Author: Jessica

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Today is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, a day honored by the United Nations. This year’s theme is indigenous people’s migration and movement. The UN writes:

“As a result of loss of their lands, territories and resources due to development and other pressures, many indigenous peoples migrate to urban areas in search of better prospects of life, education and employment. They also migrate between countries to escape conflict, persecution and climate change impacts. Despite the widespread assumption that indigenous peoples live overwhelmingly in rural territories, urban areas are now home to a significant proportion of indigenous populations. In Latin America, around 40 per cent of all indigenous peoples live in urban areas — even 80 per cent in some countries of the region. In most cases, indigenous peoples who migrate find better employment opportunities and improve their economic situation but alienate themselves from their traditional lands and customs. Additionally, indigenous migrants face a myriad of challenges, including lack of access to public services and additional layers of discrimination.”

We invite you to learn about the various issues affecting indigenous peoples by reading some of our latest scholarship in native and indigenous studies.

978-1-4780-0023-5Ethnographies of U.S. Empire, edited by Carole McGranahan and John F. Collins, presents scholarship from across U.S. imperial formations: settler colonialism, overseas territories, communities impacted by U.S. military action or political intervention, Cold War alliances and fissures, and, most recently, new forms of U.S. empire after 9/11. From the Mohawk Nation, Korea, and the Philippines to Iraq and the hills of New Jersey, the contributors show how a methodological and theoretical commitment to ethnography sharpens our understandings of the ways people live, thrive, and resist in the imperial present.

In Colonial Lives of Property Brenna Bhandar examines how modern property law contributes to the formation of racial subjects in settler colonies and to the development of racial capitalism. Examining both historical cases and ongoing processes of settler colonialism in Canada, Australia, and Israel and Palestine, Bhandar shows how the colonial appropriation of indigenous lands depends upon ideologies of European racial superiority as well as upon legal narratives that equate civilized life with English concepts of property.

ddeh_64_1_coverEthnohistory reflects the wide range of current scholarship inspired by anthropological and historical approaches to the human condition around the world, but with a particular emphasis on the Americas. Of particular interest are those analyses and interpretations that seek to make evident the experiences, organizations, and identities of indigenous, diasporic, and minority peoples that otherwise elude the histories and anthropologies of nations, states, and colonial empires. The journal welcomes a theoretical and cross-cultural discussion of ethnohistorical materials and publishes work from the disciplines of art history, geography, literature, archaeology, anthropology, and history, among others. Recent special issue topics include “Native American Slavery in the Seventeenth Century” and “Colonial Mesoamerican Literacy: Method, Form, and Consequence.”

978-0-8223-6994-3Dana E. Powell, in Landscapes of Powerexamines the rise and fall of the controversial Desert Rock Power Plant initiative in New Mexico to trace the political conflicts surrounding native sovereignty and contemporary energy development on Navajo (Diné) Nation land.  Examining the labor of activists, artists, politicians, elders, technicians, and others, Powell emphasizes the generative potential of Navajo resistance to articulate a vision of autonomy in the face of twenty-first-century colonial conditions.

In Art for an Undivided Earth Jessica L. Horton reveals how the spatial philosophies underlying the American Indian Movement (AIM) were refigured by a generation of artists searching for new places to stand. Upending the assumption that Jimmie Durham, James Luna, Kay WalkingStick, Robert Houle, and others were primarily concerned with identity politics, she joins them in remapping the coordinates of a widely shared yet deeply contested modernity that is defined in great part by the colonization of the Americas.

978-0-8223-6368-2In The Power of the Steel-tipped Pen Noenoe K. Silva reconstructs the indigenous intellectual history of a culture where—using Western standards—none is presumed to exist. Silva examines the work of two lesser-known Hawaiian writers—Joseph Ho‘ona‘auao Kanepu‘u and Joseph Moku‘ohai Poepoe—to show how the rich intellectual history preserved in Hawaiian-language newspapers is key to understanding Native Hawaiian epistemology and ontology.

Critically Sovereign, edited by Joanne Barker, traces the ways in which gender is inextricably a part of Indigenous politics and U.S. and Canadian imperialism and colonialism. Following the politics of gender, sexuality, and feminism across diverse historical and cultural contexts, the contributors question and reframe the thinking about Indigenous knowledge, nationhood, citizenship, history, identity, belonging, and the possibilities for a decolonial future.

978-0-8223-6297-5What does it mean to say that Native peoples exist in the present?  In Beyond Settler Time Mark Rifkin investigates the dangers of seeking to include Indigenous peoples within settler temporal frameworks. Claims that Native peoples should be recognized as coeval with Euro-Americans, Rifkin argues, implicitly treat dominant non-native ideologies and institutions as the basis for defining time itself. Drawing on physics, phenomenology, queer studies, and postcolonial theory, Rifkin develops the concept of “settler time” to address how Native peoples are both consigned to the past and inserted into the present in ways that normalize non-native histories, geographies, and expectations.

Bolivian Independence Day

Today is Bolivian Independence Day, and in honor of the occasion, we’re sharing some of our most significant scholarship on Bolivia.

978-0-8223-7152-6We’re pleased to announce the recent publication of The Bolivia Reader, which provides a panoramic view, from antiquity to the present, of the history, culture, and politics of a country known for its ethnic and regional diversity, its rich natural resources and dilemmas of economic development, and its political conflict and creativity. Featuring both classic and little-known texts ranging from fiction, memoir, and poetry to government documents, journalism, and political speeches, the volume challenges stereotypes of Bolivia as a backward nation while offering insights into the country’s history of mineral extraction, revolution, labor organizing, indigenous peoples’ movements, and much more.

978-0-8223-7108-3In Domesticating Democracy Susan Helen Ellison examines foreign-funded alternate dispute resolution (ADR) organizations that provide legal aid and conflict resolution to vulnerable citizens in El Alto, Bolivia. Ellison shows that these programs do more than just help residents cope with their interpersonal disputes and economic troubles—they also aim to change the ways Bolivians interact with the state and with global capitalism, making them into self-reliant citizens.

Many of Bolivia’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens work as vendors in the Cancha mega-market in the city of Cochabamba, where they must navigate systems of informality and illegality in order to survive. In Owners of the Sidewalk Daniel M. Goldstein examines the ways these systems correlate in the marginal spaces of the Latin American city, showing how the state’s deliberate neglect and criminalization of the Cancha’s poor—a practice common to neoliberal modern cities—makes the poor exploitable and consigns them to an insecure existence.

978-0-8223-6045-2Also by Daniel Goldstein, Outlawed reveals how indigenous residents of marginal neighborhoods in Cochabamba struggle to balance security with rights. Feeling abandoned to the crime and violence that grip their communities, they sometimes turn to vigilante practices, including lynching, to apprehend and punish suspected criminals. Goldstein describes those in this precarious position as “outlawed”: not protected from crime by the law but forced to comply with legal measures in other areas of their lives, their solutions to protection criminalized while their needs for security are ignored. Outlawed illuminates the complex interconnections between differing definitions of security and human rights at the local, national, and global levels.

978-0-8223-5617-2Earth Politics by Waskar Ari focuses on the lives of four indigenous activist-intellectuals in Bolivia, key leaders in the Alcaldes Mayores Particulares (AMP), a movement established to claim rights for indigenous education and reclaim indigenous lands from hacienda owners. Depicting the social worlds and life work of the activists, Ari traverses Bolivia’s political and social landscape from the 1920s into the early 1970s, revealing the AMP’s extensive geographic reach, genuine grassroots quality, and vibrant regional diversity.

Between 2000 and 2005, Bolivia was radically transformed by a series of popular indigenous uprisings against the country’s neoliberal and antidemocratic policies. In Rhythms of the Pachakuti, Raquel Gutiérrez Aguilar documents these mass collective actions, tracing the internal dynamics of such disruptions to consider how motivation and execution incite political change.

978-0-8223-4546-6During the mid-1990s, a bilingual intercultural education initiative was launched to promote the introduction of indigenous languages alongside Spanish in public elementary schools in Bolivia’s indigenous regions. Drawing on his collaborative work with indigenous organizations and bilingual-education activists as well as more traditional ethnographic research, Bret Gustafson, in New Languages of the State, traces two decades of indigenous resurgence and education politics in Bolivia, from the 1980s through the election of Evo Morales in 2005.

A Revolution for Our Rights by Laura Gotkowitz is a critical reassessment of the causes and significance of the Bolivian Revolution of 1952. Historians have tended to view the revolution as the result of class-based movements that accompanied the rise of peasant leagues, mineworker unions, and reformist political projects in the 1930s. Challenging conventional wisdom, Gotkowitz argues that the revolution had deeper roots in the indigenous struggles for land and justice that swept through Bolivia during the first half of the twentieth century.

978-0-8223-4154-3-frontcoverCombining anthropological methods and theories with political philosophy, in El Alto, Rebel City Sian Lazar analyzes everyday practices and experiences of citizenship in El Alto, Bolivia, where more than three-quarters of the population identify as indigenous Aymara. For several years, El Alto has been at the heart of resistance to neoliberal market reforms, such as the export of natural resources and the privatization of public water systems. Lazar examines the values, practices, and conflicts behind the astonishing political power exercised by El Alto citizens in the twenty-first century.

Unequal Cures by Ann Zulawski illuminates the connections between public health and political change in Bolivia from the beginning of the twentieth century, when the country was a political oligarchy, until the eve of the 1952 national revolution that ushered in universal suffrage, agrarian reform, and the nationalization of Bolivia’s tin mines. Zulawski examines both how the period’s major ideological and social transformations changed medical thinking and how ideas of public health figured in debates about what kind of country Bolivia should become.

Series Launch: Global and Insurgent Legalities

This month we’re excited to announce the new book series Global and Insurgent Legalities, edited by Jonathan Goldberg-Hiller and Eve Darian-Smith.

Global and Insurgent Legalities explores how law and legal cultures travel within and beyond national jurisdictions and how they become reconfigured in the process. Books in this series attend to the ways schools of thought indigenous to the global South refract and reframe the Continental social and legal theories that are typically associated with scholarship produced in the global North. The series promotes critical, interdisciplinary, and transnational sociolegal work on topics ranging from social, sexual, and colonial inequalities to the circulation of non-western concepts of property, sovereignty, and individualism. Recognizing the enduring impact of imperialism, colonialism, and oppression on legal and social relations, Global and Insurgent Legalities decenters the production of legal theory to include perspectives, voices, and concepts from around the world.

978-0-8223-7146-5The series’ first book is Colonial Lives of Property by Brenna Bhandar, which examines how modern property law contributes to the formation of racial subjects in settler colonies and to the development of racial capitalism. Examining both historical cases and ongoing processes of settler colonialism in Canada, Australia, and Israel and Palestine, Bhandar shows how the colonial appropriation of indigenous lands depends upon ideologies of European racial superiority as well as upon legal narratives that equate civilized life with English concepts of property.

978-0-8223-7035-2Renisa Mawani’s Across Oceans of Law joins Global and Insurgent Legalities this month. Mawani retells the well-known story of the Komagata Maru, a British-built, Japanese-owned steamship whose Punjabi migrant passengers were denied entry into Canada, and later deported to Calcutta, in 1914. Drawing on “oceans as method”—a mode of thinking and writing that repositions land and sea—Mawani examines the historical and conceptual stakes of situating histories of Indian migration within maritime worlds.

Both of these books are available now, and we look forward to watching the series grow!

On “Theses on Theory and History”

Capture2We’re pleased to share a post from the Wild On Collective, which comprises Ethan Kleinberg, Joan Wallach Scott, and Gary Wilder, about their new project “Theses on Theory and History.” Scott and Wilder are both Duke University Press authors; Scott is editor of Women’s Studies on the Edge and author of The Fantasy of Feminist History, and Wilder is author of Freedom Time and co-editor of The Struggle for Life is the Matter, forthcoming in 2019.

Linked here is a programmatic intervention entitled “Theses on Theory and History” co-written by the three academic historians who currently compose the Wild On Collective. This first publication, which is freely available for web viewing or as a downloadable PDF, emerged from a series of conversations among the three of us that began in fall 2018. Despite our different theoretical investments and analytic orientations, we were each struck by how deeply entrenched realist epistemology and empiricist methodology remains in the field of disciplinary history. This, notwithstanding repeated attempts by successive generations of critics to free historical thinking and knowledge from the fetishes of archival evidence, chronological narrative, and reified boundaries between past and present. We discussed the perverse mechanism whereby the epistemological challenges to conventional history that developed between the 1970s and 1990s were superficially embraced, only in order to be domesticated as new themes or topics to be explored in familiar ways. We concurred that circumscribed assumptions about what counts as historical evidence, argument, and truth are systemically produced by the disciplinary guild.

“Theses on Theory and History” is divided into three sections: one on the assumptions of disciplinary history, another on the strategies through which the field resists “theory” as somehow foreign to real history, and a third which calls programmatically for a theoretically informed practice of critical history. Our aim is to provoke a debate among and beyond professional historians about the intellectual implications of this unstated but regularly enforced disciplinary commonsense concerning descriptive realism and archival empiricism. Specifically, we hope to challenge any artificial separation of empirical research and theoretical reflection; to invite historians to be more conceptually self-aware and critically self-reflexive; to push the field to recognize non-realist and non-empiricist modes of analysis as legitimate ways to know the past; and to remind scholars in other fields that professional history does not possess a monopoly on modes of historical thinking or means of historical insight.

Because these domesticating and disciplining processes are systemic, our theses address all aspects of professional history—training, research, writing, publishing, hiring. Likewise, we believe that any attempt to redress such problems must do so holistically. This intervention is not in any way meant to be a comprehensive inventory of all that is wrong, even theoretically, with the field and the guild (e.g., the persistent Eurocentrism of its frameworks). Even less is it meant to be theoretically prescriptive; we make no claims about which theories historians should engage, how they might be employed, how they might go about theorizing their own work, or to what end. But we do believe that any attempt to change a specific aspect of the field that brackets questions about what counts as evidence and how we produce knowledge is likely to be limited at best. We hope that this initial intervention is only a first step in opening a broader debate about these issues within the field of history. We also hope to create a community of like-minded scholars, within and beyond the field of history, to share concerns about and strategies for doing history otherwise.

Series Launch: On Decoloniality

We’re excited to announce the launch of a new book series, On Decoloniality, edited by Walter D. Mignolo and Catherine E. Walsh. Two books are available now, and we look forward to watching the series grow.

On Decoloniality interconnects a diverse array of perspectives from the lived experiences of coloniality and decolonial thought/praxis in different local histories from across the globe. The series identifies and examines decolonial engagements in Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, the Americas, South Asia, South Africa, and beyond from standpoints of feminisms, erotic sovereignty, Fanonian thought, post-Soviet analyses, global indigeneity, and ongoing efforts to delink, relink, and rebuild a radically distinct praxis of living. Aimed at a broad audience, from scholars, students, and artists to journalists, activists, and socially engaged intellectuals, On Decoloniality invites a wide range of participants to join one of the fastest growing debates in the humanities and social sciences that attends to the lived concerns of dignity, life, and the survival of the planet.

Cover of On Decoloniality by Walter D. Mignolo and Catherine E. WalshOn Decoloniality: Concepts, Analytics, Praxis, authored by the series editors, is the first book in the series. Mignolo and Walsh explore the hidden forces of the colonial matrix of power, its origination, transformation, and current presence, while asking the crucial questions of decoloniality’s how, what, why, with whom, and what for.

The second book, What Does It Mean to Be Post-Soviet? by Madina Tlostanova, traces how contemporary post-Soviet art mediates this human condition. Observing how the concept of the happy future—which was at the core of the project of Soviet modernity—has lapsed from the post-Soviet imagination, Tlostanova shows how the possible way out of such a sense of futurelessness lies in the engagement with activist art.

LGBT Pride Month

Happy Pride Month! We’re excited to share our latest books and journals in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer studies. Join us in celebrating LGBTQ+ pride by reading up!

978-0-8223-7070-3The Rest of It: Hustlers, Cocaine, Depression, and Then Some, 1976–1988 is the new memoir of Martin Duberman, a major historian and founding figure of gay and lesbian studies. Duberman tells the revealing story of how he managed to survive and be productive during a difficult twelve-year period in which he was beset by drug addiction, health problems, and personal loss.

From experimental shorts and web series to Hollywood blockbusters and feminist porn, the work of African American lesbian filmmakers has made a powerful contribution to film history but has been largely unacknowledged by cinema historians and cultural critics. Assembling a range of interviews, essays, and conversations, Sisters in the Life, edited by Yvonne Welbon and Alexandra Juhasz, tells a full story of out African American lesbian media-making spanning three decades.

978-0-8223-6983-7In her new book Me and My House, Magdalena Zaborowska uses James Baldwin’s house in the south of France as a lens through which to reconstruct his biography and to explore the politics and poetics of blackness, queerness, and domesticity in his complex and underappreciated later works.

Libby Adler’s Gay Priori offers a comprehensive critique of the mainstream LGBT legal agenda in the United States, showing how LGBT equal rights discourse drives legal advocates toward a narrow array of reform objectives that do little to help the lives of the most marginalized members of the LGBT community.

art1In the 1970s a group of pioneering feminist and queer entrepreneurs launched a movement that ultimately changed the way sex was talked about, had, and enjoyed. In Vibrator Nation Lynn Comella tells the fascinating history of how feminist sex-toy stores raised sexual consciousness, redefined the adult industry, and changed women’s lives.

Developed in the United States in the 1980s, facial feminization surgery (FFS) is a set of bone and soft tissue reconstructive surgical procedures intended to feminize the faces of trans- women. In The Look of a Woman Eric Plemons foregrounds the narratives of FFS patients and their surgeons as they move from consultation and the operating room to postsurgery recovery. He shows how the increasing popularity of FFS represents a shift away from genital-based conceptions of trans- selfhood in ways that mirror the evolving views of what is considered to be good trans- medicine.

978-0-8223-7038-3From the dagger mistress Ezili Je Wouj and the gender-bending mermaid Lasiren to the beautiful femme queen Ezili Freda, the Ezili pantheon of Vodoun spirits represents the divine forces of love, sexuality, prosperity, pleasure, maternity, creativity, and fertility. In Ezili’s Mirrors, Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley theorizes black Atlantic sexuality by tracing how contemporary queer Caribbean and African American writers and performers evoke Ezili, offering a model of queer black feminist theory that creates new possibilities for decolonizing queer studies.

In Fugitive Life Stephen Dillon examines the literary and artistic work of feminist, queer antiracist activists who were imprisoned or became fugitives in the United States during the 1970s, showing how they were among the first to theorize and make visible the co-constitutive symbiotic relationship between neoliberalism and racialized mass-incarceration.

978-0-8223-7154-0Drawing on over 300 prosecutions of sex acts in colonial New Spain between 1530 and 1821, in Sins against Nature Zeb Tortorici shows how courts used the concept “against nature” to try those accused of sodomy, bestiality, and other sex acts, thereby demonstrating how the archive influences understandings of bodies, desires, and social categories.

Lyndon K. Gill’s Erotic Islands foregrounds a queer presence in foundational elements of Trinidad and Tobago’s national imaginary—Carnival masquerade design, Calypso musicianship, and queer HIV/AIDS activism—to show how same-sex desire provides the means for the nation’s queer population to develop survival and community building strategies.

In Disturbing Attachments Kadji Amin challenges the idealization of Jean Genet as a paradigmatic figure within queer studies to illuminate the methodological dilemmas at the heart of queer theory. Pederasty, which was central to Genet’s sexuality and to his passionate cross-racial and transnational political activism late in life, is among a series of problematic and outmoded queer attachments that Amin uses to deidealize and historicize queer theory.

TSQ_5_2_coverTrans* surgery has been an object of fantasy, derision, refusal, and triumph. For decades after its establishment in the 1950s, clinicians considered a desire for reconstructive genital surgery to be the linchpin of the transsexual diagnosis. “The Surgery Issue,” a special issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly edited by Eric Plemons and Chris Straayer, explores the vital and contested place of surgical intervention in the making of trans* bodies, theories, and practices. This issue engages “the surgical” in its many forms. Contributors contemplate a wide scope: physical, technical, and social aspects of the body; trans* and transition-related surgeries broadly construed; local and international endeavors; the conceptual, the theoretical, and the practical; the historical and the speculative.

LOOK FOR THESE UPCOMING ISSUES

ddaml_90_2_coverAmerican Literature’s “Queer about Comics,” edited by Dariek Scott and Ramzi Fawaz, explores the intersection of queer theory and comics studies. The contributors provide new theories of how comics represent and re-conceptualize queer sexuality, desire, intimacy, and eroticism, while also investigating how the comic strip, as a hand-drawn form, queers literary production and demands innovative methods of analysis from the fields of literary, visual, and cultural studies.

Contributors examine the relationships among reader, creator, and community across a range of comics production, including mainstream superhero comics, independent LGBTQ comics, and avant-garde and experimental feminist narratives. They also address queer forms of identification elicited by the classic X-Men character Rogue, the lesbian grassroots publishing networks that helped shape Alison Bechdel’s oeuvre, and the production of black queer fantasy in the Black Panther comic book series, among other topics.

GLQ-Clit Club 2“The Queer Commons,” a special issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, edited by Gavin Butt and Nadja Millner-Larsen, explore how contemporary queer energies have been directed toward commons-forming initiatives from activist provision of social services to the maintenance of networks around queer art, protest, public sex, and bar cultures that sustain queer lives otherwise marginalized by heteronormative society and mainstream LGBTQ politics. This issue forges a connection between the common and the queer, asking how the category “queer” might open up a discourse that has emerged as one of the most important challenges to contemporary neoliberalization at both the theoretical and practical level.

Contributors look to radical networks of care, sex, and activism present within diverse queer communities including HIV/AIDS organizing, the Wages for Housework movement, New York’s Clit Club community, and trans/queer collectives in San Francisco. The issue also includes a dossier of shorter contributions that offer speculative provocations about the radicalism of queer commonality across time and space, from Gezi Park uprisings in Turkey to future visions of collectivity outside of the internet.

Jason Borge’s Latin American Jazz Playlist

978-0-8223-6990-5Today we’re pleased to share a playlist and commentary by Jason Borge, author of the new book Tropical Riffs: Latin America and the Politics of Jazz. In the book, Borge traces how jazz helped forge modern identities and national imaginaries in Latin America during the mid-twentieth century. Borge is Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Texas, Austin.

Tropical Riffs is not meant to be a survey or formal analysis of Latin jazz or Latin American jazz per se. Rather, it is a cultural and intellectual history of jazz’s singular impact in the region from the 1920s until the 1980s, with a focus on Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, and Mexico. My book’s central aim is to explain why jazz—or what passed for jazz—resonated so deeply and for so long with such a wide range of Latin American fans, critics, intellectuals, and musicians. It is inevitable that Tropical Riffs would deal with individual artists and recordings, given the region’s prominent though somewhat misunderstood place in the complex transnational circuitry of jazz and 20th century popular music generally. The following playlist gives a sampling of the performers and performances that speak to the main issues covered in the book’s five chapters.

Chapter 1: La civilizada selva: Latin America and the Jazz Age

Adolfo Aviles Jazz Band, “Blue Skies” (Odeon Nacional, 1927)

Ovaldo Viana e Orquestra Romeu Silva, “O Teu Sapateado” (from the film O Jovem Tataravô, dir. Luiz de Barros, 1936)

Like many other Latin American orchestras of the time, the Adolfo Aviles Jazz Band was basically a multi-purpose dance band, adept at interpreting different musical styles to accompany different dances foxtrots and tangos. “Blue Skies” is a popular Tin Pan Alley tune of the 1920s recorded by, among others, Josephine Baker, a huge star in Latin America in the late 1920s. For many, Baker symbolized the Jazz Age not only in terms of her stylized nègre spectacle and performative derring-do but also by bringing a sense of cosmopolitan danger to local audiences. Baker’s fame only increased after she toured several South American cities in 1929. In “O Teu Sapateado,” Ovaldo Viana and the Orquestra Romeu Silva perform in front of a screen filled with images of Baker. Romeu, by the way, was quite familiar with both jazz and Baker, having played with Baker in the early 1930s as well as the clarinetist and soprano saxophonist Booker Pittman, who began his decades-long tenure in Brazil and Argentina as a part of Silva’s orchestra.

Chapter 2: Dark Pursuits: Argentina, Race, and Jazz

Oscar Alemán, “Blues del Adios” [Bye Bye Blues] (Odeon Argentina, 1942)

Gato Barbieri, from Jazz is Alive and Well in New York (documentary, 1973)

Astor Piazzolla with Conjunto Electrónico, “Libertango” (French television: Les rendez-vous du dimanche, March 20, 1977)

In the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, nowhere in Latin America did the passion for jazz rage stronger than in Argentina. Part of the same Parisian milieu as Silva and Baker in the 1930s, the Afro-Argentine guitarist Oscar Alemán was, after Django Reinhardt, probably the most prominent swing guitarist in Europe. Alemán was also a consummate showman and a highly adaptable singer who returned to Buenos Aires as a conquering, semi-authentic, jazz icon—which for most porteño critics and fans normally meant being Black and estadounidense. Gato Barbieri and Astor Piazzolla, like Alemán, achieved fame abroad while wrestling with charged and ambivalent conceptions of jazz (and tango) back home. Barbieri apprenticed as a free jazz player with Don Cherry, then reinvented himself in the late 1960s as a mestizo revolutionary drawing from an assortment of Andean, Brazilian, and other musical sources, as this clip from a French documentary shows. Piazzolla, meanwhile, focused on “swingifying” tango in stints in Europe, the US, and in Argentina. This recording of “Libertango” shows him in his short-lived fusion format, at a time when he was eager to update himself in ways that would resonate with international audiences in the 1970s and 1980s.

Chapter 3: The Anxiety of Americanization: Jazz, Samba, and Bossa Nova

Orquesta Típica Pixinguinha-Donga, “Gavião Calçudo” (Parlophone, 1929)

Carlos Lyra, “Influência do Jazz,” from Depois do Carnaval: O Sambalanço de Carlos Lyra (Philips, 1963)

Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz, “The Girl from Ipanema” (The Hollywood Palace, ABC TV, 1964)

The history of Brazilian popular music of the early to mid-20th century is haunted by the spectre of perceived cultural impurities, often considered synonymous with americanização [Americanization] and jazz in particular. Such fears first came to the fore in the late 1920s with the publication of a series of articles decrying the audible jazz influence of the Orquesta Típica Pixinguinha-Donga, particularly in the Parlophone recordings of the samba-maxixe “Gavião Calçudo” (included here) and Pixinguinha [Alfredo da Rocha Viana Jr.]’s famous composition “Carinhoso.” The anxiety of americanização simmered for several decades, coming to a boil again in the early 1960s with the rise of bossa nova. Tellingly, one of the movement’s early hits—Carlos Lyra’s “Influência do Jazz”—gave explicit if ambivalent expression to samba’s supposed contamination at the hands of jazz. By contrast, US jazz artists like Stan Getz were only too eager to capitalize on bossa’s jazz “problem,” often upstaging the bossanovistas in the process, as this television clip reveals.

Chapter 4: The Hazards of Hybridity: Afro-Cuban Jazz, Mambo, and Revolution

Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra, with Chano Pozo, “Manteca” (RCA Victor, 1947)

Pérez Prado and His Orchestra on The Spike Jones Show, May 1, 1954

Irakere, Live in Concert, March 23, 1979, Capitol Theatre (Passaic, NJ)

When Dizzy Gillespie and the Cuban-born percussionist Luciano “Chano” Pozo made music together shortly after the end of the Second World War, New York City became ground zero both for bebop and “Cubop,” or Afro-Cuban jazz. Most jazz critics and historians now generally acknowledge that the Gillespie-Machito-Pozo sessions (such as this recording of Pozo’s composition “Manteca”) signalled the birth of what today is known as Latin jazz. Meanwhile, another jazz-informed, circum-Caribbean hybrid was being born in the nightclubs of Havana and the soundstages of Mexico City. Epitomized (if not created) by the bandleader Dámaso Pérez Prado, mambo was often reduced to caricature in US film and television appearances of the 1950s. In the 1960s, while critics and industry insiders in the United States struggled to come to terms with Afro-Caribbean contributions to transnational popular music, Cuban revolutionary orthodoxy made “jazz” a bad word, in spite of the jazz-like music that continued to be performed on the island.  The jazz prohibition would be blown wide open in the 1970s with the rise of the Cuban jazz-fusion supergroup Irakere.

Chapter 5: Liberation, Disenchantment, and the Afterlives of Jazz

Bix Beiderbecke, “Jazz Me Blues” (Matrix, 1927), one of many jazz recordings mentioned in Rayuela (Hopscotch) by Julio Cortázar

Dave Brubeck, “Nostalgia de Mexico,” from Bravo! Brubeck! (Columbia, 1967)

Tino Contreras, “Santo,” from Misa en jazz (Musart, 1966)

Even after the international popularity of jazz went into slow decline beginning in the 1950s, the music, aggressively promoted abroad by the US State Department, continued to captivate Latin American audiences. This was especially true of writers and intellectuals like the Argentine Julio Cortázar, whose landmark novel Rayuela [Hopscotch, 1963] is chock-full of references to jazz and blues, from Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong to Bix Beiderbecke (included here) and Art Tatum. There were countless musical tributes and quotations as well. In 1966, the Mexican jazz drummer and composer Tino Contreras recorded “Santo,” an unusual homage to Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” and part of Contreras’s conceptually ambitious project, Misa en Jazz [Jazz Mass]. As if to return the favor, Brubeck, one of the main jazz ambassadors of the 1960s and 1970s (along with Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and others), recorded Bravo! Brubeck! live in Mexico in 1967.

Want to learn more about Latin American jazz? Pick up the paperback of Tropical Riffs for 30% off using coupon code E18BORGE on our website.

Q&A with Katherine Verdery, author of My Life as a Spy

IMG_2520Katherine Verdery is Julien J. Studley Faculty Scholar and Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, as well as the author of the new book My Life as a Spy: Investigations in a Secret Police File. Part memoir, part detective story, part anthropological analysis, My Life as a Spy offers a personal account of how government surveillance worked during the Cold War and how Verdery experienced living under it.

You came to Romania in 1973 as a 25-year-old doctoral student studying folklore, but the Romanian secret police immediately suspected that your research was espionage rather than ethnography. How can anthropology look like spying? Is there overlap between the two practices?

Anthropology has looked like spying many times in the discipline’s history. Indeed, our “patriarch” Franz Boas published an article condemning any activities of this sort … a century ago! To begin with, an anthropologist arriving in a foreign location presents the locals with the problem of how to account for his/her presence, when anthropology is unknown to most if not all of them. The idea that someone might have come to collect information for some “enemy” is easy to believe cross-culturally, since that happens everywhere in the world. Other roles we have been assumed to play are missionary, or thief of sacred knowledge. The pattern in every case is to try to make a stranger comprehensible in a locally meaningful idiom. In my case, the resemblance was sharpened by the officers’ recognizing that some of my practices resembled theirs—I took notes in code, I used pseudonyms for my “informers,” I gathered up all kinds of information rather than sticking to a precise questionnaire, etc.

How did it feel to read through your own 2,781-page secret police file for the first time? In what ways did it alter your perceptions and understanding of your time in Romania?

It was a terrible experience. I sat down in the reading room of the secret police archive in Bucharest with several large volumes in front of me, knowing none of the conventions of such documents, so I had no way of creating distance between them and myself. As I thumbed through them and discovered close friends who had informed on me, I felt truly awful. It would take many readings, some training by the archive staff, and the gradual passage of time before I could read the pages more or less dispassionately.

What was your goal in reading and analyzing your own file? What did you hope to uncover or illuminate?

At first I didn’t really have a goal: I was just curious to see what a file was like. Once I had seen how comprehensive it was, I thought I should use it either to write a memoir (they had a lot of data on me, after all!) or to examine how that kind of organization creates its knowledge, and to what extent we can see it as knowledge rather than just a pack of lies, as most people would assume. In what ways it was and was not a pack of lies became a very interesting problem, once I got used to it.

978-0-8223-7081-9In your research for this book, you interviewed not only some of the secret police officers who followed you but also friends who turned out to have been informers. How did it feel to approach and speak with people who had monitored you and reported on your behavior?

Many of the ones whose reports were the most troubling to me had died before I could speak with them. Especially once I had spoken with a few who were still alive, I regretted that I had had no chance to make my peace with the ones who were not. In one case, the friend had in fact told me even before the end of the regime that she had had to write reports, but we didn’t discuss it at length until 2010, when I had read the reports themselves. In her case it was easy to ask her if she would talk about it, since I already knew. We spent several days together and had a truly illuminating time (for me—she was less enthusiastic!). I felt a tremendous mix of feelings: irritation at her for being so naive, guilt at having precipitated this experience she had found so dreadful, puzzlement at her inclination to blame me for it … but ultimately great respect for her honesty and self-insight, and huge relief to have gotten it out into the open. Although I came to feel that it was not appropriate for me to “forgive” her, our conversations did fully restore my affection for her. The experience was similar with another friend, whose identity I had guessed from the file. He gave a plausible account of himself and expressed great remorse. I did not manage to speak with any of the “mean” informers, however. Clearly, they didn’t want to.

How does your analysis of surveillance in communist Romania resonate in considerations of modern-day surveillance practices, including those practiced by countries like the U.S.?

The answer to this question has become suddenly relevant in ways I might not have expected, with the indictments handed down by Robert Mueller concerning Russian interference in our 2016 elections. One of the most important lessons I learned from reading my file (and others in which I did research) was that the goal of that secret police was to sow confusion, produce discord. Had I not seen this in my file, I would not have been able to say to my class, the day after the vote, “Putin has hacked the US election.” I lacked only the specific details concerning the use of trolls and bots. Concerning the broader comparison of communist Romania and the West today, there are some important differences in how these systems worked—for instance, the predominance of human labor (officers, informers) in Romania and of advanced technology in our own case. Those differences affect the ways of gathering information, the uses that can be made of it, and the nature of the information-gathering apparatus.

Read the prologue to My Life as a Spy free online, or pick up the paperback for 30% off using coupon code E18SPY at dukeupress.edu.

Poem of the Week

978-1-4780-0021-1To wrap up National Poetry Month, we’re sharing a poem from Rafael Campo’s collection Comfort Measures Only, forthcoming this September. Gathered from his over 20-year career as a poet-physician, the book’s 88 poems—30 of which have never been previously published in a collection—pull back the curtain in the ER, laying bare our pain and joining us all in spellbinding moments of pathos.

 

Hospital Writing Workshop

Arriving late, my clinic having run
past six again, I realize I don’t
have cancer, don’t have HIV, like them,
these students who are patients, who I lead
in writing exercises, reading poems.
For them, this isn’t academic, it’s
reality: I ask that they describe
an object right in front of them, to make
it come alive, and one writes about death,
her death, as if by just imagining
the softness of its skin, its panting rush
into her lap, then she might tame it; one
observes instead the love he lost, he’s there,
beside him in his gown and wheelchair,
together finally again. I take
a good, long breath; we’re quiet as newborns.
The little conference room grows warm, and there
before my eyes, I see that what I thought
unspeakable was more than this, was hope.

Learn more about Comfort Measures Only.

New in Surveillance Studies

Our list in security studies has been growing lately, with a particular emphasis on the study of government surveillance. Take a look at some of our newest scholarship in this essential field:

ddthe_48_1_coverMass surveillance has turned into one of the twenty-first century’s darkest, if most predictable, realities. The networks we depend on now seem far larger, more totalizing, and less private than previously imagined. “Spectatorship in an Age of Surveillance,” a special issue of Theater, explores the ways in surveillance—from governments’ mass spying to all-seeing networks—and the fields of theater and performance inform each other: What forms of surveillance have found their way into our lives online and off? How might theater and performance help us to see them?

Much of the issue takes Live Arts Bard’s 2017 performance biennial We’re Watching as a point of departure while other contents venture into poetry, visual art, and cinema. Among the performances featured in the issue, choreographer Will Rawls and poet Claudia Rankine contemplated blackness and (in)visibility in What Remains; Big Art Group staged the interplay of intimacy and impenetrability in Opacity using computer code and probability; and Alexandro Segade’s queer dystopic drama Future Street proposed a Blade Runner for the post-Snowden era. The issue gathers scripts and photographs from these productions alongside essays, interviews, and reviews that help us to understand surveillance, not only as an anonymous system of digital control but more incisively, as a human behavior enacted by the individual self. Read the introduction, made freely available.

978-0-8223-7081-9As Katherine Verdery observes, “There’s nothing like reading your secret police file to make you wonder who you really are.” In 1973 Verdery, an anthropologist, began her doctoral fieldwork in communist Romania. She returned several times over the next twenty-five years, during which time the secret police compiled a 2,781-page surveillance file on her. Part memoir, part detective story, part anthropological analysis, My Life as a Spy offers a personal account of how government surveillance worked during the Cold War and how Verdery experienced living under it.

From the first vistas provided by flight in balloons in the eighteenth century to the most recent sensing operations performed by military drones, the history of aerial imagery has marked the transformation of how people perceived their world, better understood their past, and imagined their future. In Aerial Aftermaths Caren Kaplan traces this cultural history, showing how aerial views operate as a form of world-making tied to the times and places of war.

978-0-8223-6973-8Life in the Age of Drone Warfare, a collection edited by Lisa Parks and Caren Kaplan, offers a new critical language through which to explore and assess the historical, juridical, geopolitical, and cultural dimensions of drone technology and warfare. Contributors show how drones generate particular ways of visualizing the spaces and targets of war while acting as tools to exercise state power.

Ten years on, Jasbir K. Puar’s pathbreaking Terrorist Assemblages remains one of the most influential queer theory texts and continues to reverberate across multiple political landscapes, activist projects, and scholarly pursuits. Puar argues that configurations of sexuality, race, gender, nation, class, and ethnicity are realigning in relation to contemporary forces of securitization, counterterrorism, and nationalism. The Tenth Anniversary Expanded Edition features a new foreword by Tavia Nyong’o and a postscript by Puar entitled “Homonationalism in Trump Times.”

978-0-8223-6898-4In Saving the Security State Inderpal Grewal traces the changing relations between the US state and its citizens in an era she calls advanced neoliberalism. Marked by the decline of US geopolitical power, endless war, and increasing surveillance, advanced neoliberalism militarizes everyday life while producing “exceptional citizens”—primarily white Christian men who reinforce the security state as they claim responsibility for protecting the country from racialized others.

During the Second World War, an FBI program called the Special Intelligence Service (SIS) assigned 700 agents to combat Nazi influence internationally. The mission, however, extended beyond countries with significant German populations or Nazi spy rings. In The FBI in Latin America, Marc Becker interrogates a trove of FBI documents from its Ecuador mission to uncover the history and purpose of the SIS’s intervention in Latin America and for the light they shed on leftist organizing efforts in Latin America.