July 2022

CSSH celebrates a new edited volume by David Henig (“Crossing the Bosphorus: Connected Histories of “Other” Muslims in the Post-Imperial Borderlands of Southeast Europe” (CSSH 58-4, 2016)), Anna Strhan, and Joel Robbins (“Evangelical Conversion and the Transformation of the Self in Amazonia and Melanesia: Christianity and the Revival of Anthropological Comparison” (CSSH 56-3, 2014, with Bambi B. Schieffelin and Aparecida Vilaça) and “Secrecy and the Sense of an Ending: Narrative, Time, and Everyday Millenarianism in Papua New Guinea and in Christian Fundamentalism” (CSSH 43-3, 2002)), Where is the Good in the World?: Ethical Life between Social Theory and Philosophy (Berghahn Books, 2022). The publisher writes,

Bringing together contributions from anthropology, sociology, religious studies, and philosophy, along with ethnographic case studies from diverse settings, this volume explores how different disciplinary perspectives on the good might engage with and enrich each other. The chapters examine how people realize the good in social life, exploring how ethics and values relate to forms of suffering, power and inequality, and, in doing so, demonstrate how focusing on the good enhances social theory. This is the first interdisciplinary engagement with what it means to study the good as a fundamental aspect of social life.

Congratulations to Britt E. Halvorson (“Reconnecting Language and Materiality in Christian Reading: A Comparative Analysis of Two Groups of Protestant Women” (CSSH 63-2, 2021) and Joshua O. Reno on the publication of their new book, Imagining the Heartland: White Supremacy and the American Midwest (University of California Press, 2022). The University of California Press describes the manuscript thusly:

An overdue examination of the Midwest’s long influence on nationalism and white supremacy.

Though many associate racism with the regional legacy of the South, it is the Midwest that has upheld some of the nation’s most deep-seated convictions about the value of whiteness. From Jefferson’s noble farmer to The Wizard of Oz, imagining the Midwest has quietly gone hand-in-hand with imagining whiteness as desirable and virtuous. Since at least the U.S. Civil War, the imagined Midwest has served as a screen or canvas, projecting and absorbing tropes and values of virtuous whiteness and its opposite, white deplorability, with national and global significance. Imagining the Heartland provides a poignant and timely answer to how and why the Midwest has played this role in the American imagination.

In Imagining the Heartland, anthropologists Britt Halvorson and Josh Reno argue that there is an unexamined affinity between whiteness, Midwestness, and Americanness, anchored in their shared ordinary and homogenized qualities. These seemingly unremarkable qualities of the Midwest take work; they do not happen by default. Instead, creating successful representations of ordinary Midwestness, in both positive and negative senses, has required cultural expression through media ranging from Henry Ford’s assembly line to Grant Wood’s famous “American Gothic.” Far from being just another region among others, the Midwest is a political and affective logic in racial projects of global white supremacy. Neglecting the Midwest means neglecting the production of white supremacist imaginings at their most banal and at their most influential, their most locally situated and their most globally dispersed.

CSSH also congratulates H. Glenn Penny (“Material Connections: German Schools, Things, and Soft Power in Argentina and Chile from the 1880s through the Interwar Period” (CSSH 59-3, 2017), “Spirit and System: Media, Intellectuals, and the Dialectic in Modern German Culture” (48-3, 2007), “Elusive Authenticity: The Quest for the Authentic Indian in German Public Culture” (48-4, 2006), and “The Politics of Anthropology in the Age of Empire: German Colonists, Brazilian Indians, and the Case of Alberto Vojtěch Frič” (45-2, 2003)) upon the publication of German History Unbound: From 1750 to the Present (Cambridge University Press, 2022). The publisher writes the following of the book:

What is German history? Where did it take place? And what role did Germans living outside of Central Europe play in it? This polycentric history offers a new vision: It uses communities of Germans, from Austria to Chile to Russia, to rethink our narratives of modern German history. Focusing on the great plurality of Germans, and their interconnections around the world, it pointedly de-centers the nation-state while arguing that resisting its dominance in our historical narratives has high intellectual and political stakes. For within an unbound German history there are characteristics, clues, models, and precedents that can do much to undermine the return of violent, exclusionary nationalism. To that end, this book calls for a greater integration of mobilities, migration flows, different ways of belonging, and transcultural places into our narratives of Germans’ histories. Ultimately, it reveals how embracing a range of narratives can help us to better understand people’s actions, intentions, and motivations in particular historical moments.