Medical Humanities

Personhood Is a Weapon by Eli Clare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Shed Walls, Don’t Build Them

Today’s guest post is by Emilia Sanabria, author of Plastic Bodies: Sex Hormones and Menstrual Suppression in Brazil.

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Mark Dixon, CC BY 2.0, flickr.com/photos/9602574@N02/31638096493

One set of signs from the Women’s March following Trump’s inauguration caught my attention. It read “Shed walls, don’t build them” over the drawing of a womb. Shedding walls, here, means menstruating (lest the point need to be spelled out).

The slogan is part of a move to normalize menstruation and put out into the public domain what continues to be a cultural taboo, something women are exhorted to conceal and manage, privately. In the wake of Trump’s outrageous sexist comments, his onslaught on sexual and reproductive rights, and the reintroduction of the global gag rule, millions of women took to the streets (again) to defend their right to dispose of their bodies, and to denounce the objectifying ways in which women’s bodies have been portrayed by the new president elect. Trump asserted that broadcaster Megyn Kelly, who steadfastly questioned him about his record of sexual harassment, had “Blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever,” which many took as a reference to the fact that she was irrational because she was menstruating. There followed a massive movement of women live-tweeting their periods to Trump using the hasthtag #PeriodIsNotAnInsult.

The invitation to “shed [uterine] walls” rather than build unaffordable, unbuildable and racist ones, speaks to a core issue I address in Plastic Bodies. The book explores the genesis, practice and discourse of “menstrual suppression”, which proposes that women’s monthly menstrual cycles are unnecessary: a useless waste of blood. Menstrual suppression involves the use of pharmaceutical sex hormones, from extended regime oral contraceptives (Seasonique™, Lybrel™) to hormonal injections (Depo-Provera™), implants (Implanon™) or intra-uterine devices (Mirena™). (Watch Giovana Chesler’s fabulous documentary Period: The End of Menstruation for a cinematographic analysis of the debate.) These methods are widespread in the Global South as part of the arsenal of birth control strategies. Brazil, where the ethnographic research for Plastic Bodies was carried out, has been a theatre of experimental hormonal practices for decades (yielding much of the data that legitimated menstrual suppression drugs for Western markets).

978-0-8223-6161-9In Plastic Bodies I trace the emergence of a (pharmaceutical industry-driven) discourse concerning the purported “unnaturalness” of regular menstruation. The menstrual suppression debate is founded on two claims. The first differentiates the menstrual bleeding pattern experienced by oral contraceptive pill users from “natural” menstruation and suggests that the former, because of its artificial nature, is superfluous. The second denaturalizes regular menstruation, arguing that this is a “new biological state”, since “in the past” or in “tribal” contexts women reached menarche later, had more children, and breastfed them longer than “modern” women do. Menstrual suppression is thus framed by its advocates as a means of returning the reproductive organs to their “original” (read: natural) state. This appeal to the distinction between nature and artifice carries, in Brazil, particular values as I detail in the book.

Menstrual activism of the kind associated with the slogan “Shed Walls” performs a particular kind of gendered politics. It questions the medicalization of women’s bodies and provides a feminist and anticapitalist reading of menstrual shame and the rationales driving the menstrual suppression and menstrual hygiene industries. However, menstrual activism positions itself ambiguously in relation to the “natural” female body.

Rather than side with or against the idea that menstruation (shedding walls) is a natural feature of women’s bodies, I suggest that the recognition of the body’s cyclical nature and the practice of using hormones to suppress menstruation construe the body as plastic. Plasticity refers both to the capacity to give and receive form. It points to a radical tension between biological contingency and technological possibility. What is at stake here is a question about the function of the uterus and the hormonal fluctuations of the menstrual cycle beyond reproduction. This indicates the extent to which the noncyclical (male) body remains an implicit norm. For, as my feminist colleagues are quick to note, sperm production in the absence of reproduction is never qualified as “unnecessary” or “wasteful,” let alone pathological.

When I wrote Plastic Bodies reproductive rights and gendered normativities continued to be acute in Brazil, but were perhaps felt less urgently at stake in the US or Western Europe. The momentous conservative backlash that marks 2017 reveals how fragile these hard-fought victories are and how ferociously they need to be defended. However, as I argue in Plastic Bodies, the distinction between nature/culture is not the place to ground our political response. Grounding a feminist resistance in women’s anatomy is risky and deeply problematic. It relies on an apolitical understanding of biology that is oftentimes blind to race, trans-, queer- and non-reproductive personhood. (As one African-American woman pointed out to a dear friend of mine when she saw the Women’s March pink pussy hats: “my pussy isn’t pink.”) In the leaked draft of a forthcoming executive order on religious freedom, marriage is upheld as the union of one man and one woman as referring to “an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy, physiology, or genetics.” In this context, perhaps the concept of plasticity can serve as a tool among the important repertoire of feminist responses that can trouble such neoconservative appeals to immutable biology.

To learn more about Plastic Bodies or order a copy, visit its webpage.

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

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

Background

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

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

Possible Paper Topics and Target Audience

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

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

Submission Guidelines

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

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

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

Background

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

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

Possible Paper Topics and Target Audience

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

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

Submission Guidelines

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

Recommended Reading on the Affordable Care Act from the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law

ddjhppl_41_1As the Affordable Care Act comes under scrutiny following the presidential election, we asked Eric M. Patashnik and the contributors of the Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law (JHPPL) to provide a list of recommended readings that approaches the policies, impact, and perceptions of the ACA from multiple perspectives. JHPPL has published case studies and articles regarding the ACA since 2010 and also publishes a section dedicated solely to the policy and politics of health care reform. The section provides information for practitioners, stakeholders, and academics involved in both national- and state-level health care reform legislation, regulation, implementation, and policy evaluation in the United States.

1. Media Messages and Perceptions of the Affordable Care Act during the Early Phase of Implementation 

Erika Franklin Fowler, Laura Baum, Colleen Barry, Jeff Niederdeppe, and Sarah E. Gollust
Vol. 42, No. 1, February 2017

2. Why States Expand Medicaid: Party, Resources, and History

Lawrence R. Jacobs and Timothy Callaghan
Vol. 38, No. 5, October 2013

3. You Can’t Make Me Do It, but I Could Be Persuaded: A Federalism Perspective on the Affordable Care Act

Simon F. Haeder and David L. Weimer
Vol. 40, No. 2, April 2015

4. What Health Care Reform Means for Immigrants: Comparing the Affordable Care Act and Massachusetts Health Reforms

Tiffany D. Joseph
Vol. 41, No. 1, February 2016

5. Business Associations, Conservative Networks, and the Ongoing Republican War over Medicaid Expansion

Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Theda Skocpol, and Daniel Lynch
Vol. 41, No. 2, April 2016

6. Implementing the Affordable Care Act: The Promise and Limits of Health Care Reform

Jonathan Oberlander
Vol. 41, No. 4, August 2016

7. Partisanship, Dysfunction, and Racial Fears: The New Normal in Health Care Policy?

James A. Morone
Vol. 41, No. 4, August 2016

New Books in April

We have so many great books coming out in April. Want to be sure never to miss a new book? Sign up for Subject Matters emails to hear when these, and other new books, are released.

BioinsecuritiesIn Bioinsecurities Neel Ahuja shows how twentieth-century U.S. imperial expansion was dependent on controlling the spread of disease through the transformation of humans, animals, bacteria, and viruses into living theaters of warfare and securitization.

In Tropical Renditions Christine Bacareza Balance examines how the performance and reception of post-World War II Filipino and Filipino American popular music provide crucial tools for composing Filipino identity, publics, and politics as well as challenge dominant racial stereotypes.

Volume XIII of The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers covers the period between August 1921 and August 1922. During this particularly tumultuous time, Garvey suffered legal, political, and financial trouble, while the UNIA struggled to grow throughout the Caribbean.

travel & seeIn Plastic Bodies Emilia Sanabria examines how women’s use of sex hormones in Bahia, Brazil for menstrual suppression shapes social relations, having become central to contemporary understandings of the body, class, gender, sex, personhood, modernity, and Brazilian national identity.

Kobena Mercer’s Travel & See covers the period from 1992 to 2012,  using a diasporic model of criticism to analyze the cross-cultural aesthetic practice of African American and black British artists and to show how their refiguring of visual representations of blackness transform perceptions of race.
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In Metabolic Living Harris Solomon studies obesity and
diabetes in Mumbai, India, presenting a new narrative of metabolic illness in which it is less about the overconsumption of food than it is about the body’s relationship to its environment and the substances it absorbs.

Gloria Wekker’s White Innocence explores a central paradox of Dutch life—the passionate denial of racial discrimination and colonial violence coexisting alongside aggressive racism and xenophobia—to show how the narrative of Dutch racial exceptionalism elides the Netherland’s colonial past and safeguards white privilege.
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Winner of the 2011 Thomas E. Skidmore Prize, this new translation of Paulo Fontes’s Migration and the Making of Industrial São Paulo is a detailed social history of the millions who migrated from Brazil’s Northeast to São Paulo.

A major intervention into Indian historiography, Dalit Studies recovers the long history of Dalit struggles against caste violence, exclusion, and discrimination by focusing on the importance of humiliation, dignity, and spatial exclusion to Dalit emancipatory politics.

First published in Portuguese in 2006, Walter Fraga’s Crossroads of Freedom brings readers into the world of the last generation of enslaved men, women, and children who toiled in Bahia’s sugar plantations and later struggled to make lives for themselves following Brazil’s abolition of slavery in 1888.

the voice and its doublesIn The Voice and its Doubles Daniel Fisher explores the production of Aboriginal Australian audio media, showing how the mediatization of the Aboriginal voice provides the means to representing and linking Indigenous communities, maintaining distinct linguistic and cultural traditions, and gaining access to Australian political life.

Susan Bibler Coutin’s Exiled Home recounts the experiences of Salvadoran children who migrated with their families to the United States during the 1980-1992 civil war, examining how they sought to understand and overcome the trauma of war and displacement.

undoing.jpgIn Undoing Monogamy Angela Willey analyzes the contemporary science of monogamy, demanding a critical reorientation toward the understanding of monogamy and non-monogamy in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

Building on the possibilities opened up by Ethnic Studies, this volume promotes open dialogue, discussion, and debate regarding Critical Ethnic Studies‘ expansive, politically complex, and intellectually rich concerns on topics ranging from multiculturalism and the neoliberal university to the militarized security state.

 

Article Published in Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law Addresses Informed Consent

A recent study published in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, “Informed or Misinformed Consent? Abortion Policy in the United States,” by Cynthia R. Daniels, Janna Ferguson, Grace Howard, and Amanda Roberti, found that women considering abortions receive medically inaccurate information nearly one third of the time in states that require doctors to provide informed consent materials to their patients.

Since 2010, the United States has witnessed a dramatic expansion of state-based restrictions on abortion. The most common of these are informed consent statutes, which require that a woman seeking an abortion receive a state-authored informational packet before the abortion procedure can be performed.

The Rutgers study team defined medical accuracy as information that was both “truthful and nonmisleading,” constitutional standards set by the U.S. Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania et al. v. Robert P. Casey et al. in 1992. “Our findings suggest these laws may produce ‘misinformed consent’ and may require the court to rethink the constitutionality of abortion-related informed consent laws as a whole,” Cynthia Daniels, lead author and head of the Informed Consent Project, concluded.

Read the article here. For more information, contact Cynthia Daniels.

New Books in March

It is already March and Spring is on its way, but even more exciting are the new books coming out this month. And we have plenty of them!

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Diana Taylor’s Performance explores the multiple and overlapping meanings of performance, showing how it can convey everything from artistic, economic, and sexual performance, to providing ways of understanding how race, gender, identity, and power are performed.

In Indian Given María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo provides a sweeping historical and comparative analysis of racial ideologies in Mexico and the United States from 1550 to the present to show how indigenous peoples provided the condition of possibility for the emergence of each nation.

In The Official World Mark Seltzer analyzes the suspense fiction, films, and performance art of Patricia Highsmith, Tom McCarthy, Cormac McCarthy, J.G. Ballard, Karl Ove Knausgaard, and others to demonstrate that the modern world continuously establishes itself through the staging of its own conditions.feminist bookstore

Kristen Hogan traces The Feminist Bookstore Movement‘s rise and fall, showing how the women at the heart of the movement developed theories and practices of lesbian antiracism and feminist accountability that continue to resonate today.

Drawing on an eclectic range of texts and figures, from the Greek Cynics to Tori Amos, Nick Salvato’s Obstruction finds that embarrassment, laziness, slowness, cynicism, and digressiveness can paradoxically enable alternative modes of intellectual production.

A celebratory new edition to Jane Lazarre’s Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness, in which she, a white Jewish mother, describes her experience being married to an African American man and raising two sons as she learns, from family experience, teaching, and her studies, about the realities of racism in America.

In Cold War Anthropology, David H. Price offers a provocative account of the profound influence that the American security state has had on the field of anthropology since the Second World War by mapping  out the intricate connections between academia and the intelligence community.

diaspora and trustIn Memorializing Pearl Harbor Geoffrey M. White examines the challenge of representing history at the site of the attack that brought America into World War II, showing that the memorial to the Pearl Harbor bombing is a site in which many histories are continually performed, validated, and challenged.

In Diaspora and Trust Adrian H. Hearn proposes a new paradigm for economic development in Mexico and Cuba that is predicated on the development of trust among the state, society, and each nation’s resident Chinese diaspora communities, lest they get left behind in the twenty-first century economy.

In Sexual States Jyoti Puri uses the example of the recent efforts to decriminalize homosexuality in India to show how the regulation of sexuality is fundamentally tied to the creation and enduring existence of the Indian state.

the geographiesAntoinette Burton’s Africa in the Indian Imagination challenges nostalgic narratives of the Afro-Asian solidarity that emerged from the 1955 Bandung conference by showing how postcolonial Indian identity was based on the subordination of Africans and blackness.

In The Geographies of Social Movements Ulrich Oslender examines the activism of black communities in the lowland rain forest of Colombia’s Pacific coast to show how the mutually constituting relationships between residents and their environment informs the political process.

In Domesticating Organ Transplant Megan Crowley-Matoka examines the iconic power of kidney transplantation in Mexico, where the procedure is inexorably linked to the imaginings of individual and national identity, national pride, and the role of women in creating the Mexican state.

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In The Sublime Perversion of Capital Gavin Walker examines the Japanese debate about capitalism between the 1920s and 1950s, using it as a “prehistory” to consider current problems of uneven economic development and contemporary topics in Marxist theory and historiography.

In Motherless Tongues Vicente L. Rafael examines the vexed relationship between language and history as seen through the work of translation in the context of empire, revolution, and academic scholarship in the Philippines, the United States, and beyond.

In Tourist Distractions Youngmin Choe uses Korean hallyu cinema as a lens to examine the importance of tourist films and film tourism in creating transnational bonds throughout East Asia and how they help Korea negotiate its twentieth-century history with the neoliberal present.

Ricardo D. Salvatore’s Disciplinary Conquest rewrites the history of Latin American studies by tracing its roots back to the first half of the twentieth century, showing how its ties to U.S. business and foreign policy interests helped build an informal empire that supported U.S. economic, technological, and cultural hegemony throughout the hemisphere.

 

New Books in February

It seemed like January zoomed right by us, and now February is already here! Which of course means it’s time to take a look at the new books to watch out for this month.

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The contributors to Metrics, edited by Vincanne Adams, use ethnographic evidence from around the globe to evaluate the accomplishments, limits, and the consequences of applying metrics to global health. Now the standard in measuring global health program success, metrics has far implications that extend beyond patients to the political and financial realms.

In The Brain’s Body Victoria Pitts-Taylor applies feminist and critical theory to recent developments in neuroscience and new materialist social thought to demonstrate how the brain interacts with and is impacted by power, social structures, and inequality.

Day cover image, 6093-3In Alien Capital Iyko Day retheorizes the history and logic of settler colonialism by examining its intersection with Asian racialization and capitalism, showing how the conflation of Asian immigrants to Canada and the United states with the abstract dimensions of capital became settler colonialism’s defining feature.

Lesley Gill traces the rise and fall of the strong labor unions and working class of Barrancabermeja, Colombia in A Century of Violence in a Red City, showing how the incursion of neoliberalism, the drug trade, and counterinsurgency military campaigns into civil society that began in the 1980s has destabilized everyday life and decimated the city’s powerful social institutions.

Published in China in 2010 and appearing here in English for the first time, Revolution and its Narratives, by Cai Xiang and edited by Rebecca E. Karl and Xueping Zhong, is a historical, literary, and critical account of the cultural production of the narratives of China’s socialist revolution that illuminates the complexity of socialist art, culture, and politics.

Pierce cover image, 6091-9In Moral Economies of Corruption Steven Pierce provides a cultural history of the last 150 years of corruption in Nigeria as a case study for considering corruption’s dynamic nature, finding it to be a culturally contingent set of political discourses and historically embedded practices.

Placing the body at the center of critical improvisation studies, the contributors to Negotiated Moments, edited by Gillian Siddall and Ellen Waterman, explore the challenges of negotiating subjectivity through improvisation in various forms—from jazz, Japanese taiko drumming, and Iranian classical music to sound walking and political street theater.

Coles cover image, 6064-3In Visionary Pragmatism, Romand Coles’s new mode of scholarship and political practice called “visionary pragmatism” blends theory with practice in the generation of new transformative responses to contemporary political and ecological crises.

Indonesian Notebook, edited by Brian Russell Roberts and Keith Foulcher, contains myriad documents by Indonesian writers, intellectuals, and reporters that provide the largely absent Indonesian perspectives of the 1955 Bandung Conference and of Richard Wright’s activities there, adding new depths to the understandings of the conference. It also includes a newly discovered lecture by Wright.

New Books in July

It’s July, and the full, sticky heat of summer is here. What better time to find a cool corner and curl up with a new book?

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This month, we’re delighted to bring three books from now-closed South End Press back into print.  Dean Spade’s book, Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law, is a newly revised and expanded edition of the book. Setting forth a politic that goes beyond the quest for the legal inclusion of trans populations, this revised and expanded edition is an urgent call for justice and trans liberation, and the radical transformations it will require. In Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation, over the course of several personal essays, genderqueer activist/writer Eli Clare weaves together memoir, history, and political thinking to explore meanings and experiences of home, all the while providing an intersectional framework for understanding how we actually experience the daily hydraulics of oppression, power, and resistance. In the mesmerizing political memoir Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid, Frank Wilderson III recollects his turbulent life as an expatriate in South Africa during the furious last gasps of apartheid, where he taught at universities by day, and helped the ANC coordinate clandestine propaganda and launch psychological warfare by night.

Suchland cover image, 5961-6Also on the roster this month is Jennifer Suchland’s Economies of Violence: Transnational Feminism, Postsocialism, and the Politics of Sex Trafficking, in which the author argues that human trafficking should be understood as symptomatic of complex economic and social dynamics rather than as a criminal activity, and that treating trafficking as a crime and by focusing on victims is insufficient to combatting it.

Inhorn cover image, 5933-3Marcia C. Inhorn’s Cosmopolitan Conceptions: IVF Sojourns in Global Dubai, an ethnography of international travelers seeking in vitro fertilization treatment in the global IVF hub of Dubai shows that infertile couples, or “reprotravelers,” leave their countries because IVF treatment is not safe, affordable, legal or effective. Inhorn opens a window into the painful, frustrating, and expensive world of infertility.

Cox cover image, 5931-9Shapeshifters: Black Girls and the Choreography of Citizenship, by Aimee Meredith Cox, is ethnography of the Fresh Start homeless shelter in Detroit, Aimee Meredith Cox shows how the shelter’s residents—young black women whose average age is twenty—critique their social marginalization and find creative ways to exercise their agency.