Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies

Musical Duels and Troubadour Poets You Never Knew Existed

aec_photoSelf-described ethnographer-composer-academic-musician Alex E. Chávez shares a playlist and excerpts from his new book Sounds of Crossing: Music, Migration, and the Aural Poetics of Huapango Arribeño, which explores the contemporary politics of Mexican migrant cultural expression manifest in the sounds and poetics of huapango arribeño, a musical genre originating from north-central Mexico. In Sounds of Crossing, Chávez follows huapango arribeño’s improvisational performance on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border to demonstrate how Mexican migrants use music to construct meaningful communities amid the United States’ often vitriolic immigration politics.

An accomplished musician and multi-instrumentalist, Chávez has performance experience in an array of styles ranging from American popular music to traditional Mexican folk. He has recorded and toured with his own musical projects, composed documentary scores (most recently Emmy Award-winning El Despertar [2016] & Where Soldiers Come From [2011]), and has collaborated with various artists, including Grammy Award winners Quetzal and Grupo Fantasma and Latin Grammy Award-nominated Sones de México, in addition to Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, Charanga Cakewalk/Lila Downs, and Ocote Soul Sounds. He has contributed to the volumes Making Sense of Language (2016), Latino, American, Dream (2016), Iconic Mexico (2015), Celebrating Latino Folklore (2012), and Con La Música a Otra Parte: Migración e Identidad en La Lírica Queretana (2010).

Sweat is trickling down the side of your face, welling at the back of your neck; the heat and humidity are smothering. It’s a typical sweltering July evening in Central Texas, close to ten o’clock. The incandescence of city lights in the distance washes over the starry night sky, an amber glow that crowns the ballroom outside of town where Mexican migrants have gathered. Some sit along concrete bleachers, others lean out across the flanking metal railing and peer leisurely toward the crowd of several hundred below. These soon-to-be dancers are nestled in between two stages, positioned at opposite ends of the dance floor. An indistinguishable murmur of laughter and conversation nervously crescendoes every now and then, in anticipation of the musical duel everyone is awaiting.

The multitude sways to and fro, wave after wave of shifting bodies stirring the dust beneath them into a cloud. Four silhouettes appear on one stage, moving leisurely with their instruments—two violins, a vihuela (small five-stringed chordophone), and a guitarra quinta huapanguera (larger modified eight-string bass guitar, similar to the more common six-stringed version). They assume their positions, exchange glances, and confer quietly, subtly coaxing the music about to be played. They gaze over at the other stage, now similarly occupied by a matching ensemble, waiting patiently. A collective sigh rushes across the congregation, quieting the chatter, tilting bodies forward as everyone focuses on the shadows emerging before them. Suddenly, the strumming of instruments booms out through the sound system; elaborate fiddle melodies erupt, followed by the soaring voice of the troubadour poet. The pulsing 2/4 cadence echoes forcefully, measured, trembling through the body, ascending upward, embracing those present, as do the unraveling verses. These eight musicians—composing two identical huapango arribeño ensembles—will face off in a bout of musical and poetic flyting, exchanging fiddle melodies and improvised verses all night long.

When I describe this type of musical duel—referred to as a topada (from the verb topar, to collide with)—to those unfamiliar with it, they are often amazed at the thought of an eight-, ten-, or twelve-hour back-and-forth at that level of intensity on the part of both the performers and the audience. The excessive nature of the time and energy spent is unlike so many other performance styles. In that very excess lies the conviviality, the tones and tensions, and the laborious explorations that are crucial to huapango arribeño as an intertextual and polyphonic locus of aesthetic enactments and responses. Think of huapango arribeño as a dense, musical architecture that yields a rhythmic and poetic complex. It has jagged, sharp edges in structure, timbre, and tone. There is gravity behind the sudden drops and shifts between verses and melodies. You become attentive to these modulations; they snag the ears—extreme changes that move you, catch you, confront you. Yet, despite this seemingly intense and virtuosic performance style, most of the Mexican public is unaware of this musical tradition.

Huapango arribeño originates in the Mexican states of Guanajuato, Querétaro, and San Luís Potosí, and takes its name from the Nahuatl word cuauhpanco—cuahuitl meaning ‘wood,’ pan designating ‘atop,’ and co ‘place,’ signifying ‘on top of the wood’ and referring to the wooden platform (tarima) atop which people perform patterned footwork (zapateado) to vernacular Mexican stringed music. This seems to indicate that huapango refers explicitly to ritual dance, and in part 
it does, for it may be seen as synonymous with the fandango, a social gathering centered on dance and music-making in 18th-century New Spain. The term arribeño (highlander) refers to the mountainous region of the states of Guanajuato and Querétaro (known as La Sierra Gorda) and to the midregion of San Luís Potosí (La Zona Media), which sits higher in altitude than the huasteca portion of the state, home to the Téenek (or Huastec) Indians and the more widely known huasteco style of huapango. The huasteco variant, specifically, is one of many regional string musics popularized 
in the years following the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920) as state-sponsored cultural education efforts featuring sanitized folkloric performances of select aires nacionales (national anthems) played a role in deeming certain musics ideal expressions of Mexicanidad (Mexican cultural nationalism). At the same time, radio and cinema emerged as powerful commercial vehicles for disseminating the huasteco variant. The resulting streamlined popular huapango style quickly became an emblematic sound of assumed national tradition.

Given this, the term huapango—in a more general sense—typically references its signature rhythm, in a galloping 6/8 meter. Indeed, most appreciators of Mexican music can recognize huapango in many of its variations, whether it be the accordion-based stylings of Mexico’s música norteña or rendered with dramatic bel canto air by the immortal stars of the golden era of Mexican cinema. This latter image exists as an archetype of a sort of “classic” huapango. And again, while the popularity of this music outside its region of origin owes much to the silver screen, this stylized representation lays bare
 the complicated relationship between music and nationalism in the 20th century, and subsequently sheds light on the relative absence of huapango arribeño from this story.

978-0-8223-7018-5My book Sounds of Crossing represents the first extended study of huapango arribeño, a topic otherwise absent from scholarship on Mexican music. And although ethnomusicologists, folklorists, and linguistic anthropologists will be able to glean the details of its formal musico-poetic properties—particularly its extensive use of the Spanish décima (ten-line stanza) and its topada performance style—this book follows moments of this music’s lush and improvisational performance within the lives of both audiences and practitioners, from New Year’s festivities in the highlands of Guanajuato to backyard get-togethers along the back roads of Central Texas. In doing so, it provocatively uses “sounds of crossing” as a graphic model to map the bindings and cultural adjacencies produced through the enactment of huapango arribeño’s music and poetics across this transnational geography in the late twentieth and early twenty- first centuries.

As a student and practitioner of various Mexican folk musics for over two decades, I have engaged in music-making alongside my interlocuters, transforming my own experiences into a unique perspective on the body politics of performance that has shaped my understanding of how people cross various types of borders. This was certainly the case with the research that informs Sounds of Crossing. And while my musical curiosity first compelled me to make performance a cornerstone of my ethnographic process, I soon realized it was vital to gaining a deeper understanding of huapango arribeño music-making more generally given that very few sources exist on the topic. Consulting extensive written sources of any kind was not an option, and furthermore, recordings of the music are rare and have only been made by a few select musicians. So, apprehending both the conventions that govern performance and the rhetorical logics of composition required not only that I observe performances, but also participate in them as a practitioner.

Years later, one such relationship built through research and performance resulted in a collaboration with the Smithsonian Institute where I was able to serve as lead producer of a Smithsonian Folkways recording of Guillermo Velázquez y Los Leones de la Sierra de Xichú entitled Serrano de Corazón (Highlander at Heart) (2016). This first-ever recording of its kind by an esteemed cultural institution of this caliber highlights huapango arribeño at its finest and makes anthropological knowledge of this music-culture accessible to a global audience. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, the national museum of the United States, and is dedicated to supporting increased awareness of peoples from around the world through the documentation and dissemination of sound recordings.

In this same spirit, the playlist I have compiled consists of music that represents the contemporary world of huapango arribeño. And while certainly not a definitive list, this sampling of transnational artists performing in Mexico is an excellent glimpse into both the sounds of this music and its various performative contexts. So, sit back and listen to the music and poetry of troubadour poets you probably never knew existed.

 

Tali Díaz y Los Díaz del Real—“Para que el tiempo no se quebrante” (poesía, valona, & son)

Featuring the young troubadour poet Tali Díaz and his group Los Díaz del Real, this track captures the typical huapango arribeño musical piece, which consists of three distinct components: (1) poesía— recited décimas anchored by a musico-poetic refrain; (2) decimal/valona—sung décimas accompanied by ornate violin interludes; and (3) son—violin-centered portion that displays the typical 6/8 galloping rhythm and showcases virtuosic fiddle melodies.

Guillermo Velázquez y Los Leones de la Sierra de Xichú feat. Maria Isabel “Chabe” Flores Solano—“Brota mi canto y se ufana” (valona & son)

This track is taken from the Smithsonian Folkways album Serrano de Corazón (Highlander at Heart) featuring Guillermo Velázquez y Los Leones de la Sierra de Xichú. Chabe Flores takes the helm on this decimal/valona, showcasing her trademark voice. Here, she addresses the topic of women’s empowerment and self-determination with a commanding and powerful performance. The valona is crowned by a traditional son arribeño titled “La rosita arribeña” (the rose from the highlands).

Guillermo Velázquez y Los Leones de la Sierra de Xichú—“Serrano de corazón” (poesía-inspired composition & son)

Also taken from the Smithsonian Folkways album Serrano de Corazón, this song typifies both the lyrical virtuosity and musical energy Guillermo Velázquez y Los Leones de la Sierra de Xichú bring to their live performances. The song is a hybrid form that alternates between recited décimas—in the spirit of the poesía portion previously described—and a lively canción portion played in 6/8 that features harmonized lyrics in the style of the huapango-canción and canción típica genres. The track ends with another variant of the son “La rosita arribeña.”

El Conjunto de Pedro Sauceda—“La virgen tendió su manto en la tierra del placer” (jarabe)

Taken from the set of albums titled Antologia del Son de Mexico released by Discos Corasón in 1985, this track features El Conjunto de Pedro Sauceda performing a traditional jarabe arribeño. The name jarabe is an analogous reference to the drug of the same name, which is made of various healing herbs, and the musical jarabe is similarly composed of various musical sounds and melodies that give it structure.

Toño Escalante y Conjunto Los Gorrioncillos de la Sierra—“El pajarillo” (son)

Also taken from the Antologia del Son de Mexico (1985), this track features Toño Escalante y Conjunto Los Gorriones de La Sierra performing a traditional son arribeño “El Pajarillo”.

Las Palomitas Serranas with Ángel González (jarabes & son)

This is a live performance featuring the all-female huapango group Las Palomitas Serranas with veteran troubadour poet Ángel González. The group is performing a traditional jarabe arribeño as they arrive in the rural hamlet of Palomas, Guanajuato for an artistic summit centered around Ibero-American music and poetry.

Guillermo Velázquez y Los Leones de la Sierra de Xichú—“La topada de poetas”

Also taken from the Smithsonian Folkways album Serrano de Corazón, “La topada de poetas” is Velázquez’s magnum opus on this album, which both narrates
 and performs the atmosphere of the topada, vividly detailing the portions of the marathon encounter, as night turns into day. It begins with a shortened poesía with a narrated ending, followed by an instrumental polka (typically called a pieza) with narration. Another shortened poesía with a narrated ending ensues, which then introduces two poesías de bravata (boasting poesías, wherein poets engage each other in banter and jibes)—here, Vincent Velázquez and Nicacio López take on the roles of opposing poets. Finally, Guillermo Velázquez performs a valona, followed by an extended jarabe, which captures the climactic energy of the topada in full bloom, when violinists are locked in after several hours, stretching out the music while the zapateado of the audience echoes out in percussive response.

Ángel González with Las Palomitas Serranas (pieza [polka])

This is a live performance featuring the troubadour poet Ángel González with members of the all-female huapango group Las Palomitas Serranas. The group is performing a traditional instrumental polka (typically called a pieza) in the rural hamlet of Palomas, Guanajuato.

Santa Vibra feat. Maria Isabel “Chabe” Flores Solano & Tali Díaz—“Llegar al mesón” (huapango)

While not a traditional huapango arribeño, this track is nonetheless in the galloping 6/8 huapango style and features a duet between Maria Isabel “Chabe” Flores Solano and troubadour poet Tali Díaz. The group Santa Vibra provides the musical backing.

Los Tiradores—“Otro ratito nomas” (valona from Michoacán)

Taken from the album Michoacán: sones de la Tierra Caliente produced by Fonoteca del INAH (the official sound library of the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History), this track features the group Los Tiradores performing a valona typical to the stringed music genre of the state of Michoacán known as son de la Tierra Caliente. I have included this example to demonstrate the musical and poetic similarities the valona maintains across genres. As you will hear, both valona variants feature décima poetry, and the principle violin interlude—referred to as the valoneado in huapango arribeño—expresses some melodic resemblance in both styles.

Los Caporales—“Jarabe ranchero” (jarabe from Michoacán)

Also taken from the album Michoacán: sones de la Tierra Caliente, this track features the group Los Caporales performing a jarabe typical to the son de la Tierra Caliente of Michoacán. This example likewise demonstrates the musical and poetic similarities the jarabe expresses across genres, particularly the virtuosic bundling of violin melodies.

Want to read more about huapango arribeño? Pick up Alex Chávez’s book Sounds of Crossing for 30% off using coupon code E17SOUND on dukeupress.edu.

Unpacking Tourism

ddrhr_129Tourism shapes popular fantasies of adventure, structures urban and natural space, creates knowledge around difference, and demands an array of occupations servicing the insatiable needs of those who travel for leisure. Even as migrants and refugees have become targets of ire from far-right parties, international tourism has grown worldwide.

The most recent issue of Radical History Review, “Unpacking Tourism,” posits a radical approach to the study of tourism, highlighting how tourism as a paradigmatic modern encounter bleeds into diplomacy, militarism, and empire building. Contributors investigate, among other topics, how the United States has used tourism in Latin America as a tool of interventionist foreign policy, how Bethlehem’s Manger Square has become a contested space between Palestinians and the Israeli state, how Spain’s economy increasingly relies on northern European tourists, and how the US military’s Cold War–era guidebooks attempted to convert soldiers stationed abroad into “ambassadors of goodwill.”

Read the introduction to the issue, made freely available.

Subject Collections in Gender Studies and Latin American Studies

As we close out another academic year, we want to remind you of useful resources for two of the strongest areas of our publishing program: gender studies and Latin American studies. In 2017, we launched new e-book subject collections in Gender Studies and Latin American Studies.

GENDER STUDIES

Our Gender Studies/Feminist Theory book list features authors well known for their work in gender studies, gay and lesbian studies, transgender studies, and queer and feminist theory. Many of our journals also address gender studies from transnational and interdisciplinary perspectives:

View the title list for the Gender Studies collection, which features more than 500 e-books and is available to libraries by purchase, lease, or lease-to-own.

LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES

Our Latin American Studies authors are well known for their work in anthropology, art, cultural studies, Caribbean studies, Chicano and Latino studies, history, literature, film and media, and politics. Many of our journals also cover Latin America:

View the title list for the Latin American Studies collection, which features more than 500 e-books and is available to libraries by purchase, lease, or lease-to-own.

If you’re interested in gaining access to these resources, have your librarian contact our Library Relations team to get more information.

Celebrating International Women’s Day

InternationalWomensDay-portraitToday is International Women’s Day (IWD), a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Since the early 1900s, this day has been a powerful platform that unifies tenacity and drives action for gender parity globally. IWD organizers are calling on supporters to help forge a better-working and more gender-inclusive world. In honor of this year’s International Women’s Day, we are pleased to share these recent books and journals from Duke University Press that support this year’s IWD theme: #BeBoldForChange.

Trans/Feminisms
a special issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly

tsq_new_prThis special double issue of TSQ goes beyond the simplistic dichotomy between an exclusionary transphobic feminism and an inclusive trans-affirming feminism. Exploring the ways in which trans issues are addressed within feminist and women’s organizations and social movements around the world, contributors ask how trans, genderqueer, and nonbinary issues are related to feminist movements today, what kind of work is currently undertaken in the name of trans/feminism, what new paradigms and visions are emerging, and what questions still need to be taken up. Central to this special issue is the recognition that trans/feminist politics cannot restrict itself to the domain of gender alone.

This issue features numerous shorter works that represent the diversity of trans/feminist practices and problematics and, in addition to original research articles, includes theory, reports, manifestos, opinion pieces, reviews, and creative/artistic productions, as well as republished key documents of trans/feminist history and international scholarship.

Living a Feminist Life

978-0-8223-6319-4In Living a Feminist Life Sara Ahmed shows how feminist theory is generated from everyday life and the ordinary experiences of being a feminist at home and at work. Building on legacies of feminist of color scholarship in particular, Ahmed offers a poetic and personal meditation on how feminists become estranged from worlds they critique—often by naming and calling attention to problems—and how feminists learn about worlds from their efforts to transform them. Ahmed also provides her most sustained commentary on the figure of the feminist killjoy introduced in her earlier work while showing how feminists create inventive solutions—such as forming support systems—to survive the shattering experiences of facing the walls of racism and sexism. The killjoy survival kit and killjoy manifesto, with which the book concludes, supply practical tools for how to live a feminist life, thereby strengthening the ties between the inventive creation of feminist theory and living a life that sustains it.

1970s Feminisms
a special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly

ddsaq_114_4For more than a decade, feminist historians and historiographers have engaged in challenging the “third wave” portrait of 1970s feminism as essentialist, white, middle-class, uninterested in racism, and theoretically naive. This task has involved setting the record straight about women’s liberation by interrogating how that image took hold in the public imagination and among academic feminists. This issue invites feminist theorists to return to women’s liberation—to the texts, genres, and cultural productions to which the movement gave rise—for a more nuanced look at its conceptual and political consequences. The essays in this issue explore such topics as the ambivalent legacies of women’s liberation; the production of feminist subjectivity in mass culture and abortion documentaries; the political effects of archiving Chicana feminism; and conceptual and generic innovations in the work of Gayle Rubin, Christine Delphy, and Shulamith Firestone.

The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland

978-0-8223-6286-9In The Revolution Has Come Robyn C. Spencer traces the Black Panther Party’s organizational evolution in Oakland, California, where hundreds of young people came to political awareness and journeyed to adulthood as members. Challenging the belief that the Panthers were a projection of the leadership, Spencer draws on interviews with rank-and-file members, FBI files, and archival materials to examine the impact the organization’s internal politics and COINTELPRO’s political repression had on its evolution and dissolution. She shows how the Panthers’ members interpreted, implemented, and influenced party ideology and programs; initiated dialogues about gender politics; highlighted ambiguities in the Panthers’ armed stance; and criticized organizational priorities. Spencer also centers gender politics and the experiences of women and their contributions to the Panthers and the Black Power movement as a whole. Providing a panoramic view of the party’s organization over its sixteen-year history, The Revolution Has Come shows how the Black Panthers embodied Black Power through the party’s international activism, interracial alliances, commitment to address state violence, and desire to foster self-determination in Oakland’s black communities.

Reconsidering Gender, Violence, and the State
a special issue of Radical History Review

ddrhr_126In bringing together a geographically and temporally broad range of interdisciplinary historical scholarship, this issue of Radical History Review offers an expansive examination of gender, violence, and the state. Through analyses of New York penitentiaries, anarchists in early twentieth-century Japan, and militarism in the 1990s, contributors reconsider how historical conceptions of masculinity and femininity inform the persistence of and punishments for gendered violence. The contributors to a section on violence and activism challenge the efficacy of state solutions to gendered violence in a contemporary US context, highlighting alternatives posited by radical feminist and queer activists. In five case studies drawn from South Africa, India, Ireland, East Asia, and Nigeria, contributors analyze the archive’s role in shaping current attitudes toward gender, violence, and the state, as well as its lasting imprint on future quests for restitution or reconciliation. This issue also features a visual essay on the “false positives” killings in Colombia and an exploration of Zanale Muholi’s postapartheid activist photography.

Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology

978-0-8223-6295-1The editors and contributors to Color of Violence ask: What would it take to end violence against women of color? Presenting the fierce and vital writing of INCITE!’s organizers, lawyers, scholars, poets, and policy makers, Color of Violence radically repositions the antiviolence movement by putting women of color at its center. The contributors shift the focus from domestic violence and sexual assault and map innovative strategies of movement building and resistance used by women of color around the world. The volume’s thirty pieces—which include poems, short essays, position papers, letters, and personal reflections—cover violence against women of color in its myriad forms, manifestations, and settings, while identifying the links between gender, militarism, reproductive and economic violence, prisons and policing, colonialism, and war. At a time of heightened state surveillance and repression of people of color, Color of Violence is an essential intervention.

World Policy Interrupted
a special issue of World Policy Journal

wpj33_4_23_frontcover_fppThis issue is penned entirely by female foreign policy experts and journalists and “imagines a world where we wouldn’t need to interpret to be heard at the table. In reconstructing a media landscape where the majority of foreign policy experts quoted, bylined, and miked are not men, we quickly gain deeper insight into a complex world, one historically narrated by only one segment of society,” co-editors Elmira Bayrasli and Lauren Bohn write. Bayrasli and Bohn lead Foreign Policy Interrupted, a program that mentors, develops, and amplifies the voices of women in the international policy field. Foreign Policy Interrupted combats the industry’s gender disparity through a visibility platform and a cohesive fellowship program, including media training and meaningful mentoring at partnering media institutions. The program helps women break both internal and external barriers.

Stay up to date on women’s studies scholarship with these journals on gender studies, feminist theory, queer theory, and gay and lesbian studies:

Camera Obscura
differences
GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies
Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies

 

Interview with Ethnohistory co-editor John F. Schwaller

We recently sat down with new Ethnohistory co-editor John F. Schwaller to discuss his background, how he’d like to shape the journal in the future, and plans for upcoming special issues. To learn more about Ethnohistory, visit dukeupress.edu/ethnohistory.

How did you come to be co-editor of this journal?

ddeh_64_1Matthew Restall [former co-editor of Ethnohistory] is a colleague and friend of mine and when he had served the journal for almost 10 years, he asked me if I would be interested in taking over the position from him. I’ve been a long-time follower and sometime author in Ethnohistory. My work in early colonial Mexico and especially my work in Nahuatl was very close to the journal, so it was a fun opportunity.

How would you like to shape the journal in the future?

What I really want to do is continue to emphasize high quality work on the rest of the Americas. Ethnohistory always has had very strong pieces on British and French North America. For the last ten to fifteen years the journal has included increasingly important pieces on what we now consider Latin America and I want to continue that tradition. Many of the articles have come from Mesoamerica—that’s Mexico and Central America. We have published a little bit in South America and we now have a couple of articles in the queue focused on South America. I would like to expand the offerings for Mesoamerica and South America significantly, so we have a really great presence for both continents in the journal.

What are some under-researched areas that you hope to publish about in the future?

I think, in terms of the profession at large it may not be as underserved, but there are certainly a lot of native peoples of South America that have not been covered sufficiently. We’re only beginning to see some really good studies of some of the native peoples of South America, and I would love to see more ethnohistories of peoples from South America.

Do you have any plans for upcoming special issues?

We have two proposals for special issues right now. One deals with Nahuatl speaking people, and I’m very excited about that. It’s an outgrowth of a panel at the American Society for Ethnohistory meeting in Nashville [November 2016] in which we looked at language and cultural identity in modern Mexico. We had several native Nahuatl speakers who were part of the panel. The organizers of the panel have asked if Ethnohistory would be interested in looking at the papers and the presentations for a special issue and I’ve told them absolutely. If it comes to fruition, at least one or perhaps two of the shorter presentations will be in Nahuatl with English translations.

What are you looking for in submissions?

I’m excited about everything. I really want people to think of Ethnohistory as an important place for their work to appear if they work on native peoples of the Americas.

Obviously with the revolution in languages that we’ve had since the 1970s, many of us are very excited by documentation and works based on documentation in native languages. We need not be blind to the fact that there still are valid and important sources that are only Spanish, Portuguese, English, or French, that can also enlighten us as to the history of native peoples.

To learn more about the journal or to subscribe, visit dukeupress.edu/ethnohistory. To submit your work to the journal, review the submission guidelines.

Labor and Empire

ddlab_13_3_4In the most recent issue of Labor, “Land and Empire,” edited by Leon Fink and Julie Greene, contributors consider the question: “Who built the US empire?” By taking us into the world of working class people across North and South America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific, the essays in this double issue recount a history of empire building focused on the interconnections between capitalist and state expansionism.

Topics include labor and resistance in the US Army during the Civil War, Imperial politics of Filipino labor, Puerto Rican laborers in the Dominican Republic, and the decolonization of Korean labor under US occupation, among others.

From the introduction:

The articles in this double issue of Labor thus emerge from and reflect an exciting field of historical research and intellectual engagement, including new directions in transnational and imperial history and renewed engagement in both of these fields by labor historians. Together they demonstrate the inextricable connections between the history of US empire and the history of labor. The articles reveal dynamics in the logic of US empire that would not be visible in a top-down historical methodology. Furthermore, they demonstrate that what we think of as “US labor history” involved working people and sites of labor around the world. They challenge us not only to make global processes and interactions relevant to our narratives and interpretations of labor and working-class history but, more particularly, to realize the significance of imperial and colonial power relations in shaping that broader labor history. Five major themes weave through the essays as they engage with the labor history of empire. They draw our attention to the unfree labor of military service and its central role in building North American and US empire; struggles over citizenship in the unequal territories of the United States; the complex role of colonial and postcolonial subjects as migrant laborers; the labor tensions involved in US occupations; and labor migration as central to the logic of empire.

Read the full introduction, made freely available.

New Books in September

Here we finally are in September, which always means a welcome reprieve from the sticky summer heat, as well as a healthy roster of forthcoming books. These are the titles to keep an eye out for this month:

McCracken cover image, 5936-4Allison McCracken’s book,  Real Men Don’t Sing: Crooning in American Culture, charts the rise and fall of crooners between 1925 and 1934, showing how the backlash against crooners’ perceived sexual and gender deviance created stylistically masculine norms for white male pop singers that continue to exist today.

In The Repeating Body: Slavery’s Visual Resonance in the Contemporary, Kimberly Juanita Brown explores the literary and visual representations of how black women bear the marks of slavery, centers black women in narratives of slavery, and uncovers and critiques the refusal to see the violence done to black women’s bodies.

Lewis cover image, 5934-0In Muslim Fashion: Contemporary Style Cultures, Reina Lewis analyzes Muslim modest clothing as fashion and shows how young Muslim women (with a focus on Britain, North America, and Turkey) are part of an emergent transnational youth subculture who use fashion to negotiate religion, identity, ethnicity, and mainstream consumer culture.

Rachel Hall characterizes post-9/11 airport security practices in The Transparent Traveler: The Performance and Culture of Airport Security as operating under the “aesthetics of transparency,” which requires passengers to perform innocence and be open to inspection—those who cannot are deemed opaque and presumed to be a threat. Travelers are no longer innocent until proven guilty; they are guilty until proven transparent.

Anthes cover image, 5994-4In Edgar Heap of Birds, the first book-length study of contemporary Native American artist Edgar Heap of Birds, Bill Anthes analyzes Heap of Bird’s art and politics in relation to Native American history, spirituality, and culture, the international art scene, and how his art critiques the subjugation of Native Americans.

Petra R. Rivera-Rideau shows in Remixing Reggaetón: The Cultural Politics of Race in Puerto Rico how the popular music style reggaetón offers a space for Puerto Rican musicians to express identities that center blackness, forge links across the African diaspora, and critique the popular Puerto Rican discourse of racial democracy, which conceals racism and marginalizes black Puerto Ricans.

In Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of BlacknessSimone Browne shows how racial ideologies and the long history of policing black bodies under transatlantic slavery structure contemporary surveillance technologies and practices. Analyzing a wide array of archival and contemporary texts, she demonstrates how surveillance reifies boundaries, borders, and bodies around racial lines.

Anzaldua cover image, 6009-4Light in the Dark/Luz en lo Oscuro is the culmination of Gloria E. Anzaldúa’s mature thought and the most comprehensive presentation of her philosophy. Focusing on aesthetics, ontology, epistemology, and ethics, it contains several developments in her many important theoretical contributions.

Mayra Rivera outlines the relationship between the ways ancient Christian thinkers and Western philosophers conceive of the “body” and “flesh” in Poetics of the Flesh. Rivera’s analysis furthers developments in new materialism and helps us to better understand the influence of Christian texts on contemporary theorizations of social structure, gender, race, and faith.

Project on Vegas, 5967-8In Strip Cultures: Finding America in Las VegasThe Project on Vegas shows how the Las Vegas Strip concentrates and magnifies American culture’s core truths. Among others, the Strip’s buffets, surveillance, large scale branding and consumption, and transformation of nature reflects larger trends and practices throughout America. Includes over 100 photographs by Karen Klugman.

In Pipe Politics, Contested Waters, Lisa Björkman explores why water is chronically unavailable in Mumbai, India’s economic and financial capital. She attributes water shortage to economic reforms that allowed urban development to ignore the water infrastructure, which means that in Mumbai, politics is often about water.

Corbett cover image, 5870-1Microgroove continues John Corbett’s exploration of diverse musics, with essays, interviews, and musician profiles that focus on jazz, improvised music, contemporary classical, rock, folk, blues, post-punk, and cartoon music, as well as painting, design, dance, and poetry.

An Interview with Marcia Ochoa: How She Envisions the Future of GLQ

Recently we had the opportunity to talk to Marcia Ochoa about her new role as co-editor of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies and learn more about what she has planned for the journal’s future. Ochoa will serve as co-editor of GLQ for the next five years. In addition to her work on GLQ as co-editor and special issue editor of two recent issues entitled “On the Visceral,” parts One and Two, Ochoa also serves on the editorial board of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, and published “Queen for a Day: Transformistas, Beauty Queens, and the Performance of Femininity in Venezuela,” with Duke University Press.

How did you come to be editor of GLQ?

ddglq_20_4I have been a reader of GLQ for many years. I was really honored to be asked by Beth Freeman who I think was looking for somebody who was in the social sciences who also had some understanding of the journal and understood its theoretical orientation. I was asked last year and was really happy to accept the editorship. I think part of it came out of the work I did with Sharon Holland and Kyla Wazana Tompkins on the “On the Visceral” Parts One and Two, which was a really wonderful process of building intellectual community, understanding the very generous and generative and rigorous peer review process we have in place at GLQ, and seeing some of back end—what does it take to put a journal together? So that was fascinating. I’m really a system oriented person, I like when systems come together so I was really happy to help out. I was mostly focused on, in addition to the curatorship of the content, I was really attentive to making sure the files were in order and making sure things were moving along the way they needed to.

What are some under researched areas you hope to publish in the future?

ddglq_21_1I think GLQ has done a really nice job of bringing in research from all kinds of fields. I’ve been really excited to see the science studies and feminist science studies that have come out recently in GLQ. It has always been very strong in the humanities and literature in particular. I’m really excited at—having been part of the Association for Queer Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association—seeing GLQ expand its offerings in queer anthropology and in the social sciences more broadly, in the way that really deepens its theoretical innovation. I think as a journal of social theory and queer theory, GLQ has an excellent reputation. Because of some of the historical kinds of reductionism in some kinds of social sciences, the social sciences haven’t been the place to develop that. As an anthropologist, I come at social sciences as a place where we can talk about complexity and not reducing things. I’m always very in dialogue with humanistic approaches. I’m really looking forward to offering more in the social sciences.

I’m also really invested in having a lot more in the global south reflected in the pages of GLQ. I think queer theory as an analytic has really travelled well. And it’s not about replacing local categories of meaning with the word queer in a way that erases the particularities of that meaning, but for me it’s really about what can queer do for us in the different places. How can we use queer as a way to put all different forms of being in dialogue with each other? What would queer theory look like if we centered the experiences of people in the global south or marginalized through binary systems of gender and sexuality that are developed in colonialism and enslavement? What would queer look like if we centered those forms of knowledge? That’s my real project with GLQ, to build an intellectual culture in the discipline of queer theory that really expands that conversation that includes voices from the global south in much more of a sustained, rigorous, and accountable way. I’m really hoping to expand those offerings. I’ve been working with several different people in the world on the possibility of co-publishing with different presses and journals in the global south that also engage in the debates that we engage in with queer theory on their own terms and how that could possibly shift how we talk about it here in the United States.

ddtsq_2_1One more under researched area which I think GLQ has actually been good at incorporating but I want to see more of is transgender studies because now with the launch of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, which I am currently serving on the editorial board of, I think we have a new venue. I think TSQ is very inspired by GLQ and I think TSQ is going to do really amazing things. I think GLQ can continue that conversation. Queer is more and more developed as a concept in dialogue with trans in ways that are not mutually exclusive or negating of anybody. I think that’s going to be exciting to see the development now that we have two really amazing venues to develop trans studies in.

Tell us about “Queer Inhumanisms” and forthcoming special issues of GLQ.

We have a couple of special issues in the pipeline and then I think we’re going to have to take a break from special issues for a little while and publish some of the submissions that we’ve been getting. We have a nice, healthy amount of submissions that are really waiting to see the world and I’m looking forward to seeing those in our journal.

ddglq_21_2_3The most recent special issue, volume 21, issues 3-4, just released, is called “Queer Inhumanisms” with Dana Luciano and Mel Chen serving as special issue editors. This is one of the issues that is doing a lot of interesting work with feminist science studies. Karen Barad has an article in it which I think is really going to blow people’s minds. It’s called “Transmaterialities.” In addition to that, even beyond Karen, we have wonderful people thinking about race, materiality, the constitution of the human, cruelty, racialization, intimacy, even to the point that “Queer Inhuamnisms” really brings together a lot of currents of thought around new materialism, as well as animal studies and feminist science studies more generally, to really get at the basic texture of our lives and of power in our lives. I think this is really great. I had a really wonderful experience with “On the Visceral,” and just seeing how ready we are to extend the conversation about power and sexuality and race and consumption into the fabric of our lives, of our existences. It’s going to be really exciting. There is a wonderful piece by Tavia Nyong’o on “Beast of the Southern Wild” and the concept of wildness. I have a great piece by Jayna Brown about Henrietta Lacks and the plasticity of life through the idea. The case of Henrietta Lacks is about the propagation of her cell line, the HeLa cell line. I’m not going to talk about every single one, but there is a wonderful dossier called “Theorizing Queer Inhumanisms” where we see the last piece of writing from José Muñoz and I think it’s going to be a really important dialogue for people thinking about race and queerness together. I loved every piece in this issue so I’ll stop there, but I think people will have a lot to read about.

The next special issue on the docket is “Area Impossible,” volume 22 and issue 2, which is being edited by Anjali Arondekar and Geeta Patel. These are two South Asian scholars who work on geopolitics and reframing area studies, challenging the concept of various studies and the kind of work it can do and occlude in terms of thinking through queer theory and questions of power and society. We haven’t gotten those essays in, they’re still in the developmental process, but I’m really looking forward to seeing where they end up.

For more information about GLQ or to subscribe, visit dukeupress.edu/glq.

Download our Fall 2015 Catalog!

F15 Catalog CoverOur Fall 2015 catalog is here! Download it and check out all the great new titles we’ll have beginning in July.

Here are some highlights from the new catalog.

Nadia Sablin’s Aunties: The Seven Summers of Alevtina and Ludmilla, the winner of the 2014 CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography. Sablin’s lyrical and evocative photographs in Aunties capture the small details and daily rituals of her septuagenarian aunts in a small Russian village.

Light in the Dark/Luz en lo Oscuro: Rewriting Identity, Spirituality, Reality by Gloria E. Light in the DarkAnzaldúa. Edited by Ana Louise Keating, this book is the culmination of Anzaldúa’s mature thought and the most comprehensive presentation of her philosophy. Focusing on aesthetics, ontology, epistemology, and ethics, it contains several developments in her many important theoretical contributions.

OntopowerOntopower by Brian Massumi. The culmination of Massumi’s powerful trilogy of social theory (What Animals Teach Us about Politics, The Power at the End of the Economy), Ontopower explains how the logic of preemption governs U.S. military policy in the War on Terror. Threats are now felt into reality, which makes preemptive action necessary. The logic of preemption’s working out creates the self-sustaining force of ontopower.

Mounting Frustration: The Art Museum in the Age of Black Power by Susan E. Cahan. Cahan Mounting Frustrationuncovers the moment when the civil rights movement reached New York City’s elite art galleries. Focusing on three controversial exhibitions that integrated African American culture and art, Cahan shows how the art world’s racial politics is far more complicated than overcoming past exclusions.

MicrogrooveMicrogroove by John Corbett. The beloved music writer (Extended Play) continues his exploration of diverse musics, with essays, interviews, and musician profiles that focus on jazz, improvised music, contemporary classical, rock, folk, blues, post-punk, and cartoon music, as well as painting, design, dance, and poetry.

The Rio de Janiero Reader edited by Daryle Williams, Amy Chazkel, and Paulo Knauss. In timeRio Reader for next year’s Olympics, this latest edition to The Latin America Readers traces Rio’s history, culture, and politics. It contains a mix of primary documents—many appearing in English for the first time—that present the “Marvelous City” in all its complexity, importance, and intrigue.

We are also excited to announce the launch of two new math journals, the Banach Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Annals of Functional Analysis. Other journals highlights include a special issue of French Historical Studies, Food and France: What Food Studies Can Teach Us about History, and a special issue of SAQ on 1970s feminism, as well as special issues of differences, Radical History Review, and positions.

And there’s so much more. Download your catalog to see all our great titles in cultural studies, anthropology, music and sound studies, African American studies, and many other disciplines.

Drugs in the Americas

Recent special issues and articles in Hispanic American Historical Review and Comparative Literature include studies of drugs and drug culture in history and literature.

ddhahr_95_1An issue of Hispanic American Historical Review entitled “The New Drug History of the Americas” brings the study of Latin American drug trades and cultures into conversation with the region’s historiography. Special issue editors Paul Gootenberg and Isaac Campos argue for “a new drug history of the Americas:”

We argue here that the fetishization of drugs by prohibitionists and enthusiasts alike has been no accident. Whether due to the resemblance between drug-induced and spiritually inspired ecstasy, or the way that drugs can undermine the razón on which Western civilization has supposedly hinged, or their life-and-death medicinal implications, these are no ordinary goods. Thus drugs also possess, we believe, extraordinary potential for expanding historical study.

The issue includes articles by Valeria Manzano, Lina Britto, and Alexander S. Dawson on such topics as youth culture in Argentina, marijuana traffic in Colombia, and psychedelic psychiatry. Read the full introduction here.

ddclj_66_3In “Imagining the U.S.-Mexico Drug War: The Critical Limits of Narconarratives,” Oswaldo Zavala analyzes narconarratives, interrelated corpus of texts, films, music, and conceptual art focusing on the drug trade. He argues, “with the exception of a few Mexican novels, only a particular narrative trend of fiction and non-fiction published in the United States has been able to articulate a necessary, critical, and subversive view of the official discourse on drug trafficking and its related organizations in both countries.” Read an excerpt:

With their romantic focus on death as an ontological destiny and their emphasis on an imagined narcocultura that makes victims of the official institutions of justice, most narconarratives propagate an illusory enemy that the Mexican state relies upon in order to legitimize its actions in the drug war. In short, most of the narconarratives written during the last decade in Mexico reify the simulacrum of truth constructed by official propaganda. Only through the articulation of deliberately political counternarratives can light be shed on drug trafficking as one of the many dimensions of official power in both countries. To achieve this, critical narconarratives must abandon the exhausted myths of drug lords and their fantastic kingdoms and stop objectifying drug trafficking as a problem external to official power in Mexico and the U.S. and instead propose a careful historical revision of its place inside that power: drug trafficking as power itself.

To read the full article, made freely available, click here.