Interview with liquid blackness Editors Alessandra Raengo and Lauren McLeod Cramer

In keeping with the “Raise UP” theme of University Press Week, we’re excited to spotlight the addition of liquid blackness: journal of aesthetics and black studies, an open-access journal, to our publishing program starting with its special issue “Liquidity” this spring. The journal seeks to carve out a place for aesthetic theory and the most radical agenda of Black studies to come together in productive ways. Founding editors Alessandra Raengo and Lauren McLeod Cramer recently discussed with us the creation of liquid blackness, the importance of the journal being open access, and the journal’s relationship with our current climate.

DUP: How did liquid blackness come to be?

Alessandra Raengo, founding coeditor of liquid blackness

The liquid blackness journal began informally; it emerged from the liquid blackness research group, which Alessandra began in Fall 2013 with the support and assistance of graduate students and alumni of the doctoral program in Moving Image Studies at Georgia State University. Without an institutional mandate, the group came together in response to a curatorial project we inherited: “The LA Rebellion: Creating a New Black American Cinema tour” curated from the UCLA Film and Television archive. In the summer 2013, Matthew Bernstein, chair of Film and Media Studies at Emory University, asked Alessandra if she would co-host the tour with him. The question immediately became: how does one create the right environment for this material? Beyond gathering an audience for these films, creating an “environment” meant organizing a community experience because this collection of films constitutes a type of radical cinema made with, and from, communities of color in Los Angeles. Along with free screenings and artist talks, we hosted a series of teach-ins and community conversations in historically significant sites of political gathering in Atlanta. 

At the end of the tour, Alessandra asked the students involved in this project to write about it. That first journal issue is really an expression of our commitment to two archives. First, we were thinking about giving back and giving thanks to the UCLA archival project, from which we had just benefited, by accounting for our experience of watching these works that were previously very difficult to see. At the same time, that inaugural issue was a way to begin to reflect on, and therefore assemble, a record of our own collective processes and emerging praxis. The first editorial board—Lauren McLeod Cramer, Kristin Juarez, Michele Prettyman, and Cameron Kunzelman—formed around the production of this issue. And this has been the praxis since.

From this initial gesture of “giving back” to an existing archive of Black expressive culture, while reflecting on liquid blackness as a potential emerging archive, the journal became profoundly intertwined with the group’s activities: each research project would culminate in a public event featuring a practicing artist and a call for papers. For example, the research project on Larry Clark’s Passing Through inspired a journal issue on “The Arts and Politics of the Jazz Ensemble,” the research on Arthur Jafa’s Dreams are Colder than Death prompted an issue on “Black Ontology and the Love of Blackness,” and our approach to Kahlil Joseph’s aesthetics was channeled in an issue focused on “Holding Blackness: Aesthetics of Suspension.”

Over time and through this organic approach, the journal grew into a forum for the exploration of Blackness in contemporary visual and sonic arts and popular culture at the intersection between the politics and ethics of aesthetics. “Liquidity” thus designates, among other things, a commitment to generative entanglements and to follow processes of intellectual production that are inspired by the experimental style of the jazz ensemble, which is what Fred Moten and Stefano Harney identified as a productive model for their idea of “Black study.”

DUP: How does the journal fit into our current climate?

Lauren McLeod Cramer, founding coeditor of liquid blackness

liquid blackness became a nonprofit in 2019, so over the last year we’ve had the opportunity to make explicit some of the core values that have inspired our praxis since the beginning. Our goal is to mentor the next generation of scholars of color and other scholars fully committed to the agenda of Black studies, while creating a vibrant, extended, and sustainable community. This journal is entirely committed to the aim and scope of Black studies: centering on Blackness—Black people and Black art—and critiquing Western civilization’s attachment to the project of whiteness. As we condemn the atmospheric reach of anti-Blackness, we also make the rejection of white supremacy and privilege the goal of our scholarly pursuits. 

While we are devastated by this summer’s most blatant episodes of anti-Black violence, we understand these tragedies in the context of pervasive white supremacy. Further, we refrain from expressing shock as a way to dismiss the totality of anti-Blackness. Instead, we remain focused on interrogating the political stakes of representation, to think critically about the efficacy of public statements, performances of solidarity, and analytical language that rely on the tools of oppression.

Our unwavering solidarity with voices raised in protest in the US and all over the world is inextricable from our condemnation of other expressions of violence, including the political and social neglect that caused COVID-19’s devastating effects on communities of color and academia’s persistent disregard for the true needs of these same oppressed communities. We call out white supremacy as the most denied pandemic of the modern era and insist that the work of eradicating it cannot rely on the emotional labor of the communities it has already victimized. So, at the same time we recognize these violent continuities, the journal is committed to creating space for the expression of art and scholarship that is not exclusively tethered to, and indeed may de-link from, anti-Black terror. We envision it as a place that supports art and scholarship that makes pressing historical claims for justice, recognition, and rights into new, and newly expansive, futural registers.

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In Conversation: Vanessa Freije and Jocelyn Olcott

Our newest In Conversation video centers the design of political scandals in Mexico from the 1960s to 1980s. Join Jocelyn Olcott, Professor of History and International Comparative Studies and Director of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at Duke University, as she talks with Vanessa Freije about her new book, Citizens of Scandal: Journalism, Secrecy, and the Politics of Reckoning in Mexico. Freije is an Assistant Professor of International Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle. They discuss finding an archive for studying the creation of scandals and the role that scandals have in imagining a shared common sense.

Preview our Spring 2021 Catalog

S21-catalog-frontcoverWe’re excited to unveil our Spring 2021 catalog. Check out some highlights from the season below and then download a copy for a closer read. These titles will be published between January 2021 and July 2021.

On the cover we feature an image by Cerron Hooks entitled “Consider the Source,” which is on the cover of our lead title, edited by Lynden Harris. Right Here, Right Now: Life Stories from America’s Death Row collects the powerful first-person stories of dozens of men on death rows across the country. 

Universal TonalityWe have several excellent music books in the catalog. Jazz lovers will definitely want to read the first biography of bassist William Parker, Universal Tonality by Cisco Bradley. The publication of the biography coincides with the release of retrospective box set of Parker’s work. Jazz fans will also want to check out Soundworks: Race, Sound, and Poetry in Production by Anthony Reed, which takes the recorded collaborations between African American poets and musicians such as Amiri Baraka, Jayne Cortez, Cecil Taylor, and Charles Mingus to trace the overlaps between experimental music and poetry. Eric Weisbard’s Songbooks offers a critical guide to American popular music writing, from William Billings’s 1770 New-England-Psalm-Singer to Jay-Z’s 2010 memoir Decoded. Music scholars will also be interested in Sound Alignments: Popular Music in Asia’s Cold Wars, edited by Michael K. Bourdaghs, Paola Iovene, and Kaley Mason.

Spring brings more Black studies and African American history titles as well. We’re thrilled to be adding to our collection of Stuart Hall’s work with two new compilations of his work, Selected Writings on Marxism, edited by Gregor McLennan, and Selected Writings on Race and Difference, edited by Paul Gilroy and Ruth Wilson Gilmore. Both volumes will be great for teaching.

Point of ReckoningPoint of Reckoning: The Fight for Racial Justice at Duke University by Theodore D. Segal provides crucial historical context for today’s campus discussions of equity and inclusion. Additional titles in African American history include Thomas Aiello’s biography of controversial Black journalist Louis Lomax and Reckoning with Slavery by Jennifer L. Morgan, a groundbreaking work of history that demonstrates that the development of Western notions of value and race occurred simultaneously.

Other great new Black studies works include The Long Emancipation by Rinaldo Walcott; Black Aliveness, or A Poetics of Being by Kevin Quashie; Black Utopias by Jayna Brown; The Powers of Dignity by Nick Bromell; Counterlife by Christopher Freeburg; Black Bodies, White Gold by Anna Arabindan-Kesson; and Emancipation′s Daughters by Riché Richardson.

The InheritanceThe Inheritance by Elizabeth Povinelli is something new for us: a graphic memoir in which she explores her family’s history and the events, traumas, and social structures that define our individual and collective pasts and futures. We also have a gorgeous book of photos by William Gedney.  In A Time of Youth: San Francisco, 1966–1967, editor Lisa McCarty brings together eighty-seven of the more than two thousand photographs Gedney took in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood between October 1966 and January 1967. The design follows the specifications that Gedney laid out before his death.

Planning a post-pandemic vacation to Jamaica? If so, you can read up on your destination in The Jamaica Reader before you go. Edited by Diana Paton and Matthew J. Smith, the reader collects more than one hundred classic and lesser-known texts that include journalism, lyrics, memoir, and poetry that illuminate the complexities of Jamaica’s past. It will also be a great resource for teaching.

Other books in Caribbean studies coming this spring include A Regarded Self by Kaiama L. Glover, which analyzes Francophone and Anglophone Caribbean literature with female protagonists, and Tropical Aesthetics of Black Modernism by Samantha A. Noël, which investigates how Black Caribbean and American artists of the early twentieth century responded to and challenged colonial and other white-dominant regimes through tropicalist representation. Colonial Debts: The Case of Puerto Rico by Rocío Zambrana develops the concept of neoliberal coloniality in light of Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.

Eating in TheoryAs always, our anthropology list is strong this spring. Annemarie Mol returns to the Press with Eating in Theory, which reassess notions of human being and becoming by thinking through the activity of eating, showing how eating is a lively practice bound up with our identities, actions, politics, and senses of belonging in the world. Another author with a long history at Duke University Press, Michael Jackson, also returns with a new book, The Genealogical Imagination: Two Studies of Life over Time, which juxtaposes his fieldwork in Sierra Leone and his own family history in Northeast Australia to explore intergenerational trauma and temporality. We also have a couple of great collections for anthropologists: Experimenting with Ethnography: A Companion to Analysis, edited by Andrea Ballestero and Brit Ross Winthereik; and Words and Worlds: A Lexicon for Dark Times, edited by Veena Das and Didier Fassin. Other new anthropology titles include Atmospheric Noise by Marina Peterson; Kincraft by Todne Thomas; Bombay Brokers by Lisa Björkman; and The Charismatic Gymnasium by Maria José de Abreu.

Queer in TranslationOur Middle East studies list continues to grow. We’re looking forward to Palestine Is Throwing a Party and the Whole World Is Invited by Kareem Rabie, which examines how Palestine’s desire to fully integrate its economy into global markets through large-scale investment projects represented a shift away from political state building with the hope that a thriving economy would lead to a free and functioning Palestinian state. In Queer in Translation, Evren Savci explores how Western LGBT politics are translated and reworked in Turkey in ways that generate new spaces for resistance and solidarity. Also forthcoming are Visions of Beirut by Hatim El-Hibri and Decolonizing Memory by Jill Jarvis.

Experiments in SkinOur Asian studies titles range cover art, film, history, and theory.  In Return Engagements:, Việt Lê examines contemporary art in Cambodia and Viet Nam to rethink the entwinement of militarization, trauma, diaspora, and modernity in Southeast Asian art. In Experiments in Skin, Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu examines the ongoing influence of the Vietnam War on contemporary ideas about race and beauty. Kajri Jain returns with her second book for the Press, Gods in the Time of Democracy, examining how monumental icons emerged as a religious and political form in contemporary India. Empire′s Mistress, Starring Isabel Rosario Cooper by Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez follows the life of Filipina vaudeville and film actress Isabel Rosario Cooper, who was the mistress of General Douglas MacArthur. Other Asian studies titles include Minor China by Hentyle Yapp, Coed Revolution by Chelsea Szendi Schieder, and Mao’s Bestiary by Liz P. Y. Chee.

Also look for The Politics of Decolonial Investigations, a new book by Walter Mignolo; Operation Valhalla: Writings on War, Weapons, and Media by Friedrich Kittler; Pollution is Colonialism by Max Liboiron; and many more titles in political theory, geography, art, queer studies, and more.

We’ve also got some great upcoming journal issues—here’s a sampling. In “Crip Temporalities,” an issue of the South Atlantic Quarterly, contributors explore the ways disability shapes the experience of time. “Solarity,” also from SAQ, features essays on the social implications of the emergence of solar energy. And “Queer Political Theologies,” an issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, brings together queer studies and political theology to explore the relationship between the self and politics, theism, and queerness.

We invite you to download the entire catalog and check out all the great books and journals inside. And be sure to sign up for our email alerts so you’ll know when titles you’re interested in are available.

Raising Up the Work of First-Time Authors: University Press Week 2020

Logo_UPW2020_lowres (1)It’s University Press Week! This year, the Association of University Presses (AUPresses) has chosen the theme “Raise UP” to emphasize the role that university presses play in elevating authors, subjects, and whole disciplines. Read more about University Press Week and check out the Raise UP gallery and reading list featuring publications published by our peer presses.

We’re excited to be part of the first day of the annual University Press Week blog tour. The theme is “New Voices.” After you read our post, please check out the other posts on the tour, from University of Illinois Press, Georgetown University Press, University of Wisconsin Press, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, University of Toronto Press, University of Missouri Press, Bucknell University Press, University of Manitoba Press, and Amherst College Press.

Here at Duke University Press, we’re particularly proud of the role that we play in helping to bring new voices into scholarly conversations. Below, book acquisitions editors and journal editors discuss the particular joys of working with first-time authors.

Contributors:

  • Elizabeth Ault, Duke University Press Editor, Books
  • Courtney Berger, Duke University Press Executive Editor, Books
  • Sarah Lerner, Managing Editor of Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies
  • Susan Stryker, Editor of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly and Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona and Visiting Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University
  • Ken Wissoker, Duke University Press Senior Executive Editor, Books

What unique contributions can a first-time author offer to a publishing program [or journal]?

Courtney Berger: First-time authors are often working on the cutting edge of scholarship. They are pushing against the boundaries of fields and conceptual paradigms. As an editor, I look to these scholars to stay attuned to the conversations and debates that are happening in and across fields and to learn about new fields in formation. This is incredibly valuable to me as an editor and to the Press as a whole, since it keeps our list dynamic and helps us tune into new or underserved audiences and emerging areas of knowledge making. As an editor, I am constantly learning, and my first-time authors teach me a lot, not just about their fields of study but also about changes in the academic world, how people are reading and teaching the things we publish, and the needs of scholars and teachers in the current economic and political climate.

Ken Wissoker: I always treat first book authors as the future. They frequently combine perspectives from different professors and theoretical movements they encountered in grad school (and since) and put them together in ways that the people who taught them never would. That’s true about theories and about topics to investigate as well. Also, first time authors often have had the most time for research—whether fieldwork or archival. They are writing up a project that started as a dissertation many years before.  They get guidance in how to shape and focus that research and receive feedback on the earlier versions of their work.  You’d be surprised how many times authors of subsequent books don’t know how to proceed without those advantages!

Susan Stryker: I’m always looking for the fresh hot takes that do more than add a statement to an existing conversation, but rather approach a topic in some truly new way. First-time authors often have a really generative “beginners mind.” 

Sarah Lerner: First-time authors have profound enthusiasm for their subject, and in the case of Camera Obscura, they are also excited about working with the journal’s editors during the manuscript revision process. New authors bring innovative perspectives, theories, and methods to the discipline that can change scholarly conversations about a subject. When they do, they can expand the journal’s reach.

Elizabeth Ault: Among many other things, first-time authors offer publishers a chance to engage some of the freshest perspectives in our field, and the joy, for an editor, of bringing a new voice into print and getting to build a long relationship with someone.

Are there any experiences working with first-time authors that stand out to you?

Elizabeth Ault: I have worked with so many first-time authors, especially as an emerging editor. Learning together with authors is such a gift—I’m so grateful for all the first-time authors who’ve helped me map the landscapes of their fields and the conversations their books are in as I get to teach them about the publishing process. One book I’m really proud to have worked on is The Black Shoals, Tiffany Lethabo King’s first book, published last fall. She just did a wonderful interview with Jenny Davidson at the-rambling.com about what the process of developing her central idea and navigating her archive was like through the multi-year process of developing the manuscript. It’s such a generous reflection on process. 

Courtney Berger: I really enjoy working with first-time authors, although at times the process can be stressful (on both sides!). Sometimes a manuscript goes through several rounds of review before it is ready for publication. An author might struggle to find time to write while they are also getting acclimated to a new job and new responsibilities. They may have a tough time shedding ideas and materials that are interesting but don’t serve the project as a whole. The review and revision process can be arduous, but it’s invaluable when it comes to shaping a book. It’s exciting to see a project develop and come into focus, as an author starts to recognize the critical aims of their work and can see how to enact that in their writing. Those are the best moments for me as an editor—helping an author figure out how to make the book their own and to make their ideas available to readers. 

Ken Wissoker: How quickly a scholar moves from being a first time author, unsure of their authority and whether what they write will be okay, to an expert in their field.  It’s hard for a scholar to anticipate that ahead of time, or to write in a way that takes advantage of how they will be seen. I love when authors feel passionately about their work and their topic, but haven’t fully realized how widely it will be of interest.  Some of my best experiences have been reflecting back to an unsure author how many people would be excited about what they are doing.

Susan Stryker: I once received a submission from a grad student for a special issue I was editing that I really wanted to publish because it was fresh and insightful but also kind of a mess structurally. I offered to work closely with the author to get it the piece in publishable quality before sending it out for peer review. Going that extra mile as a hands-on editor for a first-time author resulted in what has turned into a years-long friendship with a really innovative emerging scholar. I feel like I got back as much or more than I gave.

What advice do you have for first-time authors?

Susan Stryker: Really, really, think about audience/editor/press and the scholarly conversation you want your work to be situated within.

Sarah Lerner: I would encourage first-time authors to ask the journal’s Managing Editor or shepherding editor (if they have one) questions about the publication process. Gaining insight into the stages that a manuscript will move through from submission to publication supports authors as they navigate an unfamiliar process. If an author knows what the next step is, they can address revisions, proofs, and other tasks with more confidence.

Courtney Berger: Don’t be afraid to share your work and solicit feedback. I find that a lot of authors hesitate to do that. They worry that the project isn’t developed enough, and they strive for perfection. Join a writing group; share your work with colleagues and friends; participate in a manuscript workshop; find out what editors think about the project. While there certainly are risks to putting your work out there, especially at an early stage, I think the benefits far outweigh those risks. Criticism can help an author shape their project and find their voice. Soliciting feedback allows you to think of writing as a conversation: you want a response. And the response can help you to reshape, clarify, or reconsider what you want to say. 

Ken Wissoker: Think about what parts of books in your field you love, and what parts you skim past. Ask your cohort. Where do you need the detail and where the big picture? Where the author’s voice and where that of others in the field? Try to write accordingly! Write for the people in grad school behind you who will look up to you, not for the senior people who you are worried will judge you. Take yourself seriously as a theorist (big or small) and write to convince people of your theory, not as if you were turning in a long report to someone. Find your voice. As mentioned above, the time from post-doc to person with book is comparatively short in the time of a career. In a way one has to write in the voice of the person one is just in the process of becoming. Find an editor who gets your work and will imagine it with you. 

Elizabeth Ault: Briefly, I think the most important advice is to understand and embrace the power that you and your ideas have. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or reach out–to colleagues, editors, mentors, etc. But also, be prepared when you do. Have a clear sense of what your project is about, what your argument is, how it’s different from the dissertation, what you imagine your book doing in the world, and who you imagine reading it.

But even if you have all this, it’s important to know that the process can often take a lot longer than anyone hopes! It’s not unusual for me to talk to first-time authors at conferences or over email for several years prior to their formal submission of materials for peer review. During this time, we’re building our relationship  (one of my favorite parts!) and developing the project through discussing ideas, giving feedback on introductions, talking through the structure of the project, suggesting participants for book manuscript workshops, etc. While one round of peer review usually only takes a few months, the full cycle of review and revision and Board Approval—from initial submission till a book appears IN PRINT (!)—almost always takes at least two years, and usually longer (though about a year of that is while the book is in production, being copyedited, designed, proofread, and printed, so the author’s substantive writing work is done). That can sound daunting, but I really think of it as a gift, as Ken has outlined elsewhere when talking about the importance of peer review. This long process is especially important for authors who, like most of the people I work with, are interdisciplinary scholars with ambitions to speak across scholarly conversations. 

Read more of Elizabeth Ault’s advice for first-time book authors in “Asking the Editors” in Inside Higher Ed.

What could publishers do to better support first-time authors?

Courtney Berger: Most presses and editors make efforts to help first-time authors navigate the publishing process by giving talks at conferences and at universities or through one-on-one discussions with new authors. At Duke, we’ve worked hard to connect with and support BIPOC scholars, queer & trans scholars, and scholars from marginalized groups, although there’s room to strengthen those efforts even further across the publishing industry. I also think we could do more outreach to scholars working at HBCUs, smaller universities and colleges, and non-research institutions, who may not have as much access to travel funds for major conferences (where editors tend to meet with authors) or who may not have ready access to publishing workshops and other opportunities to learn about the book publishing process. 

Ken Wissoker: Judge work on its quality, intervention, and potential impact, not the seniority or location of the authors.

Susan Stryker: I think “meet the editors” events do a lot to demystify the process, and help authors get a sense of the wide range of ways that different journals work.

Elizabeth Ault: I think posts like this and other talks/videos/etc/ that my colleagues and I have done are hugely important in demystifying the process. Being upfront about expectations and timelines is important especially with first time authors on the tenure track, since the timing can be so important. Not assuming authors understand the process—either the concrete steps of publishing (including things like selecting images and navigating fair use claims), or the more abstract parts like imagining the audience for your book or thinking about how the chapters should be ordered.

Are there any upcoming projects from first-time authors that you’re particularly excited about?

Courtney Berger: Oh my. So many! A few exciting first books that are about to be released: Evren Savci’s Queer in Translation: Sexual Politics under Neoliberal Islam; Ma Vang’s History on the Run: Secrecy, Fugitivity, and Hmong Refugee Epistemologies; and Hentyle Yapp’s Minor China: Method, Materialisms, and the Aesthetic. All three of these books push against conventional disciplinary boundaries and offer readers new theoretical tools for thinking about the complexities of race, religion, politics, and sexuality. And next fall keep an eye out for Xine Yao’s Disaffected: The Politics of Unfeeling in Nineteenth Century America and Rana Jaleel’s The Work of Rape, two stunning first books that make us rethink the relationship between gender, sexuality, race, and U.S. imperialism.

Ken Wissoker: Two just out: Alex Blanchette’s beautiful ethnography of a grim subject in Porkopolis—the way every part of a pig’s life cycle is commercialized in a next generation taylorization products one wouldn’t even associate with a pig—while also taking over a town’s life. And Vanessa Diaz’s Manufacturing Celebrity, an ethnography of two groups that keep People and other popular magazines in business. Paparazzi, who are mostly Latinx men working independently to take photos of stars. The magazines depend on the photos, but the men are disposable and easy to vilify as if they were stalkers rather than key to the star system. She also writes about the mostly white women deployed to industry events for gossip, and become likely targets for harassment or abuse.

And one in production: Mercy Romero’s moving and deep memoir of Camden, New Jersey is one I’m really excited by.  The beauty of her writing, combined with the way she gives a picture of race and space in her hometown is totally moving.  A truly exceptional first book!

Elizabeth Ault: I just had a slate of wonderful new first books come out! Please read my recommendations for books to buy to honor the American Anthropological Association conference that, in a parallel universe, is happening right now, to find out more about several of them. 

In Conversation: Kregg Hetherington, Amalia Leguizamón, and Gastón Gordillo

Our latest In Conversation video features a discussion about resource extraction in Latin America. Gastón Gordillo, Professor of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, and author of Rubble: The Afterlife of Destruction, talks with Kregg Hetherington, author of The Government of Beans: Regulating Life in the Age of Monocrops, and Amalia Leguizamón, author of Seeds of Power: Environmental Injustice and Genetically Modified Soybeans in Argentina. The authors discuss soybeans in Paraguay and Argentina and the relationship to governance, power, the environment, and social justice.

AAA Welcome Message from Gisela Fosado and Ken Wissoker

Gisela Fosado
Editorial Director Gisela Fosado

The annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association: Raising Our Voices has gone virtual. Editorial Director Gisela Fosado presents recommendations in pictures of the latest books in anthropology, and Senior Executive Editor Ken Wissoker has a message for virtual attendees at this year’s event.

On Friday, November 6, 2:30-3:30 PM EST, Raising Our Voices participants can join them and Anand PandianCarole McGranahan, Hugh Raffles, and Angela Garcia to discuss the opening of new forms and practices of ethnographic writing in their panel, “On Writing Otherwise: Rethinking the Genre and Forms of Ethnography”.

Gisela offers thematic recommendations of the latest DUP books in anthropology. First, a new title on celebrity culture: Vanessa Díaz’s Manufacturing Celebrity.
Gisela suggests two books on writing: Carole McGranahan’s Writing Anthropology and Amitava Kumar’s Every Day I Write the Book.
Here are three books to help decolonize anthropology: Arturo Escobar’s Pluriversal Politics, Leisy J. Abrego and Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales’s edited collection We Are Not Dreamers, and Joanne Rappaport’s Cowards Don’t Make History.
Four books on militarization and empire: Sarah B. Horton and Josiah Heyman’s edited collection Paper Trails, Saiba Varma’s The Occupied Clinic, Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas’s Parenting Empires, and D. Asher Ghertner, Hudson McFann, and Daniel M. Goldstein’s edited volume, Futureproof.
Next are five must-read multispecies ethnographies: Rosemary-Claire Collard’s Animal Traffic, Alex Blanchette’s Porkopolis, Lyle Fearnley’s Virulent Zones, Kregg Hetherington’s The Government of Beans, and Amalia Leguizamón’s Seeds of Power (not pictured).

And finally, six essential environmental studies ethnographies: Mimi Sheller’s Island Futures, Micha Rahder’s An Ecology of Knowledges, Kristina M. Lyons’s Vital Decomposition, Lesley Green’s Rock | Water | Life, and Hannah Knox’s Thinking Like a Climate.
Senior Executive Editor Ken Wissoker

I have strong memories of arriving in Minneapolis for AAA the week after the last election. The week before – the day after the election – I had gone to Washington DC for the Society for Ethnomusicology conference. The people I talked to there were in shock, and still at a ‘how could this happen?’ level of processing, while oddly trying to go on with business as usual.  As soon as I got to Minneapolis and AAA, my whole frame about the election shifted.  People were talking about global interconnections, neoliberalisms and populisms, Erdogan, Duterte, Modi and more. The discussions gave me a sense of context and shared political commitment that was – and is – desperately needed. 

That need is high on my list, but I am very sorry in many ways that we aren’t gathering in person this year. I like seeing everyone. It is also a thinking highlight of my year.  I’m still quoting things people said last year in Vancouver (thank you, Candis Callison and Christina Sharpe).  This year will be strange. And spread out. Gisela Fosado and I are on a panel Friday November 6 with our fabulous authors Anand Pandian and Carole McGranahan, along with the brilliant writers Hugh Raffles and Angela Garcia. Then December 4 – a month later – I’ll be participating in a AES Workshop organized by Naveeda Khan with Tom Lay from Fordham University Press and Jodi Lewchuck from University of Toronto Press.

Through all this, I will miss the chance to champion new books and to meet authors, new and old. I’ve been thrilled with our Marketing Department’s 50% off sale on all books and journal issues in stock and I hope you have already taken advantage of it (use coupon code AAA20). The sale doesn’t go all the way to December 4 like AAA – we aren’t that crazy—but it’s longer than the usual last day of AAA. It ends November 23.

Here are some of my favorite titles of interest to anthropologists, ones I might have been pointing out in the booth.

Our two crucial and needed lead titles are from Arturo Escobar and Marilyn Strathern. Escobar’s Pluriversal Politics is a guide to changing what is considered possible by opening out to indigenous and decolonial ontologies. Strathern’s Relations, considers exactly that, the forms of “relatives” and “relations” we currently employ and how we might think kin differently.

During the pandemic the Press has tried to bring some of the immediacy of author talks to the flat screen. I was lucky enough to have conversations with Vanessa Díaz, Carole McGranahan, and Alex Blanchette, each of whom has a fabulous new book. Vanessa’s Manufacturing Celebrity is an ethnography of two groups that make the Hollywood star system function: paparazzi, who are mostly Latinx men and young white women reporters, both necessary but disposable forms of labor. Alex Blanchette’s ethnography of a town totally arranged around pig processing, Porkopolis, is equally timely and compelling and shows that taylorized capititalism not only persists, but has reached unimagined levels. Carole McGranahan has put together 52 short essays by anthropologists, thinking about their writing, craft, and style in Writing Anthropology, a wonderful book that will be an inspiration to all of us.

Arlene Dávila’s necessary book, Latinx Art asks why US galleries and museums are so quick to engage with Latin American artists and elite curators but overlook the Latinx artists and curators in their own cities.  Karen Strassler has a great new book about the evolving deployment and recirculation of images in the politics of Indonesia, Demanding Images. Christine Schwenkel’s Building Socialism, on the attempts of East German architects to design for post-war Vietnam, a form of solidarity, and the buildings and their inhabitant’s afterlives. 

As always, there is a lot of great STS ethnography, including Noah Tamarkin’s Genetic Afterlives, on genetic testing and the claims of Black Jewish indigeneity by the Lembe people in South Africa; Dwai Banerjee’s compelling Enduring Cancer, on Dehli’s urban poor, where a cancer diagnosis is usually too late, one in a series of infrastructure failures for the patient.  There are also two books that are all-too-needed aids for thinking about the pandemic.  Lyle Fearnley’s Virulent Zones, a study of lab scientists seeking the sources for influenza working in China lakeside among waterfowl and duck farms; and Frédéric Keck’s Avian Reservoirs, on the different methods of tracking of cross-species disease in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan  Also, check out Also, Andrew Alan Johnson’s Mekong Dreaming about the changing lives of humans, animals, and spirits along the river.

The esteemed China anthropologist Mayfair Yang has an important rethinking of religion, secularity and modernity in Wezhou, Re-enchanting Modernity; and Gabriella Lukács has a smart study of women in the Japanese digital economy, Invisibility by Design.

Maya Stovall is an artist and anthropologist I first saw in the Whitney Biennial, where she presented videos that documented her dancing in liquor store parking lots in her Detroit neighborhood.  It turned out her dancing was a form of ethnographic engagement, part of an art and anthropology project now told in her new book, Liquor Store Theatre. Maureen Mahon’s new book, Black Diamond Queens, retells the story of rock and roll centering Black women from Laverne Baker to Tina Turner and Brittany Howard. Ethiraj Gabriel Dattatreyan looks at the way hip hop masculinities form and shift among participants from many locales meeting in Dehli in The Globally Familiar. Also, in a transnational flow I’d recommend Farzaneh Hemassi’s Tehrangeles Dreaming, about the international reach of Iranian music from Los Angeles, its production and its fantasy world, and its reception back in Iran.

Finally, I should mention that we are now the publisher of the paperback of John Szwed’s Space is the Place, the classic book on Sun Ra. I first met John at AAA, introduced by editor colleague Peter Agree, when this book was still being written. I’m thrilled to have It on our list now.

We always like to feature the big books from beyond the discipline that would be of interest to many at AAA.  There are some can’t miss books this year, including Ian Baucom’s History 4° Celsius, where he thinks the Anthropocene, the Black Atlantic, and colonial histories together; Jane Bennett’s follow-up to Vibrant Matter, Influx & Efflux; brilliant queer theory in Jack Halberstam’s Wild Things and José Esteban Munoz’s long-awaited last major work – sadly posthumous – The Sense of Brown.  Also, Erin Manning’s latest, For a Pragmatics of the Useless, which uses Black thought to think about neurotypicality; and Diana Taylor, ¡Presente!: The Politics of Presence, the latest in her stunning series on politics and performance. Finally I would recommend Nandita Sharma’s Home Rule, which traces how the right of a people to be on their land is also a legacy of colonial administration and control.

Of course, if you don’t have Achille Mbembe’s Necropolitics, the (MacArthur genius) Fred Moten’s trilogy, Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake, they are on sale too.  As are the big hits from AAA last year by Savannah Shange, Julie Livingston, Anand Pandian, Hannah Appel, Deborah Thomas, Bianca Williams, and others,  along with Tiffany Lethbo King’s necessary The Black Shoals.

Keep an eye out for Joseph Masco’s big new book, The Future of Fallout, and Other Episodes in Radioactive World-Making and Katherine McKittrick’s Dear Science and Other Stories, where she models what Black methodologies could be.

I hope that these suggestions are helpful and I hope to see all of you next year in person!

View our anthropology catalog below for a complete list of all our newest titles in anthropology and across disciplines. You can also explore all of our anthropology books and journals on dukeupress.edu. Since we cannot take photos of authors with their new books in our booth, this year, we instead offer an album of book selfies they have taken from home.

For further reading, Editor Elizabeth Ault presents her recommendations for new titles in the discipline in our previous blog post. If you were hoping to connect with Elizabeth, Gisela, Ken, or another of our editors about your book project at AAA, please reach out to them by email. See our editors’ specialties and contact information here and our online submissions guidelines here.

New Titles in Anthropology

AAA20_BlogEvery year we look forward to meeting authors in person at the AAA Annual Meeting, and we are sad to be missing out on that this year. The annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association: Raising Our Voices has gone virtual. We know that many of you look forward to stocking up on new books at special discounts at our conferences, so we are pleased to extend a 50% discount on all in-stock books and journal issues with coupon code AAA20 until November 23, 2020.

View our anthropology catalog below for a complete list of all our newest titles in anthropology and across disciplines. You can also explore all of our anthropology books and journals on dukeupress.edu. Since we cannot take photos of authors with their new books in our booth, this year, we instead offer an album of book selfies they have taken from home.

EAult_webEditor Elizabeth Ault presents her recommendations for new titles in the discipline. Be sure to check out more highlights from Editorial Director Gisela Fosado and Senior Executive Editor Ken Wissoker in their post this afternoon.

As usual, our anthropology list is home to some of the richest work highlighting many ways of seeking justice and creating a new world through spotlighting everyday practices and ways of knowing. I’d like to highlight a few of the most exciting new books:

First, Hannah Appel’s long-awaited Licit Life of Capitalism is a must-read for anthropologists curious about global flows of energy, capital, and infrastructure. People who’ve been following any of these conversations need to read Hannah’s take on the many strategies that US oil companies deploy to maintain the façade of capitalism’s smooth functioning.

Revolution and DisenchantmentFadi Bardawil’s Revolution and Disenchantment also offers an important methodological intervention through history of the Arab New Left in Beirut. Bardawil’s use of both historical and ethnographic methods – a fieldwork in theory – centers the production and circulation of social theory outside the metropole and revisits the relationship between theory and practice.

What does it mean to decolonize science? Lesley Green’s Rock | Water | Life is such an important book in thinking about how to live with (and maybe even to heal) our damaged planet–while also acknowledging and healing the ongoing realities of science’s collusion with colonialism, racism, and environmental exploitation.

Abby Dumes’s Divided Bodies similarly raises important questions about what counts as expertise and as evidence. Her book is a wonderful example of what ethnography can do, spending deep and compassionate time with people involved in debates over Lyme disease and the production of “evidence-based medicine.”

978-1-4780-0843-9_prFinally, Matthew Watson’s Afterlives of Affect is a super-readable and deeply innovative book. Watson forgoes easy answers in reconsidering the life of Mayanist Linda Schele and her circle as the basis for what he calls “an excitable anthropology” suffused with wonder and open to being moved.

Registered ROV participants can join us for these online events featuring Duke University Press authors:

On Friday, November 6, 2:30-3:30 PM EST Editors Gisela Fosado and Ken Wissoker join Anand PandianCarole McGranahan, Hugh Raffles, and Angela Garcia to discuss the opening of new forms and practices of ethnographic writing in their panel, “On Writing Otherwise: Rethinking the Genre and Forms of Ethnography”

On Thursday, November 12, 5:00-6:00 PM EST, join Ruha Benjamin for the 2020 Joint ABA/CASTAC Invited Lecture, “Racial Violence & Technology: A Conversation with Ruha Benjamin.” 

Savannah Shange joins other authors to discuss “Abolition, Activism, and Decolonization: New Books Challenging Settler Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism in North America” on Saturday, November 7, 2:30-3:30 PM EST.

If you were hoping to connect with Elizabeth, Gisela, Ken, or another of our editors about your book project at AAA, please reach out to them by email. See our editors’ specialties and contact information here and our online submissions guidelines here.

New Books in November

November is here, and even though we may have the US election and the end of the semester on our minds, there are still new books to celebrate. Check out our November releases. They should all be out before the end of our 50% off sale on November 23, so be sure to check the website frequently. Use coupon code FALL2020 to save.

AnimaliaAnimalia: An Anti-Imperial Bestiary for Our Times is a unique new collection edited by Antoinette Burton and Renisa Mawani. The contributors analyze twenty-six animals—domestic, feral, predatory, and mythical—whose relationship to imperial authorities and settler colonists reveals how the presumed racial supremacy of Europeans underwrote the history of Western imperialism.

In Aesthetics of Excess: The Art and Politics of Black and Latina Embodiment, Jillian Hernandez examines how cultural discourses of aesthetic value racialize the bodies of women and girls of color by Analyzing the personal clothing, makeup, and hairstyles of working-class Black and Latina girls.

Liquor Store TheatreIn Liquor Store Theatre, artist and anthropologist Maya Stovall uses her Liquor Store Theatre conceptual art project—in which she danced near her Detroit neighborhood’s liquor stores as a way to start conversations with her neighbors—as a point of departure for understanding everyday life in Detroit and the possibilities for ethnographic research, art, and knowledge creation.

Mimi Sheller’s Island Futures: Caribbean Survival in the Anthropocene delves into the ecological crises and reconstruction challenges affecting the entire Caribbean region, showing how vulnerability to ecological collapse and the quest for a “just recovery” in the Caribbean emerge from specific transnational political, economic, and cultural dynamics.

Militarized Global ApartheidCatherine Besteman offers a sweeping theorization of the ways in which countries from the global North are reproducing South Africa’s apartheid system on a worldwide scale to control the mobility and labor of people from the global South in her new book Militarized Global Apartheid.

In Biopolitics of the More-Than-Human: Forensic Ecologies of Violence, Joseph Pugliese examines the concept of the biopolitical through a nonanthropocentric lens, arguing that more-than-human entities—from soil and orchards to animals and water—are actors and agents in their own right with legitimate claims to justice.

For a Pragmatics of the UselessFor a Pragmatics of the Useless by Erin Manning draws on the radical black tradition, process philosophy, and Felix Guattari’s schizoanalysis to explore the links between neurotypicality, whiteness, and black life.

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

Virtual Events in November

There are many great ways to meet our authors online in November. We hope you can attend one of these virtual events. Note that we have included the local time zone for each event; please adjust for your own geographic location.

Influx and EffluxNovember 3, 12 pm EST: Duke University Press will host a panel discussion on Jane Bennett’s book Influx and Efflux, featuring Kathy Ferguson, Emily A. Parker, Bernd Herzogenrath, Derek McCormack and Peter M. Coviello. Register here.

November 5, 7 pm EST: The National Museum of African American History and Culture sponsors an event featuring Maureen Mahon, author of the new book Black Diamond Queens, in conversation with NPR’s Ann Powers. The event will be streamed on the NPR Music YouTube channel.

November 6, 9:30 am EST: Fadi A. Bardawil, author of Revolution and Disenchantment, gives a talk entitled “Overcoming Theory’s Resistances: Translating Arab Revolutions Past and Present,” sponsored by Duke University’s Islamic Studies Center and Franklin Humanities Institute.

November 6, 5:00 pm EST: Brigitte Fielder, author of Relative Races, joins three other scholars for a celebration of new and noteworthy books by members of the Civil War Caucus of the Modern Language Association.

November 10, 12 pm EST: Dr. Louise Amoore presents her new book, Cloud Ethics: Algorithms and the Attributes of Ourselves and Others in an event hosted by the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology at Concordia.blackdiamondqueens

November 10, 5 pm EST: Tune into a roundtable discussion about Latinx Art by Arlene Dávila. This event is sponsored by the NYU Center for the Humanities and the Latinx Project.

November 11, 3 pm EST: The University of Virginia’s Institute of the Humanities & Global Cultures sponsors a talk by Joanne Rappaport, author of Cowards Don’t Make History, in which she will discuss the impact of research on liberation and its emancipatory power.

November 11, 7:30 pm EST: Maureen Mahon joins Bridgette Davis for a conversation about Mahon’s new book Black Diamond Queens, in an event sponsored by Greenlight Bookstore.

November 12, 3:30 pm CST: Samantha Pinto, author of Infamous Bodies, discusses her book with Jennifer Nash, author of Black Feminism Reimagined, in an event sponsored by the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies at the University of Texas.

Resource RadicalsNovember 13, 12 pm EST: Thea Riofrancos will present her new book, Resource Radicals, in an event sponsored by the Rhodes Center and Climate Solutions Lab at Brown University.

November 14, 2 pm EST: Join author Ronak K. Kapadia and panelists Jodi Kim, Keith P. Feldman, Sara Mameni, and Kareem Khubchandani for a one-year publication anniversary celebration of Kapadia’s book Insurgent Aesthetics.

November 20, 10 pm EST: Watch a roundtable discussion, featuring Lyle Fearnley, author of Virulent Zones, and Saiba Varma, author of The Occupied Clinic, about the therapeutic politics of care. Sponsored by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute.

We also encourage you to check out our In Conversation video series on YouTube. Recent videos include Senior Executive Editor Ken Wissoker speaking with Vanessa Díaz about her book Manufacturing Celebrity and Assistant Editor Joshua Gutterman Tranen talking with Ricardo Montez about his book Keith Haring’s Line.

In Conversation: Vanessa Díaz and Ken Wissoker

Check out our latest In Conversation video featuring Senior Executive Editor Ken Wissoker talking with Vanessa Díaz about her new book, Manufacturing Celebrity: Latino Paparazzi and Women Reporters in Hollywood. Díaz talks about her own experiences as a celebrity journalist, the impact of #MeToo and #OscarsSoWhite, and the lives of paparazzo.

Manufacturing Celebrity, and all our in-stock titles, are 50% off during our Fall Sale using coupon code FALL2020. Shop now; the sale ends November 23.