African American Studies

New Books in March

Spring brings a fresh crop of new books. Check out what’s new in March.

The Politics of Operations, edited by Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson, investigates how capital reshapes its relation with politics, showing how contemporary capitalism operates through the extraction of mineral resources, data, and cultures; the logistical organization of relations between people, property, and objects; and the penetration of financialization into all realms of economic life.

Zorach cover with border low resIn Art for People’s Sake Rebecca Zorach traces the little-told story of the Black Arts Movement in Chicago, showing how its artistic innovations, institution building, and community engagement helped the residents of Chicago’s South and West Sides respond to social, political, and economic marginalization.

Drawing on previously unexamined archives, the contributors to The Revolution from Within, edited by Michael Bustamante and Jessica Lambe, examine the Cuban Revolution from a Cuba-centric perspective by foregrounding the experience of everyday Cubans in analyses of topics ranging from agrarian reform and fashion to dance and the Mariel Boatlift.

978-1-4780-0380-9.jpgIn Hush Mack Hagood outlines how noise-cancelling headphones, tinnitus maskers, white noise machines, nature-sound mobile apps, and other forms of media give users the ability to create sonic safe spaces for themselves, showing how the desire to block certain sounds are informed by ideologies of race, gender, and class.

In Thought Crime Max Ward explores the Japanese state’s efforts to suppress political radicalism in the 1920s and 1930s through the enforcement of what it called thought crime, providing a window into understanding how modern states develop ideological apparatuses to subject their respective populations.

In Breaking Bad and Cinematic Television, Angelo Restivo uses the innovative show Breaking Bad as a point of departure for theorizing a new aesthetics of television in which the concept of the cinematic points to the ways in which television can change the ways viewers relate to and interact with the world.978-1-4780-0092-1.jpg

Examining the work of writers and artists including Carrie Mae Weems, Langston Hughes, Toni Morrison, and Allan deSouza, in The Difference Aesthetics Makes Kandice Chuh advocates for what she calls “illiberal humanism” as a way to counter the Eurocentric liberal humanism that perpetuates structures of social inequality.

In Surrogate Humanity Neda Atanasoski and Kalindi Vora trace the ways in which robots, artificial intelligence, and other technologies serve as surrogates for human workers within a labor system that is entrenched in and reinforces racial capitalism and patriarchy.

In The Afterlife of Reproductive Slavery Alys Eve Weinbaum investigates the continuing resonances of Atlantic slavery in the cultures and politics of human reproduction that characterize contemporary capitalism, showing how black feminist thought offers the best means through which to understand the myriad ways slavery continues to haunt the present.

Eliza Steinbock’s Shimmering Images traces how cinema offers alternative ways to understand gender transitions through a specific aesthetics of change, thereby opening up new means to understand transgender ontologies and epistemologies.

978-1-4780-0091-4.jpgGökçe Günel’s Spaceship in the Desert examines the development and construction of Masdar City, a zero-carbon city built by Abu Dhabi that houses a research institute for renewable energy which implemented a series of green technologies and infrastructures as a way to deal with climate change and prepare for a post-oil future.

In Developments in Russian Politics 9 an international team of experts provide a comprehensive and critical discussion of the country’s most recent developments, offering substantive coverage of the key areas in domestic and foreign Russian politics, perfect for courses on Russia today.

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Black History Month Reads

To celebrate Black History Month, we are featuring some of our recent books and journals that explore Black and African-American history, issues, and culture.

978-1-4780-0089-1Bloodflowers by W. Ian Bourland examines the photography of Rotimi Fani-Kayode (1955–1989). Fani-Kayode’s art is a touchstone for cultural debates surrounding questions of gender and queerness, race and diaspora, aesthetics and politics, and the enduring legacy of slavery and colonialism.

In Black Feminism Reimagined, Jennifer C. Nash reframes black feminism’s engagement with intersectionality, contending that black feminists should let go of their possession and policing of the concept in order to better unleash black feminist theory’s visionary and world-making possibilities.

Drawing on writing by medieval thinkers and travelers, Enlightenment theories of race, the commodification of women’s bodies under slavery, and the work of Tyler Perry and Bishop T. D. Jakes, in Jezebel UnhingedTamura Lomax shows how black women are written into religious and cultural history as sites of sexual deviation. Lomax traces the historical and contemporary use of the jezebel trope in the black church and in black popular culture, showing how it disciplines black women and girls and preserves gender hierarchy, black patriarchy, and heteronormativity in black families, communities, cultures, and institutions.

ZaborowskaMagdalena J. Zaborowska uses James Baldwin’s house in the south of France as a lens through which to reconstruct his biography for her book Me and My House. She explores the politics and poetics of blackness, queerness, and domesticity in his complex and underappreciated later works.

In None Like Us Stephen Best offers a bold reappraisal of the critical assumptions that undergird black studies’ use of the slave past as an explanatory prism for understanding the black political present, thereby opening the circuits between past and present and charting a queer future for black study.

In her book, Vexy Thing, Imani Perry recenters patriarchy to contemporary discussions of feminism through a social and literary analysis of cultural artifacts—ranging from nineteenth-century slavery court cases and historical vignettes to literature and contemporary art—from the Enlightenment to the present.

Black feminist critic Ann duCille combines cultural critique with personal reflections on growing up with TV as a child in the Boston suburbs in Technicolored to examine how televisual representations of African Americans—ranging from I Love Lucy to How to Get Away with Murder—have changed over the last sixty years.

In Murder on Shades Mountain, Melanie S. Morrison tells the tragic story of the murder and attempted murder of three young women in 1930s Birmingham, Alabama, and the aftermath, which saw a reign of terror unleashed on the town’s black community, the wrongful conviction and death sentencing of Willie Peterson, and a black-led effort to free Peterson.

MahlerFrom the Tricontinental to the Global South by Anne Garland Mahler traces the history and intellectual legacy of the understudied global justice movement called the Tricontinental and calls for a revival of the Tricontinental’s politics as a means to strengthen racial justice and anti-neoliberal struggles in the twenty-first-century.

In Fugitive Modernities, Jessica A. Krug traces the history and meaning of Kisama—a seventeenth-century fugitive slave community located in present-day Angola—by showing how it operated as a inspirational global symbol of resistance for fugitives on both sides of the Atlantic.

As the contributors to “African Feminisms,” a special issue of Meridians, show, African feminisms not only vary widely in form but also maintain vibrant and sometimes tense relations with one another around topics such as sexuality, national policies, and transnational solidarity. Read the issue, freely available through March 5.

Global Black Consciousness,” a special issue of Nka, aims to open up and complicate the key paradigms that have shaped the vibrant work on theories and cultural productions of the African diaspora. Contributors offer a critical and nuanced analysis of global black consciousness as both a citing of diasporic flows and a grounded site of decolonizing movement.

New Books in January

Black Feminism Reimagined.jpgNew Year, new books! From feminism to cultural studies to history, we’ve got some great new titles being released this month.

In Black Feminism Reimagined Jennifer C. Nash reframes black feminism’s engagement with intersectionality, contending that black feminists should let go of their possession and policing of the concept in order to better unleash black feminist theory’s visionary and world-making possibilities.

Fabricating Transnational Capitalism, edited by Lisa Rofel and Sylvia Yanagisako, is a collaborative ethnography of Italian-Chinese fashion ventures that offers a new methodology for understanding transnational capitalism in a global era.

978-1-4780-0199-7_crop.jpgEssential Essays—a landmark two volume set edited by David Morley—brings together Stuart Hall’s most influential and foundational works. Volume 1: Foundations of Cultural Studies focuses on the first half of Hall’s career, when he wrestled with questions of culture, class, representation, and politics, while Volume 2: Identity and Diaspora draws from Hall’s later essays, in which he investigated questions of colonialism, empire, and race. The volumes are also available for purchase separately.

In Going Stealth Toby Beauchamp positions surveillance as central to the understanding of transgender politics to show how contemporary security practices extend into everyday gendered lives.The Hundreds.jpg

The Hundreds—composed of pieces one hundred or multiples of one hundred words long—is Lauren Berlant and Kathleen Stewart’s collaborative experimental writing project in which they strive toward sensing and capturing the resonances that operate at the ordinary level of everyday experience.

Examining singers Marian Anderson, Billie Holiday, and Jimmy Scott as well as vocal synthesis technology in The Race of Sound, Nina Sun Eidsheim traces the ways in which the voice and its qualities are socially produced and how listeners assign a series of racialized and gendered set of assumptions to a singing voice.

Sexuality Disability and AgingThe contributors to Seeking Rights from the Left, edited by Elisabeth Friedman, evaluate the impact of the Latin American “Pink Tide” of left-leaning governments (2000-2015) on feminist, women’s, and LGBT movements and issues.

In Sexuality, Disability, and Aging Jane Gallop explores how disability and aging are commonly understood to undermine one’s sense of self and challenges narratives that register the decline of bodily potential and ability as nothing but an experience of loss.

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The Most Read Articles of 2018

As 2018 comes to a close, we’re reflecting on the most read articles across all our journals. Check out the top 10 articles that made the list, all freely available until the end of January.

TSQ_5_1_coverToward the Decipherment of a Set of Mid-Colonial Khipus from the Santa Valley, Coastal Peru” by Manuel Medrano and Gary Urton

Predatory Value Economies of Dispossession and Disturbed Relationalities” by Jodi A. Byrd, Alyosha Goldstein, Jodi Melamed, and Chandan Reddy

Black Aesthetics, Black Value” by Lewis R. Gordon

Rural Voids” by Miriam Driessen

Desiring Blackness: A Queer Orientation to Marvel’s Black Panther, 1998–2016” by André Carrington

Conversational Exculpature” by Daniel Hoek

SMX_22_1(55)_coverThe Anarchy of Colored Girls Assembled in a Riotous Manner” by Saidiya Hartman

Collective Memory and the Transfeminist 1970s: Toward a Less Plausible History” by Finn Enke

Realism and the Absence of Value” Shamik Dasgupta

Partus sequitur ventrem: Law, Race, and Reproduction in Colonial Slavery” by Jennifer L. Morgan

Give the Gift of Books

It’s Black Friday, but instead of heading to the mall, why don’t you simplify your life by giving books to everyone on your shopping list? We suggest a few great gift books below. They’re available for 30% off on our website with coupon code SAVE30, or head to your local independent bookstore tomorrow and #shoplocal on Small Business Saturday instead!

Baldwin_REV_jacket_frontWant to introduce a child in your life to James Baldwin? Pick up a copy of his only children’s book, Little Man, Little Man. Originally published in 1976 and quickly out of print, we have brought the book back in a beautiful new edition. School Library Journal calls it “a new classic.” Publishers Weekly says, “Through luminous prose and fine observation, readers come to care deeply about TJ and his friends, and they’ll wish their story didn’t end so soon.” Adults will also enjoy the story and the lovely illustrations by French watercolorist Yoran Cazac. Baldwin fans may also want to check out Me and My House: James Baldwin’s Last Decade in France by Magdalena J. Zaborowska. This richly illustrated book takes readers into Baldwin’s home and uses the space as a lens through which to expand his biography and explore the politics and poetics of blackness, queerness, and domesticity in his complex and underappreciated later works.

We have a number of suggestions for the poetry lovers in Gunslinger-50your life. Dionne Brand’s The Blue Clerk: Ars Poetica in 59 Versos will appeal to readers of Derek Walcott and Claudia Rankine. Through these essay poems, Brand explores memory, language, culture, and time while intimately interrogating the act and difficulty of writing, the relationship between the poet and the world, and the link between author and art. We also recommend Comfort Measures Only, a collection of selected poems by physician Rafael Campo. A&U Magazine calls it “a powerful collection of this masterful poet’s work,” and the Bay Area Reporter says, “Fans of Campo’s work will find much to savor in this treasury from a physician with his heart in all the right places.” This year we also released a special Fiftieth Anniversary Edition of Edward Dorn’s classic poem Gunslinger. In a new foreword Marjorie Perloff discusses Gunslinger‘s continued relevance to contemporary politics. This new edition also includes a critical essay by Michael Davidson and Charles Olson’s idiosyncratic “Bibliography on America for Ed Dorn,” which he wrote to provide guidance for Dorn’s study of, and writing about, the American West.

978-1-4780-0129-4If you’re interested in the history of gay and lesbian activism, check out two memoirs and a biography we put out this year. In Exile within Exiles, James N. Green examines the life of Herbert Daniel, a Brazilian activist for gay rights, feminism, and environmentalism, who fought for social justice both in Brazil and from exile in Europe from the mid-1960s until his death in 1992. Historian Martin Duberman was also an activist for LGBT rights, and his memoir The Rest of It chronicles a time in his life when he was both extremely productive in his scholarly and activist work while also suffering from depression, addiction, and other health problems. In My Butch Career, anthropologist Esther Newton tells her life story from childhood to age forty, when a lifetime of struggle against sexism and LBGT discrimination finally brought her professional success.

Got music lovers in your life? Why not give them Is It Still Good to Ya?, a collection of rock critic Robert Christgau’s best writing from his fifty-year career.  Kirkus Reviews writes, “At a moment when music criticism seems less empowered for being more fragmented, Christgau still offers an informed, authoritative perspective, self-aware regarding cultural aging and mortality, not stodgy but wry. A vital chronicler of rock’s story, several decades on.”

Someone to Talk ToTwo recent novels in translation would make great gifts for lovers of literature. Someone to Talk To is by one of China’s most respected novelists, Liu Zhenyun. Library Journal says, “”Dense with dozens of interwoven narratives of living through pre- and post-Mao China, Liu’s scathing and illuminating tome is highly recommended for internationally savvy fans of Mo Yan, Yu Hua, and Yan Lianke.” Or try a historical novel that still resonates today: Published in 1924 and widely acknowledged as a major work of twentieth-century Latin American literature, José Eustasio Rivera’s The Vortex follows the harrowing adventures of the young poet Arturo Cova and his lover Alicia as they flee Bogotá and head into the wild and woolly backcountry of Colombia. “Ironically, the environmentalist concerns he addressed are as timely as ever,” says Ilan Stavans.

We hope some of these great books will make it onto your holiday shopping list. Order by December 1 using coupon code SAVE30 and domestic orders will definitely make it to you before Christmas. Or head to your local bookstore and buy or order these great books from them.

 

 

Q&A with Tamura Lomax, Author of Jezebel Unhinged

unnamedTamura Lomax is an independent scholar, the CEO and founder of The Feminist Wire, and author of Jezebel Unhinged: Loosing the Black Female Body in Religion and Culture. We asked her a few questions about the new book, which Foreword has called “phenomenal,” “provocative,” and “an amazing pick for book clubs.”

What drew you to this topic? How did your own experience in the Black Church, including your background as a “preacher’s kid,” affect your research or approach?

The conundrum I experienced after moving from my childhood church and community in Syracuse, NY, a Black Church in a working-class black community, to Mill Valley, CA, a predominantly white and wealthy environment, at age fourteen, turned my world upside down. Privileged white teenagers have a way of making you hyperaware of your difference. And not only their belief in your purported racial difference but your supposed sexual and gender difference. I will never forget the stares, the comments, the whispers, the laughter, the jokes. I was a dark-skinned black girl from the east coast, and clearly, I was alien to them. Their obsession with me, particularly my blackness, gender, femininity, and sexuality, launched my critical consciousness into overdrive.

Yet, nothing could have prepared me for the day my new friends referred to me as a monkey who “crave[d] and provide[d] sex to anyone and anything.” While I had not yet read Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks (1967), this was indeed my first “Look, a Negro!” moment—the point of sudden objecthood, nonbeing, fixation, bursting apart, and being put back together—by another self. To be sure, I had known what it meant to be placed under the gaze of another. I knew the feeling of being misread, sexualized, and even lusted after as an adolescent. Unfortunately, I learned these lessons, first, through older and grown men—within my previous black community, the Black Church, and the music and culture that I loved: Hip Hop. As I write in the Prolegomenon, the hypersexualization of young black girls is fierce early on.

978-1-4780-0107-2

My earliest memory is at age eleven when a church elder told my parents he could not focus during altar call because he was enraptured by my pubescent derriere (x-xi). Rather than calling out his rapey pedophilic wantonness, I was made to feel shame, as if my body had done something wrong without my consent. I struggled with the cultural psyche around black femininity and all of the sexual messaging, not to mention my own conflicting responses. On one hand, I loved raunchy Hip Hop music that admittedly sexually objectified black women and girls, while on the other, I detested the pedophilic stares of older men and boys in my church and community, and more, the racist and sexist gazing of my new high school friends in California. And as much as these gazes were the same, to me, they felt slightly different. That dreadful day in California changed the course of my life and how I saw the world and interpreted my place in it.

I did everything to change my high school friends’ reading of me—to the point of de-sexualization. I wanted to be a “proper” black girl—a lady in training, as I was taught to be at home and in the Black Church, not a libidinous monkey. This kind of sexualized marking, I had not known. I remember going home and journaling about the incident right after it happened. My eyes welled up with tears as I made my entry. This was not an innocent case of teasing and hurt feelings. As a young girl I was taught that sex before marriage was bad and that sexualization is the fault of so-called “fast” and promiscuous girls or women. Meaning that black girls or women are sexualized because they have acted in an allegedly sexually “loose” manner. I learned the latter was sin. And not only that, this was a transgression seemingly particular to black women and girls.

Full disclosure: I was in no way perfect. But I was a “good girl.” Or at least I tried to be. If I caught myself being “loose”—“fast tailed,” sexual, sexualized, or appreciating base music and lyrics more than a “good girl” should, I could at least fix that. I could take responsibility for where I went or what I did wrong and repent, therefore releasing myself from temptress status and gaining “good girl” prestige again. But not this day. I cried quiet painful tears because the sexualized savagery assigned to me—and black girls everywhere—by my high school friends could not be as quickly remedied. I was not merely hypersexualized but animalized—in harmony. Further, I was inherently problemed. I could neither disrobe of nor cover my blackness nor reencode my black femaleness. And I could neither pray it away nor bathe it in Black Church respectability as I had been taught. Rather, I was indelibly marked. Or, so I thought.

The rhetorical marking of these collective gazes—from the church to my new white friends to my favorite music and so on—made me feel psychically, emotionally, and communally estranged. And I was not alone. I learned later that each of these projections spring forth from essentialist discourses on black womanhood. And while they sometimes feel different, they have more in common than not. They are all overdetermining. And they all sting, just differently perhaps. I will never get over being called a monkey and thusly being situated outside of the human race. But neither will I ever come to terms with the hypersexualization that happens to young girls and women in black communities and the posturing of black female bodies and sexual decision-making in sin—as something needing constant fixing and redemption.

I am convinced it is because of such relentless stereotyping and signifying that black Americans in general are so religious, especially black women. Sin and shame have long taken up residence in our bodies and consequentially our minds. Jezebel Unhinged not only works within these tensions, it attempts to do the work of “undoing,” of naming anxieties, antagonisms, and social-cultural-structural-epistemic evils, and the significant psychic, emotional, and communal breaks they cause. It does this work through an iconoclastic critique of racism, sexism, heterosexism, the Black Church, and black popular culture. And I do so intentionally not as a theologian tasked with proving certain truths about God, but rather as a black feminist scholar of religion, or more precisely, a black feminist-religio-cultural theorist, interested in exploring how discourse, power, knowledge, meanings, language, and grammars get invested with truth claims about God, people, and cultures.

Still, I approached this study as one well aware of my personal and professional location—as one reared in the Black Church and as one who has experienced the collective function of antiblack and sexist re/presentational mythmaking, which affects not only persons but relations, social arrangements, ways of seeing, politics, institutions, and treatment, first hand—within and well beyond the Black Church. That said, I endeavored to do this critical work without “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” The latter is a mistake too many critics make, thus making their analyses irrelevant. (more…)

New Books in November

November is a huge book release month! Check out all the great new titles coming out this month. Many of them will be making their debuts at the academic conferences that are happening this month. Be sure to stop by our booths at the American Studies Association, the National Women’s Studies Association, the African Studies Association, the American Academy of Religion, and the American Anthropological Association, where you can pick up these and other titles for only $20 each.

In My Butch Career, Esther Newton—a pioneer figure in gay and lesbian studies—tells the compelling and disarming story of her struggle to write, teach, and find love, all while coming to terms with her lesbian identity during one of the worst periods of homophobic persecution in the twentieth century.

978-1-4780-0129-4Collective Creative Actions, edited by Ryan Dennis, highlights the twenty-five-year history of Project Row Houses in Houston’s Third Ward by addressing the idea of social practice through its five pillars of art, education, social safety nets, architectural preservation, and sustainability.

In How Art Can Be Thought Allan deSouza examines the popular terminology through which art is discussed, valued, and taught, showing how pedagogical language and practices within art schools can adapt to a politicized and rapidly changing world, as well as to the demands of contemporary art within a global industry.978-1-4780-0047-1

More than fifty years after the publication of C. L. R. James’s classic Beyond a Boundary, the contributors to Marxism, Colonialism, and Cricketedited by David Featherstone, Christopher Gair, Christian Høgsbjerg, and Andrew Smith, investigate its production and reception and its implication for debates about sports, gender, aesthetics, race, popular culture, politics, imperialism, and Caribbean and English identity.

978-1-4780-0022-8.jpgFeaturing work spanning six decades, Robert Christgau’s Is It Still Good to Ya? sums up the career of legendary rock critic and longtime Village Voice stalwart Robert Christgau, whose album and concert reviews, essays, and reflections on his career tackle the whole of pop music, from Louis Armstrong to M.I.A..

In Best Practice, Kimberly Chong offers a rich ethnographic account of how a global management consultantcy translates and implements the logic of financialization in contemporary China.

Dai Jinhua’s After the Post–Cold War interrogates history, memory, and the future of China as a global economic power in relation to its Cold War past to show how the recent erasure of the country’s socialist history signifies socialism’s failure and forecloses the imagining of a future beyond that of globalized capitalism.

In After Ethnos, Tobias Rees proposes an understanding of anthropology as a philosophically and poetically oriented and fieldwork-based investigation into the human and human thought rather than a study of culture or society in which anthropology is synonymous with ethnography and fieldwork.978-1-4780-0035-8.jpg

In Unruly Visions, Gayatri Gopinath traces the interrelation of affect, aesthetics, and diaspora through an exploration of a wide range of contemporary queer visual cultural forms by South Asian, Middle Eastern, African, Australian, and Latinx artists such as Tracey Moffatt, Akram Zaatari, and Allan deSouza.

In None Like Us Stephen Best offers a bold reappraisal of the critical assumptions that undergird black studies’ use of the slave past as an explanatory prism for understanding the black political present, thereby opening the circuits between past and present and charting a queer future for black study.

In An Intimate Rebuke, an ethnography of female empowerment, Laura S. Grillo offers new perspectives on how elder West African women deploy an ancient ritual in which they dance naked and slap their genitals and bare breasts to protest abuses of state power, globalization, witchcraft, rape, and other social dangers.

978-1-4780-0291-8Drawing on numerous examples from popular culture, in Empowered Sarah Banet-Weiser examines the relationship between popular feminism and popular misogyny as it plays out in advertising, online and multi-media platforms, and nonprofit and commercial campaigns, showing how feminism is often met with a backlash of harassment, assault, and institutional neglect.

Aren Z. Aizura’s Mobile Subjects examines transgender narratives about traveling for gender reassignment from 1952 to the present, showing how transgender fantasies about reinvention and mobility are racialized as white and often rely on violent colonial global divisions.

Through global case studies that explore biometric identification, border control, forensics, militarized policing, and counterterrorism, the contributors to Bodies as Evidence, edited by Mark Maguire, Ursula Rao, and Nils Zurawskishow how bodies have become critical sources of evidence that is organized and deployed to classify, recognize, and manage human life.

978-1-4780-0153-9.jpgIn Plan Colombia John Lindsay-Poland examines a 2005 massacre in Colombia, its subsequent investigation, official cover-up, and the international community’s response to outline how the U.S. military’s support for the Colombian Army contributed to atrocities while shaping the United States’s dominant model of military intervention.

Melissa Gregg’s Counterproductive explores the obsession with using productivity as the primary measure of most workers’ sense of value and success in the workplace, showing how it isolates workers from each other while erasing their collective efforts to define work limits.

Drawing on indigenous social movements and politics, contributors to A World of Many Worlds, edited by Marisol de la Cadena and Mario Blaser, question Western epistemologies, theorize new forms of knowledge production, and critique the presumed divide between nature and culture—all in service of creating a pluriverse: a cosmos composed of many worlds partially connected through divergent political practices.

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Sanford Levinson on Public Monuments and 20th Anniversary Edition of Written in Stone

Sanford V. LevinsonSanford Levinson is Professor of Law at the University of Texas Law School. He is the author and editor of numerous books, including Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws That Affect Us Today (with Cynthia Levinson). The 20th anniversary edition of his book Written in Stone addresses debates and conflicts over the memorialization of Confederate “heroes,” with a new preface and afterward that take account of recent events. In this guest post, Levinson meditates on some of the newest controversies, including protests surrounding UNC-Chapel Hill’s “Silent Sam” and sports team mascots.

I am immensely grateful to the Duke University Press for giving me the opportunity to publish a 20th anniversary edition of Written in Stone: Public Monuments in Changing Societies, with a greatly augmented afterword (and new preface as well).  As I noted in the preface, my original suggestion in 2016, when I floated the idea of a new edition, was to prepare about 5000 words that could be submitted in August 2017, with publication taking place in late winter or early spring.  Instead, in part because of what happened in Charlottesville and afterward, the additional material totals around 20,000 words, taking into account events that occurred as late as the summer of 2018, just before the book went to press. As John Lennon is said to have said, life is what happens when you’re busy making plans!

But, already, I have sent emails to my editor, Miriam Angress, suggesting, only half-jokingly, that we begin thinking of a 25th anniversary edition in 2023, for the simple reason that the central topic—how do sometimes drastically changing societies come to terms with monuments, building names, and other such efforts by previous ruling elites to shape a certain view of the society that reflected their own hegemony?—constantly generates brand new, and challenging, examples.

So even in the relatively brief period between the time the book went to press and its publication in October, new examples have arisen from around the world.  Consider the response in Lithuania to a book written by the American granddaughter of a Lithuanian “hero” who had valiantly opposed Soviet hegemony; indeed, he was executed by the Soviets.  In the course of her research, she discovered that he had also been a vigorous anti-Semite and collaborator with Nazis during World War II. An almost full-page story in the New York Times detailed the anguish these discoveries caused the granddaughter, who had expected to write a hagiographic biography of her esteemed grandfather, but who believed that historical facts had priority.  As one might imagine, many present-day Lithuanians do not want to be told that their hero, suitably commemorated in statuary and the names of schoolhouses, might have had feet (at least) of clay. Older readers might remember the great film Who Shot Liberty Valence?, the most memorable line of which is a newspaper editor’s saying that when faced with a choice between reinforcing the legend or writing about the perhaps disillusioning truth, “print the legend.”  Memorialization is quintessentially about myth-making and preservation; suggestions to tear down, or even supply more nuance, to monuments is to attack myths that are important to lots of people. It is not surprising that they resist having their illusions (or outright delusions) shattered.  

Within the United States, students at the University of North Carolina tore down the statue of “Silent Sam,” the anonymous figure commemorating soldiers in the Confederate Army that fought to secure North Carolina’s independence from the United States (and also, of course, to maintain the system of chattel slavery).  This triggered a strong response from the conservative Republican legislature, and it remains to be seen what the ultimate outcome will be with regard to a possible restoration of the statue. The University of Mississippi quickly announced that it would change the name of one of its buildings when it was discovered that the generous benefactor who contributed to its construction (perhaps on condition that it would be named after him) had sent out racist tweets.  A California state college that memorialized “Prospector Pete” as a quintessential participant in the great California Gold Rush of 1849 decided to remove the statute (and change the name of some sports teams from the “Forty Niners”) when informed by a number of Native American students that from their perspective these invading miners were basically imperialists who had destroyed the existing Indian culture and, therefore, deserved no public honor. One might wonder if San Francisco’s professional football team will now receive any of the criticisms that have been long directed at the Washington football team’s use of a racist term as its name.  And Stanford University announced that it would change the name of the street on which it is officially located from Junipero Serra Way to Jane Stanford Way. Father Serra, the most important force behind the settlement of California by Catholic missionaries (and the missions they built throughout the state), is also now regarded by many in California as an agent of imperialism and cultural destruction.

As suggested in the new materials for the Second Edition, the rise of the #MeToo Movement has also called into question a number of namings of buildings at universities and elsewhere.  One can be confident that that many more examples will emerge in the future. One suspects that the reports discussed in the text by the New York Mayor’s commission on public monuments, or by select committees at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton will be avidly read elsewhere, as will former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s truly great speech explaining the removal of  Robert E. Lee from his pedestal atop Lee Circle in that city. The physical removal provides the truly wonderful cover of the new edition of Written in Stone.

There have even been suggestions that Austin, Texas consider changing its name, given that Stephen F. Austin held slaves and that one impetus for the secession from Mexico that created the Republic of Texas over which Austin presided was to assure the maintenance of chattel slavery.  One can doubt that Austin will in fact change its name, any more than Ohio will seek a more anodyne name for its state capital honoring Columbus, the subject of significant and ambivalent discussion by the New York Mayor’s committee. The only thing one can be confident of is that the problems posed by monuments and namings will not be going away in the foreseeable future anywhere in the world.  

Read the introduction to Written in Stone free online, and purchase the paperback for 30% off using coupon code E18STONE.

On Meridians: An Interview with Ginetta E. B. Candelario and Leslie Marie Aguilar

We are proud to be the new publisher of Meridians: feminism, race, and transnationalism. “Black Lives Matter” (volume 17, issue 1), the first issue published by Duke University Press, is now availablecoverimage. We recently sat down with editor Ginetta E. B. Candelario, Professor of Sociology and Latin American & Latino/a Studies at Smith College, and editorial assistant Leslie Marie Aguilar to discuss their vision for the journal’s future.

DUP: Tell us a bit about the journal’s mission.

GinettaMeridians was founded almost twenty years ago now, explicitly with the mandate and mission to publish scholarship by and about women of color, feminisms, and transnationalisms. Therefore, our philosophy is to offer a venue for interdisciplinary scholarship focused on the intersections of gender, race, sexuality, class, citizenship, etc. not only in the United States, but also, more broadly, transnationally and internationally. This is connected to supporting and growing the pipeline of women of color scholars and knowledge producers who are woefully underrepresented in the US academy, often in part because the questions they ask, the methodologies they use, and their theories are not status-quo-maintaining questions, methodologies, and theories. Which means that prior to Meridians, there were very few traditional disciplinary journals that were interested in their work, or that would recognize the value of the work they were doing. So like Signs, Feminist Studies, and so forth, Meridians had a broader demographic and professional development vision.

However, unlike those other feminist publications, we have always been intersectional. From the beginning, we were interested in thinking about race, nation, and transnationalism. Accordingly, our editorial philosophy is to showcase work that is fundamentally interdisciplinary, even if it’s being produced by scholars, such as myself, who might also have a disciplinary home. I’m a sociologist who is also a Latin Americanist, a Latin@ studies scholar, and a women’s studies scholar. I embrace my sociology identity, but I have never published in a sociology journal, and I probably wouldn’t, because it’s typically not a welcoming intellectual space or a home for the kind of work that I’m interested in doing.

We think women of color epistemologies are expressed through multiple genres. Meridians is unique in the sense that it offers a space for both evidence-based, research-based scholarship alongside creative and cultural work—everything from poetry to visual images, whether it’s photography, or paintings, or one-dimensional reproductions of three-dimensional works, to memoir and creative non-fiction kinds of work. We view each of these genres as equally valuable forms of knowledge. In any given issue, you’ll see a research-based piece followed by a poem that is speaking to similar or related concerns that the research piece is exploring in another way. So the philosophy then is really to showcase women of color knowledge production in all these genres and all these forms.

Leslie: This philosophy also drives our desire to increase creative writing as a key component of Meridians. Part of my being brought on board, as a poet, was to vet creative writing and poetry submissions, but it was also to increase Meridians’s visibility within my own networks and within the larger group of activist artists as well. Bridging the gap that typically exists between scholars, activists, and artists is what we’re hoping to accomplish with Meridians. I think that’s a great way that our roles complement one another—Ginetta is the scholar and I’m the creative writer.

So even on our masthead, it’s apparent that we’re trying to create and curate an intersectional space for knowledge production. That’s our vision moving forward, to braid all of these ideas in different forms of knowledge production into the cohesive project that is Meridians.

Moreover, we are committed to making the content of our journal as openly available as possible. Our recently redesigned website will showcase multimedia work related to our published content. So, for example, one of our contributors from 17:1 submitted a poem that is actually a spoken word piece. It’s one dimensional when it’s on the page; but instead of having the poem remain a static object, we invited the contributor to record herself performing the piece. We plan to host her recording on our website so that it is openly available to subscribers and would-be readers of the journal. This endeavor is meant to highlight the different ways our readership encounters the pieces published in Meridians. You don’t necessarily just have to experience them on the written page. There are different emotions elicited whether you are reading an article, or seeing a photograph, or hearing a spoken-word poem. So, in a lot of ways it’s an activist agenda.

DUP:  Ginetta, tell us about your role as editor and your overall goals for the publication.

Ginetta: I am the fourth faculty editor of the journal. However, I’ve been involved with Meridians from its inception actually, because I joined the faculty at Smith College just after Meridians was conceived, if you will, and was there when it was birthed on campus. It’s the brainchild, the baby, of what used to be the Women’s Studies program. The first editorial group was a collective of Smith faculty (whose names are listed on our masthead, by the way). From there they expanded into a Smith-Wesleyan collective because Wesleyan University Press agreed to publish Meridians. Thus, after I was published in Meridians Volume 1, Number 1, I became part of what was then the Smith-Wesleyan Editorial Group.

Now, as editor, my role is establishing the intellectual vision of the journal moving forward. I’m a Latin Americanist who also does Afro-diasporic work, a Latin@ studies scholar who does feminist work, and a women’s studies scholar who does woman of color work, so my networks are somewhat different than my predecessors. I am really interested in growing the existing transnational part of our journal’s mandate and, by extension, its multilingualism. Having languages other than English represented in our submissions, whether those are scholarly essays or creative work, is important to us. We are moving in that direction already.

DUP: What are some of the highlights over the past year in your role as editor?

Ginetta: We recently transitioned to Duke University Press, so our first year working together was really about closing out the relationship with our former publisher and fulfilling commitments. In some ways Leslie’s and my first issues were 16:1 and 16:2, but they didn’t feel like they were truly ours, because we were finishing someone else’s recipe. That’s why in my “Editor’s Introduction” to 17:1, I say that it really feels like our first issue—because we curated it fully, and those contributions came in under our editorship.

Another highlight is that we’ve reconstituted our Editorial Advisory Board into a Smith-Duke board to honor and celebrate the relationship with Duke University Press.

Finally, we also instituted the Paula J. Giddings Best Essay Award that we’ll be presenting for the first time at this year’s National Women’s Studies Association conference. Paula will be present to deliver the award to the junior scholar whose article was selected by our Editorial Advisory Board.

Leslie: Another highlight for the journal has been bringing back student internships and providing cocurricular opportunities for Smith College students. We are providing pathways to professionalization, consistent with Meridians’s mandate to mentor women of color. Reinstituting these internships is one way that we’re amplifying Smith’s mission to educate women of promise for lives of distinction, but also to diversify the pipeline for the larger publishing community. Seeing our interns blossom has been a highlight for me as their supervisor, and I am looking forward to seeing where they’ll go after having Meridians as a guide and a reference. That’s been something we’ve been really proud of this past year.

DUP: How do you see the journal evolving over the next few years?

Ginetta: A central agenda for us is to internationalize the transnational aspect of the journal. One of the things that we are moving to next, in terms of our priorities, is reconfiguring our Transnational Advisory Board so that half of the board comprises scholars, cultural workers, and knowledge producers located outside the United States, in the major regions of Africa, in the Indian subcontinent, in China, the Middle East, and the Asian Pacific Island area. Not only will they contribute to the work we’re doing, but Meridians will be visible in the worlds that these individuals are inhabiting as knowledge producers across the globe. The hope is not just that we will be part of the conversations that are happening in those places but also that folks producing there will send their submissions to us. That is one of our big agendas: growing our international presence and the presence of the international in our journal.

Leslie: Also, part of our forward vision is to highlight the founding goals of Meridians. This is evident in our decision to bring back subsections—“In the Archives,” “Counterpoint,” “Media Matters,” etc.—within the journal. There’s something sort of poetic in that choice, a retrospective looking back in order to see where we’re headed.

DUP: Tell me more about your first fully curated issue of Meridians.

Ginetta: “Black Lives Matter,” Volume 17, Number 1, is the first issue that we fully curated. It is a black women’s activism and resiliency issue, because that’s where we’re at in this historical moment. This issue both commemorates and historicizes the presence and work of these feminists in the US and elsewhere across the world and their ties to us—the fact that we are part of a broader international transnational feminist community of knowledge producers, and that we’ve been influencing one another and supporting one another. We’re trying to honor and commemorate while also sustain hope moving forward. We’re very excited about the issue.

DUP: Is there anything else that you’d like to share with our readers?

Leslie: We’re in the process of developing a creative writing award at the moment. If you’re accepted into the journal you’re automatically in the pool of applicants for this particular award. We’re still working on the finer details, but that’s where Meridians is hoping to go, in order to highlight the creative aspect of Meridians, and showcase it a bit more moving forward.

 

 

Black Marriage

dif_29_2_coverThe most recent issue of differences, “Black Marriage,” edited by Ann duCille, is now available.

Marriage has been a contested term in African American studies. Contributors to this special issue address the subject of “black marriage,” broadly conceived and imaginatively considered from different vantage points. Historically, some scholars have maintained that the systematic enslavement of Africans completely undermined and effectively destroyed the institutions of heteropatriarchal marriage and family, while others have insisted that slaves found creative ways to be together, love each other, and build enduring conjugal relationships and family networks in spite of legal prohibitions against marriage, forced separations, and other hardships of the plantation system. Still others have pointed out that not all African Americans were slaves and that free black men and women formed stable marriages, fashioned strong nuclear and extended families, and established thriving black communities in antebellum cities in both the North and the South.

Against the backdrop of such scholarship, contributors look back to scholarly, legal, and literary treatments of the marriage question and address current concerns, from Beyoncé’s music and marriage to the issues of interracial coupling, marriage equality, and the much discussed decline in African American marriage rates.

Read the introduction, “Black Marriage and Meaning from Antoney and Isabella to ‘Beyoncé and Her Husband,'” made freely available.

978-1-4780-0048-8Ann duCille is also author of the new book Technicolored: Reflections on Race in the Time of TV. In it, she combines cultural critique with personal reflections on growing up with the new medium of TV to examine how televisual representations of African Americans have changed over the last sixty years. Whether explaining how watching Shirley Temple led her to question her own self-worth or how televisual representation functions as a form of racial profiling, duCille traces the real-life social and political repercussions of the portrayal and presence of African Americans on television.

978-0-8223-5008-8Also of interest is the book Inequalities of Love: College-Educated Black Women and the Barriers to Romance and Family by Averil Y. Clarke. While conventional wisdom suggests that all women, regardless of race, must sacrifice romance and family for advanced educations and professional careers, Clarke’s research reveals that educated black women’s disadvantages in romance and starting a family are consequences of a system of racial inequality and discrimination. Her discussion of the inequities that black women experience in romance highlights the connections between individuals’ sexual and reproductive decisions, their performance of professional or elite class identities, and the avoidance of racial stigma.