Geography

The Global South: Histories, Politics, Maps

m_rhr_18_131_coverThe Global South: Histories, Politics, Maps,” a special issue of Radical History Review, offers a range of perspectives on the intellectual formation of the global South. Spanning time periods and objects of study across the global South, the essays develop new theoretical frameworks for thinking about geography, inequality, and subjectivity. Contributors investigate the construction of gender and racial formation in the global South and explore what is politically and theoretically at stake in considering under-studied places like Guyana or peripheries like Melanesia. One essay considers how encounters between spaces in the global South, specifically between Lebanon and West Africa, help to redirect attention from the northern nations’ preoccupations with their former colonies to the frictions of decolonization. Several articles focus on the role of popular culture in regard to the geopolitical formation of the global South, with topics ranging from film to music to the career of Muhammad Ali. Read the introduction to the issue, freely available now.

978-0-8223-6991-2Contributors to this Radical History Review issue include Emily Callaci, whose recent book Street Archives and City Life maps a new terrain of political and cultural production in mid- to late twentieth-century Tanzanian urban landscapes. While the postcolonial Tanzanian ruling party (TANU) adopted a policy of rural socialism known as Ujamaa, an influx of youth migrants to the city of Dar es Salaam generated innovative forms of urbanism through the circulation of what Callaci calls street archives: popular texts including women’s Christian advice literature, newspaper columns, self-published pulp fiction novellas, and song lyrics. Through these textual networks, Callaci shows how youth migrants and urban intellectuals fashioned a collective ethos of postcolonial African citizenship, ushering in an urban revolution in spite of the nation-state’s pro-rural ideology.

New Books in April

 April brings a fresh crop of great new books. Check out what we’re releasing this month.

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In Biblical Porn Jessica Johnson draws on a decade of fieldwork at Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church in Seattle to show how congregants became entangled in a process of religious conviction through which they embodied Driscoll’s teaching on gender and sexuality in ways that supported the church’s growth.

In Abject Performances Leticia Alvarado explores how Latino artists and cultural producers have developed and deployed an irreverent aesthetics of abjection to resist assimilation and disrupt respectability politics.

Matthew Vitz’s A City on a Lake outlines the environmental history and politics of Mexico City as it transformed its original forested, water-rich environment into a smog-infested megacity, showing how the scientific and political disputes over water policy, housing, forestry, and sanitary engineering led to the city’s unequal urbanization and environmental decline.

In Domesticating Democracy Susan Helen Ellison offers an ethnography of Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) organizations in El Alto, Bolivia, showing that by helping residents cope with their interpersonal disputes and economic troubles how they change the ways Bolivians interact with the state and global capitalism, making them into self-reliant citizens.

978-0-8223-7081-9.jpgKatherine Verdery’s My Life as a Spy analyzes the 2,781 page surveillance file the Romanian secret police compiled on her during her research trips to Transylvania in the 1970s and 1980s. Reading it led her to question her identity and also revealed how deeply the secret police was embedded in everyday life.

 In Edges of Exposure, following Senegalese toxicologists as they struggle to keep equipment, labs, and projects operating, Noémi Tousignant explores the impact of insufficient investments in scientific capacity in postcolonial Africa.

 

Examining human rights discourse from the French Revolution to the present, in Human Rights and the Care of the Self Alexandre Lefebvre turns common assumptions about human rights—that its main purpose is to enable, protect, and care for those in need—on their heads, showing how the value of human rights lies in its support of ethical self-care.

Gay PrioriLibby Adler’s Gay Priori offers a comprehensive critique of the mainstream LGBT legal agenda in the United States, showing how LGBT equal rights discourse drives legal advocates toward a narrow array of reform objectives that do little to help the lives of the most marginalized members of the LGBT community.

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

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

A Primer for Teaching Environmental History, by Emily Wakild and Michelle K. Berry, is a guide for college and high school teachers who are teaching environmental history for the first time, for experienced teachers who want to reinvigorate their courses, for those who are training future teachers to prepare their own syllabi, and for teachers who want to incorporate environmental history into their world history courses. The book is part of a new series, Design Principles for Teaching History.

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World Water Day

wwd-generiq-cmjn_en_2017_square-01-e1521487552747.pngToday is World Water Day, coordinated by the United Nations to draw attention to the importance of water and to the water-related challenges we face today. Our scholarship on water and ocean studies has been steadily growing, and we’re happy to take this occasion to share some of it with you.

978-0-8223-7040-6Matthew Vitz’s A City on a Lake, forthcoming in April, explains Mexico City’s transformation from a forested, water-rich environment into a smog-infested megacity plagued by environmental problems and social inequality. Watering the Revolution by Mikael D. Wolfe addresses Mexican agrarian reform through a history of water management in the Laguna region, and Shaylih Muehlmann’s Where the River Ends is a moving look at how the Cucapá people of northwest Mexico have experienced and responded to the diversion of the Colorado River.

ddrhr_116Co-winner of the 2013 award for Best Special Issue from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals, Radical History Review‘s “Water: History, Power, Crisis,” examines the historical processes that shape contemporary water issues. Contributors focus on how state-sponsored water programs, from sewage treatment to irrigation to damming, radically transform local communities. Topics include caste legacies and waste management in India, dam building in nineteenth-century Egypt, North African emigration and municipal water policy in Paris, and contested water management programs in the Ecuadorean highlands. Collectively, in essays and photos, the authors investigate how water or its absence has affected human societies and seek to historicize the politics of the struggle to control one of our most crucial natural resources. Read the introduction, made freely available.

In Hydraulic City Nikhil Anand explores the politics of Mumbai’s water infrastructure to demonstrate how citizenship emerges through the continuous efforts to control, maintain, and manage the city’s water. Lisa Björkman’s Pipe Politics, Contested Waters shows how an elite dream to transform Mumbai into a “world class” business center has wreaked havoc on the city’s water pipes.

ddpcult_28_2We live in the age of extremes, a period punctuated by significant disasters that have changed the way we understand risk, vulnerability, and the future of communities. Violent ecological events such as Superstorm Sandy attest to the urgent need to analyze what cities around the world are doing to reduce carbon emissions, develop new energy systems, and build structures to enhance preparedness for catastrophe. The essays in “Climate Change and the Future of Cities: Mitigation, Adaptation, and Social Change on an Urban Planet,” a special issue of Public Culture, illustrate that the best techniques for safeguarding cities and critical infrastructure systems from threats related to climate change have multiple benefits, strengthening networks that promote health and prosperity during ordinary times as well as mitigating damage during disasters. The contributors provide a truly global perspective on topics such as the toxic effects of fracking, water rights in the Los Angeles region, wind energy in southern Mexico, and water scarcity from Brazil to the Arabian Peninsula. Read the introduction, made freely available.

Hough-Snee and Sotelo EastmanBy showing how the waters of the Nile are constantly made and remade as a resource by people in and outside Egypt, Jessica Barnes, in Cultivating the Nile, demonstrates the range of political dynamics, social relations, and technological interventions that must be incorporated into understandings of water and its management.

The Critical Surf Studies Reader, a collection edited by Dexter Zavalza Hough-Snee and Alexander Sotelo Eastman, refocuses the history and culture of surfing, paying particular attention to reclaiming the roles that women, indigenous peoples, and people of color have played in surfing. Ulrich Oslender’s The Geographies of Social Movements proposes a critical place perspective to examine the activism of black communities in the lowland rain forest of Colombia’s Pacific Coast region.

978-0-8223-6235-7In The Undersea Network Nicole Starosielski follows undersea Internet cables from the ocean depths to their landing zones on the sandy beaches of the South Pacific, bringing them to the surface of media scholarship and making visible the materiality of the wired network.

Eating the Ocean by Elspeth Probyn is an ethnographic journey around the world’s oceans and fisheries, centering oceans as the site of the entanglement of multiple species and enabling us to realize that we cannot escape the food politics of the human-fish relationship.

 

Familiarizing the Extraterrestrial / Making Our Planet Alien

The most recent issue of Environmental Humanities featuring the special section, “Familiarizing the Extraterrestrial / Making Our Planet Alien,” edited by Istvan Praet Juan Francisco Salazar, is now available.

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This special section brings together research on outer space by means of ethnographic explorations of astrobiology, planetary science, and physical cosmology. A growing number of researchers in the social sciences and the environmental humanities have begun to focus on the wider universe and how it is apprehended by modern cosmology. Today the extraterrestrial has become part of the remit of anthropologists, philosophers, historians, geographers, scholars in science and technology studies, and artistic researchers, among others.

This section also explores how Earth is being transformed into a “natural laboratory” of sorts, allowing scientists to experiment with and theorize about alien life. There is an emerging consensus that astronomers and other natural scientists—contrary to a common prejudice—are never simply depicting or describing the cosmos “just as it is.”  Scientific knowledge of the universe is based on skilled judgments rather than on direct, unmediated perception. It is science, but it is also an art.

Explore the table-of-contents and read the introduction, freely available.

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.

Gendered and Sexual Mobilities

ddmew_13_2_coverThe most recent special issue of Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies (JMEWS), “Gendered and Sexual Mobilities,” edited by miriam cooke, Banu Gökariksel, and Frances S. Hasso, is now available.

This issue highlights the significance of mobility for our understanding of gendered and sexual difference. The four articles explore the role of spatial mobility and immobility in the construction of gendered and sexual bodies and subjectivities. Contributors Anna J. Secor, Camila Pastor de Maria Campos, and Fatma Umut Beşpınar recognize how rarely scholars examine the perspective of marginalized gendered and sexual subjects who are deemed morally dangerous. Questioning mobility and difference, therefore, enables us to illuminate how issues of difference are fixed and framed through regimes of visibility, certification, and regulation.

Explore the table-of-contents and read the preface to the issue, now freely available.

Read to Respond: Labor

R2R final logoOur “Read to Respond” series addresses the current climate of misinformation by highlighting articles and books that encourage thoughtful, educated debate on today’s most pressing issues. This post focuses on labor, worker’s rights, and neoliberalism. Read, reflect, and share these resources in and out of the classroom to keep these important conversations going.

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These articles are freely available until December 15, 2017. Follow along with the series over the next several months and share your thoughts with #ReadtoRespond.

Speech in the Western States: The Coastal States

ddpads_101The most recent volume of the Publication of the American Dialect Society (PADS), “Speech in the Western States, Volume 1: The Coastal States,” edited by Valerie Fridland, Tyler Kendall, Betsy Evans, and Alicia Wassink, presents a collection of new articles investigating what is perhaps the most understudied American dialect region, the American West. In an attempt to remedy this dearth of descriptive work on Western United States dialects, this volume brings together research undertaken by a combination of established and up-and-coming scholars across the West to focus on the phonetic changes occurring in vowel systems across the coastal region, California, Oregon, and Washington. The following volume will move the lens of inquiry to vowel patterns in the Interior West.

Though pointing to several shared “Western” features, these chapters force us to reconsider the dialect uniformity often assumed for these states, pointing to key differences between California and the states in the Pacific Northwest. In contrast, surprising similarity was discovered among the vowel systems of minority and majority ethnic groups in these states. In surveying the research presented here, we come away with a sense of a region still in the process of dialect formation—a process that is creating both similarity and difference within the region—but it also seems clear that the West, at least along the coast, is not a unitary dialect region as often reported, but one characterized by features that have arisen only within the last 50 to 100 years, features that have already begun to display the local character of the people that live within its boundaries. The research presented here begins to fill in some of the gaps in our understanding of what the Coastal states of the continental Western United States sound like and how they fit into the larger picture of United States dialect diversity and the studies lay the groundwork for further research on the speech patterns of the Western United States.

Browse the table-of-contents and read the preface to the issue, made freely available.

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.

National Coffee Day

Today is National Coffee Day—the perfect opportunity to say “thank you” to the foamy friend that renders us functional in our day-to-day lives. But this drink has a complex and conflict-filled history, and modern coffee production is a world of its own. Check out some of our scholarship on the brewed beverage.

978-0-8223-5150-4In From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive, Paige West tracks coffee as it moves from producers in Papua New Guinea to consumers around the world. This vivid ethnography illuminates the social lives of the people who produce, process, distribute, market, and consume coffee.

Julia Landweber examines coffee’s adoption into French culture and diet in “This Marvelous Bean,” published in French Historical Studies (volume 38, issue 2). She explores how coffee, initially mistrusted by the French for its bitterness, health risks, and associations with the Ottoman Empire, became a beloved beverage and attracted a burgeoning culture of consumers interested in exotic novelties.

978-0-8223-3766-9Historians trace the paths of many of Latin America’s most important exports—coffee, bananas, rubber, sugar, and more—in From Silver to Cocaine. Each contributor follows a specific commodity from its inception, through its development and transport, to its final destination in the hands of consumers.

Charles W. Bergquist’s influential 1986 book Coffee and Conflict in Colombia, 1886-1910, had several important consequences for the study of Latin American history and the study of Colombia. Bergquist’s analysis of this transitional period left a mark on all subsequent studies in Latin American affairs. His examination of the growth of the coffee industry and the Thousand Days’ War is a major contribution to the field.

978-0-8223-2218-4In “That a Poor Man Be Industrious,” a chapter of Identity and Struggle at the Margins of the Nation-State, Aldo Lauria-Santiago examines the experience of a late-1800s ladino peasant community in El Salvador with land tenure, coffee production, and regional politics. The community’s experience with the pressures and opportunities of an expanding coffee economy provides insight into El Salvador’s ladino peasantry.

Nancy Um’s “Foreign Doctors at the Imam’s Court,” published in Genre (volume 49, issue 2), sheds light on an overlooked phenomenon: early modern medical diplomacy to Qasimi Yemen during the “Coffee Era,” in which foreign merchants flocked to the southern Arabian Peninsula with the interest of procuring coffee, a commodity that was then still difficult to purchase elsewhere.

In “Territories of Desire,” published in Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies (volume 12, issue 2), Aymon Kreil contrasts the intimacy of coffee shops in Egypt, as locales where men gather to chat about sex, with the intimacy of conversations within the family. Although research often focuses on family as the realm of intimacy, Kreil argues the importance of considering alternate contexts.