community service volunteers in three coalitions and twelve organizations in Los Angeles as they campaign for affordable housing, develop new housing, or address homelessness. Lichterman shows that to understand how social advocates build their campaigns, craft claims, and choose goals, we need to move beyond well-established thinking about what is strategic.

Lichterman presents a pragmatist-inspired sociological framework that illuminates core tasks of social problem solving, both contentious and noncontentious, by grassroots and professional advocates alike. He reveals that advocates’ distinct styles of collective action produce different understandings of what is strategic, and generate different dilemmas for advocates because each style accommodates varying social and institutional pressures. We see, too, how patterns of interaction create a cultural filter that welcomes some claims about housing problems while subordinating or delegitimating others. These cultural patterns help solve conceptual and practical puzzles, such as why coalitions fragment when members agree on many things, and what makes advocacy campaigns separate housing from homelessness or affordability from environmental sustainability. Lichterman concludes by turning this action-centered framework toward improving dialogue between social advocates and researchers.

Using extensive ethnography enriched by archival evidence, How Civic Action Works explains how advocates meet the relational and rhetorical challenges of collective action.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 6, 2020

"Armed Guests"

New from Oxford University Press: Armed Guests: Territorial Sovereignty and Foreign Military Basing by Sebastian Schmidt.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the wake of World War II, the United States and its allies developed a new type of security arrangement in which a state could maintain a long-term, peacetime military presence on the territory of another equally sovereign state that, unlike earlier practice, was not tied to occupational regimes or colonial rule. The impact of this development on international politics is hard to overstate, and it has become a constitutive feature of contemporary security dynamics.

Despite its significance, the origins of this basing practice have remained largely understudied and unexplained. In Armed Guests, Sebastian Schmidt develops a theory to explain the emergence of this phenomenon, which he calls "sovereign basing," and in doing so, shows how its development fundamentally transformed state sovereignty and the very nature of security politics. He applies concepts derived from pragmatist thought to a historical study of the relations between the United States and its wartime allies to explain how sovereign basing originated through the efforts of policymakers to come to grips with the unique security environment of the postwar era. As he argues, the tools offered by pragmatism provide needed analytical leverage over the emergence of novelty and offer valuable insight into the dynamics of stability and change.

Armed Guests is a wide-ranging account of the development of sovereign basing practices in the years before and after World War II. It is a book with significant implications for our understanding of contemporary security politics and the future of basing strategies as well as for broader issues in IR, including the sociological foundations of security strategies, the nature of norms, and the practice of sovereignty.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 5, 2020

"Managing Transition"

New from Cambridge University Press: Managing Transition: The First Post-Uprising Phase in Tunisia and Libya by Sabina Henneberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
Examining the factors that shaped the first interim governments of Tunisia and Libya, which formed in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 uprisings that brought down their governments, Managing Transition analyses each interim government to enhance our understanding of how political transition occurred within two North African countries. Tracing the importance of the key decisions made during these transition periods, Sabina Henneberg demonstrates the importance of these decisions taken during the short phase between authoritarian collapse and first post-uprising elections, including decisions around leadership, institutional reform, transitional justice, and the electoral processes themselves. By documenting, in close detail, the important events of the 2011 Arab Uprisings, and the months that followed, this study shows that while pre-existing structures strongly influence the design and behaviour of first interim governments, actors' choices are equally important in shaping both immediate and longer-term phases of transition.
Sabina Henneberg is Adjunct Professorial Lecturer in the School of International Service at American University.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 4, 2020

"A History of False Hope"

New from Stanford University Press: A History of False Hope: Investigative Commissions in Palestine by Lori Allen.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book offers a provocative retelling of Palestinian political history through an examination of the international commissions that have investigated political violence and human rights violations. More than twenty commissions have been convened over the last century, yet no significant change has resulted from these inquiries. The findings of the very first, the 1919 King-Crane Commission, were suppressed. The Mitchell Committee, convened in the heat of the Second Intifada, urged Palestinians to listen more sympathetically to the feelings of their occupiers. And factfinders returning from a shell-shocked Gaza Strip in 2008 registered their horror at the scale of the destruction, but Gazans have continued to live under a crippling blockade.

Drawing on debates in the press, previously unexamined UN reports, historical archives, and ethnographic research, Lori Allen explores six key investigative commissions over the last century. She highlights how Palestinians' persistent demands for independence have been routinely translated into the numb language of reports and resolutions. These commissions, Allen argues, operating as technologies of liberal global governance, yield no justice—only the oppressive status quo. A History of False Hope issues a biting critique of the captivating allure and cold impotence of international law.
Visit Lori Allen's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 3, 2020

"Moscow Monumental"

New from Princeton University Press: Moscow Monumental: Soviet Skyscrapers and Urban Life in Stalin's Capital by Katherine Zubovich.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the early years of the Cold War, the skyline of Moscow was forever transformed by a citywide skyscraper building project. As the steel girders of the monumental towers went up, the centuries-old metropolis was reinvented to embody the greatness of Stalinist society. Moscow Monumental explores how the quintessential architectural works of the late Stalin era fundamentally reshaped daily life in the Soviet capital.

Drawing on a wealth of original archival research, Katherine Zubovich examines the decisions and actions of Soviet elites—from top leaders to master architects—and describes the experiences of ordinary Muscovites who found their lives uprooted by the ambitious skyscraper project. She shows how the Stalin-era quest for monumentalism was rooted in the Soviet Union’s engagement with Western trends in architecture and planning, and how the skyscrapers required the creation of a vast and complex infrastructure. As laborers flooded into the city, authorities evicted and rehoused tens of thousands of city residents living on the plots selected for development. When completed in the mid-1950s, these seven ornate neoclassical buildings served as elite apartment complexes, luxury hotels, and ministry and university headquarters.

Moscow Monumental tells a story that is both local and broadly transnational, taking readers from the streets of interwar Moscow and New York to the marble-clad halls of the bombastic postwar structures that continue to define the Russian capital today.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

"The Consumer Citizen"

New from Oxford University Press: The Consumer Citizen by Ethan Porter.

About the book, from the publisher:
Citizens are asked to buy, and asked to consider to buy, goods of all sizes and all prices, nearly all of the time. Appeals to political decision-making are less common. In The Consumer Citizen, Ethan Porter investigates how the techniques of everyday consumer experiences can shape political behavior. Drawing on more than a dozen original studies, he shows that the casual conflation of consumer and political decisions has profound implications for how Americans think about politics. Indeed, Porter explains that consumer habits can affect citizens' attitudes about their government, their taxes, their politicians, and even whether they purchase government-sponsored health insurance. The consumer citizen approaches government as if it were just an ordinary firm. Of course, government is not an ordinary firm---far from it---and the disjunction between what government is, and the consumer apparatus that citizens bring to bear on their evaluations of it, offers insight into several long-unanswered questions in political behavior and public opinion. How do many Americans make sense of the political world? The Consumer Citizen offers a novel answer: By relying on the habits and tools that they learn as consumers.
Visit Ethan Porter's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

"Bonds of Salvation"

New from LSU Press: Bonds of Salvation: How Christianity Inspired and Limited American Abolitionism by Ben Wright.

About the book, from the publisher:
Ben Wright’s Bonds of Salvation demonstrates how religion structured the possibilities and limitations of American abolitionism during the early years of the republic. From the American Revolution through the eruption of schisms in the three largest Protestant denominations in the 1840s, this comprehensive work lays bare the social and religious divides that culminated in secession and civil war. Historians often emphasize status anxieties, market changes, biracial cooperation, and political maneuvering as primary forces in the evolution of slavery in the United States. Wright instead foregrounds the pivotal role religion played in shaping the ideological contours of the early abolitionist movement.

Wright first examines the ideological distinctions between religious conversion and purification in the aftermath of the Revolution, when a small number of white Christians contended that the nation must purify itself from slavery before it could fulfill its religious destiny. Most white Christians disagreed, focusing on visions of spiritual salvation over the practical goal of emancipation. To expand salvation to all, they created new denominations equipped to carry the gospel across the American continent and eventually all over the globe. These denominations established numerous reform organizations, collectively known as the “benevolent empire,” to reckon with the problem of slavery. One affiliated group, the American Colonization Society (ACS), worked to end slavery and secure white supremacy by promising salvation for Africa and redemption for the United States.

Yet the ACS and its efforts drew strong objections. Proslavery prophets transformed expectations of expanded salvation into a formidable antiabolitionist weapon, framing the ACS's proponents as enemies of national unity. Abolitionist assertions that enslavers could not serve as agents of salvation sapped the most potent force in American nationalism—Christianity—and led to schisms within the Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist churches. These divides exacerbated sectional hostilities and sent the nation farther down the path to secession and war. Wright’s provocative analysis reveals that visions of salvation both created and almost destroyed the American nation.
Visit Ben Wright's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 30, 2020

"Heartland Blues"

New from Oxford University Press: Heartland Blues: Labor Rights in the Industrial Midwest by Marc Dixon.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Midwest experienced an upheaval over labor rights beginning in the winter of 2011. For most commentators, the fallout in the Midwest and unions' weak showing in the 2016 presidential election a few years later was just more evidence of labor's emaciated state.

In Heartland Blues, Marc Dixon provides a new perspective on union decline by revisiting the labor movement at its historical peak in the late 1950s. Drawing on social movement theories and archival materials, he analyzes campaigns over key labor policies as they were waged in the heavily unionized states of Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin-the very same states at the center of more recent battles over labor rights. He shows how many of the key ingredients necessary for less powerful groups to succeed, including effective organization and influential political allies, were not a given for labor at the time, but instead varied in important ways across the industrial heartland. Thus, the labor movement's social and political isolation and their limited responses to employer mobilization became a death knell in the ensuing decades, as unions sought organizational and legislative remedies to industrial decline and the rising anti-union tide.

Showing how labor rights have been challenged in significant ways in the industrial Midwest in the 1950s, Heartland Blues both identifies enduring problems for labor and forces scholars to look beyond size when seeking clues to labor's failures and successes.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 29, 2020

"How the Tea Party Captured the GOP"

New from the University of Chicago Press: How the Tea Party Captured the GOP: Insurgent Factions in American Politics by Rachel M. Blum.

About the book, from the publisher:
The rise of the Tea Party redefined both the Republican Party and how we think about intraparty conflict. What initially appeared to be an anti-Obama protest movement of fiscal conservatives matured into a faction that sought to increase its influence in the Republican Party by any means necessary. Tea Partiers captured the party’s organizational machinery and used it to replace established politicians with Tea Party–style Republicans, eventually laying the groundwork for the nomination and election of a candidate like Donald Trump.

In How the Tea Party Captured the GOP, Rachel Marie Blum approaches the Tea Party from the angle of party politics, explaining the Tea Party’s insurgent strategies as those of a party faction. Blum offers a novel theory of factions as miniature parties within parties, discussing how fringe groups can use factions to increase their political influence in the US two-party system. In this richly researched book, the author uncovers how the electoral losses of 2008 sparked disgruntled Republicans to form the Tea Party faction, and the strategies the Tea Party used to wage a systematic takeover of the Republican Party. This book not only illuminates how the Tea Party achieved its influence, but also provides a framework for identifying other factional insurgencies.
Visit Rachel Blum's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 28, 2020

"A Question of Freedom"

New from Yale University Press: A Question of Freedom: The Families Who Challenged Slavery from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War by William G. Thomas III.

About the book, from the publisher:
The story of the longest and most complex legal challenge to slavery in American history

For over seventy years and five generations, the enslaved families of Prince George’s County, Maryland, filed hundreds of suits for their freedom against a powerful circle of slaveholders, taking their cause all the way to the Supreme Court. Between 1787 and 1861, these lawsuits challenged the legitimacy of slavery in American law and put slavery on trial in the nation’s capital.

Piecing together evidence once dismissed in court and buried in the archives, William Thomas tells an intricate and intensely human story of the enslaved families (the Butlers, Queens, Mahoneys, and others), their lawyers (among them a young Francis Scott Key), and the slaveholders who fought to defend slavery, beginning with the Jesuit priests who held some of the largest plantations in the nation and founded a college at Georgetown. A Question of Freedom asks us to reckon with the moral problem of slavery and its legacies in the present day.
Visit William G. Thomas's blog.

The Page 99 Test: The Iron Way.

--Marshal Zeringue