Author: eelawrence

Excerpt from “Hope Draped in Black” by Joseph R. Winters

Winters cover image 6173-2Today we are proud to present this excerpt from Joseph R. Winters’ recent book Hope Draped in Black. In Hope Draped in Black the author responds to the belief that America follows a constant trajectory of racial progress, using African American literature and film to construct an idea of hope that embraces melancholy in order to acknowledge and mourn America’s traumatic history. This is an excerpt from Chapter 2, “Unhopeful but Not Hopeless”.

 

 

 

THE POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS OF SORROW AND LITERATURE
Why should we still read and engage The Souls of Black Folk? What is Du Bois’s relevance for thinking about the current relationship between race, gender, class, and politics? How does Souls invite the reader to reimagine the relationship between lit er a ture, aesthetics, and politics? Why should we pay as much attention to themes of loss, sorrow, death, and alienation in his thought as we do to motifs of progress, uplift, recognition, and the training of the black masses? While scholars disagree about how to interpret and understand Du Bois’s legacy, there seems to be consensus that engaging his thought continues to be productive and useful (even if only to trace and examine the limitations and gaps that Du Bois passed down to future generations). Commentators like Robert Gooding-Williams, for instance, argue that Souls is a major contribution to modern political thought because it attempts to delineate the appropriate political response to white supremacy, particularly as it operates in the Jim Crow era. Yet for Gooding- Williams, there are severe blind spots in Du Bois’s vision. For one, Du Bois adopts an expressive, romantic understanding of black peoplehood. He is seduced by a notion of the folk that assumes a coherent, pregiven racial identity, a seduction that I discussed and criticized in chapter 1. In addition to this limitation, Gooding- Williams argues that Du Bois’s political imagination is defined by a simple notion of recognition. The goal of black people’s strivings, according to the author of Souls, should be assimilation into, without a transformation of, the social- political order. As Gooding- Williams puts it, “Thus the raison d’etre of [black] leadership was to incorporate the excluded Negro masses into the group life of American society. To be exact, it was to assimilate them to the cultural standards, or norms, constituting American, and more generally Euro-American modernity.” 52 In opposition to this simple model of assimilation, Gooding- Williams turns to Frederick Douglass, who offers a pragmatic, nonessentialized understanding of race and politics in which the elimination of white supremacy requires the transformation of the social order.53
This interpretation underscores the more optimistic side of Du Bois’s thought, the part of Souls that argues for the resolution of black doubleconsciousness through assimilation into the nation-state and Euro-American modern life. This is a Du Bois who is relatively sanguine about the ideals, norms, and practices of American democracy and Western civilization more broadly. The basic arrangements are good; the problem is that certain groups are excluded from these essentially good arrangements. Yet as I have argued in this chapter, Du Bois often undermines and troubles his own optimism. Throughout the text and his corpus, he acknowledges that these arrangements rely on ongoing exclusions and erasures, imperial violence, and cultural amnesia. In addition, while Du Bois might endorse assimilation, the incorporation of black bodies and black cultural forms (especially the sorrow songs) into the nation- state disrupts and unsettles prevalent ways of narrating and imagining American history, modern life, and human existence. By placing racial trauma at the heart of American history, this heart becomes a broken one; experiences of racial loss and disappointment, experiences that constitute America’s brief history, challenge deeply entrenched fantasies of American exceptionalism and human triumph. Finally, Du Bois suggests that while the language of recognition, freedom, and rights are indispensable for political struggles, these struggles also need to be inspired by memories of loss, memories of disappointed longings and strivings, and a heightened sensitivity to those bodies, practices, communities, and desires that reside on the opaque sides of our multiple social Veils, those that elude current forms of recognition and protection. The sphere of recognition, in other words, never exists without shadows, losses, and specters. Progress always both involves and excludes a Josie, someone for whom progress is “necessarily ugly.”

 

Author Randy Weston elected to DownBeat Magazine’s Hall of Fame

Weston cover image, 4798-9Congratulations to pianist and Duke University Press author Randy Weston, who was just elected to DownBeat magazine’s Hall of Fame in the magazine’s 64th Annual International Critics Poll. Weston, who is the author of African Rhythms: The Autobiography of Randy Weston, becomes the 144 th member of the Hall of Fame, joining such jazz luminaries as Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and Louis Armstrong. DownBeat editor Bobby Reed writes that “the ever-youthful Randy Weston has expanded listeners’ understanding of what jazz is, how it originated, and where it can go. . . We’re thrilled to welcome him into the DownBeat Hall of Fame.” The full poll results will appear in the magazine’s August issue, which hits newsstands on July 19.

It’s Not What You Think: Affect Theory and Power Take to the Stage

Schaefer cover image, 5990-6Today we are happy to present a guest blog post from Duke University Press author Donovan O. Schaefer, who is Departmental Lecturer in Science and Religion at the University of Oxford, and author of our recent book Religious Affects. Here, Schaefer discusses affect theory, power, and performance.

Affect theory is an approach to culture, history, and politics that focuses on the role of prelinguistic or nonlinguistic forces, or affects. Affects make us what we are, but they are neither under our “conscious” control nor even necessarily within the register of our awareness—and they can only sometimes be captured in language. In Religious Affects, I offer an introduction to the subfield of affect theory that is (I hope) accessible to a range of backgrounds. I then explain how affect theory can be linked to other conversations happening in the humanities—including Michel Foucault’s “analytics of power,” the recent “animal turn,” critical secularism studies, and my home field of religious studies. Affect theory helps us understand power by encouraging us to think of power as theater.

One of the background figures of affect theory, Princeton psychologist Silvan Tomkins, began his academic training not as a psychologist, but as a playwright. He’s a drama kid at heart and affect theory is a dramatist’s understanding of people and their relationships. Drama kids know that acting isn’t about memorizing words on a page. Learning 500 lines of text is the easiest part of an actor’s job. Instead, acting is about taking those lines and packing each and every word—and the spaces between the words—with emotional nuance. An actor’s instrument is not a script, but a body, and effective actors will meticulously use every aspect of their bodies—their voice, hands, face, posture, stride, gaze, gait, and muscles—to build an affective symphony. Directors, too, use a nonverbal repertoire including timing, staging, and perspective to weave a thick knot of affects around their script. The most expertly scripted play can be ruined by underwhelming acting, clumsy direction, or confusing staging. This is because the work of making bodies move is not done by words alone, or even by words primarily. Thespians think not only about script, but about oration, blocking, staging, sound, atmosphere, and a whole embodied toolkit of movements and gestures. These elements are assembled into finely-tuned affect-distribution machines. A play’s success is measured by its ability to deliver a feast of affects.

Affect theory sees power in the same terms. As anthropologist Kathleen Stewart writes, “power is a thing of the senses.” (Ordinary Affects, 84) Rather than thinking about politics as a set of propositions that are sifted by rational, choosing subjects (“Vote for x if you want bridges, vote for y if you want bombers.”), affect theory sees it as a performance. Religious Affects talks about this specifically with reference to religion, exploring examples such as global Christian evangelicalism, American Islamophobia, and contemporary secularisms—but religion is only one of many formations of power, and so the affect method can be applied broadly. All that it takes is to recognize that power is first and foremost what Sara Ahmed calls an “affective economy” rather than a set of ideas or linguistic propositions. Affect theory helps us evade the “linguistic fallacy,” the belief that power is primarily conducted by thoughts and language. Instead, power as a “thing of the senses” feels before it thinks. It is hooked not to our transcendent rational consciousness, but to our animality.

Pundits like to talk about politics as if it is done from the top down. Sneaky politicians put up a front in order to dupe “the masses” into doing what they want. But this is contrary to how someone like Michel Foucault understands power. For Foucault, power is a relationship: it always flows in multiple directions rather than just from the top down. Except in extreme situations (such as confinement or the threat of imminent deadly force—which misleadingly become the templates we use to understand power more broadly), power requires some kind of buy-in—however uneven—from all parties involved. Affect theorists build on this insight, seeing politics not simply as a set of ideas that are neutrally and objectively evaluated, but as a performance, and like all performances, it is a dynamic between actors and audience. Politicians may “use” voters to get things done, but voters also “use” politicians to provide a particular experience—an evening at the theater. (Moreover, politicians undoubtedly “use” voters in the same way.) Whereas rhetorical analysis asks how affects are being mobilized to achieve certain political objectives, affect theorists argue that politics is being done in order to achieve certain affects.

This doesn’t mean that the consequences of politics are in any way trivial—that they don’t deal deprivation, pain, and death, or flourishing, peace, and happiness unevenly across societies. Politics is no less urgent for being structured by affects. If anything, affect theory shows that even a haughty turning-away from politics or a studied indifference is an affective construct—and therefore a political procedure. What affect theory shows is that a political formation is best understood not as a package of more-or-less coherent ideas but as a swirling vortex of emotions. This goes just as much for the incoherent rage-fests of a Trump rally (the lust for hatred, the desire for strength, the refusal of shame) as it does for the soaring optimism and calls for a more just society of a Sanders speech: both are avenues for the production of affects. The political is not just occasionally interrupted by affect. It is affect. The currency that connects our bodies and fuses us into communities is not a rationally elected choice, but a felt compulsion. This is the insight of affect theory: sovereign consciousness—including reason—is an effect of a matrix of moving lines of force, travelling through us and leaving power in their wake.

African American History Month

To celebrate African American History Month, we’re featuring some of our most recent books and a journal issue focused on that topic.

Cahan cover image, 5897-8In Mounting Frustration Susan E. Cahan uncovers the moment when the civil rights movement reached New York City’s elite art galleries. Focusing on three controversial exhibitions that integrated African American culture and art, Cahan shows how the art world’s racial politics is far more complicated than overcoming past exclusions.

In Shapeshifters Aimee Meredith Cox explores how young Black women in a Detroit homeless shelter contest stereotypes, critique their status as partial citizens, and negotiate poverty, racism, and gender violence to create and imagine lives for themselves. Based on eight years of fieldwork at the Fresh Start shelter, Cox shows how the shelter’s residents—who range in age from fifteen to twenty-two—employ strategic methods she characterizes as choreography to disrupt the social hierarchies and prescriptive narratives that work to marginalize them. Cox also uses these young women’s experiences to tell larger stories: of Detroit’s history, the Great Migration, deindustrialization, the politics of respectability, and the construction of Black girls and women as social problems. With Shapeshifters Cox gives a voice to young Black women who find creative and non-normative solutions to the problems that come with being young, Black, and female in America.

Sider cover image, 6008-7In Race Becomes Tomorrow Gerald M. Sider weaves together stories from his civil rights activism, his youth, and his experiences as an anthropologist to investigate the dynamic ways race has been constructed and lived in America since the 1960s. Tacking between past and present, Sider describes how political power, economic control, and racism inject chaos into the lives of ordinary people, especially African Americans, with surprising consequences. Sider’s stories—whether about cockroach races in immigrant homes, degrading labor conditions, or the claims and failures of police violence—provide numerous entry points into gaining a deeper understanding of how race and power both are and cannot be lived. They demonstrate that race is produced and exists in unpredictability, and that the transition from yesterday to tomorrow is anything but certain.

ddst_125The most recent issue of Social Text, “The Question of Recovery: Slavery, Freedom, and the Archive,” (number 125), edited by Laura Helton, Justin Leroy, Max A. Mishler, Samantha Seeley, and Shauna Sweeney features articles and two roundtables entitled, “Archives and Methods in the Study of Slavery and Freedom” and “Cartographies in the Archive: Mapping and the Digital Humanities.” This issue of Social Text takes as its starting point the generative tension between recovery as an imperative that is fundamental to historical writing and research—an imperative infused with political urgency by generations of scholar-activists—and the impossibility of recovery when engaged with archives whose very assembly and organization occlude certain historical subjects. In recent years, the field of Atlantic slavery and freedom has explicitly and forcefully grappled with this tension, as the limits of recovery have reshaped the parameters of scholarly debate.

.

Chappell cover image, 6172-5We are pleased to announce that This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed, by Charles E. Cobb, and Waking from the Dream, by David L. Chappell, are now published by Duke University Press.
In This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed, Charles E. Cobb Jr. describes the vital role that armed self-defense played in the survival and liberation of black communities in America during the Southern Freedom Movement of the 1960s.
In Waking from the Dream, David L. Chappell provides a sweeping history of the fight to keep the civil rights movement alive in the decades following Martin Luther King’s assassination.

Lazarre cover image, 6166-4Twenty years ago, we published Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness. In this moving memoir Jane Lazarre, a white Jewish mother, describes her experience being married to an African American man and raising two sons as she learns, from family experience, teaching, and her studies, about the realities of racism in America. Next month, we are proud to be publishing a special Twentieth Anniversary Edition, which features a new preface, in which Lazarre’s elegy for Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and so many others, reminds us of the continued resonance of race in American life. As #BlackLivesMatter gains momentum, Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness is more urgent and essential than ever.

The Evolution of LGBT Rights in India

978-0-8223-6043-8Today we’re pleased to present a post by Jyoti Puri, Professor of Sociology at Simmons College, whose forthcoming book Sexual States: Governance and the Struggle over the Antisodomy Law in India (out March 25th, 2016) uses the example of the recent efforts to decriminalize homosexuality in India to show how the regulation of sexuality is fundamentally tied to the creation and enduring existence of the Indian state. Here, she responds to a recent article on LGBT rights in India posted in The New York Times.

Raghu Karnad’s recent account does a fine job providing insight into legislative efforts to decriminalize homosexuality in India, but it is missing a critique of the state as the cornerstone of such reform. When Naz Foundation (India) Trust petitioned the Delhi High Court in 2001 to modify the antisodomy law, it was envisioned as the first step toward securing rights for same-sex sexualities. Although this legal campaign was little known at the time, once the government opposed the Naz Foundation writ in 2003, individuals and groups from around the country rallied around the endeavor to decriminalize homosexuality. As a result, overturning the antisodomy law became the lightning rod of aspirations for sexual justice and the emphasis came to rest on the state.

Over the years, much changed—not only did the Supreme Court overrule the Delhi High Court’s historic ruling decriminalizing homosexuality, but also the government went from opposing decriminalization to supporting it. Yet, pivotal to understanding these differences and reversals is the matter of whether the state ought to continue to regulate homosexuality by criminalizing it. Indeed, while there are ideological differences among state officials, elected officials, party representatives, and such, also referenced in Karnad’s article, they are an alibi for the question of the state’s purview over sexuality. Insofar as state institutions are expected to administer on behalf of public interests, the underlying question is about the role of the state.

Seen in this light, the quest to make a case for rights and freedom in the parliament is laudable but not likely to make much headway among those who are invested in upholding the state and its purview. To be sure, members of parliament sometimes rule to reduce the state’s reach, but issues of sexuality especially seem to provoke greater state vigilance. The expanded role of law and law enforcement in cases of sexual assault and domestic violence in the Indian context are cases in point.

If there is one upshot thus far, then it is about the importance of looking away from the state as the source of justice. In contrast to the elusive victory in the courts and the legislature thus far, significant changes are taking place in mainstream discourses on same-sex sexualities. Public demonstrations and pride parades, sympathetic coverage especially in the English-language and digital media, increased public support for same-sex sexualities began as side notes of the legal campaign but are transforming the social landscape. The antisodomy law needs to be repealed, but perhaps the needs of same-sex sexualities are better served when it does not serve as the emblem or index of progress.

New Books in February

It seemed like January zoomed right by us, and now February is already here! Which of course means it’s time to take a look at the new books to watch out for this month.

Adams cover image, 6097-1
The contributors to Metrics, edited by Vincanne Adams, use ethnographic evidence from around the globe to evaluate the accomplishments, limits, and the consequences of applying metrics to global health. Now the standard in measuring global health program success, metrics has far implications that extend beyond patients to the political and financial realms.

In The Brain’s Body Victoria Pitts-Taylor applies feminist and critical theory to recent developments in neuroscience and new materialist social thought to demonstrate how the brain interacts with and is impacted by power, social structures, and inequality.

Day cover image, 6093-3In Alien Capital Iyko Day retheorizes the history and logic of settler colonialism by examining its intersection with Asian racialization and capitalism, showing how the conflation of Asian immigrants to Canada and the United states with the abstract dimensions of capital became settler colonialism’s defining feature.

Lesley Gill traces the rise and fall of the strong labor unions and working class of Barrancabermeja, Colombia in A Century of Violence in a Red City, showing how the incursion of neoliberalism, the drug trade, and counterinsurgency military campaigns into civil society that began in the 1980s has destabilized everyday life and decimated the city’s powerful social institutions.

Published in China in 2010 and appearing here in English for the first time, Revolution and its Narratives, by Cai Xiang and edited by Rebecca E. Karl and Xueping Zhong, is a historical, literary, and critical account of the cultural production of the narratives of China’s socialist revolution that illuminates the complexity of socialist art, culture, and politics.

Pierce cover image, 6091-9In Moral Economies of Corruption Steven Pierce provides a cultural history of the last 150 years of corruption in Nigeria as a case study for considering corruption’s dynamic nature, finding it to be a culturally contingent set of political discourses and historically embedded practices.

Placing the body at the center of critical improvisation studies, the contributors to Negotiated Moments, edited by Gillian Siddall and Ellen Waterman, explore the challenges of negotiating subjectivity through improvisation in various forms—from jazz, Japanese taiko drumming, and Iranian classical music to sound walking and political street theater.

Coles cover image, 6064-3In Visionary Pragmatism, Romand Coles’s new mode of scholarship and political practice called “visionary pragmatism” blends theory with practice in the generation of new transformative responses to contemporary political and ecological crises.

Indonesian Notebook, edited by Brian Russell Roberts and Keith Foulcher, contains myriad documents by Indonesian writers, intellectuals, and reporters that provide the largely absent Indonesian perspectives of the 1955 Bandung Conference and of Richard Wright’s activities there, adding new depths to the understandings of the conference. It also includes a newly discovered lecture by Wright.

A Close Encounter in World Literature: Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Richard Wright, and Asia-Africa

Today we’re delighted to offer a guest post by Brian Russell Roberts and Keith Foulcher, authors of the forthcoming Indonesian Notebook: A Sourcebook on Richard Wright and the Bandung ConferenceBrian Russell Roberts is Associate Professor of English at Brigham Young University and Keith Foulcher is Honorary Associate in the Department of Indonesian Studies at the University of Sydney.

In 1989, in response to the Indonesian government’s ban on Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s
Buru Quartet (his series of four historical novels), the magazine Inside Indonesia protested that “the ban on works by Pramoedya Ananta Toer constitutes a violation by the Suharto military regime against Indonesian and world literature.” This treatment at the end of the 1980s was a far cry from the Indonesian government’s approach to Pramoedya during the Republic’s early years. And of course the Indonesian state in 1989 was a far cry from the Indonesian state of 1951, when the government (through the Indonesian Embassy in Washington DC) gave Pramoedya one of his first English-language endorsements. In a booklet titled The Cultural Life of Indonesia, the Embassy reported that among other young writers, “P. A. Toer” had “attracted attention in recent years.” Already oriented toward world literature, his works “reflect[ed] especially the influence of Steinbeck, de St. Exupéry, and Richard Wright.” The following year, Pramoedya himself declared his admiration for Wright in one of his own essays, advocating the “bitter realism” he  found in Wright’s autobiographical Black Boy (1946) as the model of a literary realism commensurate with the social realities of postcolonial Indonesia.

RobertsandFoulcher_blogpost_image1
Pramoedya Ananta Toer in the early 1950s. Photograph from H. B. Jassin’s Kesusasteraan Indonesia Modern dalam Kritik dan Essay (Gunung Agung: Jakarta, 1955).

During these first years of the 1950s, Pramoedya was loosely associated with a group of
young Indonesian writers, artists, and intellectuals who in a 1948 statement of beliefs had declared they were the “rightful heirs to world culture,” in whose work international influences  would be “hurled back” to the world, reinterpreted with an Indonesian voice. By the mid-1950s, however, Pramoedya had distanced himself from this largely Western-oriented internationalism and moved toward the left internationalism advocated by LEKRA, a cultural organization with links to the Indonesian Communist Party. This move was in line with Indonesian politics under President Soekarno (who was also moving toward the left), but it eventually led to years of brutal imprisonment and the banning of his writing under President Suharto. Ironically, Pramoedya’s interest in Wright, facilitated by his early affinity for Western-oriented internationalism, seems to have helped move him away from the West, as the seeds of Wright’s “bitter realism” (which  themselves were inspired in part by Wright’s interest in the Communist Party USA) became prelude to Pramoedya’s subsequent advocacy of writing that was left-oriented and committed to revolutionary change.

During the mid-twentieth century, Wright was also changing politically, so that by the
time he visited Indonesia in 1955 as a freelance correspondent covering the watershed Asian-African Conference, he was still inspired by Marxian thought but had publicly denounced Communism. In Indonesia, Wright found himself (by design of the Congress for Cultural Freedom which sponsored his Indonesian travels) circulating largely among writers of the West-oriented literary circle that Pramoedya had now begun to turn his back on.

RobertsandFoulcher_blogpost_image2


Photo of Wright at a 1955 gathering of Indonesian writers and intellectuals who saw themselves as “heirs to world culture.” Photographer unknown. Courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

But as we document in Indonesian Notebook: A Sourcebook on Richard Wright and the Bandung Conference, Pramoedya and Wright had a series of close, if not personal, encounters. At the beginning of Wright’s stay in Indonesia, one of his hosts gave Wright a list of potential contacts that included a note saying Pramoedya was “in my personal opinion in some way influenced by R. Wright.” And at the time, Pramoedya was closely affiliated with the Indonesian cultural organization BMKN (Council for Deliberations on National Culture), so he may well have attended the 2 May lecture Wright gave for this organization. During the lecture, Pramoedya would have heard Wright’s prescient warning: “So, young writers, enter the political arena,…but don’t be surprised if you end up losing…your head!” Later, Pramoedya probably had a hand in selecting or commissioning the BMKN newsletter’s review of (and Indonesian translations of significant excerpts from) the French-language version of Wright’s Asian-African travelogue, The Color Curtain: A Report on the Bandung Conference (1956).

M. Lynn Weiss has suggested that Wright’s Black Boy showcases African American
experience “as the hallmark of modernity,” as a “rich instance of the conflict…between the  individual and the community,” such that “Wright’s gift to world literature was to move the Other from the circumference to the center of modern life.” If so, Black Boy’s formative influence on Pramoedya’s short stories of the 1950s (which the late Benedict Anderson recently called “the greatest of his writings”) found its ultimate realization in the dispossessed colonial Other of Pramoedya’s (and world literature’s) Buru Quartet. Late in life, Wright sought a similar trajectory, linking his own experiences to the postcolonial Asian-African world. There may well be a greater world-literary convergence here than readers of either Wright or Pramoedya have yet realized.

Remembering Nancy Abelmann

nabelmanWe were saddened to learn of the death this week of Nancy Abelmann, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research (Humanities, Arts and Related Fields) and the Harry E. Preble Professor of Anthropology, Asian American Studies, East Asian Languages and Cultures, and Gender & Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, co-director of the Ethnography of the University Initiative, and author of The Intimate University: Korean American Students and the Problems of Segregation (2009) as well as several other books. She wrote on family, class, gender, education, and migration with a focus on South Korea and Korean/Asian America.978-0-8223-4615-9

Duke University Press Editorial Director Ken Wissoker says that, “She was a pathbreaking scholar who was always making connections between scholars from Asia and from North America.  She thought seriously about the academy and the lives of those of different backgrounds and experiences in it.” Wissoker adds that, “Most of all, she was a tireless mentor.  I can’t count the times I saw her sitting on the floor in a hotel or airport with a younger scholar giving them advice on their writing or their cv.  Her generosity was boundless and beyond words. She will be truly missed.”

Our thoughts and heartfelt sympathy are with her family, friends, and colleagues.

New Books in January

Happy New Year! We hope everyone had a safe and happy new year’s eve. What better way to ring in the new year than with new books? We have a great roster of books to keep an eye out for this month.

Kaczinsky cover image, 5980-7Emotional, moving, and powerful, Every Last Tie is the highly personal memoir of David Kaczynski—brother of Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber—in which he discusses his family, comes to terms with his brother’s crimes, and meditates on the possibilities for reconciliation and maintaining family bonds.

In Mounting Frustration Susan E. Cahan uncovers the moment when the civil rights movement reached New York City’s elite art galleries. Focusing on three controversial exhibitions that integrated African American culture and art, Cahan shows how the art world’s racial politics is far more complicated than overcoming past exclusions.

Konadu cover image, 5992-0Covering 500 years of Ghana’s history, The Ghana Reader, edited by Kwasi Konadu and Clifford C. Campbell, provides a multitude of historical, political, and cultural perspectives on this important West African nation, emphasizing Ghana’s enormous symbolic and pragmatic value to global relations and its ethnic and cultural diversity.

In Making Refuge Catherine Besteman follows the lives of a group of Somali Bantu refugees over the course of three decades, from their pre-civil war homes and terrible experiences in Kenyan refugee camps, to their recent resettlement in the struggling former mill town of Lewiston, Maine.

Chafe cover image, 6230-2Revised and Expanded with two new chapters on Hillary Clinton’s career as a U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, and presidential candidate, in Hillary and Bill William H. Chafe boldly argues that the trajectory of the Clintons’ political lives can be understood only through the prism of their personal relationship.

Edited by Ronald Radano and Tejumola Olaniyan, Audible Empire‘s contributors rethink the mechanisms of empire, showing how musical practice has been important to its spread around the globe. The volume’s fifteen interdisciplinary essays cover large swaths of genre, time, politics, and geography to put forth music as a means of comprehending empire as an audible formation.

Lee cover image, 6037-7

In Ingenious Citizenship Charles T. Lee centers the daily experiences of migrant domestic workers, sex workers, transgender people, and suicide bombers in his rethinking of models of social change to show how ingenious and subversive acts disrupt traditional practices of liberal citizenship in order to exercise political agency.

In Owners of the Sidewalk, an ethnography of the Cancha mega-market in Cochabama, Bolivia, Daniel M. Goldstein examines what it means for the market’s poorest vendors to maintain personal safety and economic stability by navigating systems of informality and illegality and how this dynamic is representative of the neoliberal modern city.

Biddle cover image, 6071-1In Remote Avant-Garde Jennifer Loureide Biddle interrogates the avant-garde art of Aboriginal communities in the Australian desert, showing how it is an act of survival in the face of state occupation and a means to revive at-risk vernacular languages and cultural heritages.

Edited by Gloria Ferreira and Paulo Herkenhoff and published by The Museum of Modern Art, Mário Pedrosa is the latest volume in MoMA’s Primary Documents series and provides an anthology of the writings of Mário Pedrosa, Brazil’s preeminent critic of art, culture, and politics and one of Latin America’s most frequently cited public intellectuals. It is the first publication to provide comprehensive English translations of Pedrosa’s writings, which are indispensable to understanding Brazilian art of the twentieth century.

New Books in November

November is here, and as usual we have a lot of great books on offer this month. Keep an eye out for the following books, which will be coming out in the next few weeks:

Galli cover image, 6032-2Appearing here in English for the first time, Janus’s Gaze: Essays on Carl Schmitt is the culmination of Carlo Galli’s ongoing critique of the work of Carl Schmitt where he finds the unifying thread of Schmitt’s work to be his creation of the genealogy of modernity.

With an adventurous writing style, Anand Pandian explores the transformative potential of cinema in Reel World: An Anthropology of Creation, following Tamil films from the spark of artistic impulse through their production, marketing, and reception to show how cinema recasts the ordinary experience of everyday life.

Kirksey cover image, 6035-3In Emergent Ecologies Eben Kirksey insists that we should turn our attention toward small-scale ecologies and search for hope in the efforts of individuals who are building new ecologies, and in the plants, animals, and fungi that are flourishing in unexpected places.

Zoë H. Wool explores how the most severely injured veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars rehabilitating at Walter Reed Medical Center—whether recovering from losing a limb or sustaining a traumatic brain injury—struggle to build some kind of ordinary life in a situation that is anything but ordinary in After War: The Weight of Life at Walter Reed.

Lightfoot cover image, 6007-0In Troubling Freedom: Antigua and the Aftermath of British Emancipation, Natasha Lightfoot tells the story of how Antigua’s newly freed black working people struggled to realize freedom, prior to and in the decades following their emancipation in 1834. Their continued efforts in the face of oppression complicate common definitions of freedom and narratives about newly freed slaves in the Caribbean.

In Metroimperial Intimacies: Fantasy, Racial-Sexual Governance, and the Philippines in U.S. Imperialism, 1899-1913 Victor Román Mendoza shows how America’s imperial incursions into the Philippines fostered social and sexual intimacies between Americans and native Filipinos, that along with representations of Filipinos as sexually degenerate, were crucial to regulating both colonial subjects and gender norms at home.

In This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible, now published by Duke University Press with a new preface, Charles E. Cobb Jr. describes the vital role that armed self-defense played in the survival and liberation of black communities in America during the Southern Freedom Movement of the 1960s.

Eidsheim cover image, 6061-2Through an analysis of four contemporary operas, in Sensing Sound: Singing and Listening as Vibrational Practice Nina Sun Eidsheim offers a vibrational theory of music that radically re-envisions of how we think about sound, music, and listening by challenging common assumptions about sound, freeing it from a constraining set of fixed concepts and meanings.