Introducing our Fall Catalog

Black and white photo of a group of young people dressed up for a punk showing laughing together. Text reads 2022 Fall and Winter. Duke University Press.
Textt reads

We’re very excited to unveil our Fall 2022 catalog. It’s packed with great new titles that will be released between July 22 and February 2023. Publication dates and prices are subject to change.

The cover features art from Gavin Butt’s No Machos or Pop Stars: When the Leeds Art Experiment Went Punk, which tells the story of the post-punk scene in the northern English city of Leeds, showing how bands ranging from Gang of Four, Soft Cell, and Delta 5 to Mekons, Scritti Politti, and Fad Gadget drew on their university art school education to push the boundaries of pop music. Fans of new wave music will also want to check out A Kiss across the Ocean: Transatlantic Intimacies of British Post-Punk and US Latinidad by Richard T. Rodríguez, which examines the relationship between British post-punk musicians like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Adam Ant, and Pet Shop Boys and their Latinx audiences in the United States. Other new music titles include John Klaess’s history of the early days of rap radio and Ain’t But a Few of Us, in which Willard Jenkins collects candid dialogues with Black jazz critics and journalists.

Our Veterans: Winners, Losers, Friends, and Enemies on the New Terrain of Veterans Affairs  by Suzanne Gordon, Steve Early, Jasper Craven opens the catalog. The authors explore the physical, emotional, social, economic, and psychological impact of military service and the problems that veterans face when they return to civilian life. Other timely current events titles include The Pandemic Divide: How COVID Increased Inequality in America edited by Gwendolyn L. Wright, Lucas Hubbard, and William A. Darity; Vanishing Sands: Losing Beaches to Mining by renown geologist Orrin H. Pilkey along with Norma J. Longo, William J. Neal, Nelson G. Rangel-Buitrago, Keith C. Pilkey, and Hannah L. Hayes; and The Pivot: One Pandemic, One University by Robert J. Bliwise, about Duke University’s response to COVID-19.

The posthumous publication of Lauren Berlant’s On the Inconvenience of Other People is bittersweet for the Press and for all Berlant’s fans. This new work, which Judith Butler, Michael Hardt, and Rebecca Wanzo all call “brilliant,” continues to explore our affective engagement with the world, focusing on the encounter with and the desire for the bother of other people and objects, showing that to be driven toward attachment is to desire to be inconvenienced. We also have a new book by one of Berlant’s collaborators, Lee Edelman (the two co-wrote Sex, or the Unbearable in 2013), Bad Education: Why Queer Theory Teaches Us Nothing. Edelman offers a sweeping theorization of queerness as one of the many names for the void around and against which the social order takes shape. Fans of queer theory will also want to check out Marquis Bey’s second book of 2022, Cistem Failure, which meditates on the antagonistic relationship between blackness and cisgender, showing that as a category, cisgender cannot capture how people depart from gender alignment and its coding as white. We are also thrilled to be publishing John D’Emilio’s memoir, Memories of a Gay Catholic Boyhood: Coming of Age in the Sixties, in which the historian documents his childhood and young adulthood in New York City. The catalog also features work in trans studies by Cameron Awkward-Rich, a collection on queer kinship edited by Tyler Bradway and Elizabeth Freeman, a volume on the significance of the archival turn in LGBTQ studies, edited by Daniel Marshall and Zeb Tortorici, and a history, present, and future of AIDS presented through thirteen short conversations between Alexandra Juhasz and Theodore Kerr.

We have several works of poetry coming out this fall, including Nomenclature: New and Collected Poems by Dionne Brand, which collects eight volumes of Brand’s poetry published between 1983 and 2010 and includes a critical introduction by the literary scholar and theorist Christina Sharpe. In her book-length poem or, on being the other woman, Simone White considers the dynamics of contemporary black feminist life, attesting to the narrative complexities of writing and living as a black woman and artist. When the Smoke Cleared: Attica Prison Poems and Journal contains poetry written by incarcerated poets in Attica Prison and journal entries and poetry by Celes Tisdale, who led poetry workshops following the uprising there in 1971.

New books in Black studies include New Growth: The Art and Texture of Black Hair by Jasmine Nichole Cobb, which traces the history of the Afro-textured coiffure, exploring it as a visual material through which to reimagine the sensual experience of Blackness. In Black Disability Politics, Sami Schalk shows how Black people have long engaged with disability as a political issue deeply tied to race and racism. King’s Vibrato: Modernism, Blackness, and the Sonic Life of Martin Luther King Jr. by Maurice O. Wallace explores the sonic character of Martin Luther King Jr.’s voice and how a mixture of architecture, acoustics, sound technology, and gospel influenced it. And in Annotations: On the Early Thought of W. E. B. Du Bois, Nahum Dimitri Chandler offers a philosophical interpretation of Du Bois’s 1897 American Negro Academy address, “The Conservation of Races.” Also check out Violent Utopia, Jovan Scott Lewis’s retelling of the history and afterlife of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre; Kemi Adeyemi’s Feels Right, an ethnography of how black queer women use dance to assert their physical and affective rights to the city; and Jennifer DeClue’s Visitation, a look at Black feminist avant-garde filmmakers.

Cover of Lost in the Game: A Book about Basketball by Thomas Beller. Cover is a photograph that shows a small flock of pigeons taking off from in front of an outdoor basketball hoop.

We are building our sports list with two books on basketball this fall. Lost in the Game: A Book about Basketball collects journalist Thomas Beller’s essays about the game ranging from stories about the NBA to pickup games in city parks, to his own experience playing college ball. Big Game, Small World: A Basketball Adventure by Alexander Wolff was first published to great acclaim in 2002 and we are pleased to now bring out a Twentieth Anniversary edition which features a new preface in which Wolff outlines the contemporary rise of athlete-activists while discussing the increasing NBA dominance of marquee international players like Luka Dončić and Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

There’s so much more on our great Fall list, including new books in Asian studies, African studies, literary and cultural studies, anthropology, art, and more. We invite you to download the catalog and bookmark all your favorites. And be sure to sign up for our email alerts so you’ll know when titles you’re interested in are available.

Courtney Berger’s Sale Recommendations

Image reads: use code SPRING22, Spring Sale, 50% off all in-stock books and journal issues through May 27

You have one week left to save 50% on in-stock books and journal issues during our Spring Sale. If you’re still wondering what to buy, check out Executive Editor Courtney Berger’s suggestions.

A white woman with short grey and white hair wearing glasses. She is wearing a white top and a necklace.

This is always a tough assignment: can you recommend some books for the spring sale? All the books, I want to say. But, evidently that doesn’t make for a compelling blog post, and I’m told that I must select just a few. So, here are my picks. (But, secretly, I am whispering, All the books.)

Cover of Passionate Work: Endurance after the Good Life by Renyi Hong. Cover is a painting of a man in a white suit working on a laptop, sitting atop the shoulder of a giant robot. This robot looks like a man in a black suit, a phone attached to his ear. The robot is breaking, with smoke coming out and paint peeling off, revealing orange metal underneath.

Hot off the presses: Renyi Hong’s Passionate Work: Endurance After the Good Life. If you’ve ever balked at the advice to “follow your passion” or “do what you love and the money will follow,” this is the book for you. Hong considers how the idealization of work as a passionate endeavor that sustains people emotionally and spiritually papers over the conditions of labor in late capitalism, which are dominated by precarity, unemployment, repetitive labor, and isolation. He shows us how passion has become an affective structure that shapes our relationship to work and produces the fantasy of a resilient subject capable of enduring disappointment and increasingly disadvantageous working conditions. Hong asks us to question our compulsory attachment to labor and, instead, to consider forms of social and emotional attachments that might better sustain our lives.

Cover of Suspicion: Vaccines, Hesitancy, and the Affective Politics of Protection in Barbados by Nicole Charles. Cover features a 2015 art piece called Waterlogged, by Bajan artist Simone Asia. The piece features a person's face with flora around it in a variety of colors.

Another new book that hits on squarely on pandemic politics: Nicole Charles’s Suspicion: Vaccines, Hesitancy, and the Affective Politics of Protection in Barbados. Charles examines resistance to government-led efforts in Barbados to vaccinate girls against HPV. Framing this resistance not as “vaccine hesitancy” but instead as a form of legitimate suspicion, Charles shows how colonial and postcolonial histories of racial violence, capitalism, and biopolitical surveillance aimed at regulating and controlling Black people have shaped Afro-Barbadians’ relationship to the state and to medical intervention. The book undoes conventional narratives of vaccine hesitancy and scientific certainty in order to open up space for addressing the inequalities that shape health care and community care.

Cover of Hawai′i Is My Haven: Race and Indigeneity in the Black Pacific by Nitasha Tamar Sharma. Features a photograph of singer Kamakakēhau by Kenna Reed. Photo is of a bearded Black man in a large pink shaggy collar with pink flowers around him.

You might pick up Nitasha Sharma’s Hawai’i Is My Haven: Race and Indigeneity in the Black Pacific because of the stunning cover, but you’ll stay for Sharma’s compelling analysis of Black life on the islands. Despite the prevalence of anti-Black racism in Hawai’i, many Black people regard Hawai’i as a sanctuary. Sharma considers why and shows how Blackness in Hawai’i troubles US-centric understandings of race, ethnicity, and indigeneity. Through extensive interviews with Black residents—including transplants, those born in Hawai’i, and many who identify as dual-minority multiracial–Sharma attends to Black residents’ complex experiences of invisibility, non-belonging, and liberation, as well as the opportunities for alliance between anti-racist activism and Native Hawaiian movements focused on decolonization.

Calling all foodies and lovers of The Great British Bake Off: Anita Mannur’s Intimate Eating: Racialized Spaces and Radical Futures dwells on culinary practices, texts, and spaces that resist heteropatriarchal norms of the family, the couple, and the nation. Mannur shows us how racialized and marginalized groups use food to confront and disrupt racism and xenophobia and to create alternate, often queer forms of sociality and kinship.

Our lists in environmental humanities and environmental media continue to grow. Here are a few new titles to look out for:

Nicole Starosielski’s Media Hot and Cold asks us to reckon with the politics of temperature. Thermal technologies—from air conditioning to infrared cameras—serve as both modes of communication and subjugation, and Starosielski’s book points to the urgent need to address the political, economic, and ecological ramifications of “thermopower” and climate control. In Climatic Media: Transpacific Experiments in Atmospheric Control Yuriko Furuhata highlights the intertwined development of climate engineering, networked computing, and urban design in the transpacific relationship between the US and Japan during the Cold War. Min Hyoung Song’s Climate Lyricism turns to literature as a site for confronting climate change. In the lyrical voice (the “I” who addresses “you”), Song finds a tool that can help us to develop a practice of sustained attention to climate change even as we want to look away. And, lastly, in Dockside Reading: Hydrocolonialism and the Custom House Isabel Hofmeyr brings us to an unlikely site for thinking about the environment and literature–the colonial customs house. It was here that books were sorted, categorized, and regulated by customs agents, and where the handling of books reflected the operations of empire both at the water’s edge and well beyond the port.

Use coupon SPRING22 to save on all these titles and more. If you’re located outside North and South America, we suggest you order from our partner Combined Academic Publishers using the same coupon. You’ll get faster and cheaper shipping. See the fine print here.

Q&A with the Authors of “The Impasse of the Latin American Left”

Impasse authorsFranck Gaudichaud is Professor of History and Latin American Studies at Universite Toulouse-Jean Jaurès.

Massimo Modonesi is Professor of Sociology at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

Jeffery R. Webber is Associate Professor of Politics at York University.

Gaudichaud, Modonesi, and Webber are the authors of The Impasse of the Latin American Left, a new book that explores the Latin American Pink Tide as a political, economic, and cultural phenomenon, showing how it failed to transform the underlying class structures of their societies or challenge the imperial strategies of the United States and China.

Throughout the book, you explain that recent political shifts in Latin American countries indicate an “end of the cycle” for progressivism in the region. Do you see historical developments as occurring in cycles? What kinds of lessons can be learned from previous cycles?

Gaudichaud coverThe notion of cycles is more of a metaphor, equivalent to that of a wave. It is borrowed from biology and economics. In the field of the study of political processes, it does not refer to circularity, but to phenomena that experience ups and downs, expansions and contractions. In this sense, it is a notion that allows visualizing a historical process, in the absence of another more effective one. Latin American progressivism experienced a cycle of ascent-descent of approximately 15 years, depending on the case. Leaders, parties, and governments emerged, expanded, consolidated, and eventually entered into crisis. Their crisis occurred hand in hand with a rightward shift in the political scene that contributed, together with the contradictions accumulated within progressivism itself, to close a stage in recent Latin American history.

This shift to the right was not consolidated, however, due to the inability of the right to formulate a hegemonic project that would give it legitimacy and durability. As a result, the door was opened, in recent years, to a partial return of Latin American progressivism, in part from the same forces that led the earlier cycle (think of the return of the Movement toward Socialism to office in Bolivia, or the return of a variety of Kirchnerist-Peronism to office in Argentina, or the likely return of Lula in Brazil in the October elections this year). Elsewhere, Latin American progressivism has formed governments in countries that were largely outside of the earlier cycle (Gabriel Boric in Chile, Pedro Castillo in Peru, and Xiomara Castro in Honduras, all of whom will likely be joined by Gustavo Petro in Colombia in elections later this month).

But this return of earlier progressive governments and the rise of new ones are occurring in a different and less favorable political and economic context, and progressivism has assumed more moderate, less ambitious forms. Historical cycles do not merely repeat themselves. Marx claimed, half seriously and half in jest, that they appear first as tragedy and then as farce. We know that the progressive cycle had some tragic traits, insofar as it wasted the momentum of the popular movements. Let us hope that the constitutive processes of the current cycle are not a farce. In any case, a significant determination of the correlation of class forces in Latin American societies occurs outside electoral conquests and use of government agencies and state institutions, through processes of consciousness-raising, mobilization, and organization of the subaltern classes that pass through but also escape the institutional dynamics of progressivism.

You write that, in the early- and mid-2000s, left-progressive movements rose to power on a wave of popular support. Given that popular support, what accounts for the inability of the Latin American left to fully transform domestic and international economic order?

In the book we outline a series of objective, structural impediments to domestic and international transformation that the Latin American left faced in the early decades of the twenty-first century. These should not be understood as static and insurmountable obstacles to transformation, but dynamic and contradictory constraints, the transcendence of which would have required revolutionary ruptures in social, political, and economic relations, and which could never have been overcome overnight.

Among the many dynamic barriers of this kind, we discuss the inherited productive structures of primary-export commodity economies in many Latin American countries, rooted in over a century of their subordinate incorporation into the world capitalist system. Relatedly, the ongoing uneven development of capitalism and inter-imperialist rivalry (today, most importantly, between the United States and China) has created a world system of states based on hierarchy and exploitation, in which imperialist powers use whatever resources available to them to reproduce their domination of the system and thus the ongoing subordination of weaker states, including Latin American countries seeking more autonomy and a modicum of self-determination.

Uneven capitalist development and associated nationalist competition internal to Latin America, furthermore, was another important reason behind the strict limits encountered by the various region-wide initiatives for change, such as the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).  More proximately, the Latin American left in the early twenty-first century operated within a novel class structure in all countries, one that had been transformed by decades of neoliberal economic restructuring. Peasant dispossession and proletarianization, widescale rural-to-urban migration, the decline of formal, unionized urban employment, and the florescence of atomized informal economies were some of the dominant trends. This new class terrain made it difficult to organize and sustain radical left politics and presented a challenge for left social movements and political party formations alike. Nonetheless, through invention and experimentation, with tactics and strategies adapted to the new era, popular class recomposition proved quite successful on the social movement front in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Alongside the dynamic structural elements, the book also explains subjective, political factors that weakened the possibilities of Latin American progressivism achieving further reaching social and political transformation. By the late 1990s, the political left in Latin America had suffered through generations of fierce repression that disarticulated its formal political organizations through brute repression. Recall the bureaucratic authoritarian regimes of the Southern Cone during the 1970s and 1980s, or the counterinsurgencies of Central America in the same period, both of which were necessary military precursors to the technocratic roll out of neoliberal economic programs. Ideologically, the idea of socialism had been widely discredited by the early 1990s through its association with the authoritarianism of the Soviet Union, and with the crumbling of the latter, the “end of history” had been confidently pronounced by liberals around the world.  The Latin American left therefore had to rebuild new projects of transformation out of the rubble of the past, using bold and militant experimentation to eventually find a way to recompose itself on the unsteady ground of the early twenty-first century.

Despite these structural obstacles and enduring legacies of past political defeats, a social, extra-parliamentary left, constituted by increasingly militant social movements, emerged, grew, and consolidated over the course of the 1990s and early 2000s, disrupting the smooth political reproduction of neoliberal regimes. This growing social power of the left was eventually translated, albeit in distorted form, into the rise of an institutional, electoral left, with the formation of a whole series of centre-left and left governments in the mid-to-late 2000s.

That the rise of new left governments coincided with an international commodity boom, driven by rapid industrialization in China, was a gift and a curse at the same time. On the one hand, it stoked dynamic capitalist growth which enabled states to skim rent from the extractive sectors and achieve significant temporary improvements in terms of poverty and income inequality, as well as in health and education coverage for the popular classes in a number of cases. On the other hand, the easy rents from the extractive sectors also allowed the new progressive governments to avoid, for a period at least, a sharper confrontation with domestic and international capital, even while improving the living standards of their popular bases. This was the material basis for passive revolution, we argue, so long as the commodity boom endured.

The Latin American progressive governments of the first decade of the twenty-first century were agents of passive revolution, in the Gramscian sense. That is, they governed processes that combined a certain combination of transformation and conservation carried out from the state so as to pre-empt the escalation of class struggle. Patterns of capitalist accumulation were altered at the margins through socioeconomic reform that benefitted the subaltern classes, but these reforms were carried out from above in a manner designed to demobilize, control, and pacify the popular classes through their subordinate incorporation. The basic underlying productive and property systems and associated class structures of society were largely unaltered by progressive rule. When the commodity boom ended, the easy rents lubricating these passive revolutions dried up, class antagonisms reemerged more sharply, and progressive governments were unable to secure ongoing support from their popular social bases while they also lost the confidence of capital; thus a window was opened up for right-wing restoration, however unstable that restoration has ultimately been.

Of course, this general synthesis necessarily obscures many of the specificities of different cases that we examine in closer historical detail in the book. The processes of pacification and control from above, for example, need to be differentiated so that the distinctions between, say, the social-liberalism of lulismo in Brazil and the more advanced moments of social struggle in Bolivia under Evo Morales or Venezuela under Hugo Chávez can be made clear, just as the chasm separating social democratic governance under the Broad Front in Uruguay and the nepotistic authoritarianism of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua can be properly understood. In this sense, theoretical generalizations and propositions are made in the book, but not at the expense of attentiveness to the important differences separating each case under the broad label of “progressivism,” each with their unique social actors, political parties, levels of control from above and participation from below, and particular socio-historical traditions of class struggle.

The progressive movements have recently been overtaken by a variety of right-wing actors, who operate without a “coherent project of political rule and vision of economic development” (6). Do you think the rise of the right in Latin America will lead to a return to a capitalist-neoliberal order or something else?

In many senses, there was never a full break with neoliberalism even during the hegemonic phase of Latin American progressivism. The right that has returned to office in recent years in many countries consists of a spectrum ranging from the technocratic neoliberalism of a relatively orthodox variety (think of Mauricio Macri’s administration in Argentina from 2015-2019) to more explicitly authoritarian, far-right populism (think of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, or the second-place finisher José Antonio Kast in Chile). Both the technocrats and the far-right populists represent different flavours of neoliberal rule.

However, while neoliberal policies were sometimes able to produce periods of modest capitalist expansion in parts of Latin America in the 1990s, today the region is mired in a social and economic crisis to which the neoliberal project cannot provide a solution, even on its own perverse terms. While the new right governments, therefore, are intent on reproducing neoliberalism, their attempts to do so will be structurally impeded by recessionary trends in the global economy and defensive resistance from popular movements.

The present interregnum is characterized by an impasse with no secure hegemonies, whether left or right, and all of Gramsci’s morbid symptoms are robustly on display. The electoral left continues its adaptation to the center, so that even when it wins, it tends to lose. For its part, the center-right is increasingly eclipsed by far-right formations, new and old. The most promising explosive moments suggestive of the possibilities for a more radical left have taken the form of wide-scale rebellions, such as those in Chile, Ecuador, and Colombia in late 2019. Each of these instances, though, were defensive in character, and ultimately ran up against their own limits of political articulation. The absence of lasting popular organizational forms emerging out of their milieus is one indication of this fact.

Outside these important before-and-after moments of mass upheaval, uneven transnational expressions of ecological movements and popular feminisms have proved to be the most sustained and transversal expressions of extra-parliamentary class struggle in the region. In their overlapping yet distinct ways they implicitly bend in an anti-capitalist direction; the totalizing logic of the issues animating their resistance demands that they, on occasion at least, condense the problems they face into a sharp singularity: capitalism or life. That this is the real choice faced in Latin America today, as in the rest of the world, has only become more apparent in light of the pandemic.

Populism is mentioned throughout your discussion of Latin American politics. To what extent are the political developments discussed in the book the result of popular movements and/or influenced by foreign actors? How difficult is it to disentangle the various influences on the politics of the region?

The notion of populism has a properly Latin American history. It is not an imported political form in the region. Latin American populism is historically progressive, nationalist, statist, integrationist and class-conciliatory, unlike the right-wing populism that sprouted strongly in Europe and the US in recent decades. This ideological distance of the phenomena does not allow for any generalization or theorization that assimilates the separate trends, beyond the fact that they share certain discursive and gesticulatory resources and the search for the support of the popular sectors, especially the unorganized popular sectors.

We must also distinguish the totally endogenous cases of progressive governments which most closely fit the classically “populist” profile, such as that of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia, from Kirchnerist Peronism in Argentina, Lulismo in Brazil, Pepe Mujica in Uruguay, and now Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico, where relatively typical politicians transformed themselves into charismatic and paternalistic presidents once in office, deploying the entire repertoire of classical populism.

At the same time, there may be not so much direct influence but a certain emulation in the cases of an emerging “populist” right-wing in Latin America. They saw a particular political opportunity with the rise of Trump. Surely there is something of that in the emergence and trajectory of Bolsonaro who, although his impact can easily be exaggerated. The Bolsonaro effect seems to have been replicated to a certain extent in the appearance of characters such as Kast in Chile and Javier Milei in Argentina. It remains to be seen to what extent these reactionary, neoliberal, authoritarian and culturally regressive populisms will be able to install a populist form of doing politics that is antithetical to the more traditional, more progressive, plebeian and multi-class version, which continues to show strength in the region.

You write a post-conclusion about the disproportionate effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Latin America. How do you see the pandemic, and the recovery from it, affecting political developments in the region in the future?

By now it’s well known that over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic Latin America has, by many metrics, suffered more than any region in the world, with extremely high rates of contagion and mortality. Less well remembered, perhaps, is that the pandemic arrived in the midst of an economic crisis that was already full-blown. According to data from the United Nations Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), for example, between 2014 and 2019 the sub-region of South America experienced its lowest five-year growth rate ever registered, with an average of only 0.3 percent GDP growth, and negative GDP per capita.

The pandemic dramatically worsened an already dire scenario, such that 2020 saw the worst ever regional contraction of GDP across Latin America and the Caribbean as a whole. In this context, poverty, inequality, and food insecurity soared to new heights. Existing axes of inequality were exacerbated, with more and more of the population’s access to basic services, health, education, and housing foreclosed. In 2020, 52 million additional people fell into poverty, according to Oxfam, while the richest Latin Americans added $48.2 billion to their pockets. Capital will always try, and will sometimes succeed, at profiting from disaster.

The limited but real social gains of the first Pink Tide era, in the context of a commodities boom, had already been in steady reverse since 2014, but the pandemic has simply annihilated any remnants. The scale of social regression in the region has been phenomenal. World trade fell by 17 percent between January and May 2020, and Latin America was the developing region most affected by this contraction, with a decline of 26.1 percent in exports and 27.4 percent in imports. Aggregate regional GDP in Latin America and the Caribbean declined by 7.5 percent in 2020. According to the International Labour Organization, there were roughly 25 million net employment losses in the region that year, with approximately 82 percent of these translating into permanent exits from the labour force – that is, 82 percent of people who lost their jobs in 2020 have been unable to find any new employment. Again, recall that these trends are in addition to those of regional decline since 2014.

The closure or bankruptcy of millions of small and medium sized firms meant that the counter-cyclical absorptive capacity of the informal economy to soak up some of the surplus labour pushed out of the formal economy in previous capitalist crises was diminished, at least for the first year of the pandemic. Women, youth, lower-qualified, and migrant workers suffered most severely under these conditions.

With a relative recovery of commodity prices mid-way through the year, the opening-up of economies after pandemic closures, and expansionary fiscal measures by most governments in the region, Latin America and the Caribbean experienced GDP growth of 6.0 percent in 2021.

But employment growth continued to lag, and the job growth that did occur was largely isolated to the informal sector. In many Latin American countries, over 70 percent of net job creation since 2020 has been in the informal sector. Even with this relative informal growth in jobs, at the close of 2021, both formal and informal employment levels were persistently lower than pre-pandemic years in most countries of the region. The unemployment rate remained elevated at 10.0 percent in 2021, and even optimistic projections suggest that the unemployment rate will continue above pre-pandemic levels at least through 2023.

World market conditions are likely to be considerably worse in 2022 for Latin American economic prospects than in 2021, although just how much worse is unclear, and only getting murkier. The IMF growth forecast for the world economy at the outset of 2022 was only 4.9 percent, down from 5.8 percent in 2021. This was before the system-shaking events toward the end of February, when Russia launched its imperialist invasion of Ukraine, considerably heightening extant inter-imperial rivalries in the world system – anchored as they are by the primary rivalry between the United States and China. Innumerable new complexities and uncertainties have been added to an already-unstable world market. Accelerating military spending and sky-high food and energy prices may be just the beginning.

Read the introduction to The Impasse of the Latin American Left for free and save 50% on the paperback with coupon code SPRING22, now through May 27.

Elizabeth Ault’s Sale Recommendations

Image reads: use code SPRING22, Spring Sale, 50% off all in-stock books and journal issues through May 27
You have until May 27 to save 50% on in-stock books and journal issues during our Spring Sale. Still pondering what to buy? Check out Editor Elizabeth Ault’s suggestions. Use coupon SPRING22 to save.
A smiling white woman with strawberry blonde hair piled in a bun on top of her head. She is wearing red oval shaped glasses, gold hoop earrings, and a green scoop necked top with a blue neckline and a black jacket.

The most wonderful time of the year–the Spring sale! There’s something about this time of year that makes so many things, including making a meaningful dent in the TBR, seem possible. I’m thrilled to suggest some new books that themselves open up that spirit of ambitious potential as tonics for times when things may not feel so promising.

A book I know I’ll never stop recommending is Trouillot Remixed, edited by Yarimar Bonilla, Greg Beckett, and Mayanthi L. Fernandoa, a gathering of writings from across the Haitian historian and theorist Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s career that makes it easy to see how Trouillot’s influence spanned diverse fields and conversations, centering the Black Caribbean and the ongoingness of coloniality in thinking about anthropology, world history, capitalism, and more. There isn’t a political or intellectual project I can imagine that wouldn’t benefit from Trouillot’s insights.

Cover of Poetic Operations: Trans of Color Art in Digital Media by micha cárdenas. Cover is blue with 7 people on it, and a center person is pointing.

It’s also a fantastic time for feminist media studies! We’ve got so many new books, including two amazing coedited collections that reconsider canonical male figures from feminist perspectives–Re-Understanding Media, edited by Sarah Sharma and Rianka Singh, shows what McLuhanite media theory has to learn from feminism, while Reframing Todd Haynes, edited Theresa L. Geller and Julia Leyda, shows what the filmmaker has learned from (and contributed to) feminist theory. We’ve also got micha cardenas’s Poetic Operations, a trans feminist theory of the liberatory potential of algorithms, Rox Samer’s Lesbian Potentiality and Feminist Media in the 1970s, which finds the speculative play in feminist science fiction and activist film. Nicole Erin Morse’s Selfie Aesthetics centers trans women artists like Tourmaline, whose work is featured in the Venice Biennale, to enrich the discussion around self-portraiture.

If you’re looking for a good summer read, I am really excited about Guillaume Lachenal’s The Doctor Who Would Be King, a postcolonial detective story, with an incredibly dynamic translation by Cheryl Smeall. And I can’t say enough about the amazing work Jeanne Garane has done to translate Amkoullel, the Fula Boy, the first memoir by African intellectual Amadou Hampâté Bâ about his life in colonial French West Africa, a story with many surprising turns and moving reflections.

Gisela Fosado’s Sale Recommendations

Image reads: use code SPRING22, Spring Sale, 50% off all in-stock books and journal issues through May 27
Our Spring Sale continues for two more weeks. If you’re looking for suggestions for what to buy, check out Editorial Director Gisela Fosado’s recommendations. Use coupon SPRING22 to save 50% on these and all in-stock titles.

With the Latin American Studies Association conference wrapped up last weekend, I thought I’d recommend a dozen of our most important brand new books (published within the past 6 months) in Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx studies.

Troillot Remixed: The Michel-Rolph Trouillot Reader edited by Yarimar Bonilla, Greg Beckett, Mayanthi L. Fernando.
“By the sheer force of his example, he invited us to recognize not only the irreducible complexity of the Caribbean as a horizon of inquiry but also the intellectual duty to take up the challenge of reinventing the categories through which we apprehend and engage this complexity. Trouillot Remixed offers us a thematically distilled selection of his work that will provoke us to appreciate his contribution in fresh and unexpected ways.” — David Scott, Columbia University

Planetary Longings by Mary Louise Pratt
“These brilliant essays bring cultural theory to life. Mary Louise Pratt thinks across the Americas, drawing us into a repertoire that every American should grasp. To decolonize the postcolonial legacy, she shows us how to think generously and rigorously as well as politically.” — Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, coeditor of Feral Atlas: The More-Than-Human Anthropocene

The Florida Room by Alexandra T. Vazquez
“Alexandra T. Vazquez’s bold, brilliant, and refreshingly unconventional meditatin on sonic placemaking in Florida is fearless and groundbreaking. Compressing the deep, wide, and volatile politics and poetics of the global South into a focused exploration of the “Sunshine State,” The Florida Room reminds readers of what daring, innovative, and challenging theory looks and sounds like. This luminous book opens up our notions of what counts as theory as well as who gets identified as theorists.” — Daphne A. Brooks, author of Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound

Scales of Captivity: Racial Capitalism and the Latinx Child by Mary Pat Brady
“Mary Pat Brady has written a multilayered, bracing study with deep historical roots and startling contemporary resonance. She reanimates questions of citizenship and exclusion at the heart of Chicanx/Latinx studies, while simultaneously uncovering the inextricability of childhood, queer politics, and acts of witnessing.” — Richard T. Rodríguez, author of Next of Kin: The Family in Chicano/a Cultural Politics

Loss and Wonder at the World’s End by Laura A. Ogden
“In its freshness of vision, its first-person mode of presentation, its openheartedness, and its scattering of materials in delicate montages, Loss and Wonder at the World’s End is such fun to read. Laura A. Ogden’s persistent view of history throughout the text as multivalent, dense, and mysterious is wonderful.” — Michael T. Taussig, author of Mastery of Non-mastery in the Age of Meltdown

Suspicion: Vaccines, Hesitancy, and the Affective Politics of Protection in Barbados by Nicole Charles
Suspicion is a compellingly written and superlatively theorized ethnography of public health, affect, and the persistence of racism in the Caribbean. Nicole Charles uses suspicion to understand the logic behind Black parents’ decisions about whether to give their children vaccines, showing that their decisions are rooted not in ignorance and irrationality but within long histories of racial and sexual injury as well as hierarchies related to race, class, color, education, and authority.” — Deborah A. Thomas, author of Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation: Sovereignty, Witnessing, Repair

Stories That Make History: Mexico through Elena Poniatowska’s Crónicas by Lynn Stephen
“The fortuitous pairing of perhaps Mexico’s most beloved, enduring, and influential writer with one of its most prolific and accomplished international scholars of social and cultural movements gives rise to an extraordinary collaboration. This engrossing volume will be required reading for anyone seriously interested in Mexican journalism and literature, history and history-making, and the formation of social memory.” — Gilbert M. Joseph, coeditor of The Mexico Reader: History, Culture, Politics

Unintended Lessons of Revolution by Tanalís Padilla
“This book transcends the constricted scope of a narrow institutional study to throw new light on a series of larger questions concerning Mexico’s legacy of revolution, its failed rural policies, and the explosion of unrest among rural teachers and activists. It is a pleasure to read.” — Brooke Larson, author of Trials of Nation Making: Liberalism, Race, and Ethnicity in the Andes, 1810–1910

Workers Like All the Rest of Them: Domestic Service and the Rights of Labor in Twentieth-Century Chile by Elizabeth Q. Hutchison
“Presenting a series of timely, important, and often surprising arguments, Workers Like All the Rest of Them will find an audience among Chileanists, historians of gender and labor, as well as social science scholars interested in domestic work around the world.” — Nara B. Milanich, author of Paternity: The Elusive Quest for the Father

The Lettered Barriada: Workers, Archival Power, and the Politics of Knowledge in Puerto Rico by Jorell A. Meléndez-Badillo
“Jorell A. Meléndez-Badillo’s focus on the ‘politics of knowledge production’ explodes our understanding of the internecine struggles within the early Puerto Rican Left and the politics of race and gender in the construction of radical social movements in Puerto Rico.” — Eileen J. Findlay, author of We Are Left without a Father Here: Masculinity, Domesticity, and Migration in Postwar Puerto Rico

Cover of The Nature of Space by Milton Santos features a black and white photograph of Santos. He is wearing reading glasses and looking slightly to his left while gesturing with his hands. The title and subtitle appear over the photo in yellow and white type.

The Nature of Space by Milton Santos, translated by Brenda Baletti
“Milton Santos was one of the most important Black thinkers in the Americas writing in the last four decades, one of the most important Brazilian intellectuals of all time, and one of the most cited and noteworthy geographers in Latin America. This extremely important translation subverts our tendencies to ignore scholarship being produced in the global South and marks a key step in decolonizing thought in US academe.” — Keisha-Khan Y. Perry, author of Black Women against the Land Grab: The Fight for Racial Justice in Brazil

Cocaine: From Coca Fields to the Streets, edited by Enrique Desmond Arias and Thomas Grisaffi
“Through its attention to both the transnational cocaine commodity chain and the locally specific moral economies that have developed along it, Cocaine presents an innovative and urgent perspective. This highly original and engaging volume makes significant contributions to studies of crime, governance, economics, and Latin American studies.” — Rivke Jaffe, author of Concrete Jungles: Urban Pollution and the Politics of Difference in the Caribbean

Finally, if you haven’t checked out the 2022 Bryce Wood Award honorees, now is the perfect time to pick up a copy of the books that won or were honorable mentions for LASA’s top prize, Bret Gustafson’s Bolivia in the Age of Gas and Resource Radicals: From Petro-Nationalism to Post-Extractivism in Ecuador by Thea Riofrancos.  Huge congratulations to Bret and Thea!

Reproductive Rights Syllabus

Today, Duke University Press publishes our Reproductive Rights Syllabus.

The books and articles in this two-part syllabus address the impact of various global challenges to reproductive rights. The first section includes research studies from social science journals addressing contraception access, the impact of abortion bans on pregnancy-related mortality, and repercussions of state-level restrictions. The second section features work from fields such as cultural studies, postcolonial studies, feminist theory, and African American studies. Topics include reproductive justice, the people-of-color-led reproductive rights movement, abortion narratives, surveillance and social control, and reproductive coercion.

The articles included in the syllabus are either open access or freely available through October 31. All book introductions are freely available. Start reading here.

Spring Sale Continues Through May 27

Image reads: use code SPRING22, Spring Sale, 50% off all in-stock books and journal issues through May 27

Have you shopped our Spring Sale yet? All in-stock books and journal issues are 50% off through May 27 with coupon code SPRING22.

Since the start of the sale we’ve released some great new titles. Check out The Impasse of the Latin American Left, in which Franck Gaudichaud, Massimo Modonesi, and Jeffery R. Webber explore the region’s Pink Tide as a political, economic, and cultural phenomenon. 

Kelli Moore’s Legal Spectatorship  traces the political origins of the concept of domestic violence through visual culture in the United States. 

Passionate Work by Renyi Hong theorizes the notion of being “passionate about your work” as an affective project that encourages people to endure economically trying situations like unemployment, job change, repetitive and menial labor, and freelancing.

And in The Lives of Jessie Sampter, Sarah Imhoff tells the story of the queer, disabled, Zionist writer Jessie Sampter (1883–1938), whose body and life did not match typical Zionist ideals and serves as an example of the complex relationships between the body, queerness, disability, religion, and nationalism.

Our distributor in the UK, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Pacific, Combined Academic Publishers, is pleased to extend the same 50% off discount to our customers there. Since overseas shipping can be slow and expensive, we highly encourage everyone in their territory to order directly from them using the same SPRING22 coupon code.

Here’s the usual fine print: The discount does not apply to apparel, journals subscriptions, or society memberships. You can’t order out-of-stock or not yet published titles at the discount. Regular shipping rates apply.

If you have any difficulty ordering via our website, you can call our customer service department at 888-651-0122 during regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 8-5 Eastern Time).

Happy shopping!

Ruth Ben-Ghiat Interviews Vicente L. Rafael

On May 9, the Philippines will elect a new President. For those interested in autocracy, it is a dramatic situation. The current illiberal president, Rodrigo Duterte, is not standing for re-election, but his daughter, Sara Duterte, is on the ticket with Bongbong Marcos, the son of the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Once a country has an experience with strongman rule, the leader can haunt a nation for decades.

To better understand Duterte—a violent man who engaged in extrajudicial killings—and the stakes of this election, I talked with Vicente L. Rafael, who is Professor of History and Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is the author, most recently, of The Sovereign Trickster: Death and Laughter in the Age of Duterte (2022), and Motherless Tongues: The Insurgency of Language Amid Wars of Translation (2016). Our conversation took place on March 5, 2022, and has been edited for clarity and flow.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat (RBG): Why do people support these violent fraudsters? In your book you talk about how the culture of fear that Duterte disseminated was actually part of his charm. Many don’t understand why these extreme figures have such devoted followings.

Vicente Rafael (VR): In the case of the Philippines, there’s a long tradition of authoritarian leaders. And people tend to think that strong male leaders are the best way to deal with the uncertainties of life. Someone like Duterte who comes in and promises to not just solve the crime problem, but basically wipe out criminals, drug dealers and drug users, can be popular.  

Although of course this violence doesn’t solve the problem, but it creates a sense of false security. People feel, well, someone’s in charge, so I don’t have to worry. It’s very common to hear people say, oh, my neighborhood is really safer these days. And when you ask them, what do you think about all these people who got killed? I mean, many of them are your neighbors. And they would say, well, they were warned. They didn’t want to stop dealing or using, so they got what they deserved.

RBG: This is one way that autocrats are different than democratic leaders. Duterte came on my radar when he started talking, as a candidate, about the violence that he would perpetrate if he won the election. And in the US we had Trump warning as a candidate that he could shoot someone and not lose any followers.

VR: Duterte’s political style was really developed and honed while he was Mayor of Davao. He used threats, he hired thugs, like former rebels, and turned his police force into vigilantes. He himself liked to play vigilante. He would get on his motorcycle or borrow a taxi cab and roam around at night. As he said, he was looking for trouble he could fix.

So there was this sense that he was a hands-on mayor who didn’t hesitate to do what was needed without having to go through the bureaucracy or the judicial system. And that was the basis of his popularity. People were afraid, but also impressed that he actually went and did these things. When he became president, he basically nationalized these local practices.

Cover of Sovereign Trickster: Death and Laughter in the Age of Duterte. Cover features a photograph of an alleged drug dealer—and Duterte supporter—arrested after a buy-bust operation in a slum area in Manila on September 28, 2017. The photo is a close-up of the person's handcuffed hands, one of which bears a Duterte writstband.

RBG: Your book discusses Duterte’s brand of machismo. I’m happy to see that because I feel that we don’t take masculinity seriously enough as a tool of authoritarian rule. You capture the complex masculinity of Duterte, and his blend of fragility and brutality.

VR: Duterte talks unabashedly about sexuality, he makes these obscene vulgar jokes about rape, about women. But when you look more closely at his use of misogyny and machismo, you see they are part of complex storytelling devices. He’s a great storyteller, his way of using the vernacular is really quite amazing. It’s one of the ways he connects to people.  

As an example, he might say, oh, gee, they raped the women. And it was so beautiful and I should have been first. I was the mayor. And instead I was sort of left out of the whole thing. People crack up because it’s really about how his authority was obviated. And they can even sympathize with him.

RBG: It’s beyond awful, but it’s effective in terms of him building community and legitimating misogyny and sexual assault.

VR: Another example is a story he used to tell on the campaign trail about being sexually abused by an American Jesuit while he was going to confession. I think he connects with people who might have experienced the same thing. And yet he relates this painful trauma in a humorous fashion, saying, well, I still came out on top. I was abused, but I survived to tell this story.

Duterte also expresses vulnerability when he talks about dying, about how fragile his body is. So he says, I’m going to kill all of you. But he also says, I’m probably going to die tomorrow.

RBG: This sounds nihilistic. Many strongmen have a nihilistic streak.

VR: Yes, there’s a really close relationship between authoritarianism and nihilism. It’s this idea that well, I don’t mind risking the lives of my soldiers and my citizens, because we’re all going to die anyway. Someone’s going to assassinate me sooner or later. Someone’s going to launch a coup against me sooner later. So I’m just going to go all in now.

RBG: That’s great context for Duterte stepping aside from the presidency. How does someone like that fade into the sunset?

VR: Well, physically he’s very tired. I think that’s part of the reason he wants to step down and retire. Yet he’s got this legacy. His mode of governing and the practices he engaged in will continue. His daughter Sara will be there (even though they don’t get along), and if Marcos junior becomes president, he will be surrounded by a lot of Duterte allies and cronies.

Duterte’s also empowered the police to an enormous degree. It’s really the police that run the show. In the Philippines, unlike in the United States, police are nationalized. So it’s really the office of the president that controls the appointment of the chief of police and so forth.

In addition, in the Philippines Congress designates intelligence funds, a massive amount of money, and no one knows what it’s used for, it’s never accounted for. So the economic power, the political power, and of course the military power of the police will continue.

RBG: Isn’t there also some nostalgia for the Marcos era?

VR: Yes, and it comes out of a decade of propaganda, a lot of it on YouTube, about how wonderful martial law was, and how the son will continue what the father did—the attraction of continuity. People who support Duterte will support Marcos Jr. because Sara’s there. In fact, Marcos Jr. himself doesn’t have much of a platform. He always says I’m going to unify the country. Whatever that means.

RBG: Ah, the strongman slogan for one hundred years, still going strong!

Ruth Ben-Ghiat is Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University and author of Strongmen: From Mussolini to the Present (W.W. Norton & Company). This interview is republished with permission from her Substack newsletter Lucid. Vicente Rafael’s books are available for 50% off with coupon SPRING22 through May 27.

New Titles in Latin American Studies

We will be joining you for the Latin American Studies Association 2022 virtual Annual Congress! Check out our booth in the official exhibit hall. Editorial Director Gisela Fosado and Assistant Editor Alejandra Mejía will be joining you during the conference. Don’t miss Gisela in “The Art of Publishing: A Roundtable with Editors on Academic Articles and Books,” Thursday, May 5, 2:00-3:30pm PST. And you can find many of our authors participating in panels throughout the weekend.

Our spring sale is now live! Don’t miss out on this opportunity to pick up in-stock books and journal issues in Latin American studies – or any other discipline – for 50% off. Use coupon code SPRING22 through May 27 when you order on our website. Check out our sale FAQs for more details. 

Our conference landing page has all our newest titles in Latin American studies, or you can browse our complete list of books and journals in the field. Below, check out our digital catalog.

If you are looking to connect with any of our editors about your book project, see our editors’ specialties and contact information and our online submissions guidelines and submission portal.

Revisiting our Asian/Pacific American Cultures and Histories Syllabus

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and in honor of this annual celebration, we’re revisiting our staff-curated Asian/Pacific American Cultures and Histories Syllabus, originally published in March 2021. The articles, issues, and books in this syllabus discuss not only complex histories and contemporary experiences of racism and imperialism, but also community formation, solidarity between marginalized groups, and worldmaking possibilities.

See the full syllabus here.