Anthropology

New Books in January

New year, new books! Check out the great new titles we have coming out in January:

Cover of Wake Up, This is Joburg. The entire cover is a photograph of a Black woman on a street. She stands next to a red traffic light and behind her are a skyscraper and other people. The title is in bright yellow on top of the photo and in the upper left corner is the text Photographs by Mark Lewis, Words by Tanya Zack.

In Wake Up, This Is Joburg, writer Tanya Zack and photographer Mark Lewis offer a stunning portrait of Johannesburg and personal stories of its residents, showing how its urban transformation occurs not in a series of dramatic, widescale changes but in the everyday lives, actions, and dreams of individuals.

Chérie N. Rivers shows how colonial systems of normalized violence condition the way we see and, through collaboration with contemporary Congolese artists, imagines ways we might learn to see differently in To Be Nsala’s Daughter.

In Code, Bernard Dionysius Geoghegan traces the shared intellectual and political history of computer scientists, cyberneticists, anthropologists, linguists, and theorists across the humanities as they developed a communication and computational-based theory that grasped culture and society in terms of codes.

Cover of Bad Education: Why Queer Theory Teaches Us Nothing by Lee Edelman. Cover is bright yellow with lettering in red and black and features an image of a marionette in black professor's garb, holding a pointer.

Lee Edelman offers a sweeping theorization of queerness as one of the many names for the void around and against which the social order takes shape in Bad Education.

Jennifer Lynn Kelly explores the significance of contemporary solidarity tourism in Palestine/Israel in Invited to Witness, showing how such tourism functions both as political strategy and emergent industry.

In River Life and the Upspring of Nature, Naveeda Khan examines the relationship between nature and culture through the study of the everyday existence of chauras, the people who live on the chars (sandbars) within the Jamuna River in Bangladesh.

Drawing on fieldwork in a Chinese toxicology lab that studies the influence of toxins on male reproductive and developmental health, Janelle Lamoreaux investigates how epigenetic research conceptualizes and configures environments in Infertile Environments.

Cover of On Learning to Heal or, What Medicine Doesn't Know by Ed Cohen. The cover is a mint rectangle with a white border. The title is in brown in the center with the word Heal in read. The subtitle lies below and a horizontal line separates the subtitle from the author's name (in captial brown text). At the bottom-center of the page, lies a red snake around a pole.

In On Learning to Heal, Ed Cohen draws on his experience living with Crohn’s disease—a chronic, incurable condition that nearly killed him—to explore how modern Western medicine’s turn from an “art of healing” toward a “science of medicine” impacts all whose lives are touched by illness.

Joseph C. Russo takes readers into the everyday lives of the rural residents of southeast Texas in Hard Luck and Heavy Rain, showing how their hard-luck stories render the region a mythopoetic landscape that epitomizes the impasse of American late capitalism.

Josen Masangkay Diaz interrogates the distinct forms of Filipino American subjectivity that materialized from the relationship between the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship and Cold War US anticommunism in Postcolonial Configurations.

In The Spectacular Generic, Cori Hayden explores how consumer access to generic drugs has transformed public health care and the politics of pharmaceuticals in the global South.

Cover of The Specter of Materialism: Queer Theory and Marxism in the Age of the Beijing Consensus by Petrus Liu. Cover is of an abstract creature sitting with its legs folded under it, its left hand raised with a trail of items falling from its wrist. The creature is a collage resembling magazine cutouts. Its head is oddly shaped with large eyes and lips, and a large detached hand adorned with rings rests atop it.

Petrus Liu challenges key premises of classic queer theory and Marxism in The Specter of Materialism, turning to an analysis of the Beijing Consensus—global capitalism’s latest mutation—to develop a new theory of the political economy of sexuality.

In Uncomfortable Television, Hunter Hargraves examines how postmillennial television made its audiences find pleasure through discomfort, showing that televisual unease trains audiences to survive under late capitalism, which demands that individuals accept a certain amount of discomfort, dread, and irritation into their everyday lives.

Lara Langer Cohen excavates the long history of the underground in nineteenth-century US literature in Going Underground, showing how these formations of the underground can inspire new forms of political resistance.

Cover of Vanishing Sands: Losing Beaches to Mining by Orrin H. Pilkey, Norma J. Longo, William J. Neal, Nelson G. Rangel-Buitrago, Keith C. Pilkey, and Hannah L. Hayes. Cover is a photograph of a mining site from an aerial view featuring haul trucks, gray sand dunes, and a turquoise pond.

Travelling from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean to South America and the eastern United States, the authors of Vanishing Sands, Orrin H. Pilkey, Norma J. Longo, William J. Neal, Nelson G. Rangel-Buitrago, Keith C. Pilkey, and Hannah L. Hayes, track the devastating environmental, social, and economic impact of legal and illegal sand mining over the past twenty years.

Vincanne Adams takes the complex chemical glyphosate—the active ingredient in Roundup and a pervasive agricultural herbicide—to explore the formation of contested knowledge in Glyphosate and the Swirl.

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New Books in December

As the weather cools and the holiday season approaches, treat yourself to one of our great new December titles!

Cover of On Paradox: The Claims of Theory by Elizabeth S. Anker. Cover features the title in large all-caps blue font against a plain white background.

In On Paradox, Elizabeth S. Anker contends that the faith in the logic of paradox has been the watermark of left intellectualism since the second half of the twentieth century, showing how paradox generates the very exclusions it critiques and undercuts theory’s commitment to social justice.

Piro Rexhepi explores the overlapping postsocialist and postcolonial border regimes in the Balkans that are designed to protect whiteness and exclude Muslim, Roma, and migrant communities in White Enclosures.

The contributors to Turning Archival, edited by Daniel Marshall and Zeb Tortorici, trace the rise of “the archive” as an object of historical desire and study within queer studies and examine how it fosters historical imagination and knowledge.

In Feltness, Stephanie Springgay considers socially engaged art as a practice of research-creation that germinates a radical pedagogy she calls feltness—a set of intimate practices of creating art based on touch, affect, relationality, love, and responsibility.

Cover of Ain't But a Few of Us: Black Music Writiers Tell Their Stories by Willard Jenkins. Cover features pink spotted border on left with purple background to the right. Various sized rectangles across the center feature pictures of hands, somone writing, and instruments. Orange subtitle is bottom-right of images, white title is above, and word US in captial pink. Author's name is below-right images in yellow.

Ain’t But a Few of Us, edited by Willard Jenkins, presents over two dozen candid dialogues with Black jazz critics and journalists who discuss the barriers to access for Black jazz critics and how they contend with the world of jazz writing dominated by white men.

In Poverty and Wealth in East Africa, Rhiannon Stephens offers a conceptual history of how people living in eastern Uganda have sustained and changed their ways of thinking about wealth and poverty over the past two thousand years.

Examining a wide range of photography from across the global South, the contributors to Cold War Camera, edited by Thy Phu, Erina Duganne, and Andrea Noble, explore the visual mediation of the Cold War, illuminating how photography shaped how it was prosecuted and experienced.

In Memory Construction and the Politics of Time in Neoliberal South Korea, Namhee Lee explores how social memory and neoliberal governance in post-1987 South Korea have disavowed the revolutionary politics of the past.

Cover of New Growth: The Art and Texture of Black Hair by Jasmine Nichole Cobb. Cover is red with black and white lettering and features a historical picture of a Black woman in a low-cut dress in the middle. Where her hair would be is a collection of black brush strokes so that she looks like she is wearing a large wig or hat. Underneath her image, upside down, text reads "the strange sit-in that changed a city."

Through close readings of slave narratives, scrapbooks, travel illustration, documentary film and photography, as well as collage, craft, and sculpture, Jasmine Nichole Cobb explores Black hair as a visual material through which to reimagine the sensual experience of Blackness in New Growth.

The contributors to New World Orderings, edited by Lisa Rofel and Carlos Rojas, demonstrate that China’s twenty-first-century rise occurs not only through economics and state politics, but equally through its relationships and interactions with the Global South.

Focusing on his personal day to day experiences of the “shelter-in-place” period during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic, Alberto Moreiras offers a meditation on intellectual life and the nature of thought under the suspension of time and conditions of isolation in Uncanny Rest.

Cover of Ruderal City: Ecologies of Migration, Race, and Urban Nature in Berlin by Bettina Stoetzer. Cover is a photograph focused on a small patch of a yellow flower bush. In the background past the bush is an out of focus bridge with a yellow train on it. The sky is blue.

In Ruderal City, Bettina Stoetzer traces the more-than-human relationships between people, plants, and animals in contemporary Berlin, showing how Berlin’s “urban nature” becomes a key site in which notions of citizenship and belonging as well as racialized, gendered, and classed inequalities become apparent.

Veit Erlmann examines the role of copyright law in post-apartheid South Africa and its impact on the South African music industry in Lion’s Share, showing how copyright is inextricably entwined with race, popular music, postcolonial governance, indigenous rights, and the struggle to create a more equitable society.

Rumya Sree Putcha uses the figure of the Indian classical dancer to explore the complex dynamics of contemporary transnational Indian womanhood in The Dancer′s Voice.

In Feminism in Coalition Liza Taylor examines how U.S. women of color feminists’ coalitional collective politics of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s is an indispensable resource to contemporary political theory, feminist studies, and intersectional social justice activism.

Cover of Cooling the Tropics: Ice, Indigeneity, and Hawaiian Refreshment by Hi'ilei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart. White title centered and transparent with "the" centered left and transparent white subtitle to the right. Background features a blue tinged picture of girl eating ice cream in front of light blue, purple, pink, and orange/yellow blended background. Author name in all caps in blue along bottom.

Hiʻilei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart charts the social history of ice in Hawaiʻi in Cooling the Tropics, showing how ice and refrigeration underpinned settler colonial ideas about race, environment, and the senses.

The contributors to Siting Postcoloniality, edited by Pheng Cheah and Caroline S. Hau, reevaluate the notion of the postcolonial by focusing on the Sino-sphere—the region of East and Southeast Asia that has been significantly shaped by relations with China throughout history.

Rupal Oza follows the social life of rape in rural northwest India to reveal how rape is a language through which issues ranging from caste to justice to land are contested in Semiotics of Rape.

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Q&A with Jessica Barnes (+ Teaching Guide!)

JessicaBarnesPhotoJessica Barnes is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and the School of Earth, Ocean, and Environment at the University of South Carolina. She is author of Cultivating the Nile: The Everyday Politics of Water in Egypt, also published by Duke University Press, and coeditor of Climate Cultures: Anthropological Perspectives on Climate Change. Her new book, Staple Security: Bread and Wheat in Egypt, explores the central role that bread and wheat play in Egyptian daily life as well as the anxieties surrounding the possibility that the nation could run out these staples.

You recently put together a Teaching Guide that pairs with Staple Security. What prompted you to put this supplement together, and what do you hope students and teachers take away from it?

Staple Security is a text that would work well in undergraduate and graduate classrooms. I worked hard to write in a way that is clear, engaging, and jargon-free, and the result is a book that I think will be widely accessible. The subject matter is also topical and speaks to issues of broad interest – the foods that anchor our daily lives and their links with questions of security at both household and national scales. Inspired by the wonderful teaching guide written by Susan Bibler Coutin for her book Exiled Home (Duke, 2016), I wrote the supplement to offer instructors ideas of ways in which they might integrate the book, or parts of the book, in their classes. It was also an opportunity to share some of the resources that I have developed over the past five years teaching a class on Global Food Politics, such as my bread-tasting activity and a comparative discussion of accessing subsidized bread in Cairo and SNAP benefits in New York City. I hope that students and teachers will find questions and resources in the guide that will enrich their engagement with the text, spark new lines of thought, and help them see the connections between this material, current affairs, and their own lives.

How would you describe your own pedagogical approach? What’s most important to you as an educator?

To me, teaching isn’t so much about providing students with information so that they can answer questions as about training them in what questions to ask. One of my favorite pedagogical techniques is to show students a photograph, newspaper article, advertisement, or video clip, and ask them to reflect on the story the source is trying to tell and the message it seeks to convey. Just as significantly, we talk about what the source leaves out of the frame and the points it seeks to obscure. What’s most important to me as an educator is that students come away from my classes with an enhanced ability to analyze and consider multiple perspectives. Students sometimes comment on my evaluations that my classes have taught them to think in a new way. Those are the comments that make my heart sing.

978-1-4780-1852-0_prAs you explain in a recent op-ed for The Conversation, the war in Ukraine has threatened wheat supply, thus contributing to—one might say—a staple insecurity in Egypt. What might readers gain from your book’s attention to “staple security,” even (or especially) in the face of precarity?

My book’s attention to what I call staple security will prompt readers to reflect on the things that make them feel anxious or fearful, as well as those things that make them feel comfortable and safe, both as individuals in their homes and as citizens of a state. The fact that many Egyptians worry about their nation running out of wheat—as brought home by the war in Ukraine—might come as a surprise to many readers, for whom this likely doesn’t register as a concern. But it might resonate with how they think about other things, like reliance on foreign oil. The book will also help readers think about the ongoing efforts to address precarity, some explicitly framed in terms of security and others not, as individuals, households, and nations strive for stability and comfort. In the book I apply this frame to think about staple foods, but as I argue in the conclusion, staple security could also be used to think about other key needs, like water and energy.

As an aside, readers might be struck by the near absence of the word “insecurity” in my book. I choose not to write in terms of security and insecurity because I find it creates a false duality: a sense that an individual, household, or nation is secure if it has reliable, affordable access to sufficient, safe food; otherwise, it is insecure. If security is seen more as a practice than an achieved status, insecurity can’t be parceled off as a distinct form of experience. For it is the sense of threat that is produced by conditions of insecurity that shapes the practice of security.

Readers have praised the sensory details included in your writing about bread. Would you consider this an essential feature of Staple Security? How does it contribute to the book?

In writing the book, it was important to me to try to bring readers into the times and spaces in which Egyptians are handling and eating bread, whether at the bakery, by the oven, on the street, or in their homes. I wanted to give readers a sense of what it is like to eat this food on a daily basis and why the presence and taste of those loaves matters so much when they are a core component of every breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Sensory engagements with bread—the feel of loaves that are still hot, for example, or the taste of bread that is baked within the home—are a central part of the book. They speak to some of the key daily practices around bread—like heating loaves of frozen bread or airing loaves of warm bread before packing them in a plastic bag—which we don’t typically think of as practices of security, but which I argue are just as fundamental to securing the consistent supply of a tasty staple. They also underscore what is at stake: the quality and experience of everyday life, embedded in those moments of sitting down to eat a meal with a bread that is soft and flavorful.

Something fun to end on: are you a bread eater yourself? What’s your favorite bread-based meal?

Yes, bread is definitely my staple!

My favorite bread-based meal would have to be a Middle Eastern meze—a selection of small dishes—served with pita bread. This kind of meal isn’t so commonly eaten in Egypt, where I conducted the fieldwork for this book, but I fell in love with it during my first visit to Jordan in 1999 and subsequent time spent living and working in Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria. To me, a spread of salads and dips like moutabal (made from smoked eggplant) and hummus, eaten with bread, is a perfect meal. I’d be equally as happy, though, eating fresh bread with just some labne (strained yogurt cheese) and a few olives.

Read the introduction to Staple Security for free and save 30% on the paperback with coupon E22STAPL.

New Books in October

Fall is in full swing, so curl up with a hot drink, a cozy sweater, and a new book! Check out our October releases.

Memories of a Gay Catholic Boyhood is John D’Emilio’s coming-of-age story in which he takes readers from his working-class Bronx neighborhood and Columbia University to New York’s hidden gay male subculture and the political and social upheavals of the late 1960s. You can catch John D’Emilio discussing his book at the Calandra Italian American Institute in New York City later this month.

Exploring her attraction to tininess and the stories of those who share it, Barbara Browning offers a series of charming short essays that plumb what it means to ponder the minuscule in The Miniaturists.

Cover of No Machos or Pop Stars: When the Leeds Art Experiment Went Punk by Gavin Butt. Cover features a group of young people dressed up for a punk showing laughing together.

Gavin Butt tells the story of the post-punk scene in the northern English city of Leeds in No Machos or Pop Stars, showing how bands ranging from Gang of Four, Soft Cell, and Delta 5 to Mekons, Scritti Politti, and Fad Gadget drew on their university art school education to push the boundaries of pop music. Butt will launch his book at an exciting event in Leeds this month, featuring performances by Scritti Politti and The Mekons77.

In Fragments of Truth, Naomi Angel analyzes the visual culture of reconciliation and memory in relation to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that Canada established in 2008 to review the history of the Indian Residential School system, a brutal colonial project that killed and injured many Indigenous children.

Drawing on the archives of the Black Panther Party and the National Black Women’s Health Project, Sami Schalk explores how issues of disability have been and continue to be central to Black activism from the 1970s to the present in Black Disability Politics. Schalk launches her book at an event at the Ford Foundation in New York City on October 26.

In Changing the Subject, Srila Roy traces the impact of neoliberalism on gender and sexuality rights movements in the Global South through queer and feminist activism in India. Roy is speaking about her book at The New School and Columbia University later this month.

Filipe Maia offers a theological reflection on hope and the future in the context of financialized capitalism in Trading Futures, arguing that the Christian vocabulary of hope can provide the means to build a future beyond the strictures of capitalism.

Cover of The Promise of Multispecies Justice by Sophie Chao, Karin Bolender, and Eben Kirksey. Cover is green with black and white pictures of a plant between wire. Title sits top left in bold white with a light blue line underlinging it. Authors' names sit bottom right in white without bold.

Coming from the worlds of cultural anthropology, geography, philosophy, science fiction, poetry, and fine art, editors Sophie Chao, Karin Bolender, and Eben Kirksey and the contributors to this volume of The Promise of Multispecies Justice consider the possibility for multispecies justice and speculate on the forms it would take. The authors have developed a multimedia website where you can learn more about this collection.

In Health in Ruins, César Ernesto Abadía-Barrero assesses neoliberalism’s devastating effects on a public hospital in Colombia and how health care workers resisted defunding.

Jovan Scott Lewis retells the history and afterlife of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre and its century-long legacy of dispossession in Violent Utopia, placing it in a larger historical and social context of widespread anti-Black racism and segregation in Tulsa and beyond.

In a new revised and expanded twentieth anniversary edition of his classic book Big Game, Small World, sportswriter Alexander Wolff travels the globe in search of what basketball can tell us about the world, and what the world can tell us about the game.

AnaLouise Keating provides a comprehensive investigation of the foundational theories, methods, and philosophies of Gloria E. Anzaldúa in The Anzaldúan Theory Handbook.

Nomenclature collects eight volumes of Dionne Brand’s poetry published between 1983 and 2010, as well as a new long poem, the titular Nomenclature for the time being.

In Obeah, Orisa, and Religious Identity in Trinidad, Volume I, Obeah, Tracey E. Hucks traces the history of the repression of Obeah practitioners in colonial Trinidad.

And in Obeah, Orisa, and Religious Identity in Trinidad, Volume II, Orisa, Dianne M. Stewart analyzes the sacred poetics, religious imagination, and African heritage of Yoruba-Orisa devotees in Trinidad from the mid-nineteenth century to the present.

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Q&A with Kimberly Theidon

Kimberly Theidon is Henry J. Leir Professor of International Humanitarian Studies at Tufts University and author of Intimate Enemies: Violence and Reconciliation in Peru. In her new book, Legacies of War, Theidon draws on ethnographic research in Peru and Columbia to examine the lives of children born of wartime rape and the impact of violence on human and more-than-human lives, bodies, and ecologies.

You begin your book with a mention that you started writing it during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. This spring, the United States and Europe have been preoccupied with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while military conflicts around the world, like Yemen and Afghanistan continue. How did you find yourself relating to events like these while writing your book? Has that changed now that the book has been published?

Legacies of War is ethnographically grounded in Colombia and Peru. Having a deep sense of local histories and struggles—as well as the practices of care and hope that animate individual and collective life—is a cornerstone of anthropology, but place-based knowledge is not place-bound. Ethnography informs theory and analysis, which in turns allows me to speak to issues that resonate in other regions. You ask about Ukraine: this morning I opened the New York Times to a story on war, famine, and the purposeful destruction of crops. Starving people out, disrupting their economic livelihoods—the paramilitaries used similar strategies in Urabá, Colombia. Starving and displacing people is not an unforeseen consequence of war: it is a deliberate strategy used time and again. I argue for “connecting the dots” in my book to reveal techniques of violence that are repeatedly deployed yet are made to appear random and far removed from one another. The underlying and shared logics matter.

Cover for Legacies of War: A typography based cover. A red background with semi transparent repetitions of the main text, which is left centered. In white serif lettering, the title, "Legacies of War," sits atop a transparent line that directs to the author's name, "Kimberly Theidon." Below, in orange, is the subtitle, "Violence, Ecologies, and Kin."

You discuss how ambiguous and over-determined the English phrase “children born of war” is. How difficult is it to study and address this issue when the words being used—especially by prominent policy-makers, media members, and scholars—are so effective at concealing the harsh reality faced by children born of wartime sexual assault?

“Children born of war” —or CBOW in policy documents—obscures specificity. CBOW lacks an agent or a perpetrator, and war itself does not impregnate anyone. The language of policy documents may not be the language that allows us to think clearly in our research. Research categories demand greater precision. An anthropologist wants details about age, gender, race, religion, nationality, culture; in short, a researcher needs to incorporate intersectionality into her questions, her categories, and her analysis. The failure to incorporate other identity markers evokes “the danger of a single story.” As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie eloquently argues, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” In this book, I share numerous stories, some of rejection and pain, others of love and care.

As for “concealing the harsh reality of children born of wartime sexual assault”? There is more at stake in concealment and silences. I suspect that one reason children born of wartime rape were and have, to some extent, remained invisible on the international agenda is because there is no reasonable way to discuss this issue from a “survivor centered” perspective without addressing women’s right to abortion—a woman’s right to refuse to lend her body to nine months of reproductive labor. The UN’s Women Peace and Security Agenda, for all of its good intentions and accomplishments, is a framework that placates those for whom a more feminist agenda would be unpalatable. “Mainstreaming gender” can be a double-entendre, as the feminist critique of policy is mainstreamed into an agenda that does not threaten the status quo of powerful countries or interest groups—a move that may obscure the fact that women and their children (especially their fetuses) may be located within competing rights regimes. One cannot finesse away these competing rights. This calls for an explicitly feminist peace-building and post conflict reconstruction agenda, understood to include a full range of sexual and reproductive rights, including access to safe and affordable abortions.

How did you incorporate ideas from the environmental humanities such as theories of entanglement in your work, and why?

I was troubled by the tendency to place the heavy lifting of reproductive labor on the shoulders of women, which leads to reproductive governance more readily than reproductive justice. Uterine myopia is a problem, which is why I focus on the multiple environments in which conception, pregnancy and childbirth unfold—environments that may lie far beyond the control of any one woman, of any one person. From toxic chemicals to land mines, from rivers tinged with blood to angry mountains, the goal was to capture the multiple environments and actors that play a role in “distributed reproduction”— environments and actors that may in turn suffer various forms of reproductive violence. An open-ness to the world and its capacity to “get under our skin” allowed me to draw connections between indigenous epistemologies, situated biologies, and the burgeoning field of epigenetics. I questioned what is involved in “discovering” that our bodies bear life’s signature upon them—or “discovering” that we share this world with more-than-human kin. The trope of discovery follows a particular history of modernity, settler colonialism and capitalism: it is erected on the erasure of indigenous and Native American peoples, their ways of life and their theories about the world and the place of human beings in it. If there is to be a way forward on this planet, it will require moving beyond human exceptionalism and its devastating consequences.

You write about how heavily this research and these stories of trauma and survival have weighed on you. Yet, you also mention that you “found solace” while writing the book (vii). How did you navigate the emotional challenges of writing about children born from sexual assault?

In my research, I have explored what people say they suffer from and how they attempt to set things right. This has required me to hold present both suffering and resilience, and to help my readers imagine what it is that permits people to get up in the morning and believe—despite all evidence to the contrary—that there might be a better day ahead of them and a future for their children. This still remains the most enduring memory of my fieldwork. When I close my eyes, I recall moments doubled over laughing, dancing until we could no longer stand up, children running into my room and piling on my bed, singing until the candles burned down and there were only stars streaming through the cracks in my corrugated aluminum roof. I remember more than endurance. There were also moments of joy that stretched into hours that in turn became days. Even in the midst of violence, life is not only tragic.

I have come to think of writing as a pharmakon, as both poison and remedy. Writing plunges many of us back into the field, yet also offers us a way out, and a way to fulfill the enormous responsibility we feel to the questions we have posed and to the people with whom we have worked. Many of us were sent home with the exhortation to “tell people out there what you’ve seen so they will do something about it.” 1 Writing is one way we honor that charge. It is one way we amplify voices demanding justice.

Finally, I have loved my research, and certainly loved writing this book. I hope readers can feel that we amplify voices demanding justice.

Read the introduction to Legacies of War for free on our website and save 30% on the paperback with coupon E22THDON.

1 The charge to carry a message to some imagined “international community” — imagined as moral, caring and disposed to action if only provided with the necessary knowledge — can be a painful fiction. For example, see Purity and Exile: Violence, Memory, and National Cosmology among Hutu Refugees in Tanzania, Liisa Malkki, University of Chicago Press, 1995.

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples: Celebrating the Custodians of Global Biocultural Diversity, A Guest Post by Sophie Chao

Today marks the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, an observance instituted by the United Nations in 1994 to celebrate the protection and promotion of the rights of Indigenous Peoples globally. The date of this observance —9 August —commemorates the first meeting in 1982 of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations, a platform pioneered by and for Indigenous Peoples and a precursor to the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which assists UN Member States in implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

 Alongside its significance as a testament to Indigenous Peoples’ historical and ongoing efforts to secure recognition of their rights on the international stage, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples offers an important opportunity to reflect upon and acknowledge Indigenous Peoples’ vital role as custodians and guardians of biodiversity. Numbering around 300 – 500 million, Indigenous Peoples represent approximately six percent of the world’s population and own, occupy or otherwise make use of some twenty-two percent of global land area. Yet Indigenous Peoples protect over eighty percent of global biodiversity —even as their roles as holders of ecological knowledge and as intergenerational environmental custodians continue to be denied due recognition.

Recognizing and supporting Indigenous Peoples’ vital contributions to environmental health and sustainability is becoming all the more urgent in the age of the so-called “Anthropocene,” an epoch in which large-scale industrial and extractive activities are undermining conditions of life on a planetary scale and thwarting the shared futures and relations of human and other-than-human communities of life. This epoch finds root in violent histories of imperial incursion, settler-colonization, and racial capitalism. The afterlives of these histories continue to entrench the logic of accumulation through dispossession on the one hand, and the fictive division of the human from the non-human on the other —both of which run deeply counter to Indigenous philosophies, protocols, and practices of more-than-human coexistence.

Over the last decade, I have had the immense privilege of encountering and understanding this ethos of more-than-human relationality through the course of long-term ethnographic fieldwork I conducted among the Marind-Anim, an Indigenous People inhabiting the Indonesian-colonized region of West Papua, whose customary lands, forests, and territories are rapidly giving way to state and corporate-owned monocrop oil palm plantations. In this rural area, mass deforestation and agribusiness expansion are radically undermining Marind’s livelihoods, food security, health, and socio-economic conditions of life. Just as importantly, these transformations are severing Marind from their intimate and ancestral relations to myriad forest organisms with whom they share common descent from ancestral spirits and with whom they entertain relations of reciprocal nurture and care —sago palms, cassowaries, birds of paradise, rivers, rocks, soils, mangroves, and many, many more. Each of these living entities’ futures are jeopardized by the incursion of oil palm monocrops. Each of these jeopardized futures in turn undermine Marind’s ability to become-with plants, animals, and elements, in ways that are bioculturally, spiritually, and ethically meaningful

Much like Marind extend agency, sentience, and personhood to their native forest kin, so too they consider the plant of oil palm to be endowed with its own particular kind of animacy, needs, and desires. On the one hand, the proliferation of this introduced cash crop undermines multispecies forest futures by destroying the environments necessary for Marind and their other-than-human kin to survive and thrive. And yet, as Marind often remind me, oil palm itself is also subject to the dictates of human, biotechnological, institutional, and economic prerogatives. For this reason, Marind whom I worked often expressed pity and compassion towards oil palm —a plant that they described as an assailant, invader, and colonizer, but whom they also empathized with as a suffering victim, uprooted orphan, and object of technocapitalist violence. Oil palm, then, exists to Marind not only as a driver of more-than-human destruction, but also as a rightful subject of multispecies justice and a potential ally in emergent forms of multispecies solidarity.

There is something incredibly powerful about Marind’s multiplicitous characterizations of oil palm. Marind refuse to reduce oil palm to any singular ontology —good or bad, friend or enemy, or plant or person. In doing so, my companions articulate a kind of epistemic resistance to the homogenizing logic of the plantation itself —a material form and enduring ideology that lies at the heart of Western colonial logics and a nature-culture divide that may be fictive, but whose violent effects ripple within and across species lines. Instead, Marind ways of knowing and relating to both native forests and introduced monocrops speak to their sense of self, struggle, and survivance as more-than-human processes. Within these processes, the fates and futures of beings both human and non-human, and lively and lethal, are at stake. In this age of planetary unraveling, Marind philosophies of more-than-human coexistence thus bring us to reimagine which beings count in the world, and which worlds get to count.

For a non-Indigenous scholar like myself, operating within a discipline (anthropology) that has historically been instrumental to furthering colonial agendas, the labor of reimagining more-than-human relationality has demanded that I attempt to do justice in my writings to the richly complex and transforming ways in which Indigenous Peoples themselves experience, theorize, and contest the attritive effects of colonial-racial-capitalist regimes on Indigenous ways of being, thinking, and doing. Just as importantly, it has meant centering in my work the knowledges of Indigenous scholars and practitioners, in a collective effort to challenge the hegemony and boundaries of established intellectual canons. Thinking-with Indigenous scholars brings to the fore oft-effaced dimensions of more-than-human coexistence—Christine Winter’s framing of plants, animals, and land as subjects of dignity, for instance, Makere Stewart-Harawira’s attention to the sacrality of ecology within Indigenous spiritualities, Max Liboiron’s critique of the ambiguous alignment of environmental science with the colonial project, and Kim TallBear’s invitation to think beyond “species” in reimagining planetary animacies.

As my Marind companions in West Papua remind me, a Day (officially observed and recognized or not) matters only so much as what one does with it —practically, intellectually, affectively. Today, my friends tell me they plan to sit by the highways and mourn their forest kin-turned-roadkill. They will visit former sago groves and pay their respects to deceased and uprooted plants. They will weave rattan bags in the forest and sing to the birds and animals who once populated them. They will also celebrate the stories of the rocks and rivers who birthed them, exalt the rains and soils that hold them, and praise the wetness and skin that bind them.

An Asian woman with long dark brown hair swept off to the side smiles at the camera. She is wearing a blue shirt and a necklace with a round blue pendant.
Photo by Louise M. Cooper

These acts of reverence, my companions explain, will be about grief and loss, but also about continuance and resistance. They speak to the indissociability of human and other-than-human beings, becomings, and belongings as an expression of what Hi‘ilei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart and Tamara Kneese might term “radical care” —that is to say, a refusal not to care, even in the face of violent multispecies presents and potentially darker multispecies futures. In doing so, these acts of remembrance celebrate Indigenous lands and lives whose stories have been violently stolen, silenced, and sanitized, yet that remain vibrant sites and sources of Indigenous survivance, continuance, and resurgence.

Sophie Chao is Discovery Early Career Research Award Fellow and Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Sydney. She is the author of In the Shadow of the Palms: More-Than-Human Becomings in West Papua and co-editor of The Promise of Multispecies Justice. Watch the trailer for In the Shadow of the Palms here. Save 30% on In the Shadow of the Palms with coupon E22CHAO.

New Books in July

No matter where or how you choose to escape the summer heat, we have you covered. Check out the great new titles coming out this July.

For those looking to learn more about international relations and globalization, Neferti X. M. Tadiar’s Remaindered Life offers readers a new vocabulary and framework for examining the relationship between global capitalism and permanent imperial war.

Drawing on ethnographic research in postconflict Peru and Colombia, Kimberly Theidon examines the lives of children born of wartime rape and impact of violence on human and more-than-human lives, bodies, and ecologies in Legacies of War.

Students of the World by Pedro Monaville follows the inspiring footsteps of a generation of Congolese student activists whose work became central to national politics and broader decolonization movements following Congo’s independence.  

Felicity Amaya Schaeffer paints a story of resistance in Unsettled Borders by tracing Native people’s efforts to continue ancestral practices in the face of ecological and social violence at the militarized US-Mexico border.

Cover of Making Peace with Nature: Ecological Encounters along the Korean DMZ by Eleana J. Kim. Cover is a photograph of DMZ wetlands, photographed by Kim Seung in 2005. Photo shows a border fence next to a field of brown grass.

If you are interested in reading about the relationship between nature and human society, Making Peace with Nature by Eleana J. Kim reveals the inseparable link between biodiversity, scientific practices and geopolitical, capitalist, and ecological dynamics found in South Korea’s Demilitarized Zone.

In the Skin of the City by António Tomás weaves sociology, urban studies, anthropology, and African studies to illustrate the transformation of Luanda’s capital Angola through continual redefinition and negotiation of its physical and social boundaries.

History lovers may like Penny M. Von Eschen’s Paradoxes of Nostalgia, which examines the cold war’s lingering shadows and how nostalgia for stability fuels US-led militarism and the rise of international xenophobia, right wing nationalism, and authoritarianism.

As high school and college history teachers begin to plan for the next school year, A Primer for Teaching Digital History by Jennifer Guiliano offers a practical guide for teachers new to digital history, while providing experienced instructors with the tools to reinvigorate their pedagogy.

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Courtney Berger’s Sale Recommendations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth Ault’s Sale Recommendations

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gisela Fosado’s Sale Recommendations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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