April 2017

Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer (CSSH 53-1, 2011, “The Nature of Sleep“) has just published The Slumbering Masses: Sleep, Medicine, and Modern American Life (University of Minnesota Press, 2016):

The Slumbering Masses addresses the phenomenon of sleep and sleeplessness in the United States, tracing the influence of medicine and industrial capitalism on Americans’ sleeping habits since the nineteenth century. Drawing on untapped archival sources and ethnographic research with people who experience and treat sleep abnormalities, Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer analyzes and critiques how sleep and its supposed disorders are understood and treated.

Jaeeun Kim (CSSH 56-1, 2014, “The Colonial State, Migration, and Diasporic Nationhood in Korea“) has a new book: Contested Embrace: Transborder Membership Politics in Twentieth-Century Korea (Stanford University Press, 2016). Here is Stanford’s description of the book:

Scholars have long examined the relationship between nation-states and their “internal others,” such as immigrants and ethnoracial minorities. Contested Embrace shifts the analytic focus to explore how a state relates to people it views as “external members” such as emigrants and diasporas. Specifically, Jaeeun Kim analyzes disputes over the belonging of Koreans in Japan and China, focusing on their contested relationship with the colonial and postcolonial states in the Korean peninsula. Extending the constructivist approach to nationalisms and the culturalist view of the modern state to a transnational context,Contested Embrace illuminates the political and bureaucratic construction of ethno-national populations beyond the territorial boundary of the state. Through a comparative analysis of transborder membership politics in the colonial, Cold War, and post-Cold War periods, the book shows how the configuration of geopolitics, bureaucratic techniques, and actors’ agency shapes the making, unmaking, and remaking of transborder ties. Kim demonstrates that being a “homeland” state or a member of the “transborder nation” is a precarious, arduous, and revocable political achievement.

Ricardo D Salvatore (CSSH 56-4, 2014, “Progress and Backwardness in Book Accumulation: Bancroft, Basadre, and Their Libraries”) has published Disciplinary Conquest: U.S. Scholars in South America, 1900–1945 (Duke UP, 2015). Here is an overview from Duke:

In Disciplinary Conquest Ricardo D. Salvatore rewrites the origin story of Latin American studies by tracing the discipline’s roots back to the first half of the twentieth century. Salvatore focuses on the work of five representative U.S. scholars of South America—historian Clarence Haring, geographer Isaiah Bowman, political scientist Leo Rowe, sociologist Edward Ross, and archaeologist Hiram Bingham—to show how Latin American studies was allied with U.S. business and foreign policy interests. Diplomats, policy makers, business investors, and the American public used the knowledge these and other scholars gathered to build an informal empire that fostered the growth of U.S. economic, technological, and cultural hegemony throughout the hemisphere. Tying the drive to know South America to the specialization and rise of Latin American studies, Salvatore shows how the disciplinary conquest of South America affirmed a new mode of American imperial engagement.

Congratulations also to Alan Mikhail (CSSH 54-4, 2012, “The Ottoman Empire and the Imperial Turn” [with Christine M. Philliou]) for winning the Leopold-Hidy Prize for Best Article in Environmental History. Here is the award statement from Lisa Brady, editor for the journal:

Each year, members of the Editorial Board read and select among the articles published in Environmental History the one that best exemplifies the research and writing in our field. Every year, I hear how difficult it is to choose. Nevertheless, one always rises to the top and this year it is Alan Mikhail’s “Ottoman Iceland: A Climate History.” As editor, I ask the board members to provide their assessments of the top article. One responded, “Mikhail’s essay convincingly links a volcanic eruption in the North Atlantic to the riverine flows of the Nile; the immediate effects of volcanic ash and cloud in Iceland on animals and people and the more distant consequences in Egypt…. More broadly, the essay suggests the promise of a global imagination in the writing of environmental history and the utility of linking different scales of environmental process and social experience.” According to another, “In raising questions about how to approach climate history in places like the Middle East and across the globe, Mikhail’s piece goes a long way toward encouraging future scholarship.” A third praised Mikhail for offering “a perspective that is strikingly original and visionary.” Finally, one remarked, “Alan Mikhail’s essay connecting a volcano in Iceland with Ottoman tribulations demonstrates a first-class historical imagination, clarity of thought, and self-reflective practice.” This particular board member was “enchanted by the deft use of illustration and the ability to orchestrate multiple factors at multiple scales without losing the thread of the argument. In combining both physical and political sources across a large region, it is evidence of how environmental history, well done, reshapes our categories.”

Ho-Chunk Powwowrs and the Politics of Tradition (University of Nebraska Press, 2016) is new book by Grant Arndt (CSSH 57-3, 2015, “Voices and Votes in the Fields of Settler Society: American Indian Media and Electoral Politics in 1930s Wisconsin“). Nebraska gives the following overview:

Ho-Chunk powwows are the oldest powwows in the Midwest and among the oldest in the nation, beginning in 1902 outside Black River Falls in west-central Wisconsin. Grant Arndt examines Wisconsin Ho-Chunk powwow traditions and the meanings of cultural performances and rituals in the wake of North American settler colonialism. As early as 1908 the Ho-Chunk people began to experiment with the commercial potential of the powwows by charging white spectators an admission fee. During the 1940s the Ho-Chunk people decided to de-commercialize their powwows and rededicate dancing culture to honor their soldiers and veterans. Powwows today exist within, on the one hand, a wider commercialization of and conflict between intertribal “dance contests” and, on the other, efforts to emphasize traditional powwow culture through a focus on community values such as veteran recognition, warrior songs, and gift exchange. In Ho-Chunk Powwows and the Politics of Tradition Arndt shows that over the past two centuries the dynamism of powwows within Ho-Chunk life has changed greatly, as has the balance of tradition and modernity within community life. His book is a groundbreaking study of powwow culture that investigates how the Ho-Chunk people create cultural value through their public ceremonial performances, the significance that dance culture provides for the acquisition of power and recognition inside and outside their communities, and how the Ho-Chunk people generate concepts of the self and their society through dancing.

Daniel Lord Smail (CSSH 38-4, 1996, “Factions and Vengeance in Renaissance Italy. A Review Article“; and 54-1, 2012, “Violence and Predation in Late Medieval Mediterranean Europe“) is the author of Legal Plunder: Households and Debt Collection in Late Medieval Europe (Harvard University Press, June 2016). Harvard UP describes the book as follows:

As Europe began to grow rich during the Middle Ages, its wealth materialized in the well-made clothes, linens, and wares of ordinary households. Such items were indicators of one’s station in life in a society accustomed to reading visible signs of rank. In a world without banking, household goods became valuable commodities that often substituted for hard currency. Pawnbrokers and resellers sprang up, helping to push these goods into circulation. Simultaneously, a harshly coercive legal system developed to ensure that debtors paid their due. Focusing on the Mediterranean cities of Marseille and Lucca, Legal Plunder explores how the newfound wealth embodied in household goods shaped the beginnings of a modern consumer economy in late medieval Europe. The vigorous trade in goods that grew up in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries entangled households in complex relationships of credit and debt, and one of the most common activities of law courts during the period was debt recovery. Sergeants of the law were empowered to march into debtors’ homes and seize belongings equal in value to the debt owed. These officials were agents of a predatory economy, cogs in a political machinery of state-sponsored plunder. As Daniel Smail shows, the records of medieval European law courts offer some of the most vivid descriptions of material culture in this period, providing insights into the lives of men and women on the cusp of modern capitalism. Then as now, money and value were implicated in questions of power and patterns of violence.

Steffen Hertog (CSSH 52-2, 2010, “The Sociology of the Gulf Rentier Systems: Societies of Intermediaries“) is co-author (with Diego Gambetta) of Engineers of Jihad: The Curious Connection between Violent Extremism and Education (Princeton University Press, 2016).  Here is Princeton UP’s summary:

The violent actions of a few extremists can alter the course of history, yet there persists a yawning gap between the potential impact of these individuals and what we understand about them. In Engineers of Jihad, Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog uncover two unexpected facts, which they imaginatively leverage to narrow that gap: they find that a disproportionate share of Islamist radicals come from an engineering background, and that Islamist and right-wing extremism have more in common than either does with left-wing extremism, in which engineers are absent while social scientists and humanities students are prominent. Searching for an explanation, they tackle four general questions about extremism: Under which socioeconomic conditions do people join extremist groups? Does the profile of extremists reflect how they self-select into extremism or how groups recruit them? Does ideology matter in sorting who joins which group? Lastly, is there a mindset susceptible to certain types of extremism? Using rigorous methods and several new datasets, they explain the link between educational discipline and type of radicalism by looking at two key factors: the social mobility (or lack thereof) for engineers in the Muslim world, and a particular mindset seeking order and hierarchy that is found more frequently among engineers. Engineers’ presence in some extremist groups and not others, the authors argue, is a proxy for individual traits that may account for the much larger question of selective recruitment to radical activism. Opening up markedly new perspectives on the motivations of political violence, Engineers of Jihad yields unexpected answers about the nature and emergence of extremism.

Motherless Tongues: The Insurgency of Language amid Wars of Translation (Duke University Press, 2016) is a new book by Vicente L. Rafael (CSSH 29-2, 1987, “Confession, Conversion, and Reciprocity in Early Tagalog Colonial Society“; 32-2, 1990, “Patronage and Pornography: Ideology and Spectatorship in the Early Marcos Years“; and 52-1, 2010, “Welcoming What Comes: Sovereignty and Revolution in the Colonial Philippines“). Duke provides the following overview:

In Motherless Tongues, Vicente L. Rafael examines the vexed relationship between language and history gleaned from the workings of translation in the Philippines, the United States, and beyond. Moving across a range of colonial and postcolonial settings, he demonstrates translation’s agency in the making and understanding of events. These include nationalist efforts to vernacularize politics, U.S. projects to weaponize languages in wartime, and autobiographical attempts by area studies scholars to translate the otherness of their lives amid the Cold War. In all cases, translation is at war with itself, generating divergent effects. It deploys as well as distorts American English in counterinsurgency and colonial education, for example, just as it re-articulates European notions of sovereignty among Filipino revolutionaries in the nineteenth century and spurs the circulation of text messages in a civilian-driven coup in the twenty-first. Along the way, Rafael delineates the untranslatable that inheres in every act of translation, asking about the politics and ethics of uneven linguistic and semiotic exchanges. Mapping those moments where translation and historical imagination give rise to one another,Motherless Tongues shows how translation, in unleashing the insurgency of language, simultaneously sustains and subverts regimes of knowledge and relations of power.

Steven Pierce (CSSH 48-4, 2006, “Looking Like a State: Colonialism and the Discourse of Corruption in Northern Nigeria“) has a new book: Moral Economies of Corruption: State Formation and Political Culture in Nigeria (Duke University Press, 2016):

 Nigeria is famous for “419” e-mails asking recipients for bank account information and for scandals involving the disappearance of billions of dollars from government coffers. Corruption permeates even minor official interactions, from traffic control to university admissions. In Moral Economies of Corruption Steven Pierce provides a cultural history of the last 150 years of corruption in Nigeria as a case study for considering how corruption plays an important role in the processes of political change in all states. He suggests that corruption is best understood in Nigeria, as well as in all other nations, as a culturally contingent set of political discourses and historically embedded practices. The best solution to combating Nigerian government corruption, Pierce contends, is not through attempts to prevent officials from diverting public revenue to self-interested ends, but to ask how public ends can be served by accommodating Nigeria’s history of patronage as a fundamental political principle.

Josh Berson (CSSH 56-2, 2014, “The Dialectal Tribe and the Doctrine of Continuity“) has published Computable Bodies: Instrumented Life and the Human Somatic Niche (Bloomsbury, 2015). The book has won the 2016 PROSE Award in Language and Linguistics. Here is Bloomsbury’s overview of the book:

Data. Suddenly it is everywhere, and more and more of it is about us. The computing revolution has transformed our understanding of nature. Now it is transforming human behaviour. For some, pervasive computing offers a powerful vehicle of introspection and self-improvement. For others it signals the arrival of a dangerous ‘control society’ in which surveillance is no longer the prerogative of discrete institutions but a simple fact of life. In Computable Bodies, anthropologist Josh Berson asks how the data revolution is changing what it means to be human. Drawing on fieldwork in the Quantified Self and polyphasic sleeping communities and integrating perspectives from interaction design, the history and philosophy of science, and medical and linguistic anthropology, he probes a world where everyday life is mediated by a proliferating array of sensor montages, where we adjust our social signals to make them legible to algorithms, and where old rubrics for gauging which features of the world are animate no longer hold. Computable Bodies offers a vision of an anthropology for an age in which our capacity to generate data and share it over great distances is reconfiguring the body–world interface in ways scarcely imaginable a generation ago.

Rebecca Bryant (CSSH 43-3, 2001, “An Aesthetics of Self: Moral Remaking and Cypriot Education“; and 54-2,2012, “Partitions of Memory: Wounds and Witnessing in Cyprus“) has a new edited volume, Post-Ottoman Coexistence: Sharing Space in the Shadow of Conflict (Berghahn, 2016). Berghahn describes the book as follows:

In Southeast Europe, the Balkans, and Middle East, scholars often refer to the “peaceful coexistence” of various religious and ethnic groups under the Ottoman Empire before ethnonationalist conflicts dissolved that shared space and created legacies of division. Post-Ottoman Coexistence interrogates ways of living together and asks what practices enabled centuries of cooperation and sharing, as well as how and when such sharing was disrupted. Contributors discuss both historical and contemporary practices of coexistence within the context of ethnonational conflict and its aftermath.

Jeremy Menchik (CSSH 56-3, 2014, “Productive Intolerance: Godly Nationalism in Indonesia“) has a new book out: Islam and Democracy in Indonesia: Tolerance without Liberalism (Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics, 2016).  Here is an overview of the book:

Indonesia’s Islamic organizations sustain the country’s thriving civil society, democracy, and reputation for tolerance amid diversity. Yet scholars poorly understand how these organizations envision the accommodation of religious difference. What does tolerance mean to the world’s largest Islamic organizations? What are the implications for democracy in Indonesia and the broader Muslim world? Jeremy Menchik argues that answering these questions requires decoupling tolerance from liberalism and investigating the historical and political conditions that engender democratic values. Drawing on archival documents, ethnographic observation, comparative political theory, and an original survey, Islam and Democracy in Indonesia demonstrates that Indonesia’s Muslim leaders favor a democracy in which individual rights and group-differentiated rights converge within a system of legal pluralism, a vision at odds with American-style secular government but common in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.

Nile Green (CSSH 53-3, 2011, “The Trans-Border Traffic of Afghan Modernism: Afghanistan and the Indian “Urdusphere”; and 58-2, 2016, “Fordist Connections: The Automotive Integration of the United States and Iran”) is the editor of Afghan History Through Afghan Eyes (Oxford University Press, 2016).  The book is described as follows on the Oxford website:

Recent international intervention in Afghanistan has reproduced familiar versions of the Afghan national story, from repeatedly doomed invasions to perpetual fault lines of ethnic division. Yet almost no attention has been paid to the ways in which Afghans themselves have made sense of their history. Radically questioning received ideas about how to understand Afghanistan, Afghan History Through Afghan Eyes asks how Afghan intellectuals, ideologues and ordinary people have understood their collective past. The book brings together the leading international specialists to focus on case studies of the Dari, Pashto and Uzbek histories which Afghans have produced in abundance since the formation of the Afghan state in the mid-eighteenth century. As crucial sources on Afghans’ own conceptions of state, society and culture, their writings help us understand the dominant and marginal, conflicting and changing, ways in which Afghans have understood the emergence of their own society and its relationships with the wider world. Based on new research in Afghan languages, Afghan History Through Afghan Eyes opens up entirely fresh perspectives on Afghan political, social and cultural life, providing penetrating insights into the master narratives behind domestic and international conflict in Afghanistan.