Wednesday, January 31, 2024

"Indebted Mobilities"

Coming soon from the University of Chicago Press: Indebted Mobilities: Indian Youth, Migration, and the Internationalizing University by Susan Thomas.

About the book, from the publisher:
An ethnographic rendering of overseas students’ fraught encounters studying at an American public university.

As states have reduced funding to public universities, many of those institutions have turned to overseas students as a vital, alternative source of revenue. Students from India have especially been seen as among the most desirable populations, as they’re typically fluent in English and overwhelmingly enroll in professional fields deemed critical to the knowledge economy. The large numbers of these youth migrating for their education tend to be viewed as a shining example of the value of the contemporary global university and how it enables ambitious people to secure opportunities not available to them in their home nation.

However, a deeper examination of these young people’s encounters reveals a more complicated story than glossy brochures and paeans to American higher education would suggest. Indebted Mobilities draws on Susan Thomas’s close shadowing of a group of middle-class Indian migrant men who attended a public university in New York just as the institution sought to “internationalize” its campus in the wake of ongoing withdrawal of state funding. Thomas takes the reader along with the young men as they study, work, and socialize, pursuing the successful futures they believed to be promised when they migrated for an American education. All the while, they must face their marginalization as they become enmeshed in the fraught inclusion politics of contemporary university life in the United States. At the heart of these encounters is these students’ relationship to debt—not just material ones that include student loans, but moral and affective debts as well. This indebtedness, which keeps them tied to both India and the United States, is meaningful to how Indian middle-class men make sense of their experiences as student-migrants. These youth long to be modern “men of the world.” Yet Thomas illuminates how the complex realities that arise for them, informed by the logic of US exceptionalism, force a reckoning with their anxieties about successful masculinities and the precarity of being drawn into the global knowledge economy as indebted migrants.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

"Pax Economica"

Coming soon from Princeton University Press: Pax Economica: Left-Wing Visions of a Free Trade World by Marc-William Palen.

About the book, from the publisher:
The forgotten history of the liberal radicals, socialist internationalists, feminists, and Christians who envisioned free trade as the necessary prerequisite for anti-imperialism and peace

Today, free trade is often associated with right-wing free marketeers. In Pax Economica, historian Marc-William Palen shows that free trade and globalisation in fact have roots in nineteenth-century left-wing politics. In this counterhistory of an idea, Palen explores how, beginning in the 1840s, left-wing globalists became the leaders of the peace and anti-imperialist movements of their age. By the early twentieth century, an unlikely alliance of liberal radicals, socialist internationalists, feminists, and Christians envisioned free trade as essential for a prosperous and peaceful world order. Of course, this vision was at odds with the era’s strong predilections for nationalism, protectionism, geopolitical conflict, and colonial expansion. Palen reveals how, for some of its most radical left-wing adherents, free trade represented a hard-nosed critique of imperialism, militarism, and war.

Palen shows that the anti-imperial component of free trade was a phenomenon that came to encompass the political left wing within the British, American, Spanish, German, Dutch, Belgian, Italian, Russian, French, and Japanese empires. The left-wing vision of a “pax economica” evolved to include supranational regulation to maintain a peaceful free-trading system―which paved the way for a more liberal economic order after World War II and such institutions as the United Nations, the European Union, and the World Trade Organization. Palen’s findings upend how we think about globalisation, free trade, anti-imperialism, and peace. Rediscovering the left-wing history of globalism offers timely lessons for our own era of economic nationalism and geopolitical conflict.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 29, 2024

"Global Trade and the Shaping of English Freedom"

New from Oxford University Press: Global Trade and the Shaping of English Freedom by William A. Pettigrew.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book offers a new account of the connections between seventeenth century English history and the history of the rest of the world. Eschewing nationalist narratives, it demonstrates how greater engagement with the world beyond Europe shaped signature aspects of the English experience. Early modern trading corporations are the central actors in the story. Global Trade and the Shaping of English Freedom offers a profoundly altered reading of the practices of these entities. The companies were not monolithic entities pursuing narrow nationalist interests overseas. Nor were they inefficient monopolies doomed to commercial failure. In the seventeenth century, as this book shows, they were driven and transformed by the immediate and local interests of Company agents and their foreign networks. Because the trading companies were the most important bridge between international contexts and English legal and political debates, they connect non-European power and preference to those debates. These unappreciated actors within the corporate sphere play leading roles in this book as the shapers of English debate about the meaning of English freedom and the futures of the trades they participated in overseas. The book offers a new perspective on the foreign actors who shaped English commercial and legal ideas and practices in the seventeenth century, as well as the Ottoman, Bantenese, Huedan, Siamese, and Mughal contributions to the ideological, institutional, and procedural underpinnings that would develop, slowly but surely, into the British Empire.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 28, 2024

"How Sanctions Work"

New from Stanford University Press: How Sanctions Work: Iran and the Impact of Economic Warfare by Narges Bajoghli, Vali Nasr, Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, and Ali Vaez.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sanctions have enormous consequences. Especially when imposed by a country with the economic influence of the United States, sanctions induce clear shockwaves in both the economy and political culture of the targeted state, and in the everyday lives of citizens. But do economic sanctions induce the behavioral changes intended? Do sanctions work in the way they should? To answer these questions, the authors of How Sanctions Work highlight Iran, the most sanctioned country in the world. Comprehensive sanctions are meant to induce uprisings or pressures to change the behavior of the ruling establishment, or to weaken its hold on power. But, after four decades, the case of Iran shows the opposite to be true: sanctions strengthened the Iranian state, impoverished its population, increased state repression, and escalated Iran's military posture toward the U.S. and its allies in the region. Instead of offering an 'alternative to war,' sanctions have become a cause of war. Consequently, How Sanctions Work reveals how necessary it is to understand how sanctions really work.
Visit Narges Bajoghli's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 27, 2024

"Peasant Politics of the Twenty-First Century"

New from Cornell University Press: Peasant Politics of the Twenty-First Century: Transnational Social Movements and Agrarian Change by Marc Edelman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Peasant Politics of the Twenty-First Century illuminates the transnational agrarian movements that are remaking rural society and the world's food and agriculture systems. Marc Edelman explains how peasant movements are staking their claims from farmers' fields to massive protests around the world, shaping heated debates over peasants' rights and the very category of "peasant" within the agrarian organizations and in the United Nations.

Edelman chronicles the rise of these movements, their objectives, and their alliances with environmental, human rights, women's, and food justice groups. The book scrutinizes high-profile activists and the forgotten genealogies and policy implications of foundational analytical frameworks like "moral economy," and concepts, such as "food sovereignty" and "civil society."

Peasant Politics of the Twenty-First Century charts the struggle of agrarian movements in the face of land grabbing, counter agrarian reform, and a looming climate catastrophe, and celebrates engaged research from Central America to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 26, 2024

"They Called It Peace"

New from Princeton University Press: They Called It Peace: Worlds of Imperial Violence by Lauren Benton.

About the book, from the publisher:
A sweeping account of how small wars shaped global order in the age of empires

Imperial conquest and colonization depended on pervasive raiding, slaving, and plunder. European empires amassed global power by asserting a right to use unilateral force at their discretion. They Called It Peace is a panoramic history of how these routines of violence remapped the contours of empire and reordered the world from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries.

In an account spanning from Asia to the Americas, Lauren Benton shows how imperial violence redefined the very nature of war and peace. Instead of preparing lasting peace, fragile truces ensured an easy return to war. Serial conflicts and armed interventions projected a de facto state of perpetual war across the globe. Benton describes how seemingly limited war sparked atrocities, from sudden massacres to long campaigns of dispossession and extermination. She brings vividly to life a world in which warmongers portrayed themselves as peacemakers and Europeans imagined “small” violence as essential to imperial rule and global order.

Holding vital lessons for us today, They Called It Peace reveals how the imperial violence of the past has made perpetual war and the threat of atrocity endemic features of the international order.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 25, 2024

"Extreme Britain"

New from Oxford University Press: Extreme Britain: Gender, Masculinity and Radicalization by Elizabeth Pearson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Young women bound for Islamic State, or "Free Speech" protests for Tommy Robinson--radicalization spans ideologies. Though an often-used term, the process of radicalization is not well understood, and the role of gender within it is often ignored. This book reveals the centrality of gender to radicalization, using primary research among two of Britain's key extremist movements: the banned Islamist group al-Muhajiroun, and those networked to it; and the anti-Islam radical right, including the English Defence League and Britain First.

Through interviews with leaders including Anjem Choudary, Jayda Fransen and Tommy Robinson, as well as their followers, Elizabeth Pearson explores the making of extreme men and women, showing both parallels and distinctions between the two movements. She argues that perceived gendered differences and boundaries are central to radicalization pathways, but rooted in local cultures and place; and challenges notions of radicalization as transformative, highlighting instead continuities between activist and non-activist practices of masculinity. She examines how extreme groups construct, collectivize, mobilize and legitimize--but also resist--ideas of masculinity and gender.

Understanding the men and women involved in extreme movements will better equip us to counter them. This fascinating study offers invaluable insight into some of their lives and motivations.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

"Destroy Them Gradually"

New from Rutgers University Press: Destroy Them Gradually: Displacement as Atrocity by Andrew R. Basso.

About the book, from the publisher:
Perpetrators of mass atrocities have used displacement to transport victims to killing sites or extermination camps to transfer victims to sites of forced labor and attrition, to ethnically homogenize regions by moving victims out of their homes and lands, and to destroy populations by depriving them of vital daily needs. Displacement has been treated as a corollary practice to crimes committed, not a central aspect of their perpetration. Destroying Them Gradually examines four cases that illuminate why perpetrators have destroyed populations using displacement policies: Germany’s genocide of the Herero (1904–1908); Ottoman genocides of Christian minorities (1914–1925); expulsions of Germans from East/Central Europe (1943–1952); and climate violence (twenty-first century). Because displacement has been typically framed as a secondary aspect of mass atrocities, existing scholarship overlooks how perpetrators use it as a means of executing destruction rather than a vehicle for moving people to a specific location to commit atrocities.
Visit Andrew R. Basso's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

"The Incarcerated Modern"

New from Stanford University Press: The Incarcerated Modern: Prisons and Public Life in Iran by Golnar Nikpour.

About the book, from the publisher:
Iran's prison system is a foundational institution of Iranian political modernity. The Incarcerated Modern traces the transformation of Iran from a decentralized empire with few imprisoned persons at the turn of the twentieth century into a modern nation-state with over a quarter million prisoners today. In policing the line between "bad criminal" and "good citizen," the carceral system has shaped and reshaped Iranian understandings of citizenship, freedom, and political belonging.

Golnar Nikpour explores the interplay between the concrete space of the Iranian prison and the role of prisons in producing new public cultures and political languages in Iran. From prison writings of 1920s leftist prisoners and communiqués of 1950s militant Islamists, to paintings of 1970s revolutionary guerrillas and mapping projects organized by contemporary dissident prisoners, carceral confinement has shaped modern Iranian political movements. Today, mass incarceration is a global phenomenon. The Incarcerated Modern connects Iranian history to transnational carceral histories to illuminate the shared architectures, economies, and techniques of modern punishment.
Golnar Nikpour is Assistant Professor of History at Dartmouth College.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 22, 2024

"When Left Moves Right"

New from Oxford University Press: When Left Moves Right: The Decline of the Left and the Rise of the Populist Right in Postcommunist Europe by Maria Snegovaya.

About the book, from the publisher:
Over the past two decades, postcommunist countries have witnessed a sudden shift in the electoral fortunes of their political parties: previously successful center-left parties suffered dramatic electoral defeats and disappeared from the political scene, while right-wing populist parties soared in popularity and came to power. This dynamic echoed similar processes in Western Europe and raises a question: Were these dynamics in any way connected? When Left Moves Right argues that they were. And that the root of the connection between them lies in the pro-market rebranding of the ex-communist left--the key explanatory variable. This book asserts that, though the left's pro-market shift initially led to electoral rewards, it had a less straightforward impact on left-wing parties' electoral fortunes in the long run. Traditional supporters of the left (working-class and economically vulnerable groups) were alienated by the new economic policies, and the middle-class voters newly drawn to these parties did not compensate for those losses. As a result, for several electoral rounds following the rebranding, reformist parties on the left suffered dramatic electoral defeats. In response, right-wing parties in their respective countries adopted more redistributive economic platforms consistent with preferences of former supporters of the left, and incorporated sizeable shares of these electorates. This contributed to the growth of right-wing populist parties in the countries with a pro-market left.

The book traces this process in postcommunist Europe on different levels of analysis: cross-country observational data, case studies, and individual-level experimental surveys. It argues that scholars should incorporate the economic policy dimension when explaining the demise of the left and the rise of the populist right in the region. It also examines important parallels between the dynamics of Western and postcommunist countries by arguing that the idiosyncrasy of Eastern European politics has been overstated in scholarly literature.
Visit Maria Snegovaya's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 21, 2024

"Pox Romana"

Coming soon from Princeton University Press: Pox Romana: The Plague That Shook the Roman World by Colin Elliott.

About the book, from the publisher:
A wide-ranging and dramatic account of the Antonine plague, the mysterious disease that struck the Roman Empire at its pinnacle

In the middle of the second century AD, Rome was at its prosperous and powerful apex. The emperor Marcus Aurelius reigned over a vast territory that stretched from Britain to Egypt. The Roman-made peace, or Pax Romana, seemed to be permanent. Then, apparently out of nowhere, a sudden sickness struck the legions and laid waste to cities, including Rome itself. This fast-spreading disease, now known as the Antonine plague, may have been history’s first pandemic. Soon after its arrival, the Empire began its downward trajectory toward decline and fall. In Pox Romana, historian Colin Elliott offers a comprehensive, wide-ranging account of this pivotal moment in Roman history.

Did a single disease—its origins and diagnosis still a mystery—bring Rome to its knees? Carefully examining all the available evidence, Elliott shows that Rome’s problems were more insidious. Years before the pandemic, the thin veneer of Roman peace and prosperity had begun to crack: the economy was sluggish, the military found itself bogged down in the Balkans and the Middle East, food insecurity led to riots and mass migration, and persecution of Christians intensified. The pandemic exposed the crumbling foundations of a doomed Empire. Arguing that the disease was both cause and effect of Rome’s fall, Elliott describes the plague’s “preexisting conditions” (Rome’s multiple economic, social, and environmental susceptibilities); recounts the history of the outbreak itself through the experiences of physician, victim, and political operator; and explores postpandemic crises. The pandemic’s most transformative power, Elliott suggests, may have been its lingering presence as a threat both real and perceived.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 20, 2024

"The Politics of Emotion"

Coming soon from Cornell University Press: The Politics of Emotion: Love, Grief, and Madness in Medieval and Early Modern Iberia by Núria Silleras-Fernández.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Politics of Emotion explores the intersection of powerful emotional states―love, melancholy, grief, and madness―with gender and political power on the Iberian Peninsula from the Middle Ages to the early modern period. Using an array of sources―literary texts, medical treatises, and archival documents―Nuria Silleras-Fernandez focuses on three royal women: Isabel of Portugal (1428–1496), queen-consort of Castile; Isabel of Aragon (1470–1498), queen-consort of Portugal; and Juana of Castile (1479–1555), queen of Castile and its empire. Each of these women was perceived by their contemporaries as having gone "mad" as a result of excessive grief, and all three were related to Isabel the Catholic (1451–1504), queen of Castile and a woman lauded in her time as a paragon of reason.

Through the lives and experiences of these royal women and the observations, judgments, and machinations of their families, entourages, and circles of writers, chronicles, courtiers, moralists, and physicians in their orbits, Silleras-Fernandez addresses critical questions about how royal women in Iberia were expected to behave, the affective standards to which they were held, and how perceptions about their emotional states influenced the way they were able to exercise power. More broadly, The Politics of Emotion details how the court cultures in medieval and early modern Castile and Portugal contributed to the development of new notions of emotional excess and mental illness.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 19, 2024

"The Self and its Disorders"

New from Oxford University Press: The Self and its Disorders by Shaun Gallagher.

About the book, from the publisher:
Shaun Gallagher offers an account of psychopathologies as disorders of the self. The Self and its Disorders develops an interdisciplinary approach to an 'integrative' perspective in psychiatry. In contrast to some integrative approaches that focus on narrow brain-based conceptions, or on symptomology, this book takes its bearings from embodied and enactive conceptions of human experience. Gallagher offers an understanding of the self as a pattern of processes that include bodily, experiential, affective, cognitive, intersubjective, narrative, ecological and normative factors. He provides a philosophical analysis of the notion of self-pattern; then, drawing on phenomenological, developmental, clinical and experimental evidence, he proposes a method to study the effects of psychopathologies on the self-pattern. The book includes specific discussions of schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, depression, borderline personality disorder, and autism, among other disorders, as well as the effects of torture and solitary confinement. It also explores a variety of issues that relate to therapeutic approaches, including deep brain stimulation, meditation-based interventions, and the use of artificial intelligence and virtual reality.
Shaun Gallagher is the Lillian and Morrie Moss Professor of Excellence in Philosophy at the University of Memphis, and Professorial Fellow at the School of Liberal Arts, University of Wollongong. He was a Humboldt Foundation Anneliese Maier Research Fellow (2012-18) and has held Honorary Professorships at Tromsø University (Norway), Durham (UK), and Copenhagen (DK), as well as visiting positions at Cambridge, Lyon, Paris, Berlin, Oxford, and Rome. His areas of research include phenomenology, philosophy of mind, embodied cognition, social cognition, and concepts of self. He is editor-in-chief of the journal Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 18, 2024

"Science Interrupted"

New from Cornell University Press: Science Interrupted: Rethinking Research Practice with Bureaucracy, Agroforestry, and Ethnography by Timothy G. McLellan.

About the book, from the publisher:
Science Interrupted examines how scientists in China pursue environmental sustainability within the constraints of domestic and international bureaucracies. Timothy G. McLellan offers a theoretical framework for analyzing the formal procedural work of Chinese bureaucracy—work that is overlooked when China scholars restrict their gaze to the informal and interpersonal channels through which bureaucracy is often navigated.

Homing in on an agroforestry research organization in southwest China, the author takes the experiences of the organization's staff in navigating diverse international funding regimes and authoritarian state institutions as entry points for understanding the pervasiveness of bureaucracy in contemporary science. He asks: What if we take the tools, sensibilities, and practices of bureaucracies seriously not only as objects of critique but as resources for re-thinking scientific practice?

Extending a mode of anthropological research in which ethnography serves as source of theory as well as source of data, Science Interrupted thinks with, and not only against, bureaucracy. McLellan shows that ethnographic engagement with bureaucracy enables us to imagine more democratic and more collaborative modes of scientific practice.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

"The Policing Machine"

New from the University of Chicago Press: The Policing Machine: Enforcement, Endorsements, and the Illusion of Public Input by Tony Cheng.

About the book, from the publisher:
A revelatory look at how the NYPD has resisted change through strategic and selective community engagement.

The past few years have seen Americans express passionate demands for police transformation. But even as discussion of no-knock warrants, chokeholds, and body cameras has exploded, any changes to police procedures have only led to the same outcomes. Despite calls for increased accountability, police departments have successfully stonewalled change.

In The Policing Machine, Tony Cheng reveals the stages of that resistance, offering a close look at the deep engagement strategies that NYPD precincts have developed with only subsets of the community in order to counter any truly meaningful, democratic oversight. Cheng spent nearly two years in an unprecedented effort to understand the who and how of police-community relationship building in New York City, documenting the many ways the police strategically distributed power and privilege within the community to increase their own public legitimacy without sacrificing their organizational independence. By setting up community councils that are conveniently run by police allies, handing out favors to local churches that will promote the police to their parishioners, and offering additional support to institutions friendly to the police, the NYPD, like police departments all over the country, cultivates political capital through a strategic politics that involves distributing public resources, offering regulatory leniency, and deploying coercive force. The fundamental challenge with police-community relationships, Cheng shows, is not to build them. It is that they already exist and are motivated by a machinery designed to stymie reform.
Visit Tony Cheng's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

"The Stigma Trap"

New from Oxford University Press: The Stigma Trap: College-Educated, Experienced, and Long-Term Unemployed by Ofer Sharone.

About the book, from the publisher:
An eye-opening look at how all American workers, even the highly educated and experienced, are vulnerable to the stigma of unemployment.

After receiving a PhD in mathematics from MIT, Larry spent three decades working at prestigious companies in the tech industry. Initially he was not worried when he lost his job as part of a large layoff, but the prolonged unemployment that followed decimated his finances and nearly ended his marriage. Larry's story is not an anomaly. The majority of American workers experience unemployment, and millions get trapped in devastating long-term unemployment, including experienced workers with advanced degrees from top universities. How is it possible for even highly successful careers to suddenly go off the rails?

In The Stigma Trap, Ofer Sharone explains how the stigma of unemployment can render past educational and professional achievements irrelevant, and how it leaves all American workers vulnerable to becoming trapped in unemployment. Drawing on interviews with unemployed workers, job recruiters, and career coaches, Sharone brings to light the subtle ways that stigmatization prevents even the most educated and experienced workers from gaining middle-class jobs. Stigma also means that an American worker risks more than financial calamity from a protracted period of unemployment. One's closest relationships and sense of self are also on the line.

Eye-opening and clearly written, The Stigma Trap is essential reading for anyone who has experienced unemployment, has a family member or friend who is unemployed, or who wants to understand the forces that underlie the anxiety-filled lives of contemporary American workers. The book offers a unique approach to supporting unemployed jobseekers. At a broader level it exposes the precarious condition of American workers and sparks a conversation about much-needed policies to assure that we are not all one layoff away from being trapped by stigma.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 15, 2024

"Big Money Unleashed"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Big Money Unleashed: The Campaign to Deregulate Election Spending by Ann Southworth.

About the book, from the publisher:
The story of how the First Amendment became an obstacle to campaign finance regulation—a history that began much earlier than most imagine.

Americans across party lines believe that public policy is rigged in favor of those who wield big money in elections. Yet, legislators are restricted in addressing these concerns by a series of Supreme Court decisions finding that campaign finance regulations violate the First Amendment.

Big Money Unleashed argues that our current impasse is the result of a long-term process involving many players. Naturally, the justices played critical roles—but so did the attorneys who hatched the theories necessary to support the legal doctrine, the legal advocacy groups that advanced those arguments, the wealthy patrons who financed these efforts, and the networks through which they coordinated strategy and held the Court accountable.

Drawing from interviews, public records, and archival materials, Big Money Unleashed chronicles how these players borrowed a litigation strategy pioneered by the NAACP to dismantle racial segregation and used it to advance a very different type of cause.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 14, 2024

"Not My Type"

Coming soon from Stanford University Press: Not My Type: Automating Sexual Racism in Online Dating by Apryl Williams.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the world of online dating, race-based discrimination is not only tolerated, but encouraged as part of a pervasive belief that it is simply a neutral, personal choice about one's romantic partner. Indeed, it is so much a part of our inherited wisdom about dating and romance that it actually directs the algorithmic infrastructures of most major online dating platforms, such that they openly reproduce racist and sexist hierarchies. In Not My Type: Automating Sexual Racism in Online Dating, Apryl Williams presents a socio-technical exploration of dating platforms' algorithms, their lack of transparency, the legal and ethical discourse in these companies' community guidelines, and accounts from individual users in order to argue that sexual racism is a central feature of today's online dating culture. She discusses this reality in the context of facial recognition and sorting software as well as user experiences, drawing parallels to the long history of eugenics and banned interracial partnerships. Ultimately, Williams calls for, both a reconceptualization of the technology and policies that govern dating agencies, and also a reexamination of sociocultural beliefs about attraction, beauty, and desirability.
Apryl Williams is a jointly appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication & Media and the Digital Studies Institute at the University of Michigan. She is also a Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, a Senior Fellow in Trustworthy AI at Mozilla, as well as an affiliated researcher at NYU's Center for Critical Race & Digital Studies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 13, 2024

"The End of Epistemology As We Know It"

New from Oxford University Press: The End of Epistemology As We Know It by Brian Talbot.

About the book, from the publisher:
In The End of Epistemology As We Know It Brian Talbot explores various ways in which epistemic norms could matter, and shows how epistemic norms as standardly understood fall short on each. He argues that we can and should replace existing norms with norms that matter more. These replacement norms will be quite different from the norms standardly accepted by philosophers.

In whichever way we try to explain the importance of the epistemic, it does not matter at all what we believe about most topics or why we believe it. When what we believe does matter, it is often not particularly important that our beliefs are true, but rather just that they are good enough for our purposes. When the truth is not what really matters, then no truth-connected epistemic notions, such as reliability, evidence, coherence, accuracy, or knowledge, are really normatively significant. Even when truth is genuinely important, Talbot argues, the standard epistemic norms do not properly aim at truth, because they do not allow us to sacrifice one true belief for the sake of others. In light of all of this, epistemic norms as standardly conceived are not really concerned with what matters.

Talbot explains how epistemic norms that genuinely matter should replace truth-based epistemic notions with conceptions of success, reasons, and justification aimed at the "good enough." These new norms will require us to form some seemingly bad beliefs--beliefs that violate all standard norms by going against our evidence, being incoherent, or even being clearly false--in order to improve other beliefs. In fact, they will sometimes allow our beliefs to be bad for no reason whatsoever. These arguments open the door for new projects in epistemology. They reveal the need for new accounts of epistemic goodness and rationality, and illuminate how to rigorously pursue these in ways that are genuinely attuned to what is worthwhile.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 12, 2024

"Catastrophic Diplomacy"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Catastrophic Diplomacy: US Foreign Disaster Assistance in the American Century by Julia F. Irwin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Catastrophic Diplomacy offers a sweeping history of US foreign disaster assistance, highlighting its centrality to twentieth-century US foreign relations. Spanning over seventy years, from the dawn of the twentieth century to the mid-1970s, it examines how the US government, US military, and their partners in the American voluntary sector responded to major catastrophes around the world. Focusing on US responses to sudden disasters caused by earthquakes, tropical storms, and floods—crises commonly known as "natural disasters"—historian Julia F. Irwin highlights the complex and messy politics of emergency humanitarian relief.

Deftly weaving together diplomatic, environmental, military, and humanitarian histories, Irwin tracks the rise of US disaster aid as a tool of foreign policy, showing how and why the US foreign policy establishment first began contributing aid to survivors of international catastrophes. While the book focuses mainly on bilateral assistance efforts, it also assesses the broader international context in which the US government and its auxiliaries operated, situating their humanitarian responses against the aid efforts of other nations, empires, and international organizations. At its most fundamental level, Catastrophic Diplomacy demonstrates the importance of international disaster assistance—and humanitarian aid more broadly—to US foreign affairs.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 11, 2024

"The Weirdness of the World"

New from Princeton University Press: The Weirdness of the World by Eric Schwitzgebel.

About the book, from the publisher:
How all philosophical explanations of human consciousness and the fundamental structure of the cosmos are bizarre—and why that’s a good thing

Do we live inside a simulated reality or a pocket universe embedded in a larger structure about which we know virtually nothing? Is consciousness a purely physical matter, or might it require something extra, something nonphysical? According to the philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel, it’s hard to say. In The Weirdness of the World, Schwitzgebel argues that the answers to these fundamental questions lie beyond our powers of comprehension. We can be certain only that the truth—whatever it is—is weird. Philosophy, he proposes, can aim to open—to reveal possibilities we had not previously appreciated—or to close, to narrow down to the one correct theory of the phenomenon in question. Schwitzgebel argues for a philosophy that opens.

According to Schwitzgebel’s “Universal Bizarreness” thesis, every possible theory of the relation of mind and cosmos defies common sense. According to his complementary “Universal Dubiety” thesis, no general theory of the relationship between mind and cosmos compels rational belief. Might the United States be a conscious organism—a conscious group mind with approximately the intelligence of a rabbit? Might virtually every action we perform cause virtually every possible type of future event, echoing down through the infinite future of an infinite universe? What, if anything, is it like to be a garden snail? Schwitzgebel makes a persuasive case for the thrill of considering the most bizarre philosophical possibilities.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

"Different Beasts"

New from Oxford University Press: Different Beasts: Humans and Animals in Spinoza and the Zhuangzi by Sonya N. Özbey.

About the book, from the publisher:
Different Beasts studies conceptions of human and animal identity as articulated in the ancient Chinese text known as the Zhuangzi and in the works of the seventeenth-century European philosopher Benedict de Spinoza. By examining how, in these very different philosophies, notions of humanness and animality intersect with ideas about human unity and solidarity, social order, and social difference categories (such as gender, descent, and ability), Different Beasts opens new paths for understanding Spinoza and the Zhuangzi while also developing methodological insights into the practice of cross-cultural comparative philosophy.

Different Beasts critically engages with a long tradition of reading Spinoza together with Asian “wisdom literatures” and especially with canonical Chinese texts. Interpretations of these works, which are outside the mainstream philosophical canon (defined from a certain Euro-American perspective), often see them as premised on a harmonious view of the world, free of tensions between humans and the nonhuman world. Different Beasts adds to the literature of animality and to the practice of turning one's attention toward “non-canonical” philosophical texts to seek new understandings. However, it argues that the transformative potential of studying these texts does not lie in their allegedly harmonious view of the world but in the variety of ways they exhibit humans' uniqueness, foolishness, or superiority, which can help us further understand our own often contradictory investments in the human-animal binary.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

"Sweet Deal, Bitter Landscape"

New from Cornell University Press: Sweet Deal, Bitter Landscape: Gender Politics and Liminality in Tanzania's New Enclosures by Youjin B. Chung.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sweet Deal, Bitter Landscape brings us to the mid-2000s, when the Tanzanian government struck a deal with a foreign investor to convert more than 20,000 hectares of long-settled coastal land to establish a sugarcane plantation. Ten years on, the deal was abruptly abandoned. Popularly deemed a case of hubristic global development, critics classified this project another in a line of failed modern resource grabs.

Youjin B. Chung argues such tidy accounts conceal myriad and profound implications: not only how gender, history, and culture shaped the project's trajectory, but also how, even in its stalled state, the deal upended social life on the land by setting in motion incomplete processes of development and dispossession.

With rich ethnographic detail and visual storytelling, Sweet Deal, Bitter Landscape traces the lived experiences of diverse rural women and men as they struggled for survival under a seemingly endless condition of liminality. In so doing, she raises critical questions about the directions and stakes of postcolonial development and nation-building in Tanzania, and the shifting meanings of identity and belonging for those on the margins of capitalist agrarian transformation.
Visit Youjin B. Chung's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 8, 2024

"Checkbook Zionism"

New from Rutgers University Press: Checkbook Zionism: Philanthropy and Power in the Israel-Diaspora Relationship by Eric Fleisch.

About the book, from the publisher:
American Jews donate approximately $2.5 billion to Israel each year. Behind all that money and influence lies a power-sharing dynamic that has left an indelible mark on the relationship between Israeli and American Jews and on the direction of Israeli society to this day. Checkbook Zionism investigates how both parties have managed their interests, emotions, and attitudes about the important yet at times tense collaboration between them.

By delving into the history of American Jews’ philanthropic giving to Israelis, Fleisch assesses the core nature of power sharing between both sides of the Jewish diaspora to the United States through in-depth contemporary case studies of the relationship between sixteen non-governmental organizations and their American Jewish donors. Field observation, document analysis, and interviews with leaders, activists, and select donors alike serve a critical role here, as Fleisch assesses whether these contemporary philanthropic associations repeat classic dynamics of power-sharing or whether they represent a marked departure from the Checkbook Zionism of old. The result is a new paradigm for evaluating power sharing that can be applied to future considerations of development in the Israel-Diaspora relationship.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 7, 2024

"Age of Wolf and Wind"

New from Oxford University Press: Age of Wolf and Wind: Voyages through the Viking World by Davide Zori.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Vikings continue to fascinate us because their compelling stories connect with universal human desires for exploration and adventure. In Age of Wolf and Wind: Voyages through the Viking World, author Davide Zori argues that recent advances in excavation and archaeological science, coupled with a re-evaluation of oral traditions and written sources, inspire the telling of new and engaging stories that further our understanding of the Viking Age. Drawing upon his fieldwork experience across the Viking world, he proposes that the best method for weaving together these narratives is a balanced, interdisciplinary approach that integrates history, archaeology, and new scientific techniques.

The book delves into key questions of the Viking Age, such as the motivations of Scandinavians to board open wooden ships to raid England or cross the North Atlantic in search of new worlds beyond Europe. Each chapter offers new conclusions about the Vikings--their views on death, their raiding tactics, their lavish feasts, their forging of powerful medieval states, and many others. In each case, Zori brings together written sources, archaeology, and the natural sciences. The dialogues he creates between these three separate data sets result in an entanglement of confirmation (texts, archaeology, and science affirming the same story), contradiction (texts, archaeology, and science telling incompatible stories) and complementarity (texts, archaeology, and science contributing mutually enriching stories). This optimistic yet critical treatment of the sources allows for a holistic picture of the Viking Age to emerge, one that is accessible to a general audience but simultaneously offers new insights into current key issues of scholarly debate.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 6, 2024

"Waiting for the Cool Moon"

Coming soon from Duke University Press: Waiting for the Cool Moon: Anti-imperialist Struggles in the Heart of Japan's Empire by Wendy Matsumura.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Waiting for the Cool Moon Wendy Matsumura interrogates the erasure of colonial violence at the heart of Japanese nation-state formation. She critiques Japan studies’ role in this effacement and contends that the field must engage with anti-Blackness and anti-Indigeneity as the grounds on which to understand imperialism, colonialism, fascism, and other forces that shape national consciousness. Drawing on Black radical thinkers’ critique of the erasure of the Middle Passage in universalizing theories of modernity’s imbrication with fascism, Matsumura traces the consequences of the Japanese empire’s categorization of people as human and less-than-human as manifested in the 1920s and 1930s, and the struggles of racialized and colonized people against imperialist violence. She treats the archives safeguarded by racialized, colonized women throughout the empire as traces of these struggles, including the work they performed to keep certain stories out of view. Matsumura demonstrates that tracing colonial sensibility and struggle is central to grappling with their enduring consequences for the present.
Wendy Matsumura is associate professor of history at the University of California, San Diego. She is currently working on a project that analyzes the relationship between the formation of an idealized farm household, the creation of surplus populations, and the resolution of crisis in the post-World War II Japanese empire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 5, 2024

"The Stigma Matrix"

New from Stanford University Press: The Stigma Matrix: Gender, Globalization, and the Agency of Pakistan's Frontline Women by Fauzia Husain.

About the book, from the publisher:
As developing states adopt neoliberal policies, more and more working-class women find themselves pulled into the public sphere. They are pressed into wage work by a privatizing and unstable job market. Likewise, they are pulled into public roles by gender mainstreaming policies that developing states must sign on to in order to receive transnational aid. Their inclusion into the political economy is very beneficial for society, but is it also beneficial for women? In The Stigma Matrix Fauzia Husain draws on the experiences of policewomen, lady health workers, and airline attendants, all frontline workers who help the Pakistani state, and its global allies, address, surveil, and discipline veiled women citizens. These women, she finds, confront a stigma matrix: a complex of local and global, historic, and contemporary factors that work together to complicate women's integration into public life. The experiences of the three groups Husain examines reveal that inclusion requires more than quotas or special seats. This book advances critical feminist and sociological frameworks on stigma and agency showing that both concepts are made up of multiple layers of meaning, and are entangled with elite projects of hegemony.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 4, 2024

"Dividing the Public"

New from Cornell University Press: Dividing the Public: School Finance and the Creation of Structural Inequity by Matthew Gardner Kelly.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Dividing the Public, Matthew Gardner Kelly takes aim at the racial and economic disparities that characterize public education funding in the United States. With California as his focus, Kelly illustrates that the use of local taxes to fund public education was never an inadvertent or de facto product of past practices, but an intentional decision adopted in place of well-known alternatives during the Progressive Era, against past precedent and principle in several states.

From efforts to convert expropriated Indigenous and Mexican land into common school funding in the 1850s, to reforms that directed state aid to expanding white suburbs during the years surrounding World War II, Dividing the Public traces, in intricate detail, how a host of policies connected to school funding have divided California by race and class over time. In bringing into view the neglected and poorly understood history of policymaking connected to school finance, Kelly offers a new story about the role public education played in shaping the racially segregated, economically divided, and politically fragmented world of the post-1945 metropolis.
Visit Matthew Gardner Kelly's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

"A Mystery from the Mummy-Pits"

New from Oxford University Press: A Mystery from the Mummy-Pits: The Amazing Journey of Ankh-Hap by Frank L. Holt.

About the book, from the publisher:
As the world recently commemorated the hundredth anniversary of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, our fascination with the pharaoh begs for a balanced view. Most Egyptian tombs are not royal; most were never carefully cleared and documented; most have not had their occupants treated with respect or returned to their sepulchers; and most recovered mummies have not escaped the modern trafficking in ancient bodies and body parts. The story of Ankh-Hap, a Ptolemaic-era mummy seized in the nineteenth century from the infamous mummy-pits of Egypt, provides a salutary example of what most mummies have endured.

Like a detective, Frank Holt makes use of a robust combination of scientific tools and archival research to tell the story of Ankh-Hap's life, death, and his mummified remains, which ended up in the back of an American college classroom. A Mystery from the Mummy-Pits takes the reader into a forgotten world of mummy trafficking by an American entrepreneur named Henry Augustus Ward (1834-1906). In Rochester, N.Y., his company's shelves were stocked with mummies, coffins, and even ancient body parts such as mummies' heads ($10 each), legs ($4 each), and arms ($5 each). Customers could piece together their own "Frankenmummy" with authentic wrappings and amulets sold separately.

A Mystery from the Mummy-Pits contextualizes this fascinating information by surveying the history of similar mummies from antiquity to the twentieth century, moving from ancient tomb robbers and medieval apothecaries to modern dime museums, traveling shows, pulp fiction, films, and pop culture. The book offers readers a new glimpse inside a dark chapter of mummy history.
The Page 99 Test: The Treasures of Alexander the Great.

The Page 99 Test: When Money Talks.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

"Power and Possession in the Russian Revolution"

New from Princeton University Press: Power and Possession in the Russian Revolution by Anne O'Donnell.

About the book, from the publisher:
A history that reframes the Bolsheviks’ unprecedented attempts to abolish private property after the revolutions of 1917

The revolutions of 1917 swept away not only Russia’s governing authority but also the property order on which it stood. The upheaval sparked waves of dispossession that rapidly moved beyond the seizure of factories and farms from industrialists and landowners, envisioned by Bolshevik revolutionaries, to penetrate the bedrock of social life: the spaces where people lived. In Power and Possession in the Russian Revolution, Anne O’Donnell reimagines the Bolsheviks’ unprecedented effort to eradicate private property and to create a new political economy—socialism—to replace it.

O’Donnell’s account captures the story of property in reverse, showing how the bonds connecting people to their things were broken and how new ways of knowing things, valuing them, and possessing them coalesced amid the political ferment and economic disarray of the Revolution. O’Donnell reminds us that Russia’s postrevolutionary confiscation of property, like many other episodes of mass dispossession in the twentieth century, largely escaped traditional forms of record keeping. She repairs this omission, drawing on sources that chronicle the lived experience of upheaval—popular petitions, apartment inspections, internal audits of revolutionary institutions, and records of the political police—to reconstruct an archive of dispossession. The result is an unusually intimate history of the Bolsheviks’ attempts to conquer people and things.

The Bolsheviks’ reimagining of property not only changed peoples’ lives and destinies, it formed the foundation of a new type of state—one that eschewed the defense of private property rights in favor of an enduring but enigmatic new domain: socialist state property.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 1, 2024

"An Economy of Strangers"

New from the University of Pennsylvania Press: An Economy of Strangers: Jews and Finance in England, 1650-1830 by Avinoam Yuval-Naeh.

About the book, from the publisher:

One of the most persistent, powerful, and dangerous notions in the history of the Jews in the diaspora is the prodigious talent attributed to them in all things economic. From the medieval Jewish usurer through the early-modern port-Jew and court-Jew to the grand financier of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and contemporary investors, Jews loom large in the economic imagination. For capitalists and Marxists, libertarians and radical reformers, Jews are intertwined with the economy. This association has become so natural that we often overlook the history behind the making and remaking of the complex cluster of perceptions about Jews and economy, which emerged within different historical contexts to meet a variety of personal and societal anxieties and needs.

In An Economy of Strangers, Avinoam Yuval-Naeh historicizes this association by focusing on one specific time and place—the financial revolution that England underwent from the late seventeenth century that coincided with the reestablishment of the Jewish population there for the first time in almost four hundred years. European Christian societies had to that point shunned finance and constructed a normative system to avoid it, relying on the figure of the Jew as a foil. But as the economy modernized in the seventeenth century, finance became the hinge of national power. Finance’s rise in England provoked intense national debates. Could financial economy, based on lending money on interest, be accommodated within Christian state and society when it had previously been understood as a Jewish practice?

By projecting the modern economy and the Jewish community onto each other, the Christian majority imbued them with interrelated meanings. This braiding together of parallel developments, Yuval-Naeh argues, reveals in a meaningful way how the contemporary and wide-ranging association of Jews with the modern economy could be created.
--Marshal Zeringue