Sunday, June 25, 2017

"Where Three Worlds Met"

New from Cornell University Press: Where Three Worlds Met: Sicily in the Early Medieval Mediterranean by Sarah Davis-Secord.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sicily is a lush and culturally rich island at the center of the Mediterranean Sea. Throughout its history, the island has been conquered and colonized by successive waves of peoples from across the Mediterranean region. In the early and central Middle Ages, the island was ruled and occupied in turn by Greek Christians, Muslims, and Latin Christians.

In Where Three Worlds Met, Sarah Davis-Secord investigates Sicily's place within the religious, diplomatic, military, commercial, and intellectual networks of the Mediterranean by tracing the patterns of travel, trade, and communication among Christians (Latin and Greek), Muslims, and Jews. By looking at the island across this long expanse of time and during the periods of transition from one dominant culture to another, Davis-Secord uncovers the patterns that defined and redefined the broader Muslim-Christian encounter in the Middle Ages.

Sicily was a nexus for cross-cultural communication not because of its geographical placement at the center of the Mediterranean but because of the specific roles the island played in a variety of travel and trade networks in the Mediterranean region. Complex combinations of political, cultural, and economic need transformed Sicily’s patterns of connection to other nearby regions—transformations that were representative of the fundamental shifts that took place in the larger Mediterranean system during the Middle Ages. The meanings and functions of Sicily’s positioning within these larger Mediterranean communications networks depended on the purposes to which the island was being put and how it functioned at the boundaries of the Greek, Latin, and Muslim worlds.
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 24, 2017

"The Fifty-Year Rebellion"

New from the University of California Press: The Fifty-Year Rebellion: How the U.S. Political Crisis Began in Detroit by Scott Kurashige.

About the book, from the publisher:
On July 23, 1967, the eyes of the world fixed on Detroit, as thousands took to the streets to vent their frustrations with white racism, police brutality, and vanishing job prospects in the place that gave rise to the American Dream. Mainstream observers contended that the “riot” brought about the ruin of a once-great city; for them, the municipal bankruptcy of 2013 served as a bailout paving the way for the rebuilding of Detroit. Challenging this prevailing view, Scott Kurashige portrays the past half century as a long rebellion whose underlying tensions continue to haunt the city and the U.S. nation-state. He sees Michigan’s scandal-ridden "emergency management" regime, set up to handle the bankruptcy, as the most concerted effort to put it down by disenfranchising the majority black citizenry and neutralizing the power of unions.

Are we succumbing to authoritarian plutocracy or can we create a new society rooted in social justice and participatory democracy? The corporate architects of Detroit’s restructuring have championed the creation of a “business-friendly” city, where billionaire developers are subsidized to privatize and gentrify Downtown, while working-class residents are being squeezed out by rampant housing evictions, school closures, water shutoffs, toxic pollution, and militarized policing. Grassroots organizers, however, have transformed Detroit into an international model for survival, resistance, and solidarity through the creation of urban farms, freedom schools, and self-governing communities. This epochal struggle illuminates the possible futures for our increasingly unstable and polarized nation.
The Page 99 Test: The Shifting Grounds of Race.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 23, 2017

"In Lady Liberty's Shadow"

New from Rutgers University Press: In Lady Liberty's Shadow: The Politics of Race and Immigration in New Jersey by Robyn Magalit Rodriguez.

About the book, from the publisher:
Home to Ellis Island, New Jersey has been the first stop for many immigrant groups for well over a century. Yet in this highly diverse state, some of the most anti-immigrant policies in the nation are being tested. American suburbs are home to increasing numbers of first and second-generation immigrants who may actually be bypassing the city to settle directly into the neighborhoods that their predecessors have already begun to plant roots in—a trajectory that leads to nativist ordinances and other forms of xenophobia.

In Lady Liberty’s Shadow examines popular white perceptions of danger represented by immigrants and their children, as well the specter that lurks at the edges of suburbs in the shape of black and Latino urban underclasses and the ever more nebulous hazard of (presumed-Islamic) terrorism that threatening to undermine “life as we know it.” Robyn Magalit Rodriguez explores the impact of anti-immigrant municipal ordinances on a range of immigrant groups living in varied suburban communities, from undocumented Latinos in predominantly white suburbs to long-established Asian immigrants in “majority-minority” suburbs. The “American Dream” that suburban life is supposed to represent is shown to rest on a racialized, segregated social order meant to be enjoyed only by whites. Although it is a case study of New Jersey, In Lady Liberty’s Shadow offers crucial insights that can shed fresh light on the national immigration debate.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 22, 2017

"Heretics and Believers"

New from Yale University Press: Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation by Peter Marshall.

About the book, from the publisher:
A sumptuously written people’s history and a major retelling and reinterpretation of the story of the English Reformation

Centuries on, what the Reformation was and what it accomplished remain deeply contentious. Peter Marshall’s sweeping new history—the first major overview for general readers in a generation—argues that sixteenth-century England was a society neither desperate for nor allergic to change, but one open to ideas of “reform” in various competing guises. King Henry VIII wanted an orderly, uniform Reformation, but his actions opened a Pandora’s Box from which pluralism and diversity flowed and rooted themselves in English life.

With sensitivity to individual experience as well as masterfully synthesizing historical and institutional developments, Marshall frames the perceptions and actions of people great and small, from monarchs and bishops to ordinary families and ecclesiastics, against a backdrop of profound change that altered the meanings of “religion” itself. This engaging history reveals what was really at stake in the overthrow of Catholic culture and the reshaping of the English Church.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"Haiti and the Uses of America"

New from Rutgers University Press: Haiti and the Uses of America: Post-U.S. Occupation Promises by Chantalle F. Verna.

About the book, from the publisher:
Contrary to popular notions, Haiti-U.S. relations have not only been about Haitian resistance to U.S. domination. In Haiti and the Uses of America, Chantalle F. Verna makes evident that there have been key moments of cooperation that contributed to nation-building in both countries.

In the years following the U.S. occupation of Haiti (1915-1934), Haitian politicians and professionals with a cosmopolitan outlook shaped a new era in Haiti-U.S. diplomacy. Their efforts, Verna shows, helped favorable ideas about the United States, once held by a small segment of Haitian society, circulate more widely. In this way, Haitians contributed to and capitalized upon the spread of internationalism in the Americas and the larger world.
Chantalle F. Verna is an associate professor of history and international relations at Florida International University in Miami.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

"Unshackling America"

New from St. Martin's Press: Unshackling America: How the War of 1812 Truly Ended the American Revolution by Willard Sterne Randall.

About the book, from the publisher:
Unshackling America challenges the persistent fallacy that Americans fought two separate wars of independence. Willard Sterne Randall documents an unremitting fifty-year-long struggle for economic independence from Britain overlapping two armed conflicts linked by an unacknowledged global struggle. Throughout this perilous period, the struggle was all about free trade.

Neither Jefferson nor any other Founding Father could divine that the Revolutionary Period of 1763 to 1783 had concluded only one part, the first phase of their ordeal. The Treaty of Paris of 1783 at the end of the Revolutionary War halted overt combat but had achieved only partial political autonomy from Britain. By not guaranteeing American economic independence and agency, Britain continued to deny American sovereignty.

Randall details the fifty years and persistent attempts by the British to control American trade waters, but he also shows how, despite the outrageous restrictions, the United States asserted the doctrine of neutral rights and developed the world’s second largest merchant fleet as it absorbed the French Caribbean trade. American ships carrying trade increased five-fold between 1790 and 1800, its tonnage nearly doubling again between 1800 and 1812, ultimately making the United States the world’s largest independent maritime power.
Visit Willard Sterne Randall's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Classical Greek Oligarchy"

New from Princeton University Press: Classical Greek Oligarchy: A Political History by Matthew Simonton.

About the book, from the publisher:
Classical Greek Oligarchy thoroughly reassesses an important but neglected form of ancient Greek government, the "rule of the few." Matthew Simonton challenges scholarly orthodoxy by showing that oligarchy was not the default mode of politics from time immemorial, but instead emerged alongside, and in reaction to, democracy. He establishes for the first time how oligarchies maintained power in the face of potential citizen resistance. The book argues that oligarchs designed distinctive political institutions—such as intra-oligarchic power sharing, targeted repression, and rewards for informants—to prevent collective action among the majority population while sustaining cooperation within their own ranks.

To clarify the workings of oligarchic institutions, Simonton draws on recent social science research on authoritarianism. Like modern authoritarian regimes, ancient Greek oligarchies had to balance coercion with co-optation in order to keep their subjects disorganized and powerless. The book investigates topics such as control of public space, the manipulation of information, and the establishment of patron-client relations, frequently citing parallels with contemporary nondemocratic regimes. Simonton also traces changes over time in antiquity, revealing the processes through which oligarchy lost the ideological battle with democracy for legitimacy.

Classical Greek Oligarchy represents a major new development in the study of ancient politics. It fills a longstanding gap in our knowledge of nondemocratic government while greatly improving our understanding of forms of power that continue to affect us today.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 19, 2017

"The Knowledge We Have Lost in Information"

New from Oxford University Press: The Knowledge We Have Lost in Information: The History of Information in Modern Economics by Philip Mirowski and Edward Nik-Khah.

About the book, from the publisher:
Information is a central concept in economics, and The Knowledge We Have Lost in Information explores its treatment in modern economics. The study of information, far from offering enlightenment, resulted in all matter of confusion for economists and the public.

Philip Mirowski and Edward Nik-Khah argue that the conventional wisdom suggesting "economic rationality" was the core of modern economics is incomplete. In this trenchant investigation, they demonstrate that the history of modern microeconomics is better organized as a history of the treatment of information. The book begins with a brief primer on information, and then shows how economists have responded over time to successive developments on the concept of information in the natural sciences. Mirowski and Nik-Khah detail various intellectual battles that were fought to define, analyze, and employ information in economics. As these debates developed, economists progressively moved away from pure agent conscious self-awareness as a non-negotiable desideratum of economic models toward a focus on markets and their design as information processors. This has led to a number of policies, foremost among them: auction design of resources like the electromagnetic spectrum crucial to modern communications.

The Knowledge We Have Lost in Information provides insight into the interface between disputes within the economics discipline and the increasing role of information in contemporary society. Mirowski and Nik-Khah examine how this intersection contributed to the dominance of neoliberal approaches to economics, politics, and other realms.
The Page 99 Test: Philip Mirowski's Science-Mart.

--Marshal Zeringue

"What Is an Event?"

New from the University of Chicago Press: What Is an Event? by Robin Wagner-Pacifici.

About the book, from the publisher:
We live in a world of breaking news, where at almost any moment our everyday routine can be interrupted by a faraway event. Events are central to the way that individuals and societies experience life. Even life’s inevitable moments—birth, death, love, and war—are almost always a surprise. Inspired by the cataclysmic events of September 11, Robin Wagner-Pacifici presents here a tour de force, an analysis of how events erupt and take off from the ground of ongoing, everyday life, and how they then move across time and landscape.

What Is an Event? ranges across several disciplines, systematically analyzing the ways that events emerge, take shape, gain momentum, flow, and even get bogged down. As an exploration of how events are constructed out of ruptures, it provides a mechanism for understanding eventful forms and flows, from the micro-level of individual life events to the macro-level of historical revolutions, contemporary terrorist attacks, and financial crises. Wagner-Pacifici takes a close look at a number of cases, both real and imagined, through the reports, personal narratives, paintings, iconic images, political posters, sculptures, and novels they generate and through which they live on. What is ultimately at stake for individuals and societies in events, Wagner-Pacifici argues, are identities, loyalties, social relationships, and our very experiences of time and space. What Is an Event? provides a way for us all—as social and political beings living through events, and as analysts reflecting upon them—to better understand what is at stake in the formations and flows of the events that mark and shape our lives.
The Page 99 Test: The Art of Surrender.

Writers Read: Robin Wagner-Pacifici (October 2007).

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 18, 2017

"Mega-events and Social Change"

New from Manchester University Press: Mega-events and Social Change: Spectacle, legacy and public culture by Maurice Roche.

About the book, from the publisher:
The spectacle of major cultural and sporting events can preoccupy modern societies. This book is concerned with contemporary mega-events, like the Olympics and Expos. Using a sociological perspective Roche argues that mega-events reflect the major social changes which now influence our societies, particularly in the West, and that these amount to a new 'second phase' of the modernization process. Changes are particularly visible in the media, urban and global locational aspects of mega-events. Thus he suggests that contemporary mega-events, both in their achievements and their vulnerabilities, reflect, in the media sphere, the rise of the internet; in the urban sphere, de-industrialisation and the growing ecological crisis; and in the global sphere, the relative decline of the West and the rise of China and other 'emerging' countries. The book investigates the ways in which contemporary mega-events reflect, but also mark and influence, social changes in each of these three contexts.
Maurice Roche is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Sheffield.

--Marshal Zeringue