Thursday, December 19, 2013

2013 Staff Book Picks, Part 2

As we mentioned yesterday, when we're not working with books, we're reading them for fun. Here are the favorites we've read in 2013.

---------------

As a publishing professional, my joke for many years when people ask me what I'm reading has been, "If it's been published then I'm not reading it." After all, who has time to read actual books when you're swimming in a sea of unpublished manuscripts? Indeed, sometimes I feel as though I'm barely treading water.  But the fact is, I'm constantly grabbing a hold of books as a lifeline, sometimes to escape from but more often than not to help me through my daily routine. So, among the various publications I found myself clinging to in 2013, two in particular have helped save me from the maelstrom: 
 

See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid. “See Now Then, See Then Now, just to see anything at all, especially the present, was to always be inside the great world of disaster, catastrophe, and also joy and happiness, but these two latter are not accounted for in history, they were and are relegated to personal memory.” Jamaica Kincaid's latest book is, among other things, a devastating meditation on the ways in which the voice, the life, the perspective of the outsider—the poor immigrant, the woman of color, the wife, the mother—is always and forever marginalized in relation to our official narratives, no matter what social status she may have achieved in her life. Instead she is characterized by others as difficult, troubled, or out of touch. She is always diminished, discounted, and erased. I don't think anyone else today writes with such lyricism, emotional depth, or painful precision.

Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities by Craig Steven Wilder. In terms of painful precision and scholarship, nothing that came out this past year comes close to Wilder's amazingly detailed research and accounting of the ways in which the earliest institutions of higher learning in colonial and nineteenth-century America benefited from—and often had a direct hand in—the removal and genocide of Native Americans as well as the importation and exploitation of Africans in the Atlantic slave trade. Early on in the book Wilder asserts, “The academy never stood apart from American slavery—in fact, it stood beside church and state as the third pillar of a civilization built on bondage.” And a bit later, he points out the following:

“Colleges were imperial instruments akin to armories and forts, a part of the colonial garrison with the specific responsibilities to train ministers and missionaries, convert indigenous peoples and soften cultural resistance, and extend European rule over foreign nations.”

Wilder then takes us deeply into the colonial archive to illustrate in explicit and horrific ways how the founders and benefactors of our highest institutions of learning also played a part in the traffic, exploitation, and extermination of other humans. Ebony and Ivy is particularly exciting to me as it resonates with Minnesota's own list of published and forthcoming works including Roderick A. Ferguson's The Reorder of Things: The University and Its Pedagogies of Minority Difference (2012) and our forthcoming collection of critical essays, The Imperial University: Academic Repression and Scholarly Dissent, edited by Piya Chatterjee and Sunaina Maira.

—Richard Morrison, editorial director

-------

Red Doc> by Anne Carson. This is a challenging book, ironically a follow-up to perhaps her most accessible book, Autobiography of Red, which took a minor character from Greek mythology, the red-winged Geryon, and cast him as a gay teenager in late 20th century America. Red Doc> checks in with Geryon decades later, now a middle-aged herder wandering with his former lover across a polar landscape. The tensile anxieties of the young gay teen have been replaced by PTSD, memory, and regret. 

Carson is one of our most important living writers. But she is also an innovative and fascinating literary theorist. Her poems and books explore the ontology and intent of grammar and language, showing us that meaning doesn't just reside in the words we choose to express ourselves, but that meaning also flows from the way we write. Line breaks and pauses, gaps and silences, adverbs and metaphor, all provide insight into human emotion.

—Jason Weidemann, senior acquisitions editor 

-------

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. Nothing is ever finite in Kate Atkinson's inventive, genre-bending novel. The story follows Ursula Todd, whose life ends over and over—then starts again in a slightly different fashion. In one life, Ursula is an air-raid warden in London during the Blitz. In another, she lives in Hitler's German mountaintop retreat with Eva Braun, his mistress. It's a story about reincarnation—a bona fide Groundhog's Day—that shows how one minor decision can affect an entire lifetime. It's a fascinating storytelling device, and gives readers some interesting insight into the historical and emotional consequences of life in London and Germany throughout the first half of the 20th century.

—Katie Nickerson, Test Division marketing and training manager

-------

The Dinner: A Novel by Herman Koch. This whole novel takes place over the course of one meal, where two couples have met to decide the fates of their fifteen-year-old sons who together have committed a horrible act of violence that is now under police investigation. As each course is served, conversation turns from the polite and banal to a heated "discussion" of the real matter at hand. It's a gripping and shocking look at how far parents would go to protect their children.

—Heather Skinner, publicist and assistant marketing manager 

-------

Body Geographic by Barrie Jean Borich. “The body is a stacked atlas of memory,” writes Barrie Jean Borich. In these essays—a series of maps and insets, as she calls them—Borich explores the layers of memory, history, and place that make up her own personal geography, marking the physical coordinates of Chicago and Minneapolis—the dual skylines of these cities tattooed across her back serving as a reader’s legend, as she maps out her own Midwest in an attempt to understand the terrain of self. This gorgeous read had me lingering in its lush language, imaginative form, and in the unexpected meanderings in Borich’s journey. 

—Tami Brown, permissions and translations coordinator

-------

Tenth of December by George Saunders. No surprise because it has appeared on many Best of 2013 books published. He's a master of the short story, which demands conciseness but also full-throttle "meaning," read "morality" for Saunders as his characters confront extreme situations demanding moral courage. His originality in character and plot creation is breath-taking. No chance that the question we'd prefer not to have posed after reading a book—"Was it worth the time?"—arises after reading Tenth of December.

—Beverly Kaemmer, associate director / test manager

-------


The Third Man by Graham Greene. This is the kind of book you can lose yourself in, much like its setting in post-war Vienna. Because it was written for the screen, it retains much of the cinematic quality that made the 1949 film so captivating. You'll find it hard not to hear the film's famous zither score in your head as you turn the pages.

—Kristian Tvedten, editorial assistant

-------

The Circle by Dave Eggers. I wanted to pick a not-so-mainstream book as tops for the year but just cannot in any year Eggers has something new out. This is a lively and believable cautionary tale about our contemporary tendency to give friends and total strangers alike unlimited access to our lives. (Runner up: This is Running for Your Life by Michelle Orange.)

—Maggie Sattler, direct and electronic marketing coordinator

-------

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. Every so often characters from a novel haunt me long after I've read a book; Chava and Ahmad, monsters among humans, have haunted me for weeks. Each is attempting to create a fulfilling life while hiding their magical identity from the human communities in which they live. Eventually these two isolated beings cross paths. Chava's search for goodness tempers Ahmad's contempt for humanity while both come to understand and appreciate the mortal humans who have touched their lives. At its heart The Golem and the Jinni is an exploration of the influence of fate and free will, and the reckonings we face over the choices we make.

—Susan Doerr, operations manager

-------

The Facades by Eric Lundgren. I enjoyed former University of Minnesota Press editorial assistant Eric Lundgren's highly praised first novel, an existential noir in which an opera singer goes missing, philosophy is banished to a nursing home, and armed librarians are the last defenders of high culture in a decaying midwestern city.
Another book that amazed me this past year is Melville House's rediscovery of Mary MacLane's scandalous 1902 diary I Await the Devil's Coming, in which a Butte, Montana, teenager longs for seduction, and damnation, after her affair with an older woman is abruptly (and for undisclosed reason) brought to an end. A bestseller in its time, and the basis of a now lost silent film, I Await the Devil's Coming makes you reconsider the American literary history's view of sexual liberation being worked out in the much more genteel turn-of-the-century works of elite writers such as Kate Chopin and Edith Wharton.   

—Doug Armato, director

-------

MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood. Although not as compelling as the first volumes in the trilogy, anyone who's anyone should be reading Atwood. She's fabulous.

—Danielle Kasprzak, associate editor 



-------


Titus Groan, the first book in the Gormenghast trilogy by Mervyn Peake. This is definitely not a 2013 novel—it was written in 1949. But I kept seeing this trilogy on lists of the best fantasy novels, so I decided to give it a shot this year and was not disappointed. The plot centers on the immense castle Gormenghast and all of its inhabitants, but namely the kitchen boy Steerpike, who connives to manipulate his way into power in the castle and overthrow the royal Groan family. The strength of the book is in rich character development and world building—it's easy to get sucked into daily life in the castle and invested in the fates of the castle's inhabitants. I'm always looking for new books and worlds to get lost inside of, and this one really fit the bill. 

—Erin Warholm-Wohlenhaus, editorial assistant

-------

The Baby Book by William Sears, M.D., and Martha Sears, R.N. It will keep you up at night.

—Emily Hamilton, marketing director and assistant director for book publishing 




-------

If I'm lucky, I'll have six days in 2013 to read The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton because someone will give it to me for Christmas. (Hint, hint!) A book I read and loved this year that was published earlier is The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich

—Anne Carter, external relations coordinator

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2013 Staff Book Picks, Part 1

It is no easy task to pick particular recommendations among the books you work with.

We think all of the books that we have published this year are pretty fantastic. These stood out to us in different ways and for different reasons. We present them here as our first Staff Book Picks of the Year.

When we're not working with books, we're also reading them for fun. As such, our list of 2013 favorites grew lengthy, so we're splitting it up a bit. Today we present books of ours; tomorrow, you'll get a sense of what we read outside the office.

-------


I've been thinking and talking all year about Timothy Morton's Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World and its revelation that while the world has changed, our perception of it has not—that we still cling to a romantic vision that unspoiled nature exists somewhere, that it can be preserved or even regenerated. To Morton, we live instead in an epoch of "hyperobjects," systems and entities bigger than we can see, at the limits of our comprehension, and beyond our control. Yet, for a book that posits (on page seven!) that "the end of the world has already occurred," it is remarkably engaging and, often, ruefully funny.
—Doug Armato, director


I have the inside advantage here, but the best Press book I read this year is Sigrid Undset's Marta Oulie: A Novel of Betrayal, written in 1907 and available for the first time in English translation in February 2014. No wonder Undset won the Nobel Prize in 1928! Marta Oulie is written as a diary, relating the experiences of a young woman in Oslo at the turn of the century as she falls in love, marries, raises a family—and then slowly unravels as she becomes bored and frustrated with her domestic life. Was this really written one hundred years ago? It’s a haunting and compelling story, so look for the book later this winter and dare to accompany Marta on her tragic and riveting psychological journey.
—Laura Westlund, managing editor and development officer


Minnesota's Bounty: The Farmers Market Cookbook by Beth Dooley. Dooley's latest cookbook gives casual and experienced chefs alike an endless supply of tasty, seasonal ideas. As a new member of a local CSA, I pored over The Farmer's Market Cookbook, looking for ways to prepare everything from brussels sprouts to tomatillos. The book is alphabetically organized by food type, making recipe-hunting even easier. Better yet, it keeps the ingredients simple and includes beautiful photographs, which helped me identify some of my more obscure veggies. It's the perfect gift for family and friends who shop local and love to get creative with their kohlrabi.
—Katie Nickerson, Test Division marketing and training manager 


Ola by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire. Everyone loves a good children's book and it's hard to go wrong with any of the timeless works crafted by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire. This 1932 book was the spark that ignited their distinguished and award-winning career. It's the kind of book that gets stuck in the back of your mind. I first discovered it when I came across a nearly disintegrated copy among the stacks at the library. Like so many of the d'Aulaires' books, this is a story that has been well-loved. The many adventures of the intrepid young boy have delighted readers for more than 75 years. A classic from the golden age of picture books, Ola is a delightful picture of old Norway and a fitting tribute to the country the couple knew so well.
—Kristian Tvedten, editorial assistant


We'll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down: Memoir of a Gravedigger's Daughter by Rachael Hanel. Hanel's writing is evocative and gently humorous. The book is surprisingly easy to read despite tackling such difficult subject matter.
—Maggie Sattler, direct and electronic marketing coordinator






Vacationland by Sarah Stonich. This book is a wonder to read. In each chapter we get wildly different and interesting stories about various people, yet they are all beautifully woven together by one common thread: each character's connection to Naledi Lodge, a run-down mom-and-pop resort in northern Minnesota. Some of these characters' paths cross; some do not, but each individual story is so good, it makes you eager to move on to the next to see how it all fits together in the end.
—Heather Skinner, publicist and assistant marketing manager

Vacationland by Sarah Stonich. It saved my sanity during a recent exhibit where all attendees completely cleared out of the hall to attend sessions for 2 and 3 hours at a time. Stonich's lovely writing spirited me away from the empty exhibit hall during those down times. Her episodic, character-driven chapters were the perfect escape.
—Matt Smiley, sales manager


Speech Begins after Death by Michel Foucault. Want to know what it would be like to sit down with Foucault and have a nice little chat? Read this. It's short, accessible, and surprisingly autobiographical.
—Danielle Kasprzak, associate editor







The Thoughtbook of F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Secret Boyhood Diary. This is a charming little book that is not only fun to read, but gives readers a rare glimpse into the early life of a local literary legend—who happens to be the author of one of my very favorite books. 
—Anne Wrenn, advertising and promotions coordinator 


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

9 unforgettable moments in the history of Northwest Airlines



Download the infographic timeline.


BY JACK EL-HAI


My book Non-Stop: A Turbulent History of Northwest Airlines covers NWA’s history from its first flights as an airmail carrier in 1926 to its final sad days before its acquisition by Delta Airlines in 2010. Along the way, the book tells countless stories — important and incidental, famous and obscure — that reveal the airline’s changing challenges and successes over the decades. Here’s a listing of some of the events that strike me as especially memorable, one from each of Northwest’s nine decades in the air.


A postal official weighs parcels en route to Chicago
from St. Paul after the resumption of airmail service in 1926.

1926 
Northwest Airways, Inc., launches its maiden flight on October 1 in a leased plane loaded with postal sacks stuffed with airmail letters. From the Twin Cities, it heads into the east toward Milwaukee, with Chicago as its final destination. Nobody knows it at the time, but Northwest’s inaugural flight marks the initial moments of an airline that for decades would rank as the U.S. air carrier with the longest history under a single, continuous name.


Lewis Brittin in 1929.
 
1934
Lewis Brittin, Northwest’s founder, is convicted of contempt of the U.S. Senate in a rare trial at the United States Capitol after he destroys papers subpoenaed in an investigation of airmail corruption. He serves ten days in prison and occupies a cot “between a bootlegger and a burglar,” he says. He loses his position at Northwest.

Northwest’s city ticket office
in Portland, Oregon, 1940s.


1942 
Northwest hires Ernest Washington Yoris, a former homicide detective with the Seattle Police Department, to direct security at its war-era bomber modification facilities in St. Paul. His job is to keep espionage and sabotage at bay. After the war, his responsibilities shrink to chasing down customers who pass bad checks. Owner of a famous collection of colored and rubber-soled deck shoes, he denies that he wears them to sneak up on people from behind.


Northwest’s publicity stunt to install
a Lowrey organ in a Stratocruiser cabin.

1959 
The Northwest Organ Company of Minneapolis installs a Lowrey organ in the spacious lounge of a NWA Boeing 377 Stratocruiser aircraft, marking a high point of sorts in the era of luxurious air travel. A year later, Northwest retires the last of its beloved Stratocruisers because of the excessive cost of fueling and maintaining them.

A first-class meal, circa 1960.


1969 
By the late 1960s, Northwest is serving seventy tons of tenderloin steak and sixty tons of New York strip steak to customers every year, along with a monthly offering of ten tons of coffee. Its food service has evolved considerably from its first offerings of boxed sandwiches in the 1930s.

The FBI’s sketches of D.B. Cooper,
whose case remains the only unsolved
one in the annals of American air piracy.


1971 
A customer who buys a ticket from Portland to Seattle under the assumed name of Dan Cooper — later identified in error as D.B. Cooper — hijacks the Northwest flight, demands a ransom and parachutes, and asks to be flown to Mexico City. He straps on a parachute and leaps from the rear of the aircraft with his cash and is never seen again. His case remains the last unsolved instance of air piracy from that era of plentiful aircraft hijackings.

A Republic Airlines 727-200
in flight during that company’s
growing years of the 1970s.


1986 
Northwest acquires Minneapolis-based Republic Airlines in a merger that at the time was the largest merger of air carriers in history. All at once, Northwest gains Republic’s 168 aircraft, 65 new destinations, and 13,400 employees. The new Northwest has 30,000 employees and a fleet of 312 planes — and suddenly ranks among the five largest U.S. airlines in operating and the top three in route miles.

1990 
In an early December fog, two Northwest aircraft collide on the runway of the airport in Detroit, killing eight people and injuring 24 more. The government’s investigation of the accident blames it on poor crew coordination, with slow air traffic control direction, poor signage, and inadequate training by Northwest contributing to the tragedy.

"Decades after becoming
Northwest’s first official ticketed
passenger, Byron Webster was
still the airline’s customer."


2009 
On the last day of the year, the Federal Aviation Administration merges Northwest’s and Delta Airlines’s operating certificates, allowing Delta to impose its code on all Northwest flights and officially removing Northwest’s name as a government-sanctioned carrier. When the airlines join their reservation systems two weeks later, Northwest Airlines finally and unalterably ceases to exist. The company that had begun 83 years earlier ends as the second hand of a clock moves upright to complete the largest airline merger in history.

-------

Jack El-Hai is author of Non-Stop: A Turbulent History of Northwest Airlines. His other books include Lost Minnesota: Stories of Vanished PlacesThe Lobotomist: A Maverick Medical Genius and His Tragic Quest to Rid the World of Mental Illness; and The Nazi and the Psychiatrist. He has written about business and history for the Atlantic, Scientific American Mind, History Channel Magazine, American Heritage, and Utne Reader.

"Jack El-Hai faithfully propels us through the history of a company we all took for granted. From rickety planes delivering mail to one of the largest and most respected airlines in the world, El-Hai lays it out through the highs and lows. At the beginning, heroic pilots and primitive gear, all the way to D.B. Cooper and the Underwear Bomber, the intriguing leadership and crafty politicians, to the final day when the lights went out at Northwest Airlines—all here presented in masterful style."
—Don Shelby

Friday, December 6, 2013

Bonnie and Clyde: What does our collective fascination with crime say about us?

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, sometime between 1932 and 1934.


BY KATHLEEN BATTLES
Assistant professor of communication and journalism at Oakland University



This weekend, Lifetime Television, A&E, and the History Channel will simultaneously air a two-part television “event” – a miniseries documenting the lives of infamous Depression-era American bandits, Bonnie and Clyde. Publicity for the series draws on the parallels between the their story and contemporary American culture, including our obsession with celebrity, crime, guns, and gender, race, and class relations during an era of extreme political, economic, and cultural instability.

While the series promises historical accuracy, this telling will say more about our own concerns than the lives of the criminal couple. Because, of course, our public fascination with crime always says more about us. Criminality serves as a fertile ground for exploring social, cultural, and economic norms and the stories we tell are themselves interpretive battlegrounds over the meaning of “crime.” For close to a century now, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow have been part of broader symbolic struggles that far exceed their historical existence, and even the very nature of their crimes.

During the destitute years of the Great Depression, cultural producers, citizens, and various state authorities waged battle over the symbolic meaning of the couple’s crime spree and violent death. As the giddy heyday of the 1920s gave way to the desperate years of the Depression, public fascination turned from the glamorous urban gangster to fugitive rural bandits, celebrated for their bravado, mobility, and populist attacks on the state and industry. While romance and critiques of state power suffused newspaper, magazine, and film reel accounts, radio carved a different interpretive space. By the 1930s, regional and national networks looked to capitalize on public fascination with crime, but without incurring the wrath the film industry faced for romanticizing gangster culture. Instead of telling stories about criminals, why not tell stories about police, a move that dovetailed with the PR efforts that police forces themselves were undertaking as part of their own efforts at professionalization.

In 1936, a mere two years after their violent end, the CBS radio series Gang Busters tackled the legend of Bonnie and Clyde. Correspondence, production notes, and scripts housed at the Library of Congress lay bare the aim of producer, Phillps H. Lord: arrest the promiscuous populism on display in the public’s enthusiastic consumption of bandit lore. Gang Busters would celebrate legendary Texas Ranger, Frank Hamer as the true hero of the story and portray Bonnie and Clyde to deviant psychopaths. In a dizzying reversal of populist logic, the real “guilt” for the criminal activities of the pair is laid firmly in the laps of the listeners themselves, who are admonished to roll back cumbersome legal protections like parole.

The first episode is relentless in stripping any shred of glamour and romance from the pair. In the face of all manner of historical evidence, including letters to Lord from various police authorities and the well-known evidence, Bonnie and Clyde are portrayed as calculating, ruthless killers. Are there any sparks between the pair? No. Listeners hear the description of a weak chinned, small framed, practically doltish Clyde joining forces with an aggressive, take-charge, stylish Bonnie. Gender reversal stands in as a clear sign of the pairs’ pathology. Clyde explains to Bonnie that it is easy to get away with crime as long as they flee the scene by car right away, thus circumventing the complex layers of legal jurisdiction in the U.S. He tells her to shoot first and ask questions later and not worry if she ever gets sentenced to jail; she’ll get out on parole. These are not desperate fugitives motivated by state failure. There is no hint of fear, romance, or even humanity in this “Bonnie and Clyde.”

Enter Texas lawman Frank Hamer. He is everything that Clyde Barrow is not and Bonnie Parker can never be. Tall, rugged, smart, violent only in support of the state, steeped in the lore of the sharp-shooting Texas Rangers, Hamer is the epitome of normative, heroic masculinity the show aims to bolster. While most episodes of the series work to represent the police as trained professionals beholden to an agency, these episodes drew on the lore of the Old West lone gunman sheriff to consciously replace one American romance with another. The two-part episode ends with yet another admonishment of the public for romanticizing criminality at the expense of law and order.

Splayed across newspaper pages, featured in film reels, and dramatized in true crime radio series, early twentieth-century gangsters and bandits are today joined by serial killers, mass shooters, and a new generation of gangsters in capturing our imagination and serving as a new symbolic battleground. Depression-era audiences reacted to rural banditry through populist lenses and were fascinated by Bonnie’s masculine persona and the romantic relationship between the pair. In our contemporary television era saturated with rogue cops and criminal anti-heroes, it is easy to see the appeal of Bonnie and Clyde. The official website for the pair pictures them directly staring into the camera, their faces splattered with blood. In many ways, it bears a striking resemblance to publicity shots for the Showtime series Dexter, a fictional account of a serial killer who targets serial killers.

Yet, so many of our TV anti-heroes remain men, and it is striking how much the contemporary telling already signals its attention to Bonnie’s gender crossings. The tagline on the page boldly teases that “He held the gun. She called the shots.” Both characters are smoking cigars, but Bonnie’s is significantly larger. Promotional videos emphasize the lustful, embodied, flirtatious, and romantic relationship between pair. Their romance will take center stage in this telling. In the hands of Gang Busters, Bonnie and Clyde were reduced to caricatures while their “fans” were provided a stern “What for?” Today’s fans are encouraged to identify with the pair through videos promising sex, violence, and romance. This enduring fascination with romantic desperados Bonnie and Clyde reminds us that while Hamer won the gun battle, the war over their greater symbolic value lives on.

-------

Kathleen Battles is author of Calling All Cars: Radio Dragnets and the Technology of Policing. She is assistant professor of communication and journalism at Oakland University.

"Calling All Cars provides the most in-depth research to date on this overlooked genre."
—Journalism History


"A highly detailed case for the parallels between 1930s broadcast radio and police radio."
Choice

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Highly regarded author and professor José Esteban Muñoz dies

Muñoz's work was foundational to studies of race, gender, and sexuality


The University of Minnesota Press is saddened to learn of the untimely death of José Esteban Muñoz. Muñoz authored and edited several books and numerous scholarly articles. His first book, Disdentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics, was innovative and groundbreaking, and has proven to be foundational to the critical study on the nexus of race, gender, and sexuality. It continues to serve as a model for much of the scholarly work in this area that has followed since its initial publication in 1999.

The Press extends its sympathies and condolences to Muñoz’s friends, family, colleagues and students. The loss of his expertise and perspective to the fields of queer studies, performance studies, and critical race studies is profound. His contributions will continue to influence these areas of inquiry for many years to come.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Reflections on Prematurity Awareness Month

As the month of November winds down, author Kate Hopper reflects on the stories behind the numbers relating to Prematurity Awareness Month. This post first appeared on her blog.


-------

November is Prematurity Awareness Month. According to the March of Dimes, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely in the United States every year. Worldwide, that number is 15 million. It’s the leading cause of infant death in the U.S. and each year costs society $26.2 billion.

Those statistics are scary for sure. But it’s hard to make those numbers mean anything unless they are attached to real people, to real parents staring down at their real babies, some of whom weigh less than a can of coke.

I was in the NICU yesterday doing parent rounds, which I try to do every month. I peek into room after room, and if there is a parent present, I squirt antibacterial liquid into my hands, and knock gently on the window. I introduce myself as a former NICU parent, ask about their babies, then listen to their stories—stories of babies born way too early, of complications, sometimes of death. Some babies have been there for months and months and their families have been faced with possible, sometimes probably death. Some look exhausted, others resigned, others hopeful, still others relieved. Each story is different, of course, but they all share commonalities that connect them to one another, to me.

Each time I visit the NICU I’m brought back ten years, to the fear, the uncertainty, the anger, the hope—all those emotions swirling together under the surface of new motherhood. I remember that first day I visited Stella in the NICU and how I realized that I’d gotten it all wrong—she wasn’t beautiful at all; she was yellow. I remember touching her miniature ankle, tickling her without meaning to, because who thinks of having a baby too ticklish to touch? I remember watching her on the television in my hospital room a block away, weeping, not being able to make the connection between that tiny thrashing creature on the screen and the baby that had been inside me doing her flips and twirls just days before.

Yesterday, after I told one mother that Stella is a healthy ten-year-old, she smiled widely and said, “Oh, I hope I’ll be back here in ten years doing what you’re doing.”

I hope so too. Because I can imagine this woman stopping by room after NICU room, sharing her story and listening to the stories of the parents who are exactly where she once was. But my hope is also that those NICU rooms will stand mostly empty in a decade, that we will have made monumental strides in research, in prenatal health, in health care access. I hope so.

Until then, I’ll keep rounding, keep listening, and keep really seeing each of those parents who stand watch over tiny lives.

Learn more about March of Dimes’ Prematurity Campaign.

I’m happy to announce that copies of Ready for Air will be shipped out next week to all 60 of the hospital NICUs and special care nurseries that were submitted as part of the Ready for Air NICU giveaway thanks to the generosity of the University of Minnesota Press and the Sustainable Arts Foundation!

-------

Kate Hopper is author of Ready for Air: A Journey through Premature Motherhood. She teaches writing online and at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.


"There is no writer I'd rather follow this journey with than Kate Hopper. Her storytelling skills are stunning."
—Hope Edelman, author of Motherless Daughters


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"Mr. Barnum's Camera Man": Mathew Brady among the cannibals.

"The Figi Cannibals." Photograph by Mathew Brady, 1872. Courtesy of the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation.


BY ROBIN BLYN
Associate professor of English at the University of West Florida


Traditionally, Mathew Brady occupies an esteemed place in the history of photography and in the history of the United States.

Otherwise known as “Mr. Lincoln’s Camera Man,” Brady stands nobly as a pioneer of photographic portraiture and as the fearless chronicler of the Civil War. In fact, Brady’s Civil War photographs inaugurate the genre of war photography. It may come as a surprise, then, to find that a sense of righteous indignation filters through the pages of Brady’s biographies, which inevitably portray him as a tragic artist. He dies impoverished, unappreciated, and unable to sell the collections of photographs he designed for and as history. First, his 1850 Gallery of Illustrious Americans was a commercial failure. Then he was unable to find a venue for the exhibition of his Civil War photographs until the time of his death. During the Reconstruction Era, neither the Library of Congress nor the American public took an interest in the frank photographs of the divisive war they wished to put behind them. Yet, Mathew Brady did enjoy popularity in his lifetime, earning acclaim for his images of the freak show performers who P.T. Barnum featured in his “American Museum,” one of the most popular mass culture venues of its day.

Only in passing do any of Brady’s biographers mention his extensive work photographing freaks, as though his association with the tawdry business of Barnum was beneath the patriotic artist they depict. When they do mention his incredibly popular cartes de visite and daguerreotypes of Barnum’s freaks, the implication is that these images were simply the training ground for Brady’s more serious work, a juvenile pursuit that he gives up to realize his greater vision. Yet, the dates refute such a neat plotline. The thousands of freak photographs attributed to Mathew Brady were taken before and after the war, and although they have yet to be legitimated as a “gallery” or a “collection,” they were taken side by side with Brady’s more famous portraits of “Illustrious Americans.” Indeed, these entertainers were themselves illustrious Americans of the period. Brady’s photographs of freak show performers may be the result of fortuitous circumstance—his first studio was directly across the street from Barnum’s museum—but these photographs are as valuable any of the others that he produced in his life. It is in his freak photography, and not in his more celebrated historic or journalistic enterprises, that Brady arguably experiments most fully with the powers of photography. More than any others, these photographs contemplate the freakishness of photography as a medium. A closer look at them reveals some of photography’s earliest reflections on the desire specific to photographic consumption.

We might take as an example Brady’s photograph of the “Figi [sic] Cannibals,” an image that reflects the unrequited desire at the heart of photographic representation. Both the exotic dress and the spears the Fiji carry suggest their racial and cultural differences from the largely white Victorian audience who paid to see them. Yet, the specific freakish aberration that Barnum attributed to them is entirely absent from the photograph. Unlike so many freak performers—armless men, legless women, conjoined twins—there is no corporeal evidence for cannibalism. These ostensible cannibals have the same bodies as the “normal” people who came to see them. So, too, it seems that despite their geographical point of origin, the Fiji remain in an indeterminate void; there is absolutely no background to this photograph, no theatrical setting that might remove their freakishness safely to another place or time. The cannibals are right there, before the viewer, and they are armed with a series of vertical spears that presumably find their mark on human flesh.

The disturbance of the photograph lies, then, in its frontality, for the gaze of the performers breaks the two-dimensional frame. Unlike the photographic portraits of upstanding citizens in the nineteenth century, the Fiji look directly into the camera and out at their viewers. We become the objects of their presumed hunger. To gaze at the photograph of the “Figi Cannibals” is hence to engage in a never-ending cycle. As viewers, we become frustrated visual consumers of the frustrated consumers of human flesh. The cannibals stare back at us, mirroring our own unfulfilled hunger for representation with their hunger to consume. Rather than serving as evidence for the freakishness of the “Figi Cannibals,” the photograph bears witness to its own failure to represent, to the unknowability that photographs present to us. It is this presentation of the unknowable that makes photographs objects of our desire. Instead of confirming a narrative about the cannibal population of Fiji, the photograph resists our desires—for knowledge and for proof.

 However unwittingly, it is this power of photography that Barnum brought, thanks to Mathew Brady, to his freak shows.

-------

Robin Blyn is author of The Freak-garde: Extraordinary Bodies and Revolutionary Art in America. She is associate professor of English at the University of West Florida.







Tuesday, November 12, 2013

#UPweek: Announcing Forerunners

This post is published in partnership with University Press Week, in which 37 presses will be publishing posts with one of five significant topics: the global reach of university presses; the future of scholarly communication (today); the importance of regional publishing; a subject area spotlight; or a meet-the-press post in which a member of a participating press is interviewed. Find details about the schedule here.


-------

The University of Minnesota Press announces an initiative to transcend the traditional publishing model to make shorter, idea-driven works accessible to the public. Photo via Flickr.


BY DANIELLE KASPRZAK
Associate editor, University of Minnesota Press



In 2014, the University of Minnesota Press will launch its Forerunners series, which marks our foray into gray literature publishing. Other university presses have recently (or not so recently) begun publishing short digital works. Most of these are focused on books already published—taking sections out that may appeal to a wider audience, trying to solicit attention for backlist titles. At Minnesota, our goal is to move beyond that model and really focus on the fresh ideas that often don’t have a traditional publishing outlet.

These days, scholars are working out their ideas in tons of nontraditional formats—Twitter conversations, long Facebook posts (and the inevitable comments), long-form blog posts, etc. One of the problems with these nontraditional formats is their ephemeral nature. It’s hard to track tweets from even a week ago, let alone months ago. And, of course, there’s the 140-character limit. Although Facebook allows longer posts and comments, readers can be hindered by privacy settings that allow friends but not others to comment or even read the post. And just like Twitter, it’s difficult if not impossible to search for past posts. Blogs offer an unlimited word count opportunity—you can have a longer post and solicit longer comments—but for whatever reason, folks don’t seem to be commenting at the rate they do on Twitter or Facebook.

Some of the most innovative, interesting, and risky ideas I’ve seen circulating on Twitter, Facebook, and the blogosphere are not being represented in traditional scholarly publishing. I work in scholarly publishing; I’m fully aware of how long it can take to get ideas out there. Books take a long time to write and to publish. Journal articles and essays in edited collections are shorter, but we all know how long it can take those to come out. The ideas being explored in nontraditional formats may not lend themselves to these more traditional publishing models anyway.

That’s where Forerunners comes in. We’re not looking to republish the introduction to a book we published seven years ago in hopes of generating interest in our backlist—we’re looking to advance current conversations in scholarly publishing. Our goal is to maintain some of the informality and innovation of the ephemeral nature of things like Twitter conversations, Facebook posts, blog posts, and even conference plenaries. But, to make sure others can get involved in the conversation, too. (Because we all know how fruitless it is to search Facebook for a post you kind of remember from eight months ago.)

Forerunners will publish timely, innovative works of between 15,000 and 25,000 words, written for a broader audience of serious readers. These could be original writing or adapted from more ephemeral conversations already happening. We’re leveraging agile publishing tools and ebook technology to make works available quickly and widely at an affordable price. This means ebooks available from all the major retailers, like Amazon, as well as print-on-demand editions for those who still prefer a more tactile reading experience. And, I’m talking a few months from submission to publication—not a few years, which would be the typical timeline for a scholarly monograph. You submit your work in January; we have it out in April.

We’ll still be doing a formal peer review, you’ll still be working with an acquisitions editor to develop the work, and the works will still receive professional copyediting and proofreading. These are crucial pieces to scholarly publishing that often get ignored when talking about open-access scholarship, self-publishing, etc. (For an excellent introduction to what university presses do, check out my colleague Jason Weidemann’s post.) And if the Forerunner later develops into a full-length book, there’s an option for you to publish it with us.

Okay, so what does this mean for the future of scholarly communication? I can’t say whether tenure committees will accept an ebook with a POD edition. I truly believe that scholarly monographs, journal articles, and edited collections have a rightful and valuable place in scholarship and the academy. But there needs to be an avenue for shorter, idea-driven works that should be readily accessible by scholars, students, and the general public. And that’s where Forerunners comes in.

-------

For more thoughts on the future of scholarly communication, visit this transcript of University of Minnesota Press director Doug Armato's talk delivered in September 2013 at "The Future of Academic Scholarship and Publishing" conference at Indiana University.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Could such tragedy happen today? Reflections on the 100-year anniversary of the epic Great Lakes storm of 1913.

Cleveland was perhaps the hardest-hit city by the deadly 1913 storm. Heavy winds tore up structures, blew out windows, and created five-foot drifts. Emergency vehicles struggled to get through drifting streets, hospitals coped with lost electricity, and the impassable streets made delivery of food and fuel almost impossible. Photo from the Library of Congress.


BY MICHAEL SCHUMACHER
Author of November's Fury: The Deadly Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913


I recently spoke about the deadly Great Lakes storm of 1913 at the annual “Gales of November” conference in Duluth, an occasion that found me spending time with Great Lakes historians, shipwreck hunters and divers, maritime artists, booksellers, members of the Coast Guard, and a stream of Great Lakes enthusiasts of every age and type imaginable. It’s a terrific event, and I felt honored to be invited to talk about a storm that still holds the distinction of being the most terrifying and destructive storm in Great Lakes history.

The storm lasted for four days, from November 7 to November 10, and it hit all five of the lakes, though it did its most extensive damage on Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron. Dozens of vessels were destroyed, heavily damaged, or grounded as they fought what has been described as a “freshwater hurricane.” Eight powerful boats sank on Lake Huron alone, all in a matter of hours. The overall toll of lost lives amounted to more than 250 sailors. Cleveland was buried in a blizzard that isolated the city for the better part of a week. Shorelines were re-sculpted. The property damage on land was immense.

The storm produced scores of stories about great heroism and seamanship amid unbelievably difficult circumstances, of great and poor decisions, of survival and rescue. My job, in writing November’s Fury, was to tell some of these stories in the ultimate tale of human struggle against nature. Some of the stories are legend among Great Lakes historians and enthusiasts, and some are relatively unknown.

It seems that people never tire of hearing accounts of travails on the lakes, and this was certainly the case during the “Gales of November” weekend. I was especially delighted to meet Jerry Eliason and Ken Merryman, two shipwreck hunters and explorers who recently discovered the Henry B. Smith, one of the vessels that sank during the ’13 storm.

I was asked a number of questions over the weekend, but the one asked the most was also the most obvious: could such a thing happen again?




Front page of The Detroit News on Nov. 13, 1913. The boat pictured,
referred to as the "mystery boat," turned out to be the Charles S. Price,
last seen trying to turn in the storm. Bodies of some of the crew of 28
were recovered on the Ontario shore.


The answer depends upon what you mean. A storm of equal proportion could occur again. If it happened once, it could happen again. On the other hand, it’s extremely unlikely that a similar storm would even approach the destruction of the storm of 1913, and I say this for several reasons.

-First and foremost, weather prediction and reporting is infinitely better. In 1913, the U.S. Weather Bureau, located in Washington D.C., depended on reporting stations throughout the Great Lakes region, and most of these locations reported wind velocity and direction, barometric pressure, precipitation, and air temperatures; jet streams and radar had yet to enter forecasting. The Weather Bureau would create charts and prognosticate to the best of its ability, but it was a painfully slow process. By the time a vessel’s captain obtained information at the docks, the wind could be changing direction, the barometric pressure could be falling at an alarming rate, and waves waves of monstrous sizes could form. After the storm of 1913, shipping company officials and boats’ captains accused the Bureau of incompetence—or, worse yet, not reporting a major storm in progress—when in fact storm warnings had been posted throughout the region. There was little respect for weather reporting, and captains often ignored the warnings, or, in some cases, left port before the warnings were posted.

The L. C. Waldo, for instance, left port loaded with iron ore before the storm blew in. The early part of her trip was uneventful, but the ship’s captain, John Duddleson, one of the most capable and experienced officers on the lakes, eventually found his vessel in the teeth of a storm that dismantled his boat and tore away the Waldo’s rudder, leaving her helpless against gigantic seas. The Waldo ultimately grounded in an extremely precarious position, and only a heroic rescue mission saved her crew from being lost.

-It’s also important to remember that trip and tonnage bonuses were paid to captains at the time, creating an incentive to go out in inclement weather. Captains would never risk their vessels and the lives of their crews for the extra money, and most vessels dropped anchor and did not sail until the storm passed, but as the numbers show, many went out. In at least one case—the previously mentioned Henry B. Smith—the captain was allegedly ordered to sail or face unemployment. This just would not happen today.

-Communications equipment—ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship—existed, but only a small percentage of boats had this equipment in 1913. The equipment was expensive and shipping companies did not want to invest the money in it, especially when the captains and crews opposed the idea of it. Sailors hated the idea of a company’s “spying” on them via onboard communications equipment. One fleet—the Shenango fleet—was known for its safety features and communications capabilities; every one of its vessels stayed in during the storm.

-Finally, vessel construction is much, much better today. In 1913, there were still wooden boats and whalebacks working on the lakes, along with barges that were often old schooners no longer reliable in carrying huge loads while navigating stormy waters; all of these were being phased out by steel vessels, but even these newer bulk carriers were constructed with steel that proved to be more brittle than the materials used a little more than three decades later.

This doesn’t mean that big, modern freighters are fail-safe against the forces of nature. The Edmund Fitzgerald, as strong and supposedly safe as any vessel on the lakes in her time, fell victim to a vicious storm in 1975—a tragedy that still seems impossible to believe today. November is a very unpredictable month, but with modern weather forecasting and communications, the chances of a storm claiming as many vessels as you saw in 1913, with the tremendous loss of life, is very unlikely.

Still, nature will have her way in unexpected ways. The bottom of the five Great Lakes is littered with wrecks that stand as silent proof of that.

-------

Michael Schumacher has written twelve books, including (most recently) November's Fury: The Deadly Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913, Mighty Fitz: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, and Wreck of the Carl D., and twenty-five documentaries on Great Lakes shipwrecks and lighthouses. He lives in Wisconsin.


"After 100 years, the definitive book about the Great Storm of 1913 has finally been written. In November’s Fury, Michael Schumacher deftly interweaves the stories of the scores of ships sunk, grounded, or damaged by the freak November hurricane with the tragic stories of a cross-section of the more than 250 Great Lakes sailors that died or were forever psychologically scarred."
—Mark Thompson, author of Graveyard of the Lakes

"November’s Fury is a moving and historically rich account of spectacular survivals, daring rescues, and heartbreaking loss. Michael Schumacher’s meticulous research and adroit storytelling give voice to the hundreds who perished in the Great Lakes storm of the century, revealing a human tragedy of immeasurable magnitude. November’s Fury touches all of our hearts."
—Andrew Kantar, author of Deadly Voyage and Black November

Friday, November 1, 2013

“People are born here and only leave here when they die": On forced land eviction in Salvador, Brazil.

View of Gamboa de Baixo, a neighborhood in the Brazilian city of Salvador, Bahia, which is known for its Afro-Brazilian culture and street carnival. It is also known as Brazil's "capital of happiness."


BY KEISHA-KHAN Y. PERRY
Assistant professor of Africana studies at Brown University



Gamboa de Baixo is a neighborhood
in the northeastern Brazilian city
of Salvador, Bahia.
Having worked on the research and writing for Black Women against the Land Grab: The Fight for Racial Justice in Brazil for more than a decade, I became extremely anxious about the book’s continued political relevance as its publication date came closer. I must begin by explaining that both in graduate school and now as professor, I have had the privilege (and pressure) of working closely with some of the world’s leading scholars of black feminist and radical thought in the African diaspora. It is expected that my scholarship will contribute to black social thought as well as offer new knowledge aimed at social change. Black Women against the Land Grab is the result of ethnographic research collaborations with local activists in the Gamboa de Baixo (also called Gamboa) neighborhood of the northeastern Brazilian city of Salvador that is at the heart of the analysis. So for many years I have not only had to contend with persistent questions from colleagues to the tune of “How is the book coming?” in anticipation of tenure, but also from activists who understood this book as a necessary way of documenting the history of the mass movement against forced land evictions. In recent years, after they had gained some social and infrastructural improvements, the threat of government displacement of Gamboa residents seemed a distant memory and the black fishing colony, unlike many others in Bahia, seems to have secured its place on coastal lands in the city center. I wondered whether the ideas in Black Women against the Land Grab still mattered, or should now only be read as history. After all, part of Gamboa activists' concerns echoed the book's primary argument that neighborhood movements led by women should be recognized as the grassroots base of the broader black Brazilian movement and that land was a key issue mobilizing the poor black masses—views absent from the literature on black activism in the country.

Just a week after the publication of the book, on the last Sunday of October 2013, the popular television program Band Comunidade featured Gamboa de Baixo in its weekly series on peripheral neighborhoods in Salvador. A Bahian journalist for the widely read blog O sistema é bruto and recently elected federal representative, the host Uziel Bueno (referred to as just Uziel) took viewers on a tour of Gamboa accompanied by activists from the neighborhood and fishermen and fisherwomen’s associations. Unlike most television and newspaper reports on the neighborhood, which tend to focus on live military police raids (literally as they are taking place) or the aftermath of local violence, Uziel made a concerted effort to show positive aspects of the poor black seaside community. Seemingly misplaced between the high-rise mansions of the elite neighborhoods of Campo Grande and Vítoria, Gamboa is a community widely misunderstood and unfairly discriminated against, Uziel exclaims throughout the video report. Forcibly relocating "nosso povo" ("our people") to the distant periphery of Salvador away from the beach and their small, brightly painted fishing boats is unjustified. He highlights local fishermen like Bebê, who states poignantly that “the discrimination is the result of people not knowing [the place or the people],” and bar owner Mônica, who invites the public to visit this “paradise in Salvador which should be valorized and respected because a lot of good people live here.”


View of the Bay of All Saints from inside the Gamboa de Baixo
neighborhood.


With microphone in hand, Uziel prompts local residents to repeat the network’s popular phrase that references the everyday struggle of the urban poor: “O sistema é bruto (the system is brutal).” More residents greet the camera with phases like “This is a black fishing community,” “We are workers in the city, fishermen and fisherwomen,” “We will fight will all our might to stay in this place,” and “We will not leave from here.” One 70-year-old woman tells Uziel she is a “native Gamboan” who has lived there since birth and that she cannot see herself living anywhere else: “People are born here and only leave here when they die.” The most powerful interview in the report is that of 100-year-old retired washerwoman Dona Rosa, who has lived in the Gamboa neighborhood, inside the actual ruins of the São Paulo da Gamboa fort, for more than fifty years. Uziel names Rosa an example of the “gente guerreira” (warrior people) featured each week on the show, and when he asks her, “If they remove you from here, you’re going to feel extremely bad, right?” she laughs and responds without hesitation, “They can’t, they can’t.”

Media events such as this represent an opportunity for Gamboa residents to bring attention to an ongoing fight against forced land eviction. These are some of the same fighting words that I had heard repeated by local warriors over a decade, on their doorsteps, in their boats, or in street protests. As discrimination continues against Gamboa residents, local activists require that any activity or tour in the neighborhood must have a political component in order to "show another struggle, another reality." From the elderly Rosa to the diver Denise, the television report rightfully depicts a community with a collective understanding that they are always engaged in a struggle against the negative representations of marginality and violence. It is evident that local activists such as Ana Cristina, Itana and Nice are deeply involved in the production of the video, aimed at illustrating a vibrant artistic and aquatics culture as well as commercial fishing economy. Ana Cristina points out that in the São Paulo da Gamboa fort later that evening, as is now a weekly Sunday tradition sponsored by the Muda Gamboa (Change Gamboa) Project, residents are preparing for a pagode (a celebration with unique Bahian samba music). Although television shows that feature poor black neighborhoods have only fueled negative public opinions, Ana Cristina states, “It was a positive experience for us right now as the struggle is about to heat up.”

In chapter two of Black Women against the Land Grab, I write:

“While many writers have portrayed Salvador as a happy and naturally beautiful city in the African diaspora, urbanization reveals that it also is a city saddened by disparities in wealth, the intrinsic segregationist policies that govern the region, and the racialized and gendered implications of social and economic development. Salvador is a city of contrasts: ‘The city of Bahia is unequal and contradictory. Happy and sad, rich, poor, and miserable. Beautiful and ugly’ (Serra 2002, 25)” (35). 

Via Nautica is a redevelopment plan that Gamboa residents have been fighting since the mid-1990s. It has become even more urgent for urban planners preparing the city for the World Cup and the Olympic Games. I unpack this logic of spatial exclusion in the book, and detail how corrupt and violent state policing and social abandonment have led to negative media representations that have solidified public opinion in support of forced relocation of poor blacks from Salvador’s coveted coastal lands.


Local activist Ana Cristina assists Perry with mapping inside
the São Paulo da Gamboa fort for the book.


It is clear to me how urgent discussions on violent land evictions in black communities still are. (Although I write about the black urban land rights struggle in Salvador and Brazil generally, most of the book focuses on Gamboa de Baixo's resistance against forced expulsion from coastal lands.) The national and international media have focused heavily on protests in Rio de Janeiro against the demolitions of houses and relocation of residents to the city’s distant periphery. As the history of Gamboa de Baixo and the general exclusionary nature of urbanization in the city of Salvador have shown, preparations for the upcoming international sports events to create a modern international city began decades ago, and blacks and poor people carry the burden. This is evident in other neighborhoods such as the world heritage site Pelourinho. African-descendant culture is the face of Bahian and Brazilian culture (religion, capoeira, artisan goods), but black people do not belong in these revitalized spaces. However, as Ana Cristina says, black and poor people who have traditionally occupied coastal lands are not fighting against development; they are fighting for development that includes them as active participants in the process. Moreover, Gamboa de Baixo residents are not surprised that once again they have been targeted for forced removal, and, they warn, nor should the government be surprised that they are prepared to fight until they die.  

A luta continua. The struggle continues.

-------

Keisha-Khan Y. Perry is author of Black Women against the Land Grab: The Fight for Racial Justice in Brazil. She is assistant professor of Africana studies at Brown University.

"In a bold intervention from the tendency to ignore women’s participation in struggles for land rights and access to basic resources, Keisha-Khan Y. Perry paints women as the categorical leaders in resisting ‘development’ plans that amount to expelling poor, black communities from their historical homes. Her long-term involvement with the Gamboa de Baixo community in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, and unabashed advocacy for their cause, results in an electrifying ethnography that showcases the wry humor and perceptive analyses of grassroot community activists."
Sarah Hautzinger, author of Violence in the City of Women: Police and Batterers in Bahia, Brazil