Friday, January 20, 2017

"Tainted Witness"

New from Columbia University Press: Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives by Leigh Gilmore.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1991, Anita Hill's testimony during Clarence Thomas's Senate confirmation hearing brought the problem of sexual harassment to a public audience. Although widely believed by women, Hill was defamed by conservatives and Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court. The tainting of Hill and her testimony is part of a larger social history in which women find themselves caught up in a system that refuses to believe what they say. Hill's experience shows how a tainted witness is not who someone is, but what someone can become.

Why are women so often considered unreliable witnesses to their own experiences? How are women discredited in legal courts and in courts of public opinion? Why is women's testimony so often mired in controversies fueled by histories of slavery and colonialism? How do new feminist witnesses enter testimonial networks and disrupt doubt? Tainted Witness examines how gender, race, and doubt stick to women witnesses as their testimony circulates in search of an adequate witness. Judgment falls unequally upon women who bear witness, as well-known conflicts about testimonial authority in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries reveal. Women's testimonial accounts demonstrate both the symbolic potency of women's bodies and speech in the public sphere and the relative lack of institutional security and control to which they can lay claim. Each testimonial act follows in the wake of a long and invidious association of race and gender with lying that can be found to this day within legal courts and everyday practices of judgment, defining these locations as willfully unknowing and hostile to complex accounts of harm. Bringing together feminist, literary, and legal frameworks, Leigh Gilmore provides provocative readings of what happens when women's testimony is discredited. She demonstrates how testimony crosses jurisdictions, publics, and the unsteady line between truth and fiction in search of justice.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 19, 2017

"Invisible Weapons"

New from Cornell University Press: Invisible Weapons: Liturgy and the Making of Crusade Ideology by M. Cecilia Gaposchkin.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1098, three years into the First Crusade and after a brutal eight-month siege, the Franks captured the city of Antioch. Two days later, Muslim forces arrived with a relief army, and the victors became the besieged. Exhausted and ravaged by illness and hunger, the Franks were exhorted by their religious leaders to supplicate God, and for three days they performed a series of liturgical exercises, beseeching God through ritual prayer to forgive their sins and grant them victory. The following day, the Christian army, accompanied by bishops and priests reciting psalms and hymns, marched out of the city to face the Muslim forces and won a resounding and improbable victory.

From the very beginning and throughout the history of the Crusades, liturgical prayer, masses, and alms were all marshaled in the fight against the Muslim armies. During the Fifth Crusade, Pope Honorius III likened liturgy to "invisible weapons." This book is about those invisible weapons; about the prayers and liturgical rituals that were part of the battle for the faith. M. Cecilia Gaposchkin tells the story of the greatest collective religious undertaking of the Middle Ages, putting front and center the ways in which Latin Christians communicated their ideas and aspirations for crusade to God through liturgy, how liturgy was deployed in crusading, and how liturgy absorbed ideals or priorities of crusading. Liturgy helped construct the devotional ideology of the crusading project, endowing war with religious meaning, placing crusading ideals at the heart of Christian identity, and embedding crusading warfare squarely into the eschatological economy. By connecting medieval liturgical books with the larger narrative of crusading, Gaposchkin allows us to understand a crucial facet in the culture of holy war.
--Marshal Zeringue

"Assassination of a Saint"

New from the University of California Press: Assassination of a Saint: The Plot to Murder Óscar Romero and the Quest to Bring His Killers to Justice by Matt Eisenbrandt.

About the book, from the publisher:
On March 24, 1980, the assassination of El Salvador’s Archbishop Óscar Romero rocked that nation and the world. Despite the efforts of many in El Salvador and beyond, those responsible for Romero’s murder remained unpunished for their heinous crime. Assassination of a Saint is the thrilling story of an international team of lawyers, private investigators, and human-rights experts that fought to bring justice for the slain hero. Matt Eisenbrandt, a lawyer who was part of the investigative team, recounts in this gripping narrative how he and his colleagues interviewed eyewitnesses and former members of death squads while searching for evidence on those who financed them. As investigators worked toward the only court verdict ever reached for the murder of the martyred archbishop, they uncovered information with profound implications for El Salvador and the United States.
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

"The Technocratic Antarctic"

New from Cornell University Press: The Technocratic Antarctic: An Ethnography of Scientific Expertise and Environmental Governance by Jessica O'Reilly.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Technocratic Antarctic is an ethnographic account of the scientists and policymakers who work on Antarctica. In a place with no indigenous people, Antarctic scientists and policymakers use expertise as their primary model of governance. Scientific research and policymaking are practices that inform each other, and the Antarctic environment—with its striking beauty, dramatic human and animal lives, and specter of global climate change—not only informs science and policy but also lends Antarctic environmentalism a particularly technocratic patina.

Jessica O'Reilly conducted most of her research for this book in New Zealand, home of the "Antarctic Gateway" city of Christchurch, and on an expedition to Windless Bight, Antarctica, with the New Zealand Antarctic Program. O’Reilly also follows the journeys Antarctic scientists and policymakers take to temporarily “Antarctic” places such as science conferences, policy workshops, and the international Antarctic Treaty meetings in Scotland, Australia, and India. Competing claims of nationalism, scientific disciplines, field experiences, and personal relationships among Antarctic environmental managers disrupt the idea of a utopian epistemic community. O’Reilly focuses on what emerges in Antarctica among the complicated and hybrid forms of science, sociality, politics, and national membership found there. The Technocratic Antarctic unfolds the historical, political, and moral contexts that shape experiences of and decisions about the Antarctic environment.
--Marshal Zeringue

"The Great Leveler"

New from Princeton University Press: The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century by Walter Scheidel.

About the book, from the publisher:
Are mass violence and catastrophes the only forces that can seriously decrease economic inequality? To judge by thousands of years of history, the answer is yes. Tracing the global history of inequality from the Stone Age to today, Walter Scheidel shows that inequality never dies peacefully. Inequality declines when carnage and disaster strike and increases when peace and stability return. The Great Leveler is the first book to chart the crucial role of violent shocks in reducing inequality over the full sweep of human history around the world.

Ever since humans began to farm, herd livestock, and pass on their assets to future generations, economic inequality has been a defining feature of civilization. Over thousands of years, only violent events have significantly lessened inequality. The "Four Horsemen" of leveling—mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolutions, state collapse, and catastrophic plagues—have repeatedly destroyed the fortunes of the rich. Scheidel identifies and examines these processes, from the crises of the earliest civilizations to the cataclysmic world wars and communist revolutions of the twentieth century. Today, the violence that reduced inequality in the past seems to have diminished, and that is a good thing. But it casts serious doubt on the prospects for a more equal future.

An essential contribution to the debate about inequality, The Great Leveler provides important new insights about why inequality is so persistent—and why it is unlikely to decline anytime soon.
--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

"Expelling the Poor"

New from Oxford University Press: Expelling the Poor: Atlantic Seaboard States and the Nineteenth-Century Origins of American Immigration Policy by Hidetaka Hirota.

About the book, from the publisher:
Historians have long assumed that immigration to the United States was free from regulation until anti-Asian racism on the West Coast triggered the introduction of federal laws to restrict Chinese immigration in the 1880s. Studies of European immigration and government control on the East Coast have, meanwhile, focused on Ellis Island, which opened in 1892.

In this groundbreaking work, Hidetaka Hirota reinterprets the origins of immigration restriction in the United States, especially deportation policy, offering the first sustained study of immigration control conducted by states prior to the introduction of federal immigration law. Faced with the influx of impoverished Irish immigrants over the first half of the nineteenth century, nativists in New York and Massachusetts built upon colonial poor laws to develop policies for prohibiting the landing of destitute foreigners and deporting those already resident to Europe, Canada, or other American states. These policies laid the foundations for federal immigration law. By investigating state officials' practices of illegal removal, including the overseas deportation of citizens, this book reveals how the state-level treatment of destitute immigrants set precedents for the use of unrestricted power against undesirable aliens. It also traces the transnational lives of the migrants from their initial departure from Ireland and passage to North America through their expulsion from the United States and postdeportation lives in Europe, showing how American deportation policy operated as part of the broader exclusion of nonproducing members from societies in the Atlantic world.

By locating the roots of American immigration control in cultural prejudice against the Irish and, more essentially, economic concerns about their poverty in nineteenth-century New York and Massachusetts, Expelling the Poor fundamentally revises the history of American immigration policy.
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 16, 2017

"Bound Feet, Young Hands"

New from Stanford University Press: Bound Feet, Young Hands: Tracking the Demise of Footbinding in Village China by Laurel Bossen and Hill Gates.

About the book, from the publisher:
Footbinding was common in China until the early twentieth century, when most Chinese were family farmers. Why did these families bind young girls' feet? And why did footbinding stop? In this groundbreaking work, Laurel Bossen and Hill Gates upend the popular view of footbinding as a status, or even sexual, symbol by showing that it was an undeniably effective way to get even very young girls to sit still and work with their hands.

Interviews with 1,800 elderly women, many with bound feet, reveal the reality of girls' hand labor across the North China Plain, Northwest China, and Southwest China. As binding reshaped their feet, mothers disciplined girls to spin, weave, and do other handwork because many village families depended on selling such goods. When factories eliminated the economic value of handwork, footbinding died out. As the last generation of footbound women passes away, Bound Feet, Young Hands presents a data-driven examination of the social and economic aspects of this misunderstood custom.
--Marshal Zeringue

"The Trouble with Tea"

New from the Johns Hopkins University Press: The Trouble with Tea: The Politics of Consumption in the Eighteenth-Century Global Economy by Jane T. Merritt.

About the book, from the publisher:
Americans imagined tea as central to their revolution. After years of colonial boycotts against the commodity, the Sons of Liberty kindled the fire of independence when they dumped tea in the Boston harbor in 1773. To reject tea as a consumer item and symbol of "taxation without representation" was to reject Great Britain as master of the American economy and government. But tea played a longer and far more complicated role in American economic history than the events at Boston suggest.

In The Trouble with Tea, historian Jane T. Merritt explores tea as a central component of eighteenth-century global trade and probes its connections to the politics of consumption. Arguing that tea caused trouble over the course of the eighteenth century in a number of different ways, Merritt traces the multifaceted impact of that luxury item on British imperial policy, colonial politics, and the financial structure of merchant companies. Merritt challenges the assumption among economic historians that consumer demand drove merchants to provide an ever-increasing supply of goods, thus sparking a consumer revolution in the early eighteenth century.

The Trouble with Tea reveals a surprising truth: that concerns about the British political economy, coupled with the corporate machinations of the East India Company, brought an abundance of tea to Britain, causing the company to target North America as a potential market for surplus tea. American consumers only slowly habituated themselves to the beverage, aided by clever marketing and the availability of Caribbean sugar. Indeed, the "revolution" in consumer activity that followed came not from a proliferation of goods, but because the meaning of these goods changed. By the 1750s, British subjects at home and in America increasingly purchased and consumed tea on a daily basis; once thought a luxury, tea had become a necessity. This fascinating look at the unpredictable path of a single commodity will change the way readers look at both tea and the emergence of America.
--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 15, 2017

"Intelligence, Security and the Attlee Governments, 1945-51"

New from Manchester University Press: Intelligence, Security and the Attlee Governments, 1945-51 by Daniel W.B. Lomas.

About the book, from the publisher:
Drawing on recently released documents and private papers, this is the first book-length study to examine the intimate relationship between the Attlee government and Britain's intelligence and security services at the start of the Cold War. Often praised for the formation of the modern-day 'welfare state', Attlee's government also played a significant, if little understood, role in combating communism at home and overseas, often in the face of vocal, sustained opposition from its own backbenches. This book tells the story of Attlee's Cold War. From Whitehall vetting to secret operations in Eastern Europe and the fallout of Soviet atomic espionage on both sides of the Atlantic, it provides a fresh interpretation of the Attlee government, making it essential reading for anyone interested in the Labour Party, intelligence, security and Britain's foreign and defence policy at the start of the Cold War.
--Marshal Zeringue

"States of Disease"

New from the University of California Press: States of Disease: Political Environments and Human Health by Brian King.

About the book, from the publisher:
Human health is shaped by the interactions between social and ecological systems. In States of Disease, Brian King advances a social ecology of health framework to demonstrate how historical spatial formations contribute to contemporary vulnerabilities to disease and the opportunities for health justice. He examines how expanded access to antiretroviral therapy is transforming managed HIV in South Africa. And he reveals how environmental health is shifting due to global climate change and flooding variability in northern Botswana. These case studies illustrate how the political environmental context shapes the ways in which health is embodied, experienced, and managed.
Brian King is Associate Professor of Geography at The Pennsylvania State University.

--Marshal Zeringue