Sunday, March 31, 2024

"In the Shadow of Diagnosis"

New from the University of Chicago Press: In the Shadow of Diagnosis: Psychiatric Power and Queer Life by Regina Kunzel.

About the book, from the publisher:
A look at the history of psychiatry’s foundational impact on the lives of queer and gender-variant people.

In the mid-twentieth century, American psychiatrists proclaimed homosexuality a mental disorder, one that was treatable and amenable to cure. Drawing on a collection of previously unexamined case files from St. Elizabeths Hospital, In the Shadow of Diagnosis explores the encounter between psychiatry and queer and gender-variant people in the mid- to late-twentieth-century United States. It examines psychiatrists’ investments in understanding homosexuality as a dire psychiatric condition, a judgment that garnered them tremendous power and authority at a time that historians have characterized as psychiatry’s “golden age.” That stigmatizing diagnosis made a deep and lasting impact, too, on queer people, shaping gay life and politics in indelible ways. In the Shadow of Diagnosis helps us understand the adhesive and ongoing connection between queerness and sickness.
Regina Kunzel is the Larned Professor of History and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University.

The Page 99 Test: Criminal Intimacy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 30, 2024

"Jerusalem through the Ages"

New from Oxford University Press: Jerusalem through the Ages: From Its Beginnings to the Crusades by Jodi Magness.

About the book, from the publisher:
A major new history of one of the world's holiest of cities, based on the most recent archaeological discoveries

First settled five thousand years ago by a mountain spring between the Mediterranean and Dead Sea, Jerusalem was named for the god (Shalem) that was worshipped there. When David reportedly conquered the city, ca. 1000 BCE, he transferred the Ark of the Covenant--and with it, the presence of the God of Israel--to this rocky outcrop. Here, David's son Solomon built a permanent house for the God of Israel called the first temple, and since then this spot has been known as the Temple Mount. After Babylonians destroyed Solomon's temple in 586 BCE, it was replaced by the second temple, which is the setting for many of the events described in the Gospel accounts. In 70 CE, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, leaving the Temple Mount in ruins. Two hundred and fifty years later, the emperor Constantine constructed the Church of the Holy Sepulcher around the spots where Jesus is believed to have been crucified and buried, and the church is now considered Jerusalem's holiest site by many Christians worldwide. In the late seventh century CE the focus shifted back to the Temple Mount, when an early Islamic ruler named `Abd al-Malek enshrined the rocky outcrop in a monument that is still iconic of the city today: the Dome of the Rock. In 1099 Crusaders conquered Jerusalem, and although their rule was brief rule they left a deep impact on the city. Today, much of the old city retains its medieval appearance.

For followers of the three Abrahamic faiths, Jerusalem is the place where the presence of the God of Israel dwells--the meeting point of heaven and earth and the locus of divine and human interaction. Jerusalem through the Ages by Jodi Magness explores how these beliefs came to be associated with the city by introducing readers to its complex and layered history, providing a broad yet detailed account, including the most recent archaeological discoveries. Each chapter focuses on a key moment of transition from Jerusalem's beginnings to the Crusades of the medieval period, enabling readers to experience the city's many transformations as it changed hands and populations-Jebusites, Israelites, Judahites, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The book also includes a walking guide for visitors who wish to experience the city's many archaeological sites firsthand.
Visit Jodi Magness's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 29, 2024

"Creatures of Fashion"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: Creatures of Fashion: Animals, Global Markets, and the Transformation of Patagonia by John Soluri.

About the book, from the publisher:
Today, the mention of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego conjures images of idyllic landscapes untouched by globalization. Creatures of Fashion upends this, revealing how the exploitation of animals—terrestrial and marine, domesticated and wild, living and dead—was central to the region's transformation from Indigenous lands into the national territories of Argentina and Chile. Drawing on evidence from archives and digital repositories, John Soluri traces the circulation of furs and fibers to explore how the power of fashion stretched far beyond Europe's houses of haute couture to entangle the fates of Indigenous hunters, migrant workers, and textile manufacturers with those of fur seals, guanacos, and sheep at the "end of the world."

From the nineteenth-century rise of commercial hunting to twentieth-century sheep ranching to contemporary conservation-based tourism, Soluri's narrative explains how struggles for control over the production of commodities and the reproduction of animals drove the social and environmental changes that tied Patagonia to global markets, empires, and wildlife conservation movements. By exposing seams in national territories and global markets knit together by force, this book provides perspectives and analyses vital for understanding contemporary conflicts over mass consumption, the conservation of biodiversity, and struggles for environmental justice in Patagonia and beyond.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 28, 2024


New from Oxford University Press: Subversion: From Covert Operations to Cyber Conflict by Lennart Maschmeyer.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Subversion, Lennart Maschmeyer provides a powerful new theory and analysis of an age-old concept. While a strategy of subversion offers great strategic promise in theory, it faces an underappreciated set of challenges that limit its strategic value in practice. Drawing from two major cases--the KGB's use of traditional subversion methods to crush the Prague Spring in 1968 and Russia's less successful use of cyberwarfare against Ukraine since 2014--Maschmeyer demonstrates both the benefits and weaknesses of the approach. While many believe that today's cyber-based subversion campaigns offer new strategic opportunities, they also come with their own challenges. Because of these disadvantages, cyber operations continue to fall short of expectations--most recently in the Russo-Ukrainian war. By showing that traditional subversion methods remain the more potent threat, Subversion forces us to reconsider our fears of the subversive potential of cyberwar.
Visit Lennart Maschmeyer's website.

Maschmeyer is a Senior Researcher at the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich. He holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Toronto and an MPhil in International Relations from the University of Oxford. Lennart’s research examines the subversive nature of cyber power, focusing on its operational challenges and strategic limitations. In particular, he has studied the use of cyber operations in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict since 2014. As part of this research, Lennart is also investigating the effectiveness of social media disinformation as a subversive instrument. A second pillar of Lennart’s research agenda critically examines knowledge production processes in cybersecurity and resulting bias and distortions.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

"Devotion to the Administrative State"

New from Princeton University Press: Devotion to the Administrative State: Religion and Social Order in Egypt by Mona Oraby.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why the pursuit of state recognition by seemingly marginal religious groups in Egypt and elsewhere is a devotional practice

Over the past decade alone, religious communities around the world have demanded state recognition, exemption, accommodation, or protection. They make these appeals both in states with a declared religious identity and in states officially neutral toward religion. In this book, Mona Oraby argues that the pursuit of official recognition by religious minorities amounts to a devotional practice. Countering the prevailing views on secularism, Oraby contends that demands by seemingly marginal groups to have their religious differences recognized by the state in fact assure communal integrity and coherence over time. Making her case, she analyzes more than fifty years of administrative judicial trends, theological discourse, and minority claims-making practices, focusing on the activities of Coptic Orthodox Christians and Baháʼí in modern and contemporary Egypt.

Oraby documents the ways that devotion is expressed across a range of sites and sources, including in lawyers’ offices, administrative judicial verdicts, televised media and film, and invitation-only study sessions. She shows how Egypt’s religious minorities navigated the political and legal upheavals of the 2011 uprising and now persevere amid authoritarian repression. In a Muslim-majority state, they assert their status as Islam’s others, finding belonging by affirming their difference; and difference, Oraby argues, is the necessary foundation for collective life. Considering these activities in light of the global history of civil administration and adjudication, Oraby shows that the lengths to which these marginalized groups go to secure their status can help us to reimagine the relationship between law and religion.
Visit Mona Oraby's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

"Love and the Working Class"

New from Oxford University Press: Love and the Working Class: The Inner Worlds of Nineteenth Century Americans by Karen Lystra.

About the book, from the publisher:
Love and the Working Class is a unique look at the emotions of hard-living, nineteenth-century Americans who were often on the cusp of literacy. These laboring folk highly valued letters and, however difficult it was, wrote to stay connected to those they loved. This book displays the personal expression of factory hands, manual laborers, peddlers, coopers, carpenters, lumbermen, miners, tanners, haulers, tailors, seamstresses, laundresses, domestics, sharecroppers, independent farmers, and common soldiers and their wives. Entering the “anonymous corners” of these people's lives through letters, we can see their humor, grit, hope, heartache, and endurance, and grasp what they believed and felt about themselves, their kinfolk, and their friends.

As much as possible, these working-class Americans living in the nineteenth century speak to contemporary readers in their own words. Often armed with only a third or fourth grade education, they could read but had limited instruction in writing. Yet they sat down to compose a letter, often spurred by a range of experience including the Gold Rush, westward expansion, slavery, the Emancipation Proclamation, and what was arguably the most important event in nineteenth-century America, the Civil War. During the war, poor, undereducated soldiers and their families wrote letters in a quantity never before seen in American history.

Using letters written to parents, siblings, husbands, wives, friends, and potential mates between 1830 and 1880, Karen Lystra identifies the shared conceptions of love and practices of courtship and marriage within a racially diverse population of free working-class people born in America. Readers can listen to their voices as they flirt, act as intermediaries in hometown courtships, express non-romantic love to their mates, tease each other, and voice their hopes for the future. Through these personal letters, poor, minimally schooled Americans show us how they felt about love and how they created meaningful attachments in their uncertain lives.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 25, 2024

"I, Yantra"

New from State University of New York Press: I, Yantra: Exploring Self and Selflessness in Ancient Indian Robot Tales by Signe Cohen.

About the book, from the publisher:
What does it mean to be human? I, Yantra examines ancient Indian narratives about robots and mechanically constructed beings to explore how their Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist authors approached this question. Making translations of many of these texts available in English for the first time, author Signe Cohen argues that they shed considerable light on South Asian religious notions of humanity, self, and agency. She also documents connections between ancient and modern responses to the ethical problems of what precisely constitutes a sentient being and what rights such a being should have. Situated at the intersection of humanities and bioethics, this cross-disciplinary study will be of interest to scholars of South Asian languages and literature as well as specialists in religion and technology.
Signe Cohen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Missouri. She is the author of Textual Criticism and Sacred Texts and Text and Authority in the Older Upaniṣads and the editor of The Upaniṣads: A Complete Guide.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 24, 2024

"The Path of Desire"

New from the University of Chicago Press: The Path of Desire: Living Tantra in Northeast India by Hugh B. Urban.

About the book, from the publisher:
A provocative study of contemporary Tantra as a dynamic living tradition.

Tantra, one of the most important religious currents in South Asia, is often misrepresented as little more than ritualized sex. Through a mixture of ethnography and history, Hugh B. Urban reveals a dynamic living tradition behind the sensationalist stories. Urban shows that Tantric desire goes beyond the erotic, encompassing such quotidian experiences as childbearing and healing. He traces these holistic desires through a series of unique practices: institutional Tantra centered on gurus and esoteric rituals; public Tantra marked by performance and festival; folk Tantra focused on magic and personal well-being; and popular Tantra imagined in fiction, film, and digital media. The result is a provocative new description of Hindu Tantra that challenges us to approach religion as something always entwined with politics and culture, thoroughly entangled with ordinary needs and desires.
Hugh B. Urban is College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor at the Ohio State University. He is the author of numerous books including Secrecy: Silence, Power and Religion and Zorba the Buddha: Sex, Spirituality and Capitalism in the Global Osho Movement.

The Page 99 Test: Zorba the Buddha.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 23, 2024

"Strangers Within"

New from Princeton University Press: Strangers Within: The Rise and Fall of the New Christian Trading Elite by Francisco Bethencourt.

About the book, from the publisher:
A comprehensive study of the New Christian elite of Jewish origin—prominent traders, merchants, bankers and men of letters—between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries

In Strangers Within, Francisco Bethencourt provides the first comprehensive history of New Christians, the descendants of Jews forced to convert to Catholicism in late medieval Spain and Portugal. Bethencourt estimates that there were around 260,000 New Christians by 1500—more than half of Iberia’s urban population. The majority stayed in Iberia but a significant number moved throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, coastal Asia and the New World. They established Sephardic communities in North Africa, the Ottoman Empire, Italy, Amsterdam, Hamburg and London. Bethencourt focuses on the elite of bankers, financiers and merchants from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries and the crucial role of this group in global trade and financial services. He analyses their impact on religion (for example, Teresa de Ávila), legal and political thought (Las Casas), science (Amatus Lusitanus), philosophy (Spinoza) and literature (Enríquez Gomez).

Drawing on groundbreaking research in eighteen archives and library manuscript departments in six different countries, Bethencourt argues that the liminal position in which the New Christians found themselves explains their rise, economic prowess and cultural innovation. The New Christians created the first coherent legal case against the discrimination of a minority singled out for systematic judicial inquiry. Cumulative inquisitorial prosecution, coupled with structural changes in international trade, led to their decline and disappearance as a recognizable ethnicity by the mid-eighteenth century. Strangers Within tells an epic story of persecution, resistance and the making of Iberia through the oppression of one of the most powerful minorities in world history. Packed with genealogical information about families, their intercontinental networks, their power and their suffering, it is a landmark study.
--Marshl Zeringue

Friday, March 22, 2024

"China's Vulnerability Paradox"

New from Oxford University Press: China's Vulnerability Paradox: How the World's Largest Consumer Transformed Global Commodity Markets by Pascale Massot.

About the book, from the publisher:
China's Vulnerability Paradox explains the uneven transformations in global commodity markets resulting from China's contemporary, dramatic economic growth. At times, China displays vulnerabilities towards global commodity markets because of unequal positions of market power. Why is it that Chinese stakeholders are often unable to shape markets in their preferred direction? Why have some markets undergone fundamental changes while other similar ones did not? And how can we explain the uneven liberalization dynamics across markets? Through a series of case studies, Pascale Massot argues that the balance of market power between Chinese domestic and international market stakeholders explains their behavior as well as the likelihood of global institutional change. At a time of deepening US-China economic tensions, this book provides an alternative, granular understanding of the interacting dynamics between the political economy of Chinese and global markets.
Visit Pascale Massot's website.

Massot is an assistant professor in the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa.

She was a member and adviser to the co-chairs of the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs’ Indo-Pacific Advisory Committee. She has also served as the Senior Advisor for China and Asia to various Canadian Cabinet ministers, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, at different points between 2015 and 2021.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 21, 2024

"In the Land of the Unreal"

New from Duke University Press: In the Land of the Unreal: Virtual and Other Realities in Los Angeles by Lisa Messeri.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the mid-2010s, a passionate community of Los Angeles-based storytellers, media artists, and tech innovators formed around virtual reality (VR), believing that it could remedy society’s ills. Lisa Messeri offers an ethnographic exploration of this community, which conceptualized VR as an “empathy machine” that could provide glimpses into diverse social realities. She outlines how, in the aftermath of #MeToo, the backlash against Silicon Valley, and the turmoil of the Trump administration, it was imagined that VR—if led by women and other marginalized voices—could bring about a better world. Messeri delves into the fantasies that allowed this vision to flourish, exposing the paradox of attempting to use a singular VR experience to mend a fractured reality full of multiple, conflicting social truths. She theorizes this dynamic as unreal, noting how dreams of empathy collide with reality’s irreducibility to a “common” good. With In the Land of the Unreal, Messeri navigates the intersection of place, technology, and social change to show that technology alone cannot upend systemic forces attached to gender and race.
Visit Lisa Messeri's website.

Messeri is a professor of sociocultural anthropology at Yale University. She is also affiliated with Program in the History of Science and Medicine. Her first book, Placing Outer Space, considers how "planet" is not only a cosmic concept, but also a humanistic one.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

"Military Medicine and the Hidden Costs of War"

New from Oxford University Press: Military Medicine and the Hidden Costs of War by Tanisha M. Fazal.

About the book, from the publisher:
A highly original comprehensive history of US military medicine.

Decisions to go to war are often framed in cost-benefit terms, and typically such assessments do not factor in longer term costs. However, recent dramatic improvements in American military medicine have had an unanticipated effect: saving more soldiers' lives has vastly increased long-term, downstream costs of war with profound consequences for global politics in an era of heightened great power competition. In Military Medicine and the Hidden Costs of War, Tanisha M. Fazal traces the modern history of medical treatment and casualty rates in American conflicts from the Civil War to the more recent counterinsurgency wars. As she shows, wars became increasingly survivable for wounded troops, to the point now where a large majority of wounded soldiers survive. Yet the human and financial implications of this steep increase in the wounded-to-killed ratio are dramatic, and her powerful analysis of this shift provides a necessary corrective to how we understand the costs of war. For each major conflict, Fazal analyzes the weapons used, injuries sustained, and policies put in place for veterans' care and pensions. As she argues, these improvements have significant financial and deeply personal implications for the returned wounded and their families, as well as the US government and its citizenry. Fazal's analysis highlights the significance of policymakers underestimating the costs of war, which in turn makes it easier both to initiate and continue military action abroad, contributing to Americas' penchant for engaging in so-called "endless wars." A sweeping political history, Military Medicine and the Hidden Costs of War will fundamentally change our understanding of the lasting consequences of America's wars.
Visit Tanisha M. Fazal's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

"Insurgent Communities"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Insurgent Communities: How Protests Create a Filipino Diaspora by Sharon M. Quinsaat.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sociologist Sharon M. Quinsaat sheds new light on the formation of diasporic connections through transnational protests.

When people migrate and settle in other countries, do they automatically form a diaspora? In Insurgent Communities, Sharon M. Quinsaat explains the dynamic process through which a diaspora is strategically constructed. Quinsaat looks to Filipinos in the United States and the Netherlands—examining their resistance against the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, their mobilization for migrants’ rights, and the construction of a collective memory of the Marcos regime—to argue that diasporas emerge through political activism. Social movements provide an essential space for addressing migrants’ diverse experiences and relationships with their homeland and its history. A significant contribution to the interdisciplinary field of migration and social movements studies, Insurgent Communities illuminates how people develop collective identities in times of social upheaval.
Visit Sharon M. Quinsaat's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 18, 2024

"An Unholy Traffic"

New from Oxford University Press: An Unholy Traffic: Slave Trading in the Civil War South by Robert K.D. Colby.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Confederate States of America was born in defense of slavery and, after a four-year struggle to become an independent slaveholding republic, died as emancipation dawned. Between Fort Sumter to Appomattox, Confederates bought and sold thousands African American men, women, and children. These transactions in humanity made the internal slave trade a cornerstone of Confederate society, a bulwark of the Rebel economy, and a central part of the experience of the Civil War for all inhabiting the American South.

As An Unholy Traffic shows, slave trading helped Southerners survive and fight the Civil War, as well as to build the future for which they fought. They mitigated the crises the war spawned by buying and selling enslaved people, using this commerce to navigate food shortages, unsettled gender roles, the demands of military service, and other hardships on the homefront. Some Rebels speculated wildly in human property, investing in slaves to ward off inflation and to buy shares in the slaveholding nation they hoped to create. Others traded people to counter the advance of emancipation. Given its centrality to their nationhood, Confederates went to great lengths to prolong the slave trade, which, in turn, supported the Confederacy. For those held in slavery, the surviving slave trade dramatically shaped their pursuit of freedom, inserting a retrograde movement into some people's journeys toward liberty while inspiring others to make the risky decision to escape.

Offering an original perspective on the intersections of slavery, capitalism, the Civil War, and emancipation, Robert K.D. Colby illuminates the place of the peculiar institution within the Confederate mind, the ways in which it underpinned the CSA's war effort, and its impact on those attempting to seize their freedom.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 17, 2024

"People's Diplomacy"

New from Cornell University Press: People's Diplomacy: How Americans and Chinese Transformed US-China Relations during the Cold War by Kazushi Minami.

About the book, from the publisher:
In People's Diplomacy, Kazushi Minami shows how the American and Chinese people rebuilt US-China relations in the 1970s, a pivotal decade bookended by Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to China and 1979 normalization of diplomatic relations. Top policymakers in Washington and Beijing drew the blueprint for the new bilateral relationship, but the work of building it was left to a host of Americans and Chinese from all walks of life, who engaged in "people-to-people" exchanges. After two decades of estrangement and hostility caused by the Cold War, these people dramatically changed the nature of US-China relations. Americans reimagined China as a country of opportunities, irresistible because of its prodigious potential, while Chinese reinterpreted the United States as an agent of modernization, capable of enriching their country and rejuvenating their lives. Drawing on extensive research at two dozen archives in the United States and China, People's Diplomacy redefines contemporary US-China relations as a creation of the American and Chinese people.
Kazushi Minami is Associate Professor at the Osaka School of International Public Policy, Osaka University.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 16, 2024

"Hidden Wars"

New from Oxford University Press: Hidden Wars: Gendered Political Violence in Asia's Civil Conflicts by Sara E. Davies and Jacqui True.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) has always been a part of warfare. In Asia, testimonies of egregious rape and sexual violence extend back to the Rape of Nanjing, to the experience of the Korean comfort women in World War II, and to forced marriages and sexual slavery during the Cambodian genocide. The past two decades have yielded crucial new insights about SGBV, but scholars and researchers still struggle to explain why and when this violence occurs. A major problem is that incidences of SGBV are vastly underreported; reliable data is especially scarce in Asia, where demographic and health surveys are infrequent and national reporting systems are underdeveloped relative to other parts of the globe. Asia also has some of the most protracted conflicts in the world but the complexity of subnational conflicts in Asia often masks the gendered dimensions of violence.

In Hidden Wars, Sara E. Davies and Jacqui True examine the relationship between reports of SGBV and structural gender inequality in three conflict-affected societies in Asia--Burma, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka. Based on extensive field research and an original dataset on conflict-related SGBV, Davies and True show how reporting is significantly constrained by a variety of factors, including normalized gendered violence as well as political dynamics affecting local civil society, humanitarian, and international organizations. They address the real-world limitations of data collection and argue that these constraints reinforce a culture of silence and impunity that perpetuates SGBV and permits governments to abrogate their responsibility for this violence. Hidden Wars breaks new methodological ground in showing that what we know about SGBV can be understood fully only if the politicized context of reporting SGBV and data collection is taken into consideration.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 15, 2024

"The Cybernetic Border"

New from Duke University Press: The Cybernetic Border: Drones, Technology, and Intrusion by Iván Chaar López.

About the book, from the publisher:
In The Cybernetic Border, Iván Chaar López argues that the settler US nation requires the production and targeting of a racialized enemy that threatens the empire. The cybernetic border is organized through practices of data capture, storage, processing, circulation, and communication that police bodies and constitute the nation as a bounded, territorial space. Chaar López historicizes the US government’s use of border enforcement technologies on Mexicans, Arabs, and Muslims from the mid-twentieth century to the present, showing how data systems are presented as solutions to unauthorized border crossing. Contrary to enduring fantasies of the purported neutrality of drones, smart walls, artificial intelligence, and biometric technologies, the cybernetic border represents the consolidation of calculation and automation in the exercise of racialized violence. Chaar López draws on corporate, military, and government records, promotional documents and films, technical reports, news reporting, surveillance footage, and activist and artist practices. These materials reveal how logics of enmity are embedded into information infrastructures that shape border control and modern sovereignty.
Visit Iván Chaar López's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 14, 2024


New from Cornell University Press: Disruption: The Global Economic Shocks of the 1970s and the End of the Cold War by Michael De Groot.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Disruption, Michael De Groot argues that the global economic upheaval of the 1970s was decisive in ending the Cold War. Both the West and the Soviet bloc struggled with the slowdown of economic growth; chaos in the international monetary system; inflation; shocks in the commodities markets; and the emergence of offshore financial markets. The superpowers had previously disseminated resources to their allies to enhance their own national security, but the disappearance of postwar conditions during the 1970s forced Washington and Moscow to choose between promoting their own economic interests and supporting their partners in Europe and Asia.

De Groot shows that new unexpected macroeconomic imbalances in global capitalism sustained the West during the following decade. Rather than a creditor nation and net exporter, as it had been during the postwar period, the United States became a net importer of capital and goods during the 1980s that helped fund public spending, stimulated economic activity, and lubricated the private sector. The United States could now live beyond its means and continue waging the Cold War, and its allies benefited from access to the booming US market and the strengthened US military umbrella. As Disruption demonstrates, a new symbiotic economic architecture powered the West, but the Eastern European regimes increasingly became a burden to the Soviet Union. They were drowning in debt, and the Kremlin no longer had the resources to rescue them.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

"A Nation Fermented"

New from Oxford University Press: A Nation Fermented: Beer, Bavaria, and the Making of Modern Germany by Robert Shea Terrell.

About the book, from the publisher:
How did beer become one of the central commodities associated with the German nation? How did a little-known provincial production standard – the Reinheitsgebot, or Beer Purity Law – become a pillar of national consumer sentiments? How did the jovial, beer-drinking German become a fixture in the global imagination?

While the connection between beer and Germany seems self-evident, A Nation Fermented reveals how it was produced through a strange brew of regional commercial and political pressures. Spanning from the late nineteenth century to the last decades of the twentieth, A Nation Fermented argues that the economic, regulatory, and cultural weight of Bavaria shaped the German nation in profound ways. Drawing on sources from over a dozen archives and repositories, Terrell weaves together subjects ranging from tax law to advertising, public health to European integration, and agriculture to global stereotypes.

Offering a history of the Germany that Bavaria made over the twentieth century, A Nation Fermented eschews both sharp temporal divisions and a conventional focus on northern and industrial Germany. In so doing, Terrell offers a fresh take on the importance of provincial influences and the role of commodities and commerce in shaping the nation.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

"Sons, Daughters, and Sidewalk Psychotics"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Sons, Daughters, and Sidewalk Psychotics: Mental Illness and Homelessness in Los Angeles by Neil Gong.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sociologist Neil Gong explains why mental health treatment in Los Angeles rarely succeeds, for the rich, the poor, and everyone in between.

In 2022, Los Angeles became the US county with the largest population of unhoused people, drawing a stark contrast with the wealth on display in its opulent neighborhoods. In Sons, Daughters, and Sidewalk Psychotics, sociologist Neil Gong traces the divide between the haves and have-nots in the psychiatric treatment systems that shape the life trajectories of people living with serious mental illness. In the decades since the United States closed its mental hospitals in favor of non-institutional treatment, two drastically different forms of community psychiatric services have developed: public safety-net clinics focused on keeping patients housed and out of jail, and elite private care trying to push clients toward respectable futures.

In Downtown Los Angeles, many people in psychiatric crisis only receive help after experiencing homelessness or arrests. Public providers engage in guerrilla social work to secure them housing and safety, but these programs are rarely able to deliver true rehabilitation for psychological distress and addiction. Patients are free to refuse treatment or use illegal drugs—so long as they do so away from public view.

Across town in West LA or Malibu, wealthy people diagnosed with serious mental illness attend luxurious treatment centers. Programs may offer yoga and organic meals alongside personalized therapeutic treatments, but patients can feel trapped, as their families pay exorbitantly to surveil and “fix” them. Meanwhile, middle-class families—stymied by private insurers, unable to afford elite providers, and yet not poor enough to qualify for social services—struggle to find care at all.

Gong’s findings raise uncomfortable questions about urban policy, family dynamics, and what it means to respect individual freedom. His comparative approach reminds us that every “sidewalk psychotic” is also a beloved relative and that the kinds of policies we support likely depend on whether we see those with mental illness as a public social problem or as somebody’s kin. At a time when many voters merely want streets cleared of “problem people,” Gong’s book helps us imagine a fundamentally different psychiatric system—one that will meet the needs of patients, families, and society at large.
Visit Neil Gong's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 11, 2024

"Before the Badge"

New from NYU Press: Before the Badge: How Academy Training Shapes Police Violence by Samantha J. Simon.

About the book, from the publisher:
An inside look at how police officers are trained to perpetuate state violence

Michael Brown. Philando Castile. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. As the names of those killed by the police became cemented into public memory, the American public took to the streets in unprecedented numbers to mourn, organize, and demand changes to the current system of policing. In response, police departments across the country committed themselves to change, pledging to hire more women and people of color, incorporate diversity training, and instruct officers to verbally de-escalate interactions with the public.

These reform efforts tend to rely on a “bad apple” argument, focusing the nature and scope of the problem on the behavior of specific individuals and rarely considering the broader organizational process that determines who is allowed to patrol the public and how they learn to do their jobs. In Before the Badge, Samantha J. Simon provides a firsthand look into how police officers are selected and trained, describing every stage of the process, including recruitment, classroom instruction, and tactical training.

Simon spent a year at police academies participating in the training alongside cadets, giving her a visceral, hands-on understanding of how police training operates. Using rich and detailed examples, she reveals that the process does more than test a cadet’s physical or intellectual abilities. Instead, it socializes cadets into a system of state violence. As training progresses, cadets are expected to see themselves as warriors and to view Black and Latino/a members of the public as their enemies. Cadets who cannot or will not uphold this approach end up washing out. In Before the Badge, Simon explains how this training creates a context in which patterns of police violence persist and implores readers to re-envision the future of policing in the United States.
Visit Samantha J. Simon's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 10, 2024

"The Dispersion of Power"

New from Oxford University Press: The Dispersion of Power: A Critical Realist Theory of Democracy by Samuel Ely Bagg.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Dispersion of Power is an urgent call to rethink centuries of conventional wisdom about what democracy is, why it matters, and how to make it better. Drawing from history, social science, psychology, and critical theory, it explains why elections do not and cannot realize the classic ideal of popular rule, and why prevailing strategies of democratic reform often make things worse. Instead, Bagg argues, we should see democracy as a way of protecting public power from capture-an alternative vision that is at once more realistic and more inspiring.

Despite their many shortcomings, real-world elections do prevent the most extreme forms of tyranny, and are therefore indispensable. In dealing with the vast inequalities that remain, however, we cannot rely on standard solutions such as electoral reform, direct democracy, deliberation, and participatory governance. Instead, Bagg shows, protecting and enriching democracy requires addressing underlying inequalities of power directly. In part, this entails substantive policies attacking the advantages of wealthy elites. Even more crucially, deepening democracy requires the organization of oppositional, countervailing power among ordinary people. Neither task is easy, but historical precedents exist in both cases-and if democracy is to survive contemporary crises, leaders and citizens alike must find ways to revive and reinvent these essential democratic practices for the 21st century.
Visit Samuel Bagg's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 9, 2024

"Write like a Man"

New from Princeton University Press: Write like a Man: Jewish Masculinity and the New York Intellectuals by Ronnie Grinberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
How virility and Jewishness became hallmarks of postwar New York’s combative intellectual scene

In the years following World War II, the New York intellectuals became some of the most renowned critics and writers in the country. Although mostly male and Jewish, this prominent group also included women and non-Jews. Yet all of its members embraced a secular Jewish machismo that became a defining characteristic of the contemporary experience. Write like a Man examines how the New York intellectuals shared a uniquely American conception of Jewish masculinity that prized verbal confrontation, polemical aggression, and an unflinching style of argumentation.

Ronnie Grinberg paints illuminating portraits of figures such as Norman Mailer, Hannah Arendt, Lionel and Diana Trilling, Mary McCarthy, Norman Podhoretz, Midge Decter, and Irving Howe. She describes how their construction of Jewish masculinity helped to propel the American Jew from outsider to insider even as they clashed over its meaning in a deeply anxious project of self-definition. Along the way, Grinberg sheds light on their fraught encounters with the most contentious issues and ideas of the day, from student radicalism and the civil rights movement to feminism, Freudianism, and neoconservatism.

A spellbinding chronicle of mid-century America, Write like a Man shows how a combative and intellectually grounded vision of Jewish manhood contributed to the masculinization of intellectual life and shaped some of the most important political and cultural debates of the postwar era.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 8, 2024

"The Fox Spirit, the Stone Maiden, and Other Transgender Histories from Late Imperial China"

New from Columbia University Press: The Fox Spirit, the Stone Maiden, and Other Transgender Histories from Late Imperial China by Matthew H. Sommer.

About the book, from the publisher:
In imperial China, people moved away from the gender they were assigned at birth in different ways and for many reasons. Eunuchs, boy actresses, and clergy left behind normative gender roles defined by family and procreation. “Stone maidens”―women deemed physically incapable of vaginal intercourse―might depart from families or marriages to become Buddhist or Daoist nuns. Anatomical males who presented as women sometimes took a conventionally female occupation such as midwife, faith healer, or even medium to a fox spirit. Yet they were often punished harshly for the crime of “masquerading in women’s attire,” suspected of sexual predation, even when they had lived peacefully in their communities for many years.

Exploring these histories and many more, this book is a groundbreaking study of transgender lives and practices in late imperial China. Through close readings of court cases, as well as Ming and Qing fiction and nineteenth-century newspaper accounts, Matthew H. Sommer examines the social, legal, and cultural histories of gender crossing. He considers a range of transgender experiences, illuminating how certain forms of gender transgression were sanctioned in particular social contexts and penalized in others. Sommer scrutinizes the ways Qing legal authorities and literati writers represented and understood gender-nonconforming people and practices, contrasting official ideology with popular mentalities. An unprecedented account of China’s transgender histories, this book also sheds new light on a range of themes in Ming and Qing law, religion, medicine, literature, and culture.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 7, 2024

"The First Amerasians"

New from Oxford University Press: The First Amerasians: Mixed Race Koreans from Camptowns to America by Yuri W. Doolan.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the 1950s, thousands of mixed race children were born to US servicemen and local Korean women in US-occupied South Korea. Assumed to be the progeny of camptown women--or military prostitutes--their presence created a major problem for the image of US democracy in the world at a time when the nation was vying for Cold War allegiances abroad. As mixed race children became a discernible population around US military encampments in South Korea, communists seized upon the image of those left behind by their GI fathers as evidence of US imperialism, irresponsibility, and immorality in the Third World. Aware of this and keen to redeem the image of America's intervention in Asia, US citizens spearheading the postwar recovery of recently war-torn South Korea embarked upon a campaign in US Congress to bring as many of these children home. By the early 1960s, American philanthropists, missionaries, and voluntary agencies had succeeded in constructing the figure of the abandoned and mistreated Amerasian orphan to lobby US Congress for the quick passage of intercountry adoption laws. They also gained the sympathies of American families, eager to welcome these racially different children into the intimate confines of their homes. Although the adoptions of Korean "Amerasian" children helped to promote an image of humanitarian rescue and Cold War racial liberalism in 1950s and 1960s America, there was one other problem: many of these children were not actually orphans, but had been living with their Korean mothers in the camptown communities surrounding US military bases prior to adoption. Their placements into American families relied upon dehumanizing constructions of these women as hardened prostitutes who did not even love their own children, South Korea as a backwards, racist society bent-up on Confucian tradition and pure bloodlines, and the United States as a welcoming home in an era of intense racial segregation.

The First Amerasians tells the powerful, oftentimes heartbreaking story of how Americans created and used the concept of the Amerasian to remove thousands of mixed race children from their Korean mothers to adoptive US homes during the 1950s and 1960s. In doing so, Yuri W. Doolan reveals how the Amerasian is not simply a mixed race person fathered by a US serviceman in Asia nor a racial term used to describe individuals with one American and one Asian parent like its popular definition suggests. Rather, the Amerasian is a Cold War construct whose rescue has been utilized to repudiate accusations of US imperialism and achieve sentimental victories in the aftermath of wars not quite won by the military. From such constructions, Americans lobbied Congress twice: first, in the 1950s to establish international adoption laws that would lead to the placement of hundreds of thousands of Korean children in the United States, then, later in the 1980s, when the plight of mixed race Koreans would be invoked again to argue for Amerasian immigration laws culminating in the migrations of tens of thousands of mixed race Vietnamese and their relatives.

Beyond Cold War historiography, this book also shows how in using the figure of the mistreated and abandoned Amerasian in need of rescue, Americans caused harm to actual people--mixed race Koreans and their mothers specifically--as children were placed into adoptive homes during an era where few regulations or safeguards existed to protect them from abuse, negligence, or racial hostilities in the US and many Korean mothers were coerced, both physically and monetarily, to relinquish their children to American authorities.
Visit Yuri W. Doolan's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

"Law, Order, and Empire"

New from Cornell University Press: Law, Order, and Empire: Policing and Crime in Colonial Algeria, 1870–1954 by Samuel Kalman.

About the book, from the publisher:
While much attention has focused on society, culture, and the military during the Algerian War of Independence, Law, Order, and Empire addresses a vital component of the empire that has been overlooked: policing. Samuel Kalman examines a critical component of the construction and maintenance of a racial state by settlers in Algeria from 1870 onward, in which Arabs and Berbers were subjected to an ongoing campaign of symbolic, structural, and physical violence. The French administration encouraged this construct by expropriating resources and territory, exploiting cheap labor, and monopolizing government, all through the use of force.

Kalman provides a comprehensive overview of policing and crime in French Algeria, including the organizational challenges encountered by officers. Unlike the metropolitan variant, imperial policing was never a simple matter of law enforcement but instead engaged in the defense of racial hegemony and empire. Officers and gendarmes waged a constant struggle against escalating banditry, the assault and murder of settlers, and nationalist politics―anticolonial violence that rejected French rule. Thus, policing became synonymous with repression, and its brutal tactics foreshadowed the torture and murder used during the War of Independence. To understand the mechanics of empire, Kalman argues that it was the first line of defense for imperial hegemony.

Law, Order, and Empire outlines not only how failings in policing were responsible for decolonization in Algeria but also how torture, massacres, and quotidian colonial violence―introduced from the very beginning of French policing in Algeria―created state-directed aggression from 1870 onward.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

"Red Tape"

New from Stanford University Press: Red Tape: Radio and Politics in Czechoslovakia, 1945-1969 by Rosamund Johnston.

About the book, from the publisher:
In socialist Eastern Europe, radio simultaneously produced state power and created the conditions for it to be challenged. As the dominant form of media in Czechoslovakia from 1945 until 1969, radio constituted a site of negotiation between Communist officials, broadcast journalists, and audiences. Listeners' feedback, captured in thousands of pieces of fan mail, shows how a non-democratic society established, stabilized, and reproduced itself. In Red Tape, historian Rosamund Johnston explores the dynamic between radio reporters and the listeners who liked and trusted them while recognizing that they produced both propaganda and entertainment. Red Tape rethinks Stalinism in Czechoslovakia—one of the states in which it was at its staunchest for longest—by showing how, even then, meaningful, multi-directional communication occurred between audiences and state-controlled media. It finds de-Stalinization's first traces not in secret speeches never intended for the ears of "ordinary" listeners, but instead in earlier, changing forms of radio address. And it traces the origins of the Prague Spring's discursive climate to the censored and monitored environment of the newsroom, long before the seismic year of 1968. Bringing together European history, media studies, cultural history, and sound studies, Red Tape shows how Czechs and Slovaks used radio technologies and institutions to negotiate questions of citizenship and rights.
Visit Rosamund Johnston's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 4, 2024

"Making the Presidency"

Coming September 5 from Oxford University Press: Making the Presidency: John Adams and the Precedents That Forged the Republic by Lindsay M. Chervinsky.

About the book, from the publisher:
An authoritative account of the second president of the United States that shows how John Adams's leadership and legacy defined the office for those who followed and ensured the survival of the American republic.

The United States of 1797 faced enormous challenges, provoked by enemies foreign and domestic. The father of the new nation, George Washington, left his vice president, John Adams, with relatively little guidance and impossible expectations to meet. Adams was confronted with intense partisan divides, debates over citizenship, fears of political violence, potential for foreign conflict with France and Britain, and a nation unsure that the presidency could even work without Washington at the helm.

Making the Presidency is an authoritative exploration of the second US presidency, a period critical to the survival of the American republic. Through meticulous research and engaging prose, Lindsay Chervinsky illustrates the unique challenges faced by Adams and shows how he shaped the office for his successors. One of the most qualified presidents in American history, he had been a legislator, political theorist, diplomat, minister, and vice president--but he had never held an executive position. Instead, the quixiotic and stubborn Adams would rely on his ideas about executive power, the Constitution, politics, and the state of the world to navigate the hurdles of the position. He defended the presidency from his own often obstructionist cabinet, protected the nation from foreign attacks, and forged trust and dedication to election integrity and the peaceful transfer of power between parties, even though it cost him his political future.

Offering a portrait of one of the most fascinating and influential periods in US history, Making the Presidency is a must-read for anyone interested in the evolution of the presidency and the creation of political norms and customs at the heart of the American republic.
Visit Lindsay M. Chervinsky's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"On Gaslighting"

New from Princeton University Press: On Gaslighting by Kate Abramson.

About the book, from the publisher:
A philosopher examines the complicated phenomenon of gaslighting

“Gaslighting” is suddenly in everyone’s vocabulary. It’s written about, talked about, tweeted about, even sung about (in “Gaslighting” by The Chicks). It’s become shorthand for being manipulated by someone who insists that up is down, hot is cold, dark is light—someone who isn’t just lying about such things, but trying to drive you crazy. The term has its origins in a 1944 film in which a husband does exactly that to his wife, his crazy-making efforts symbolized by the rise and fall of the gaslights in their home. In this timely and provocative book, Kate Abramson examines gaslighting from a philosophical perspective, investigating it as a distinctive moral phenomenon.

Gaslighting, Abramson writes, is best understood as a form of interpersonal interaction, a particular way of fundamentally undermining someone. The gaslighter, Abramson argues, aims to make his target experience herself as incapable of reasoning, perceiving, or reacting in ways that would allow her to form appropriate beliefs, perceptions, or emotions in the first place. He seeks not only to induce in her this unmoored sense of herself but also to make it a reality. Using examples and analysis, Abramson gives an account of gaslighting and its immorality, and argues that such a discussion can help us understand other aspects of social life—from racism and sexism to the structure of interpersonal trust.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 3, 2024

"Awkwardness: A Theory"

New from Oxford University Press: Awkwardness: A Theory by Alexandra Plakias.

About the book, from the publisher:
Awkwardness offers an account of the psychology and philosophical significance of a ubiquitous social phenomenon. Our aversion to awkwardness mirrors our desire for inclusion. This explains its power to influence and silence us: as social creatures, we don't want to mark ourselves as outsiders. As a result, our fear of awkwardness inhibits critique and conversation, acting as an impediment to moral and social progress. Even the act of describing people as "awkward" exacerbates existing inequities, by consigning them to a social status that gives them less access to the social goods (knowledge, confidence, social esteem) needed to navigate potentially awkward situations.

Awkwardness discusses how we ostracize and punish those who fail to fit into existing social categories; how we all depend on--and are limited by--social scripts and norms for guidance; and how these norms frequently let us down when we need them. But awkwardness has a positive side: it can highlight opportunities for moral and social improvement, by revealing areas where our social norms and scripts fail to meet our needs or have yet to catch up with changing social and moral realities. Awkwardness ultimately underscores the conflict between our moral motivations and our desire for social approval and conformity.
Visit Alexandra Plakias's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 2, 2024

"The Geography of Injustice"

New from Cornell University Press: The Geography of Injustice: East Asia's Battle between Memory and History by Barak Kushner.

About the book, from the publisher:
In The Geography of Injustice, Barak Kushner argues that the war crimes tribunals in East Asia formed and cemented national divides that persist into the present day. In 1946 the Allies convened the Tokyo Trial to prosecute Japanese wartime atrocities and Japan's empire. At its conclusion one of the judges voiced dissent, claiming that the justice found at Tokyo was only "the sham employment of a legal process for the satisfaction of a thirst for revenge."

War crimes tribunals, Kushner shows, allow for the history of the defeated to be heard. In contemporary East Asia a fierce battle between memory and history has consolidated political camps across this debate. The Tokyo Trial courtroom, as well as the thousands of other war crimes tribunals opened in about fifty venues across Asia, were legal stages where prosecution and defense curated facts and evidence to craft their story about World War Two. These narratives and counter narratives form the basis of postwar memory concerning Japan's imperial aims across the region. The archival record and the interpretation of court testimony together shape a competing set of histories for public consumption. The Geography of Injustice offers compelling evidence that despite the passage of seven decades since the end of the war, East Asia is more divided than united by history.
Visit Barak Kushner's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 1, 2024

"Dangerous Jokes"

New from Oxford University Press: Dangerous Jokes: How Racism and Sexism Weaponize Humor by Claire Horisk.

About the book, from the publisher:
People often get away with belittling others if they frame their speech as jokes-speech that would be condemned if stated seriously. "It's just a joke," they say. But what is different or special about joking? And if jokes about lawyers and politicians are morally acceptable, then what is wrong with joking about race or gender? Furthermore, if we may joke about a politician's shirts, may we joke about his weight? People who are targeted by demeaning jokes feel their impact but may not be able to pinpoint where the harm lies. Dangerous Jokes develops a novel, well-researched, and compelling argument that lays bare the power of demeaning jokes in ordinary conversations. Claire Horisk draws on her expertise in philosophy of language and on evidence from sociology, law and cognitive science to explain how the element of humor-so often used as a defence-makes jokes more potent than regular speech in communicating prejudice and reinforcing social hierarchies. She addresses the morality of telling, being amused by, and laughing at, derogatory jokes, and she gives a new account of listening that addresses the morality of listening to demeaning speech. She leaves us with no illusions about whether "it's just a joke" is an excuse for demeaning humor.
--Marshal Zeringue