Current Affairs

Personhood Is a Weapon by Eli Clare

Today’s post is an excerpt from Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure by Eli Clare, with an introduction by the author.

In this political moment as hate violence is on the rise, Trump is trying to ban Muslim refugees from the country, and the Attorney General has blamed disabled students for the lack of civility and disciplinbrilliant-imperfection-covere in public schools; so many groups of marginalized peoples are being treated as unworthy and disposable, essentially denied full personhood. The following meditation on personhood is excerpted from my newly released book, Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure. I wrote it thinking about white disabled woman Terri Schiavo, who died over a decade ago after a well-publicized and protracted legal struggle over ending her life. But I could as easily have been writing about significantly disabled Black lesbian teenager Jerika Bolan, who after expressing a desire to die wasn’t provided counseling and community support. Rather she was allowed to commit medically sanctioned suicide six months ago. Or I could have written about the unnamed Salvadoran asylum seeker, who in mid-February collapsed at a Texas ICE detention center, was taken to a hospital, diagnosed with a brain tumor, and then in the midst of treatment forcibly taken back to the detention center. If Jerika Bolan had been granted full personhood, she’d still be alive; if the Salvadoran asylum seeker had been granted full personhood, she wouldn’t be locked up in a detention center. More than ever, I believe personhood can be used as a weapon.

Some of us are granted personhood as our birthright, but others are required to prove and defend it every day. And when we fail this perverse test, we’re in trouble. Listen. I want us to remember Terri Schiavo. Debates about her raged in the news in 2004 and 2005.

Whatever happens after we die, our body-minds composting back to earth and air, I hope it’s more peaceful than Terri Schiavo’s last few days as she died of dehydration. Everyone — her parents, her husband, her doctors, the media — had an opinion about her and the feeding tube that had just been removed from her stomach.

She was a white woman who collapsed one day, her body-mind changing radically in a matter of minutes as oxygen stopped flowing to her brain and then started again. Some say she lost her ability to communicate, to think, to feel. Or perhaps we lost our capacity to listen. We’ll never know what floated beneath her skin. I want us to mourn for her.

Pundits and reporters, activists and scholars have written about her endlessly. I don’t know why I’m adding to their pile of words, except my memory of her won’t leave me alone.

She was a heterosexual woman whose husband decided she’d rather die than be disabled. Her hands curled, stiffened, joints freezing into contraction. He asserted his patriarchal ownership, refusing to let nurses slide rolled towels into her hands to help loosen her muscles. Nor would he allow them to teach her to swallow again, even though there was every sign that she could. He spent all his court-awarded settlement money on lawyers rather than care, comfort, and assistive technology. What words or fluttering images did she hold in her muscles and bones?

So many people surrounding Terri Schiavo assumed that she knew and felt nothing. Over and over again neurologists, journalists, judges made decisions about her body-mind based on the beliefs that language and self-awareness make us worthy, that death is better than disability, that withdrawing the basic human rights of food and water can be acts of compassion.

I could ponder self-consciousness, spiritual connection, and the divide between human and nonhuman. I could argue with the bioethicists who separate humanness from personhood, declaring pigs and chimpanzees to have more value than infants and significantly disabled people. But really, I’m not interested. I want us to rage for her.

She was a woman living in a hospital bed, referred to as a vegetable more than once. Did she lie in a river of shadow and light, pressure and sound? That too, we will never know. When she died, did we call her name?

Body-minds have value. Certainly I mean our own human selves, but I also mean heron, firefly, weeping willow. I mean dragonfly, birch, barn swallow. I mean goat and bantam rooster, mosquito and wood frog, fox and vulture — the multitude of beings that make home on this planet. I mean all body-minds, regardless of personhood.

She appeared to track the motion of balloons across her hospital room and grinned lopsidedly into the camera. Her life hung between a husband who said one thing and parents who said another, between legal pronouncements and diagnostic judgments. Do we remember her? I don’t mean the editorials, the pro-life versus pro-choice rhetoric, the religious and secular arguments, the political protest and vigil staged outside her hospice, the last-minute drama as Florida’s governor Jeb Bush and the U.S. Congress tried to intervene. I mean: do we remember her?

Too many of us acted as if Terri Schiavo’s body-mind stopped being her own. Depending on who we were and what stake we had in her life or death, we projected our fear, belief, hope, disgust, love, certainty onto her.

I’m trying to say that life and death sometimes hangs on an acknowledgement of personhood. Trying to say that personhood is used all too often as a weapon. Trying to say that while personhood holds tremendous power, its definitions are always arbitrary. Trying to say—I stutter over the gravity of those words.

Copyright Duke University Press, 2017. To order Brilliant Imperfection from us at a 30% discount, enter coupon code E17CLARE at checkout.

 

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

 

Trans-Political Economy

ddtsq_4_1The most recent issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, “Trans-Political Economy,” edited by Dan Irving and Vek Lewis, addresses how capitalism differentially and unequally affects trans and sex/gender‐diverse people across the globe.

“We all, from our different social and political locations, become implicated in those architectures through our everyday interactions with a variety of coordinated and contradictory institutions and rationalities that order our lives across different local and global geopolitical spaces and scales,” write Irving and Lewis.

The editors and contributors to this issue reveal how the narrowly constructed objects of trans studies and political economy (such as gender, labor, class, and economy) have been complicit in the necropolitical devaluation of trans lives and existing strategies crafted for trans survival. Topics include trans visibility and commodity culture; trans credit reporting; the growing population of T-girls, trans women truckers; trans street-based sex workers; the system of sex/gender identification for trans asylum seekers in South Africa; waria affective labor in Indonesia; as well as a roundtable deconstructing trans* political economy.

The Arts & Culture section of this issue features a review of season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race in relation to some of the political economic elements of the drag industry as well as an in depth look at the representation of transgender lives on film, specifically in The Dallas Buyer’s Club.

Read the guest editor’s introduction to the issue, made freely available.

Feminist Perspectives on the 2016 Military Coup Attempt and Its Aftermath in Turkey

We are pleased to share this guest blog post by Banu Gökarıksel, co-editor of the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies. The most recent issue of the journal, volume 13 and issue 1, features a special forum on Feminist Perspectives on the 2016 Coup Attempt and its Aftermath in Turkey.

ddmew_13_1Feminist critiques of political power reveal the central function of gender, sexuality, and difference in maintaining that power. Yet, in current events, a feminist geopolitics is rarely considered and has been absent from analysis of the 2016 coup attempt and its aftermath in Turkey. Much more than tallying the number of women who participated in protesting against the coup, a feminist approach reveals the ways in which the coup attempt (and responses to it) in Turkey relied on the exercise of masculine discursive and material power (Gökarıksel 2017). Violence was both engineered by a powerful institution, the Turkish military, as well as opposed by the political power of the AKP backed by other state institutions such as the police and gendarme. Both coup plotters and their opponents played a significant role in constructing and symbolizing normative masculinity and heterosexuality (Arat 2017). The eruption of violence reinforced the hegemonic relationship between the military, the state, and the nation (Açıksöz 2017; Korkman 2017).

Feminist critique reveals that under President Tayyip Erdoğan’s leadership, the AKP government has taken increasingly repressive and alarmingly authoritarian measures against minorities, women, and girls (Arat 2017), and has galvanized a populist nationalist masculinity that Erdoğan himself embodies. The crowds of civilian men, police officers, and anti-coup soldiers who fought against the putschists, sometimes without any weapons, also legitimate and embolden a nationalist masculinity built on religious and social conservatism and populism.

The stepping up of its war against the Kurds is part of the government’s attempt to reestablish its nationalist and patriarchal power. Despite the magnitude of horror and human cost of this war, it could be thought in connection to a regulation for the chemical castration of sex offenders (Korkman 2017) and the ‘rape’ bill proposal introduced in November 2016 (that would have absolved rapists who marry their victims under 18 years of age from any criminal punishment but met with huge demonstrations and did not secure enough votes to pass). Without attending to the bolstering of this masculinist power in the streets and in government, analysts miss a crucial dimension of how a political environment of fear and intimidation has been legitimated and how violence and militarization have recast Turkish subjects.

The coup attempt on 15 July 2016 was unexpected but not entirely surprising given Turkey’s history. What was surprising was what happened afterwards. Following Erdoğan’s call to defend democracy over a FaceTime call broadcast live on television and constant prayer calls from minarets, people in huge numbers poured out to the streets, breaking the curfew. Although some women were present (Akınerdem 2017; Başdaş 2017), the overwhelming majority were men. The civilian men joined the police and anti-coup soldiers to fight against the putchists. Waving Turkish flags and shouting “Ya Allah, Bismillah, Allahuekber”, they attacked soldiers and tanks.

By the following morning it was clear that the coup attempt had failed. 241 people were killed and more than two thousand were injured during the coup. Crowds came out to occupy public squares to celebrate the defeat of the putschists in ‘democracy vigil’s that continued for weeks (Açıkerdem 2017). Some of the people who attended these democracy vigils did not seem to fully support democratic ideals and norms, asking for the immediate hanging of all the putschists (Başdaş 2017) and declaring unconditional loyalty to Erdoğan’s leadership.

The Turkish government’s reaction to the coup attempt has also been to the detriment of an already deteriorating democratic environment in which freedoms and rights of most citizens, mostly importantly of women and minorities have been increasingly restricted. Initiating a familiar re-militarization of society (Açıksöz 2017), the AKP government quickly and violently acted to restore its masculinist power, repressing any expression of difference from its normative Turkish citizenship. It declared a state of emergency which persists and strengthened its grip on power through arrests, purges, travel bans, and property seizures. The initial targets expanded from coup plotters, supporters, and anyone associated with Fethullah Gülen’s hizmet movement, which the government alleges masterminded the coup, to all critics of government policies, especially its war against the Kurds. Hundreds have been detained or arrested; thousands have been fired from their jobs or forced to resign; over one hundred media outlets have been closed down since July. Academics who signed a peace petition, journalists who wrote anything critical of the government continue to become targets as late as February 2017.

The coup attempt and the AKP’s response to it are manifestations of masculinist political power. The aggressive, violent masculinities that the coup attempt and its aftermath bolstered constitute the architecture of a security state. Political power is never gender-neutral but works through gendered and sexual production of bodies that belong and that do not, that need protection and that are threats, and through the gendered and sexual construction of borders and territory. A feminist critique provides insights into the production of an environment of increasing consolidation of masculinist power, rhetoric of national unity, violence, and militarism (Açıksöz 2017; Akınerdem 2017; Arat 2017; Başdaş 2017; Gökarıksel 2017; Korkman 2017). But it also shows the possibilities for building solidarities and working towards a different future built on pluralism, non-violence, and peace.

Read the Special Forum: Feminist Perspectives on the 2016 Coup Attempt and its Aftermath in Turkey here.

Climate Change and the Production of Knowledge

saq_116_1Though the causes and effects of climate change pervade our everyday lives—the air we breathe, the food we eat, the objects we use—the way the discourse of climate change influences how we make meaning of ourselves and our world is still unexplored. Contributors to this special issue of SAQ: South Atlantic Quarterly, “Climate Change and the Production of Knowledge,” bring diverse perspectives to the ways that climate change science and discourse have reshaped the contemporary architecture of knowledge itself: reconstituting intellectual disciplines and artistic practices, redrawing and dissolving boundaries, and reframing how knowledge is represented and disseminated.

The contributors address the emergence of global warming discourse in fields like history, journalism, anthropology, and the visual arts; the collaborative study of climate change between the human and material sciences; and the impact of climate change on forms of representation and dissemination in this new interdisciplinary landscape.

In “Environmental Activism across the Pacific,” this issue’s Against the Day section, contributors address forms of activism in which people seek to protect continuingly creative but ordinary life processes that conflict with imagined or emergent military bases, plantations, tourism infrastructures, and mines. From the introduction to the section:

It may be tempting to tell stories that focus only on the immensity and exceptionality of such contemporary ecological crises, but there are more stories to be told of the Pacific. The essays collected here not only reveal engagement with deeper trajectories of both violence and resistance, but also explore activism that maintains and constructs modes of life and relations of care among humans, the land, the ocean, and other beings.

Read the essays in this section, made freely available through July 2017.

Against the Day is a thematic section composed of short essays that engage topics of contemporary political importance. The title, “Against the Day,” is meant to highlight both the modes of activism and the specific occasion that the essays address.

Recent Journal Issues on Gender, Violence, War, and Religion

The intersection between gender, violence, war, religion, and race are featured in several recent special issues of Radical History ReviewSocial Text, and the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies. Read more about the issues featured and sample several articles made freely available.

ddrhr_126In bringing together a geographically and temporally broad range of interdisciplinary historical scholarship, “Reconsidering Gender, Violence, and the State,” a special 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 photographyRead the introduction, made freely available.

stx129covprintIn “Race/Religion/War,” a special issue of Social Text edited by Keith P. Feldman and Leerom Medovoi, contributors query long-standing entanglements among the respective epistemologies of race, religion, and war as they organize modern strategies of knowledge and power. They investigate how a logic of permanent warfare underwrites both the international intensification of Islamophobia and the emergence and deployment of an expanding set of security apparatuses whose categorical, geographic, and historical permeability define warfare as radically open-ended. At the same time, the issue seeks to draw attention to long genealogies of race, religion, and war that both contextualize their contemporary braiding and offer political countermemories against which we can make sense of our baleful present.

Drawing on diverse critical traditions, its contributors raise questions such as: What is the relationship of the race/religion/war triad to the modern history of the militarized state? How have certain forms of war-making produced some kinds of race-making or religion-formation, while perhaps unmaking others? Does racial modernity emerge out of the secularization of religious war? How are the religious and racial dimensions of modern colonialism and settler colonialism co-articulated? Read the introduction to the issue, made freely available.

ddmew_12_3In the most recent issue of the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, “The Gender and Sexuality of Militarization and War,” contributors focus on the gender and sexuality of militarization, war, and violence. Topics include the gendered representations of violence during and after the 2011 revolutions in Syria and Egypt and how they have impacted men and women, reading Israeli, Iraqi, and Yemeni literature to understand fraught and often violent relationships between Jews and Israelis and Muslims and Arabs, and examining the meanings attached to women’s performance of identity, citizenship, and political agency in Turkey in the early twenty-first century.

From the preface by feminist scholar Cynthia Enloe:

These researchers reveal the diversity of women’s experiences, imaginations, images, and political analyses both within a single country, such as Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, or Syria, and also across the region.Women are not “just women.” These articles also underscore the interactions of diverse women, historically and socially situated women, with the diverse men of their communities, men who have been both perpetrators and targets of sexualized and unsexualized violence and who are trying to make their own sense of their roles in that violence. Reading these articles together helps us all, I think, understand how crucial it is to absorb complexities when plunging into the gendered lives of women and men making their lives in militarized societies. This is what the Syrian women civil society activists are calling on the men in Geneva to do. This is what they, together with the authors of these provocative articles, are calling on each of us to do.

Read Edith Szanto’s article from the issue, “Depicting Victims, Heroines, and Pawns in the Syrian Uprising,” made freely available.

 

World Policy Interrupted

wpj33_4_23_frontcover_fppWorld Policy Interrupted,” the most recent issue of World Policy Journal, 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.

Contributors to this issue address topics such as feminism in China, abortion laws across the Americas, combating violent extremism by working with religious leaderswomen in media, and a conversation with Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of Mauritus. Browse the full table-of-contents here.

From the Editor’s Note:

When you incubate diverse voices, you incubate diverse ideas and diverse approaches to foreign policy challenges. This all-women’s issue is a testament to that. When we don’t see women and hear their opinions, we marginalize them. We feed the unconscious bias that men are policymakers and women are not. This Interrupted issue challenges and changes that perception by showcasing the voices of female experts and leaders.

Read the full Editor’s Note, made freely available.

Call for Papers: Policy Analysis and the Politics of Health Policy

ddjhppl_41_1How, when, and where does academic policy analysis about the health care system enter the policymaking process?  How have healthcare policymakers seen and used policy analysis in the development, implementation, and perhaps repeal of the Affordable Care Act?  As the US moves from a more technocratic to a more populist administration, how is the role of policy analysis likely to shift? We invite papers for a conference at the Wagner School, New York University in spring 2017 to explore the role of policy analysis in the political process, focusing particularly on the Affordable Care Act. The Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law will accept five to seven papers from the conference to run in a special issue after undergoing peer review. Sherry Glied, Dean of the NYU Wagner School of Public Service, is Guest Editor of this Special Issue of JHPPL.

Background

The relationship between scholars in health policy and policymakers has long been contested.  Back in 1966, following the passage of Medicare and Medicaid, Odin Anderson, reviewing the relationship between research and policy, reported that he was “pessimistic” and concluded a dispiriting review by asking “what is then the value of social and economic research in the health field?”  In the ensuing 50 years, health policy scholars have continued to publish and policymakers have continued to legislate and implement health policy.  Funders increasingly demand dissemination plans to ensure that the findings of the research they support are influential in the policy process.  A new scholarly field of “knowledge translation” has emerged.  Yet many observers remain pessimistic about the influence of evidence on policymaking.

Many aspects of the Affordable Care Act’s development and implementation offered opportunities for scholarship to influence the process – from the initial decision to focus on health reform, to the design of the exchanges and the Medicaid expansion, to the investment in comparative effectiveness research and delivery system improvements, through the most recent repeal-and-replace debates.  The Law’s path has wound through Congress, the Federal Executive Branch, the Courts, and through State Legislatures and Governor’s Offices.  How, where, and when did policy-related scholarship play a part in these processes?  How, where, and when should it have played such a part?  The purpose of this research conference is to explore these questions both positively and normatively.  While the focus of the conference will be on the Affordable Care Act, we are also open to papers that consider other aspects of health policymaking.

Possible Paper Topics and Target Audience

We seek to cast a broad net and are open to studies by political scientists, economists, sociologists, historians, health services researchers, and others. Papers could examine differences and similarities in how research evidence is used in the various institutions of government (committees, budget agencies, executive branch departments, the judiciary); how evidence plays into lobbying and stakeholder engagement; the uses of evidence in the context of Federal/State relations; the role of the technocracy (expert advisory panels, budget agencies, actuaries, regulatory impact analyses, budget scores); how policymakers address conflicting research findings (for example, in the discussions of job loss); how Congress acts when evidence is sparse (as in the case of the CLASS Act), how partisanship affects the use of evidence; as well as papers that explore more normative issues, such as the relationship between scholarship and accountability.

The target audiences for these papers include academic researchers; funders; and health policy makers at the local, state, and federal levels. Papers should be written so as to be accessible to all of these audiences.

Submission Guidelines

Interested authors should submit a 1-3 page proposal by March 1, 2017 by email to Jennifer Costanza, Managing Editor of JHPPL, at jhppl[at]brown[dot]edu. Please put “Policy Analysis Conference” in the subject line of the message. JHPPL will respond to the proposals by March 15, 2017.  Accepted authors will present completed papers at the conference at NYU on May 2, 2017.  The papers will then undergo peer review for a special issue of the journal.

Call for Papers: The Political Beliefs and Civic Engagement of Physicians in an Era of Polarization

ddjhppl_41_6To what extent do doctors’ political beliefs, identities, and ideologies influence their professional decisions in the medical exam room? How do these political views shape what doctors do in their role as citizens, including their political participation on contested issues, such as abortion, gun control, and Obamacare? We invite papers for a conference at Tufts University in fall 2017 to explore the political beliefs and civic engagement of physicians in an era of partisan polarization. The Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law will accept five to seven papers from the conference to run in a special issue after undergoing peer review.

Background

Physicians have substantial autonomy in treating patients according to their best judgment. To be sure, doctors must uphold standards of professional conduct. They are also subject to the incentives and constraints of insurance plans, payment systems, and malpractice rules. Yet the role of a physician is defined loosely enough that doctors can bring to their work predispositions about how their jobs ought to be done. These predispositions can come from many sources, including medical school training, prior experiences, peer effects, individual personality and—the subject of this call for papers—politics.

A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (Hersh and Goldenberg 2016) demonstrates that physicians allow their political worldviews to influence their professional decisions on certain politically salient issues. For example, doctors who identify with the Democratic Party are more likely to urge patients against storing firearms in the home, while Republican physicians are more likely to counsel patients on the mental health risks of abortion and to urge patients to cut down on marijuana use. Yet many questions remain unanswered:  How important and far-reaching is the influence of physicians’ political beliefs? What factors shape the emergence and development of these beliefs? Does the influence of physicians’ political beliefs on their professional behavior benefit or harm patients? Does it significantly affect variation in medical spending and health outcomes? In addition to these questions about how physicians’ political views affect medical practice, there are a range of questions about how physicians engage in politics, such as the level and variety of political activism among physicians and their professional associations.

Possible Paper Topics and Target Audience

We seek to cast a broad net and are open to studies by political scientists, economists, sociologists, health services researchers, and others. Papers could examine how doctors form their political ideologies and identities, whether there are significant differences in beliefs or belief formation across variables such as gender, age, region, training, residency, practice type, or medical specialization, as well as the implications for health outcomes. We are also interested in papers that examine the political participation of doctors in areas including but not limited to voting, testifying, letter writing, participation in agency rulemaking, contributing money to candidates or PACs, bundling donations, running for office, making public speeches and media appearances, and formal or informal lobbying. We are primarily interested in the political views and behavior of U.S. physicians, but papers that offer a comparative perspective are welcome.

The target audiences for these papers include academic researchers; health policy makers at the local, state, and federal levels; and health legal practitioners. Papers should be written so as to be accessible to all of these audiences.

Submission Guidelines

Interested authors should submit a 1-3 page proposal by March 3, 2017 by email to Jennifer Costanza, Managing Editor of JHPPL, at jhppl[at]brown[dot]edu. Please put “Physicians and Politics Submission” in the subject line of the message. JHPPL will respond to the proposals by April 21, 2017. Accepted authors will present completed papers at the conference in October/November 2017, at Tufts University in Boston. The papers will then undergo peer review for a special issue of the journal.

An Interview with Timothy Mitchell, co-editor of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East

In early December, the editorial collective of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East gathered for their quarterly meeting at Columbia University. The journal’s managing editor, Liz Beasley, attended the meeting and spoke with Timothy Mitchell, who co-edits the journal with Anupama Rao, about his role as senior editor over the past five years.

Tell us a bit about CSSAAME. How has the journal changed since the time you took over five years ago?

ddcsa_34_3It’s an unusual journal, because it’s neither the journal of one region—it’s not a journal of Middle East studies, of African history, or of any single world region. But nor is it simply a journal of transnational studies or of the global South. It has a focus on three intersecting world regions, and we’ve tried to make that not just an accident of the title but something that defines the work it publishes. Most work we publish focuses on just one of those three regions, but we want it to be read by scholars of the other two regions—that’s something we’ve really tried to emphasize in the kind of scholarship we look for. When we get submissions that don’t do that explicitly, we try to get those submissions rewritten in such a way that, while they will still appeal to specialists of the history or the politics or the anthropology of a particular place, they will be accessible also to those who work on one of our other two regions.

We do also encourage some more specifically comparative work. We have a book review section called Kitabkhana, which usually takes a single book, or a pair of books, and includes reviewers who are from all three regions.

Kitabkhana is a new section since you’ve taken over the journal, because before it was individual book reviews.

Yes, it had a conventional book review section before. We wanted to do something different. There are many good journals that do book reviews, but we felt what we could do differently was review from the perspective of both specialists in the region that the book deals with and those who are just outside and on the borders of that region.

How does the editorial collective function?

Like certain other journals, CSSAAME is edited from a particular geographic and some extent intellectual location. We’re based at Columbia University. Not every member of the editorial board—currently there are nine members—is from the faculty of Columbia, though the majority are. And so the editorial spirit of the journal is a reflection of the intellectual community within and beyond Columbia. Some members of the collective are based elsewhere, some move between Columbia and research centers on other continents. And our contributing editors and our authors write from many parts of the world. I think the two work together symbiotically—the intellectual community in New York, which is composed of scholars who meet regularly and continue conversations across a variety of forms, and a journal that engages with scholars and ideas across multiple locations around the world. We’re trying to see how the two can develop together.

Other journals—and other Duke journals, for example—do a similar kind of thing, and have a strong base in a particular intellectual community. That’s not the way every journal should be—there are other journals that have no specific geographical location in their editorial boards. But our base in New York does give us opportunities to have conversations that extend beyond the editorial meetings and get reflected back into the pages of CSSAAME.

And Anupama Rao, CSSAAME‘s other co-editor, is here as well.

It’s fortunate that we have offices in adjacent buildings—I think it really helps on a practical level to be colleagues in the same institution and be involved in many other intellectual projects together. Of course it helps that she’s so smart, has a wonderful knowledge of scholarship across so many fields, and has a fantastic sense of what’s new and what’s interesting.

Are there any upcoming special sections that you would like to tell us about? And of all the things we’ve published in the past five years, is there anything that really stands out to you? Any work that you thought was doing something especially important?

That’s a tough one—I really don’t want to pick favorites. It’s actually another answer to your question about what we’ve tried to do differently. The other thing we’ve tried to do is publish work other than the standard academic article. So we’ve done a number of interviews—some of them have been wonderfully insightful discussions, and even historical documents. The interview that Fadi Bardawil did with Talal Asad in our pages [volume 36, issue 1] has been very widely read.

And we’ve staged discussions: there’s one that we’re in the process of publishing that came out of an essay by Partha Chatterjee that appeared in the “Provocations” section of 36:2. We invited responses to the essay, and being able to think about debates that we were interested in hearing and organizing has been a feature of what we’ve tried to do. In some ways I’m keenest about some of those things, but I don’t in any way want to slight the very serious, more conventional academic articles.

Something that is not new or particularly distinctive to the journal has turned into a very important aspect of it: most of what we publish is organized thematically, with each issue having two or three special sections. Often these arise from workshops, conference panels, or symposia that we are involved in, or hear about, or that others bring to us. We won’t ever just take the papers from a conference panel and publish them as they are. We do a lot of work continuing to develop the ideas that make the papers hang together. We’ll sometimes suggest other papers to add to a special section. That ability to do collective work, work that forms a section where the papers are speaking to each other, and not just to scholarship to the field in general, is something you can really work on in editing the journal. We are developing a conversation even through the editorial process, in the process of revision, comment, and re-revision, so that publishing is not just something that you do at the end of things. It is a process that develops the quality of the scholarship.

Do you have specific thoughts about where you want to take the journal from here? I know that the editorial collective works to pull together ideas as a group and has just discussed a potentially divisive book for a Kitabkhana, for instance. Are you looking for more controversy?

One of the directions in which we’ve tried to take the journal is to think about scholarship after area studies. Another way of putting it is what I said earlier, that this is post–area studies journal but one that hasn’t abandoned the advantages of regional specialization and specialist readership. It’s trying to continue to develop scholarship that is written from a knowledge of languages, of histories, of cultures in a specialized way but finds a way to speak to a much broader audience, to make this a journal that scholars of Europe or Latin American or East Asian history and culture would want to read as well. That’s something we want to continue to develop.

People reading this post may be thinking about sending their work to us. What are you looking for in submissions? You’ve already mentioned that you want to appeal to nonspecialists. By the same token, is there anything you do not want?

We look for a certain kind of academic writing. As editors we work hard with authors on producing a readable academic prose. Other journals do this, too, but it’s something that we’ve tried to make a hallmark of the journal. In submissions, although we’ll work with authors to revise toward the kind of writing we want—focusing on the readability of the text, the freshness of the prose—it’s something we encourage authors to pay attention to. Some of it is the business of avoiding jargon, cliché, and terms that have become used in a specific way that will not make the article easily reach a wider audience. As we’re doing this to get scholarship read outside of the narrow fields in which it would otherwise be read, we take the level of the writing seriously.

Is there any particular field or area in which you’d like to receive submissions? Anu had mentioned that she thinks we’re being known as a history journal and perhaps wanted to bring in anthropologists and others to contribute.

We get some great submissions from anthropologists, and we’d like to have more. But I’d say the field we would encourage even more than that is literature—work on contemporary or historical literature of the Middle East, South Asia, or Africa. Again, if it fits the larger mission of the journal, I think we’d really like to do more of that.

And much of that is outlined in the Mission Statement from your first issue as editors.

Yes. We’ve published one or two pieces that have been about the history of ideas and intellectual and political debates going on in particular parts of the region, like the piece we did on the Arab Left and Palestine [Anaheed Al-Hardan’s essay “Al-Nakbah in Arab Thought: The Transformation of a Concept” from 35:3]. But we’re also interested in current contributions to ongoing political debates and cultural arguments.

Another thing we’ve changed in the journal is the cover, introducing new artwork by artists from the three regions in every volume. In one case so far, we’ve accompanied that with a symposium with the artist. So Shahzia Sikander’s work appeared on the covers of volume 34, and we were able to publish an extended conversation about her work in volume 35.

That kind of engagement with contemporary cultural production, artists working today whose work we can publish, if we can do photo essays or interviews that bring in aspects of contemporary cultural movements and visual culture—we’d love to do more of that. We really are a very interdisciplinary journal. The majority of what we publish tends to be historical scholarship, work on the visual arts, or politics, literature, intellectual thought—all of those fields are part of the scope of the journal.

Interested in submitting your work to CSSAAME? Visit the journal’s Editorial Manager siteStay connected! Read CSSAAME, follow the journal on Facebook, and sign up for electronic table-of-contents alerts delivered directly to your inbox when a new issue is published.