Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Standing Rock and the eternal fight for decolonization and freedom across the world.


Standing Rock marked a turning point for Indigenous resistance on Turtle Island. And although the camps had been forcefully evicted by police two weeks after Donald Trump took office, the struggle continues.

While temperatures rise worldwide and the rightward global authoritarian turn intensifies, there are signs of hope. In the short span since we first assembled this collection to now, Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland became the first Native American women elected to Congress, making history not once but twice. In February of this year, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive Democrat who started her successful bid for Congress the day after Trump’s election while she was at the Standing Rock camps, introduced the Green New Deal, the far-reaching, comprehensive legislation that has become the clarion call for climate justice. Some Indigenous movements are pushing Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed legislation even further, offering their own visions of a decolonized, post-fossil fuel world. None of this would have been possible without the Indigenous-led movement at Standing Rock.

While electoral politics may somewhat reflect a repudiation of the authoritarian turn, they are not the end goal for many still struggling against ongoing colonial violence and occupation. Let’s not forget that the Dakota Access Pipeline was largely built under the watch of Obama’s Democratic administration. And Standing Rock was a bright shining star in a constellation of struggles, stars that still burn in our hearts and minds today: Unist’ot’en Camp (2010), Keystone XL (2011), Idle No More (2012), Trans Mountain (2013), Enbridge Line 3 (2014), Save Oak Flat (2015), Protect Mauna Kea (2015), Nihígaal Bee Iiná (2015), and Bayou Bridge (2017), and many others. In fact, many of the contributors to this volume were participants in these struggles before and after Standing Rock.

This volume is also a story of the Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota nations. As Lewis Grassrope points out, the Oceti Sakowin—the Nation of the Seven Council Fires—united in the nineteenth century and again in the twenty-first century at Standing Rock to resist settler encroachment. For Phyllis Young, the name Hunkpapa, for the people of Standing Rock, “means horn of the buffalo” or, in her words, “protectors of our nation of Oceti Sakowin.” “I’m still here,” Ladonna Bravebull Allard, the founder of Sacred Stone Camp, the first camp, says in this volume. “I have not quit fighting. I still live here.” Perhaps the most prophetic voice, however, comes from the youth. “This fight has become my entire life,” says Zaysha Grinnell, a youth leader from Fort Berthold. For her, Standing Rock “is just the beginning of the revolution.”

There are many stories to tell, and you can feel the weight of these stories in your hands. Those close to these accounts may share the tears, laughter, camaraderie, and profound sense of freedom we as editors re-lived while compiling this volume. It is as much a window into history as it is a book of emotions and community strength, with all the ups and downs, that was Standing Rock and is the eternal fight for decolonization and freedom across the globe.

No doubt, the Water Protector and the phrase “water is life” are the icons of this generation of climate revolutionaries—Indigenous and allied comrades alike. We are forever grateful for the continued sacrifices of Water Protectors and Land Defenders throughout the world. Without them, we wouldn’t be here today. This book would not have been possible.


Nick Estes is Kul Wicasa, a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. He is assistant professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico; cofounder of The Red Nation, an organization dedicated to Indigenous liberation; and author of Our History Is the Future: Standing Rock versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance.

Jaskiran Dhillon is a first-generation anticolonial scholar and organizer who grew up on Treaty Six Cree Territory in Saskatchewan, Canada. She is associate professor of global studies and anthropology at The New School and author of Prairie Rising: Indigenous Youth, Decolonization, and the Politics of Intervention.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Finding the human and the posthuman in the Anthropocene.

Vanessa Daws, #pluralizetheanthropocene

St. John's University

A few weeks ago in late July, a tropical rainstorm cascaded onto my home in Connecticut. During high summer in the northeastern United States, violent thunderstorms often roll through after steamy afternoons. But we weren’t prepared for the speed and volume of water that fell in a few short hours during the evening of July 22, 2019. After we spotted rising water in the basement, spreading into my teenage son’s underground lair, we frantically filled 32-gallon garbage cans and hauled them up the hill from the flooded garage. We weren’t quite successful in keeping all the water out of his room – but we did save the Xbox, not to mention his bed.

Welcome, I didn’t say to him as we each strained to pull more than one hundred pounds of sloshing water up the steep driveway, to the Anthropocene.

According to the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Programme, July 2019 was the hottest recorded month in human history. The year 2019 also saw record-breaking heat in April, May, and June. Our planet is cooking, and since warm air holds more water vapor, storms are getting wetter. The downpour we experienced might not have been unusual for the tropics. But our cozy New England home wasn’t designed to handle that much water that fast. My flood situation seems pretty tame compared to the prospects facing residents of the Maldives or Marshall Islands, but the Anthropocene touches each one of us, unevenly, unexpectedly, and sometimes painfully.

As the lived experience of climate change becomes more tangible with each storm, flood, and heat wave, we need to activate our imaginations. It’s not easy to make sense of how it feels to live through dynamic ecological change. The buzzword “Anthropocene,” coined in 2000 by Nobel Prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen, has been spreading its tentacles beyond climate science to the humanities, arts, and other public discourses, but it’s not clear what the term asks of us in response. We know that climate change has a human cause and that we are living through an “Age of Man” in a basic physical sense. We also know the abstract Anthropos that drives up carbon levels in the atmosphere is not the same as the individual Humans who suffer the most drastic effects. Industrial capitalism lights the fires, but people feel the waters rise.

I wrote Break Up the Anthropocene to add more imagination to our responses to climate change. I wanted to synthesize the many ways cultural theorists and eco-philosophers are describing our moment. I also wanted – to cite my argument-by-hashtag – to #pluralizetheanthropocene. That means transforming the ominous and monolithic rise of global temperature into varied, surprising, and radical possibilities. I wanted to exchange the global paradigms of 1.5 or 2 or 3 degrees Celsius with multiple responses to plural lived experiences of catastrophic ecological changes.

I needed help, and I got lots of it. The inspiration started with a gorgeous watercolor painting that swim-artist Vanessa Daws made for me in June 2018, when I was giving a #pluralizetheanthropocene lecture in Lausanne. The image, which balances a Ship of Fools alongside a mostly-hidden sea monster and an ocean full of plastic trash, launched this book with color and turbulence. I’ve tried to stay true to that spirit as the project has moved and turned.

The book’s seven chapters comprise forays into plural perspectives. A chapter called “Six Human Postures” treats Old Man Anthropos as a physical allegory, so that various eco-theoretical approaches involve asking the Old Man’s tired body to assume new positions. Yoga for the Anthropocene! Other chapters include investigations of anachronism as positive method, a Borges-meets-Shakespeare engagement with “now, now, very now” as the time of climate change, and a reading of errancy as central to natural systems. A glossary-chapter, “The Neologismcene,” catalogs two dozen proposed names for our warming age, from “Agnotocene” to “Trumpocene.” We need them all, and more besides. A concluding encounter with the whale-swallowed prophet Jonah suggests that the climate change stories we need today include both the human perspective that counsels repentance, change, and survival, and the posthuman vision that promises shock, disorientation, and new possibilities.

When I was writing this little book, I didn’t think that I’d feel one of its conclusions in my aching back. I need a better system for keeping stormwater out of my house. We need to stop pumping carbon into the atmosphere. But living in the Anthropocene means finding floods where you don’t expect them and hadn’t encountered them before.


Steve Mentz is professor of English at St. John’s University. He is the author of Shipwreck Modernity (Minnesota, 2015), At the Bottom of Shakespeare’s Ocean (2009), and Romance for Sale in Early Modern England (2006).

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

This key point in US history urgently calls for peaceful, art-filled protest.

Teachers strike in Oakland. Photo credit: Brooke Anderson
Photography. Published on Common Dreams.
Used with permission.

Buchanan Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Washington State University

As Harvard political scientist Erica Chenoweth has carefully documented, throughout modern history large-scale civil disobedience has been the most effective way to bring about significant social change—including overthrowing authoritarian regimes. If only 3.5% of the population engages in such protests, they have almost invariably been enough to topple even the most repressive systems.

The United States is at a major turning point in history. If the country is to remain a democracy committed to being a nation of immigrants and a multi-ethnic society, it will take active involvement of citizens in political action of all kinds, including engagement in the “art of protest.”

My book The Art of Protest traces the last sixty years of cultural creativity in and around the social movements that have sought to make America live up to its promise as a land where all people have an equal chance to pursue their vision of a happy, productive life.

The title has a dual meaning: the arts are important to protest movements, and all protest needs to be artful in the sense of thoughtful and carefully crafted. Especially in this era of information overload from both old and new media, it is difficult to get messages of positive change through the fog of fake news and useless blather. In such a context, art can dramatically embody the hopes, concerns, and values of change movements.

The premise of The Art of Protest is a simple one: that the arts and cultural expressive forms have been at least as important a part of social and political change as legislation and other forms of governmental action. That truth continues to be enacted every day in this era of reactionary, right-wing reassertions of white supremacy, misogyny, and war on the poor.

My book offers a prism to examine the history of key moments of social change over the last several decades and to serve as a guide to strategies that can prove vital to the current, increasingly widespread Resistance movement against the new authoritarianism. Each chapter looks at a different movement and highlights a particular art form, asking what special force each art from can bring. I look at traditional forms like posters, painting, poetry, music, and theater, as well as newer forms like virtual reality and augmented reality digital art, and discuss the digital dissemination of these other forms. They all continue to contribute massively to positive social change.

Anti-globalization protesters in Seattle, 1999.
Photograph credit: Eric Draper/AP.
Used with permission.

Just a couple of weeks after The Art of Protest's second edition was released earlier this year, thousands of teachers around the country went on strike to help our schools fulfill their promise of giving all children a fair start in life. That movement quickly became centered on the use of art to embody the teachers’ values and goals. In both Los Angeles and Oakland, the strikes were highly successful—in no small part because of the artful forms of non-violent protest they employed. Kids, parents, teachers, local artists and supporters of all kinds contributed to visual representations whose creation strengthened the group’s unity, and were then suffused throughout the community via old and new forms of mass media.

The groups involved used a new set of techniques called an “art build” that is spreading to social change workers all around the country. These folks are themselves building on a long tradition of art that includes the use of freedom songs in the Civil Rights movement, murals in the Chicano/a/x movement, poetry as a tool of feminist consciousness raising, graphic and performance art in the fight against HIV/AIDS, rap songs and videos in the Black Lives Matter movement, digital art and giant puppets that spread the word that neoliberal globalization was increasing the gap between the rich few and the many struggling to survive, and hundreds of other example of art-infused progressive social change.

In the context of the US at present, protests need to work in tandem with electoral politics. Done well, each reinforces the other, with movements assuring that elected politicians follow through on their promises to enact significant change. We need artful non-violent protest more than ever as part of the massive effort underway on hundreds of fronts to restore democracy, truthfulness, and something approaching “liberty and justice for all.”


T. V. Reed is Buchanan Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Washington State University. His recent books include The Art of Protest: Culture and Activism from the Civil Rights Movement to the Present, Second Edition; Digitized Lives: Culture, Power, and Social Change in the Internet Era; and Robert Cantwell and the Literary Left. More information about past and present art-filled movements and The Art of Protest, is available on Reed's website.

Monday, August 5, 2019

The Value of University Presses, Then and Now

Press Director Douglas Armato has been a leader in scholarly publishing long enough that the Association of University Presses has asked him to help define the central values of the field—twice. In 2000, he worked with Steve Cohn of Duke University Press and Susan Schott of the University of Kansas Press on “The Value of University Presses,” a statement of how scholarly publishers benefit society, scholarship, and their parent institutions. In 2019, Armato was asked to form a group to revisit the document. Alongside colleagues Lisa Bayer (Georgia), Mahinder Kingra (Cornell), Erich van Rijn (California) and Stephanie Williams (Ohio), he worked on a renewed statement that will be used by AUPresses to guide outreach and communication efforts and educate new member presses on the core principles of the field.
On the occasion of the statement’s re-release, Press Outreach and Development Manager Eric Lundgren sat down with Armato to discuss the creation and revision of this key document. The full text of “The Value of University Presses” follows.

You have a unique perspective on “The Value of University Presses” as a lead author of both the original 2000 version and the 2019 revision. What caught your eye when you returned to this statement after 20 years, and what were some of the changes your group made?

I was struck by both the changes and the continuity. The 2000 statement was drafted before there were ebooks and before open access to scholarship was even a discussion. Google was only recently launched and Amazon was a minor and quirky presence in the bookselling world. Awareness of diversity and accessibility was mostly limited to our editorial programs—not our hiring and publishing practices. On the other hand, working with a younger generation of university press leaders on the 2019 revision, I was struck that every single item from the original list was retained. Those original items needed to be updated, and we added six new ones, but university presses have adhered to their mission and, in fact, expanded it.

The statement is broken down into three sections, “University Presses and Society,” “University Presses and Scholarship,” and “University Presses in the University Community.” Could you speak a little bit about how the University of Minnesota Press finds the right balance of providing value in these distinct but overlapping areas?

As you say, they are overlapping. And ideally, everything we publish should in some way simultaneously serve society, scholarship, and our parent institutions. We balance our lists among publications directed mostly to scholars and students, those that aim for a wider audience of readers, and works directed to our state and region. But all share a commitment to knowledge and toward advancing social conversation and debate. A scholarly work may be referenced by journalists or policy makers or be drawn upon by the author of a bestseller years later. A regional novel or memoir will help people think about their own positions in our society. And one of our children’s books will help spark interest in nature or history or other people’s lives in a way that helps them develop into thoughtful, inquisitive students and potentially into tomorrow’s scholars, researchers, and leaders.

Given continued consolidation of the publishing industry, pressure on humanities departments at universities, and political attacks on the media, one could argue that university presses are even more important today than they were in 2000. Are there things you would like to see university presses do to better articulate their value to their universities and communities?

The primary responsibility of a scholarly press is to publish verified knowledge and informed, fact-based debate. And yes, that is more critical now than ever. In the two decades since the original “Values” statement, we’ve all witnessed the rise of clickbait media, the hollowing-out of news and opinion sources under profit-driven corporate ownership, and the suppression of knowledge and open debate by political interests. The message university presses most need to get out there—and we’re beginning to do so—is the collective impact of our 100+ member presses. At a time when facts are literally under siege, we demonstrate the importance of verified knowledge and the university research mission. Universities and our society at large don’t always realize it, but they need us.

“The Value of University Presses” has become a guiding document for scholarly publishers. What might the next update look like in another twenty years?

I think the continuity of mission will still be there. You can look back even further than the almost twenty years between the two versions of “The Values of University Presses” to the founding of the Association of University Presses eighty years ago, and see how consistent our programs and guiding principles have been, even as we’ve adapted to constant changes in technology, bookselling, scholarship, and higher education. We’ll certainly see a new economic paradigm emerge for publication of scholarship, but university presses and libraries will be at the center of it. Bookselling will change, but university presses will still find ways of bringing their publications to broad global audiences. Scholars will find new ways of presenting their research, but university presses will help develop tools for making it available. Universities will diversify their faculty and student bodies and university presses will be part of that change and will benefit from it. So in another twenty years—maybe sooner—we’ll be updating this list again, and probably expanding it, but I have no doubt the values it lists will still guide us.

The Value of University Presses

University Presses are at the center of the global knowledge ecosystem. We publish works and perform services that are of vast benefit to the diverse scholarly network—researchers, teachers, students, librarians, and the rest of the university community. Our work also reaches out to a broad audience of readers, and ultimately to the larger world that depends on informed and engaged peer-reviewed scholarship published to the highest standards. Each University Press brings a distinctive vision and mission to its work. Yet we are all guided by, and united in, core values—integrity, diversity, stewardship, and intellectual freedom—that define who we are, the work we do, and the goals to which we aspire.

University Presses and Society

1: University Presses make available to the broader public the full range and value of research generated by university faculty and by scholars outside the academy.

2: University Press books, journals, and digital publications present the foundational research and analysis that is drawn upon by policymakers, opinion leaders, nonprofits, journalists, and influential authors.

3: University Presses contribute to the abundance and variety of cultural expression at a time of continuing consolidation in the commercial publishing industry.

4: University Press publications provide deep insight into the widest range of histories and perspectives, giving voice to underrepresented groups and experiences.

5: University Presses make common cause with libraries, booksellers, museums, and other institutions to promote engagement with ideas and expose the public to a diversity of cultures and opinions.

6: University Presses help draw attention to the distinctiveness of local cultures through publication of works on the states and regions where they are based.

7: University Presses seek a wide readership by publishing in formats from print to ebook to audio to online and by making publications available in accessible alternative formats for those with print-related disabilities.

8: University Press translation programs make available to English-language audiences vital works of scholarship and literary importance written in other languages.

9: University Presses rediscover and maintain the availability of works important to scholarship and culture through reprint programs and through revival of key backlist titles, often via open digital editions.

10: University Presses encourage cultural expression by publishing original works of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and the visual arts.

University Presses and Scholarship

11: University Presses, through their rigorous peer review and faculty board approval process, test the validity and soundness of scholarship in order to maintain high standards for academic publication.

12: University Presses add value to scholarly work through careful editorial development; professional copyediting and design; extensive promotion and discoverability efforts; and global distribution networks.

13: University Presses include in their community a wide array of institutions – including scholarly associations, research institutes, government agencies, museums, and international presses – thus representing a diversified research culture.

14: University Presses recognize important fresh perspectives in scholarship by sponsoring work in emerging and interdisciplinary areas that have not yet gained wide attention.

15: University Presses sponsor and develop the work of early-career scholars through publication of their first books, which establish credentials and develop authorial experience.

16: University Presses publish established and start-up scholarly journals in the humanities, social sciences, and STEM disciplines that contribute to a thriving ecosystem of article-based scholarship.

17: University Presses actively promote the translation of works by English-speaking authors into other languages, making their scholarship available to researchers, students, and readers worldwide.

18: University Presses commit to multivolume publishing projects and dynamic digital resources, partnering with librarians, foundations, and other organizations on works of wide scope and enduring importance.

19: University Presses collaborate with learned societies, scholarly associations, and libraries to explore how new technologies can benefit and advance scholarship.

20: University Presses publish books, journal articles, and digital projects used in undergraduate and graduate courses as essential components of well-rounded syllabi and reading lists.

University Presses in the University Community

21: University Presses extend the mission, influence, and brand of their parent institutions, making evident their commitment to knowledge and ideas.

22: University Press publishing programs span the humanities, arts, social sciences, STEM fields, and professional schools, representing the full expanse of university research.
23: University Presses demonstrate their parent institutions' support of research in essential academic fields – particularly in the humanities and social sciences – that are rarely supported by federal or corporate funding.

24: University Presses extend their parent institutions’ efforts at community engagement and outreach by publishing books of interest to their local communities and to a broader regional readership.

25: University Presses raise the public profile and reputation of their parent institutions by generating positive news coverage and reviews, receiving book awards, and maintaining active social media presences.

26: University Presses play a leading role in experimenting with and developing new platforms for delivering and engaging with scholarship.

27: University Presses partner with campus libraries, digital humanities centers, and other university departments to advance non-traditional initiatives in scholarly communication.

28: University Presses provide distribution and other publishing services to other university units and also act as distributors for independent publishers, ranging from established presses to innovative scholar-led initiatives.

29: University Press staff act as local experts for faculty and administrators, providing guidance on intellectual property, scholarly communication, and the publishing process.

30: University Presses engage in the teaching and learning mission by providing substantive work study, internship, and apprenticeship experiences for undergraduate and graduate students.

This essential document, articulating the value of university presses, was originally created in 2000 by a working group of three Association board members, Douglas Armato (Minnesota), Steve Cohn (Duke), and Susan Schott (Kansas). In 2018, the Association of University Presses invited Armato to form a new author group to update it. Our thanks go to him, Lisa Bayer (Georgia), Mahinder Kingra (Cornell), Erich van Rijn (California), and Stephanie Williams (Ohio) for this renewed statement.
Approved by the AUPresses Board of Directors June 2019.


Thursday, August 1, 2019

Mauna Kea: "More than just a list of physical attributes."

Recent events on Hawai’i’s Big Island represent the latest in a nearly decade-long dispute between Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) and settler colonial forces seeking to build the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on the summit of Mauna Kea. Kanaka Maoli have resisted the construction of TMT on the summit, one of the most sacred sites for Native Hawaiians.

On July 15, Hawaiian Governor David Ige announced that construction would begin on the telescope. Since then, in scenes reminiscent of other profound moments of peaceful environmental protests led by indigenous peoples such as Standing Rock, Native Hawaiian protectors have blockaded the roadway leading to the summit. On July 17, the arrests began, and many Native Hawaiian elders were forcibly removed and arrested for taking part in the blockade.

To amplify the messages of Kanaka Maoli protectors demonstrating their profound love of ‘āina (land), the University of Minnesota Press is sharing an article published in volume 4, issue 2 of Native American and Indigenous Studies. Written by Iokepa Salazar, assistant professor at the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity at Ithaca College. Salazar is currently working on a book manuscript on the TMT controversy.

—JASON WEIDEMANN, Editorial Director, University of Minnesota Press



The article analyzes scientific, legal, and popular discourses surrounding Hawaiʻi’s famed mountain summit, Mauna a Wākea, to show how the co-constitution of Western science and imperialism is evidenced in astronomy’s cultural imperative to build its $1.4 billion “Thirty Meter Telescope” (TMT). TMT advocates promise to “discover new worlds” and to observe “the origins of the universe,” but their claims to objective knowledge are betrayed by the legacies of violence on which they are based. The article examines narrative practices that serve to rationalize settler privilege, possession, and belonging on Mauna a Wākea by recasting Kānaka ʻŌiwi as anti-science, criminal, and irrational. Using rhetoric that invokes a familial connection to “ancient Hawaiians,” “modern astronomers” imagine themselves as inheritors of Hawaiian lands; along the way conjuring systems of qualification whereby Kānaka ʻŌiwi are legitimate only insofar as we remained trapped in the past, and politically neutralized. Mauna a Wākea is more than just a list of physical attributes; it is our kin and the knowledge of our genealogies, rooted in the land itself, lies at the heart of our aloha ʻāina and activism.

Read the article's full text.

Download a PDF.

Read the article on Project MUSE.