Tuesday, April 30, 2024

"Mayors in the Middle"

New from Columbia University Press: Mayors in the Middle: Indirect Rule and Local Government in Occupied Palestine by Diana B. Greenwald.

About the book, from the publisher:
What does local self-government look like in the absence of sovereignty? From the beginning of its occupation of the West Bank in 1967, Israel has experimented with different forms of rule. Since the 1990s, it has delegated certain governing responsibilities to the Palestinian Authority (PA), an organization that, Israel hoped, would act as a buffer between the military occupation and the Palestinian population.

Through a historically informed, empirically nuanced analysis of towns and cities across the West Bank, Diana B. Greenwald offers a new theory of local government under indirect rule―a strategy that is often associated with imperial powers of the past but persists in settings of colonialism and state-building today. Grounded in fine-grained data on municipal governance under occupation as well as interviews with Palestinian mayors, council members, staff, activists, and political elites, this book traces how the Israel-PA regime has influenced the constraints and incentives of Palestinians serving in local government. Mayors in the Middle demonstrates that both the indirect rule system itself―as embodied in local policing arrangements―and the political affiliation of Palestinian mayors shape how politicians will govern. This variation, Greenwald argues, depends in part on whether local Palestinian governments are perceived as intermediaries within or opponents of the regime. Although Palestine is often treated as exceptional, Greenwald draws illustrative parallels with British colonial India and South Africa’s apartheid regime. A groundbreaking study of Palestinian local politics, Mayors in the Middle illuminates the broader dilemmas of indigenous self-government under systems of exclusion and domination.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 29, 2024

"Master Plans and Minor Acts"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Master Plans and Minor Acts: Repairing the City in Post-Genocide Rwanda by Shakirah E. Hudani.

About the book, from the publisher:
An examination of planning, place, and the politics of repair in post-genocide Rwanda.

Master Plans and Minor Acts examines a “material politics of repair” in post-genocide Rwanda, where in a country saturated with deep historical memory, spatial master planning aims to drastically redesign urban spaces. How is the post-conflict city reconstituted through the work of such planning, and with what effects for material repair and social conciliation?

Through extended ethnographic and qualitative research in Rwanda in the decades after the genocide of 1994, this book questions how repair after conflict is realized amidst large-scale urban transformation. Bridging African studies, urban studies, and human geography in its scope, this work ties Rwanda’s transformation to contexts of urban change in other post-conflict spaces, bringing to the fore critical questions about the ethics of planning in such complex geographies.
Visit Shakirah Esmail Hudani's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 28, 2024

"Good Victims"

New from Oxford University Press: Good Victims: The Political as a Feminist Question by Roxani Krystalli.

About the book, from the publisher:
As of 2023, over nine million Colombians have secured official recognition as victims of an armed conflict that has lasted decades. The category of "victim" is not a mere description of having suffered harm, but a political status and a potential site of power.

In Good Victims, Roxani Krystalli investigates the politics of victimhood as a feminist question. Based on in-depth engagement in Colombia over the course of a decade, Krystalli argues for the possibilities of politics through, rather than in opposition to, the status of "victim." Encompassing acts of care, agency, and haunting, the politics of victimhood entangle people who identify as victims, researchers, and transitional justice professionals. Krystalli shows how victimhood becomes a pillar of reimagining the state in the wake of war, and of bringing a vision of that state into being through bureaucratic encounters. Good Victims also sheds light on the ethical and methodological dilemmas that arise when contemplating the legacies of transitional justice mechanisms.
Visit Roxani Krystalli's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 27, 2024


New from Princeton University Press: Begetting: What Does It Mean to Create a Child? by Mara van der Lugt.

About the book, from the publisher:
An investigation of what it means to have children—morally, philosophically and emotionally

“Do you want to have children?” is a question we routinely ask each other. But what does it mean to create a child? Is this decision always justified? Does anyone really have the moral right to create another person? In Begetting, Mara van der Lugt attempts to fill in the moral background of procreation. Drawing on both philosophy and popular culture, van der Lugt does not provide a definitive answer on the morality of having a child; instead, she helps us find the right questions to ask.

Most of the time, when we talk about whether to have children, what we are really talking about is whether we want to have children. Van der Lugt shows why this is not enough. To consider having children, she argues, is to interrogate our own responsibility and commitments, morally and philosophically and also personally. What does it mean to bring a new creature into the world, to decide to perform an act of creation? What does it mean to make the decision that life is worth living on behalf of a person who cannot be consulted? These questions are part of a conversation we should have started long ago. Van der Lugt does not ignore the problematic aspects of procreation—ethical, environmental and otherwise. But she also acknowledges the depth and complexity of the intensely human desire to have a child of our own blood and our own making.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 26, 2024

"Embodied Histories"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Embodied Histories: New Womanhood in Vienna, 1894–1934 by Katya Motyl.

About the book, from the publisher:
Explores the emergence of a new womanhood in turn-of-the-century Vienna.

In Embodied Histories, historian Katya Motyl explores the everyday acts of defiance that formed the basis for new, unconventional forms of womanhood in early twentieth-century Vienna. The figures Motyl brings back to life defied gender conformity, dressed in new ways, behaved brashly, and expressed themselves freely, overturning assumptions about what it meant to exist as a woman.

Motyl delves into how these women inhabited and reshaped the urban landscape of Vienna, an increasingly modern, cosmopolitan city. Specifically, she focuses on the ways that easily overlooked quotidian practices such as loitering outside cafés and wandering through city streets helped create novel conceptions of gender. Exploring the emergence of a new womanhood, Embodied Histories presents a new account of how gender, the body, and the city merge with and transform each other, showing how our modes of being are radically intertwined with the spaces we inhabit.
Katya Motyl is assistant professor of history, as well as Affiliate Faculty of the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program and the Global Studies Program at Temple University.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 25, 2024

"Making Space for the Gulf"

New from Stanford University Press: Making Space for the Gulf: Histories of Regionalism and the Middle East by Arang Keshavarzian.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Persian Gulf has long been a contested space—an object of imperial ambitions, national antagonisms, and migratory dreams. The roots of these contestations lie in the different ways the Gulf has been defined as a region, both by those who live there and those beyond its shore. Making Space for the Gulf reveals how capitalism, empire-building, geopolitics, and urbanism have each shaped understandings of the region over the last two centuries. Here, the Gulf comes into view as a created space, encompassing dynamic social relations and competing interests. Arang Keshavarzian writes a new history of the region that places Iran, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula together within global processes. He connects moments more often treated as ruptures—the discovery of oil, the Iranian Revolution, the rise and decline of British empire, the emergence of American power—and crafts a narrative populated by a diverse range of people—migrants and ruling families, pearl-divers and star architects, striking taxi drivers and dethroned rulers, protectors of British India and stewards of globalized American universities. Tacking across geographic scales, Keshavarzian reveals how the Gulf has been globalized through transnational relations, regionalized as a geopolitical category, and cleaved along national divisions and social inequalities. When understood as a process, not an object, the Persian Gulf reveals much about how regions and the world have been made in modern times. Making Space for the Gulf offers a fresh understanding of this globally consequential place.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

"Sand Rush"

New from Oxford University Press: Sand Rush: The Revival of the Beach in Twentieth-Century Los Angeles by Elsa Devienne.

About the book, from the publisher:
The first history of the formidable campaign that transformed Los Angeles into one of the world's greatest coastal metropolises, revealing how the city's man-made shores became the site for the reinvention of seaside leisure and the triumph of modern bodies.

The Los Angeles shoreline is one of the most iconic natural landscapes in the United States, if not the world. The vast shores of Santa Monica, Venice, and Malibu are familiar sights to film and television audiences, conveying images of pristine sand, carefree fun, and glamorous physiques. Yet, in the early twentieth century Angelenos routinely lamented the city's crowded, polluted, and eroded sands, many of which were private and thus inaccessible to the public.

Between the 1920s and the 1960s, LA's engineers, city officials, urban planners, and business elite worked together to transform the relatively untouched beaches into modern playgrounds for the white middle class. They cleaned up and enlarged the beaches--up to three times their original size--and destroyed old piers and barracks to make room for brand-new accommodations, parking lots, and freeways. The members of this powerful "beach lobby" reinvented the beach experience for the suburban age, effectively preventing a much-feared "white flight" from the coast. In doing so, they established Southern California as the national reference point for shoreline planning and coastal access. As they opened up vast public spaces for many Angelenos to express themselves, show off their bodies, and forge alternative communities, they made clear that certain groups of beachgoers, including African Americans, gay men and women, and bodybuilders, were no longer welcome. Despite their artificial origins, LA's beaches have proved remarkably resilient. The drastic human interventions into nature brought social and economic benefits to the region without long-term detrimental consequences on the environment. Yet the ongoing climate crisis and rapid sea level rise will eventually force the city to reckon with its past building.

Sand Rush not only uncovers how the Los Angeles coastline was constructed but also how this major planning and engineering project affected the lives of ordinary city-dwellers and attracted many Americans to move to Southern California. Featuring a foreword by Jenny Price, it recounts the formidable beach modernization campaign that transformed Los Angeles into one of the world's greatest coastal metropolises.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

"Sexual Violence and American Slavery"

New from The University of North Carolina Press: Sexual Violence and American Slavery: The Making of a Rape Culture in the Antebellum South by Shannon Eaves.

About the book, from the publisher:
It is impossible to separate histories of sexual violence and the enslavement of Black women in the antebellum South. Rape permeated the lives of all who existed in that system: Black and white, male and female, adult and child, enslaved and free. Shannon C. Eaves unflinchingly investigates how both enslaved people and their enslavers experienced the systematic rape and sexual exploitation of bondswomen and came to understand what this culture of sexualized violence meant for themselves and others.

Eaves mines a wealth of primary sources including autobiographies, diaries, court records, and more to show that rape and other forms of sexual exploitation entangled slaves and slave owners in battles over power to protect oneself and one's community, power to avenge hurt and humiliation, and power to punish and eliminate future threats. By placing sexual violence at the center of the systems of power and culture, Eaves shows how the South's rape culture was revealed in enslaved people's and their enslavers' interactions with one another and with members of their respective communities.
Visit Shannon Eaves's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 22, 2024


New from Cornell University Press: Schoolishness: Alienated Education and the Quest for Authentic, Joyful Learning by Susan D. Blum.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Schoolishness, Susan D. Blum continues her journey as an anthropologist and educator. The author defines "schoolishness" as educational practices that emphasize packaged "learning," unimaginative teaching, uniformity, constant evaluation by others, arbitrary forms, predetermined time, and artificial boundaries, resulting in personal and educational alienation, dependence, and dread.

Drawing on critical, progressive, and feminist pedagogy in conversation with the anthropology of learning, and building on the insights of her two previous books Blum proposes less-schoolish ways of learning in ten dimensions, to lessen the mismatch between learning in school and learning in the wild. She asks, if learning is our human "superpower," why is it so difficult to accomplish in school? In every chapter Blum compares the fake learning of schoolishness with successful examples of authentic learning, including in her own courses, which she scrutinizes critically.

Schoolishness is not a pedagogical how-to book, but a theory-based phenomenology of institutional education. It has moral, psychological, and educational arguments against schoolishness that, as Blum notes, "rhymes with foolishness."
Visit Susan D. Blum's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 21, 2024

"Introspection: First-Person Access in Science and Agency"

New from Oxford University Press: Introspection: First-Person Access in Science and Agency by Maja Spener.

About the book, from the publisher:
What is introspection? Does introspection deliver theoretically valuable information about the mind? There is a long history in philosophy and psychology of using introspection to gather data about the mind. Introspection is often held to constitute our best and only direct access to consciousness and hence to be essential to any investigation of the conscious mind. Equally longstanding and widespread, however, are critical concerns that introspection is highly susceptible to interference, which, together with its privacy, renders it unreliable as a source of data about the mind.

Maja Spener offers an understanding of introspection that clarifies its epistemic importance in theorising about the mind. In particular, seemingly overwhelming concerns about the reliability of introspection are transformed into something methodologically more tractable. Central to the approach put forward in the book is the distinction between introspection as inquiry and introspection as mental capacity - between introspective method and introspective access. The first part of the book articulates, defends, and applies a novel framework for the systematic assessment of the potential and limitations of introspective methods. The framework is historically motivated, drawing on insights from key figures in early scientific psychology (especially Wilhelm Wundt, William James, and Georg Elias Müller) whose used and discussed introspective methods extensively. The second part of the book develops a composite pluralism about introspective access, showing how different modes of introspective access fit into the common sense and scientific pictures of our minds. Key to this pluralist account is the explanatory role introspection plays in our agency.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 20, 2024

"The Northeast Corridor"

New from the University of Chicago Press: The Northeast Corridor: The Trains, the People, the History, the Region by David Alff.

About the book, from the publisher:
All aboard for the first comprehensive history of the hard-working and wildly influential Northeast Corridor.

Traversed by thousands of trains and millions of riders, the Northeast Corridor might be America’s most famous railway, but its influence goes far beyond the right-of-way. David Alff welcomes readers aboard to see how nineteenth-century train tracks did more than connect Boston to Washington, DC. They transformed hundreds of miles of Atlantic shoreline into a political capital, a global financial hub, and home to fifty million people. The Northeast Corridor reveals how freight trains, commuter rail, and Amtrak influenced—and in turn were shaped by—centuries of American industrial expansion, metropolitan growth, downtown decline, and revitalization.

Paying as much attention to Aberdeen, Trenton, New Rochelle, and Providence as to New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, Alff provides narrative thrills for history buffs, train enthusiasts, and adventurers alike. What’s more, he offers a glimpse into the future of the corridor. New infrastructural plans—supported by President Joe Biden, famously Amtrak’s biggest fan—envision ever-faster trains zipping along technologically advanced rails. Yet those tracks will literally sit atop a history that links the life of Frederick Douglass, who fled to freedom by boarding a train in Baltimore, to the Frederick Douglass Tunnel, which is expected to be the newest link in the corridor by 2032.

Trains have long made the places that make America, and they still do.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 19, 2024

"Long Problems"

New from Princeton University Press: Long Problems: Climate Change and the Challenge of Governing across Time by Thomas Hale.

About the book, from the publisher:
Political strategies for tackling climate change and other “long problems” that span generations

Climate change and its consequences unfold over many generations. Past emissions affect our climate today, just as our actions shape the climate of tomorrow, while the effects of global warming will last thousands of years. Yet the priorities of the present dominate our climate policy and the politics surrounding it. Even the social science that attempts to frame the problem does not theorize time effectively. In this pathbreaking book, Thomas Hale examines the politics of climate change and other “long problems.” He shows why we find it hard to act before a problem’s effects are felt, why our future interests carry little weight in current debates, and why our institutions struggle to balance durability and adaptability. With long-term goals in mind, he outlines strategies for tilting the politics and policies of climate change toward better outcomes.

Globalization “widened” political problems across national boundaries and changed our understanding of politics and governance. Hale argues that we must make a similar shift to understand the “lengthening” of problems across time. He describes tools and strategies that can, under certain conditions, allow policymakers to anticipate future needs and risks, make interventions that get ahead of problems, shift time horizons, adapt to changing circumstances, and set forward-looking goals that endure. As the climate changes, politics must, too. Efforts to solve long-term problems—not only climate change but other issues as well, including technology governance and demographic shifts—can also be a catalyst for a broader institutional transformation oriented toward the long term. With Long Problems, Hale offers an essential guide to governing across time.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 18, 2024

"Black Visions of the Holy Land"

New from Columbia University Press: Black Visions of the Holy Land: African American Christian Engagement with Israel and Palestine by Roger Baumann.

About the book, from the publisher:
Since at least the high point of the civil rights movement, African American Christianity has been widely recognized as a potent force for social change. Most attention to the political significance of Black churches, however, focuses on domestic protest and electoral politics. Yet some Black churches take a deep interest in the global issue of Israel and Palestine. Why would African American Christians get involved―and even take sides―in Palestine and Israel, and what does that reveal about the political significance of “the Black Church” today?

This book examines African American Christian involvement in Israel and Palestine to show how competing visions of “the Black Church” are changing through transnational political engagement. Considering cases ranging from African American Christian Zionists to Palestinian solidarity activists, Roger Baumann traces how Black religious politics transcend domestic arenas and enter global spaces. These cases, he argues, illuminate how the meaning of the ostensibly singular and unifying category of “the Black Church”―spanning its history, identity, culture, and mission―is deeply contested at every turn. Black Visions of the Holy Land offers new insights into how Black churches understand their political role and social significance; the ways race, religion, and politics both converge and diverge; and why the meaning of overlapping racial and religious identities shifts when moving from national to global contexts.
Visit Roger Baumann's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

"The Green Space"

New from NYU Press: The Green Space: The Transformation of the Irish Image by Marion R. Casey.

About the book, from the publisher:
A historical exploration of the Irish image in popular culture

It only took a century or so to segue from phrases like “No Irish Need Apply” to “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” in American popular culture. Indeed, the transformation of the Irish image is a fascinating blend of political, cultural, racial, commercial, and social influences.

The Green Space examines the variety of factors that contributed to remaking the Irish image from downtrodden and despised to universally acclaimed. To understand the forces that molded how people understand “Irish” is to see the matrix―the green space―that facilitated their interaction between the 1890s and 1960s. Marion R. Casey argues that, as “Irish” evolved between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, a visual and rhetorical expanse for representing ethnicity was opened up in the process. The evolution was also transnational; both Ireland and the United States were inextricably linked to how various iterations of “Irish” were deployed over time―whether as a straightforward noun about a specific people with a national identity or a loose, endlessly malleable adjective only tangentially connected to actual ethnic identity.

Featuring a rich assortment of sources and images, The Green Space takes the history of the Irish image in America as a prime example of the ways in which culture and identity can be manufactured, repackaged, and ultimately revolutionized. Understanding the multifaceted influences that shaped perceptions of “Irishness” holds profound relevance for examining similar dynamics within studies of various immigrant and ethnic communities in the US.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

"The Objects of Credence"

New from Oxford University Press: The Objects of Credence by Anna Mahtani.

About the book, from the publisher:
The credence framework is used by scientists and social scientists in almost all disciplines, including economics and political theory, and it underpins policy choice in healthcare, transport, education, and numerous other areas. It is hard to overestimate its importance. On this framework, credences (or probabilities) are assigned to certain objects--but what objects? The Objects of Credence argues that these objects are 'opaque' or 'hyperintensional': to adapt an example from Frege, a person's credence that Hesperus ('the evening star') is bright might be different from their credence that Phosphorus ('the morning star') is bright, if that person does not know that Hesperus and Phosphorus are in fact one and the same. Our credences are not about objects in themselves, but rather about objects under a designator. Anna Mahtani demonstrates that this point has far-reaching implications for users of the credence framework: there are implications for principles of rationality, including deference principles and the Principal Principle, and practical implications for decision theory and welfare economics. There are also implications for how the framework should be interpreted; this book explores both two-dimensionalism and impossible worlds, and assimilating either into the credence framework brings further significant repercussions. The Objects of Credence therefore brings to light a simple yet deep insight with profound theoretical and policy implications. There are concepts which need to be re-thought, moves which turn out to be invalid, and principles which need to be rejected or transformed. The central aim is to give those who use the credence framework an awareness of the insight and its wide-reaching implications.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 15, 2024

"American Literary Misfits"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: American Literary Misfits: The Alternative Democracies of Mid-Nineteenth-Century Print Cultures by D. Berton Emerson.

About the book, from the publisher:
The study of nineteenth-century American literature has long been tied up with the study of American democracy. Just as some regions in the United States are elevated to stand in for the whole nation—New England is a good example—D. Berton Emerson argues the same is true for American literature of the nineteenth century; a few canonical texts overrepresent the more motley history of American letters. Emerson examines an eclectic group of literary texts that have rarely, if ever, been considered representative of "the nation" because of their unseemly characters or plots, divergence from dominant literary trends of the era, or local particularity. These are his "literary misfits," authors and texts that show different forms of egalitarianism in action that existed outside and even against the dominant liberal narratives of American democracy.

Emerson's unique contribution is revealing these texts and the people they represent as rich with political knowledge. This knowledge, he argues, finds its most potent expression in the local. Such texts show us a different kind of democratic politics: one that is egalitarian, disorderly, and radical rather than homogeneous.
Visit D. Berton Emerson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 14, 2024

"Slow Burn"

New from Princeton University Press: Slow Burn: The Hidden Costs of a Warming World by R. Jisung Park.

About the book, from the publisher:
How the subtle but significant consequences of a hotter planet have already begun—from lower test scores to higher crime rates—and how we might tackle them today

It’s hard not to feel anxious about the problem of climate change, especially if we think of it as an impending planetary catastrophe. In Slow Burn, R. Jisung Park encourages us to view climate change through a different lens: one that focuses less on the possibility of mass climate extinction in a theoretical future, and more on the everyday implications of climate change here and now.

Drawing on a wealth of new data and cutting-edge economics, Park shows how climate change headlines often miss some of the most important costs. When wildfires blaze, what happens to people downwind of the smoke? When natural disasters destroy buildings and bridges, what happens to educational outcomes? Park explains how climate change operates as the silent accumulation of a thousand tiny conflagrations: imperceptibly elevated health risks spread across billions of people; pennies off the dollar of productivity; fewer opportunities for upward mobility.

By investigating how the physical phenomenon of climate change interacts with social and economic institutions, Park illustrates how climate change already affects everyone, and may act as an amplifier of inequality. Wealthier households and corporations may adapt quickly, but, without targeted interventions, less advantaged communities may not.

Viewing climate change as a slow and unequal burn comes with an important silver lining. It puts dollars and cents behind the case for aggressive emissions cuts and helps identify concrete steps that can be taken to better manage its adverse effects. We can begin to overcome our climate anxiety, Park shows us, when we begin to tackle these problems locally.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 13, 2024

"Cemetery Citizens"

New from Stanford University Press: Cemetery Citizens: Reclaiming the Past and Working for Justice in American Burial Grounds by Adam Rosenblatt.

About the book, from the publisher:
Across the United States, groups of grassroots volunteers gather in overgrown, systemically neglected cemeteries. As they rake, clean headstones, and research silenced histories, they offer care to individuals who were denied basic rights and forms of belonging in life and in death. Cemetery Citizens is the first book-length study of this emerging form of social justice work. It focuses on how racial disparities shape the fates of the dead, and asks what kinds of repair are still possible. Drawing on interviews, activist anthropology, poems, and drawings, Adam Rosenblatt takes us to gravesite reclamation efforts in three prominent American cities. Cemetery Citizens dives into the ethical quandaries and practical complexities of cemetery reclamation, showing how volunteers build community across social boundaries, craft new ideas about citizenship and ancestry, and expose injustices that would otherwise be suppressed. Ultimately, Rosenblatt argues that an ethic of reclamation must honor the presence of the dead—treating them as fellow cemetery citizens who share our histories, landscapes, and need for care.
Visit Adam R. Rosenblatt's university webpage.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 12, 2024

"A Supreme Court Unlike Any Other"

New from the University of Chicago Press: A Supreme Court Unlike Any Other: The Deepening Divide Between the Justices and the People by Kevin J. McMahon.

About the book, from the publisher:
A data-rich examination of the US Supreme Court’s unprecedented detachment from the democratic processes that buttress its legitimacy.

Today’s Supreme Court is unlike any other in American history. This is not just because of its jurisprudence but also because the current Court has a tenuous relationship with the democratic processes that help establish its authority. Historically, this “democracy gap” was not nearly as severe as it is today. Simply put, past Supreme Courts were constructed in a fashion far more in line with the promise of democracy—that the people decide and the majority rules.

Drawing on historical and contemporary data alongside a deep knowledge of court battles during presidencies ranging from FDR to Donald Trump, Kevin J. McMahon charts the developments that brought us here. McMahon offers insight into the altered politics of nominating and confirming justices, the shifting pool of Supreme Court hopefuls, and the increased salience of the Court in elections. A Supreme Court Unlike Any Other is an eye-opening account of today’s Court within the context of US history and the broader structure of contemporary politics.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 11, 2024

"The Carceral City"

New from the University of North Carolina Press: The Carceral City: Slavery and the Making of Mass Incarceration in New Orleans, 1803-1930 by John Bardes.

About the book, from the publisher:
Americans often assume that slave societies had little use for prisons and police because slaveholders only ever inflicted violence directly or through overseers. Mustering tens of thousands of previously overlooked arrest and prison records, John K. Bardes demonstrates the opposite: in parts of the South, enslaved and free people were jailed at astronomical rates. Slaveholders were deeply reliant on coercive state action. Authorities built massive slave prisons and devised specialized slave penal systems to maintain control and maximize profit. Indeed, in New Orleans—for most of the past half-century, the city with the highest incarceration rate in the United States—enslaved people were jailed at higher rates during the antebellum era than are Black residents today. Moreover, some slave prisons remained in use well after Emancipation: in these forgotten institutions lie the hidden origins of state violence under Jim Crow.

With powerful and evocative prose, Bardes boldly reinterprets relations between slavery and prison development in American history. Racialized policing and mass incarceration are among the gravest moral crises of our age, but they are not new: slavery, the prison, and race are deeply interwoven into the history of American governance.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

"Liminal Minorities"

New from Cornell University Press: Liminal Minorities: Religious Difference and Mass Violence in Muslim Societies by Günes Murat Tezcür.

About the book, from the publisher:
Liminal Minorities addresses the question of why some religious minorities provoke the ire of majoritarian groups and become targets of organized violence, even though they lack significant power and pose no political threat. Güneş Murat Tezcür argues that these faith groups are stigmatized across generations, as they lack theological recognition and social acceptance from the dominant religious group. Religious justifications of violence have a strong mobilization power when directed against liminal minorities, which makes these groups particularly vulnerable to mass violence during periods of political change.

Offering the first comparative-historical study of mass atrocities against religious minorities in Muslim societies, Tezcür focuses on two case studies―the Islamic State's genocidal attacks against the Yezidis in northern Iraq in the 2010s and massacres of Alevis in Turkey in the 1970s and 1990s―while also addressing discrimination and violence against followers of the Bahá'í faith in Iran and Ahmadis in Pakistan and Indonesia. Analyzing a variety of original sources, including interviews with survivors and court documents, Tezcür reveals how religious stigmatization and political resentment motivate ordinary people to participate in mass atrocities.
Visit Günes Murat Tezcür's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

"Human Motives"

New from Oxford University Press: Human Motives: Hedonism, Altruism, and the Science of Affect by Peter Carruthers.

About the book, from the publisher:
Motivational hedonism (often called “psychological hedonism”) claims that everything we do is done in pursuit of pleasure (in the widest sense) and to avoid pain and displeasure (again, in the widest sense). Although perennially attractive, many philosophers and experimental psychologists have claimed to refute it. Human Motives shows how decision-science and the recent science of affect can be used to construct a form of motivational hedonism that evades all previous critiques. On this view, we take decisions by anticipating and responding affectively to the alternatives, with the pleasure / displeasure component of affect constituting the common currency of decision-making. But we do not have to believe that the alternatives will bring us pleasure or displeasure in the future. Rather, those feelings get bound into and become parts of the future-directed representation of the options, rendering the latter attractive or repulsive. Much then depends on what pleasure and displeasure really are. If they are intrinsically good or bad properties of experience, for example, then motivational hedonism results. Carruthers argues, in contrast, that the best account is a representational one: pleasure represents its object (nonconceptually, in a perception-like manner) as good, and displeasure represents it (nonconceptually) as bad. The result is pluralism about human motivation, making room for both genuine altruism and intrinsic motives of duty.

Clearly written and deeply scientifically informed, Human Motives has implications for many areas of philosophy and cognitive science, and will be of interest to anyone wanting to understand the foundations of human motivation.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 8, 2024

"The Insiders’ Game"

New from Princeton University Press: The Insiders’ Game: How Elites Make War and Peace by Elizabeth N. Saunders.

About the book, from the publisher:
How elites shape the use of force in American foreign policy

One of the most widely held views of democratic leaders is that they are cautious about using military force because voters can hold them accountable, ultimately making democracies more peaceful. How, then, are leaders able to wage war in the face of popular opposition, or end conflicts when the public still supports them? The Insiders’ Game sheds light on this enduring puzzle, arguing that the primary constraints on decisions about war and peace come from elites, not the public.

Elizabeth Saunders focuses on three groups of elites—presidential advisers, legislators, and military officials—to show how the dynamics of this insiders’ game are key to understanding the use of force in American foreign policy. She explores how elite preferences differ from those of ordinary voters, and how leaders must bargain with elites to secure their support for war. Saunders provides insights into why leaders start and prolong conflicts the public does not want, but also demonstrates how elites can force leaders to change course and end wars.

Tracing presidential decisions about the use of force from the Cold War through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Saunders reveals how the elite politics of war are a central feature of democracy. The Insiders’ Game shifts the focus of democratic accountability from the voting booth to the halls of power.
Visit Elizabeth N. Saunders's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 7, 2024

"Dangerous Innocence"

New from LSU Press: Dangerous Innocence: White Men, Mass Culture, and the Southern Outsider's Appeal, 1960–2020 by William P. Murray.

About the book, from the publisher:
Dangerous Innocence investigates how prevailing constructions of white masculinity in the U.S. South help feed and reinforce systems of racial inequity. Tracing the rise of the “southern outsider” in literature and on television from 1960 to 2020, William P. Murray probes white Americans’ enduring desire to assert their own blamelessness even though such acts of self-justification facilitate continued violence against historically oppressed populations. Dangerous Innocence courses from popular television such as The Andy Griffith Show and The Waltons through influential fiction by Eudora Welty, Walker Percy, and other prominent southern authors―alongside forceful challenges voiced by Black writers including Chester Himes and Ernest Gaines―before turning to works created after the September 11 attacks that reinscribe cultural logics predicated on protecting white innocence and power.

Concluding on a note of praxis, Dangerous Innocence argues that reattaching southern outsiders to a communal identity encourages an honest assessment about what whiteness represents and what it means to belong to a nation steeped in commitments to white supremacy.
William P. Murray is assistant professor of English at Tennessee Wesleyan University.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 6, 2024

"The Ethics of Privacy and Surveillance"

New from Oxford University Press: The Ethics of Privacy and Surveillance by Carissa Véliz.

About the book, from the publisher:
Privacy matters because it shields us from possible abuses of power. Human beings need privacy just as much as they need community. Our need for socialization brings with it risks and burdens which in turn give rise to the need for spaces and time away from others. To impose surveillance upon someone is an act of domination. The foundations of democracy quiver under surveillance.

Given how important privacy is for individual and collective wellbeing, it is striking that it has not enjoyed a more central place in philosophy. The philosophical literature on privacy and surveillance is still very limited compared to that on justice, autonomy, or equality-and yet the former plays a role in protecting all three values. Perhaps philosophers haven't attended much to privacy because for most of the past two centuries there have been strong enough privacy norms in place and not enough invasive technologies. Privacy worked for most people most of the time, which made thinking about it unnecessary. It's when things stop working that the philosopher's attention is most easily caught-the owl of Minerva spreading its wings only with impending dusk.

With the spread of machine learning, a kind of AI that often uses vast amounts of personal data, and a whole industry dedicated to the trade of personal data becoming one of the most popular business models of the 21st century, it's time for philosophy to look more closely at privacy.

This book is intended to contribute to a better understanding of privacy from a philosophical point of view-what it is, what is at stake in its loss, and how it relates to other rights and values. The five parts that compose this book respond to five basic questions about privacy: Where does privacy come from? What is privacy? Why does privacy matter? What should we do about privacy? Where are we now?
Visit Carissa Véliz's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 5, 2024

"Structuring Inequality"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Structuring Inequality: How Schooling, Housing, and Tax Policies Shaped Metropolitan Development and Education by Tracy L. Steffes.

About the book, from the publisher:
How inequality was forged, fought over, and forgotten through public policy in metropolitan Chicago.

As in many American metropolitan areas, inequality in Chicagoland is visible in its neighborhoods. These inequalities are not inevitable, however. They have been constructed and deepened by public policies around housing, schooling, taxation, and local governance, including hidden state government policies.

In Structuring Inequality, historian Tracy L. Steffes shows how metropolitan inequality in Chicagoland was structured, contested, and naturalized over time even as reformers tried to change it through school desegregation, affordable housing, and property tax reform. While these efforts had modest successes in the city and the suburbs, reformers faced significant resistance and counter-mobilization from affluent suburbanites, real estate developers, and other defenders of the status quo who defended inequality and reshaped the policy conversation about it. Grounded in comprehensive archival research and policy analysis, Structuring Inequality examines the history of Chicagoland’s established systems of inequality and provides perspective on the inequality we live with today.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 4, 2024


New from Stanford University Press: Breathless: Tuberculosis, Inequality, and Care in Rural India by Andrew McDowell.

About the book, from the publisher:
Each year in India more than two million people fall sick with tuberculosis (TB), an infectious, airborne, and potentially deadly lung disease. The country accounts for almost 30 percent of all TB cases worldwide and well above a third of global deaths from it. Because TB's prevalence also indicates unfulfilled development promises, its control is an important issue of national concern, wrapped up in questions of postcolonial governance. Drawing on long-term ethnographic engagement with a village in North India and its TB epidemic, Andrew McDowell tells the stories of socially marginalized Dalit ("ex-untouchable") farming families afflicted by TB, and the nurses, doctors, quacks, mediums, and mystics who care for them. Each of the book's chapters centers on a material or metaphorical substance—such as dust, clouds, and ghosts—to understand how breath and airborne illness entangle biological and social life in everyday acts of care for the self, for others, and for the environment. From this raft of stories about the ways people make sense of and struggle with troubled breath, McDowell develops a philosophy and phenomenology of breathing that attends to medical systems, patient care, and health justice. He theorizes that breath—as an intersection between person and world—provides a unique perspective on public health and inequality. Breath is deeply intimate and personal, but also shared and distributed. Through it all, Breathless traces the multivalent relations that breath engenders between people, environments, social worlds, and microbes.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

"Slouch: Posture Panic in Modern America"

New from Princeton University Press: Slouch: Posture Panic in Modern America by Beth Linker.

About the book, from the publisher:
The strange and surprising history of the so-called epidemic of bad posture in modern America—from eugenics and posture pageants to today’s promoters of “paleo posture”

In 1995, a scandal erupted when the New York Times revealed that the Smithsonian possessed a century’s worth of nude “posture” photos of college students. In this riveting history, Beth Linker tells why these photos were only a small part of the incredible story of twentieth-century America’s largely forgotten posture panic—a decades-long episode in which it was widely accepted as scientific fact that Americans were suffering from an epidemic of bad posture, with potentially catastrophic health consequences. Tracing the rise and fall of this socially manufactured epidemic, Slouch also tells how this period continues to feed today’s widespread anxieties about posture.

In the early twentieth century, the eugenics movement and fears of disability gave slouching a new scientific relevance. Bad posture came to be seen as an individual health threat, an affront to conventional race hierarchies, and a sign of American decline. What followed were massive efforts to measure, track, and prevent slouching and, later, back pain—campaigns that reached schools, workplaces, and beyond, from the creation of the American Posture League to posture pageants. The popularity of posture-enhancing products, such as girdles and lumbar supports, exploded, as did new fitness programs focused on postural muscles, such as Pilates and modern yoga. By 1970, student protests largely brought an end to school posture exams and photos, but many efforts to fight bad posture continued, despite a lack of scientific evidence.

A compelling history that mixes seriousness and humor, Slouch is a unique and provocative account of the unexpected origins of our largely unquestioned ideas about bad posture.
Visit Beth Linker's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

"Life under Pressure"

New from Oxford University Press: Life under Pressure: The Social Roots of Youth Suicide and What to Do About Them by Anna S. Mueller & Seth Abrutyn.

About the book, from the publisher:
A rare study that transforms our understanding of why youth die by suicide, why youth suicide clusters happen, and how to stop them

Youth suicide clusters have deeply unsettled communities in recent years. While clusters have been widely documented in the media, too little is known about why youth die by suicide, why youth suicide clusters happen, and how to stop them both.

In Life under Pressure, Anna S. Mueller and Seth Abrutyn investigate the social roots of youth suicide and why certain places weather disproportionate incidents of adolescent suicides and suicide clusters. Through close examination of kids' lives in a community repeatedly rocked by youth suicide clusters, Mueller and Abrutyn reveal how the social worlds that youth inhabit and the various messages they learn in those spaces--about who they are supposed to be, mental illness, and help-seeking--shape their feelings about themselves and in turn their risk of suicide. With great empathy, Mueller and Abrutyn also identify the moments when adults unintentionally fail kids by not talking to them about suicide, teaching them how to seek help, or helping them grieve.

Through stories of survival, resilience, and even rebellion, Mueller and Abrutyn show how social environments can cause suicide and how they can be changed to help kids discover a life worth living. By revealing what it is like to live and die in one community, Life under Pressure offers tangible solutions to one of the twenty-first century's most tragic public health problems.
Visit Anna S. Mueller's website and Seth Abrutyn's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 1, 2024

"Pregnant at Work"

New from NYU Press: Pregnant at Work: Low-Wage Workers, Power, and Temporal Injustice by Elise Andaya.

About the book, from the publisher:
A compelling analysis of social inequality through the perspective of pregnant, low-wage service workers

The low-wage service industry is one of the fastest-growing employment sectors in the US economy. Its workers disproportionately tend to be low-income and minority women. Service sector work entails rigid forms of temporal discipline manifested in work requirements for flexible, last-minute, and round-the-clock availability, as well as limited to no eligibility for sick and parental leaves, all of which impact workers’ ability to care for themselves and their dependents.

Pregnant at Work examines the experiences of pregnant service sector workers in New York City as they try to navigate the time conflicts between precarious low-wage service labor and safety net prenatal care. Through interviews and fieldwork in a prenatal clinic of a public hospital, Elise Andaya vividly describes workers’ struggles to maintain expected tempos of labor as their pregnancies progress as well as their efforts to schedule and attend prenatal care, where waiting is a constant factor―a reflection of the pervasive belief that poor people’s time is less valuable than that of other people.

Pregnant at Work is a compelling examination of the ways in which power and inequalities of race, class, gender, and immigration status are produced and reproduced in the US, including in individual pregnant bodies. The stories of the pregnant workers featured in this book underscore the urgency of movements towards temporal justice and a new politics of care in the twenty-first century.
Visit Elise Andaya's website.

--Marshal Zeringue