Friday, May 31, 2024

"Marked Men"

New from NYU Press: Marked Men: Black Politicians and the Racialization of Scandal by Nyron N. Crawford.

About the book, from the publisher:
Examines Black Americans’ suspicion about the potential political harassment of Black elected officials

In Marked Men, Nyron N. Crawford offers a novel perspective on political scandal, corruption, and racial politics in the United States. Contrary to traditional beliefs that politicians are forgiven for their transgressions because of the benefits they provide their constituents, Crawford argues that Black Americans view political misdeeds by Black elected officials through a lens of suspicion towards the criminal legal system.

Crawford’s work reveals that Black Americans often question the motivations behind investigations and indictments of Black politicians, expressing concern that such actions by the state are intended to undermine, embarrass, and harass Black leaders. Through a mixed-method approach including experiments, case studies, and survey data, Crawford illustrates that racialized suspicion shapes the way Black voters rally to protect their embattled Black political representatives.

The book challenges conventional wisdom by highlighting how a tolerance of corruption is not the driving force behind the support for wayward politicians. Instead, racialized mistrust of the criminal justice system plays a pivotal role. By shedding light on this dynamic, Marked Men examines the complexities of political scandals and the intricate interplay between race and politics in contemporary America. The study calls for a deeper understanding of the motivations and attitudes of Black voters, prompting readers to reconsider prevailing assumptions about political accountability and forgiveness in the context of race.
Visit Nyron N. Crawford's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 30, 2024

"How Governments Borrow"

New from Oxford University Press: How Governments Borrow: Partisan Politics, Constrained Institutions, and Sovereign Debt in Emerging Markets by Ben Cormier.

About the book, from the publisher:
How Governments Borrow reveals how annual borrowing decisions are informed by domestic politics. The book traces the annual fiscal policymaking process in Emerging Markets (EM) to show how a government's partisan policy preferences are a primary determinant of annual external borrowing decisions and thus patterns of debt accumulation. That sovereign debt composition has partisan political roots provides insights for scholars in political science, international relations, economics, sociology, and public administration that work on sovereign debt.

Sovereign debt composition enhances or limits the capacity of an EM government to contribute to social and economic development. Many EMs depend on foreign currency debt. How much external debt an EM government owes, the cost of that debt, the maturity of that debt, and the conditions attached to that debt all determine the political and economic opportunities and risks associated with a government's borrowings.

EMs borrow from different sources each year, leading them to build different sovereign debt structures over time. Some prioritize cheap yet conditional official credit, which constrains policy autonomy but enhances debt sustainability. Others prioritize comparatively expensive bond markets, which enhances policy autonomy but brings more expensive repayment obligations on to national balance sheets. As countries accumulate debt, the borrowing choices they make come to have important effects on fiscal space, debt sustainability, and development.
Visit Ben Cormier's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

"Chinese Espresso"

New from Princeton University Press: Chinese Espresso: Contested Race and Convivial Space in Contemporary Italy by Grazia Ting Deng.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why and how local coffee bars in Italy—those distinctively Italian social and cultural spaces—have been increasingly managed by Chinese baristas since the Great Recession of 2008

Italians regard espresso as a quintessentially Italian cultural product—so much so that Italy has applied to add Italian espresso to UNESCO’s official list of intangible heritages of humanity. The coffee bar is a cornerstone of Italian urban life, with city residents sipping espresso at more than 100,000 of these local businesses throughout the country. And yet, despite its nationalist bona fides, espresso in Italy is increasingly prepared by Chinese baristas in Chinese-managed coffee bars. In this book, Grazia Ting Deng explores the paradox of “Chinese espresso”—the fact that this most distinctive Italian social and cultural tradition is being preserved by Chinese immigrants and their racially diverse clientele.

Deng investigates the conditions, mechanisms, and implications of the rapid spread of Chinese-owned coffee bars in Italy since the Great Recession of 2008. Drawing on her extensive ethnographic research in Bologna, Deng describes an immigrant group that relies on reciprocal and flexible family labor to make coffee, deploying local knowledge gleaned from longtime residents who have come, sometimes resentfully, to regard this arrangement as a new normal. The existence of Chinese espresso represents new features of postmodern and postcolonial urban life in a pluralistic society where immigrants assume traditional roles even as they are regarded as racial others. The story of Chinese baristas and their patrons, Deng argues, transcends the dominant Eurocentric narrative of immigrant-host relations, complicating our understanding of cultural dynamics and racial formation within the shifting demographic realities of the Global North.
Visit Grazia Ting Deng's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

"Struggling for Time"

New from Stanford University Press: Struggling for Time: Environmental Governance and Agrarian Resistance in Israel/Palestine by Natalia Gutkowski.

About the book, from the publisher:
Struggling for Time examines how time is used as a mechanism of control by the Israeli state and a site of mundane resistance among Palestinian agriculture professionals. Natalia Gutkowski unpacks power structures to show how a settler society lays moral claim on indigenous time through agrarian environmental policies, science, technologies, landscapes, and bureaucracy. Shifting the analysis of Israel/Palestine from land and space to time, she offers new insight into the operation of power in agrarian environments and develops a contemporary framework to understand land and resource grabs under temporal justifications. Traveling across both policymaking arenas and Palestinian citizens' agrarian fields, Gutkowski follows the multiple ways that state officials, agronomists, planners, environmentalists, and agriculturalists use time as a tool of collective agency. Through investigations of wetland drainage in Galilee, transformations in olive agriculture, sustainable agrarian development, and regulation of the shmita biblical commandment, the "year of release" for agricultural fields, this work highlights how Palestinian citizens' agriculture has become a site for the state to settle and mediate time conflicts to justify its existence. As Struggling for Time demonstrates, time politics will take on ever greater urgency as societies and governments plan for an uncertain future in our era of climate change.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 27, 2024


New from Oxford University Press: Fruitfulness: Science, Metaphor, and the Puzzle of Promise by Chris Haufe.

About the book, from the publisher:
Some ideas seem to possess a disproportionate ability to lead to new insights, new discoveries, new ideas, and even entirely new ways of thinking. Such ideas are said to be fruitful. Looking across the history of science and mathematics, we see creative minds preoccupied with the search for ideas of this kind. More precious than truth, but far less plentiful, fruitful ideas provide those in pursuit of knowledge with a seemingly bottomless well of innovation from which to draw as they attempt to solve new problems and to refine solutions to old ones. Seasoned researchers have a nose for these ideas. They often know in an instant that some way of approaching a problem will eventually result in a solution to it and to a whole host of other problems, all of which suddenly seem related.

In Fruitfulness, Chris Haufe explains how these ideas are detected and developed into large-scale frameworks for research. He argues for a philosophical perspective on scientific knowledge that places the search for fruitfulness at the heart of the scientific enterprise. This perspective demands a fundamental shift in our thinking about scientific theories, conceiving of them as metaphors to facilitate research instead of increasingly correct descriptions of nature.
Visit Chris Haufe's website.

The Page 99 Test: Do the Humanities Create Knowledge?.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 26, 2024

"Good Guys, Bad Guys"

New from NYU Press: Good Guys, Bad Guys: The Perils of Men's Gender Activism by Emily K. Carian.

About the book, from the publisher:
Explores questions of masculinity, privilege, and identity to explain why some men become feminists while others become men’s rights activists

In the evolving landscape of gender activism in the United States, it is intriguing that four-in-ten American men now identify as feminists. Despite this seemingly positive shift, gender inequality remains deeply rooted in the US. Good Guys, Bad Guys delves into this paradox, unraveling the complexities of men’s feminist allyship and its limitations in propelling genuine progress.

Emily K. Carian masterfully dissects the narratives of two distinct groups of gender activists: feminist men and men who belong to the men's rights movement, which opposes feminism. By engaging directly with the men themselves, Carian constructs a compelling analysis of their journeys into these contrasting social movements.

Surprisingly, Carian finds that both feminist men and men’s rights activists share a common motivation for their engagement in gender activism: the desire to be perceived as “good men.” However, this well-intentioned yet superficial drive hinders feminist men from envisioning concrete and effective strategies to challenge gender inequality. Conversely, it fuels men’s rights activists’ participation in a movement that fosters a virulent misogyny.

Good Guys, Bad Guys exposes how even self-proclaimed feminist men inadvertently perpetuate gender inequality through their attitudes, behaviors, and relationships. As society navigates the complexities of gender activism, this book serves as a valuable resource in guiding the path towards a truly equal and inclusive future.
Visit Emily K. Carian's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 25, 2024

"Buddhism in Court"

New from Oxford University Press: Buddhism in Court: Religion, Law, and Jurisdiction in China by Cuilan Liu.

About the book, from the publisher:
What happens to Buddhist monks and nuns who commit crimes? Buddhism in Court is the first book to uncover an important, yet long-overlooked, Buddhist campaign for clerical legal privileges that aim to exempt monks and nuns from being tried and punished in the government courts. Liu reveals the campaign's origins in Indian Buddhism and how Chinese Buddhists' engagement reshaped Buddhism's place in the jurisdictional landscape in China from the fourth century to the present.

Drawing on Buddhist monastic law texts, archives, court documents, Chinese laws, official histories, law case books, institutional announcements, and private writings circulated on social media, Buddhism in Court traces the legacy of the campaign for clerical legal privileges from its origin in India to its transformation in China and its continuing impact in the Chinese courtroom to the present day. Diverting from the dynasty-centered approach to studying religion, law, and history in China, Buddhism in Court expands our understanding of this legacy of early Chinese Buddhism and challenges the notion that the transition between imperial and post-imperial China was marked only by disruption.
Visit Cuilan Liu's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 24, 2024

"Liberty's Grid"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Liberty's Grid: A Founding Father, a Mathematical Dreamland, and the Shaping of America by Amir Alexander.

About the book, from the publisher:
The surprising history behind a ubiquitous facet of the United States: the gridded landscape.

Seen from an airplane, much of the United States appears to be a gridded land of startling uniformity. Perpendicular streets and rectangular fields, all precisely measured and perfectly aligned, turn both urban and rural America into a checkerboard landscape that stretches from horizon to horizon. In evidence throughout the country, but especially the West, the pattern is a hallmark of American life. One might consider it an administrative convenience—an easy way to divide land and lay down streets—but it is not. The colossal grid carved into the North American continent, argues historian and writer Amir Alexander, is a plan redolent with philosophical and political meaning.

In 1784 Thomas Jefferson presented Congress with an audacious scheme to reshape the territory of the young United States. All western lands, he proposed, would be inscribed with a single rectilinear grid, transforming the natural landscape into a mathematical one. Following Isaac Newton and John Locke, he viewed mathematical space as a blank slate on which anything is possible and where new Americans, acting freely, could find liberty. And if the real America, with its diverse landscapes and rich human history, did not match his vision, then it must be made to match it.

From the halls of Congress to the open prairies, and from the fight against George III to the Trail of Tears, Liberty’s Grid tells the story of the battle between grid makers and their opponents. When Congress endorsed Jefferson’s plan, it set off a struggle over American space that has not subsided. Transcendentalists, urban reformers, and conservationists saw the grid not as a place of possibility but as an artificial imposition that crushed the human spirit. Today, the ideas Jefferson associated with the grid still echo through political rhetoric about the country’s founding, and competing visions for the nation are visible from Manhattan avenues and Kansan pastures to Yosemite’s cliffs and suburbia’s cul-de-sacs. An engrossing read, Liberty’s Grid offers a powerful look at the ideological conflict written on the landscape.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 23, 2024

"The Threshold of Dissent"

New from NYU Press: The Threshold of Dissent: A History of American Jewish Critics of Zionism by Marjorie Feld.

About the book, from the publisher:
Explores the long history of anti-Zionist and non-Zionist American Jews

Throughout the twentieth century, American Jewish communal leaders projected a unified position of unconditional support for Israel, cementing it as a cornerstone of American Jewish identity. This unwavering position served to marginalize and label dissenters as antisemitic, systematically limiting the threshold of acceptable criticism. In pursuit of this forced consensus, these leaders entered Cold War alliances, distanced themselves from progressive civil rights and anti-colonial movements, and turned a blind eye to human rights abuses in Israel. In The Threshold of Dissent, Marjorie N. Feld instead shows that today’s vociferous arguments among American Jews over Israel and Zionism are but the newest chapter in a fraught history that stretches from the nineteenth century.

Drawing on rich archival research and examining wide-ranging intellectual currents―from the Reform movement and the Yiddish left to anti-colonialism and Jewish feminism―Feld explores American Jewish critics of Zionism and Israel from the 1880s to the 1980s. The book argues that the tireless policing of contrary perspectives led each generation of dissenters to believe that it was the first to question unqualified support for Israel. The Threshold of Dissent positions contemporary critics within a century-long debate about the priorities of the American Jewish community, one which holds profound implications for inclusion in American Jewish communal life and for American Jews’ participation in coalitions working for justice.

At a time when American Jewish support for Israel has been diminishing, The Threshold of Dissent uncovers a deeper―and deeply contested―history of intracommunal debate over Zionism among American Jews.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

"The Last Plantation"

New from Princeton University Press: The Last Plantation: Racism and Resistance in the Halls of Congress by James R. Jones.

About the book, from the publisher:
A revealing look at the covert and institutionalized racism lurking in the congressional workplace

Racism continues to infuse Congress’s daily practice of lawmaking and shape who obtains congressional employment. In this timely and provocative book, James Jones reveals how and why many who work in Congress call it the “Last Plantation.” He shows that even as the civil rights movement gained momentum in the 1960s and antidiscrimination laws were implemented across the nation, Congress remained exempt from federal workplace protections for decades. These exemptions institutionalized inequality in the congressional workplace well into the twenty-first century.

Combining groundbreaking research and compelling firsthand accounts from scores of congressional staffers, Jones uncovers the hidden dynamics of power, privilege, and resistance in Congress. He reveals how failures of racial representation among congressional staffers reverberate throughout the American political system and demonstrates how the absence of diverse perspectives hampers the creation of just legislation. Centering the experiences of Black workers within this complex landscape, he provides valuable insights into the problems they face, the barriers that hinder their progress, and the ways they contest entrenched inequality.

A must-read for anyone concerned about social justice and the future of our democracy, The Last Plantation exposes the mechanisms that perpetuate racial inequality in the halls of Congress and challenges us to confront and transform this unequal workplace that shapes our politics and society.
Visit James R. Jones's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

"Meritocratic Democracy"

New from Oxford University Press: Meritocratic Democracy: A Cross-Cultural Political Theory by Elena Ziliotti.

About the book, from the publisher:
Meritocratic Democracy puts into dialogue contemporary works in Western democratic theory and Confucian political theory to examine the effectiveness of democracy as a decision-making system, the role of political leaders and political parties in real-world democracies. The result is a unique cross-cultural theory of democracy, meritocratic democracy, which combines democratic principles with a system of 'partisan juries' at the party level to enhance the quality of political leaders in democracy. Ultimately, this book shows that cross-cultural dialogue is imperative to generate innovative solutions to pressing political issues and foster reciprocal corrections.
Visit Elena Ziliotti's website.

Ziliotti is a tenured Assistant Professor (UD1) of Ethics and Political Philosophy at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). Before joining TU Delft, she was an International Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Philosophy, Wuhan University, China, and a recipient of the 2019 China International Postdoctoral Exchange Fellowship. She completed my doctorate degree in Political Philosophy in June 2018 at the King’s College London and the National University of Singapore Joint Ph.D. programme.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 20, 2024

"The Chinese Computer"

New from The MIT Press: The Chinese Computer: A Global History of the Information Age by Thomas S. Mullaney.

About the book, from the publisher:
The fascinating, untold story of how the Chinese language overcame unparalleled challenges and revolutionized the world of computing.

A standard QWERTY keyboard has a few dozen keys. How can Chinese—a language with tens of thousands of characters and no alphabet—be input on such a device? In The Chinese Computer, Thomas S. Mullaney sets out to resolve this paradox, and in doing so, discovers that the key to this seemingly impossible riddle has given rise to a new epoch in the history of writing—a form of writing he calls “hypography.” Based on fifteen years of research, this pathbreaking history of the Chinese language charts the beginnings of electronic Chinese technology in the wake of World War II up through to its many iterations in the present day.

Mullaney takes the reader back through the history and evolution of Chinese language computing technology, showing the development of electronic Chinese input methods—software programs that enable Chinese characters to be produced using alphanumeric symbols—and the profound impact they have had on the way Chinese is written. Along the way, Mullaney introduces a cast of brilliant and eccentric personalities drawn from the ranks of IBM, MIT, the CIA, the Pentagon, the Taiwanese military, and the highest rungs of mainland Chinese establishment, to name a few, and the unexpected roles they played in developing Chinese language computing. Finally, he shows how China and the non-Western world—because of the hypographic technologies they had to invent in order to join the personal computing revolution—“saved” the Western computer from its deep biases, enabling it to achieve a meaningful presence in markets outside of the Americas and Europe.

An eminently engaging and artfully told history, The Chinese Computer is a must-read for anyone interested in how culture informs computing and how computing, in turn, shapes culture.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 19, 2024

"Birthing Romans"

New from Princeton University Press: Birthing Romans: Childbearing and Its Risks in Imperial Rome by Anna Bonnell Freidin.

About the book, from the publisher:
How Romans coped with the anxieties and risks of childbirth

Across the vast expanse of the Roman Empire, anxieties about childbirth tied individuals to one another, to the highest levels of imperial politics, even to the movements of the stars. Birthing Romans sheds critical light on the diverse ways pregnancy and childbirth were understood, experienced, and managed in ancient Rome during the first three centuries of the Common Era.

In this beautifully written book, Anna Bonnell Freidin asks how inhabitants of the Roman Empire—especially women and girls—understood their bodies and constructed communities of care to mitigate and make sense of the risks of pregnancy and childbirth. Drawing on medical texts, legal documents, poetry, amulets, funerary art, and more, she shows how these communities were deeply human yet never just human. Freidin demonstrates how patients and caregivers took their place alongside divine and material agencies to guard against the risks inherent to childbearing. She vividly illustrates how these efforts and vital networks offer a new window onto Romans’ anxieties about order, hierarchy, and the individual’s place in the empire and cosmos.

Unearthing a risky world that is both familiar and not our own, Birthing Romans reveals how mistakes, misfortunes, and interventions in childbearing were seen to have far-reaching consequences, reverberating across generations and altering the course of people’s lives, their family histories, and even the fate of an empire.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 18, 2024

"Enlightenment Biopolitics"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Enlightenment Biopolitics: A History of Race, Eugenics, and the Making of Citizens by William Max Nelson.

About the book, from the publisher:
A wide-ranging history tracing the birth of biopolitics in Enlightenment thought and its aftermath.

In Enlightenment Biopolitics, historian William Max Nelson pursues the ambitious task of tracing the context in which biopolitical thought emerged and circulated. He locates that context in the Enlightenment when emancipatory ideals sat alongside the horrors of colonialism, slavery, and race-based discrimination. In fact, these did not just coexist, Nelson argues; they were actually mutually constitutive of Enlightenment ideals.

In this book, Nelson focuses on Enlightenment-era visions of eugenics (including proposals to establish programs of selective breeding), forms of penal slavery, and spurious biological arguments about the supposed inferiority of particular groups. The Enlightenment, he shows, was rife with efforts to shape, harness, and “organize” the minds and especially the bodies of subjects and citizens. In his reading of the birth of biopolitics and its transformations, Nelson examines the shocking conceptual and practical connections between inclusion and exclusion, equality and inequality, rights and race, and the supposed “improvement of the human species” and practices of dehumanization.
Visit William Max Nelson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 17, 2024

"Climate Change as Political Catastrophe"

New from Oxford University Press: Climate Change as Political Catastrophe: Before Collapse by Ross Mittiga.

About the book, from the publisher:
There is now clear scientific consensus that, without immediate and decisive action, the world risks climate catastrophe. This has fueled climate emergency declarations among activist groups and, increasingly, among local, state, and supranational governments. But what exactly counts as a "climate catastrophe" and what does catastrophic climate change portend for contemporary societies?

This book argues that climate change is politically catastrophic insofar as it threatens to undermine the material conditions that make justice - and by extension stable democratic government - possible. It then uses the lens of catastrophe to bring into focus pressing questions concerning how to navigate trade-offs between fairness and precautionary efficacy in the design of climate policy, the permissibility of authoritarian climate emergency powers, and the nature and role of climate disobedience.

Apart perhaps from the spectre of nuclear annihilation, human civilization has never had to reckon with a threat so final and encompassing as that of climate catastrophe. Much as some have argued that "supreme necessity" alters the contours of what is permissible in war, this book starts from the premise that the credible threat of politically catastrophic climate change upends many of the most basic and widely shared assumptions in liberal and democratic thought.
Visit Ross Mittiga's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 16, 2024

"Visible Ruins"

New from the University of Texas Press: Visible Ruins: The Politics of Perception and the Legacies of Mexico's Revolution by Mónica M. Salas Landa.

About the book, from the publisher:
An examination of the failures of the Mexican Revolution through the visual and material records.

The Mexican Revolution (1910–1920) introduced a series of state-led initiatives promising modernity, progress, national grandeur, and stability; state surveyors assessed land for agrarian reform, engineers used nationalized oil for industrialization, archaeologists reconstructed pre-Hispanic monuments for tourism, and anthropologists studied and photographed Indigenous populations to achieve their acculturation. Far from accomplishing their stated goals, however, these initiatives concealed violence, and permitted land invasions, forced displacement, environmental damage, loss of democratic freedom, and mass killings. Mónica M. Salas Landa uses the history of northern Veracruz to demonstrate how these state-led efforts reshaped the region's social and material landscapes, affecting what was and is visible. Relying on archival sources and ethnography, she uncovers a visual order of ongoing significance that was established through postrevolutionary projects and that perpetuates inequality based on imperceptibility.
Mónica M. Salas Landa is an associate professor of anthropology and sociology at Lafayette College.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

"Performing Chinatown"

New from Stanford University Press: Performing Chinatown: Hollywood, Tourism, and the Making of a Chinese American Community by William Gow.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1938, China City opened near downtown Los Angeles. Featuring a recreation of the House of Wang set from MGM's The Good Earth, this new Chinatown employed many of the same Chinese Americans who performed as background extras in the 1937 film. Chinatown and Hollywood represented the two primary sites where Chinese Americans performed racial difference for popular audiences during the Chinese exclusion era. In Performing Chinatown, historian William Gow argues that Chinese Americans in Los Angeles used these performances in Hollywood films and in Chinatown for tourists to shape widely held understandings of race and national belonging during this pivotal chapter in U.S. history. Performing Chinatown conceives of these racial representations as intimately connected to the restrictive immigration laws that limited Chinese entry into the U.S. beginning with the 1875 Page Act and continuing until the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. At the heart of this argument are the voices of everyday people including Chinese American movie extras, street performers, and merchants. Drawing on more than 40 oral history interviews as well as research in more than a dozen archival and family collections, this book retells the long-overlooked history of the ways that Los Angeles Chinatown shaped Hollywood and how Hollywood, in turn, shaped perceptions of Asian American identity.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

"Funk the Clock"

New from Cornell University Press: Funk the Clock: Transgressing Time While Young, Perceptive, and Black by Rahsaan Mahadeo.

About the book, from the publisher:
Funk the Clock is about those said to be emblematic of the future yet denied a place in time. Hence, this book is both an invitation and provocation for Black youth to give the finger to the hands of time, while inviting readers to follow their lead.

In revealing how time is racialized, how race is temporalized, and how racism takes time, Rahsaan Mahadeo makes clear why conventional sociological theories of time are both empirically and theoretically unsustainable and more importantly, why they need to be funked up/with.

Through his study of a youth center in Minneapolis, Mahadeo provides examples of Black youth constructing alternative temporalities that center their lived experiences and ensure their worldviews, tastes, and culture are most relevant and up to date. In their stories exists the potential to stretch the sociological imagination to make the familiar (i.e., time) strange. Funk the Clock forges new directions in the study of race and time by upending what we think we know about time, while centering Black youth as key collaborators in rewriting knowledge as we know it.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 13, 2024

"The Librarian’s Atlas"

New from the University of Chicago Press: The Librarian’s Atlas: The Shape of Knowledge in Early Modern Spain by Seth Kimmel.

About the book, from the publisher:
A history of early modern libraries and the imperial desire for total knowledge.

Medieval scholars imagined the library as a microcosm of the world, but as novel early modern ways of managing information facilitated empire in both the New and Old Worlds, the world became a projection of the library. In The Librarian’s Atlas, Seth Kimmel offers a sweeping material history of how the desire to catalog books coincided in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries with the aspiration to control territory. Through a careful study of library culture in Spain and Morocco—close readings of catalogs, marginalia, indexes, commentaries, and maps—Kimmel reveals how the booklover’s dream of a comprehensive and well-organized library shaped an expanded sense of the world itself.
Seth Kimmel is associate professor of Latin American and Iberian cultures at Columbia University. He is the author of Parables of Coercion: Conversion and Knowledge at the End of Islamic Spain.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 12, 2024

"Frances Oldham Kelsey, the FDA, and the Battle against Thalidomide"

New from Oxford University Press: Frances Oldham Kelsey, the FDA, and the Battle against Thalidomide by Cheryl Krasnick Warsh.

About the book, from the publisher:
The woman scientist who saved Americans from thalidomide

In the early 1960s, Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration became one of the most celebrated women in America when she prevented a deadly sedative from entering the U.S. market. A Canadian-born pharmacologist and physician, Kelsey saved countless Americans from the devastating side effects of thalidomide, a drug routinely given to pregnant women to prevent morning sickness.

As the FDA medical officer charged with reviewing Merrell Pharmaceutical's application for approval in 1960-61, Kelsey was unconvinced that there was sufficient evidence of the drug's efficacy and safety. Despite substantial pressure, she held her ground for nineteen months while the extent of the drug's worldwide damage became known-thousands of stillborn babies, as well as at least 10,000 children across 46 countries born with severe deformities such as missing limbs, arms and legs that resembled flippers, and improperly developed eyes, ears, and other organs.

As a result of Kelsey's efforts, thalidomide was never sold in the United States. The incident led Congress to pass the 1962 Drug Amendment, which fundamentally changed drug regulation in America. Those regulations, still in force today, required pharmaceutical companies to conduct phased clinical trials, obtain informed consent from participants in drug testing, and warn the FDA of adverse effects, and it granted the FDA important controls over prescription-drug advertising.

One of a small minority of women to earn an advanced degree in science in the 1930s, Kelsey faced challenges that resonate with women scientists to this day. Revered by the public as a “good mother of science,” she went on to act as a formidable gatekeeper against other suspect drugs, such as diesthylstilbestrol (DES) and laetrile. As part of the team that tested anti-malarial drugs on prisoner volunteers during World War II, she later was instrumental in the formulation of ethical protocols for drug testing on prisoners and the vulnerable, including the elderly and children. Yet behind the public adulation, she faced professional jealousies and glass ceilings, political interference with FDA's actions, and ongoing hostility from pharmaceutical industry officials. She was sustained and supported by family and friends, co-workers and mentors, and a lifetime commitment to good science.

Based upon FDA archival records, private family papers, and interviews with family and colleagues, this biography brings to light the efforts and legacy of a pioneering woman of science whose contributions are still influential today.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 11, 2024

"The Descent of Artificial Intelligence"

New from the University of Pittsburgh Press: The Descent of Artificial Intelligence: A Deep History of an Idea 400 Years in the Making by Kevin Padraic Donnelly.

About the book, from the publisher:
The idea that a new technology could challenge human intelligence is as old as the warning from Socrates and Plato that written language eroded memory. With the emergence of generative artificial intelligence programs, we find ourselves once again debating how a new technology might influence human thought and behavior. Researchers, software developers, and “visionary” tech writers even imagine an AI that will equal or surpass human intelligence, adding to a sense of technological determinism where humanity is inexorably shaped by powerful new machines. But among the hundreds of essays, books, and movies that approach the question of AI, few have asked how exactly scientists and philosophers have codified human thought and behavior. Rather than focusing on technical contributions in machine building, The Descent of Artificial Intelligence explores a more diverse cast of thinkers who helped to imagine the very kind of human being that might be challenged by a machine. Kevin Padraic Donnelly argues that what we often think of as the “goal” of AI has in fact been shaped by forgotten and discredited theories about people and human nature as much as it has been by scientific discoveries, mathematical advances, and novel technologies. By looking at the development of artificial intelligence through the lens of social thought, Donnelly deflates the image of artificial intelligence as a technological monolith and reminds readers that we can control the narratives about ourselves.
Kevin Padraic Donnelly is an associate professor of history at Alvernia University.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 10, 2024


New from Rutgers University Press: Wake: Why the Battle over Diverse Public Schools Still Matters by Karey Alison Harwood.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Wake County Public School System was once described as a beacon of hope for American school districts. It was both academically successful and successfully integrated. It accomplished these goals through the hard work of teachers and administrators, and through a student assignment policy that made sure no school in the countywide district became a high poverty school. Although most students attended their closest school, the “diversity policy” modified where some students were assigned to make sure no school had more than 40% of its students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch or more than 25% performing below grade level. When the school board election of 2009 swept into office a majority who favored “neighborhood schools,” the diversity policy that had governed student assignment for years was eliminated. Wake: Why the Battle Over Diverse Public Schools Still Matters tells the story of the aftermath of that election, including the fierce public debate that ensued during school board meetings and in the pages of the local newspaper, and the groundswell of community support that voted in a pro-diversity school board in 2011. What was at stake in those years was the fundamental direction of the largest school district in North Carolina and the 14th largest in the U.S. Would it maintain a commitment to diverse schools, and if so, how would it balance that commitment with various competing interests and demands? Through hundreds of published opinion articles and several in depth interviews with community leaders, Wake examines the substance of that debate and explores the community’s vision for public education. Wake also explores the importance of knowing the history of a place, including the history of school segregation. Wake County’s example still resonates, and the battle over diverse public schools still matters, because owning responsibility for the problem of segregated schools (or not) will shape the direction of America’s future.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 9, 2024

"Democracy Tamed"

New from Oxford University Press: Democracy Tamed: French Liberalism and the Politics of Suffrage by Gianna Englert.

About the book, from the publisher:
Does good democratic government require intelligent, moral, and productive citizens? Can our political institutions educate the kind of citizens we wish or need to have? With recent arguments "against democracy" and fears about the rise of populism, there is growing scepticism about whether liberalism and democracy can continue to survive together. Some even question whether democracy is worth saving.

In Democracy Tamed, Gianna Englert argues that the dilemmas facing liberal democracy are not unique to our present moment, but have existed since the birth of liberal political thought in nineteenth-century France. Combining political theory and intellectual history, Englert shows how nineteenth-century French liberals championed the idea of "political capacity" as an alternative to democratic political rights and argued that voting rights should be limited to capable citizens who would preserve free, stable institutions against revolutionary passions and democratic demands. Liberals also redefined democracy itself, from its ancient meaning as political rule by the people to something that, counterintuitively, demanded the guidance of a capable few rather than the rule of all.

Understandably, scholarly treatments of political capacity have criticized the idea as exclusionary and potentially dangerous. Englert argues instead that political capacity was a flexible standard that developed alongside a changing society and economy, allowing liberals to embrace democracy without abandoning their first principles. She reveals a forgotten, uncharted path of liberalism in France that remained open to political democracy while aiming to foster citizen capacity. Overall, Democracy Tamed tells the story of how the earliest liberals deployed their notion of the "new democracy" to resist universal suffrage. But it also reveals how later liberals would appropriate their predecessors' antidemocratic arguments to safeguard liberal democracies as we have come to know them.
Visit Gianna Englert's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

"A History of the Muslim World"

New from Princeton University Press: A History of the Muslim World: From Its Origins to the Dawn of Modernity by Michael A. Cook.

About the book, from the publisher:
A panoramic history of the Muslim world from the age of the Prophet Muḥammad to the birth of the modern era

This book describes and explains the major events, personalities, conflicts, and convergences that have shaped the history of the Muslim world. The body of the book takes readers from the origins of Islam to the eve of the nineteenth century, and an epilogue continues the story to the present day. Michael Cook thus provides a broad history of a civilization remarkable for both its unity and diversity.

After setting the scene in the Middle East of late antiquity, the book depicts the rise of Islam as one of the great black swan events of history. It continues with the spectacular rise of the Caliphate, an empire that by the time it broke up had nurtured the formation of a new civilization. It then goes on to cover the diverse histories of all the major regions of the Muslim world, providing a wide-ranging account of the key military, political, and cultural developments that accompanied the eastward and westward spread of Islam from the Middle East to the shores of the Atlantic and the Pacific.

At the same time, A History of the Muslim World contains numerous primary-source quotations that expose the reader to a variety of acutely insightful voices from the Muslim past.
Michael Cook is the Class of 1943 University Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. His books include Ancient Religions, Modern Politics: The Islamic Case in Comparative Perspective, A Brief History of the Human Race, and The Koran: A Very Short Introduction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

"Shock Values"

New from the University of Chicago Press: Shock Values: Prices and Inflation in American Democracy by Carola Binder.

About the book, from the publisher:
How inflation and deflation fears shape American democracy.

Many foundational moments in American economic history—the establishment of paper money, wartime price controls, the rise of the modern Federal Reserve—occurred during financial panics as prices either inflated or deflated sharply. The government’s decisions in these moments, intended to control price fluctuations, have produced both lasting effects and some of the most contentious debates in the nation’s history.

A sweeping history of the United States’ economy and politics, Shock Values reveals how the American state has been shaped by a massive, ever-evolving effort to insulate its economy from the real and perceived dangers of price fluctuations. Carola Binder narrates how the pains of rising and falling prices have brought lasting changes for every generation of Americans. And with each brush with price instability, the United States has been reinvented—not as a more perfect union, but as a reflection of its most recent failures.

Shock Values tells the untold story of prices and price stabilization in the United States. Expansive and enlightening, Binder recounts the interest-group politics, legal battles, and economic ideas that have shaped a nation from the dawn of the republic to the present.
Visit Carola Binder's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 6, 2024

"Italian Forgers"

New from Cornell University Press: Italian Forgers: The Art Market and the Weight of the Past in Modern Italy by Carol Helstosky.

About the book, from the publisher:
Italian Forgers takes an unorthodox approach to the fascinating topic of art forgery, focusing not on art forgery per se, but on the major forgery scandals that shifted the Italian art market in response to constant, and often intense, demand for Italian objects. By focusing on power dynamics that both precipitated forgery scandals and forged Italian cultural identities, this book connects the debates and discussions about three well-known Italian forgers―Giovanni Bastianini, Icilio Joni, and Alceo Dossena―to anchor and investigate the mechanics of the Italian art market from unification through the fascist era.

Carol Helstosky examines foreign accounts of transactions and Italian writings about the art market. The actions and words of Italian dealers illustrate how the Italian art and antiquities market was an undeniably modern industry, on par with tourism in terms of its contribution to the Italian economy and to understandings of Italian identity. These accounts also reveal how dealers, artists, go-betweens, guides, and restorers worked to not only meet the intense demand for Italian products but also to develop highly sophisticated business practices to maintain financial stability and respond to shifts in demand consciously (but not always conscientiously).

Italian Forgers weaves a compelling narrative about the history of Italian identity, forgery, and the value of the past. As a result, Helstosky brings historical perspective to the study of art forgery and art fraud. She reveals how historical circumstances and structural imbalances of cultural power shaped the market for art and antiquities and amplified incidents of art deception and forgery scandals.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 5, 2024

"The Unfinished Quest"

New from Oxford University Press: The Unfinished Quest: India's Search for Major Power Status from Nehru to Modi by T.V. Paul.

About the book, from the publisher:
In The Unfinished Quest, T.V. Paul charts India's checkered path toward higher regional and global status, and sheds important light on its significance as the "swing power" that can mitigate China's aggressive rise in the Indo-Pacific region.

In 2022, India surpassed the United Kingdom, its former colonial ruler, as the fifth largest economy in the world. Since the 1990s, a series of US presidents and secretaries of state have all acclaimed India as a rising major power that deserves to be recognized as a lead actor in the international arena. All five permanent members of the UN Security Council except China have openly acknowledged the need to include India among their ranks. But even now, India has not attained the status of a globally recognized great power.

In The Unfinished Quest, leading international relations and South Asia scholar T.V. Paul charts India's checkered path toward higher regional and global status, covering both the successes and failures it has experienced since the modern nation's founding in 1947. Paul focuses on the key motivations driving Indian leaders to enhance India's global status and power, but also on the many constraints that have hindered its progress. He carefully specifies what counts as indicators of greater status and uses these as benchmarks in his assessment of each era. In this manner, he also brings forth some important insights on status competition and power transitions in the contemporary international system.

Paul's analysis of India's quest for status also sheds important light on the current geo-strategic situation and serves as a new framework for understanding the China-India rivalry, as well as India's relative position in the broader Indo-Pacific theater. As the economies of China and India grow rapidly, the power balance between them will be determined by each country's ability to develop the hard and soft powers needed to outpace the other and solidify their place in the global hierarchy. Whether India can be a "swing power" able to mitigate China's aggressive rise depends on its relative power position in that theater and its own evolution as an inclusive, tolerant democracy that can develop and utilize its most priced asset, the demographic dividend. This sweeping account of India's uneven rise in the global system will serve as the authoritative work on the subject.
Visit T.V. Paul's website.

The Page 99 Test: Restraining Great Powers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 4, 2024

"Who We Are Is Where We Are"

New from Columbia University Press: Who We Are Is Where We Are: Making Home in the American Rust Belt by Amanda McMillan Lequieu.

About the book, from the publisher:
Half a century ago, deindustrialization gutted blue-collar jobs in the American Midwest. But today, these places are not ghost towns. People still call these communities home, even as they struggle with unemployment, poverty, and other social and economic crises. Why do people remain in declining areas through difficult circumstances? What do their choices tell us about rootedness in a time of flux?

Through the cases of the former steel manufacturing hub of southeast Chicago and a shuttered mining community in Iron County, Wisconsin, Amanda McMillan Lequieu traces the power and shifting meanings of the notion of home for people who live in troubled places. Building from on-the-ground observations of community life, archival research, and interviews with long-term residents, she shows how inhabitants of deindustrialized communities balance material constraints with deeply felt identities. McMillan Lequieu maps how the concept of home has been constructed and the ways it has been reshaped as these communities have changed. She considers how long-term residents navigate the tensions around belonging and making ends meet long after the departure of their community’s founding industry.

Who We Are Is Where We Are links the past and the present, rural and urban, to shed new light on life in postindustrial communities. Beyond a story of Midwestern deindustrialization, this timely book provides broader insight into the capacious idea of home―how and where it is made, threatened, and renegotiated in a world fraught with change.
Visit Amanda McMillan Lequieu's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 3, 2024

"Past Progress"

New from Stanford University Press: Past Progress: Time and Politics at the Borders of China, Russia, and Korea by Ed Pulford.

About the book, from the publisher:
While anxiety abounds in the old Cold War West that progress – whether political or economic – has been reversed, for citizens of former-socialist countries, murky temporal trajectories are nothing new. Grounded in the multiethnic frontier town of Hunchun at the triple border of China, Russia, and North Korea, Ed Pulford traces how several of global history's most ambitiously totalizing progressive endeavors have ended in cataclysmic collapse here. From the Japanese empire which banished Qing, Tsarist, and Choson dynastic histories from the region, through Chinese, Soviet, and Korean socialisms, these borderlands have seen projections and disintegrations of forward-oriented ideas accumulate on a grand scale. Taking an archaeological approach to notions of historical progress, the book's three parts follow an innovative structure moving backwards through linear time. Part I explores "post-historical" Hunchun's diverse sociopolitics since high socialism's demise. Part II covers the socialist era, discussing cross-border temporal synchrony between China, Russia, and North Korea. Finally, Part III treats the period preceding socialist revolutions, revealing how the collapse of Qing, Tsarist, and Choson dynasties marked a compound "end of history" which opened the area to projections of modernity and progress. Examining a borderland across linguistic, cultural, and historical lenses, Past Progress is a simultaneously local and transregional analysis of time, borders, and the state before, during, and since socialism.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 2, 2024

"Father Time"

New from Princeton University Press: Father Time: A Natural History of Men and Babies by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy.

About the book, from the publisher:
A sweeping account of male nurturing, explaining how and why men are biologically transformed when they care for babies

It has long seemed self-evident that women care for babies and men do other things. Hasn’t it always been so? When evolutionary science came along, it rubber-stamped this venerable division of labor: mammalian males evolved to compete for status and mates, while females were purpose-built to gestate, suckle, and otherwise nurture the victors’ offspring. But come the twenty-first century, increasing numbers of men are tending babies, sometimes right from birth. How can this be happening? Puzzled and dazzled by the tender expertise of new fathers around the world—several in her own family—celebrated evolutionary anthropologist and primatologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy set out to trace the deep history of male nurturing and explain a surprising departure from everything she had assumed to be “normal.”

In Father Time, Hrdy draws on a wealth of research to argue that this ongoing transformation in men is not only cultural, but profoundly biological. Men in prolonged intimate contact with babies exhibit responses nearly identical to those in the bodies and brains of mothers. They develop caring potential few realized men possessed. In her quest to explain how men came to nurture babies, Hrdy travels back through millions of years of human, primate, and mammalian evolution, then back further still to the earliest vertebrates—all while taking into account recent economic and social trends and technological innovations and incorporating new findings from neuroscience, genetics, endocrinology, and more. The result is a masterful synthesis of evolutionary and historical perspectives that expands our understanding of what it means to be a man—and what the implications might be for society and our species.
Visit Sarah Blaffer Hrdy's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 1, 2024


New from Oxford University Press: Disembedded: Regulation, Crisis, and Democracy in the Age of Finance by Basak Kus.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the last two decades, there has been much scholarly and popular interest in the financialization of the American economy--why the turn to finance has taken place, what constituted it, and what has come out of it. In Disembedded, Basak Kus draws from the theories of Karl Polanyi--one of the greatest and most influential political economists of the twentieth century--to answer these questions. Focused primarily on the state's regulatory role in a dominantly financialized economy, Kus examines how neoliberal principles influenced the evolution of American regulatory policies, shaping the financial sector's operations and practices. Her narrative traces the trajectory of these interactions, highlighting critical junctures, policy decisions, and market outcomes that culminated in the financial crisis. Offering historical insights into the financial crisis spanning 2007-2010 and its ensuing influence on American politics and democracy, Disembedded provides a broad-ranging and systemic explanation of the American political economy, especially the regulatory landscape that shaped the patterns of financialization.
--Marshal Zeringue