A novel approach to writing culture, multispecies ethnography, has come of age. Plants, animals, fungi, and microbes are appearing alongside humans in novel accounts of natural and cultural history. Anthropologists have collaborated with artists and biological scientists to illuminate how diverse organisms are entangled in political, economic, and cultural systems. Delectable mushrooms flourishing in the aftermath of ecological disaster, microbial cultures enlivening the politics and value of food, and emergent life forms running wild in the age of biotechnology all figure in to this curated collection of written prose and artifacts.
Traveling Heavy: a memoir between journeys, by Ruth Behar
I keep a stack of books on my desk, a “to read” pile that taunts be all semester while I am teaching. I can never find the time to sit down with a book that is not directly related to one of my classes or my current research projects. Ruth Behar’s Traveling Heavy was somewhere in the middle of the pile, but since I will soon be moving to Germany for the year, I was inspired to read a book written by another itinerant academic.
This memoir absolutely enthralled me; I read it cover to cover without stopping. The essays are written in gorgeous prose, and Behar’s narrative voice is both introspective and informative without ever being pedantic. What fascinated me the most about this book was the author’s relentless search for belonging. As a Jewish Cuban, Behar meditates on the nature of diaspora and the importance of telling stories about who we are and where we come from. “Once a story has been told,” Behar writes, “it can never be lost.”
Check our our new Fall 2014 catalog before it hits the mail. New books by Sara Ahmed, Brian Massumi, Carla Freeman, and Sherrie Tucker. Lots of great Latin American Studies titles, some art books, cultural studies, porn studies. http://www.dukeupress.edu/pr/Fall14_catalog_PDF_final.pdf
"An intimate and whimsical book, but one that truly shines when the author turns his gaze to the ordinary people who still live in Patna … skillfully evoking the circumstances of chaos, filth and absurdity in which even the city’s middle-class professionals are forced to live."—Sonia Faleiro reviewing A Matter of Rats by Amitava Kumar in the New York Times Book Review.
“‘Now the island lies in ruins, it is partially occupied, untold refugees have been created, and the American Ambassador has been killed.’ Thus wrote the late Greek American James Pyrros, political aide to Congressman Lucien Nedzi, in his diary as tensions of the island of Cyprus between Greece and Turkey reached their zenith on 19 August 1974. Since then, a political impasse has existed. Is Cyprus on the cusp of a significant political change in the situation that has existed more or less since the summer of 1974, when the island experienced a Greek-inspired coup followed by two Turkish military offensives that have left it divided?”
—excerpt from the Introduction, by Constantine A. Pagedas in “Cyprus after Forty Years: Moving beyond the 1974 Crisis,” a special issue of Mediterranean Quarterly, volume 25 and issue 1, Winter 2014.
"This forum takes the term ‘remediation’ beyond its typical use within the field of comparative literary studies. The intent is to consider remediation both in its broader lexical function as remedy, repair, removal, and rectification and in relation to a number of other discourses where the term takes on meanings quite different from those commonly associationed with its application to comparative literature. If remediation in comparative literature has tended to focus on the question of translation across media, where media are understood as modes of communication, this forum considers remediation in relation to other ways of mediating and in full awareness of the term’s other uses."
- excerpt from the Introduction, in “Remediation: An ACLA Forum,” a special issues of Comperative Literature, volume 66 and issue 1.
“In our own previous work, we have taken up this challenge on a number of different fronts, not least in our investigation of Asian medicines as living traditions. Our argument, in brief, is that historical accounts that seek to distinguish sciences from traditions on account of the former’s forward orientation and built-in drive toward ongoing reconstitution and refashioning are fundamentally problematic. This is because traditions, at least those that are “living,” are characterized by many of the same qualities those authors see as demarcating science. We defined such living traditions as “sites of contestation” where anything that composes and defines that tradition, so to speak, is always and forever up for grabs. This includes knowledge claims, practices, phenomena engaged with, institutions, entitlements, self-definitions, social relationships, and much more. And yet, such living traditions consistently manage to maintain a sense of identity that emphasizes continuity over time. They succeed in doing so because the processes of transformation that reshape them tend to proceed in piecemeal rather than revolutionary fashion. That is, some things change while others remain the same. Hence, even if after a while everything has changed, social actors at any given moment in time can, if they so wish, experience a sense of continuity with respect to whatever it is they are engaged in. It is this perception and the sense of security it bestows that have permitted physicians, scholars, researchers, and other stakeholders in the various Asian medical traditions to modernize, scientize, regularize, and otherwise transform what they do through consistent engagement with science and the West for several centuries and yet claim that they are still embodying the essence of their tradition as it was defined hundreds or even thousands of years ago.”
- excerpt from the Introduction, “Beyond Tradition: Asian Medicines and STS,” a special issue of EASTS: East Asian Science, Technology, and Society, volume 8 and issue 1 (March 2014)
See what you wanna see
Thirteen Ways of Looking at Latino Art by Ilan Stavans and Jorge J.E. Gracia (Duke University Press, $22.95).
Ilan Stavans, a professor of Latino studies at Amerherst College, and Jorge J.E. Garcia, a professor of philosophy and comparative literature at SUNY-Buffalo, brought the tools of their distinct disciplines—as well as their personal histories and aesthetics—to bear on thirteen contemporary works of art by Latinos.
These works are as varied as the famous “La Reconquista” triptych by Einar and Jamex de la Torre; the Latino graffiti of Bear TCK (“Chicano Grafitti”); the Latino-Afro-Caribbean intersection of Jean-Michel Basquiat (“Untitled (Skull)”); a photograph by Mariana Yampolsky (“Elva”); and Andres Serrano’s well-known “Piss Christ.”
Conducted as wide-ranging conversations about the way that Latino experience is expressed in contemporary artworks, the book as a whole is casual but intellectually solid, accessible by non-specialists, but not dumbed-down. It is refreshing and eye-opening, though it would benefit if more of the thirteen artists represented were women.
Top to bottom: “La Reconquista”; “Elva”; “Chicano Grafitti”; “Untitled (Skull).”
"As will be evident from the pages of this issue (if not evident before), Small Axe takes history seriously. We are forever quarreling with, quarreling about, history. We have never been content with the idea that the past is a self-evident or neutral or passive domain that will supply us with ready-made answers to our questions in the present or our hopes for the future. Much—perhaps everything—depends on what we ask, andhow. Much—perhaps everything—depends, in other words, on the historiographical questions that shape and drive, that animate, our preoccupations. Small Axe seeks to make us more reflexively aware of these questions and their assumptions so that we can better discern what they enable (perhaps politically) and what they do not.”
- excerpt from “Preface: Debt, Redress" by David Scott in "Caribbean Historiography," a special issue of Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism (volume 18 and issue 1, number 43)
“The Soviet Union collapsed more than twenty years ago: this is how long it takes for an infant to become and adult. In Russia, twenty-one years used to be a significant period: twenty-one years after Leon Trotsky led the revolution of 1917, for example, Joseph Stalin led the terror of 1938. The unprocessed memory of the catastrophic Soviet past keeps Russia in its interminable post-Soviet condition. This is a time of melancholy, the work of mourning that remains incomplete and unsuccessful: the loss has been incorporated into the subject, who cannot (meaning that he does not want to) free himself from it. For some, the loss is the unburied millions of victims of the Soviet regime; for others, by contrast, it is the grandeur of the Soviet empire. One person finds these two sorrows incompatible; another sees them reinforcing each other.”
— excerpt from “Post-Soviet Russia: The Land of the Oil Curse, Pussy Riot, and Magical Historicism,” by Alexander Etkind in “Second-Hand Europe,” a special issue of boundary2 (volume 41 and issue 1, Spring 2014), edited by Wlad Godzich and Anita Starosta