World Anthropology Day

anthrodayToday is World Anthropology Day! Sponsored by the American Anthropological Association, it’s a day for anthropologists to celebrate the discipline while sharing it with the world around them. Join us in celebrating this invaluable field of study and the work that sustains it. We have many incisive anthropology titles to check out here. Some of our most recent and forthcoming include:

animate-planet-coverIn Animate Planet, Kath Weston addresses the emergence of a new animism in the context of food, energy, water, and climate to trace how new intimacies between humans, animals, and the environment are emerging as people attempt to understand how the high-tech ecologically damaged world they have made is remaking them. This title is also the most recent in our ANIMA series, edited by Mel Y. Chen and Jasbir K. Puar.

Shane Greene’s Punk and Revolution radically uproots punk from its place in Western culture to situate it as a crucial element in Peru’s culture of subversive militancy and political violence. Experimenting with form and content, Greene redefines how we think about punk subculture and revolutionary politics.

Aihwa Ong, in Fungible Life, traces the revolutionary scientific developments in Asia by investigating how biomedical centers in Biopolis, Singapore and China mobilize ethnicized “Asian” bodies and health data for genomic research.978-0-8223-6273-9

Alexander Laban Hinton’s Man or Monster? gives a detailed analysis of a former Khmer Rouge security center commandant who was convicted for overseeing the interrogation, torture, and execution of nearly 20,000 Cambodians. Interested in how someone becomes an executioner, Hinton provides numerous ways to consider justice, genocide, memory, truth, and humanity.

Finding biopolitics unable to adequately reveal the mechanisms of power that govern contemporary life, Elizabeth A. Povinelli offers “geontopower” as a new theory of power that operates through the regulation of clear distinctions between life and nonlife in her book Geontologies.

In Duress, Ann Laura Stoler maps how imperial formations and colonialism’s presence shape current inequities around the globe by examining Israel’s colonial practices, the United State’s imperial practices, the recent rise of the French right wing, and affect’s importance to governance.

978-0-8223-6203-6In Placing Outer Space, Lisa Messeri traces how planetary scientists—whether working in the Utah desert, a Chilean observatory, or the labs of MIT—transform celestial bodies into places in order to understand the universe as densely inhabited by planets, in turn telling us more about Earth, ourselves, and our place in the cosmos. Bonus: check out this and other titles in our Experimental Futures series.

In Encoding Race, Encoding Class, Sareeta Amrute explores the lives of Indian IT coders temporarily working in Berlin, showing how their cognitive labor reimagines race and class and how their acceptance and resistance to their work offers new potentials for alternative visions of living and working in neoliberal economies.

David McDermott Hughes, in Energy Without Conscience, investigates why climate change is not yet a moral issue by examining the history of energy use in Trinidad and Tobago. Drawing parallels between Trinidad’s history of slavery and its oil industry, Hughes shows how treating oil as “ordinary” prevents us from making the moral choice to abandreal pigson it.

Real Pigs, by Brad Weiss, traces the desire for creating “authentic” local foods in the Piedmont region of central North Carolina as he follows farmers, butchers, and chefs as they breed, raise, butcher, market, sell, and prepare their pasture-raised hogs for consumption.

Nikhil Anand’s Hydraulic City explores the politics of Mumbai’s water infrastructure to demonstrate how citizenship and the rights through which to make demands on the state for public services emerges through the relations between residents, plumbers, politicians, engineers, and the 3000 miles of pipe that bind them.

Check out the World Anthropology Day Facebook page to see if there are any events scheduled on your own campus. And don’t miss any of our new anthropology titles! Sign up here to be notified of new books, special discounts, and more.

Shed Walls, Don’t Build Them

Today’s guest post is by Emilia Sanabria, author of Plastic Bodies: Sex Hormones and Menstrual Suppression in Brazil.

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Mark Dixon, CC BY 2.0, flickr.com/photos/9602574@N02/31638096493

One set of signs from the Women’s March following Trump’s inauguration caught my attention. It read “Shed walls, don’t build them” over the drawing of a womb. Shedding walls, here, means menstruating (lest the point need to be spelled out).

The slogan is part of a move to normalize menstruation and put out into the public domain what continues to be a cultural taboo, something women are exhorted to conceal and manage, privately. In the wake of Trump’s outrageous sexist comments, his onslaught on sexual and reproductive rights, and the reintroduction of the global gag rule, millions of women took to the streets (again) to defend their right to dispose of their bodies, and to denounce the objectifying ways in which women’s bodies have been portrayed by the new president elect. Trump asserted that broadcaster Megyn Kelly, who steadfastly questioned him about his record of sexual harassment, had “Blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever,” which many took as a reference to the fact that she was irrational because she was menstruating. There followed a massive movement of women live-tweeting their periods to Trump using the hasthtag #PeriodIsNotAnInsult.

The invitation to “shed [uterine] walls” rather than build unaffordable, unbuildable and racist ones, speaks to a core issue I address in Plastic Bodies. The book explores the genesis, practice and discourse of “menstrual suppression”, which proposes that women’s monthly menstrual cycles are unnecessary: a useless waste of blood. Menstrual suppression involves the use of pharmaceutical sex hormones, from extended regime oral contraceptives (Seasonique™, Lybrel™) to hormonal injections (Depo-Provera™), implants (Implanon™) or intra-uterine devices (Mirena™). (Watch Giovana Chesler’s fabulous documentary Period: The End of Menstruation for a cinematographic analysis of the debate.) These methods are widespread in the Global South as part of the arsenal of birth control strategies. Brazil, where the ethnographic research for Plastic Bodies was carried out, has been a theatre of experimental hormonal practices for decades (yielding much of the data that legitimated menstrual suppression drugs for Western markets).

978-0-8223-6161-9In Plastic Bodies I trace the emergence of a (pharmaceutical industry-driven) discourse concerning the purported “unnaturalness” of regular menstruation. The menstrual suppression debate is founded on two claims. The first differentiates the menstrual bleeding pattern experienced by oral contraceptive pill users from “natural” menstruation and suggests that the former, because of its artificial nature, is superfluous. The second denaturalizes regular menstruation, arguing that this is a “new biological state”, since “in the past” or in “tribal” contexts women reached menarche later, had more children, and breastfed them longer than “modern” women do. Menstrual suppression is thus framed by its advocates as a means of returning the reproductive organs to their “original” (read: natural) state. This appeal to the distinction between nature and artifice carries, in Brazil, particular values as I detail in the book.

Menstrual activism of the kind associated with the slogan “Shed Walls” performs a particular kind of gendered politics. It questions the medicalization of women’s bodies and provides a feminist and anticapitalist reading of menstrual shame and the rationales driving the menstrual suppression and menstrual hygiene industries. However, menstrual activism positions itself ambiguously in relation to the “natural” female body.

Rather than side with or against the idea that menstruation (shedding walls) is a natural feature of women’s bodies, I suggest that the recognition of the body’s cyclical nature and the practice of using hormones to suppress menstruation construe the body as plastic. Plasticity refers both to the capacity to give and receive form. It points to a radical tension between biological contingency and technological possibility. What is at stake here is a question about the function of the uterus and the hormonal fluctuations of the menstrual cycle beyond reproduction. This indicates the extent to which the noncyclical (male) body remains an implicit norm. For, as my feminist colleagues are quick to note, sperm production in the absence of reproduction is never qualified as “unnecessary” or “wasteful,” let alone pathological.

When I wrote Plastic Bodies reproductive rights and gendered normativities continued to be acute in Brazil, but were perhaps felt less urgently at stake in the US or Western Europe. The momentous conservative backlash that marks 2017 reveals how fragile these hard-fought victories are and how ferociously they need to be defended. However, as I argue in Plastic Bodies, the distinction between nature/culture is not the place to ground our political response. Grounding a feminist resistance in women’s anatomy is risky and deeply problematic. It relies on an apolitical understanding of biology that is oftentimes blind to race, trans-, queer- and non-reproductive personhood. (As one African-American woman pointed out to a dear friend of mine when she saw the Women’s March pink pussy hats: “my pussy isn’t pink.”) In the leaked draft of a forthcoming executive order on religious freedom, marriage is upheld as the union of one man and one woman as referring to “an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy, physiology, or genetics.” In this context, perhaps the concept of plasticity can serve as a tool among the important repertoire of feminist responses that can trouble such neoconservative appeals to immutable biology.

To learn more about Plastic Bodies or order a copy, visit its webpage.

The Results Are In: Top Articles of 2016

The Results Are In

Recently, subscribers to American SpeechEthnohistoryFrench Historical Studies, and Labor voted on the most-read articles of 2016 that had the greatest influence on their teaching and research work in the past year. Check out the articles, made freely available.

American Speech

‘Good Old Immigrants of Yesteryear,’ Who Didn’t Learn English: Germans In Wisconsin” by Miranda E. Wilkerson and Joseph Salmons (2008)

Ethnohistory

Hybrid Cosmologies in Mesoamerica: A Reevaluation of the Yax Cheel Cab, a Maya World Tree,” by Timothy W. Knowlton and Gabrielle Vail (2010)

French Historical Studies

‘They Are Undesirables’: Local and National Responses to Gypsies during World War II” by Shannon L. Fogg (2008)

Labor

The Unknown Origins of the March on Washington: Civil Rights Politics and the Black Working Class” by William P. Jones (2010)

Thank you to all who voted!

Most-Read Articles of 2016

What were the most-read articles in 2016 from all Duke University Press journals? Check out the top 10 articles, made freely available for 2017.

  1. Ethiopia’s Original Sin

    Hassen Husein and Mohammed Ademo, World Policy Journal 33:3 (2016)

  2. The Return of Sanskrit: How an Old Language Got Caught up in India’s New Culture Wars

    Ananya Vajpeyi, World Policy Journal 33:3 (2016)

  3. Tangled Web: The Syrian Civil War and Its Implications

    Ted Galen Carpenter, Mediterranean Quarterly 24:1 (2013)

  4. Revisiting Postmodernism: An Interview with Fredric Jameson

    Conducted by Nico Baumbach, Damon R. Young, and Genevieve Yue, Social Text #127 (2016)

  5. Punks, Bulldaggers and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?

    Cathy J. Cohen, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 3:4 (1997)

  6. Instafame: Luxury Selfies in the Attention Economy

    Alice E. Marwick, Public Culture 27:1 (2015)

  7. Necropolitics

    Achille Mbembe, translated by Libby Meintjes, Public Culture 15:1 (2003)

  8. Congo’s ‘Mr. X’: The Man who Fooled the UN

    Daniel Fajey, World Policy Journal 33:2 (2016)

  9. The Generation of Postmemory

    Marianne Hirsch, Poetics Today 29:1 (2008)

  10. My Words to Victor Frankenstein Above the Village of Chamounix: Performing Transgender Rage

    Susan Stryker, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 1:3 (1994)

 

Climate Change and the Production of Knowledge

saq_116_1Though the causes and effects of climate change pervade our everyday lives—the air we breathe, the food we eat, the objects we use—the way the discourse of climate change influences how we make meaning of ourselves and our world is still unexplored. Contributors to this special issue of SAQ: South Atlantic Quarterly, “Climate Change and the Production of Knowledge,” bring diverse perspectives to the ways that climate change science and discourse have reshaped the contemporary architecture of knowledge itself: reconstituting intellectual disciplines and artistic practices, redrawing and dissolving boundaries, and reframing how knowledge is represented and disseminated.

The contributors address the emergence of global warming discourse in fields like history, journalism, anthropology, and the visual arts; the collaborative study of climate change between the human and material sciences; and the impact of climate change on forms of representation and dissemination in this new interdisciplinary landscape.

In “Environmental Activism across the Pacific,” this issue’s Against the Day section, contributors address forms of activism in which people seek to protect continuingly creative but ordinary life processes that conflict with imagined or emergent military bases, plantations, tourism infrastructures, and mines. From the introduction to the section:

It may be tempting to tell stories that focus only on the immensity and exceptionality of such contemporary ecological crises, but there are more stories to be told of the Pacific. The essays collected here not only reveal engagement with deeper trajectories of both violence and resistance, but also explore activism that maintains and constructs modes of life and relations of care among humans, the land, the ocean, and other beings.

Read the essays in this section, made freely available through July 2017.

Against the Day is a thematic section composed of short essays that engage topics of contemporary political importance. The title, “Against the Day,” is meant to highlight both the modes of activism and the specific occasion that the essays address.

Congratulations to Our Award-Winning Designers

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Congratulations are again in order for our book designers, who have been honored by the Association of American University Presses for their book and cover designs. This year, 241 books, 2 Journals and 320 jacket and cover designs were submitted for a total of 563 entries.  The jurors carefully selected 50 books and 50 jackets and covers as the very best examples from this pool of excellent design.

Amy Ruth Buchanan was honored for her interior design of Performance by Diana Taylor and Natalie Smith received recognition for her cover design of the same book.

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Heather Hensley was honored for her cover design of Eating the Ocean by Elspeth Probyn.

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And Natalie Smith was also recognized for her cover design of My Life with Things by Elizabeth Chin.

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Congratulations to these talented staff members!

New Books in February

Can you believe it’s already February? Our Spring 2017 season is in full swing. Check out these new books dropping this month:

misinterpellated-subject-coverIn The Misinterpellated SubjectJames R. Martel complicates Louis Althusser’s theory of interpellation, using historical and literary analyses ranging from the Haitian Revolution to Ta-Nehisi Coates to examine the political and revolutionary potential inherent in the instances when people heed the state’s call that was not meant for them.

Fans of literature and iconic literary theorist Slavoj Žižek shouldzizek-cover enjoy Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Literature but Were Afraid to Ask ŽižekThis volume demonstrates the importance of Slavoj Žižek’s work to literary criticism and theory by showing how his practice of reading theory and literature can be used in numerous theoretical frameworks and applied to literature across historical periods, nationalities, and genres, creating new interpretations of familiar works.

dying-in-full-detail-coverIn analyses of digital death footage—from victims of police brutality to those who jump from the Golden Gate Bridge—Jennifer Malkowski’s Dying in Full Detail considers the immense changes digital technologies have introduced in the ability to record and display actual deaths—one of documentary’s most taboo and politically volatile subjects.

Mark Rifkin’s Beyond Settler Time disrupts settler temporalbeyond-settler-time-cover frameworks. Rifkin explores how Indigenous experiences with time and the dominance of settler colonial conceptions of temporality have affected Native peoplehood and sovereignty, thereby rethinking the very terms by which history is created and organized around time by.

magic-of-concepts-coverIn The Magic of ConceptsRebecca E. Karl interrogates the concept and practice of “the economic” as it was understood in China in the 1930s and the 1980s and 90s, showing how the use of Eurocentric philosophies, narratives, and conceptions of the economic that exist outside lived experiences fail to capture modern China’s complex history.

Kaushik Sunder Rajan, in his latest book Pharmocracyworks atpharmocracy-cover the confluence of politics and racial capitalism. He traces the structure and operation of what he calls pharmocracy—a concept explaining the global hegemony of the multinational pharmaceutical industry. He outlines pharmocracy’s logic in two case studies from contemporary India to demonstrate the stakes of its intersection with health, politics, democracy, and global capital.

Want to make sure you don’t miss a new book? Sign up for Subject Matters, our  e-mail newsletter.

February Events

Our authors have some great events lined up this month. Check them out and be sure to get your signed copy!

978-0-8223-6272-2February 1: Alexis Gumbs will be giving a talk at Fox Tech Valley’s Oshkosh Riverside Campus get a copy of her new book Spill.
11:30am, Room 133, 150 N Campbell Rd, Oshkosh, WI 54902

February 2: See Alexis Gumbs at Fox Tech Valley’s Appleton Campus and get a copy of Spill.
11:30am, Room E130, 1825 N Bluemound Dr, Appleton, WI 54912

February 2: Mounting Frustration author Susan Cahan will talk at The Museum of Contemporary Art and sign copies of her book.
7:00pm, MOCA Grand Avenue, 250 South Grand Ave Los Angeles, CA 90012

February 2: Barnard College presents a salon honoring Christina Sharpe, author of In the Wake. She will be in conversation with Hazel Carby, Kaiama Glover, Arthur Jafa, and Alex Weheliye.
6:00pm, Event Oval, Diana Center, Barnard College, 3009 Broadway, New York, NY 10027

February 6: University of Washington’s Law School will host a conversation with Alexis Gumbs where she’ll sign copies of her new book.
4:00pm, William H. Gates Hall, Room 138, 4293 Memorial Way Northeast, Seattle, WA 98195

February 6: Catch Christina Sharpe in-conversation with John Keene at The Graduatesharpe_wake Center about her new book In the Wake.
6:30pm,  365 5th Ave, New York, NY 10016

February 9: Wesleyan University will host a reading with Eli Clare for his new book Brilliant Imperfection.
4:30pm, Russell House, 45 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown, CT 06459

February 13: Rebecca Karl will participate in a forum at Brown University’s Watson Institute for her book The Magic of Concepts.
12:00pm, 111 Thayer Street, Providence, RI 02912

February 15: Spill author Alexis Gumbs will give a lecture at Evergreen State College.
11:30am, Lecture Hall 1, 2700 Evergreen Pkwy NW, Olympia, WA 98505

brilliant-imperfection-coverFebruary 16: Phoenix Books will host a reading with Eli Clare on his latest book Brilliant Imperfection.
6:30pm, Ticketed Event, 191 Bank Street, Burlington, VT 05401

February 24: Jaleh Mansoor will have a launch event for her new book Marshall Plan Modernism at Simon Fraser University.
7:00pm, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 W. Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 5K3

 

Lauren Pond Wins 2016 CDS/Honickman First Book Prize

“We find ourselves at a moment when photo books are as important as ever, because they are concrete statements of artistic vision, essential counterweights in the ‘Ocean of Images’ that we swim through every day.”
—Peter Barberie, judge, 2016 CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography

Pastor Randy “Mack” Wolford prays for a man during a service at the Church of the Lord Jesus in Jolo, West Virginia, September 2011. Photography by Lauren Pond.

 

Congratulations to Lauren Pond, a photographer based in Columbus, Ohio, who was selected by curator Peter Barberie of the Philadelphia Museum of Art to win the eighth biennial First Book Prize in Photography for her color series Test of Faith that document, as Pond writes, “a family of Pentecostal Holiness serpent handlers that I have photographed since 2011.”

Pond says, “Serpent handlers, also known as ‘Signs Followers,’ hold a literal interpretation of a verse in the New Testament’s Gospel of Mark, which states that, among other abilities, true believers shall be able to ‘take up serpents.’ Despite scores of deaths from snakebites and the closure of numerous churches, there remains a small contingent of serpent handlers devoted to keeping the practice alive. Who are the serpent handlers? What motivates them to keep going? These are questions that I sought to answer when I first traveled to West Virginia and met Pastor Randy ‘Mack’ Wolford, one of the best-known Signs Following preachers in the region.”

Pond photographed the events that followed and has continued her relationship with Mack’s family. As she says, “I no longer see my images as being about serpent-handling practice and culture. Instead, they serve as a record of my rich friendship with the Wolfords, our shared experiences, and the valuable insights they have given me into the tenets of their faith—namely, forgiveness and redemption.”

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First Book Prize judge Peter Barberie, Brodsky Curator of Photographs, Alfred Stieglitz Center, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art selected Pond’s photographs to win from a group of nine finalists because her “long-term documentation of the Wolford family emerged as a unique, cogent, and powerful topic for publication. Lauren Pond plunges us into the hothouse atmosphere of their faith. Through her photographs I can almost feel the physical strain of Mack’s worship, and I long to hear the song that his mother, Snook, sings as he accompanies her on guitar. Who are these purposeful, vibrant people so different from myself? Test of Faith commands this question and prompts me to consider the basis and limitations of my own worldview.”

Pond receives a grant of $3,000, inclusion in a website devoted to presenting the work of the prizewinners, and publication of a book of photography. Barberie will write the introduction, and Pond an afterword, to the book, which is forthcoming in November 2017 from Duke University Press in association with CDS Books of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. Pond will also have a solo exhibition in Duke’s Rubenstein Library Photography Gallery, and the photographs will then be placed in the library’s Archive of Documentary Arts.

Lauren Pond, a documentary photographer who specializes in faith and religion, is currently the multimedia content producer for the American Religious Sounds Project within The Ohio State University’s Center for the Study of Religion. She also manages an art gallery and works on freelance projects across the country. She received her Master of Arts degree in photojournalism from Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication in 2014, and bachelor’s degrees in journalism and art from Northwestern University in 2009. Pond’s photographs have appeared in such publications as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal, and have been recognized by the Magnum/Inge Morath Foundations, the Lucie Foundation, FotoVisura, Photo District News, College Photographer of the Year, and the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, among others. She has spoken about her work at universities and conferences across the United States.

The CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography is awarded by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and the Honickman Foundation.

 

The Black Panther Party and Black Anti-Fascism in the United States

The Revolution Has Come by Robyn C. SpencerToday’s guest post comes to us from Robyn C. Spencer, author of the new book The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland.

Fascism has been thrust into the mainstream political vocabulary of the United States after the election of President Donald Trump on a platform grounded in xenophobia, corporate dominance, and right wing white nationalism.  After the election, search engines and online dictionaries reported a dramatic increase in users seeking to define the term. News outlets from Al Jazeera (“The Foul Stench of Fascism in the Air”) to Forbes (“Yes, a Trump presidency would bring fascism to America”)  to the Washington Post  (“Donald Trump is actually a fascist”) published articles analyzing how Trump fits into fascist paradigms. Most recently, The Nation (“Anti-Fascists Will Fight Trump’s Fascism in the Streets”) chronicled the long history of anti-fascist organizing in Europe and the United States to inspire activists engaged in resistance at this political moment. Black history has been marginalized in this burgeoning contemporary discourse about fascism. Analyses of the US as fascist have a long history in the Black intellectual tradition. Black thinkers like Harry Hayward, Claudia Jones, George Jackson and Kuwasi Balagoon used fascism as an analytical framework to understand the rise of segregation in the South after Reconstruction; white populism at the turn of the 19th century; land and labor struggles in the Black Belt South, and the evolution of capitalism in the 1970s.

United Front Against Fascism by Georgi DimitroffThe Black Panther Party played a prominent role in the modern history of Black anti-fascism. Panther leaders were deeply influenced by “The United Front Against Fascism,” a report by Georgi Dimitroff delivered at the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International in July-August 1935.

By 1969, the Panthers began to use fascism as a theoretical framework to critique US political economy. They defined fascism as “the power of finance capital” which “manifests itself not only as banks, trusts and monopolies but also as the human property of FINANCE CAPITAL – the avaricious businessman, the demagogic politician, and the racist pig cop.” The Black Panther newspaper began to feature excerpts from Dimitroff’s writings and articles with titles such as “Fascist Pigs must withdraw their troops from our communities or face the wrath of the armed people,” “Students Struggle Against Fascism,” and “Medicine and Fascism.”  The Panthers advertised local showings of films like Z about fascism in Greece and used their iconic artwork as a cultural tool to visually demonstrate anti-fascist resistance.

In July 1969 close to 5,000 activists from organizations like the Black Students Union, Communist Party USA, Los Siete de la Raza, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Students for a Democratic Society, Third World Liberation Front, Young Lords, Young Patriots, Youth Against War and Fascism, and the Progressive Labor Party flocked to Oakland, California’s Municipal auditorium in response to the Black Panther Party’s call for allies to gather and strategize against fascist conditions in the United States.  This United Front Against Fascism (UFAF) conference was an important moment in the history of the Black Freedom movement and the New Left. The Panthers hoped to create a “national force” with a “common revolutionary ideology and political program which answers the basic desires and needs of all people in fascist, capitalist, racist America.” At the opening session, Seale called for unity of action arguing that “we will not be free until Brown, Red, Yellow, Black, and all other peoples of color are unchained.”

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Speech in the Western States: The Coastal States

ddpads_101The most recent volume of the Publication of the American Dialect Society (PADS), “Speech in the Western States, Volume 1: The Coastal States,” edited by Valerie Fridland, Tyler Kendall, Betsy Evans, and Alicia Wassink, presents a collection of new articles investigating what is perhaps the most understudied American dialect region, the American West. In an attempt to remedy this dearth of descriptive work on Western United States dialects, this volume brings together research undertaken by a combination of established and up-and-coming scholars across the West to focus on the phonetic changes occurring in vowel systems across the coastal region, California, Oregon, and Washington. The following volume will move the lens of inquiry to vowel patterns in the Interior West.

Though pointing to several shared “Western” features, these chapters force us to reconsider the dialect uniformity often assumed for these states, pointing to key differences between California and the states in the Pacific Northwest. In contrast, surprising similarity was discovered among the vowel systems of minority and majority ethnic groups in these states. In surveying the research presented here, we come away with a sense of a region still in the process of dialect formation—a process that is creating both similarity and difference within the region—but it also seems clear that the West, at least along the coast, is not a unitary dialect region as often reported, but one characterized by features that have arisen only within the last 50 to 100 years, features that have already begun to display the local character of the people that live within its boundaries. The research presented here begins to fill in some of the gaps in our understanding of what the Coastal states of the continental Western United States sound like and how they fit into the larger picture of United States dialect diversity and the studies lay the groundwork for further research on the speech patterns of the Western United States.

Browse the table-of-contents and read the preface to the issue, made freely available.