American Studies

New Books in June

Looking for some compelling reads this summer? Check out these new titles coming out in June!

Presenting ethnographic case studies from across the globe, the contributors to Anthropos and the Material, edited by Penny Harvey, Christian Krohn-Hansen and Knut G. Nustad, question and complicate long-held understandings of the divide between humans and things by examining encounters between the human and the nonhuman in numerous social, cultural, technological, and geographical contexts.

In Anti-Japan Leo T. S. Ching traces the complex dynamics that shape persisting negative attitudes toward Japan throughout East Asia, showing how anti-Japanism stems from the failed efforts at decolonization and reconciliation, the U.S. military presence, and shifting geopolitical and economic conditions in the region.

The contributors to Captivating Technology, edited by Ruha Benjamin, examine how carceral technologies such as electronic ankle monitors and predictive-policing algorithms are being deployed to classify and coerce specific populations and whether these innovations can be appropriated and reimagined for more liberatory ends.

Focusing on Costa Rica and Brazil, Andrea Ballestero’s A Future History of Water examines the legal, political, economic, and bureaucratic history of water in the context of the efforts to classify it as a human right, showing how seemingly small scale devices such as formulas and lists play large role in determining water’s status.

In Making the World Global, Isaac A. Komola examines how the relationships between universities, the American state, philanthropic organizations, and international financial institutions inform the academic understanding of the world as global in ways that frame higher education as a commodity, private good, and source of human capital.

Therí Alyce Pickens examines the speculative and science fiction of Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson, and Tananarive Due in Black Madness :: Mad Blackness to rethink the relationship between race and disability, thereby unsettling the common theorization that they are mutually constitutive.

In Entre Nous, Grant Farred examines the careers of international soccer stars Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, along with his own experience playing for an amateur township team in apartheid South Africa, to theorize the relationship between sports and the intertwined experiences of relation, separation, and belonging.

In The Fixer, Charles Piot follows Kodjo Nicolas Batema, a visa broker in the West African nation of Togo as he helps his clients apply for the U.S. Diversity Visa Lottery program. The lively stories shed light on current immigration debates.

In The African Roots of Marijuana, an authoritative history of cannabis in Africa, Chris S. Duvall challenges what readers thought they knew about cannabis by correcting widespread myths, outlining its relationship to slavery and colonialism, and highlighting Africa’s centrality to knowledge about and the consumption of one of the world’s most ubiquitous plants.

In Experiments with Empire, Justin Izzo examines how twentieth-century writers, artists, and anthropologists from France, West Africa, and the Caribbean experimented with ethnography and fiction in order to explore new ways of making sense of the complicated legacy of imperialism and to imagine new democratic futures.

Elizabeth M. DeLoughrey traces how indigenous and postcolonial peoples in the Caribbean and Pacific Islands grapple with the enormity of colonialism and anthropogenic climate change through art, poetry, and literature by using allegorical narratives in Allegories of the Anthropocene.

The Romare Bearden Reader, edited by Robert G. O’Meally, brings together a collection of newly written essays and canonical writings by novelists, poets, historians, critics, and playwrights, as well as Bearden’s most important writing, making it an indispensable volume on one of the giants of twentieth-century American art.

Terry Adkins: Infinity is Less Than One, which we are distributing for ICA Miami, accompanies the first institutional posthumous exhibition of the sculptural work of Terry Adkins (1953–2014), one of the great conceptual artists of the twenty-first century renowned for his pioneering work across numerous mediums. The catalogue is edited by Gean Moreno and Alex Gartenfeld.

The contributors to Racism Postrace, edited by Roopali Mukherjee, Sarah Banet-Weiser, and Herman Gray, theorize and examine the persistent concept of post-race in examples ranging from Pharrell Williams’s “Happy” to public policy debates, showing how proclamations of a post-racial society can normalize modes of racism and obscure structural antiblackness.

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Trans Studies en las Américas

coverimageIn honor of International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, we’re proud to spotlight “Trans Studies en las Américas,” the newest issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly.

Trans and travesti studies take many forms throughout the Americas: as scholarly work, interventions into state practices, activist actions, and eruptions of creative energies. These approaches are regionally inflected by flows of people, ideas, technologies, and resources.

Trans Studies en las Américas,” edited by Claudia Sofía Garriga-López, Denilson Lopes, Cole Rizki, and Juana María Rodríguez, offers a hemispheric perspective on trans and travesti issues. Contributors explore how shifts in cultural epistemologies, aesthetics, geographies, and languages enliven theorizations of politics, subjectivity, and embodiment.

Browse the table of contents and read the introduction, freely available.

Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month Reads

In honor of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month or Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we are featuring some of our recent books and journals that explore Asian American and Pacific Islander studies.

racial melancholiaDavid L. Eng and Shinhee Han draws on psychoanalytic case histories from the mid-1990s to the present to explore how first- and second-generation Asian American young adults deal with difficulties such as depression, suicide, and coming out within the larger social context of race, immigration, and sexuality in Racial Melancholia, Racial Dissociation.

Also looking at the lives of young Asian Americans,  Straight A’s, edited by Christine R. Yano, Neal K. Adolph Akatsuka, features personal narratives of undergraduate students at Harvard University in which they reflect on their shared experiences with discrimination, stereotypes, immigrant communities, their relationship to their Asian heritage, and the difficulties that come with being expected to reach high levels of achievement.

In Paradoxes of Hawaiian SovereigntyJ. Kēhaulani Kauanui examines contradictions of indigeneity and self-determination in U.S. domestic policy and international law, showing how Hawaiian elites’ approaches to reforming land, gender, and sexual regulation in the early nineteenth century that paved the way for sovereign recognition of the kingdom complicate contemporary nationalist activism, which too often includes disavowing the indigeneity of indigenous Hawaiians.

Dean Itsuji Saranillio’s Unsustainable Empire offers a bold challenge to conventional understandings of Hawai‘i’s admission as a U.S. state. Saranillio shows that statehood was neither the expansion of U.S. democracy nor a strong nation swallowing a weak and feeble island nation, but the result of a U.S. nation whose economy was unsustainable without enacting a more aggressive policy of imperialism. With clarity and persuasive force about historically and ethically complex issues, Unsustainable Empire provides a more complicated understanding of Hawai‘i’s admission as the fiftieth state and why Native Hawaiian place-based alternatives to U.S. empire are urgently needed.

postcolonial griefIn Postcolonial Grief, Jinah Kim explores Asian and Asian American texts from 1945 to the present that mourn the loss of those killed by U.S. empire building and militarism in the Pacific, showing how the refusal to heal from imperial violence may help generate a transformative antiracist and decolonial politics.

In Migrant Futures, Aimee Bahng traces the cultural production of futurity by juxtaposing the practices of speculative finance against those of speculative fiction, showing how speculative novels, films, and narratives create alternative futures that envision the potential for new political economies, social structures, and subjectivities that exceed the framework of capitalism.

worldmakingDorinne Kondo draws on critical ethnographic work and over twenty years of experience as a dramaturge and playwright to theorize how racialized labor, aesthetics, affect, genre, and social inequity operate in contemporary theater in Worldmaking.

Jan M. Padios examines the massive call center industry in the Philippines in the context of globalization, race, gender, transnationalism, and postcolonialism in A Nation on the Line. She outlines how it has become a significant site of efforts to redefine Filipino identity and culture, the Philippine nation-state, and the value of Filipino labor.

Migrant Returns  by Eric J. Pido also takes a transnational look at the Filipino experience. His award-winning book examines the complicated relationship between the Philippine economy, Manila’s urban development, and Filipino migrants visiting or returning to their homeland, showing migration to be a multidirectional, layered, and continuous process with varied and often fraught outcomes.

New Books in May

Jump-start your summer reading with one of our new titles this May!

In Coral Empire Ann Elias traces the history of two explorers whose photographs and films of tropical reefs in the 1920s cast corals and the sea as an unexplored territory to be exploited in ways that tied the tropics and reefs to colonialism, racism, and the human domination of nature.

The contributors to Remaking New Orleans, edited by Thomas Jessen Adams and Matt Sakakeeny, challenge the uncritical acceptance of New Orleans-as-exceptional narratives, showing how they flatten the diversity, experience, and culture of the city’s residents and obscure other possible understandings.

The ChasersRenato Rosaldo’s new prose poetry collection, The Chasers, shares his experiences and those of his group of twelve Mexican-American Tucson High School friends known as the Chasers as they grew up, graduated, and fell out of touch, conveying the realities of Chicano life on the borderlands from the 1950s to the present.

In Queering Black Atlantic Religions Roberto Strongman examines three Afro-diasporic religions—Hatian Vodou, Cuban Lucumí/Santería, and Brazilian Candomblé—to demonstrate how the commingling of humans and the divine during trance possession produce subjectivities whose genders are unconstrained by biological sex.

Written in 1937, published in Spanish in 1973, and appearing here in English for the first time, Freddy Prestol Castillo’s novel You Can Cross the Massacre on Foot is one of the few accounts of the 1937 massacre of tens of thousands of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic.

Book Reports

In Book Reports, a generous collection of book reviews and literary essays, rock critic Robert Christgau shows readers a different side to his esteemed career with reviews of books ranging from musical autobiographies, criticism, and histories to novels, literary memoirs, and cultural theory.

The contributors to From Russia with Code, edited by Mario Biagioli and Vincent Antonin Lépinay, examine Russian computer scientists, programmers, and hackers in and outside of Russia within the context of new international labor markets and the economic, technological, and political changes in post-Soviet Russia.

In Camp TV Quinlan Miller reframes American television history by tracing a camp aesthetic and the common appearance of trans queer gender characters in both iconic and lesser known sitcoms throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

The coauthors of Decolonizing Ethnography integrate ethnography with activist work in a New Jersey center for undocumented workers, showing how anthropology can function as a vehicle for activism and as a tool for marginalized people to theorize their own experiences.

In Work! Elspeth H. Brown traces modeling’s history from the advent of photographic modeling in the early twentieth century to the rise of the supermodel in the 1980s, showing how it is both the quintessential occupation of a modern consumer economy and a practice that has been shaped by queer sensibilities.

In Figures of Time Toni Pape examines contemporary television that often presents a conflict-laden conclusion first before relaying the events that led up to that inevitable ending, showing how this narrative structure attunes audiences to the fear-based political doctrine of preemption—a logic that justifies preemptive action to nullify a perceived future threat.

In Anti-Japan Leo T. S. Ching traces the complex dynamics that shape persisting negative attitudes toward Japan throughout East Asia, showing how anti-Japanism stems from the failed efforts at decolonization and reconciliation, the U.S. military presence, and shifting geopolitical and economic conditions in the region.

The Cuba Reader

Tracking Cuban history from 1492 to the present, this revised and expanded second edition of The Cuba Reader presents myriad perspectives on Cuba’s history, culture, and politics, including a new section that explores the changes and continuities in Cuba since Fidel Castro stepped down from power in 2006.

The Fernando Coronil Reader, a posthumously published collection of anthropologist Fernando Coronil’s most important work, highlights his deep concern with the global South, Latin American state formation, theories of nature, empire and postcolonialism, and anthrohistory as an intellectual and ethical approach.

The extensively updated and revised third edition of the bestselling Social Medicine Reader (Volume I and Volume II) provides a survey of the challenging issues facing today’s health care providers, patients, and caregivers with writings by scholars in medicine, the social sciences, and the humanities. It will be a great addition to courses in public health, medicine, nursing, and more.

Catherine Waldby traces how the history of the valuing of human oocytes—the reproductive cells specific to women—intersects with the biological and social life of women in her new book The Oocyte Economy.

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Out to Sea: A Guest Post by Hester Blum

IMG_5866.JPGHester Blum, Associate Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University, reflects on detritus, ocean-bound ephemera, and being swept out to sea by a rogue wave. Her new book, The News at the Ends of the Earth, examines the rich, offbeat collection of printed ephemera created by nineteenth- and early twentieth-century polar explorers as they wrestled with questions of time, space, and community.

I was swept to sea by a rogue wave the day after I first held a copy of my new book. Both incidents were unexpected.

I was in California for an event on women and the polar regions, speaking along with a poet/polar naturalist, an artist/deep sea researcher, and a full-time polar explorer. I didn’t expect to receive copies of my new book for another couple of weeks. As my talk slides were being loaded in the auditorium on UC Davis’s Polar Day I saw with surprise that a university bookstore representative was setting up stacks of my book next to the poet’s and the explorer’s latest volumes. The copies had been shipped directly from the printer—the press did not even have their own copies yet, the bookstore rep told me. I was beside myself with delight and surprise, and asked the explorer take a picture of me hoisting it, smiling so broadly my eyes crinkled nearly shut.

The News at the Ends of the Earth: The Print Culture of Polar Exploration studies the newspapers and other printed ephemera that polar-voyaging sailors produced in environmental extremity, in oceanic circulation, at the margins of the terraqueous world. All of my academic writing and a good portion of my day-to-day thinking is about the ocean, even though I am no sailor. After the polar event I unexpectedly found myself with free time, and rented a car to drive to the Sonoma coast north of Marin County. What better way, I thought, to reflect on the years the polar book had taken me to research and write than to commune with the sea and the nonhuman world on a rocky coast. I took my binoculars (I am new to birding, with the zeal of the convert) and a change of clothes in case it rained on me.

I drove out of the flat, rectilinear agriscape of the Central Valley and through electric green hills topped with tors and resembling the English moors. When I reached Highway 1, the storied California coastal road, I stopped for a lunch of fries and oysters, briny and bracing. After Bodega Bay the highway hits the sea, and I saw breakers for the first time on the drive. I planned to spend the day driving slowly north, stopping at beaches along the way to look at birds, walk, possibly write a little, maybe even see seals. I stopped first at North Salmon Creek Beach to try to spot the snowy plovers that nest on the beach. I took off my sneakers at the bottom of the steps leading down from the parking lot on the cliff, and tucked them behind some driftwood on dry sand.

IMG_5913.jpegThe Sonoma State Beaches are rocky and variable. The estuary at the mouth of Salmon Creek was alternately calm and afroth. Down the beach, visitors had built driftwood structures on wider spits of sand. Where the coastal cliffs jutted farther out the sand was only a few feet wide. My head was down, beachcoming above the waterline, when an unseen tidal surge drenched my leggings, which I didn’t want to get wet. Eyes on the water, I told myself, you know better than to turn your back on the sea. I picked up a palm-sized bit of driftwood, shaped marvelously like a sand dune in its ridges, whorls, and shifting peaks.

IMG_0022.JPGThe surf was rough, insistent, foaming. I walked back toward the estuary and the parking lot so I could continue my drive up the coast—I’d only really just begun, and could see that farther north the rocks and surf were even larger and more dramatic. At the base of the stairs to the lot, near where I had stashed my sneakers, I stopped to look at the birds settling on the estuary’s sand banks. There were a number of different kinds of gulls, and I wasn’t sure if I was observing the snowy plover as well. I walked a few feet down the beach, amid more rocks, and stood with my binoculars to my eyes, a dorsal turn away from the sea, on a stretch of sand well above the waterline.

Without warning the sea was suddenly up to my thighs, my waist, my chest. Later a man told me that he was screaming at me to look out, but I did not hear him. I struggled to keep my feet but the water churned and rose and was soon well over my head, maybe ten feet high, carrying me away down the beach and smashing into the rocks at a terrible pace. I tried to keep feet first, not let my head tip forward. Again and again I hit jagged rocks, no smooth edges of erosion, no driftwood softness. The water roiled with debris, brown and dirty and filled with wood and oceanic detritus. It carried me down the beach and started pulling me into the mouth of Salmon Creek. Only later did I realize how lucky it was to be pulled in (even if against rocks) rather than out, as by a riptide. I swallowed sand and kept clutching for the binoculars that were harnessed to my back. After what felt like a very long time I was able to touch the bottom again, even though the sea kept me from getting a foothold. I could see a number of men scrambling down the cliffside toward me, waving their arms.

I staggered out of the water, finally, as the surge started to recede. I was 50, maybe 100 yards down the beach from where I had stood. Three men met me and held me up, kept asking if I was okay. “That was so stupid, that was so stupid, that was so scary, I should know better” I kept repeating at them. I was embarrassed to have been swept away. “Can you walk?” one asked me and I looked down and saw that my feet were lacerated and bleeding from a number of places. Yes, I could walk. I felt numb, no pain. I felt for my pockets, made sure my keys were still there. I moved toward where I had left my sneakers and did not see them. My ears were packed with sand. I could not open a passage. Where were my shoes? One shoe was down the beach against the cliff face. No sign of the other. I sat on a log, then stood. I spotted my other sneaker hooked on a piece of driftwood. I wanted to get off the beach before another surge found me.

I started a slow, dripping pace up the railroad tie steps. People just arriving looked at me with concern. A man at the top of the steps offered me water to rinse my cuts and I told him that I had some. He said he was a surfer and had been watching the water to see if it was too rough to go out—that the waves were 10 to 16 feet that day, and that the surge when the outer waves met the estuary was very unpredictable. He was the one that had screamed out to me when the rogue wave came in. Later I read that the spot is known for attracting distant groundswells and for its “meaty beachbreak.”

I wanted to get to the car and put on the dry jeans and t-shirt I had brought. I was astonished by the amount of sand on me, in my clothes. The wave that swept me away must have consisted of more sand than water. It was as if I had poured buckets full of wet sand down my shirt, my pants. I stripped to the skin standing in the parking lot. I couldn’t get the sand off. I shuffled into my pants and rolled them high above my battered feet. I still didn’t feel the cuts or the bruises already purpling my ankles and toes. I poured water on my cuts and drove barefoot to a convenience store to get first aid supplies. I hobbled across a parking lot of sharp gravel without my shoes. Looking down at the blood I was treading on the store floor, a woman told me to go to the fire department and see a paramedic. At the fire department I was confused and instead of ringing the bell I used the emergency call box, which called 911 and routed me to the dispatcher. I had a hard time explaining that I was standing outside a fire department and just wanted to be let in.

My phone was dead, of course, cracked and flush with salt and sand. It is very hard to be in a strange place without a smartphone. I thought about driving straight back to Davis, over two hours away. I was compelled instead to go a little farther up Highway 1 to find a café or a place to sit and recover. Ten miles north of the beach that beached me I saw hundreds of baby harbor seals on a long spit of black sand, rolling and slapping and raising their heads and tails while lying sideways, as if they were gray-speckled croissants. The surf rolled over them without incident. I watched the seals for a while through my binoculars, now blurry impossible to adjust, its moving parts packed with sand. I then drove back toward Davis, navigating blind, until I hit a familiar highway.


The book I newly held in my hand the day before being taken up by the sea is about ephemera, detritus, the forms of communicative media that polar explorers created for their own amusement and in order to document the inner lives of their expeditions. These materials, which I call polar ecomedia, also document the inner life of climate extremity. Polar ecomedia includes comic shipboard newspapers, playbills, and mock-formal menus, printed and passed around by fellow shipmates trapped in the ice of Arctic and Antarctic winters. These bits of expeditionary social media haven’t registered within popular histories of polar exploration in part because of their transitory nature—they are rare, fragmentary, satirical. Polar sailors used them as ways to pass and mark time and entertain themselves. And as I argue in The News at the Ends of the Earth, polar ecomedia also are means to reckon with the ephemerality of human life in climate extremity.

Polar exploration is no joke, whether in the nineteenth century or today. Arctic travel is scarcely more safe now than in Sir John Franklin’s time. I know this, and not just from my research on the new book—an Arctic expedition I’m slated to join in July has been postponed two summers in a row for reasons that echo historic expeditionary challenges. (Last year’s ship ran aground in the Gulf of Boothia; you may have also read the news recently about a Norwegian cruise ship that had to be evacuated in stormy seas.) And the ocean, above all, is no joke—I know this too. How could I have washed out so easily? I thought vaguely that this was a punishment for the luxury of a day all to myself on the coast. Or the inevitable letdown after the rush of seeing my book in print and spending the afternoon with ego-ideal polar women.

image1.jpegMy phone is now trash, although I still have the piece of driftwood I picked up in Sonoma, seaside detritus. It was only a few days after a windstorm in central Pennsylvania (where I live) had brought a very large branch down in our backyard. The branch fell perpendicularly to the ground, and the force of its impact drove a six-foot length of wood into the yard, erect as a hurled lightning bolt. My husband wanted to cut it up with the other downed branches for firewood, but I asked him to leave it in place, embedded, as a plinth. Itself storm detritus, the branch lance spared our family, safely inside as it fell.

Not until the next day, writing this, did I realize I had lost my hat to the sea, an orange hat with a whale on it. It was from Channel Islands National Park, where I had traveled last year—for research, alone, to commune with the sea, and to think and write about “female Robinson Crusoes,” women who are castaway.

Save 30% on Hester Blum’s The News at the Ends of the Earth with coupon code E19BLUM.

 

Q&A with Beth C. Caldwell, Author of Deported Americans

Beth Caldwell PhotoBeth C. Caldwell is Professor of Legal Analysis, Writing, and Skills at Southwestern Law School and was formerly an attorney in the Los Angeles County Office of the Public Defender. Caldwell’s experiences as a public defender led her to her new book, Deported Americans, in which she tells the story of dozens of immigrants who were deported from the United States—the only country they have ever known—to Mexico, tracking the harmful consequences of deportation for those on both sides of the border.

Who are the deported Americans about whom you write? What are the most common problems they face that result in their deportation?

I use the term deported Americans primarily to refer to people who migrated to the United States when they were children (often at a very young age), who have now been deported. These are people who were primarily socialized in the United States, who grew up attending American schools, and who are more comfortable speaking English than Spanish. They’re not U.S. citizens, but they identify as Americans culturally, and others perceive them as Americans too.

The term is also broad enough to encompass U.S. citizen family members of people who have been deported—particularly the children and spouses of deportees. Although not technically deported under the law, they often feel like they too have been deported because the only option to keep their families together is to leave the United States.

Both groups refer to their experiences as “banishment” or “exile” from their homes, and they experience a range of problems that are not surprising if you imagine how it would feel to be uprooted from all that is familiar to you—from your home, your career, your family and friends. This can trigger a sense of hopelessness that can fuel mental health issues, most often depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and thoughts of suicide. It can also push some to turn to drugs to numb their pain. Family relationships often erode in the years following deportation, which contributes to these problems.

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In Mexico, deported Americans are stigmatized and are not accepted by the dominant culture. They report feeling marginalized by their American accents and ties to the United States. This can trigger profound questions about one’s identity because people feel a sense of double rejection, by both the United States and Mexico.

You mention in your introduction that you did not set out deliberately to write this book, but rather stumbled upon it through your work and informal conversations with deported people living in Mexico. Can you speak more to how these experiences and relationships shaped your approach?

Since I didn’t deliberately set out to research this issue, I didn’t set out with any preconceived notions or expectations as a researcher who is testing a hypothesis might do. Instead, the project was shaped by listening to people and, in some cases, by observing people’s day-to-day interactions as they adjusted to the reality of being deported. Common themes emerged in people’s narratives. When I would speak with people in the U.S. about what I was hearing, people were often surprised. And I realized that it was important to document and share the other side of deportation, so that people in the U.S. would have to confront, or at least be more aware of, the very real harms that flow from the country’s deportation policies.

How does activism—yours and others’—shape the narrative in Deported Americans?

I consider the negative rhetoric that depicts immigrants as others—as invaders or as dangerous—to be the biggest obstacle to creating more humane immigration policies in the U.S. No amount of activism can bring about just immigration reforms as long as some immigrants are characterized as “good” and “deserving” while others are cast aside as “bad” or “criminal,” and therefore disposable.

One of the primary goals of the narrative in Deported Americans is to highlight the nuances and complexities in people’s lives in order to help readers to see that even people who would commonly be depicted as “bad” or “undeserving” have compelling stories and are deserving of humane treatment under the law. By telling people’s stories, I try to strip away the dehumanizing labels that are often applied to immigrants with criminal convictions in order to help readers to see people more holistically.

What do you think is the most surprising aspect of immigration law as it affects deported Americans?

Often, stories about immigrants focus on recent arrivals to the U.S., but many deportees are members of American families. The U.S. deported over 250,000 parents of U.S. citizen children between 2011 and 2017, in addition to many spouses of U.S. citizens. People are always surprised when I talk about U.S. citizens whose spouses have been deported. There seems to be a pervasive belief that marriage to a U.S. citizen protects people from deportation, but this is not the case. I’ve interviewed many U.S. citizens who now live in Mexico because their spouses have been deported, and others who are struggling with family separation because they have stayed in the U.S. after a spouse’s deportation.

People are also surprised by the lack of proportionality in these cases. There is a major disconnect between sentences in criminal court and the sanctions people experience in the immigration system, even though both systems are often imposing penalties on the basis of the same conduct. For example, a lawful permanent resident (otherwise known as a green card holder) could be convicted of a crime for which they are sentenced with minimal jail time and probation in the criminal justice system. But in immigration court, they could face virtually automatic, permanent deportation—with no realistic hope of ever lawfully returning to the U.S.—because of the same conviction.

Many news stories paint pictures of immigrants and deportees. What is the most important way that you think Deported Americans changes or contradicts these narratives?

I deliberately focus on sharing the stories of immigrants with criminal convictions to disrupt the pervasive representation of some immigrants as “good” and others as “bad.” A lot of people are framed as “dangerous” due to criminal convictions that really have nothing to do with whether they are in fact dangerous. And in many cases, it seems more dangerous to deport them—to separate them from their families, or to force their U.S. citizen family members to leave the United States if they want to stay together.

Harsh immigration policies that apply to immigrants with criminal convictions emerged alongside the tough-on-crime movement of the 1980s and 1990s. In many cases, the same laws that created drug sentencing policies that are now widely criticized also created draconian immigration policies. Although there is an emerging consensus that the War on Drugs was problematic, and there has been some progress to roll back some of its policies, very little attention has focused on the parallel problems in the immigration system. I hope to draw people’s attention to this issue.

In the context of arguments over the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and the news about the child detention centers, how do you see conversations about deportation changing? Staying the same?

People are certainly more interested in the topic of deportation now than in the recent past. This is an interesting shift because numerically, more people were actually being deported a few years ago. I think that the more that the consequences of U.S. immigration policy come to light, the more the average American is concerned about the issues, especially when it comes to family separation. Although more attention has focused on family separation affecting people upon their entry to the United States, family separation brought about by deportation fits into the overall problem that the U.S. immigration system regularly separates children from their parents.

The issue of family separation is also directly tied to the wall. When I was first starting out my research in Tijuana, I interviewed a social worker who runs a shelter for women and children. Her shelter houses a lot of recent deportees. She was convinced that no barrier—no fence, no wall, no punishments—would stop mothers from trying to return to the United States because the instinct to reunite with their children was stronger than anything. It’s a primal instinct. Due to a long history of migration from Mexico to the U.S., which the U.S. has welcomed at many times because of a desire for Mexican labor, families are deeply interconnected across the border, and across immigration statuses. The rhetoric framing migration as an “invasion” by foreigners misses this important reality.

What do you hope readers will take away from Deported Americans?

Deportation causes a lot of harm—to both the deportees and their families, who are often U.S. citizens. It has become a normalized aspect of our society, but we should really think about whether it should be. Deportation has always been used as a tool for excluding and removing marginalized people from societies, so its roots are suspect. I hope readers will walk away from the book with lingering questions about how we might better approach the social problems deportation is currently used to address, but in a more humane way.

Read the introduction to Deported Americans free online and purchase the paperback for 30% off using coupon code E19CALDW.

 

Q&A with Mack Hagood, Author of Hush

hagood, mack author photo

Mack Hagood is Robert H. and Nancy J. Blayney Assistant Professor of Comparative Media Studies at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. His work on digital media, sound technologies, and popular music can be found in such publications as American Quarterly and Cinema Journal, and he co-produces and hosts the podcast Phantom Power: Sounds about Sound. In his new book, Hush: Media and Sonic Self Control, Hagood explores what he calles “orphic media”: noise-cancelling headphones, tinnitus maskers, white noise machines, nature-sound mobile apps, and other forms of media that 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.

Explain what you mean by “sonic self-control”? What kind of sound are you investigating?

I study activities as simple as using a white-noise machine to sleep better at night or using noise-canceling headphones to work or enjoy a movie on an airplane. I am interested in how we use personal media technologies to change sensory experience, thereby managing how we feel and controlling our connection to our surroundings and others. These acts of sonic self-control are among our most common everyday media practices—millions of apps that generate nature sounds have been downloaded, for example, and headphones are now a multi-billion-dollar industry. These technologies’ prevalence alone makes them worthy of research; yet aside from a body of cultural studies work on personal music technologies like the Walkman and the iPod, very little research has been done on them. The kind of practice I’m describing here can involve music, but it can also be completely non-musical. I’m really focusing less on media content and more on how we use our devices to remediate how—and how much—the world affects us. I call these devices “orphic media,” named after the mythical Orpheus, who counteracted the fatal song of the Sirens by playing a song of his own, fighting sound with sound to create a safe space.

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In the book, I’m bringing together a diverse array of technologies that are used for this kind of sonic self-control: white noise machines, LPs of natural sounds, mobile apps, noise-canceling headphones, wearable devices that suppress tinnitus, and the evolving category of in-ear wearable computer technology, or “hearables.” Most of these orphic technologies have been ignored by my academic field of media studies, so I’m providing a history and asking why these practices have evolved over the past sixty years. Why do they feel so necessary today? And what can we learn about sensory experience and our cultural moment from them? Is our new ability to (in the words of a Beats headphones slogan) “Hear What You Want,” providing us new levels of freedom or is it making us ever more sensitive to what we don’t want to hear? In this way, I’m using the material and physiological experience of sound as a different way to think through contemporary debates about media echo chambers, filter bubbles, safe spaces, fake news, “snowflakes,” and so on.

Why do you think media studies has overlooked these technologies?

I think there are certain habits and ideas around media that affect scholars and laypeople alike, making some kinds of media practices harder to identify and analyze. For one thing, we tend to think about media in terms of discrete genres and technologies. In the academic world, the attainment of disciplinary expertise demands that you drill down on a specific medium, so you become a film scholar or a radio scholar or a social media scholar, despite the fact that we all know that these different media are converging in our iPhones. I wanted to approach things from the opposite direction, saying, “Here’s something interesting I see people doing on one device—are they also doing similar things with other devices?” So, I’m trying to think across media rather than within these categories that ultimately derive from the industries we are supposed to analyze and critique. This approach has led me to study audio technologies that are marketed as “sensory therapy devices” at the Home and Housewares Show, or prescription devices at the American Academy of Audiology conference—not just the familiar devices you’d find at the consumer electronics tradeshow, CES. My line of inquiry pushed me into some strange and interesting spaces where media scholars don’t often venture.

Then there are two common-sense definitions of media that exclude the technologies I study: First, media are information-transmitting devices. Second, media are communication devices. These are both partial truths that obscure some of what we really use media for—and even though a number of great media theorists have challenged these notions from different angles, they continue to dominate. In my view, media studies, like American culture, lives under the thumb of cybernetics and information theory, which were developed over seventy years ago—now more than ever, in fact! In the book, I argue that the pressures of living in an “information economy” are some of the main reasons we hate and fear noise so much today. What I call “infocentrism” places impossible demands on our attention and makes orphic media feel like necessities. Trying to analyze this dynamic as a scholar while using an informatic notion of media would be like using the Invisible Hand to critique neoliberalism.

My alternative definition, which is inspired by the Spinozan lineage of affect theory, is that media are devices used to control how we affect and are affected by the world. Information technology can facilitate this process, but the embodied, material, and affective aspects of media use just can’t be reduced to immaterial patterns of information or the transmission of messages. Take, for example, a mobile app like White Noise. Say you work in an open-plan office and your co-worker’s sales calls are distracting you from writing a memo, so you use your smartphone to generate noise and block out their voice. Noise is literally the opposite of information, right? You’re using your phone not to communicate, but rather to render communication impossible. In practice, you have contradicted the notion that media are solely technologies for the transmission of information and the facilitation of communication. Sure, your phone is constructed on an information architecture, but we shouldn’t confuse the architecture with the nature of the human practice, which is to remediate the external environment and thereby reorganize our interior experience.

What sparked your interest in sonic self-control? How did your experiences with tinnitus influence this project?

I lived in Taiwan for several years and there I encountered these little boxes that looked like transistor radios and played audio loops of chanted Buddhist sutras. I was completely fascinated by these things and started collecting them. (Years later, a pair of musicians in China commissioned their own version of the device filled with ambient music loops and branded it as The Buddha Machine—it became something of an underground music hit.) My imagination was captivated by the idea that a sound machine could create a sacred space and I recalled how, as a child who had trouble sleeping, I used a radio to make my bedroom feel safer. Years later, in graduate school, I read the passage in A Thousand Plateaus where a frightened child in the dark sings a song to create what Deleuze and Guattari call a milieu, a temporarily pacified space—a little wall of sound to keep the monsters out. I immediately thought back to the sutra boxes and my childhood radio and that’s when I began to wonder if there were other media technologies that sonically pacified space in this way. And yes, it turns out there are a lot of them!

As for tinnitus, I have had it for as long as I can remember—perhaps resulting from a bout of scarlet fever I had as a child. Tinnitus became part of the project when I realized that people who suffered a lot from it were the most avid—and sometimes, desperate—users of orphic media. In fact, audiologists prescribe wearable sound-generators as part of tinnitus therapies. This is because tinnitus grows louder in quiet spaces. Just as the pupils dilate in low light, the auditory system “turns up the volume” in silence, revealing or exacerbating tinnitus. The chapter on tinnitus shows how high the stakes of orphic mediation can get. In my ethnographic research, I met people who couldn’t work and even attempted suicide. A combination of sound enrichment and counseling is the main tinnitus treatment today.

And in fact, the stakes became very high for me as well. By a strange twist of fate, a bike tire burst right next to my ear right before I started my fieldwork, creating tinnitus to a degree I’d never experienced before. So, I was struggling with my own fear and dismay about tinnitus as I was going to clinics and support groups to observe and do interviews. I could deeply empathize with tinnitus sufferers whose bosses or families thought they were flakes or neurotics or malingerers. The tinnitus research soon became the centerpiece of the project. It provided me with a neurophysiological model of how an affect of fear can attach to sound, reshaping sensory experience and social life. It also forced me to study humanistic theories of disability, something that really wasn’t on my radar before. In the end, disability theory helped me resolve my own fear and aversion to tinnitus, which actually may be the only “cure” at this point. I realized that my own ideology of ability—Tobin Siebers’ term for the belief that the body should be perfect—was fueling my flight-or-flight reaction to tinnitus, making it worse. This helped me turn a corner. In time, I came to embrace my tinnitus as a part of myself. In fact, I came to realize that every sound we hate or fear is really part of ourselves, because we are the ones who experiences it. No matter what noise we are fighting, literal or figurative, embracing our experience is the secret to transcending it. Ironically, a lot of human suffering comes from our self-defeating attempts at self-control.

You use the image of Orpheus fending off the sirens’ deadly song with his own as the basis for your concept of “orphic media.” Why Orpheus? How does this myth let you touch upon other themes in your book?

Orpheus fascinates me, especially the Orpheus of the epic poem Argonautica. Here we have an adventure with a boatload of burly heroes, but this sensitive poet-musician-priest guy is an essential member of the crew. This should be not only an inspiration to nerds everywhere, but also a reminder of the power of sound and music. Orpheus keeps the brutish Argonauts from fighting by playing his lyre and singing. He sets the rhythm for the rowers, allowing them to travel with speed. He performs important religious rituals. And, of course, he saves the Argonauts lives by musically fabricating a safe space in the Siren Strait. So, Orpheus allows me to talk about how sound can be instrumentalized as a powerful vibrational force. This is what we see today in all orphic media.

However, Orpheus also exhibits something we have somewhat lost our ear for today. His power comes from the fact that he is exquisitely sensitive to the sacred and unifying power of sound. He is the son of a Muse, and he can hear even the vibrations of spiders spinning their webs. His music can change the course of rivers and move the Earth because he understands that sound is a medium that interconnects us all. So, sound can be utilized to separate and defend, but it also reminds us that we can never truly be separate from one another. Musical rituals are spaces where people give up individuality to sing and move as one. This is the opposite of the instrumentalized and individualized use of music that is so common in the streaming era with its mood- and productivity-focused playlists. Or the utilitarian use of white noise as a protective wall of sound.

In your discussion of different kinds of orphic media, advertisements serve as important examples of how companies have defined sound in terms of race, class, gender, and disability. What are some of the most unexpected ways in which capitalism shapes sound and orphic media?

Well, my broad-stroke answer is that neoliberal capitalism functions sonically the same way it operates generally: structural problems are personalized and made the responsibility of the individual to solve, using products conveniently supplied by the market. Going back to the open office plan, it’s a highly cost-efficient architectural strategy that just happens to drive workers to distraction because of noise. But when a worker has spent a lifetime in spaces like these, they probably aren’t going to blame the economic and built structures of capitalism for their misery, right? They’re going to blame their neighbor with the “annoying voice” or “braying laugh” or whatever. And those personalized perceptions of noise are going to emerge within our culture’s familiar hierarchies of race, class, gender, and ability.

I learned of this dynamic by studying the advertising strategies of the companies that sell orphic media, as well as by reading reviews and news articles in the popular press. These products are marketed around certain identity types: we’ve seen attempts to domesticate and feminize white noise for use in the home through the use of images of sleeping women, while Bose noise-canceling headphones were first marketed to white, male business travelers, and Beats uses a younger, African American perspective to market its headphones. These products are very similar—or, in some cases, basically identical—yet the identities they are portrayed to protect from noise are very different. I mean, there’s often a No Exit, “Hell is other people” discourse at work in the promotion of these media practices. Hell is other people who are different from you. That’s something that surprised me and it predates the “filter bubbles” of the internet by many years.

Hush includes the histories of many sonic technologies, from Beats by Dre headphones to white noise machines. What was the most interesting piece of technology to research and write about?

It’s hard to choose but one stands out from the others because it presented orphic media’s potentials in a different way from all the others. A series of records called environments was quite popular in the 1970s and early 80s and its album sides were dedicated to sonic spaces such as the seashore or a meadow or a country stream. These records are not only beautifully recorded and produced, but their creator, Irv Teibel, also heard a potential in these sounds that Orpheus would recognize. He thought his records could bring people together to go on mental trips, enhance sex, and commune with nature. These are the same kinds of sounds that are marketed today in a very utilitarian and isolating way: you use these sounds to relax alone, fall asleep, or be more productive at work or in your studies. But Teibel heard them as a sonic force of countercultural communalism and resistance to the alienation of modern life. And people agreed with him: his sounds were played on independent radio stations, in “encounter groups” like est, and in the offices of psychotherapists. Sadly, this communitarian usage of orphic media fell away, and today the marketing revolves around an efficiency-enhancing sleep/work binary, as well as individual escape from an anxiety-causing world.

How do you see orphic media evolving in the present moment? What do you think are the implications for our lives in the future?

Through the miniaturization of computer technology, orphic media are becoming increasingly powerful and refined. Augmented reality had been assumed by many to be a visual phenomenon, as exemplified by Google Glass; but arguably more progress is being made in the sonic domain, as in-ear “hearables” allow one to access the internet via voice assistants and block out sound via noise-cancellation. The dream of many developers seems to be the complete customization of hearing, so that, for example, you can simply eliminate specific sounds that you hate while still hearing others. Perhaps in the future, no one will ever hear a crying baby on a plane again! We’ve also seen the weaponization of orphic media—specialized earplugs that offer soldiers a combination of enhanced hearing and protection from gunfire and explosions. I think the implications of these technologies is that they encourage those with enough wealth and power to treat the sonic world like a database of content to selectively access and manipulate. But the history of control also tells us that there can never be enough it, that the more we customize our world, the more sensitized and in need of control we become. And if we do manage to silence the world, we’ll be stuck listening to the noise of our own tinnitus. Noise never sleeps.

How do you hope Hush will change the way readers think about listening?

You know, John Cage used to say that when he heard a sound he didn’t like, he would listen to it more closely to find out why—and almost always, he would learn that there was no reason. Now, I’m not a complete social constructionist when it comes to noise. There are sounds that damage hearing and sounds that are bad for human health. However, a lot of the sounds we recoil from may deserve a second hearing. If we challenge the auditory defensive crouch we go into and challenge ourselves to breathe in the offending sound and really listen to it, we may find that a lot of our reaction is just a habitual reaction to difference. In fact, the sound might even be interesting and informative. I don’t begrudge anyone their noise-canceling headphones—and I myself use a white noise machine to sleep—but there’s value in noticing when and where and why we use these things—and in exploring what we habitually tune out. Who and what are we leaving unheard? Careful listening can reveal the societal at work in the personal, as well as tuning us into the music of life.

Read the introduction to Hush free online, and purchase the paperback for 30% off using coupon code E19HUSH.

Sample The Hundreds by Lauren Berlant and Kathleen Stewart

The HundredsThe Hundreds—composed of pieces one hundred or multiples of one hundred words long—is theorist Lauren Berlant and ethnographer 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. We invite you to sample the book by reading four pieces from it.

First Things

Every day a friend across the ocean wakes up to suicidal thoughts. Another friend takes a drink to eat clean and another eats a candy bar in bed before washing the sheets, doing laundry naked to ensure soft sleeps.
Another friend chants before going out to her analogy lab. Another hires
retired people to walk her dogs so that she can get to her trainer. Others,
desperate, rush harsh. Many people’s kids climb in. Many pets assert the
dominion of their drives. There’s stretching and the taking of medicine.
There’s accounting and anxious text checking. There’s scanning for bossy
emails and preconceptions. Lists get made. For some, there is breakfast.
Once spring rolls around there is running before the heat and catching
the first shift sitting outside the punk bakery to smoke, drink coffee, and
“break each other’s balls” before work does what work does. I asked them
about this phrase once and sparked a debate about whether it is properly
“break” or “bust.” Whatever, Professor, they laughed, yanking your chain,
busting your balls, don’t take it so serious!

Some people sleep in. Other people wake at the sun. Some people walk
into the house and see only the order in it. Some people serve other
people. Some use the quiet time to do the best things quiet time allows.
Some people waste it, which is not the opposite of using it well. When
I was little I had a task: to make coffee for the adults, measuring out the
Maxwell House, setting the breakfast table. Then I’d leave for school and
my early teachers would let me into the teachers’ lounge. A little troll
doll kid overhearing Allende, Planned Parenthood, and MLK. A confused
and sunny face taking in the voices and the concept of concepts, before
the day.

(Davis 2010; Eigen 2004; Hejinian [1980] 2002; Jacobus 1995; Perec [1974] 2008)

Swells

We write to what’s becoming palpable in sidelong looks or a consistency
of rhythm or tone. Not to drag things back to the land of the little judges
but to push the slow-mo button, to wait for what’s starting up, to listen up
for what’s wearing out. We’re tripwired by a tendency dilating. We make
a pass at a swell in realism, and look for the hook. We back up at the hint
of something. We butt in. We try to describe the smell; we trim the fat to
pinpoint what seems to be the matter here.

Words sediment next to something laid low, or they detour on a crazed
thought-cell taking off. I saw a woman standing on a sidewalk, chainsmoking
while she talked to a buff younger man. She was trying to get
him to give someone else a break because he means well or he didn’t
mean it. Maybe her son. “He don’t know no better.” She was hanging in
there, but the whole top half of her black hair was a helmet of white roots.
She was using her fast-thinking superpowers to run a gauntlet of phrases
and get out quick even though we all knew she was just buying time.
A thought hits at an angle. Subjects are surprised by their own acts. But
everyone knows a composition when they see one. A scene can become
a thing after only a few repetitions. At the Walmart in New Hampshire,
scruffy middle-aged men hang back at the register, letting their elderly
mothers pay. The men have a hint of sour and the abject; their mothers
are a worn autopilot. Women talk in the aisles about the local hospital; it’s
incapable; it misreads people, handing out exactly the wrong, killer drug.

(Ericson 2011; Sedgwick 1997; Seigworth and Tiessen 2012; Serres 1997;
Stevens [1957] 1990)

Dilations

The Hundreds is an experiment in keeping up with what’s going on.
Ordinaries appear through encounters with the world, but encounters
are not events of knowing, units of anything, revelations of realness, or
facts. Sometimes they stage a high-intensity tableau of the way things
are or could become; sometimes strangeness raises some dust. This work
induces form without relieving the pressure of form. It pushes and follows
histories out. It takes in signs and scaffolds. If our way is to notice
relations and varieties of impact, we’re neither stuffing our pockets with
ontology nor denying it: attention and riffing sustain our heuristics.
What draws affect into form is a matter of concern. Form, though, is not
the same thing as shape: and a concept extends via the tack words take.
Amplified description gets at some quality that sticks like a primary object,
a bomb or a floater. The image that comes to mind when you read
that (if images come to mind when you read) might not be what we’re
imagining — and we’re likely not imagining the same thing either. Collaboration
is a meeting of minds that don’t match. Circulation disturbs
and creates what’s continuous, anchoring you enough in the scene to pull
in other things as you go.

“Punctum” ought to mean whatever grabs you into an elsewhere of form.
There ought also to be a word like “animum,” meaning what makes an
impact so live that its very action shifts around the qualities of things
that have and haven’t yet been encountered. You can never know what
is forgotten or remembered. Even dormancy is a kind of action in relation.
Think about watching a dead thing, a thing sleeping, or these words.
Think about skimming as a hunger and defense against hunger. Think
about the physiological pressure of itching.

(Barthes [1980] 1981; Deleuze [1988] 1993; Freud [1925] 1961; Goffman 1981;
Massumi 2010; Moten 2013; Nersessian and Kramnick 2017; Posmentier 2017;
Shaviro 2016)

This is vanilla

These prose poems come from a long poetic and noetic collaboration.
The project pays attention to the relation of scenes to form, observation
to implication, encounters to events, and figuration to what sticks in the
mind. To convert an impact into a scene, to prehend objects as movement
and matter, retains a scene’s status as life in suspension, the way an extract
in cooking conveys the active element in a concentrated substance
that comes in a small brown bottle. (This is vanilla. This is almond.) The
elaboration of heuristic form on the move points to pattern, patina, atmosphere:
the object world of vestiges that scatters bumpily across the
plane of what is also a vibrant tableau. But we get it: your eyes want a
place to land on. You want to know what happened when the glances
passed or where the train of a dark sentence will go. At different speeds
we move around the effects, causes, and situational membranes. As we
proceed we sift figurative types and object relations, seeking out the gists
of things. Our styles move in proximity to currents. We get distracted
sometimes. This is a practice of tightening and loosening the object-scene
in hundred-word swatches.

(B. Anderson 2009; Diaconu 2006; Fonagy and Target 2007; Ingold 2015;
Manning 2009; Massumi 2010; Quick 1998)

Lauren Berlant is George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor of English at the University of Chicago. She is author of Cruel Optimism and The Female Complaint, both also published by Duke University Press. Kathleen Stewart is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin, and author of Ordinary Affects, also published by Duke University Press.

Order The Hundreds for 30% off on our website using coupon code E19100S.

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 February

Got the winter blues? Cheer yourself up with one of the great new titles we have coming out in February.

978-1-4780-0300-7

Chicano and Chicana Artan anthology edited by Jennifer Gonzalez, C. Ondine Chavoya, Chon Noriega, and Terezita Romowhich, includes essays from artists, curators, and critics who provide an overview of the history and theory of Chicano/a art from the 1960s to the present, emphasizing the debates and vocabularies that have played key roles in its conceptualization.

Bloodflowers by W. Ian Bourland is the first book-length examination the photography of  Rotimi Fani-Kayode (1955–1989), whose 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.

Jeffrey Sconce’s The Technical Delusion traces the history and continuing proliferation of psychological delusions that center on suspicions that electronic media seek to control us from the Enlightenment to the present, showing how such delusions illuminate the historical and intrinsic relationship between electronics, power, modernity, and insanity. Read an excerpt from The Technical Delusion in Bookforum.

Thomas Grisaffi’s Coca Yes, Cocaine No traces the political ascent and transformation of the Movement toward Socialism (MAS) from an agricultural union of coca growers into Bolivia’s ruling party, showing how the realities of international politics hindered MAS leader Evo Morales from scaling up the party’s form of grassroots democracy to the national level.

978-1-4780-0181-2In Second World, Second Sex Kristen Ghodsee recuperates the lost history of feminist activism from the so-called Second World, showing how women from state socialist Bulgaria and socialist-leaning Zambia created networks and alliances that challenged American women’s leadership of the global women’s movement.

The contributors to Infrastructure, Environment, and Life in the Anthropocene, edited by Kregg Hetherington, chart the shifting conceptions of environment, infrastructure, and both human and nonhuman life in the face of widespread uncertainty about the planet’s future.

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In Jugaad Time Amit S. Rai shows how urban South Asians employ low-cost technological workarounds and hacks known as jugaad to solve problems, navigate, and resist India’s neoliberal ecologies.

In Surrealism at Play Susan Laxton writes a new history of surrealism in which she traces the centrality of play to the movement and its ongoing legacy, showing how its emphasis on chance provided the means to refashion artistic practice and everyday experience.

Jinah Kim’s Postcolonial Grief explores Asian and Asian American texts from 1945 to the present that mourn the loss of those killed by U.S. empire building and militarism in the Pacific, showing how the refusal to heal from imperial violence may help generate a transformative antiracist and decolonial politics.

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In Racial Melancholia, Racial Dissociation David L. Eng and Shinhee Han draw on psychoanalytic case histories from the mid-1990s to the present to explore how first- and second-generation Asian American young adults deal with difficulties such as depression, suicide, and coming out within the larger social context of race, immigration, and sexuality.

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