Latin American Studies

Q&A with John Lindsay-Poland, Author of Plan Colombia

photoJohn Lindsay-Poland is Healing Justice Associate at the American Friends Service Committee. He is the author of numerous articles, reports, and books, including Emperors in the Jungle: The Hidden History of the U.S. in Panama and The Rise and Fall of “False Positive” Killings in Colombia and the Role of U.S. Military Assistance, 2000-2010. In his new book, Plan Colombia: U.S. Ally Atrocities and Community Activism, Lindsay-Poland draws upon his human rights activism and interviews with military officers, community members, and human rights defenders to describe grassroots initiatives in Colombia and the United States that resisted militarized policy and created alternatives to war.

What initially drew you to this project? How did the 2005 massacre in the San José de Apartadó Peace Community become the focus of your inquiry?

In the late 1990s, Colombia was experiencing 14 political murders a day, and Washington was ratcheting up its military involvement, which already had a long history, yet very few people in the United States were talking about it. When I visited San José de Apartadó in 2000, the war was all around them, they were determined to resist it, and I was moved by their commitment to each other—the “community” part of being a Peace Community. So the organization I worked for, Fellowship of Reconciliation, started a project to accompany the community to strengthen their security.

The massacre of two families, including three children, in 2005 during an Army-paramilitary operation, followed by the military’s cover-up, caused indignation among many people, and it deeply affected the community and our band of accompaniers. It was an example of how the U.S. narrative of fighting a war on drugs in Colombia was both untrue and wrong. And our presence in the community gave us an intimate and privileged view of that. The community’s and accompaniers’ versions of the atrocity had to be told.

How does human rights activism inform your approach to historical research and writing? In the same vein, how has historical inquiry influenced your activism?

My activist work led me first to seek out and hear the stories of people impacted by the policies of the United States, my country, then to meet with the policy-makers and military officers who are enacting these policies, and to do both of these over a long enough time that I began to see the patterns as well as the blind spots in the narratives, especially of people in government. So many of these folks believe that anything the United States does will have a positive effect, but don’t stick around to see their impact.

I also saw how valuable both testimony and quantitative data are for policy advocacy, and worked with human rights groups to assemble data in ways that could be used in policy discussions—for example, by identifying military units responsible for civilian killings in order to deny aid to them, under U.S. law.

Your book features striking testimony of victims of armed conflict. What tribute did you wish to pay to these figures?

I was moved by the determination of women and men in communities in the midst of war, such as the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, who denounced its violence and took an independent path. For many of them, “victim” was not a term of passivity.

If from the outside you perceive only violent actors, as is often portrayed in media accounts, then it’s easy to believe that the only way for outsiders to engage the conflict is to support the violent group that is least objectionable. But in Colombia—as elsewhere —communities resist displacement to farm their lands, organize local power to hold armed groups accountable, develop nonviolent guard cells, and resist war and injustice from their identities as feminist, labor, indigenous, Afro, youth, campesino, religious, and international communities. If people facing such overwhelming circumstances can create and resist, what can we—readers in our own circumstances—do in solidarity with these communities, and in our own communities that also face structural violence?

What resources does Plan Colombia provide for activist readers interested in creating peace in the region? How can readers get involved in peace activism in Colombia?

While much of Plan Colombia analyzes U.S. policy at the macro level and narrates the Peace Community, the massacre that took place there, and its aftermath, there is an important chapter on projects of life. One of the most important things readers can do is to visit Colombia, especially in human rights delegations like those organized by Witness for Peace and Global Youth Connect. Groups like Peace Brigades International, Colombia Support Network, and the Latin America Working Group also publish useful resources and actions people can take.

What do you see as the political and ethical consequences of your intervention?

International accompaniment of campesino communties in Colombia and elsewhere establishes a different relationship between those who’ve been harmed by empire and war, on one hand, and those who—like it or not—have benefitted from them. It places accompaniers in a role of support for people who’ve historically faced structural violence, while also using our position to reduce the risk of attack. This book grew from that relationship. Besides the precedent set by accompaniment, we worked to change U.S. policies from above that were wreaking havoc on many levels.

What contentious or controversial material can readers find in your book?

Although the normalization of war can make it seem ordinary, armed conflict is by its nature contentious, and what is accepted truth for some provokes anger and indignation in others. The book presents stories and analysis of the Colombian army’s “false positive” killings—murders of civilians later claimed as combat deaths. I also examined what role the United States played in both the forces that fed the “false positive” murders and the pressures that led to their decline as a systematic army practice. I think the evidence is strong, but it contradicts the dominant conclusion that Plan Colombia is a model that the United States should replicate in other conflicts.

What is the central lesson you want readers to take away from Plan Colombia?

Plan Colombia serves as a template for Washington’s military interventions all over the world, from Syria to the Philippines to Mexico, with few U.S. boots on the ground and a heavy investment in client military forces. U.S. intervention has become normalized in many forms, but its impacts on violence and on communities are rarely scrutinized. They should be.

How do you foresee U.S.-Colombian relations evolving in the coming decade?

The two countries remain strong military allies. U.S. military aid actually increased in the wake of the 2016 peace accord between the Colombian government and FARC guerrillas, supposedly to fill a vacuum created by guerrilla demobilization. The Trump administration is reigniting the drug war, and the land issues at the root of the conflict are also heating up, leading to more killings of social leaders. Unless people in the United States examine and prioritize the impacts on the ground of Plan Colombia, I am concerned that the cycle of hubris and violence will continue to repeat itself. The people-to-people relationships like those recounted in Plan Colombia will still be critical.

Read the introduction to Plan Colombia free online, and purchase the paperback for 30% off using coupon code E18PLAN.

New Books in November

November is a huge book release month! Check out all the great new titles coming out this month. Many of them will be making their debuts at the academic conferences that are happening this month. Be sure to stop by our booths at the American Studies Association, the National Women’s Studies Association, the African Studies Association, the American Academy of Religion, and the American Anthropological Association, where you can pick up these and other titles for only $20 each.

In My Butch Career, Esther Newton—a pioneer figure in gay and lesbian studies—tells the compelling and disarming story of her struggle to write, teach, and find love, all while coming to terms with her lesbian identity during one of the worst periods of homophobic persecution in the twentieth century.

978-1-4780-0129-4Collective Creative Actions, edited by Ryan Dennis, highlights the twenty-five-year history of Project Row Houses in Houston’s Third Ward by addressing the idea of social practice through its five pillars of art, education, social safety nets, architectural preservation, and sustainability.

In How Art Can Be Thought Allan deSouza examines the popular terminology through which art is discussed, valued, and taught, showing how pedagogical language and practices within art schools can adapt to a politicized and rapidly changing world, as well as to the demands of contemporary art within a global industry.978-1-4780-0047-1

More than fifty years after the publication of C. L. R. James’s classic Beyond a Boundary, the contributors to Marxism, Colonialism, and Cricketedited by David Featherstone, Christopher Gair, Christian Høgsbjerg, and Andrew Smith, investigate its production and reception and its implication for debates about sports, gender, aesthetics, race, popular culture, politics, imperialism, and Caribbean and English identity.

978-1-4780-0022-8.jpgFeaturing work spanning six decades, Robert Christgau’s Is It Still Good to Ya? sums up the career of legendary rock critic and longtime Village Voice stalwart Robert Christgau, whose album and concert reviews, essays, and reflections on his career tackle the whole of pop music, from Louis Armstrong to M.I.A..

In Best Practice, Kimberly Chong offers a rich ethnographic account of how a global management consultantcy translates and implements the logic of financialization in contemporary China.

Dai Jinhua’s After the Post–Cold War interrogates history, memory, and the future of China as a global economic power in relation to its Cold War past to show how the recent erasure of the country’s socialist history signifies socialism’s failure and forecloses the imagining of a future beyond that of globalized capitalism.

In After Ethnos, Tobias Rees proposes an understanding of anthropology as a philosophically and poetically oriented and fieldwork-based investigation into the human and human thought rather than a study of culture or society in which anthropology is synonymous with ethnography and fieldwork.978-1-4780-0035-8.jpg

In Unruly Visions, Gayatri Gopinath traces the interrelation of affect, aesthetics, and diaspora through an exploration of a wide range of contemporary queer visual cultural forms by South Asian, Middle Eastern, African, Australian, and Latinx artists such as Tracey Moffatt, Akram Zaatari, and Allan deSouza.

In None Like Us Stephen Best offers a bold reappraisal of the critical assumptions that undergird black studies’ use of the slave past as an explanatory prism for understanding the black political present, thereby opening the circuits between past and present and charting a queer future for black study.

In An Intimate Rebuke, an ethnography of female empowerment, Laura S. Grillo offers new perspectives on how elder West African women deploy an ancient ritual in which they dance naked and slap their genitals and bare breasts to protest abuses of state power, globalization, witchcraft, rape, and other social dangers.

978-1-4780-0291-8Drawing on numerous examples from popular culture, in Empowered Sarah Banet-Weiser examines the relationship between popular feminism and popular misogyny as it plays out in advertising, online and multi-media platforms, and nonprofit and commercial campaigns, showing how feminism is often met with a backlash of harassment, assault, and institutional neglect.

Aren Z. Aizura’s Mobile Subjects examines transgender narratives about traveling for gender reassignment from 1952 to the present, showing how transgender fantasies about reinvention and mobility are racialized as white and often rely on violent colonial global divisions.

Through global case studies that explore biometric identification, border control, forensics, militarized policing, and counterterrorism, the contributors to Bodies as Evidence, edited by Mark Maguire, Ursula Rao, and Nils Zurawskishow how bodies have become critical sources of evidence that is organized and deployed to classify, recognize, and manage human life.

978-1-4780-0153-9.jpgIn Plan Colombia John Lindsay-Poland examines a 2005 massacre in Colombia, its subsequent investigation, official cover-up, and the international community’s response to outline how the U.S. military’s support for the Colombian Army contributed to atrocities while shaping the United States’s dominant model of military intervention.

Melissa Gregg’s Counterproductive explores the obsession with using productivity as the primary measure of most workers’ sense of value and success in the workplace, showing how it isolates workers from each other while erasing their collective efforts to define work limits.

Drawing on indigenous social movements and politics, contributors to A World of Many Worlds, edited by Marisol de la Cadena and Mario Blaser, question Western epistemologies, theorize new forms of knowledge production, and critique the presumed divide between nature and culture—all in service of creating a pluriverse: a cosmos composed of many worlds partially connected through divergent political practices.

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New Books in October

It’s October and our fall publishing season is in full swing. Check out all the great books coming out this month.

The contributors to The Apartment Complex, edited by Pamela Robertson Wojcik, offer global perspectives on films from a diverse set of genres—from film noir and comedy to horror and musicals—that use apartment living to explore modern urbanism’s various forms and possibilities.

978-1-4780-0130-0In See It Feelingly Ralph James Savarese showcases the voices of autistic readers by sharing their unique insights into literature and their sensory experiences of the world, thereby challenging common claims that people with autism have a limited ability to understand language, to partake in imaginative play, and to generate the complex theory of mind necessary to appreciate literature.

In Channeling the State Naomi Schiller explores how community television in Venezuela created openings for the urban poor to embrace the state as a collective process with the potential for creating positive social change.

978-1-4780-0105-8.jpgJ. Lorand Matory’s The Fetish Revisited casts an Afro-Atlantic eye on European social theory to show how Marx’s and Freud’s conceptions of the fetish illuminate and misrepresent the nature of Africa’s gods while demonstrating that Afro-Atlantic gods have their own social logic that is no less rational than European social theories.

The contributors to the volume Digital Sound Studies, edited by Mary Caton Lingold, Darren Mueller, and Whitney Trettien, explore the transformative potential of digital sound studies to create rich, multisensory experiences within scholarship, building on the work of digital humanists to evaluate and historicize new technologies and forms of knowledge.

Domestication Gone Wild, a collection edited by Heather Anne Swanson, Marianne Elisabeth Lien, and Gro B. Ween, offers a revisionary exploration of domestication as a narrative, ideal, and practice that reveals how our relations with animals and plants are intertwined with the politics of human difference.

978-0-8223-7075-8.jpgIn Paradoxes of Hawaiian Sovereignty J. Kēhaulani Kauanui examines contradictions of indigeneity and self-determination in U.S. domestic policy and international law, showing how Hawaiian elites’ approaches to reforming land, gender, and sexual regulation in the early nineteenth century that paved the way for sovereign recognition of the kingdom complicate contemporary nationalist activism, which too often includes disavowing the indigeneity of indigenous Hawaiians.

James N. Green’s Exiles within Exiles is a biography of the Brazilian revolutionary and social activist Herbert Daniel, whose life and political commitment shaped contemporary debates about social justice, gay rights, and HIV/AIDS.

A Primer for Teaching Women, Gender, and Sexuality in World History, by Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks and Urmi Engineer Willoughby, is a guide for college and high school teachers who are teaching women, gender, and sexuality 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 the subject into their world history classes.

978-0-938989-42-4.jpgPop América, 1965-1975, edited by Esther Gabara, is a bilingual, fully illustrated catalogue that accompanies a traveling exhibition of the same name. Pop América, 1965-1975 presents a vision of Pop art across the Americas as a whole. The exhibition appears at the McNay Museum of Art in San Antonio from October 4, 2018 until January 13, 2019 and then moves to the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University from February 21 to July 21, 2019. It will finally be featured at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University from September 21 to December 8, 2019.

In the still-timely twentieth anniversary edition of Written in Stone—which includes a new preface and an extensive afterword—Sanford Levinson considers the debates and conflicts surrounding controversial monuments to public figures throughout the American South and the world.

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Bolivian Independence Day

Today is Bolivian Independence Day, and in honor of the occasion, we’re sharing some of our most significant scholarship on Bolivia.

978-0-8223-7152-6We’re pleased to announce the recent publication of The Bolivia Reader, which provides a panoramic view, from antiquity to the present, of the history, culture, and politics of a country known for its ethnic and regional diversity, its rich natural resources and dilemmas of economic development, and its political conflict and creativity. Featuring both classic and little-known texts ranging from fiction, memoir, and poetry to government documents, journalism, and political speeches, the volume challenges stereotypes of Bolivia as a backward nation while offering insights into the country’s history of mineral extraction, revolution, labor organizing, indigenous peoples’ movements, and much more.

978-0-8223-7108-3In Domesticating Democracy Susan Helen Ellison examines foreign-funded alternate dispute resolution (ADR) organizations that provide legal aid and conflict resolution to vulnerable citizens in El Alto, Bolivia. Ellison shows that these programs do more than just help residents cope with their interpersonal disputes and economic troubles—they also aim to change the ways Bolivians interact with the state and with global capitalism, making them into self-reliant citizens.

Many of Bolivia’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens work as vendors in the Cancha mega-market in the city of Cochabamba, where they must navigate systems of informality and illegality in order to survive. In Owners of the Sidewalk Daniel M. Goldstein examines the ways these systems correlate in the marginal spaces of the Latin American city, showing how the state’s deliberate neglect and criminalization of the Cancha’s poor—a practice common to neoliberal modern cities—makes the poor exploitable and consigns them to an insecure existence.

978-0-8223-6045-2Also by Daniel Goldstein, Outlawed reveals how indigenous residents of marginal neighborhoods in Cochabamba struggle to balance security with rights. Feeling abandoned to the crime and violence that grip their communities, they sometimes turn to vigilante practices, including lynching, to apprehend and punish suspected criminals. Goldstein describes those in this precarious position as “outlawed”: not protected from crime by the law but forced to comply with legal measures in other areas of their lives, their solutions to protection criminalized while their needs for security are ignored. Outlawed illuminates the complex interconnections between differing definitions of security and human rights at the local, national, and global levels.

978-0-8223-5617-2Earth Politics by Waskar Ari focuses on the lives of four indigenous activist-intellectuals in Bolivia, key leaders in the Alcaldes Mayores Particulares (AMP), a movement established to claim rights for indigenous education and reclaim indigenous lands from hacienda owners. Depicting the social worlds and life work of the activists, Ari traverses Bolivia’s political and social landscape from the 1920s into the early 1970s, revealing the AMP’s extensive geographic reach, genuine grassroots quality, and vibrant regional diversity.

Between 2000 and 2005, Bolivia was radically transformed by a series of popular indigenous uprisings against the country’s neoliberal and antidemocratic policies. In Rhythms of the Pachakuti, Raquel Gutiérrez Aguilar documents these mass collective actions, tracing the internal dynamics of such disruptions to consider how motivation and execution incite political change.

978-0-8223-4546-6During the mid-1990s, a bilingual intercultural education initiative was launched to promote the introduction of indigenous languages alongside Spanish in public elementary schools in Bolivia’s indigenous regions. Drawing on his collaborative work with indigenous organizations and bilingual-education activists as well as more traditional ethnographic research, Bret Gustafson, in New Languages of the State, traces two decades of indigenous resurgence and education politics in Bolivia, from the 1980s through the election of Evo Morales in 2005.

A Revolution for Our Rights by Laura Gotkowitz is a critical reassessment of the causes and significance of the Bolivian Revolution of 1952. Historians have tended to view the revolution as the result of class-based movements that accompanied the rise of peasant leagues, mineworker unions, and reformist political projects in the 1930s. Challenging conventional wisdom, Gotkowitz argues that the revolution had deeper roots in the indigenous struggles for land and justice that swept through Bolivia during the first half of the twentieth century.

978-0-8223-4154-3-frontcoverCombining anthropological methods and theories with political philosophy, in El Alto, Rebel City Sian Lazar analyzes everyday practices and experiences of citizenship in El Alto, Bolivia, where more than three-quarters of the population identify as indigenous Aymara. For several years, El Alto has been at the heart of resistance to neoliberal market reforms, such as the export of natural resources and the privatization of public water systems. Lazar examines the values, practices, and conflicts behind the astonishing political power exercised by El Alto citizens in the twenty-first century.

Unequal Cures by Ann Zulawski illuminates the connections between public health and political change in Bolivia from the beginning of the twentieth century, when the country was a political oligarchy, until the eve of the 1952 national revolution that ushered in universal suffrage, agrarian reform, and the nationalization of Bolivia’s tin mines. Zulawski examines both how the period’s major ideological and social transformations changed medical thinking and how ideas of public health figured in debates about what kind of country Bolivia should become.

New in August

The summer is almost over, but August brings lots of great books to read while you prepare for the new semester. Check out what’s coming this month!

978-1-4780-0004-4.jpgNow available for the first time in nearly forty years, James Baldwin’s only children’s book Little Man, Little Man follows the day to day life of the four year old protagonist TJ and his friends in their 1970s Harlem neighborhood as they encounter the social realities of being black in America. Highly praised in Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal, this exciting new edition is a must-buy for Baldwin fans.

In Decolonizing Extinction Juno Salazar Parreñas traces the ways in which colonialism and decolonization shape relations between humans and nonhumans at a Malaysian orangutan rehabilitation center, contending that considering rehabilitation from an orangutan perspective will shift conservation biology from ultimately violent investments in population growth and toward a feminist sense of welfare.978-1-4780-0015-0

Boaventura de Sousa Santos’s The End of the Cognitive Empire further develops his concept of the “epistemologies of the South,” in which he outlines a theoretical, methodological, and pedagogical framework for challenging the dominance of Eurocentric thought while showing how an embrace of the forms of knowledge of marginalized groups can lead to global justice.

Attending to the everyday lives of infrastructure across four continents, the contributors to The Promise of Infrastructure, edited by Nikhil Anand and Akhil Gupta, demonstrate how infrastructure such as roads, power lines, and water pipes offer a productive site for generating new ways to theorize time, politics, and promise.

978-1-4780-0006-8In The Blue Clerk award-winning poet Dionne Brand explores memory, language, culture, and the nature of writing through a series of haunting prose poems that contain dialogues between the figure of the poet and the Blue Clerk, who is tasked with managing the poet’s discarded attempts at writing.

Radhika Mongia’s Indian Migration and Empire outlines the colonial genealogy of the modern nation-state by tracing how the British Empire monopolized control over migration, showing how between its abolition of slavery in 1834 and World War One, the regulation of Indians moving throughout the Commonwealth linked migration with nationality and state sovereignty.

In Experimental Practice Dimitris Papadopoulos explores the potential for building new forms of political and social movements through the reconfiguration of the material conditions of existence.

Melissa Hackman’s Desire Work traces the experiences of Pentecostal “ex-gay” men in Cape Town, South Africa, as they attempted to cure their homosexuality, forge a heterosexual masculinity, and enter into heterosexual marriage through various forms emotional, bodily, and religious work.

In Double Negative Racquel J. Gates examines the potential of so-called negative representations of African Americans in film and TV, from Coming to America to Basketball Wives and Empire, showing how such representations can strategically pose questions about blackness, black culture, and American society in ways that more respectable ones cannot.

978-1-4780-0025-9.jpgIn her impassioned, analytical, playful, and irreverent book Laughing at the Devil, theologian Amy Laura Hall takes up Julian of Norwich’s call to laugh at the Devil as a means to transform a setting of dread and fear into the means to create hope, solidarity, and resistance.

The contributors to Ethnographies of U.S. Empire, edited by Carole McGranahan and John Collins, examine how people live in and with empire, presenting ethnographic scholarship from across U.S. imperial formations, from the Mohawk Nation, Korea, and the Philippines to Guantánamo and the hills of New Jersey.

In Across Oceans of Law Renisa Mawani charts the story of the Komagata Maru—a steamship that left Hong Kong for Vancouver in 1914 carrying 376 Punjabi immigrants who were denied entry into Canada—to illustrate imperialism’s racial, legal, spatial, and temporal dynamics and how oceans operate as sites of jurisdictional and colonial contest.

Micol Seigel’s Violence Work redefines policing as “violence work,” showing how it is shaped by its role of channeling state violence and how its status as a civilian institution obscures its ties to militarization.

The contributors to Constructing the Pluriverse, a volume edited by Bernd Reiter, explore how non-Western, pluriversal approaches to core questions in the social sciences and humanities can help to dramatically rethink the relationship between knowledge and power.

978-1-4780-0024-2.jpgStraight A’s features personal narratives of Asian American undergraduate students at Harvard University in which they reflect on their shared experiences with discrimination, stereotypes, immigrant communities, their relationship to their Asian heritage, and the difficulties that come with being expected to reach high levels of achievement. This timely new book edited by Christine Yano and Neal Adolph Akatsuka will help inform current debates about Asian American students in elite educational institutions.

In Migrants and City-Making Ayşe Çağlar and Nina Glick Schiller trace the lived experiences of migrants in three cities struggling to regain their former standing, showing how they live and work in their new cities in ways that require them to negotiate the unequal networks of power that connect their lives to regional, national, and global institutions.

In 1968 Mexico Susana Draper puts the events and aftermath of 1968 Mexico into a global picture and counters the dominant cultural narratives of 1968 by giving voice to the Mexican Marxist philosophers, political prisoners, and women who participated in the movement and inspired alternative forms of political participation.

Art and Theory of Post-1989 Central and Eastern Europe, the latest volume of MoMA’s Primary Documents edited by Ana Janevski, Roxana Marcoci, and Ksenia Nouril, reflects on the effects that communism’s disintegration across Central and Eastern Europe—including the Soviet Union’s fifteen republics—had on the art practices, criticism, and cultural production of the following decades.

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Megalomania

wpj_35_2_coverMegalomania,” a special issue of World Policy Journal edited by Jessica Loudis, is now available.

Contributors to this issue scrutinize dictators, titans of industry, and overambitious city planners, tracing how power pervades and takes the shape of the subject brandishing it. While the term megalomania was first used by nineteenth-century neurologists to detail a condition of grandiose delusions, it has more recently expanded to denote an insatiable desire for power, a tenuous relationship with reality, and a persecution complex. In this age of centralized power, one could contend that megalomaniacs determine the dominant forms of everything from the way cities are represented to daily eating habits. Contributors use the lens of megalomania and all of its repercussions to analyze contemporary global affairs. Article explore how Nazis stimulated the organic food movement, what caused the rise of Egypt’s military celebrities, and why a contentious populist might be Brazil’s next president.

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

Series Launch: On Decoloniality

We’re excited to announce the launch of a new book series, On Decoloniality, edited by Walter D. Mignolo and Catherine E. Walsh. Two books are available now, and we look forward to watching the series grow.

On Decoloniality interconnects a diverse array of perspectives from the lived experiences of coloniality and decolonial thought/praxis in different local histories from across the globe. The series identifies and examines decolonial engagements in Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, the Americas, South Asia, South Africa, and beyond from standpoints of feminisms, erotic sovereignty, Fanonian thought, post-Soviet analyses, global indigeneity, and ongoing efforts to delink, relink, and rebuild a radically distinct praxis of living. Aimed at a broad audience, from scholars, students, and artists to journalists, activists, and socially engaged intellectuals, On Decoloniality invites a wide range of participants to join one of the fastest growing debates in the humanities and social sciences that attends to the lived concerns of dignity, life, and the survival of the planet.

Cover of On Decoloniality by Walter D. Mignolo and Catherine E. WalshOn Decoloniality: Concepts, Analytics, Praxis, authored by the series editors, is the first book in the series. Mignolo and Walsh explore the hidden forces of the colonial matrix of power, its origination, transformation, and current presence, while asking the crucial questions of decoloniality’s how, what, why, with whom, and what for.

The second book, What Does It Mean to Be Post-Soviet? by Madina Tlostanova, traces how contemporary post-Soviet art mediates this human condition. Observing how the concept of the happy future—which was at the core of the project of Soviet modernity—has lapsed from the post-Soviet imagination, Tlostanova shows how the possible way out of such a sense of futurelessness lies in the engagement with activist art.

New Books in June

We wrap up our Spring 2018 season with some great books this month.

978-0-8223-7152-6.jpgFrom Andean antiquity and Spanish colonialism to the present, the latest addition to our Latin America Readers series, The Bolivia Reader provides a panoramic view of Bolivia’s history, culture, and politics through a wide ranging collection of sources, most of which appear here in English for the first time.

Derek P. McCormack’s Atmospheric Things analyzes artistic, political, and technological uses of the balloon to show how its properties and capacities are central to understanding how we sense, perceive, and modify meteorological and affective atmospheres as well as the force of the atmosphere in modern life.

978-0-8223-4968-6

First appearing in 1964, and long since out of print, Stuart Hall and Paddy Whannel’s landmark book The Popular Arts takes seriously the importance of studying popular culture, thereby opening up an almost unprecedented field of analysis of everything from film, pulp crime novels, and jazz to television and advertising. This edition also includes a new introduction by Richard Dyer, who contextualizes The Popular Arts within the history of cultural studies and outlines its impact and enduring legacy.

In What Does It Mean to Be Post-Soviet Madina Tlostanova traces how contemporary post-Soviet art mediates the post-Soviet human condition through analyses of art and through interviews with artists and writers, showing the important role that radical art plays in building new modes of thought and a decolonial future.

978-0-8223-6068-1

Featuring 270 full color images, Victorian Jamaica, edited by Tim Barringer and Wayne Modest, explores the extraordinary archive of visual representation and material objects to provide a comprehensive and pluralistic account of Jamaican society during Queen Victoria’s reign, thereby expanding our understanding of the wider history of the British Empire and Atlantic world during this period.

In Posthumous Images Chad Elias analyzes a generation of artists working in Lebanon who interrogate Lebanon’s civil war (1975–1990), showing how their appropriation and creation of images challenge divisive political discourse, give a voice to those silenced and forgotten, and provide the means to reimagine Lebanon’s future.

 

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Jason Borge’s Latin American Jazz Playlist

978-0-8223-6990-5Today we’re pleased to share a playlist and commentary by Jason Borge, author of the new book Tropical Riffs: Latin America and the Politics of Jazz. In the book, Borge traces how jazz helped forge modern identities and national imaginaries in Latin America during the mid-twentieth century. Borge is Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Texas, Austin.

Tropical Riffs is not meant to be a survey or formal analysis of Latin jazz or Latin American jazz per se. Rather, it is a cultural and intellectual history of jazz’s singular impact in the region from the 1920s until the 1980s, with a focus on Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, and Mexico. My book’s central aim is to explain why jazz—or what passed for jazz—resonated so deeply and for so long with such a wide range of Latin American fans, critics, intellectuals, and musicians. It is inevitable that Tropical Riffs would deal with individual artists and recordings, given the region’s prominent though somewhat misunderstood place in the complex transnational circuitry of jazz and 20th century popular music generally. The following playlist gives a sampling of the performers and performances that speak to the main issues covered in the book’s five chapters.

Chapter 1: La civilizada selva: Latin America and the Jazz Age

Adolfo Aviles Jazz Band, “Blue Skies” (Odeon Nacional, 1927)

Ovaldo Viana e Orquestra Romeu Silva, “O Teu Sapateado” (from the film O Jovem Tataravô, dir. Luiz de Barros, 1936)

Like many other Latin American orchestras of the time, the Adolfo Aviles Jazz Band was basically a multi-purpose dance band, adept at interpreting different musical styles to accompany different dances foxtrots and tangos. “Blue Skies” is a popular Tin Pan Alley tune of the 1920s recorded by, among others, Josephine Baker, a huge star in Latin America in the late 1920s. For many, Baker symbolized the Jazz Age not only in terms of her stylized nègre spectacle and performative derring-do but also by bringing a sense of cosmopolitan danger to local audiences. Baker’s fame only increased after she toured several South American cities in 1929. In “O Teu Sapateado,” Ovaldo Viana and the Orquestra Romeu Silva perform in front of a screen filled with images of Baker. Romeu, by the way, was quite familiar with both jazz and Baker, having played with Baker in the early 1930s as well as the clarinetist and soprano saxophonist Booker Pittman, who began his decades-long tenure in Brazil and Argentina as a part of Silva’s orchestra.

Chapter 2: Dark Pursuits: Argentina, Race, and Jazz

Oscar Alemán, “Blues del Adios” [Bye Bye Blues] (Odeon Argentina, 1942)

Gato Barbieri, from Jazz is Alive and Well in New York (documentary, 1973)

Astor Piazzolla with Conjunto Electrónico, “Libertango” (French television: Les rendez-vous du dimanche, March 20, 1977)

In the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, nowhere in Latin America did the passion for jazz rage stronger than in Argentina. Part of the same Parisian milieu as Silva and Baker in the 1930s, the Afro-Argentine guitarist Oscar Alemán was, after Django Reinhardt, probably the most prominent swing guitarist in Europe. Alemán was also a consummate showman and a highly adaptable singer who returned to Buenos Aires as a conquering, semi-authentic, jazz icon—which for most porteño critics and fans normally meant being Black and estadounidense. Gato Barbieri and Astor Piazzolla, like Alemán, achieved fame abroad while wrestling with charged and ambivalent conceptions of jazz (and tango) back home. Barbieri apprenticed as a free jazz player with Don Cherry, then reinvented himself in the late 1960s as a mestizo revolutionary drawing from an assortment of Andean, Brazilian, and other musical sources, as this clip from a French documentary shows. Piazzolla, meanwhile, focused on “swingifying” tango in stints in Europe, the US, and in Argentina. This recording of “Libertango” shows him in his short-lived fusion format, at a time when he was eager to update himself in ways that would resonate with international audiences in the 1970s and 1980s.

Chapter 3: The Anxiety of Americanization: Jazz, Samba, and Bossa Nova

Orquesta Típica Pixinguinha-Donga, “Gavião Calçudo” (Parlophone, 1929)

Carlos Lyra, “Influência do Jazz,” from Depois do Carnaval: O Sambalanço de Carlos Lyra (Philips, 1963)

Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz, “The Girl from Ipanema” (The Hollywood Palace, ABC TV, 1964)

The history of Brazilian popular music of the early to mid-20th century is haunted by the spectre of perceived cultural impurities, often considered synonymous with americanização [Americanization] and jazz in particular. Such fears first came to the fore in the late 1920s with the publication of a series of articles decrying the audible jazz influence of the Orquesta Típica Pixinguinha-Donga, particularly in the Parlophone recordings of the samba-maxixe “Gavião Calçudo” (included here) and Pixinguinha [Alfredo da Rocha Viana Jr.]’s famous composition “Carinhoso.” The anxiety of americanização simmered for several decades, coming to a boil again in the early 1960s with the rise of bossa nova. Tellingly, one of the movement’s early hits—Carlos Lyra’s “Influência do Jazz”—gave explicit if ambivalent expression to samba’s supposed contamination at the hands of jazz. By contrast, US jazz artists like Stan Getz were only too eager to capitalize on bossa’s jazz “problem,” often upstaging the bossanovistas in the process, as this television clip reveals.

Chapter 4: The Hazards of Hybridity: Afro-Cuban Jazz, Mambo, and Revolution

Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra, with Chano Pozo, “Manteca” (RCA Victor, 1947)

Pérez Prado and His Orchestra on The Spike Jones Show, May 1, 1954

Irakere, Live in Concert, March 23, 1979, Capitol Theatre (Passaic, NJ)

When Dizzy Gillespie and the Cuban-born percussionist Luciano “Chano” Pozo made music together shortly after the end of the Second World War, New York City became ground zero both for bebop and “Cubop,” or Afro-Cuban jazz. Most jazz critics and historians now generally acknowledge that the Gillespie-Machito-Pozo sessions (such as this recording of Pozo’s composition “Manteca”) signalled the birth of what today is known as Latin jazz. Meanwhile, another jazz-informed, circum-Caribbean hybrid was being born in the nightclubs of Havana and the soundstages of Mexico City. Epitomized (if not created) by the bandleader Dámaso Pérez Prado, mambo was often reduced to caricature in US film and television appearances of the 1950s. In the 1960s, while critics and industry insiders in the United States struggled to come to terms with Afro-Caribbean contributions to transnational popular music, Cuban revolutionary orthodoxy made “jazz” a bad word, in spite of the jazz-like music that continued to be performed on the island.  The jazz prohibition would be blown wide open in the 1970s with the rise of the Cuban jazz-fusion supergroup Irakere.

Chapter 5: Liberation, Disenchantment, and the Afterlives of Jazz

Bix Beiderbecke, “Jazz Me Blues” (Matrix, 1927), one of many jazz recordings mentioned in Rayuela (Hopscotch) by Julio Cortázar

Dave Brubeck, “Nostalgia de Mexico,” from Bravo! Brubeck! (Columbia, 1967)

Tino Contreras, “Santo,” from Misa en jazz (Musart, 1966)

Even after the international popularity of jazz went into slow decline beginning in the 1950s, the music, aggressively promoted abroad by the US State Department, continued to captivate Latin American audiences. This was especially true of writers and intellectuals like the Argentine Julio Cortázar, whose landmark novel Rayuela [Hopscotch, 1963] is chock-full of references to jazz and blues, from Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong to Bix Beiderbecke (included here) and Art Tatum. There were countless musical tributes and quotations as well. In 1966, the Mexican jazz drummer and composer Tino Contreras recorded “Santo,” an unusual homage to Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” and part of Contreras’s conceptually ambitious project, Misa en Jazz [Jazz Mass]. As if to return the favor, Brubeck, one of the main jazz ambassadors of the 1960s and 1970s (along with Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and others), recorded Bravo! Brubeck! live in Mexico in 1967.

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Hispanic American Historical Review Commemorates 100th Anniversary

ddhahr_98_2_coverHispanic American Historical Review (HAHR) observes its 100th anniversary in 2018 and has marked the occasion with a celebratory video highlighting the history and the future of the journal.

HAHR pioneered the study of Latin American history and culture in the United States and remains a widely respected journal in the field. Today, the journal publishes rigorous scholarship on every facet of Latin American history and culture across thematic, chronological, regional, and methodological specializations.

“It has become the flagship journal of the field, and I think that’s one of the reasons why the field of Latin American history is so much more dynamic than many others,” former HAHR coeditor Jocelyn Olcott states.

Founded in 1918 by University of California professor Charles E. Chapman and University of Illinois professor William S. Robertson, the journal’s first issue featured a letter from sitting President Woodrow Wilson. “I learn with a great deal of interest of the plans for an Ibero-American Historical Review and beg that you will express to all those interested my very sincere approval of the project,” Wilson wrote. “It is a most interesting one and ought to lead to very important results both for scholarship and for the increase of cordial feelings throughout the Americas.”

ddhahr_96_4Hispanic American Historical Review is the oldest journal that focuses on Latin America as a whole in the history field. It was one of the earliest journals dealing with any type of history other than United States history. It really is a pioneer. It has been the major point of reference for people in the field,” said former HAHR coeditor John D. French.

The journal fell into financial crisis in 1922 and ceased publication for four years, when Duke University Press offered a subsidy to support the journal. With publishing and institutional support, the journal has continued publication with Duke University Press since 1926.

HAHR has published over 400 issues and periodically publishes special features, such as forums and special issues. Topics include environmental history, science and medicine, drug history, reproduction, and slavery and race. Online content can be found at read.dukeupress.edu/hahr. The journal also features online resources at hahr-online.com and @HAHR21 on Twitter and @HispanicAmericanHistoricalReview on Facebook.

Since 2017, the HAHR editorial office is based at Pennsylvania State University under the direction of editors Martha Few, Zachary Morgan, Matthew Restall, and Amara Solari, and managing editor Sean Mannion.

“Though we have a long history, this is not a traditional or staid journal and we hope that we’ll have exciting, progressive, and participatory research coming out of the five years that it’s in our hands,” said current coeditor Zachary Morgan.

Commemorate the 100th anniversary of the journal with the video, “Celebrating 100 Years of the Hispanic American Historical Review.”