Latin American Studies

New Books in February

How to get through the cold, dark days of February? With a great new book, of course! Check out what’s releasing this month.

978-0-8223-7084-0Fans of 2016’s Spill are eagerly awaiting the next book in Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s experimental triptych, M ArchiveEngaging with the work of M. Jacqui Alexander and Black feminist thought more generally,  M Archive is a series of prose poems that speculatively documents the survival of Black people following a worldwide cataclysm while examining the possibilities of being that exceed the human.

Ari Larissa Heinrich’s Chinese Surplus examines transnational Chinese aesthetic production—from the earliest appearance of Frankenstein in China to the more recent phenomenon of “cadaver art”— to demonstrate how representations of the medically commodified body can illuminate the effects of biopolitical violence and postcolonialism in contemporary life.

Conditions of the Present collects essays by the late Lindon Barrett that theorize race and liberation in the United States, confront critical blind spots within both academic and popular discourse, and speak across institutional divides and the gulf between academia and the street.

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Arturo Escobar’s Designs for the Pluriverse presents a new vision of design theory by arguing for the creation of what he calls “autonomous design”—a design practice aimed at channeling design’s world-making capacity toward ways of being and doing that are deeply attuned to justice and the Earth.

In The Political Sublime Michael J. Shapiro formulates a new politics of aesthetics by analyzing the experience of the sublime as rendered by a number of artistic and cultural texts that deal with race, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and industrialism, showing how the sublime’s disruptive effects provides the opportunity for a new oppositional politics.

Trevor Getz’s A Primer for Teaching African History is a guide for college and high school teachers who are teaching African history for the first time, for experienced teachers who want to reinvigorate their courses, and for those who are training future teachers to prepare their own African history syllabi. It’s part of a new series, Design Principles for Teaching History, which will also feature books on teaching Environmental History and Gender History.

978-0-8223-7086-4.jpgAssembling a range of interviews, essays, and conversations, Sisters in the Life, edited by Yvonne Welbon and Alexandra Juhasz, narrates the history of African American lesbian media-making during the past thirty years, thereby documenting the important and influential work of this group of understudied and underappreciated artists.

Jason Borge’s Tropical Riffs traces how jazz helped forge modern identities and national imaginaries in Latin America during the mid-twentieth century, showing how throughout the region, jazz functioned as a conduit through which debates about race, sexuality, nation, technology, and modernity raged in newspapers, magazines, literature, and film.

978-0-8223-7070-3.jpgMartin Duberman’s The Rest of It is the untold and revealing story of how Duberman—a major historian and a founding figure in the history of gay and lesbian studies—managed to survive and be productive during a difficult twelve year period in which he was beset by drug addiction, health problems, and personal loss.

In Diaspora’s Homeland Shelly Chan provides a broad historical study of how the mass migration of more than twenty million Chinese overseas influenced China’s politics, economics, and culture and helped establish China as a nation-state within a global system.

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Groundbreaking Study on Incan Khipus Published in Ethnohistory

ddeh_65_1Toward the Decipherment of a Set of Mid-Colonial Khipus from the Santa Valley, Coastal Peru,” by Manuel Medrano and Gary Urton is a groundbreaking study recently published in Ethnohistory.

Khipus, a method of record-keeping used by the Inca, were used to record data using knotted strings. In the past, khipus have proven nearly impossible to decipher and there was a very limited understanding of what they represented. In this article, Harvard junior Manuel Medrano shares what he discovered—the khipus were used to represent names of villagers in a census.

Gary Urton, co-writer and Harvard professor tells the Harvard Gazette:

It’s giving the Incas their own voice. I could never figure out the hidden meanings in these devices. Manny figured them out, focusing on their color, and on their recto or verso (right-hand and left-hand) construction. This was the only case we have discovered so far in which one or more (in this case six) khipus and a census record matches.

Recently featured on All Things Considered, Medrano states:

The khipus are incredible because they compel us to interpret history in multiple dimensions. South America’s the only continent besides Antarctica on which no civilization invented a system of graphical writing for over 10,000 years after the first people arrived. And what that means in the course of history is that the Incas are often defined by what they lack and with a despite clause. In other words, this civilization who never invented the wheel, never invented markets and lacked a system of graphical writing are often defined as never having stumbled upon the wonders of civilization. And this project is aimed at reversing that incorrect narrative.

Read the article, made freely available.

Top Latin American Studies Titles Adopted for Course Use

cuba readerOur Latin American Studies authors are well known for their work in anthropology, art, cultural studies, Caribbean studies, Chicanx and Latinx studies, history, literature, film and media, and politics.

Our Latin American studies e-book collection includes over 500 titles in these subject areas. Many of our journals also cover Latin America. If you’re interested in gaining access to these resources, have your librarian contact our Library Relations team to get more information.

Here are the top 8 Latin American studies titles adopted for course use:

View the title list for the Latin American Studies collection, which features more than 500 e-books.

New Books in January

978-0-8223-6902-8.jpgHappy 2018! Ring in the new year with these exciting new titles from Duke University Press:

In Fractivism, Sara Ann Wylie traces the history of fracking in the United States and how scientists, nonprofits, landowners, and everyday people are coming together to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable through the creation of digital platforms and databases that document fracking’s devastating environmental and human health impacts.

Raymond Knapp’s Making Light traces the musical legacy of German Idealism as it led to the declining prestige of composers such as Haydn while influencing the development of American popular music in the nineteenth century, showing how the existence of camp in Haydn and American music offer ways of reassessing Haydn’s oeuvre.

In Media Heterotopias Hye Jean Chung challenges the widespread tendency among audiences and critics to disregard the material conditions of digital film production, showing how this emphasis on seamlessness masks the complex social, political, and economic realities of global filmmaking.

Charlotte Brunsdon’s Television Cities traces television’s representations of Paris, London, and Baltimore to show how they reflect the medium’s history and evolution, thereby challenging the prevalent assumptions about television as quintessentially suburban and showing how television shapes our perception of urban spaces, both familiar and unknown.

978-0-8223-7038-3.jpgIn Ezili’s Mirrors Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley traces how contemporary queer Caribbean and African American writers, filmmakers, musicians, and performers evoke the divinity Ezili—a pantheon of lwa feminine spirits in Vodou—in ways that offer a new model of queer black feminist theory.

Focusing on the hemispheric circulation of South American musical cultures, in On Site, In Sound, Kirstie A. Dorr examines the spatiality of sound and the ways in which the sonic is bound to perceptions and constructions of geographic space, showing how people can use music and sound to challenge and transform dominant conceptions of place.

Attending to diverse practices of everyday living and doing—of form, style, and scenography—in Jacques Rancière’s writings, Davide Panagia explores Rancière’s aesthetics of politics as it informs his radical democratic theory of participation in Ranciere’s Sentiments.

In Reclaiming the Discarded Kathleen Millar offers a comprehensive ethnography of Jardim Gramacho, a sprawling garbage dump on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where self-employed workers, known as catadores, collect recyclable materials and ultimately generate new modes of living within the precarious conditions of urban poverty.

978-0-8223-7036-9Bianca C. Williams’s The Pursuit of Happiness traces the experiences of African American women who travel to Jamaica and form affective relationships with Jamaican men and women that help construct notions of diasporic belonging and a form of happiness that resists the damaging intersections of racism and patriarchy in the United States.

We Wanted a Revolution: New Perspectives is the companion volume to the acclaimed Sourcebook, both of which accompany the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–1985. New Perspectives includes new essays that place the exhibition’s works in historical and contemporary contexts, poems by Alice Walker, and numerous illustrations. The exhibition is at the California African American Museum until January 14 and then travels to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo.

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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.

New Books in October

October is upon us, and we have a number of new books to introduce to you this month. Be on the lookout for these exciting titles at bookstores, online, or at academic meetings later this fall.

978-0-8223-6918-9In The Right to Maim, Jasbir K. Puar continues her pathbreaking work on the liberal state, sexuality, and biopolitics to theorize the production of disability, using Israel’s occupation of Palestine as an example of how settler colonial states rely on liberal frameworks of disability to maintain control of bodies and populations.

Jennifer Terry, in Attachments to War, traces how biomedical logics entangle Americans in a perpetual state of war, in which new forms of wounding necessitate the continual development of treatment and prosthetic technologies while the military justifies violence and military occupation as necessary conditions for advancing medical knowledge.

978-0-8223-6973-8Life in the Age of Drone Warfare, edited by Lisa Parks and Caren Kaplan, explores the historical, juridical, geopolitical, and cultural dimensions of drone technology and warfare, showing how drones generate ways of understanding the world, shape the ways lives are lived and ended on the ground, and operate within numerous mechanisms of militarized state power.

 

Tracing the college experiences of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans in her new book Grateful Nation, Ellen Moore challenges the popular narratives that explain student veterans’ academic difficulties while showing how these narratives and institutional support for the military lead to suppression of campus debate about the wars, discourage anti-war activism, and encourage a growing militarization.

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The Extractive Zone by Macarena Gómez-Barris extends decolonial theory into greater conversation with race, sexuality, and Indigenous studies; and traces the political, aesthetic, and performative practices of South American indigenous activists, intellectuals, and artists that emerge in opposition to the ruinous effects of extractive capital.

Essays, interviews, and artist statements in Collective Situations —many of which are appearing in English for the first time—present a range of socially engaged art practices in Latin America between 1995 and 2010 that rethink the boundaries between art and activism. The collection is edited by Bill Kelley Jr. and Grant H. Kester.

In Never Alone, Except for Now, juxtaposing contemporary art against familiar features of the Web such as emoticons, Kris Cohen explores how one can be connected to people and places online while simultaneously being alone and isolated. This phenomenon lies in the space between populations built through data collection, and publics created by interacting with others.

Originally published in 1939, Aimé Césaire’s Cahier d’un Retour au Pays Natal is a landmark of modern French poetry and a founding text of the Négritude movement. Journal of a Homecoming, a bilingual edition, features a new authoritative translation, revised introduction, and extensive commentary, making it a magisterial edition of Césaire’s surrealist masterpiece.

978-0-8223-6949-3In Neoliberalism from Below, Verónica Gago provides a new theory of neoliberalism by examining how Latin American neoliberalism is propelled not just from above by international finance, corporations, and government, but by the activities of migrant workers, vendors, sweatshop workers, and other marginalized groups in and around the La Salada market in Buenos Aires.

Kristen Ghodsee, in Red Hangover, examines the legacies of twentieth-century communism on the contemporary political landscape twenty-five years after the Berlin Wall fell, reflecting on the lived experience of postsocialism and how many ordinary men and women across Eastern Europe suffered from the massive social and economic upheavals in their lives after 1989.

978-0-8223-5884-8Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and his experience trading derivatives, in The Social Life of Financial Derivatives, Edward LiPuma theorizes the profound social dimensions of derivatives markets and the processes, rituals, mentalities, and belief systems that drive them.

In Monrovia Modern, Danny Hoffman uses the ruins of four iconic modernist buildings in Monrovia, Liberia as a way to explore the relationship between the built environment and political imagination, showing how these former symbols of modernist nation building transformed into representations of the challenges that Monrovia’s residents face.

Steeped in Heritage, by Sarah Ives, explores the racial and environmental politics behind South Africa’s rooibos tea industry to examine heritage-based claims to the indigenous plant by two groups of contested indigeneity: white Afrikaners and “coloured” South Africans.

In Tropical Freedom, Ikuko Asaka examines emancipation’s intersection with settler colonialism in North America, showing how emancipation efforts in the United States and present-day Canada were accompanied by attempts to relocate freed blacks to tropical regions, thereby conceiving freedom as a racially segregated condition based upon geography and climate.

Never miss a new book! Sign up for Subject Matters, our e-mail newsletter, and get notifications of new titles in your preferred disciplines as well as discounts and other news.

Commemorating a Century of Land and Water Reform

Thank you to Mikael Wolfe, author of Watering the Revolution: An Environmental and Technological History of Agrarian Reform in Mexico, for today’s guest post.

Mikael Wolfe

En español: Conmemorando un siglo de la reforma agraria y del agua.

People celebrated the Constitution’s centennial with theater, music, dance, video, and self-congratulating speeches. One hundred years in, and it was still one of the world’s most progressive. It guaranteed not only civil and political rights but social and economic rights, like the right to unionize, an adequate minimum wage, retirement security, equal pay for men and women, and paid maternity leave. Of course, this wasn’t 1887 and it wasn’t the United States’ celebration. In February 2017, the United Mexican States (Mexico’s often forgotten, official name) were busy celebrating their constitution.

We may admire the ambition of the Mexican constitution, but even more important to Mexico’s poor rural majority in 1917 was the right to—and duty to conserve—land and water. Indeed, this was the principal raison d’être of the Mexican Revolution of 1910 for which hundreds of thousands of Mexicans had shed blood and the culmination of their constitution. How Mexico bestowed agricultural land and simultaneously tried to conserve natural resources, principally water, in the emblematic Laguna region is at the core of the story I tell in Watering the Revolution: An Environmental and Technological History of Agrarian Reform in Mexico.

978-0-8223-6374-3This story changes our understanding of Mexican agrarian reform, Latin America’s longest and most extensive, distributing nearly half of the arable land to millions of campesinos (peasants) from 1917 to 1992. Ostensibly, land reform was the goal, but to the campesinos land was worthless without water. Unlike land, however, water—in all its fascinating, frustrating fluidity—refused to bend to official decrees or be bound by surveyor lines. It still does, and not only in Mexico. The recent controversy surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) only proves the importance of water access and the fights over it. Through mass protest, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe helped popularize the motto that—just as, if not more so than land—“Water is Life.” After all, the DAPL doesn’t actually cross into Sioux land, but goes under the nearby Missouri River on which the Sioux depend. Interestingly, much of the politics, conflicts-of-interest, and corruption involved in building the DAPL resembles the story of hydraulic infrastructure-building in the name of the Mexican Revolution.  Though some still believe otherwise, then, as now, water rights and land rights cannot be separated.

This basic fact is illuminated by an envirotech history of water management. Envirotech’s premise is simple: Nature and technology not only impact one another, but become so interdependent that the boundary between them dissolves. A dam is an obvious example. An artificial, invasive structure, a dam creates new ecosystems upstream and down. In short, the envirotech perspective reminds us that people don’t just act on or react to nature, they also recreate it.

Envirotech is a new term in Mexican history but not necessarily new to Mexico. As I show in my introduction, the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera was attuned to envirotech long avant la lettre. From the 1920s Rivera celebrated in many of his murals motifs of putative harmony among humanity, nature, and technology. He depicted scenes in which engineers, or técnicos, adroitly executed land distribution and installed hydraulic infrastructure while a grateful nation applauded.

Brilliantly aspirational, Rivera’s murals didn’t reflect the complications and conflicts Mexicans incurred in making their Constitution’s mandate a reality. This is abundantly clear in the north-central Laguna region watered by the Nazas River, the focus of my book. The locals, or Laguneros, revered the Nazas as their “Nile” and “Father” for the rich sediment it brought to their fields from the Durango Mountains, yet it was a fickle patriarch. Some years it brought a trickle only to be followed by several years’ worth of torrential flows. This extreme irregularity was a source of constant recrimination among the farmers who relied upon the river for their livelihoods. As early as Porfirio Díaz’s presidency (1876-1911), a few water-deprived farmers, including the future president Francisco I. Madero, and government officials agreed upon an envirotechnical solution: damming the Nazas.

The Mexican Revolution, which overthrew Díaz, transformed the social and political landscape of the region and nation, and, with it, the social purpose of the dam, especially during the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-1940). If before the Revolution, the dam’s purpose was to make water distribution more equitable, after the Revolution water redistribution had to complement land redistribution. This made the dam appear to many large landowners as a facilitator of land redistribution, which they vehemently opposed.

Large landowners had good reason to oppose the dam. In 1936, Cárdenas decreed Latin America’s hitherto largest land reform in the Laguna, but the dam never actually delivered on its promise of providing a bountiful supply of water. Campesinos found living off the land as difficult after the land reform as before, largely because of insufficient water. Instead, quite literally, the fight went underground. Anyone with enough money to drill a well and install a motorized pump could withdraw groundwater, which meant richer farmers disproportionately benefited while weathering drought. Less controversial didn’t mean less problematic, however: Today the Laguna’s aquifers are among Mexico’s most overexploited and contaminated.

The real tragedy, however, as I argue in the book, is that Laguneros and government officials knew what was happening and had regulations in place to address the problem. Mexico had the authority to regulate surface water as early as the 1917 Constitution and the power to regulate groundwater by 1947. (By contrast, U.S. federal legislation regulating groundwater, primarily for drinking, was passed in 2006.) But despite this power, the government lacked the will to enforce these laws and water users the restraint to comply. People ignored laws and regulations even though they understood—to varying degrees—that they were only harming themselves in the long run. Campesinos, landowners, and even—if only in reputation—the técnicos all suffered from the collective refusal to regulate water use. How and why this happened and its consequences are at the heart of my story.

Save 30% on the paperback edition of Watering the Revolution using coupon code E17WATER, or read the introduction before buying.

The Hypervisibility of Violence in Mexico

Rielle Navitski, author of the new book Public Spectacles of Violence: Sensational Cinema and Journalism in Early Twentieth-Century Mexico and Brazil, brings us today’s guest blog post.

Photo by Dina Canup

The epidemic levels of violence affecting Mexico made international headlines this past month when a report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies declared it the deadliest nation in the world after Syria, with a toll of 23,000 homicides in 2016. While the report’s critics called for greater nuance than this headline offers, there is no question that the conflict poses a profound threat to the very fabric of public life in Mexico. Criminal organizations challenge the government’s control of territory and its exclusive privilege to exercise physical force (its monopoly on violence, in sociologist Max Weber’s terms), although widespread corruption makes any sharp distinction between state and criminal actors difficult to sustain. Violence’s capacity to terrorize is amplified by unspeakable displays of cruelty—the staging of victims’ bodies in public spaces, the circulation of images of torture and murder online—even as forced disappearances and clandestine mass graves mask the conflict’s true extent.

As I observe in my book Public Spectacles of Violence, the proliferation of graphic images of violence and the blurring of boundaries between state and criminal aggression are far from a new phenomenon in Mexico. During the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920—arguably the twentieth-century’s first social revolution—novel forms of visual culture like illustrated newspapers and magazines, postcard photographs, and film offered a flood of images of combat, executions, hangings, and ravaged bodies. Sparked by opposition to the thirty-five year dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, the revolution claimed an estimated 1 million lives in a country of 12 million, drifting away from democratic ideals and rural demands for economic equality. The character of the conflict—marked by prolonged struggles between military factions defined more by their charismatic leaders rather than by their ideologies—continually threw into question the legitimacy of the deadly use of force and attacks on private property.

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This crisis of political legitimacy is evident in the earliest box-office success of Mexican cinema, a 1919 crime film entitled El automóvil gris (The Grey Automobile). Based on the exploits of a criminal gang who traveled in the grey automobile of the film’s title and committed robberies dressed as soldiers from the army of Venustiano Carranza, El automóvil gris was shot by cameraman Enrique Rosas in an effort to mend the reputation of General Pablo González, who was suspected of complicity in the crimes. Patterned on popular crime films produced in France and the United States, El automóvil gris also drew on Mexico City’s sensationalistic press, which presented acts of robbery, kidnapping, and murder as signs of local modernity, since they demonstrated that the capital suffered the same social ills as industrialized metropolises like London, Paris, and New York. Implicit in these accounts of criminality was an acceptance of industrialization and urbanization’s social costs as the price of progress, measured by the standards of Europe and the United States.

As I hope to show in my book by examining parallel developments in the early mass cultures of Mexico and Brazil, the profound impact of violence on public life in modern Latin America cannot solely be attributed to failures of state formation or economic development in individual nations. Instead, it must be understood in light of the global dynamics of the capitalist economy, its role in the circulation of commodities and images, and its production of inequality. Commentators note that present-day criminal organizations in Mexico—whose ranks are swelled by young men with few opportunities in the formal economy—borrow and extend the business strategies of multinational corporations. In his book Narconomics, journalist Tom Wainright notes that Mexican cartels benefit from outsourcing select activities to Central American countries where operating costs are cheaper, and expand rapidly by lending their names and reputation to locally rooted criminal groups in a process akin to franchising. Observing the role of conspicuous consumption in cultures of organized crime in Mexico, Ed Vulliamy wrote in 2011 that “the greed for violence reflects the greed for brands, and becomes a brand in itself.” Observing that drug trafficking exemplifies the free flow of commodities underlying the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, he provocatively describes the accompanying violence as “the inevitable war of capitalism gone mad.”

In their response to the IISS report mentioned above, Mexico’s foreign and interior ministries stressed the transnational character of the current violence, fueled by demand for narcotics north of the US-Mexico border and the flow of illegal firearms south from the United States. (A 2014 study found that arms purchased in the United States account for at least 70 percent of the weapons used in the conflict). Rather than remaining as spectators of this horrific conflict—or worse, turning away our gaze—it is essential that we examine our own position within the flows of narcotics, weapons, and images fueling it. Attending to its historical echoes can better attune us to the national and transnational forces that forge public spheres profoundly marked by spectacles of violence.

Read the introduction to Public Spectacles of Violence free online, and save 30% on the paperback using coupon code E17NAVIT on our website.

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.

Puerto Rico: A U.S. Colony in a Postcolonial World?

ddrhr_128_coverThe most recent special issue of Radical History Review, “Puerto Rico: A U.S. Colony in a Postcolonial World?”, edited by Margaret Power and Andor Skotnes, is now available.

Puerto Rico has been a United States colony for close to 115 years, and it was a Spanish colony for nearly four centuries before that. From a variety of economic, political, and cultural angles, this collected volume explores the realities and legacies of colonial experiences and the complex relationships of present-day Puerto Rico to the United States, Latin America, and the world. It focuses on the long, multifaceted resistance of Puerto Rican people to this colonialism and postcolonialism, and how the history and legacy of colonialism is key to understanding Puerto Rico today.

Essays in this issue explore topics such as:

  • Puerto Rico’s economic crisis
  • women’s independence organizing in Puerto Rico
  • gendered representations of Puerto Ricans in the U.S. press from 1940-1950

Read the guest editors’ introduction to this special issue, made freely available through August 30, 2017.