Sociology

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

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

ddrhr_126In bringing together a geographically and temporally broad range of interdisciplinary historical scholarship, “Reconsidering Gender, Violence, and the State,” a special issue of Radical History Review, offers an expansive examination of gender, violence, and the state. Through analyses of New York penitentiaries, anarchists in early twentieth-century Japan, and militarism in the 1990s, contributors reconsider how historical conceptions of masculinity and femininity inform the persistence of and punishments for gendered violence. The contributors to a section on violence and activism challenge the efficacy of state solutions to gendered violence in a contemporary US context, highlighting alternatives posited by radical feminist and queer activists. In five case studies drawn from South Africa, India, Ireland, East Asia, and Nigeria, contributors analyze the archive’s role in shaping current attitudes toward gender, violence, and the state, as well as its lasting imprint on future quests for restitution or reconciliation. This issue also features a visual essay on the “false positives” killings in Colombia and an exploration of Zanale Muholi’s postapartheid activist photographyRead the introduction, made freely available.

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

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

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

From the preface by feminist scholar Cynthia Enloe:

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

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

 

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.

Translating Transgender

ddtsq_3_3_4The most recent issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, “Translating Transgender,” edited by David Gramling and Aniruddha Dutta, calls for a multilingual and translational critique of discourses of transgender studies. Few primary and secondary texts about transgender lives and ideas have been translated from language to language in any formal way over the centuries. Meanwhile, transgender, gender variant, and gender non-confirming people have often been exiles, translators, language mediators, and multilinguals in greater numbers and intensities historically than their cisgender counterparts have. This kind of positionality among languages has become a generative, yet often precarious aspect of trans* embodiment. Nonetheless, the discourses of transgender studies continue to be more Anglophone, more monolingual, and less translated than they historically ought to be, given how the subjects that produced those discourses have often been prototypes of transnational and translingual border-crossing.

Susan Stryker and Paisley Currah, editors of TSQ, state in their General Editor’s Introduction: “It feels vital at this early phase of its institutionalization to facilitate transgender studies’ becoming as multilingual, multidirectional, linguistically centrifugal, and untranslatable as methodologically possible… We see this issue of TSQ as a many-voiced wager on what promises to be a rich, ongoing conversation in years to come, and we look forward in anticipation to whatever future contributions this journal can make to that dialogue.”

From the introduction by special issue editors David Gramling and Aniruddha Dutta:

As editors, it brings us more than a little delight that the articles we present here far outshine—in their political imagination, analytical precision, and methodological ambition—the hopes expressed in the original call for papers. The contributors include literary translators (Nathanaël, Rose, BaerLarkosh), anthropologists (Jarrín, Pons Rabasa), a musicologist (Roy), a political scientist (Josephson), a classicist (Gabriel), a modern linguist (Leino), a film scholar (Leung), literary comparatists (Concilio, Heinrich, Larkosh), a sociologist (Einarsdóttir), poets and fiction writers (Nathanaël, Dowd), a religious studies scholar (Strassfeld), and translation studies specialists (Baer, Almarri). These critics and writers draw on the demands of their particular research contexts to nourish a sensibility around translation that is vernacular, emergent, and problem oriented, rather than prescriptive and monodisciplinary. They have thus offered an unwieldy, asymmetrical, and mutually interrogative constellation of approaches, such that one contribution’s core categories of analysis find profound and contradictory echoes in the next. To take just one instance, while Unni Leino, writing from the Scandinavian context, contends that the ways the Finnish language divides the conceptual domains of sex, sexuality, and gender “make a difference in fighting the sexualization of trans people,” Alvaro Jarrín’s critical analysis of travesti access to public health care in Brazil is in contrast primarily oriented around fighting precisely the nonmedicalization of travestis in that context. Divergent linguistic orders that constrain local and transregional modes of “thinking for speaking” (Slobin 1996) thus play a complex structuring role in the putatively extralinguistic social and symbolic positions available to speakers. These two juxtaposed analyses—Leino and Jarrín—clarify why and how (trans) gender discourses mean in structurally distinct ways in one linguaculture versus another, thus placing the broader justice claims pertinent to each in critical relief.

Read the full introduction, made freely available.

The Singular “They” and Trans* Studies

They used as a “gender-neutral singular pronoun for a known person” was chosen as the Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society in January 2016. The so-called singular they has been used for centuries to replace he or she when referring back to a generic antecedent, although this makes some copy editors and grammar aficionados cringe. (Did you see this row between Merriam-Webster dictionary Twitter account and Andy Smarick? It all started with this tweet.) What’s new and was recognized by the society is the emerging use of they as a pronoun to refer to a specific known person, often as a conscious choice by someone rejecting the traditional gender binary of he and she.

Ben Zimmer, chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society, explains: “In the past year, new expressions of gender identity have generated a deal of discussion. . . . While many novel gender-neutral pronouns have been proposed, they has the advantage of already being part of the language.”

ddasp_91_1In “Singular They: An Empirical Study of the Generic Pronoun Use,” published in American Speech volume 91, issue 1, author Darren K. LaScotte presents a study that explores which pronouns native English speakers use when writing about a hypothetical person of unspecified gender. LaScotte discovered the majority of participants use singular they when referring to the indefinite, singular, genderless antecedent “the ideal student.” In an optional write-in section of the study, participants were asked why they chose the singular they. Responses included mentions that they acknowledges those that fall outside of the gender binary.

These responses in LaScotte’s study highlight the relationship between the singular they and trans* studies. In TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly’s recent special issue “Trans*formational Pedagogies” (volume 2, issue 3), two articles delve into the use of pronouns and the trans* community.

ddtsq_2_3In “Trans* Disruptions: Pedagogical Practices and Pronoun Recognition,” Tre Wentling asks, “With the increasing number of trans* people who queer the gender binary, how does language affirm or deny their personhood?” In Wentling’s study, the results demonstrate that trans* students who identify as genderqueer tended to use gender-neutral and third-person pronouns. However, educators were less affirming when it came to gender-neutral pronoun recognition. “Accurate pronoun recognition supports trans* students’ identity development and honors their personhood,” Wentling says.

Susan W. Woolley’s “‘Boys Over Here, Girls Over There’: A Critical Literacy of Binary Gender in Schools” examines the ways teachers and students enact, respond to, and subvert practices that articulate and distinguish categories of boys and girls with three years of ethnographic research in an urban public high school. From the abstract:

Dividing students according to their socially recognized sex or gender reinforces the perceived stability of binary male/female sex and binary masculine/feminine gender categories while also exceptionalizing transgender identities. Students and teachers who challenge such practices engage in critical literacy readings of school spaces and of the mundane ways binary gender and sex are read onto bodies. Critical literacy provides a method through which students and teachers may engage in reflection and critical practice to raise awareness and challenge everyday practices in schools that construct boys and girls as stable, discrete categories.

For those who embrace, or are ready to embrace, the singular they, there’s a website for you: iheartsingularthey.com.

Everyday Intimacies of the Middle East

ddmew_12_2Everyday Intimacies of the Middle East,” the most recent issue of the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, provides an area-studies perspective on intimacy and explores the analytic, theoretical, and political work that intimacy promises as a concept. The contributors explore how multiple domains and forms of intimacies are defined and transformed across the cultural and social worlds of the Middle East, looking in particular at Egypt, Turkey, and Israel. Focusing on everyday constructions of intimacies, the contributors engage with questions about how we should calibrate the evolving nature of intimacy in times of rapid transition, what intimacy means for individual and social lives, and what social, political, and economic possibilities intimacy creates.

Each article in “Everyday Intimacies of the Middle East” presents a context-specific discussion of how legal, economic, and political regulations and practices promote a social environment in which certain intimacies are stigmatized, sanctioned, or dissolved while others are encouraged. Topics include physical exercise, Turkish beauty salons, transnational surrogacy arrangements, gender reassignment, and coffee shops as intimate spaces for men outside the family.

Read the introduction, made freely available.

In Celebration of Nelson Mandela International Day

ddbou_41_2_coverToday, July 18th, is Nelson Mandela International Day, designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2009. To celebrate, read about Mandela and his influence in a 2014 dossier in boundary2. “Intervention/Mandela’s Reflections” features responses to Mandela as a political figure from contributors around the globe and from different generations.

From Anthony Bogues’s preface to the section:

Very few political figures in the late twentieth century evoked hope in the way that Nelson Mandela did… The personal and political vignettes represented in this dossier are a very modest attempt to think about the man and his time. They range from poetry to explicit political reflections on this figure. The collection ends with a poignant piece from a young person who, told about our efforts, was moved to write and send us her pages. While this dossier does not cover everything, two things are clear. First, that Mandela was an iconic figure in the world. We are aware how power re-creates and attempts to absorb such figures, gutting them of their radical meaning. This has happened, and continues to happen, with Mandela. But, second, in our contemporary moment, current struggles are still deeply linked to the struggle for which he spent twenty-odd years in prison—the struggle to be treated with dignity and equality as a human being. It is the latter which will shape the complex legacy he left behind.

Read the entire dossier, made freely available.

For the Liberation of a Pluralist Thinking: An Interview with Roland Barthes

Cultural Politics 11:3The most recent issue of Cultural Politics (volume 11 and issue 3) features an interview with cultural theorist Roland Barthes that has never before been published in English. Barthes’ 1972 interview with Japanese academic Shigehiko Hasumi includes discussions of Le Plaisir du texte (1973), and of a restlessness that kept Barthes moving from one critical language to another, “as soon as meanings have solidified and acquired the status of stereotype,” translator Chris Turner writes.

Read the full interview with Roland Barthes, made freely available.

For further scholarship on Barthes, read “In Saecula Saeculorum: On How Stories End,” by Christian Thorne in “Inevitability,” a special issue of Modern Language Quarterly (volume 76 and issue 2). The article examines Barthes’s S/Z (1970), which was published after his initial trips to Japan and before he participated in the interview with Shigehiko Hasumi.

Black Fashion

Nka_37_00_CoverIn the most recent issue of Nka entitled “Black fashion: Art. Pleasure. Politics.,” special issue editor Noliwe Rooks argues that black fashion is a key, though underexplored, facet of black history, culture, and identity in the African diaspora. Contributors to the issue include academics, artists, journalists and writers, and a filmmaker. From the introduction: “While it is not an encyclopedic compilation of thinking about race, art, politics, or fashion, each contribution functions as an individual lens, so to speak, capturing crucial snapshots of particular moments, figures, and events that are central to understanding the whole. Taken together, the texts in this volume explore various definitions and meanings of black fashion as a launching point for thinking about race, gender, politics, power, and class.”

Included in this issue are articles on topics such as Josephine Baker and skin fashion, a conversation with Anthony Barboza and Bill Gaskins, Janelle Monáe and fashion as art, fashion and black masculinity, the “afro look,” and #TeamNatural, examining the relationship between black hair and community in digital media. Read the introduction, made freely available, and browse the table-of-contents to learn more about this special issue of Nka.

Lewis cover image, 5934-0If you are looking for further reading that explores the intersection of fashion with race, politics, and class, consider Muslim Fashion: Contemporary Style Cultures by Reina Lewis. In the shops of London’s Oxford Street, girls wear patterned scarves over their hair as they cluster around makeup counters. Alongside them, hip twenty-somethings style their head-wraps in high black topknots to match their black boot-cut trousers. Participating in the world of popular mainstream fashion—often thought to be the domain of the West—these young Muslim women are part of an emergent cross-faith transnational youth subculture of modest fashion. In treating hijab and other forms of modest clothing as fashion, Reina Lewis counters the overuse of images of veiled women as “evidence” in the prevalent suggestion that Muslims and Islam are incompatible with Western modernity. Muslim Fashion contextualizes modest wardrobe styling within Islamic and global consumer cultures, interviewing key players including designers, bloggers, shoppers, store clerks, and shop owners. Focusing on Britain, North America, and Turkey, Lewis provides insights into the ways young Muslim women use multiple fashion systems to negotiate religion, identity, and ethnicity.

Pham cover image, 6030-8In Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet: Race, Gender, and the Work of Personal Style Blogging the first ever book devoted to a critical investigation of the personal style blogosphere, Minh-Ha T. Pham examines the phenomenal rise of elite Asian bloggers who have made a career of posting photographs of themselves wearing clothes on the Internet. Pham understands their online activities as “taste work” practices that generate myriad forms of capital for superbloggers and the brands they feature. A multifaceted and detailed analysis, Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet addresses questions concerning the status and meaning of “Asian taste” in the early twenty-first century, the kinds of cultural and economic work Asian tastes do, and the fashion public and industry’s appetite for certain kinds of racialized eliteness. Situating blogging within the historical context of gendered and racialized fashion work while being attentive to the broader cultural, technological, and economic shifts in global consumer capitalism, Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet has profound implications for understanding the changing and enduring dynamics of race, gender, and class in shaping some of the most popular work practices and spaces of the digital fashion media economy.

978-0-8223-4603-6Monica L. Miller’s Slaves to Fashion: Black Dandyism and the Styling of Black Diasporic Identity is a pioneering cultural history of the black dandy, from his emergence in Enlightenment England to his contemporary incarnations in the cosmopolitan art worlds of London and New York. It is populated by sartorial impresarios such as Julius Soubise, a freed slave who sometimes wore diamond-buckled, red-heeled shoes as he circulated through the social scene of eighteenth-century London, and Yinka Shonibare, a prominent Afro-British artist who not only styles himself as a fop but also creates ironic commentaries on black dandyism in his work. Interpreting performances and representations of black dandyism in particular cultural settings and literary and visual texts, Monica L. Miller emphasizes the importance of sartorial style to black identity formation in the Atlantic diaspora.

Crowston cover image, 5528-1Continuing in this historical vein, Credit, Fashion, Sex: Economies of Regard in Old Regime France by Clare Haru Crowston examines the concept of credit and fashion in Old Regime France. At that time in France, credit was both a central part of economic exchange and a crucial concept for explaining dynamics of influence and power in all spheres of life. Contemporaries used the term credit to describe reputation and the currency it provided in court politics, literary production, religion, and commerce. Moving beyond Pierre Bourdieu’s theorization of capital, this book establishes credit as a key matrix through which French men and women perceived their world. As Crowston demonstrates, credit unveils the personal character of market transactions, the unequal yet reciprocal ties binding society, and the hidden mechanisms of political power.

In the Archives

Several recent books and journal issues from Duke University Press have addressed the topic of archives. Learn more about archives through the lenses of transgender studies, queer studies, pedagogy, photography, and more.

ddtsq_2_4In the most recent issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, titled “Archives and Archiving” (volume 2, issue 4), contributors investigate practical and theoretical dimensions of archiving transgender phenomena and ask what constitutes “trans* archives” or “trans* archival practices.” The humanization of the archival craft is particularly compelling for transgender-related archives and archiving. As attention to transgender phenomena continues to increase, the need for thoughtfully conceived and ethically executed trans archival practices becomes all the more pressing. Yet the very basis of this undertaking relies on a daunting definitional and epistemological challenge: in the context of archives, what counts as transgender? Read the introduction, made freely available.


978-0-8223-3688-4Archive Stories
,
edited by Antoinette Burton, brings together ethnographies of the archival world, most of which are written by historians. Some contributors recount their own experiences. One offers a moving reflection on how the relative wealth and prestige of Western researchers can gain them entry to collections such as Uzbekistan’s newly formed Central State Archive, which severely limits the access of Uzbek researchers. Others explore the genealogies of specific archives, from one of the most influential archival institutions in the modern West, the Archives nationales in Paris, to the significant archives of the Bakunin family in Russia, which were saved largely through the efforts of one family member. Still others explore the impact of current events on the analysis of particular archives. A contributor tells of researching the 1976 Soweto riots in the politically charged atmosphere of the early 1990s, just as apartheid in South Africa was coming to an end. A number of the essays question what counts as an archive—and what counts as history—as they consider oral histories, cyberspace, fiction, and plans for streets and buildings that were never built, for histories that never materialized.

Dean cover image, 5680-6The essays in the collection in Porn Archives,  edited by Tim Dean, Steven Ruszczycky, and David Squires, address the historically and culturally varied interactions between porn and the archive. Topics range from library policies governing access to sexually explicit material to the growing digital archive of “war porn,” or eroticized combat imagery; and from same-sex amputee porn to gay black comic book superhero porn. Together the pieces trace pornography as it crosses borders, transforms technologies, consolidates sexual identities, and challenges notions of what counts as legitimate forms of knowledge. The collection concludes with a valuable resource for scholars: a list of pornography archives held by institutions around the world.

ddrhr_120Two recent issues of Radical History Review, “Historical Unravelings,” #120 and “Intimate Tracings,” #122, explore the ways in which the notion of the “queer archive” is increasingly crucial for scholars working at the intersection of history, sexuality, and gender. Efforts to record and preserve queer experiences determine how scholars account for the past and provide a framework for understanding contemporary queer life. Essays in these issues consider historical materials from queer archives around the world as well as the recent critical practice of “queering” the archive by looking at historical collections for queer content (and its absence).

ddrhr_122The first issue explores the evolution of grassroots LGBT archives, debates over queer migrations, nationalism and the institutionalization of LGBT memory, the archiving of transgender activism, digitization and the classificatory systems of the archive, performances of the colonial archive, museums as archives, and everyday objects as archivable texts. The second issue considers how archives allow historical traces of sexuality and gender to be sought, identified, recorded, and assembled into accumulations of meaning. Learn more about “Historical Unravelings” and “Intimate Tracings” by reading the introductions, made freely available.

978-0-8223-4868-9Kathryn Burns argues that the archive itself must be historicized in Into the Archive. Using the case of colonial Cuzco, she examines the practices that shaped document-making. Notaries were businessmen, selling clients a product that conformed to local “custom” as well as Spanish templates. Clients, for their part, were knowledgeable consumers, with strategies of their own for getting what they wanted. In this inside story of the early modern archive, Burns offers a wealth of possibilities for seeing sources in fresh perspective.

Additional articles of interest on archives:

Interview with Shamus Khan from Public Culture

We are excited to share this interview with Shamus Khan, the new editor of Public Culture. We chat about his background, how he became the editor of the journal, how he sees the journal changing in the future, and what special issue topics are currently in the works.

Tell me a little about yourself and your background.

Iddpcult_26_1’m a sociologist. I’m the second sociologist in a row for Public Culture, which I think is a little unique, especially since it’s an anthropology and cultural studies journal. But I’m a cultural sociologist, so I do work on cultural institutions. I have a big project right now on the New York Philharmonic, I’m a former musician, and I worked my way through college as a restaurant cook and own a restaurant, so I’m a little involved in the cultural life of the places that I live. I also write on inequality, elites, and American culture.

I’m at Columbia University. I write both for popular audiences and for academic audiences, so I’ve been a columnist at Time magazine; I write pretty regularly for the New York Times; I’ve written in places like the New Yorker. I’m sort of attuned to making sure that the scholastic work that we do has some kind of public relevance and impact. I’m going to fairly strictly treat Public Culture as a scholastic publication. At the same time, one of the nice things in writing for the public is being forced to write clearly, and that sort of clarity is something I’m really going to push for within the journal.

My main research areas are culture, elites, inequality, but I’m increasingly working in other areas. I’m leading a big project right now on sexual violence. Columbia has asked me to study rape and sexual assault at college campuses, so I’m doing a very large-scale study on that with a number of ethnographers. So that’s a big part of my life right now.

It’s a new phase for me, recently tenured, to be taking over a publication like this, and really exciting.

How did you come to be the editor of Public Culture?

ddpcult_26_3I’ve been fairly active at the Institute for Public Knowledge, which is where Public Culture has been housed for the last five years under the leadership of Eric Klinenberg. I’ve written for Public Books, which is the popular online community tied to Public Culture. I know Caitlin Zaloom and Sharon Marcus, who run that, very well as well as a lot of members of the board.

To be honest, I was a little surprised when I was asked to take over the journal because I’ve never published in Public Culture. But in having conversations with members of the board, with Eric Klinenberg, it was clear to me that it was a space that would allow me to do some of the things that I wanted to do or see happen within our scholastic community, and that a lot of the things that were happening at the journal were already things that I supported and believed in.

I knew most of the board pretty well and liked all of the people on it, and so that made me feel like I would be stepping into a scenario at least where I’d have allies to talk to about concerns, thoughts, stuff like that. And before I accepted, I read every issue. It was this decision that if this is a journal I’m going to take over, I should know its content, its feel. It’s had many iterations, so in some ways, it’s not a journal; it’s had multiple lives. That was interesting for me to see, and it was also interesting for me to think about in terms of how it is that different scholars have used it to advance things that they’d like to see happen.

So that’s how I approached it, and I thought this is the sort of space that is both deeply scholastic in its orientation but pretty flexible in how that kind of work is done. And then I thought yes, this is the kind of place I’d like to be associated with.

How do you see Public Culture developing and how would you like to shape the journal in the future?

ddpcult_27_3It’s not going to be a radical departure—although Eric had a really keen focus on urban life, which will continue but will not be a huge part of my own focus. So that would be a little bit of difference. I like the theoretical richness of the journal, but I’m also totally happy to publish a paper that is findings-driven, that actually says something interesting about, or makes an observation about, the world; a paper that doesn’t have any strong new theoretical framework. Not every paper needs a new theory of the world.

I’m going to have a lot of focus on clarity of writing. I really want that to be a mark of the journal, so that when you pick it up and read it, you know exactly what people are saying and you’re able to get through each piece without being a specialist in the area. Since it is an interdisciplinary journal, that’s really important to me, that kind of clarity.

I’m going to have a kind of strong editorial hand, so I simply won’t send papers out for review that I don’t think I would publish. My desk rejection rate is pretty high, and that’s primarily because I think there’s no reason for someone to go through a long review process only to discover that the paper wouldn’t be published in that journal anyway. So I think that will be an aspect of my leadership.

In terms of things that I’d really like to bring in, I want more work on race with the journal, so that’s really going to be a focus of mine. It’s something that you can see in the new editorial board in terms of what people work on: race and ethnicity. There’s three new people on the board, Andrea Voyer, Josef Sorett, and Alondra Nelson, and all three of them have an attention to race and ethnicity as a core research area of theirs. So race would be one focus, and then there are three other subjects where I have special issues in mind.

What kinds of submissions do you want to see?

I’m interested in everything, I really am. I think people should also feel comfortable sending me stuff before they submit it. I’m happy to look at things and say this is or is not appropriate for the journal, because why wait six months to find out that something’s not appropriate when you could find out in four days? So there will be some desk rejections, or just conveying to people that this isn’t really appropriate; if you rewrote it in this way, I’d be interested in seeing it, but in its present form, it’s not really for us. That can sting but it’s also less frustrating.

What special issue topics are you planning for the future?

ddpcult_27_2Of course I’ll be open to special issues topics if people want to propose them. But when thinking about special issues and even thinking about things I’d be interested in publishing, one of the things that I consider is: what is a very important public or cultural phenomenon that we don’t spend as much time thinking about in the academy or in our own scholastic work? So for me, violence, sports, and religion are going to be three things I’d like to focus on for special issues.

One special issue I’d like to do is on sports. For sports, it’s because if you think about the ways in which people organize their lives, in many, many places, it sort of centers on sports—not completely centers, but it’s a major, major part of most communities. And yet, in terms of our own academic work, we don’t spend a lot of time on it. But we’re here at Duke; I’m sure that in March, this area is in a kind of radical fervor about March Madness and basketball. And I’m sure that when UNC and Duke play, it’s a pretty big deal around here. And it’s not just the case with college basketball. If we were to look internationally and think about soccer and the ways in which soccer has a huge impact throughout the world—billions of people watch, play, et cetera. It’s also a terrain where nations compete with one another in ways that aren’t associated with violence, but instead they’re these status competitions between places. It’s a really important arena of study that we don’t do much of, and so I want to do something on it.

I also want to do something on religion. We have departments of religion and religious studies, but in going through the journal issues, it’s not that integrated into the ways in which cultural studies has thought about itself. If you think about major organizing principles for people’s lives and for public culture, religion is one of them, and there’s a variety of things that I’m interested in here. I’d like to do a special issue with people that touches on these, and be open to whatever people propose. Like providing a richer and perhaps less caricature-like portrait of Evangelical Christians is an interest. There’s a kind of lay understanding of Evangelicals as conservative. I think that tends to be the case, but it’s not absolutely the case. And there’s multiple forms of Evangelicalism in the United States, and more broadly, there’s, what, a hundred-and-something million Evangelicals in China right now. And we know something about them, but they’re really not part of how we think about the public and cultural life, and we should. Similarly, if we think about the forms of international contention that go on, like the tensions between nations and the inner negotiation of national politics, international politics, religion plays a central role in that. We could not understand the America, Europe, Middle East engagement with one another independent of the impact of religion on those spaces and on the relationships. So I really want something on religion, to understand the relationship between religion and public culture.

ddpcult_27_1And then finally violence. And here I’m interested in interpersonal violence but also state violence, so from the very, very small-scale situations of the extension of violence to the ways in which nations interact and the ways in which nations fight. Some of this is drawn about from my own recent attention and work on sexual violence and sexual assault, on a kind of interpersonal and organizational level, and I’m also interested in the ways in which states perpetuate violence on one another. There’s some work that I’m really interested in on the effects of drones in communities, and what the role of violence is in terms of how it constructs those communities. There’s stuff that I’d be interested in in terms of the ways in which the state perpetuates violence.

Across many of these thematic issues—for example, I said I was interested in race; I’d be interested in some of the racial dynamics behind them. So, say, the relationship between race and religion, race and sport, and also race and violence. And thinking about things like how it is that the state interacts with different kinds of racialized subjects will be really important to me.

I will say gender across all of them is going to be important to me, too. I’m a sociologist, and sociologists typically are interested in race, class, gender—sometimes increasingly sexuality, too. For all of these, those would be things of interest, like the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality across violence, sport and religion. They’re dimensions of investigation.

For all three of the special issues, I imagine an international approach to the phenomenon: so it’s not just violence in America; I want to know about violence in all kinds of spaces, which transcends national boundaries or sometimes is located within a very, very small social space. Across all of them, religion, violence, and sport, there’ll be an international dynamic.