Bookshelf

Indians in the Family: Adoption and the Politics of the Antebellum Expansion

Dawn Peterson (2011 Graduate)

During his invasion of Creek Indian territory in 1813, future U.S. president Andrew Jackson discovered a Creek infant orphaned by his troops. Moved by an “unusual sympathy,” Jackson sent the child to be adopted into his Tennessee plantation household. Through the stories of nearly a dozen white adopters, adopted Indian children, and their Native parents, Dawn Peterson opens a window onto the forgotten history of adoption in early nineteenth-century America. Indians in the Family shows the important role that adoption played in efforts to subdue Native peoples in the name of nation-building.

As the United States aggressively expanded into Indian territories between 1790 and 1830, government officials stressed the importance of assimilating Native peoples into what they styled the United States’ “national family.” White households who adopted Indians—especially slaveholding Southern planters influenced by leaders such as Jackson—saw themselves as part of this expansionist project. They hoped to inculcate in their young charges U.S. attitudes toward private property, patriarchal family, and racial hierarchy.

U.S. whites were not the only ones driving this process. Choctaw, Creek, and Chickasaw families sought to place their sons in white households, to be educated in the ways of U.S. governance and political economy. But there were unintended consequences for all concerned. As adults, these adopted Indians used their educations to thwart U.S. federal claims to their homelands, setting the stage for the political struggles that would culminate in the Indian Removal Act of 1830.

"You Can Tell Just By Looking": And 20 Other Myths about LGBT Life and People

Michael Bronski, Ann Pellegrini, and Michael Amico

In “You Can Tell Just by Looking,” three scholars and activists come together to unpack enduring, popular, and deeply held myths about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, culture, and life in America. Myths, such as “All Religions Condemn Homosexuality” and “Transgender People Are Mentally Ill,” have been used to justify discrimination and oppression of LGBT people. Others, such as “Homosexuals Are Born That Way,” have been embraced by LGBT communities and their allies. In discussing and dispelling these myths including gay-positive ones the authors challenge readers to question their own beliefs and to grapple with the complexities of what it means to be queer in the broadest social, political, and cultural sense.

Against Security: How We Go Wrong at Airports, Subways, and Other Sites of Ambiguous Danger

Harvey Molotch

Remember when an unattended package was just that, an unattended package? Remember when the airport was a place that evoked magical possibilities, not the anxiety of a full-body scan? In the post-9/11 world, we have become focused on heightened security measures, but do you feel safer? Are you safer?

Against Security explains how our anxieties about public safety have translated into command-and-control procedures that annoy, intimidate, and are often counterproductive. Taking readers through varied ambiguously dangerous sites, the prominent urbanist and leading sociologist of the everyday, Harvey Molotch, argues that we can use our existing social relationships to make life safer and more humane. He begins by addressing the misguided strategy of eliminating public restrooms, which deprives us all of a basic resource and denies human dignity to those with no place else to go. Subway security instills fear through programs like "See Something, Say Something" and intrusive searches that have yielded nothing of value. At the airport, the security gate causes crowding and confusion, exhausting the valuable focus of TSA staff. Finally, Molotch shows how defensive sentiments have translated into the vacuous Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center site and massive error in New Orleans, both before and after Hurricane Katrina. Throughout, Molotch offers thoughtful ways of maintaining security that are not only strategic but improve the quality of life for everyone.

Against Security argues that with changed policies and attitudes, redesigned equipment, and an increased reliance on our human capacity to help one another, we can be safer and maintain the pleasure and dignity of our daily lives.

An Ethics of Betrayal: The Politics of Otherness in Emergent U.S. Literatures and Culture

Crystal Parikh

In An Ethics of Betrayal, Crystal Parikh investigates the theme and tropes of betrayal and treason in Asian American and Chicano/Latino literary and cultural narratives. In considering betrayal from an ethical perspective, one grounded in the theories of Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida, Parikh argues that the minority subject is obligated in a primary, preontological, and irrecusable relation of responsibility to the Other. 

Episodes of betrayal and treason allegorize the position of this subject, beholden to the many others who embody the alterity of existence and whose demands upon the subject result in transgressions of intimacy and loyalty. 

In this first major comparative study of narratives by and about Asian Americans and Latinos, Parikh considers writings by Frank Chin, Gish Jen, Chang-rae Lee, Eric Liu, Américo Parades, and Richard Rodriguez, as well as narratives about the persecution of Wen Ho Lee and the rescue and return of Elian González. By addressing the conflicts at the heart of filiality, the public dimensions of language in the constitution of minority "community," and the mercenary mobilizations of "model minority" status, An Ethics of Betrayal seriously engages the challenges of conducting ethnic and critical race studies based on the uncompromising and unromantic ideas of justice, reciprocity, and ethical society.

 

Black is a Country: Race and the Unfinished Struggle for Democracy

Nikhil Pal Singh

Despite black gains in modern America, the end of racism is not yet in sight. Nikhil Pal Singh asks what happened to the worldly and radical visions of equality that animated black intellectual activists from W. E. B. Du Bois in the 1930s to Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s. In so doing, he constructs an alternative history of civil rights in the twentieth century, a long civil rights era, in which radical hopes and global dreams are recognized as central to the history of black struggle.

It is through the words and thought of key black intellectuals, like Du Bois, Ralph Bunche, C. L. R. James, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, and others, as well as movement activists like Malcolm X and Black Panthers, that vital new ideas emerged and circulated. Their most important achievement was to create and sustain a vibrant, black public sphere broadly critical of U.S. social, political, and civic inequality.

Finding racism hidden within the universalizing tones of reform-minded liberalism at home and global democratic imperatives abroad, race radicals alienated many who saw them as dangerous and separatist. Few wanted to hear their message then, or even now, and yet, as Singh argues, their passionate skepticism about the limits of U.S. democracy remains as indispensable to a meaningful reconstruction of racial equality and universal political ideals today as it ever was.

City Folk: English Country Dance and the Politics of the Folk in Modern America

Daniel J. Walkowitz

This is the story of English Country Dance, from its 18th century roots in the English cities and countryside, to its transatlantic leap to the U.S. in the 20th century, told by not only a renowned historian but also a folk dancer, who has both immersed himself in the rich history of the folk tradition and rehearsed its steps.

In City Folk, Daniel J. Walkowitz argues that the history of country and folk dancing in America is deeply intermeshed with that of political liberalism and the ‘old left.’ He situates folk dancing within surprisingly diverse contexts, from progressive era reform, and playground and school movements, to the changes in consumer culture, and the project of a modernizing, cosmopolitan middle class society.

Tracing the spread of folk dancing, with particular emphases on English Country Dance, International Folk Dance, and Contra, Walkowitz connects the history of folk dance to social and international political influences in America. Through archival research, oral histories, and ethnography of dance communities, City Folk allows dancers and dancing bodies to speak. From the norms of the first half of the century, marked strongly by Anglo-Saxon traditions, to the Cold War nationalism of the post-war era, and finally on to the counterculture movements of the 1970s, City Folk injects the riveting history of folk dance in the middle of the story of modern America.

Climbin' Jacob's Ladder: The Black Freedom Movement Writings of Jack O'Dell

Jack O'Dell; Editor: Nikhil Singh

This book collects for the first time the black freedom movement writings of Jack O'Dell and restores one of the great unsung heroes of the civil rights movement to his rightful place in the historical record. Climbin' Jacob's Ladder puts O'Dell's historically significant essays in context and reveals how he helped shape the civil rights movement. From his early years in the 1940s National Maritime Union, to his pioneering work in the early 1960s with Martin Luther King Jr., to his international efforts for the Rainbow Coalition during the 1980s, O'Dell was instrumental in the development of the intellectual vision and the institutions that underpinned several decades of anti-racist struggle. He was a member of the outlawed Communist Party in the 1950s and endured red-baiting throughout his long social justice career. This volume is edited by Nikhil Pal Singh and includes a lengthy introduction based on interviews he conducted with O'Dell on his early life and later experiences. Climbin' Jacob's Ladder provides readers with a firm grasp of the civil rights movement's left wing, which O'Dell represents, and illuminates a more radical and global account of twentieth-century US history.

Creditocracy And The Case For Debt Refusal

Andrew Ross

It seems like pretty much everybody – homeowners, students, those who are ill and without health insurance, and, of course, credit card holders – is up to their neck in debt that can never be repaid. 77% of US households are seriously indebted and one in seven Americans has been pursued by debt collectors. The major banks are bigger and more profitable than before the 2008 crash, and legislators are all but powerless to bring them to heel.

In this forceful, eye-opening survey, Andrew Ross contends that we are in the cruel grip of a creditocracy – where the finance industry commandeers our elected governments and where the citizenry have to take out loans to meet their basic needs. The implications of mass indebtedness for any democracy are profound, and history shows that whenever a creditor class becomes as powerful as Wall Street, the result has been debt bondage for the bulk of the population.

Following in the ancient tradition of the jubilee, activists have had some success in repudiating the debts of developing countries. The time is ripe, Ross argues, for a debtors’ movement to use the same kinds of moral and legal arguments to bring relief to household debtors in the North. After examining the varieties of lending that have contributed to the crisis, Ross suggests ways of lifting the burden of illegitimate debts from our backs. Just as important, Creditocracy outlines the kind of alternative economy we need to replace a predatory debt-money system that only benefits the 1%.

 

Culture & Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis

Renato Rosaldo

Exposing the inadequacies of old conceptions of static cultures and detached observers, the book argues instead for social science to acknowledge and celebrate diversity, narrative, emotion, and subjectivity.

Culture and Customs of Haiti

J. Michael Dash

Culture and Customs of Haiti begins with an overview of the mountainous island that seemed forbidding to European colonizers. Historical periods, including French colonization, U.S. occupation in the early 20th century, Independence and the Duvaliers' reigns, until today, are reviewed and provide the framework for the volume. A chapter on the people and society details the pride of the black state that managed the only successful slave revolution in history. The extremes of society from the elite to the peasantry and slum dwellers are depicted, along with Haitians in diaspora. Religion in Haiti, with the strong amalgamation of Roman Catholicism and vaudou, a West African import, is then explained. A Social Customs chapter notes the joy that is found in such an economically depressed culture. The media and literature and language chapters necessarily unfold in the context of Haiti's political history. A section on writing in Creole is especially intriguing. Finally, chapters on the performing arts and visual arts evoke the energy and color of the people in such forms as vaudou jazz and dance, contemporary rara rock, and the folkloric influence on Haitian painting. A chronology and glossary supplement the text.

Culture Works: Space, Value, and Mobility Across the Neoliberal Americas

Arlene Dávila

Culture Works addresses and critiques an important dimension of the “work of culture,” an argument made by enthusiasts of creative economies that culture contributes to the GDP, employment, social cohesion, and other forms of neoliberal development. While culture does make important contributions to national and urban economies, the incentives and benefits of participating in this economy are not distributed equally, due to restructuring that neoliberal policies have wrought from the 1980s on, as well as long-standing social structures, such as racism and classism, that breed inequality. The cultural economy promises to make life better, particularly in cities, but not everyone can take advantage of it for decent jobs.
 
Exposing and challenging the taken-for-granted assumptions around questions of space, value and mobility that are sustained by neoliberal treatments of culture, Culture Works explores some of the hierarchies of cultural workers that these engender, as they play out in a variety of settings, from shopping malls in Puerto Rico and art galleries in New York to tango tourism in Buenos Aires. Noted scholar Arlene Dávila brilliantly reveals how similar dynamics of space, value and mobility come to bear in each location, inspiring particular cultural politics that have repercussions that are both geographically specific, but also ultimately global in scope.

Dark Continent of Our Bodies: Black Feminism and the Politics of Respectability

E. Frances White

In this provocative book, a black lesbian feminist looks at black feminism—its roots, its role, and its implications. From Charles Darwin and nineteenth-century racism to black nationalism and the Nation of Islam, from Baptist women's groups to James Baldwin; E. Frances White takes on one institution after another as she re-centers the role of black women in the United States' intellectual heritage. White presents identity politics as a complex activity, with entangled branches of race and gender, of invisibility and voyeurism, of defiance and passivity and conformism.

White's powerful introduction draws on oral narratives from her own family history to illuminate the nature of narrative, both what is said and what is left unsaid. She then sets the historical stage with a helpful history of the inception and development of black feminism and a critique of major black feminist writings. In the three chapters that follow, she addresses the obstacles black feminism has already surmounted and must continue to traverse. Confronting what White calls "the politics of respectability," these chapters move the reader from simplistic views of race and gender in the nineteenth century through black nationalism and the radical movements of the sixties, and their relationship to feminist thought, to the linkages between race, gender, and sexuality in the works of such giants as Toni Morrison and James Baldwin. No one who finishes Dark Continent of Our Bodies will look at race and gender in the same way again.

Framing Blackness: The African American Image in Film

Ed Guerrero

From D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation to Spike Lee's Malcolm X, Ed Guerrero argues, the commercial film industry reflects white domination of American society. Written with the energy and conviction generated by the new black film wave, Framing Blackness traces an ongoing epic—African Americans protesting screen images of blacks as criminals, servants, comics, athletes, and sidekicks.

These images persist despite blacks' irrepressible demands for emancipated images and a role in the industry. Although starkly racist portrayals of blacks in early films have gradually been replaced by more appealing characterizations, the legacy of the plantation genre lives on in Blaxpoitation films, the fantastic racialized imagery in science fiction and horror films, and the resubordination of blacks in Reagan-era films. Probing the contradictions of such images, Guerrero recalls the controversies surrounding role choices by stars like Sidney Poitier, Eddie Murphy, Whoopie Goldberg, and Richard Pryor.

Throughout his study, Guerrero is attentive to the ways African Americans resist Hollywood's one-dimensional images and superficial selling of black culture as the latest fad. Organizing political demonstrations and boycotts, writing, and creating their own film images are among the forms of active resistance documented.

The final chapter awakens readers to the artistic and commercial breakthrough of black independent filmmakers who are using movies to channel their rage at social injustice. Guerrero points out their diverse approaches to depicting African American life and hails innovative tactics for financing their work. Framing Blackness is the most up-to-date critical study of how African Americans are acquiring power once the province of Hollywood alone: the power of framing blackness.

How Soon is Now?: Medieval Texts, Amateur Readers, and the Queerness of Time

Carolyn Dinshaw

How Soon Is Now? performs a powerful critique of modernist temporal regimes through its revelatory exploration of queer ways of being in time as well as of the potential queerness of time itself. Carolyn Dinshaw focuses on medieval tales of asynchrony and on engagements with these medieval temporal worlds by amateur readers centuries later. In doing so, she illuminates forms of desirous, embodied being that are out of sync with ordinarily linear measurements of everyday life, that involve multiple temporalities, that precipitate out of time altogether. Dinshaw claims the possibility of a fuller, denser, more crowded now that theorists tell us is extant but that often eludes our temporal grasp.

Whether discussing Victorian men of letters who parodied the Book of John Mandeville, a fictionalized fourteenth-century travel narrative, or Hope Emily Allen, modern coeditor of the early-fifteenth-century Book of Margery Kempe, Dinshaw argues that these and other medievalists outside the academy inhabit different temporalities than modern professionals operating according to the clock. How Soon Is Now? clears space for amateurs, hobbyists, and dabblers who approach medieval worlds from positions of affect and attachment, from desires to build other kinds of worlds. Unruly, untimely, they urge us toward a disorderly and asynchronous collective.

Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation, 2nd Edition

Mary Louise Pratt

Updated and expanded throughout with new illustrations and new material, this is the long-awaited second edition of a highly acclaimed and interdisciplinary book which quickly established itself as a seminal text in its field.

Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures

Gayatri Gopinath

By bringing queer theory to bear on ideas of diaspora, Gayatri Gopinath produces both a more compelling queer theory and a more nuanced understanding of diaspora. Focusing on queer female diasporic subjectivity, Gopinath develops a theory of diaspora apart from the logic of blood, authenticity, and patrilineal descent that she argues invariably forms the core of conventional formulations. She examines South Asian diasporic literature, film, and music in order to suggest alternative ways of conceptualizing community and collectivity across disparate geographic locations. Her agile readings challenge nationalist ideologies by bringing to light that which has been rendered illegible or impossible within diaspora: the impure, inauthentic, and nonreproductive.

Gopinath juxtaposes diverse texts to indicate the range of oppositional practices, subjectivities, and visions of collectivity that fall outside not only mainstream narratives of diaspora, colonialism, and nationalism but also most projects of liberal feminism and gay and lesbian politics and theory. She considers British Asian music of the 1990s alongside alternative media and cultural practices. Among the fictional works she discusses are V. S. Naipaul’s classic novel A House for Mr. Biswas, Ismat Chughtai’s short story “The Quilt,” Monica Ali’s Brick Lane, Shyam Selvadurai’s Funny Boy, and Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night. Analyzing films including Deepa Mehta’s controversial Fire and Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding, she pays particular attention to how South Asian diasporic feminist filmmakers have reworked Bollywood’s strategies of queer representation and to what is lost or gained in this process of translation. Gopinath’s readings are dazzling, and her theoretical framework transformative and far-reaching.

Improvising Medicine: An African Oncology Ward in an Emerging Cancer Epidemic

Julie Livingston

In Improvising Medicine, Julie Livingston tells the story of Botswana's only dedicated cancer ward, located in its capital city of Gaborone. This affecting ethnography follows patients, their relatives, and ward staff as a cancer epidemic emerged in Botswana. The epidemic is part of an ongoing surge in cancers across the global south; the stories of Botswana's oncology ward dramatize the human stakes and intellectual and institutional challenges of an epidemic that will shape the future of global health. They convey the contingencies of high-tech medicine in a hospital where vital machines are often broken, drugs go in and out of stock, and bed-space is always at a premium. They also reveal cancer as something that happens between people. Serious illness, care, pain, disfigurement, and even death emerge as deeply social experiences. Livingston describes the cancer ward in terms of the bureaucracy, vulnerability, power, biomedical science, mortality, and hope that shape contemporary experience in southern Africa. Her ethnography is a profound reflection on the social orchestration of hope and futility in an African hospital, the politics and economics of healthcare in Africa, and palliation and disfigurement across the global south.

Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery

Jennifer L. Morgan

When black women were brought from Africa to the New World as slave laborers, their value was determined by their ability to work as well as their potential to bear children, who by law would become the enslaved property of the mother's master. In Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery, Jennifer L. Morgan examines for the first time how African women's labor in both senses became intertwined in the English colonies. Beginning with the ideological foundations of racial slavery in early modern Europe, Laboring Women traverses the Atlantic, exploring the social and cultural lives of women in West Africa, slaveowners' expectations for reproductive labor, and women's lives as workers and mothers under colonial slavery.

Challenging conventional wisdom, Morgan reveals how expectations regarding gender and reproduction were central to racial ideologies, the organization of slave labor, and the nature of slave community and resistance. Taking into consideration the heritage of Africans prior to enslavement and the cultural logic of values and practices recreated under the duress of slavery, she examines how women's gender identity was defined by their shared experiences as agricultural laborers and mothers, and shows how, given these distinctions, their situation differed considerably from that of enslaved men. Telling her story through the arc of African women's actual lives—from West Africa, to the experience of the Middle Passage, to life on the plantations—she offers a thoughtful look at the ways women's reproductive experience shaped their roles in communities and helped them resist some of the more egregious effects of slave life.

Presenting a highly original, theoretically grounded view of reproduction and labor as the twin pillars of female exploitation in slavery, Laboring Women is a distinctive contribution to the literature of slavery and the history of women.

London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined a City

Sukhdev Sandhu

London Calling tells the story of black and Asian literary London, tracing the escapades, fortune making, and self-expansion of these forgotten writers. It is a joyful and often rapturous work, a love letter to the capital, a teeming and complex mix of social and cultural history seen through the imagination and experience of great black and Asian writers. London Calling gets to the heart of the immigration impulse, and evokes the dreams and adventures of those who have sought refuge and asylum in the cradle of Empire.

The book is populated by runaway slaves, lotharios, imams, boxer-pimps, rajahs and colonial revolutionaries, and discusses writers as diverse in style and time as the 18th-century grocer-aesthete Ignatius Sancho right through to Rushdie, Kureishi and yardie chronicler Victor Headley. The result is an exciting work, brimming with life, as it spotlights a rich but neglected literary tradition, and brings to life a gaping void in the city’s history. Placing the multiculturalism of today’s capital in its historical context, Sukhdev Sandhu shows that it is no new phenomenon, and that just as London has been the making of many black writers, they too have been the making of London.

New York before Chinatown: Orientalism and the Shaping of American Culture, 1776-1882

John Kuo Wei Tchen

From George Washington's desire (in the heat of the Revolutionary War) for a proper set of Chinese porcelains for afternoon tea, to the lives of Chinese-Irish couples in the 1830s, to the commercial success of Chang and Eng (the "Siamese Twins"), to rising fears of "heathen Chinee," New York before Chinatown offers a provocative look at the role Chinese people, things, and ideas played in the fashioning of American culture and politics.

Piecing together various historical fragments and anecdotes from the years before Chinatown emerged in the late 1870s, historian John Kuo Wei Tchen redraws Manhattan's historical landscape and broadens our understanding of the role of port cultures in the making of American identities. Tchen tells his story in three parts. In the first, he explores America's fascination with Asia as a source of luxury items, cultural taste, and lucrative trade. In the second, he explains how Chinese, European-Americans in Yellowface, and various caricatures became objects of curiosity in the expansive commercial marketplace. In the third part, Tchen focuses on how Americans' attitude toward the Chinese changed from fascination to demonization, leading to the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Acts beginning in 1882.

Out of the Pits: Traders and Technology from Chicago to London

Caitlin Zaloom

From New York to Singapore, from Chicago to London, the trading floors of the world’s financial markets are icons of global capitalism. Images of them are used on the news all the time—traders burying their heads in their hands when the market is down, their arms flailing in a frenzy when fortunes are rising—to convey the current state of the economy. But these marketplaces, and the cultural life that sustains them, are dissolving into the ether of the digital age: powerful financial institutions are shutting down the trading pits, replacing face-to-face exchanges with an electronic network where traders sit, face to screen, finger to mouse, and compete in a global arena made up of digits and charts. 

Out of the Pits
 considers the implications of this sea change for everyone involved, from the traders and brokers to the market as a whole. Caitlin Zaloom takes us down to the floor at the Chicago Board of Trade and into a digital dealing room in the City of London. Drawing on her own firsthand experiences as a clerk and a trader and on her unusual access to these key sites of global finance, she explains how changes at the world’s leading financial exchanges have transformed economic cultures and the craft of speculation; how people and places are responding to the digital transition; how traders are remaking themselves to compete in the contemporary marketplace; and how brokers, business managers, and software designers are collaborating to build new financial markets.

A penetrating and richly detailed account of how cities, culture, and technology shape everyday life in the new global economy, Out of the Pits will be must reading for business buffs or anyone who has ever wondered how financial markets work.

Private Affairs: Critical Ventures in the Culture of Social Relations

Phillip Brian Harper

In Private Affairs, Phillip Brian Harper explores the social and cultural significance of the private, proposing that, far from a universal right, privacy is limited by one's racial-and sexual-minority status. Ranging across cinema, literature, sculpture, and lived encounters—from Rodin's The Kiss to Jenny Livingston's Paris is Burning—Private Affairs demonstrates how the very concept of privacy creates personal and sociopolitical hierarchies in contemporary America.

Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers 1840 to the Present

Deborah Willis

"[N]othing less than an epic of Homeric proportions... Willis's magnificent gathering of images... rewrites American history." —Robin D. G. Kelley

Reflections in Black, the first comprehensive history of black photographers, is a groundbreaking pictorial collection of African American life. Featuring the work of undisputed masters such as James VanDerZee, Gordon Parks, and Carrie Mae Weems among dozens of others, this book is a refutation of the gross caricature of black life that many mainstream photographers have manifested by continually emphasizing poverty over family, despair over hope. Nearly 600 images offer rich, moving glimpses of everyday black life, from slavery to the Great Migration to contemporary suburban life, including rare antebellum daguerrotypes, photojournalism of the civil rights era, and multimedia portraits of middle-class families. A work so significant that it has the power to reconfigure our conception of American history itself, Reflections in Black demands to be included in every American family's library as an essential part of our heritage. A Los Angeles Times and Washington Post Book World Best Book of 2000, and a Good Morning, America best gift book of 2000.

Sapphic Slashers: Sex, Violence, and American Modernity

Lisa Duggan

On a winter day in 1892, in the broad daylight of downtown Memphis, Tennessee, a middle class woman named Alice Mitchell slashed the throat of her lover, Freda Ward, killing her instantly. Local, national, and international newspapers, medical and scientific publications, and popular fiction writers all clamored to cover the ensuing “girl lovers” murder trial. Lisa Duggan locates in this sensationalized event the emergence of the lesbian in U.S. mass culture and shows how newly “modern” notions of normality and morality that arose from such cases still haunt and distort lesbian and gay politics to the present day.

Situating this story alongside simultaneously circulating lynching narratives (and its resistant versions, such as those of Memphis antilynching activist Ida B. Wells) Duggan reveals how stories of sex and violence were crucial to the development of American modernity. While careful to point out the differences between the public reigns of terror that led to many lynchings and the rarer instances of the murder of one woman by another privately motivated woman, Duggan asserts that dominant versions of both sets of stories contributed to the marginalization of African Americans and women while solidifying a distinctly white, male, heterosexual form of American citizenship. Having explored the role of turn-of-the-century print media—and in particular their tendency toward sensationalism—Duggan moves next to a review of sexology literature and to novels, most notably Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness. Sapphic Slashers concludes with two appendices, one of which presents a detailed summary of Ward’s murder, the trial, and Mitchell’s eventual institutionalization. The other presents transcriptions of letters exchanged between the two women prior to the crime.

Combining cultural history, feminist and queer theory, narrative analysis, and compelling storytelling, Sapphic Slashers provides the first history of the emergence of the lesbian in twentieth-century mass culture.

Selling the Race: Culture, Community, and Black Chicago, 1940-1955

Adam Green

In Selling the Race, Adam Green tells the story of how black Chicagoans were at the center of a national movement in the 1940s and ’50s, a time when African Americans across the country first started to see themselves as part of a single culture. Along the way, he offers fascinating reinterpretations of such events as the 1940 American Negro Exposition, the rise of black music and the culture industry that emerged around it, the development of the Associated Negro Press and the founding of Johnson Publishing, and the outcry over the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till.

By presenting African Americans as agents, rather than casualties, of modernity, Green ultimately reenvisions urban existence in a way that will resonate with anyone interested in race, culture, or the life of cities.

**Professor is no longer at NYU. 

Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market

Walter Johnson

Soul by Soul tells the story of slavery in antebellum America by moving away from the cotton plantations and into the slave market itself, the heart of the domestic slave trade. Taking us inside the New Orleans slave market, the largest in the nation, where 100,000 men, women, and children were packaged, priced, and sold, Walter Johnson transforms the statistics of this chilling trade into the human drama of traders, buyers, and slaves, negotiating sales that would alter the life of each. What emerges is not only the brutal economics of trading but the vast and surprising interdependencies among the actors involved.

Using recently discovered court records, slaveholders’ letters, nineteenth-century narratives of former slaves, and the financial documentation of the trade itself, Johnson reveals the tenuous shifts of power that occurred in the market’s slave coffles and showrooms. Traders packaged their slaves by “feeding them up,” dressing them well, and oiling their bodies, but they ultimately relied on the slaves to play their part as valuable commodities. Slave buyers stripped the slaves and questioned their pasts, seeking more honest answers than they could get from the traders. In turn, these examinations provided information that the slaves could utilize, sometimes even shaping a sale to their own advantage.

Johnson depicts the subtle interrelation of capitalism, paternalism, class consciousness, racism, and resistance in the slave market, to help us understand the centrality of the “peculiar institution” in the lives of slaves and slaveholders alike. His pioneering history is in no small measure the story of antebellum slavery.

**No longer a Professor at NYU

The Beautiful Generation: Asian Americans and the Cultural Economy of Fashion

Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu

Since the 1990s, young Asian Americans including Doo-Ri Chung, Derek Lam, Thakoon Panichgul, Alexander Wang, and Jason Wu have emerged as leading fashion designers. They have won prestigious awards, been chosen to head major clothing labels, and had their designs featured in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and other fashion magazines. At the same time that these designers were rising to prominence, the fashion world was embracing Asian chic. During the 1990s, “Asian” shapes, fabrics, iconography, and colors filled couture runways and mass-market clothing racks. In The Beautiful Generation, Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu explores the role of Asian American designers in New York’s fashion industry, paying particular attention to how they relate to the garment workers who produce their goods and to Asianness as a fashionable commodity. She draws on conversations with design students, fashion curators, and fashion publicists; interviews with nearly thirty Asian American designers who have their own labels; and time spent with those designers in their shops and studios, on their factory visits, and at their fashion shows. The Beautiful Generation links the rise of Asian American designers to historical patterns of immigration, racial formation, and globalized labor, and to familial and family-like connections between designers and garment workers.

The Day of Shelly's Death: The Poetry and Ethnography of Grief

Renato Rosaldo

This deeply moving collection of poetry by Renato Rosaldo focuses on the shock of his wife Michelle (Shelly) Rosaldo's sudden death on October 11, 1981. Just the day before, Shelly and her family had arrived in the northern Philippine village of Mungayang, where she and her husband Renato, both accomplished anthropologists, planned to conduct fieldwork. On October 11, Shelly died after losing her footing and falling some sixty feet from a cliff into a swollen river. Renato Rosaldo explored the relationship between bereavement and rage in his canonical essay, "Grief and a Headhunter's Rage," which first appeared in 1984 and is reprinted here. In the poems at the heart of this book, he returns to the trauma of Shelly's death through the medium of free verse, maintaining a tight focus on the events of October 11, 1981. He explores not only his own experience of Shelly's death but also the imagined perspectives of many others whose lives intersected with that tragic event and its immediate aftermath, from Shelly herself to the cliff from which she fell, from the two young boys who lost their mother to the strangers who carried and cared for them, from a tricycle taxi driver, to a soldier, to priests and nuns. Photographs taken years earlier, when Renato and Shelly were conducting research across the river valley from Mungayang, add a stark beauty. In a new essay, "Notes on Poetry and Ethnography," Rosaldo explains how and why he came to write the harrowing yet beautiful poems in The Day of Shelly's Death. More than anything else though, the essay is a manifesto in support of what he calls antropoesía, verse with an ethnographic sensibility. The essay clarifies how this book of rare humanity and insight challenges the limits of ethnography as it is usually practiced.

The Diaspora Strikes Back: Caribeno Tales of Learning and Turning

Juan Flores

In The Diaspora Strikes Back the eminent ethnic and cultural studies scholar Juan Flores flips the process on its head: what happens to the home country when it is being constantly fed by emigrants returning from abroad? He looks at how 'Nuyoricans' (Puerto Rican New Yorkers) have transformed the home country, introducing hip hop and modern New York culture to the Caribbean island. While he focuses on New York and Mayaguez (in Puerto Rico), the model is broadly applicable. Indians introducing contemporary British culture to India; New York Dominicans bringing slices of New York culture back to the Dominican Republic; Mexicans bringing LA culture (from fast food to heavy metal) back to Guadalajara and Monterrey. This ongoing process is both massive and global, and Flores' novel account will command a significant audience across disciplines.

The Revolutionary Imagination in the Americas and the Age of Development

Maria Josefina Saldana-Portillo

In The Revolutionary Imagination in the Americas and the Age of Development, María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo boldly argues that crucial twentieth-century revolutionary challenges to colonialism and capitalism in the Americas have failed to resist—and in fact have been constitutively related to—the very developmentalist narratives that have justified and naturalized postwar capitalism. Saldaña-Portillo brings the critique of development discourse to bear on such exemplars of revolutionary and resistant political thought and practice as Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Malcolm X, the Sandinista government of Nicaragua, and the Guatemalan guerrilla resistance. She suggests that for each of these, developmentalist constructions frame the struggle as a heroic movement from unconsciousness to consciousness, from a childlike backwardness toward a disciplined and self-aware maturity.

Reading governmental reports, memos, and policies, Saldaña-Portillo traces the arc of development narratives from its beginnings in the 1944 Bretton Woods conference through its apex during Robert S. McNamara's reign at the World Bank (1968–1981). She compares these narratives with models of subjectivity and agency embedded in the autobiographical texts of three revolutionary icons of the 1960s and 1970s—those of Che Guevara, Guatemalan insurgent Mario Payeras, and Malcolm X—and the agricultural policy of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). Saldaña-Portillo highlights a shared paradigm of a masculinist transformation of the individual requiring the "transcendence" of ethnic particularity for the good of the nation. While she argues that this model of progress often alienated the very communities targeted by the revolutionaries, she shows how contemporary insurgents such as Rigoberta Menchú, the Zapatista movement, and queer Aztlán have taken up the radicalism of their predecessors to retheorize revolutionary subjectivity for the twenty-first century.

The Trouble With Unity: Latino Politics and the Creation of Identity

Cristina Beltrán

Over the past decade, much attention has been given to examining the growing political influence of Latinos in the United States in order to define the so-called "Latino vote." The existence of a coherent, pan-ethnic Latino political agenda is, as this book shows, not only highly debatable, but democratically unviable. 

Situated at the intersection of political theory and Latino studies, The Trouble with Unity is a nuanced critique of civic Latinidad and the Latino electoral and protest politics that work to erase diversity and debate in favor of images of commonality. Cristina Beltrán looks at key moments in U.S. Latino political history through the lens of political, feminist, and cultural thought to provide a theoretically driven account of the many ways in which Latinos lay claim to the public realm. In its innovative approach to the realities of Latino protest politics, The Trouble with Unity advances both social movement and democratic political theory.

The Twilight of Equality: Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics, and the Attack on Democracy

Lisa Duggan

By now, we've all heard about the shocking redistribution of wealth that's occurred during the last thirty years, and particularly during the last decade. But economic changes like this don't occur in a vacuum; they're always linked to politics. The Twilight of Equality? searches out these links through an analysis of the politics of the 1990s, the decade when neoliberalism-free market economics-became gospel. After a brilliant historical examination of how racial and gender inequities were woven into the very theoretical underpinnings of the neoliberal model of the state, Duggan shows how these inequities play out today. In a series of political case studies, Duggan reveals how neoliberal goals have been pursued, demonstrating that progressive arguments that separate identity politics and economic policy, cultural politics and affairs of state, can only fail. Ultimately, The Twilight of Equality? not only reveals how the highly successful rhetorical maneuvers of neoliberalism have functioned but, more importantly, it shows a way to revitalize and unify progressive politics in the U.S. today.

Theatre and Postcolonial Desires

Awam Amkpa

This book explores the themes of colonial encounters and postcolonial contests over identity, power and culture through the prism of theatre. The struggles it describes unfolded in two cultural settings separated by geography, but bound by history in a common web of colonial relations spun by the imperatives of European modernity. In post-imperial England, as in its former colony Nigeria, the colonial experience not only hybridized the process of national self-definition, but also provided dramatists with the language, imagery and frame of reference to narrate the dynamics of internal wars over culture and national destiny happening within their own societies. The author examines the works of prominent twentieth-century Nigerian and English dramatists such as Wole Soyinka, Femi Osofisan, Davd Edgar and Caryl Churchill to argue that dramaturgies of resistance in the contexts of both Nigerian as well as its imperial inventor England, shared a common allegiance to what he describes as postcolonial desires. That is, the aspiration to overcome the legacies of colonialism by imagining alternative universes anchored in democratic cultural pluralism. The plays and their histories serve as filters through which Ampka illustrates the operation of what he calls 'overlapping modernities' and reconfigures the notions of power and representation, citizenship and subjectivity, colonial and anticolonial nationalisms and postcoloniality. The dramatic works studied in this book embodied a version of postcolonial aspirations that the author conceptualises as transcending temporal locations to encompass varied moments of consciousness for progressive change, whether they happened during the hey day of English imperialism in early twentieth-century Nigeria, or in response to the exclusionary politics of the Conservative Party in Thatcherite England. Theatre and Postcolonial Desires will be essential reading for students and researchers in the areas of drama, postcolonial and cultural studies.

Unhitched: Love, Marriage, and Family Values from West Hollywood to Western China

Judith Stacey

A leading expert on the family, Judith Stacey is known for her provocative research on mainstream issues. Finding herself impatient with increasingly calcified positions taken in the interminable wars over same-sex marriage, divorce, fatherlessness, marital fidelity, and the like, she struck out to profile unfamiliar cultures of contemporary love, marriage, and family values from around the world.
 
Built on bracing original research that spans gay men’s intimacies and parenting in America to plural and non-marital forms of family in South Africa and China, Unhitched decouples the taken for granted relationships between love, marriage, and parenthood. Countering the one-size-fits-all vision of family values, Stacey offers readers a lively, in-person introduction to these less familiar varieties of intimacy and family and to the social, political, and economic conditions that buttress and batter them.
 
Through compelling stories of real families navigating inescapable personal and political trade-offs between desire and domesticity, the book undermines popular convictions about family, gender, and sexuality held on the left, right, and center. Taking on prejudices of both conservatives and feminists, Unhitched poses a powerful empirical challenge to the belief that the nuclear family—whether straight or gay—is the single, best way to meet our needs for intimacy and care. Stacey calls on citizens and policy-makers to make their peace with the fact that family diversity is here to stay.

 

Where Stuff Comes From

Harvey Molotch

Molotch takes us on a fascinating exploration into the worlds of technology, design, corporate and popular culture. We now see how corporations, designers, retailers, advertisers, and other middle-men influence what a thing can be and how it is made. We see the way goods link into ordinary life as well as vast systems of consumption, economic and political operation. The book is a meditation into the meaning of the stuff in our lives and what that stuff says about us.

No publisher website available.

Yellow Peril!: An Archive of Anti-Asian Fear

John Kuo Wei Tchen and Dylan Yeats

The “yellow peril” is one of the oldest and most pervasive racist ideas in Western culture—dating back to the birth of European colonialism during the Enlightenment. Yet while Fu Manchu looks almost quaint today, the prejudices that gave him life persist in modern culture. Yellow Peril! is the first comprehensive repository of anti-Asian images and writing, and it surveys the extent of this iniquitous form of paranoia.

Written by two dedicated scholars and replete with paintings, photographs, and images drawn from pulp novels, posters, comics, theatrical productions, movies, propagandistic and pseudo-scholarly literature, and a varied world of pop culture ephemera, this is both a unique and fascinating archive and a modern analysis of this crucial historical formation.