Sociology

The Most Read Articles of 2018

As 2018 comes to a close, we’re reflecting on the most read articles across all our journals. Check out the top 10 articles that made the list, all freely available until the end of January.

TSQ_5_1_coverToward the Decipherment of a Set of Mid-Colonial Khipus from the Santa Valley, Coastal Peru” by Manuel Medrano and Gary Urton

Predatory Value Economies of Dispossession and Disturbed Relationalities” by Jodi A. Byrd, Alyosha Goldstein, Jodi Melamed, and Chandan Reddy

Black Aesthetics, Black Value” by Lewis R. Gordon

Rural Voids” by Miriam Driessen

Desiring Blackness: A Queer Orientation to Marvel’s Black Panther, 1998–2016” by André Carrington

Conversational Exculpature” by Daniel Hoek

SMX_22_1(55)_coverThe Anarchy of Colored Girls Assembled in a Riotous Manner” by Saidiya Hartman

Collective Memory and the Transfeminist 1970s: Toward a Less Plausible History” by Finn Enke

Realism and the Absence of Value” Shamik Dasgupta

Partus sequitur ventrem: Law, Race, and Reproduction in Colonial Slavery” by Jennifer L. Morgan

The Authoritarian Personality

The most recent issue of South Atlantic Quarterly, “The Authoritarian Personality,” edited by Robyn Marasco, is now available.SAQ_new_pr

In response to the recent rise of neo-fascist movements around the world, the intensification of racist violence against black and brown people, the reactionary backlash against feminism, and the crisis of neoliberal capitalism, contributors to this special issue of SAQ offer a reappraisal of The Authoritarian Personality (1950) that yields fresh insights and new resources for contemporary critique.

While arguably the first major contribution to the field of political psychology, the book by Theodor W. Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel J. Levinson, and R. Nevitt Sanford has been relegated to the margins of Frankfurt School critical theory, even as an industry of scholarship has formed around Adorno’s philosophical and cultural criticism. By focusing on The Authoritarian Personality and its relevance for contemporary politics, the contributors aim to correct this imbalance and assess the empirical project in early critical theory, including its integration of political sociology and social psychology.

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

Q&A with Melissa Gregg, author of Counterproductive

GreggHeadshotMelissa Gregg is the Principal Engineer and Research Director, Client Computing Group at Intel, and author of the new book Counterproductive: Time Management in the Knowledge Economy. In Counterproductive, Gregg explores how productivity emerged as a way of thinking about job performance and shows how a focus on productivity isolates workers from one another, erasing their collective efforts to define work limits. We’re pleased to share an interview with her about the new book.

What sparked your interest in time management and the history of productivity culture? How has your own office-job experience influenced your study?

At one level I have always been fascinated by the way that some people seem to have an effortless ability to manage even the most intense workloads with grace and composure, while others really struggle to focus. I think this became more apparent when I joined a corporate job because time has a heightened cost in a publicly listed company. There are social pressures of accountability when you aren’t “getting things done” in a matrixed team environment. Those experiences can be intense, and can create a kind of dread when it seems as though you are not keeping up to speed, precisely in the athletic sense that the book describes. This differs from what my friends in contract careers deal with, trying to maintain motivation working from home or in a café on a temporary gig that may be the last paycheck for a while. It becomes very clear that time management problems aren’t the same in all of these situations. We need a better manual for living and working in a world where collective rituals and routines—and the respite they provide—are becoming harder to practice.

How have emergent technologies, like apps, reflected—or contributed to—an uptick in our obsession with productivity?

Software systems extend what is already a pervasive cultural desire in the United States for individuals to evince a strong work ethic. The convenience of having a mobile device always with you means it’s easier to establish this intimate infrastructure for living; to fully monitor and audit your activities since so many of them are digitally mediated. Apps bring a more obvious aesthetic to the productive lifestyle, making it simple, elegant and beautiful to organize your life, in the language of User Experience design (UX). Who can resist a tool that has a more reliable memory than you! But we do lock ourselves in to a bind by using technology to regulate our use of technology, whether for work or pleasure.

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What remedies does Counterproductive offer for a productivity-obsessed culture? How can we reclaim mindfulness as a tool for ourselves rather than as a method for coping with corporate life?

An appreciation of corporate history is a critical part of the remedy, including the curious self-help genres that have been used so often by so many. This book is deeply informed by my cultural studies training, and by the principle that popular culture is an index of capitalism’s contradictions. Self-help genres can be incredibly useful in the absence of more comprehensive social and economic change, especially for minorities faced with the anonymizing social wounds of large institutions. That’s one way of understanding the role of mindfulness today. It is a salve for too much productivity striving, the constant affective labor of knowledge work. But mindfulness is only bearable if it is not a smokescreen for solipsism. It has to adhere to an idea of collective withdrawal to be political. That is the post-work future we all need to build.

The preface to your book includes a deeply moving tribute to your mother. How does the personal inform your scholarship in Counterproductive?

To a much larger extent than I had realized! There was a moment when this wider purpose of reconciling her passing first became clear to me. It was during the auto-ethnographic component of the chapter on time management manuals, specifically while contemplating the insanity of David Allen’s directive to write a “Someday/Maybe list.” It struck me then how productivity gurus succeed by promising protection from the volatility of real life, the unpredictable nature of our own and others’ mortality. One can keep extremely occupied in the effort to manage time well, but this is also a socially sanctioned way to avoid thinking about bigger existential questions.

Do you think of Counterproductive as an activist text? In what ways? What impact do you hope to have on readers?

The book is fueled by a number of irritants: the outrageously mythologized figures in the history of management studies, for example, and the whole “bias towards action” ideology that pervades certain sectors of Silicon Valley. For a long time I have been channeling rage at the inequities of a world governed by the 1%, where so many brilliant minds are drowning in mid-rank organizational email and jockeying PowerPoint files instead of fighting to save the planet. Meanwhile real estate entrepreneurs drink champagne on yachts! I want to offer a catalyst against the myopia of present day workplace heroics, which is unfinished business from my last book, Work’s Intimacy. I also think we need better management theory that calls out the privileges inherent in industrial era labor divisions, including the delegation dynamic that so differently affects workers according to race, class and gender. These biases continue to govern the experience of work today, and I see that more clearly in the corporate sector. I would dearly like for more academics and writers to take this project on. Finally, Counterproductive concludes with a manifesto of ideas that draw from the best legacies of labor activism but for a vastly different economy. I hope that it prompts readers to think differently about their relationship to work, and the motivations behind the sacrifices that it necessarily entails.  

Pick up your paperback copy of Counterproductive for 30% off using coupon code E18GREGG on our website.

Recent Scholarship on Trans* Surgery

TSQ_5_2_coverThe Surgery Issue,” a special issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly edited by Eric Plemons and Chris Straayer, explores the vital and contested place of surgical intervention in the making of trans* bodies, theories, and practices. This issue engages “the surgical” in its many forms. Contributors contemplate a wide scope: physical, technical, and social aspects of the body; trans* and transition-related surgeries broadly construed; local and international endeavors; the conceptual, the theoretical, and the practical; the historical and the speculative.

Trans* surgery has been an object of fantasy, derision, refusal, and triumph. For decades after its establishment in the 1950s, clinicians considered a desire for reconstructive genital surgery to be the linchpin of the transsexual diagnosis. Drawing on earlier legacies of sexology and plastic surgery and the emerging specialties of endocrinology and surgical transplant, early emphasis on genital surgery determined clinical legibility, shaped forms of identification, produced institutional capacities, and became the object of criticism by those for whom a desire for body alterations indicated profound pathologies on the parts of patients and their willing surgeons. Subsequent contestations of the medico-surgical framework troubled the place of surgical intervention and helped mark the emergence of “transgender” as an alternative, more inclusive term for gender nonconforming subjects who were sometimes less concerned with surgical intervention.

Beginning in the 1990s, new histories of trans* clinical practice challenged the institutional claim that transsexuals were uniform in their desire for genital surgery, and trans* authors began to advocate relationships to their surgically altered bodies as sites of power rather than capitulation. Still others refused a focus on surgery-centric conceptualizations of trans* on the grounds that it obscures the conditions of how and for whom surgery is available, values Euro-American histories of transsexualism, and obfuscates the reality that trans* subjectivity might be as much about justice and rights as it is about physical transition.

Read the introduction to the issue, made freely available.

Eric Plemons, coeditor of “The Surgery Issue,” is also author of the recent book The Look of a Woman: Facial Feminization Surgery and the Aims of Trans- Medicine. Developed in the 1980s, facial feminization surgery (FFS) is a set of reconstructive surgical procedures intended to feminize the faces of trans- women. Plemons foregrounds the narratives of FFS patients and their surgeons, showing how the increasing popularity of FFS represents a shift away from genital-based conceptions of trans- selfhood. He demonstrates how FFS is changing the project of surgical sex reassignment by reconfiguring the kind of sex that surgery aims to change.

EASTS wins 2018 STS Infrastructure Award

EASTSCongratulations to East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal (EASTS), winner of the 2018 STS Infrastructure Award from the Society for Social Studies of Science. The STS Infrastructure Award is given each year to recognize exemplary initiative to build and maintain infrastructure supporting science and technology studies.

The selection committee notes, “EASTS was established just over a decade ago but has become an exciting, well-respected forum for publishing STS scholarship. Thanks to each of its issues it is possible to enjoy a careful work centered on the wide range of STS topics, that bridge STS with others, amplifying interpretations, languages and insights, presented moreover in distinctive and attractive covers to the audience.”

ddeasts_12_1_coverWen-Hua Kuo, editor of EASTS, wrote in an acceptance statement:

Though a relative newcomer, EASTS has been an active and visible presence at 4S meetings via its editorial meetings, paper sessions, and activities like “EASTS night”. It in turn makes East Asia visible to the world—through not only the scholarly articles it carries but also the research notes, forums, review articles, and essays. Since its very inception, EASTS has committed itself to being more than “just another STS journal”; aside from its own publishing role, EASTS has provided an umbrella for a growing network of STS scholars across Asia, transcending the various national STS societies and giving a space for global scholars to work within. By recognizing infrastructure as a network and a platform for building society, we are grateful that our work with the journal has been recognized this way. With this award, EASTS will continue to work closely on an expanding, interactive, and also challenging STS world in which East Asia is not an outsider but has a permanent part.

Congratulations again to all who work on EASTS. Learn more about the award here.

Call for Papers: Teaching Critical Theory in the Era of Globalization

ddped_18_1Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture is seeking submissions for a special issue edited by Helena Gurfinkel (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville) and Gautam Basu Thakur (Boise State University), titled “Critical Theory in the Era of Globalization,” and scheduled for October 2020.

The editors of this special issue are seeking contributions on teaching critical theory in the global present. What is the relevance of teaching theory in the era of globalization, and what is at stake? What are the challenges and unavoidable paradoxes of teaching theory at a time when global classrooms are geared toward both neoliberal information/skills acquisition and conservative knowledge accumulation?

Changes in the classroom reflect changes in global politics. In the decades following the Second World War, that is, in the midst of the Cold War and the rapid decolonization of the globe, critical theory gained popularity across Anglo-American English departments with its radical interrogations of traditional society, politics, and culture. It drastically dislocated the imperial boundaries of English studies and was responsible for challenging the canon – “birthing” gender and postcolonial studies and connecting literature to politics, subjectivity, and networks of commodity relations. But does theory retain these strengths in the twenty-first century college classroom? What relevance does it have as pedagogy and practice to better understand and address the challenges of contemporary social reality – climate change, depredation of democracy, neoliberalism and violence, and the so-called “death of the humanities”?

This special issue will ponder these questions, as we seek new ways of teaching undergraduate and graduate literary theory and criticism courses. The editors would particularly like to rethink the institution of the survey course, an accepted narrative that begins with formalism and ends with identity.

Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Teaching a theory survey course (graduate and/or undergraduate) in a globalized world: challenges, rewards, and methodologies.
  • Teaching critical theory: new methodologies, forgotten theories/forgotten methodologies, new theories.
  • Teaching critical theory in a graduate course in the current (global) job market.
  • Teaching global literatures as theory/ Global literary theory as pedagogy.
  • Teaching a global critical theory survey: resisting chronology.
  • Teaching critical theory beyond the Western university.

The editors invite articles of 5000-7500 words and position papers of 1500 words. Articles are open to all theoretical approaches. Position papers should address one of the following: 1) teaching queer theory; 2) teaching postcolonial theory; 3) teaching the non-human turn. In all cases, global pedagogical contexts are essential. Pedagogy uses The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition.

Submission Deadlines:

March 2, 2018: 1-page CVs; abstracts of 500 words for articles, or of 150 words for position papers to Helena Gurfinkel and Gautam Basu Thakur.

September 4, 2018: full articles and position papers to Helena Gurfinkel and Gautam Basu Thakur.

Queries welcome.

Groundbreaking Study on Incan Khipus Published in Ethnohistory

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

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

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

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

Recently featured on All Things Considered, Medrano states:

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

Read the article, made freely available.

An Interview with English Language Notes Editor Laura Winkiel

We recently sat down with new English Language Notes (ELNeditor Laura Winkiel to discuss the journal’s editorial philosophy, the journal’s new “Of Note” section, and upcoming special issues of the journal.

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How would you describe the journal’s editorial philosophy?

The journal’s core editors are a rotating group of professors housed in the English Department at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the aim of the journal is to highlight and further new critical trends. We’re trans-historical and trans-interdisciplinary, so what that’s meant is that we push the envelope on a given critical question for an interdisciplinary, trans-historical field. We’re special issue driven, so we have a special issue editor, or two, who writes the introduction to map out the wide parameters of a critical question. The journal is methodologically driven, instead of historically driven.

How does English Language Notes differentiate itself from other journals in the area?

ELN is a special issue-only journal; every issue is different. It’s hard to fit us into a box because, for example, we are currently publishing a “Comparative Mysticisms” issue , while we have just published a biopolitically-driven issue, called “In/security” and an environmental humanities issue, called “Environmental Trajectories.”

One of the things we want to start doing next year is to have a section called Of Note, which will address all kinds of critical angles in literary studies and beyond. This section will be separate from whatever the special issue editor is curating. “Of Note” will serve as a thread of contemporary criticism and dialogue that is continuous across all issues to solidify our identity and to begin to generate attention to a continuous open call at the journal for short, position-taking submissions. This can be in the form of a review essay, or a short essay akin to the “Theories and Methodologies” section of the PMLA.

Can you tell me a little more about this new “Of Note” section and what you’re looking for in submissions?

English Language Notes has always had a variety of formats: the long scholarly article, creative submissions, and clusters and forums. We are looking to build upon this strength.  We will begin by publishing a CFP for “Of Note” this spring.  We’ve already built an in-box for submissions in Editorial Manager, and the Senior Editor will be in charge of curating this section for each issue. I think scholars will have a sense of what we’re looking for by reading the CFP.

What are some forthcoming issues of English Language Notes?

What has always motivated my editorial work is the desire to learn a field in depth: who is working in it, and what the salient debates are. Editorial work is scholarly work that is collaborative and collective.

I’m currently working on a special issue called, “Hydro-criticism,” that will be out in April 2019.  Though I’ve worked on the black Atlantic for a long time now, the maritime turn in humanities is changing this field in many compelling ways. I’m interested in how the two can meet. The topic of “Hydro-criticism” is perfect for an ELN issue: it is transhistorical, interdisciplinary, there are scientists, social scientists, anthropologists, artists and humanists working in this field, if one can call it that. I have circulated a range of question topics: wet ontologies, entanglements, provincializing Europe, long histories, questions of sovereignty, shipwrecks and other seafaring disasters, literary form, and problems of scale. The deadline to submit to this issue of English Language Notes is March 1, 2018.

Comparative Mysticisms” is in production now and coming out in April 2018. It’s edited by Professor Nan Goodman, who is in the English Department and directs the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Maria Windell and Jesse Alemán’s “Latinx Lives in Hemispheric Context” will be published in October 2018.

After the “Hydro-criticism” issue, Ramesh Mallipeddi and Cristobal Silva will publish an issue titled “Memory, Amnesia, Commemoration.”

Are there any ways you would like to shape the journal in the future?

I think I’ve already outlined most of the important work that has gone into our move to Duke University Press and our vision for the journal’s future. I will add that the journal is also going through a redesign, so it will have a new look in terms of layout as well. In addition, we have started to reach out to co-editors from other institutions and departments as a way to broaden our editorial vision. I think English Language Notes is a journal to pay attention to, now more than ever.

A respected forum of criticism and scholarship in literary and cultural studies since 1962, English Language Notes (ELN) is dedicated to pushing the edge of scholarship in literature and related fields in new directions. Broadening its reach geographically and transhistorically, ELN opens new lines of inquiry and widens emerging fields. Each ELN issue advances topics of current scholarly concern, providing theoretical speculation as well as interdisciplinary recalibrations through practical usage. Offering semiannual, topically themed issues, ELN also includes “Of Note,” an ongoing section featuring related topics, review essays or roundtables of cutting-edge scholarship, and emergent concerns. Edited by Laura Winkiel, ELN is a wide-ranging journal that combines theoretical rigor with innovative interdisciplinary collaboration.

Unpacking Tourism

ddrhr_129Tourism shapes popular fantasies of adventure, structures urban and natural space, creates knowledge around difference, and demands an array of occupations servicing the insatiable needs of those who travel for leisure. Even as migrants and refugees have become targets of ire from far-right parties, international tourism has grown worldwide.

The most recent issue of Radical History Review, “Unpacking Tourism,” posits a radical approach to the study of tourism, highlighting how tourism as a paradigmatic modern encounter bleeds into diplomacy, militarism, and empire building. Contributors investigate, among other topics, how the United States has used tourism in Latin America as a tool of interventionist foreign policy, how Bethlehem’s Manger Square has become a contested space between Palestinians and the Israeli state, how Spain’s economy increasingly relies on northern European tourists, and how the US military’s Cold War–era guidebooks attempted to convert soldiers stationed abroad into “ambassadors of goodwill.”

Read the introduction to the issue, made freely available.

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.