Saturday, September 30, 2023

"Caring for Mom and Dad"

New from Cambridge University Press: Caring for Mom and Dad: Parent Dependency and American Social Policy by Susan Stein-Roggenbuck.

About the book, from the publisher:
Throughout the twentieth-century, the United States implemented social policies targeting the needs of dependent parents – parents who were no longer able to work but lacked sufficient financial resources to support themselves. These parent dependency policies either encouraged or required family members, particularly adult children, to provide support as an alternative to government benefits. Debates over how best to support aging parents centered on conceptualizations of dependency and the moral obligations family owed their parents. Measures of dependency often inhibited aging Americans' access to benefits they needed, focusing instead on ensuring that they were, in fact, dependent and that other family resources were not available. Susan Stein-Roggenbuck highlights this understudied aspect of the modern US welfare state, highlighting the limited support provided to aging parents and the hardship they and their adult children endured in the efforts to minimize public expenditures.
Susan Stein-Roggenbuck is an Associate Professor of American social policy in James Madison College at Michigan State University. She is the author of Negotiating Relief: The Development of Social Welfare Programs in Depression-Era Michigan, 1930–1940 (2020).

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 29, 2023

"Black Grief/White Grievance"

New from Princeton University Press: Black Grief/White Grievance: The Politics of Loss by Juliet Hooker.

About the book, from the publisher:
How race shapes expectations about whose losses matter

In democracies, citizens must accept loss; we can’t always be on the winning side. But in the United States, the fundamental civic capacity of being able to lose is not distributed equally. Propped up by white supremacy, whites (as a group) are accustomed to winning; they have generally been able to exercise political rule without having to accept sharing it. Black citizens, on the other hand, are expected to be political heroes whose civic suffering enables progress toward racial justice. In this book, Juliet Hooker, a leading thinker on democracy and race, argues that the two most important forces driving racial politics in the United States today are Black grief and white grievance. Black grief is exemplified by current protests against police violence―the latest in a tradition of violent death and subsequent public mourning spurring Black political mobilization. The potent politics of white grievance, meanwhile, which is also not new, imagines the United States as a white country under siege.

Drawing on African American political thought, Hooker examines key moments in US racial politics that illuminate the problem of loss in democracy. She connects today’s Black Lives Matter protests to the use of lynching photographs to arouse public outrage over post–Reconstruction era racial terror, and she discusses Emmett Till’s funeral as a catalyst for the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s. She also traces the political weaponization of white victimhood during the Obama and Trump presidencies. Calling for an expansion of Black and white political imaginations, Hooker argues that both must learn to sit with loss, for different reasons and to different ends.
The Page 99 Test: Theorizing Race in the Americas.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 28, 2023

"Religious Appeals in Power Politics"

New from Cornell University Press: Religious Appeals in Power Politics by Peter S. Henne.

About the book, from the publisher:
Religious Appeals in Power Politics examines how states use, or attempt to use, confessional appeals to religious belief and conscience to advance political strategies and objectives. Through case studies of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Russia, Peter S. Henne demonstrates that religion, although not as high profile or well-funded a tool as economic sanctions or threats of military force, remains a potent weapon in international relations.

Public policy analysis often minimizes the role of religion, favoring military or economic matters as the "important" arenas of policy debate. As Henne shows, however, at transformative moments in political history, states turn to faith-based appeals to integrate or fragment international coalitions. Henne highlights Saudi Arabia's 1960s rivalry with Egypt, the United States's post-9/11 leadership in the global war on terrorism, and the Russian Federation's contemporary expansionism both to reveal the presence and power of calls for religious unity and to emphasize the uncertainty and anxiety such appeals can create. Religious Appeals in Power Politics offers a bold corrective to those who consider religion as tangential to military or economic might.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

"The Isolated Presidency"

New from Oxford University Press: The Isolated Presidency by Jordan T. Cash.

About the book, from the publisher:
Since before the ratification of the Constitution, students, scholars, and statesmen in American politics have grappled with an important question: how powerful is the President of the United States? For many scholars, it is a question that can be answered only by considering factors outside the office itself, such as the president's popularity, personal clout, political talents, or institutional relationships.

In The Isolated Presidency, Jordan T. Cash re-frames this question to instead ask what authority is available to all presidents. Drawing on the Constitution itself, Cash argues that the presidency possesses an internal logic derived from its structure, duties, and powers which not only grants the president a unique institutional perspective, but also provides the president with considerable agency and discretion in pursuing agendas.

To gain a clear view of how the Constitution creates a baseline of authority that is available to all presidents, Cash examines the "isolated presidents"--presidents who were unelected, faced divided government, and were opposed by major factions of their own political parties. Stripped of all external supports, these presidents were left with nothing but their constitutional authority to rely on. Yet despite their disadvantageous circumstances, these presidents were able to achieve major policy successes solely by use of their constitutional powers. Through three case studies of isolated presidents, Cash illustrates how the Constitution creates an empowering logic within the presidency which orients presidential behavior and grants every president significant power and agency. As American politics remains polarized and divided, The Isolated Presidency provides lessons and examples of what constitutionally derived actions a president can take when confronted with the recurring issues of divided government and political gridlock.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

"When Conscience Calls"

New from the University of Chicago Press: When Conscience Calls: Moral Courage in Times of Confusion and Despair by Kristen Renwick Monroe.

About the book, from the publisher:
What is moral courage? Why is it important and what drives it? An argument for why we should care about moral courage and how it shapes the world around us.

War, totalitarianism, pandemics, and political repression are among the many challenges and crises that force us to consider what humane people can do when the world falls apart. When tolerance disappears, truth becomes rare, and civilized discourse is a distant ideal, why do certain individuals find the courage to speak out when most do not?

When Conscience Calls offers powerful portraits of ordinary people performing extraordinary acts—be it confronting presidents and racist mobs or simply caring for and protecting the vulnerable. Uniting these portraits is the idea that moral courage stems not from choice but from one’s identity. Ultimately, Kristen Renwick Monroe argues bravery derives from who we are, our core values, and our capacity to believe we must change the world. When Conscience Calls is a rich examination of why some citizens embrace anger, bitterness, and fearmongering while others seek common ground, fight against dogma, and stand up to hate.
The Page 99 Test: Ethics in an Age of Terror and Genocide.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 25, 2023

"The Darkened Light of Faith"

New from Princeton University Press: The Darkened Light of Faith: Race, Democracy, and Freedom in African American Political Thought by Melvin L. Rogers.

About the book, from the publisher:
Could the African American political tradition save American democracy? African Americans have had every reason to reject America’s democratic experiment. Yet African American activists, intellectuals, and artists who have sought to transform the United States into a racially just society have put forward some of the most original and powerful ideas about how to make America live up to its democratic ideals. In The Darkened Light of Faith, Melvin Rogers provides a bold new account of African American political thought through the works and lives of individuals who built this vital tradition—a tradition that is urgently needed today.

The book reexamines how figures as diverse as David Walker, Frederick Douglass, Anna Julia Cooper, Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Du Bois, Billie Holiday, and James Baldwin thought about the politics, people, character, and culture of a society that so often dominated them. Sharing a light of faith darkened but not extinguished by the tragic legacy of slavery, they resisted the conclusion that America would always be committed to white supremacy. They believed that democracy is always in the process of becoming and that they could use it to reimagine society. But they also saw that achieving racial justice wouldn’t absolve us of the darkest features of our shared past, and that democracy must be measured by how skillfully we confront a history that will forever remain with us.

An ambitious account of the profound ways African Americans have reimagined democracy, The Darkened Light of Faith offers invaluable lessons about how to grapple with racial injustice and make democracy work.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 24, 2023

"Creole New Orleans in the Revolutionary Atlantic, 1775–1877"

New from LSU Press: Creole New Orleans in the Revolutionary Atlantic, 1775–1877 by Caryn Cossé Bell.

About the book, from the publisher:
Nowhere in the United States did the Age of Democratic Revolution exert as profound an influence as in New Orleans. In 1809–10, refugees of the Haitian Revolution doubled the size of the city. In 1811, hundreds of Saint-Dominguan, African, and Louisianan plantation workers marched downriver toward the city in the nation’s largest-ever slave revolt. Itinerant revolutionaries from throughout the Atlantic congregated in New Orleans in the cause of Latin American independence. Together with the refugee soldiers of the Haitian Revolution (both Black and white), their presence proved decisive in the Battle of New Orleans. After defeating the British, the soldiers rejoined the struggle against Spanish imperialism. In Creole New Orleans in the Revolutionary Atlantic, 1775–1877, Caryn Cossé Bell sets forth these momentous events and much more to document the revolutionary era’s impact on the city.

Bell’s study begins with the 1883 memoir of Hélène d’Aquin Allain, a French Creole and descendant of the refugee community, who grew up in antebellum New Orleans. Allain’s d’Aquin forebears fought alongside the Savarys, a politically influential free family of color, in the Haitian Revolution. Forced from Saint-Domingue/Haiti, the allied families retreated to New Orleans. Bell’s reconstruction of the d’Aquin family network, interracial alliances, and business partnerships provides a productive framework for exploring the city’s presence at the crossroads of the revolutionary Atlantic.

Residing in New Orleans in the heyday of French Romanticism, Allain experienced a cultural revolution that exerted an enormous influence on religious beliefs, literature, politics, and even, as Bell documents, the practice of medicine in the city. In France, the highly politicized nature of the movement culminated in the 1848 French Revolution with its abolition of slavery and enfranchisement of freed men and women. During the Civil War and Reconstruction, the Afro-Creole leaders of the diasporic community pointed to events in France and stood in the forefront of the struggle to revolutionize race relations in their own nation. As Bell demonstrates, their cultural and political legacy remains a formidable presence in twenty-first-century New Orleans.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 23, 2023

"Citizen Knowledge"

New from Oxford University Press: Citizen Knowledge: Markets, Experts, and the Infrastructure of Democracy by Lisa Herzog.

About the book, from the publisher:
Many democratic societies currently struggle with issues around knowledge: fake news, distrust of experts, a fear of technocratic tendencies. In Citizen Knowledge, Lisa Herzog discusses how knowledge, understood in a broad sense, should be dealt with in societies that combine a democratic political system with a capitalist economic system. How do citizens learn about politics? How do new scientific insights make their way into politics? What role can markets play in processing decentralized knowledge?

Herzog takes on the perspective of "democratic institutionalism," which focuses on the institutions that enable an inclusive and stable democratic life. She argues that the fraught relation between democracy and capitalism gets out of balance if too much knowledge is treated according to the logic of markets rather than democracy. Complex societies need different mechanisms for dealing with knowledge, among which markets, democratic deliberation, and expert communities are central. Citizen Knowledge emphasizes the responsibility of bearers of knowledge and the need to support institutions that promote active and informed citizenship. Through this lens, Herzog develops the vision of an egalitarian society that considers the use of knowledge in society not a matter of markets, but of shared democratic responsibility, supported by epistemic infrastructures. As such, Herzog's argument contributes to political epistemology, a new subdiscipline of philosophy, with a specific focus on the interrelation between economic and political processes.

Citizen Knowledge draws from both the history of ideas and systematic arguments about the nature of knowledge to propose reforms for a more unified and flourishing democratic system.
The Page 99 Test: Inventing the Market.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 22, 2023

"Earning Their Wings"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Earning Their Wings: The WASPs of World War II and the Fight for Veteran Recognition by Sarah Parry Myers.

About the book, from the publisher:
Established by the Army Air Force in 1943, the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program opened to civilian women with a pilot's license who could afford to pay for their own transportation, training, and uniforms. Despite their highly developed skill set, rigorous training, and often dangerous work, the women of WASP were not granted military status until 1977, denied over three decades of Army Air Force benefits as well as the honor and respect given to male and female World War II veterans of other branches. Sarah Parry Myers not only offers a history of this short-lived program but considers its long-term consequences for the women who participated and subsequent generations of servicewomen and activists.

Myers shows us how those in the WASP program bonded through their training, living together in barracks, sharing the dangers of risky flights, and struggling to be recognized as military personnel, and the friendships they forged lasted well after the Army Air Force dissolved the program. Despite the WASP program's short duration, its fliers formed activist networks and spent the next thirty years lobbying for recognition as veterans. Their efforts were finally recognized when President Jimmy Carter signed a bill into law granting WASP participants retroactive veteran status, entitling them to military benefits and burials.
Visit Sarah Parry Myers's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 21, 2023

"A Blessing and a Curse"

Coming October 10 from Stanford University Press: A Blessing and a Curse: Oil, Politics, and Morality in Bolivarian Venezuela by Matt Wilde.

About the book, from the publisher:
A Blessing and a Curse examines the lived experience of political change, moral uncertainty, and economic crisis amid Venezuela's controversial Bolivarian Revolution. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in an urban barrio over the course of a decade, Matt Wilde argues that everyday life in this period was intimately shaped by a critical contradiction: that in their efforts to capture a larger portion of oil money and distribute it more widely among the population, the governments of Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro pursued policies that ultimately entrenched Venezuela in the very position of dependency they sought to overcome. Offering a new synthesis between anthropological work on energy, politics, and morality, the book explores how the use of oil money to fund the revolution's social programs and political reforms produced profound cultural anxieties about the contaminating effects of petroleum revenues in everyday settings. Tracing how these anxieties rippled out into community life, family networks, and local politics, Wilde shows how questions about how to live a good life came to be intimately shaped by Venezuela's contradictory relationship with oil. In doing so, he brings a vital perspective to contemporary debates about energy transitions by proposing a new way of thinking about the political and moral economies of natural resources in postcolonial settings.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

"Economists in the Cold War"

New from Oxford University Press: Economists in the Cold War: How a Handful of Economists Fought the Battle of Ideas by Alan Bollard.

About the book, from the publisher:
Economists in the Cold War is an account of the economic drivers and outcomes of the Cold War, told through the stories of seven international economists, who were all closely involved in theory and policy in the period 1945-73. For them, the Cold War was a battle of economic ideas, a fight between central planning and market allocation, exploring economic thinking derived from the battle between Marxist and Capitalist ideologies, a fundamental difference but with many intricacies.

The book recounts how economic theory advanced, how new economic tools were developed, and how policies were tested. Each chapter is based on the involvement of one of the selected economists. It was a challenging but dangerous time in economics: a time of economic recovery post-war, with industrial rebuilding, economic growth, and rising incomes. But it was also a time of ideological warfare, nuclear rivalry, military expansion, and personal conflict.

The narrative is approximately chronological, ranging from the Potsdam Conference in Germany to the Pinochet Coup in Chile. The selected economists include an American, a Pole, a Hungarian, a German, a British, a Japanese, and an Argentinian, all very different economists, but with interconnections among them. Each chapter also features a dissenting economist who held a contrasting view, and recounts the subsequent economic arguments that played out.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

"The Vice President's Black Wife"

Coming soon from the University of North Carolina Press: The Vice President's Black Wife: The Untold Life of Julia Chinn by Amrita Chakrabarti Myers.

About the book, from the publisher:
Award-winning historian Amrita Chakrabarti Myers has recovered the riveting, troubling, and complicated story of Julia Ann Chinn (ca. 1796–1833), the enslaved wife of Richard Mentor Johnson, owner of Blue Spring Farm, veteran of the War of 1812, and US vice president under Martin Van Buren. Johnson never freed Chinn, but during his frequent absences from his estate, he delegated to her the management of his property, including Choctaw Academy, a boarding school for Indigenous men and boys on the grounds of the estate. This meant that Chinn, although enslaved herself, oversaw Blue Spring's slave labor force and had substantial control over economic, social, financial, and personal affairs within the couple's world. Chinn's relationship with Johnson was unlikely to have been consensual since she was never manumitted.

What makes Chinn's life exceptional is the power that Johnson invested in her, the opportunities the couple's relationship afforded her and her daughters, and their community's tacit acceptance of the family—up to a point. When the family left their farm, they faced steep limits: pews at the rear of the church, burial in separate graveyards, exclusion from town dances, and more. Johnson’s relationship with Chinn ruined his political career and Myers compellingly demonstrates that it wasn't interracial sex that led to his downfall but his refusal to keep it—and Julia Chinn—behind closed doors.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 18, 2023

"The Patriarchal Political Order"

New from Cambridge University Press: The Patriarchal Political Order: The Making and Unraveling of the Gendered Participation Gap in India by Soledad Artiz Prillaman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Women across the Global South, and particularly in India, turn out to vote on election days but are noticeably absent from politics year-round. Why? In The Patriarchal Political Order, Soledad Artiz Prillaman combines descriptive and causal analysis of qualitative and quantitative data from more than 9,000 women and men in India to expose how coercive power structures diminish political participation for women. Prillaman unpacks how dominant men, imbued with authority from patriarchal institutions and norms, benefit from institutionalizing the household as a unitary political actor. Women vote because it serves the interests of men but stay out of politics more generally because it threatens male authority. Yet, when women come together collectively to demand access to political spaces, they become a formidable foe to the patriarchal political order. Eye-opening and inspiring, this book serves to deepen our understanding of what it means to create an inclusive democracy for all.
Visit Soledad Artiz Prillaman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 17, 2023

"Hillbilly Highway"

New from Princeton University Press: Hillbilly Highway: The Transappalachian Migration and the Making of a White Working Class by Max Fraser.

About the book, from the publisher:
The largely untold story of the great migration of white southerners to the industrial Midwest and its profound and enduring political and social consequences

Over the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, as many as eight million whites left the economically depressed southern countryside and migrated to the booming factory towns and cities of the industrial Midwest in search of work. The "hillbilly highway" was one of the largest internal relocations of poor and working people in American history, yet it has largely escaped close study by historians. In Hillbilly Highway, Max Fraser recovers the long-overlooked story of this massive demographic event and reveals how it has profoundly influenced American history and culture—from the modern industrial labor movement and the postwar urban crisis to the rise of today’s white working-class conservatives.

The book draws on a diverse range of sources—from government reports, industry archives, and union records to novels, memoirs, oral histories, and country music—to narrate the distinctive class experience that unfolded across the Transappalachian migration during these critical decades. As the migration became a terrain of both social advancement and marginalization, it knit together white working-class communities across the Upper South and the Midwest—bringing into being a new cultural region that remains a contested battleground in American politics to the present.

The compelling story of an important and neglected chapter in American history, Hillbilly Highway upends conventional wisdom about the enduring political and cultural consequences of the great migration of white southerners in the twentieth century.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 16, 2023

"Ultimate Freedom"

New from Oxford University Press: Ultimate Freedom: Beyond Free Will by Keith Lehrer.

About the book, from the publisher:
Philosopher Keith Lehrer outlines a view of freedom of choice based on a Kahneman-derived distinction between what he calls a first order system that is intuitive and immediate, and a higher order system of response, which he calls a second system of scientific analysis. Lehrer argues that freedom of choice is an expression of attention to the higher order system, and that what is often called free will is often just doing what you desire, a response that neglects consideration of other options. Freedom of choice acknowledges those options, and preference among them forms in response to the acceptance of evidence. We might suppose that in responding to beliefs that one has attended to evidence, but that is a delusion, because our higher order acceptance of evidence can be overwhelmed by the fixation created by first level belief.

What is the difference between just doing what you desire because it feels good and acting on what you prefer because of scientific acceptance? Lehrer points to a form of preference that he says is the ultimate explanation of choice -- what he calls a power preference. It is a preference that loops back on to itself, a fixed-point vector, and suffices to explain choice. Lehrer's theory of such a power preference includes scientific explanation and consistently accommodates determinism. It is itself a scientific and philosophical explanation, and an ultimate principle of explanation. Lehrer terms the freedom of choice expressing that preference “ultimate freedom”-- the source of our knowledge and agency both in theory, directing what we rationally accept, and in practice directing freedom of choice.
Visit Keith Leherer's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 15, 2023

"Education for All?"

New from Cambridge University Press: Education for All?: Literature, Culture and Education Development in Britain and Denmark by Cathie Jo Martin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why did Denmark develop mass education for all in 1814, while Britain created a public-school system only in 1870 that primarily educated academic achievers? Cathie Jo Martin argues that fiction writers and their literary narratives inspired education campaigns throughout the nineteenth-century. Danish writers imagined mass schools as the foundation for a great society and economic growth. Their depictions fortified the mandate to educate all people and showed neglecting low-skill youth would waste societal resources and threaten the social fabric. Conversely, British authors pictured mass education as harming social stability, lower-class work, and national culture. Their stories of youths who overcame structural injustices with individual determination made it easier to blame students who failed to seize educational opportunities. Novel and compelling, Education for All? uses a multidisciplinary perspective to offer a unique gaze into historical policymaking.
Cathie Jo Martin is Professor of Political Science at Boston University. Martin's book with Duane Swank, The Political Construction of Business Interests, received the APSA David Greenstone book award. She has received fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute, National Endowment for the Humanities and Russell Sage Foundation, among others.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 14, 2023

"Movements of the Mind"

New from Oxford University Press: Movements of the Mind: A Theory of Attention, Intention and Action by Wayne Wu.

About the book, from the publisher:
Movements of the Mind is about what it is to be an agent. Focusing on mental agency, it integrates multiple approaches, from philosophical analysis of the metaphysics of agency to the activity of neurons in the brain. Philosophical and empirical work are combined to generate concrete explanations of key features of the mind. The book should be relevant and accessible to philosophers and scientists interested in mind and agency.

Wu argues that actions have a core psychological structure where attention plays a necessary role in guiding the agent's response and intentions function as memory for work, a practical memory. Attention and memory are accordingly central parts of an agent's intentionally doing things. These claims are supported by synthesizing philosophical and empirical work to produce a theory of intention and attention in action. The account explains three phenomena of current philosophical interest: (a) the basis of positively and negatively biased action where attention often leads to implicit bias, (b) the dynamics of deductive reasoning as the focusing of a thinker's cognitive attention and the development of cognitive skills, and (c) the psychology of introspective access to conscious perceptual experience, making clear when introspection can intelligibly fail and when it can succeed.

The book provides a theory of agency, whether human or non-human, along with technical notions of automaticity and control, a theory of attention as selection to guide behavior, an account of intention as memory whose dynamics are revealed in empirical investigation of working memory, explications of sustained attention and vigilance, an explanation of biased behavior driven by biases on attention, normative aspects of attention as a skill, the role of learning in cognitive skill, a theory of deduction as a sharpening of attention, and a psychologically plausible model of introspection that speaks to its accuracy and reliability.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

"Squirrel Nation"

New from Reaktion Books: Squirrel Nation: Reds, Greys and the Meaning of Home by Peter Coates.

About the book, from the publisher:
A wide-ranging meditation on belonging and citizenship through the story of two squirrel species in Britain.

Squirrel Nation is a history of Britain’s two species of squirrel over the past two hundred years: the much-loved, though rare, red squirrel and the less-desirable, though more populous, grey squirrel. A common resident of British gardens and parks, the grey squirrel was introduced from North America in the late nineteenth century and remains something of a foreign interloper. By examining this species’ rapid spread across Britain, Peter Coates explores timely issues of belonging, nationalism, and citizenship in Britain today. Ultimately, though people are swift to draw distinctions between British squirrels and squirrels in Britain, Squirrel Nation shows that Britain’s two squirrel species have much more in common than at first appears.
Peter Coates is emeritus professor of American and environmental history at the University of Bristol.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

"The Digital Departed"

New from NYU Press: The Digital Departed: How We Face Death, Commemorate Life, and Chase Virtual Immortality by Timothy Recuber.

About the book, from the publisher:
A fascinating exploration of the social meaning of digital death

From blogs written by terminally ill authors to online notes left by those considering suicide, technology has become a medium for the dead and the dying to cope with the anxiety of death. Services like artificial intelligence chatbots, mind-uploading, and postmortem blog posts offer individuals the ability to cultivate their legacies in a bid for digital immortality. The Digital Departed explores the posthumous internet world from the perspective of both the living and the dead.

Timothy Recuber traces how communication beyond death evolved over time. Historically, the methods of mourning have been characterized by unequal access to power and privilege. However, the internet offers more agency to the dead, allowing users accessibility and creativity in curating how they want to be remembered.

Based on hundreds of blog posts, suicide notes, Twitter hashtags, and videos, Recuber examines the ways we die online, and the digital texts we leave behind. Combining these data with interviews, surveys, analysis of news coverage, and a historical overview of the relationship between death and communication technology going back to pre-history, The Digital Departed explains what it means to live and die on the internet today. In this thought-provoking and uniquely troubling work, Recuber shows that although we might pass away, our digital souls live on, online, in a kind of purgatory of their own.
Visit Timothy Recuber's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 11, 2023

"Policing Empires"

New from Oxford University Press: Policing Empires: Militarization, Race, and the Imperial Boomerang in Britain and the US by Julian Go.

About the book, from the publisher:
The police response to protests erupting on America's streets in recent years has made the militarization of policing painfully transparent. Yet, properly demilitarizing the police requires a deeper understanding of its historical development, causes, and social logics. Policing Empires offers a postcolonial historical sociology of police militarization in Britain and the United States to aid that effort. Julian Go tracks when, why, and how British and US police departments have adopted military tactics, tools, and technologies for domestic use. Go reveals that police militarization has occurred since the very founding of modern policing in the nineteenth century into the present, and that it is an effect of the "imperial boomerang." Policing Empires thereby unlocks the dirty secret of police militarization: Police have brought imperial practices home to militarize themselves in response to perceived racialized threats from minority and immigrant populations.
Learn more about Policing Empires at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Patterns of Empire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 10, 2023

"Evolutionary Intelligence"

New from The MIT Press: Evolutionary Intelligence: How Technology Will Make Us Smarter by W. Russell Neuman.

About the book, from the publisher:
A surprising vision of how human intelligence will coevolve with digital technology and revolutionize how we think and behave.

It is natural for us to fear artificial intelligence. But does Siri really want to kill us? Perhaps we are falling into the trap of projecting human traits onto the machines we might build. In Evolutionary Intelligence, Neuman offers a surprisingly positive vision in which computational intelligence compensates for the well-recognized limits of human judgment, improves decision making, and actually increases our agency. In artful, accessible, and adventurous prose, Neuman takes the reader on an exciting, fast-paced ride, all the while making a convincing case about a revolution in computationally augmented human intelligence.

Neuman argues that, just as the wheel made us mobile and machines made us stronger, the migration of artificial intelligence from room-sized computers to laptops to our watches, smart glasses, and even smart contact lenses will transform day-to-day human decision making. If intelligence is the capacity to match means with ends, then augmented intelligence can offer the ability to adapt to changing environments as we face the ultimate challenge of long-term survival.

Tapping into a global interest in technology’s potential impacts on society, economics, and culture, Evolutionary Intelligence demonstrates that our future depends on our ability to computationally compensate for the limitations of a human cognitive system that has only recently graduated from hunting and gathering.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 9, 2023


New from Yale University Press: Belfast: The Story of a City and its People by Feargal Cochrane.

About the book, from the publisher:
A lively and inviting history of Belfast—exploring the highs and lows of a resilient city

Modern Belfast is a beautiful city with a vibrant tradition of radicalism, industry, architectural innovation, and cultural achievement. But the city’s many qualities are all too frequently overlooked, its image marred by association with the political violence of the Troubles.

Feargal Cochrane tells the story of his home city, revealing a rich and complex history which is not solely defined by these conflicts. From its emergence as a maritime port to its heyday as a center for the linen industry and crucible of liberal radicalism in the late eighteenth century, through to the famous shipyards where the Titanic was built, Belfast has long been a hub of innovation. Cochrane’s book offers a new perspective on this fascinating story, demonstrating how religion, culture, and politics have shaped the way people think, act, and vote in the city—and how Belfast’s past continues to shape its present and future.
The Page 99 Test: Northern Ireland.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 8, 2023

"Reds in Blue"

New from Oxford University Press: Reds in Blue: UNESCO, World Governance, and the Soviet Internationalist Imagination by Louis Howard Porter.

About the book, from the publisher:
Before Josef Stalin's death in 1953, the USSR had, at best, an ambivalent relationship with noncommunist international organizations. Although it had helped found the United Nations, it refused to join the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and other major agencies beyond the Security Council and General Assembly, casting them as foreign meddlers. Under new leadership, the USSR joined UNESCO and a slew of international organizations for the first time, including the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization. As a result, it enabled Soviet diplomats, scholars, teachers, and even some blue-collar workers to participate in global discussions on topics ranging from their professional specialties to worldwide problems.

Reds in Blue investigates Soviet relations with one of the most prominent of these organizations, UNESCO, to present a novel way of thinking about the role of the United Nations in the Soviet experience of the Cold War. Drawing on unused archival material from the former USSR and elsewhere, the book examines the forgotten stories of Soviet citizens who contributed to the nuts-and-bolts operations and lesser-known activities of world governance. These unexamined dimensions of everyday participation in the UN's bureaucracy, conferences, publications, and technical assistance show the body's importance for a group of Soviet "one-worlders," who used the UN to imagine and work for a better world amidst the realities of the Cold War. Meanwhile, the Khrushchev and early Brezhnev governments sought to use their participation as a means of spreading Soviet influence within Western-dominated international organizations but discovered that this required risk-taking and a degree of openness for which the Soviet leadership and domestic institutions were often unprepared.

Moving beyond debates over the successes and failures of UN diplomatic activities, Reds in Blue offers fresh perspectives on how Soviet citizens became citizens of the world and advocated for opening up Soviet society in ways that transcended Cold War categories without abandoning a sense of loyalty to their homeland. In doing so, it recaptures a space where East and West worked together towards a future without international conflict in the years before détente.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 7, 2023


Coming October 10 from the University of Texas Press: Narcomedia: Latinidad, Popular Culture, and America's War on Drugs by Jason Ruiz.

About the book, from the publisher:
Exploring representations of Latinx people from Scarface to Narcos, this book examines how pop culture has framed Latin America as the villain in America’s long and ineffectual War on Drugs.

If there is an enemy in the War on Drugs, it is people of color. That is the lesson of forty years of cultural production in the United States. Popular culture, from Scarface and Miami Vice to Narcos and Better Call Saul, has continually positioned Latinos as an alien people who threaten the US body politic with drugs. Jason Ruiz explores the creation and endurance of this trope, its effects on Latin Americans and Latinx people, and its role in the cultural politics of the War on Drugs.

Even as the focus of drug anxiety has shifted over the years from cocaine to crack and from methamphetamines to opioids, and even as significant strides have been made in representational politics in many areas of pop culture, Latinx people remain an unshakeable fixture in stories narrating the production, distribution, and sale of narcotics. Narcomedia argues that such representations of Latinx people, regardless of the intentions of their creators, are best understood as a cultural front in the War on Drugs. Latinos and Latin Americans are not actually America’s drug problem, yet many Americans think otherwise—and that is in no small part because popular culture has largely refused to imagine the drug trade any other way.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

"Race and Police"

New from Rutgers University Press: Race and Police: The Origin of Our Peculiar Institutions by Ben Brucato.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the United States, race and police were founded along with a capitalist economy dependent on the enslavement of workers of African descent. Race and Police builds a critical theory of American policing by analyzing a heterodox history of policing, drawn from the historiography of slavery and slave patrols. Beginning by tracing the historical origins of the police mandate in British colonial America, the book shows that the peculiar institution of racialized chattel slavery originated along with a novel, binary conception of race. On one side, for the first time Europeans from various nationalities were united in a single racial category. Inclusion in this category was necessary for citizenship. On the other, Blacks were branded as slaves, cast as social enemies, and assumed to be threats to the social order. The state determined not only that it would administer slavery, but that it would regulate slaves, authorizing the use of violence by agents of the state and white citizens to secure the social order. In doing so, slavery, citizenship, and police mutually informed one another, and together they produced racial capitalism, a working class defined and separated by the color line, and a racial social order.

Race and Police corrects the Eurocentrism in the orthodox history of American police and in predominating critical theories of police. That orthodoxy rests on an origin story that begins with Sir Robert Peel and the London Metropolitan Police Service. Predating the Met by more than a century, America’s first police, often called slave patrols, did more than maintain order—it fabricated a racial order. Prior to their creation, all white citizens were conscripted to police all Blacks. Their participation in the coercive control of Blacks gave definition to their whiteness. Targeted as threats to the security of the economy and white society, being policed defined Blacks who, for the first time, were treated as a single racial group. The boundaries of whiteness were first established on the basis of who was required to regulate slaves, given a specific mandate to prevent Black insurrection, a mandate that remains core to the police role to this day.
Visit Ben Brucato's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

"Famine Worlds"

New from Stanford University Press: Famine Worlds: Life at the Edge of Suffering in Lebanon’s Great War by Tylor Brand.

About the book, from the publisher:
World War I was a catastrophe for the lands that would become Lebanon. With war came famine, and with famine came unspeakable suffering, starvation, and mass death. For nearly four years the deadly crisis reshaped society, killing untold thousands and transforming how people lived, how they interacted, and even how they saw the world around them. Famine Worlds peers out at the famine through their eyes, from the wealthy merchants and the dwindling middle classes, to those perishing in the streets.

Tylor Brand draws on memoirs, diaries, and correspondence to explore how people negotiated the famine and its traumas. Many observers depicted society in collapse—the starving poor became wretched victims and the well-fed became villains or heroes for the judgment of their peers. He shows how individual struggles had social effects. The famine altered beliefs and behaviors, and those in turn influenced social relationships, policies, and even the historical memory of generations to come.

More than simply a chronicle of the Great Famine, however, Famine Worlds offers a profound meditation on what it means to live through such collective trauma, and how doing so shapes the character of a society. Brand shows that there are consequences to living amid omnipresent suffering and death. A crisis like the Great Famine is transformative in ways we cannot comprehend. It not only reshapes the lives and social worlds of those who suffer, it creates a particular rationality that touches the most fundamental parts of our being, even down to the ways we view and interact with each other. We often assume that if we were thrust into historic calamity that we would continue to behave compassionately. Famine Worlds questions such confidence, providing a lesson that could not be more timely.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 4, 2023

"The United States of English"

New from Oxford University Press: The United States of English: The American Language from Colonial Times to the Twenty-First Century by Rosemarie Ostler.

About the book, from the publisher:
The story of how English became American -- and how it became Southern, Bostonian, Californian, African-American, Chicano, elite, working-class, urban, rural, and everything in between

By the time of the Revolution, the English that Americans spoke was recognizably different from the British variety. Americans added dozens of new words to the language, either borrowed from Native Americans (raccoon, persimmon, caucus) or created from repurposed English (backwoods, cane brake, salt lick). Americans had their own pronunciations (bath rhymed with hat, not hot) and their own spelling (honor, not honour), not to mention a host of new expressions that grew out of the American landscape and culture (blaze a trail, back track, pull up stakes). Americans even invented their own slang, like stiff as a ringbolt to mean drunk. American English has continued to grow and change ever since.

The United States of English tells the engrossing tale of how the American language evolved over four hundred years, explaining both how and why it changed and which parts of the "mother tongue" it preserved (I guess was heard in the British countryside long before it became a typical Americanism). Rosemarie Ostler approaches American English as part of the larger story of American history and culture, starting with what we know about the first colonists and their speech. Drawing on the latest research, she explores the roots of regional dialects, the differences between British and American language use, the sources of American slang, the development of African American English, current trends in political language, and much more. Plentiful examples of the American vernacular, past and present, bring the language to life and make for an engaging as well as enlightening read.
Visit Rosemarie Ostler's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 3, 2023

"The Burden-Sharing Dilemma"

Coming November 15 from Cornell University Press: The Burden-Sharing Dilemma: Coercive Diplomacy in US Alliance Politics by Brian D. Blankenship.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Burden-Sharing Dilemma examines the conditions under which the United States is willing and able to pressure its allies to assume more responsibility for their own defense. The United States has a mixed track record of encouraging allied burden-sharing—while it has succeeded or failed in some cases, it has declined to do so at all in others. This variation, Brian D. Blankenship argues, is because the United States tailors its burden-sharing pressure in accordance with two competing priorities: conserving its own resources and preserving influence in its alliances. Although burden-sharing enables great power patrons like the United States to lower alliance costs, it also empowers allies to resist patron influence.

Blankenship identifies three factors that determine the severity of this burden-sharing dilemma and how it is managed: the latent military power of allies, the shared external threat environment, and the level of a patron's resource constraints. Through case studies of US alliances formed during the Cold War, he shows that a patron can mitigate the dilemma by combining assurances of protection with threats of abandonment and by exercising discretion in its burden-sharing pressure.

Blankenship's findings dismantle assumptions that burden-sharing is always desirable but difficult to obtain. Patrons, as the book reveals, can in fact be reluctant to seek burden-sharing, and attempts to pass defense costs to allies can often be successful. At a time when skepticism of alliance benefits remains high and global power shifts threaten longstanding pacts, The Burden-Sharing Dilemma recalls and reconceives the value of burden-sharing and alliances.
Visit Brian Blankenship's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 2, 2023

"Birth of the Geopolitical Age"

New from Stanford University Press: Birth of the Geopolitical Age: Global Frontiers and the Making of Modern China by Shellen Xiao Wu.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the 1850s until the mid-twentieth century, a period marked by global conflicts and anxiety about dwindling resources and closing opportunities after decades of expansion, the frontier became a mirror for historically and geographically specific hopes and fears. From Asia to Europe and the Americas, countries around the world engaged with new interpretations of empire and the deployment of science and technology to aid frontier development in extreme environments. Through a century of political turmoil and war, China nevertheless is the only nation to successfully navigate the twentieth century with its imperial territorial expanse largely intact. In Birth of the Geopolitical Age, Shellen Xiao Wu demonstrates how global examples of frontier settlements refracted through China's unique history and informed the making of the modern Chinese state. Wu weaves a narrative that moves through time and space, the lives of individuals, and empires' rise and fall and rebirth, to show how the subsequent reshaping of Chinese geopolitical ambitions in the twentieth century, and the global transformation of frontiers into colonial laboratories, continues to reorder global power dynamics in East Asia and the wider world to this day.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 1, 2023

"The Radical Imagination of Black Women"

New from Oxford University Press: The Radical Imagination of Black Women: Ambition, Politics, and Power by Pearl K. Ford Dowe.

About the book, from the publisher:
Historically, many Black women have viewed political participation as a means to achieve full equality and improve their status in US society. To this end, Black women have long engaged in politics through activism, voting, mobilization, and seeking office. Since 2016 the number of women, particularly Black women, seeking office has increased dramatically.

Including interviews with Black women holding political office at the national, state, and local levels, as well as focus group data, The Radical Imagination of Black Women challenges political science's current approach to political ambition by exploring how Black women decide to seek political office. Pearl K. Ford Dowe argues that ambition for Black women cannot be measured only by political candidacies and ascents of the political chain of power. Black women are uniquely positioned within their communities to influence politics and public policy, which stems from unique variables of socialization, gender and racial identity, and marginalization that shape the political attitudes of Black women. Thus, Dowe asserts that Black women's political ambition often manifests outside formal politics, in activism and community building, a process that is linked to a wider radical vision for a full democracy. This is ambition that occurs in a specific context of marginalization, and both motivation and the conditions surrounding such motivation are critical to understanding the full range of Black women's political work. By focusing on Black women's experiences in elite politics, The Radical Imagination of Black Women is a much-needed intervention in the literature on electoral ambition, women in politics, and candidates and elections.
--Marshal Zeringue