Essential Background Reading on Cuba from UNC Press

On Becoming Cuban: Identity, Nationality, and Culture, by Louis A. Perez Jr.In light of the sea change in U.S.-Cuban relations, I am delighted to recommend two books to anyone who wants to get up to speed: On Becoming Cuban: Identity, Nationality, and Culture, by Louis A. Pérez Jr., and Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana, by William LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh.

On Becoming Cuban is a prizewinning, sweeping cultural history that reveals just how really close Cubans and U.S. Americans are.

Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana, by William LeoGrande and Peter KornbluhThe just-published Back Channel to Cuba is oracular: opening with invasions, covert operations, assassination plots using poison pens and exploding seashells, and a grinding economic embargo, this book presents a surprising, untold history of bilateral efforts toward rapprochement and reconciliation. Having uncovered hundreds of formerly secret U.S. documents and conducted interviews with dozens of negotiators, intermediaries, and policy makers, including Fidel Castro and Jimmy Carter, LeoGrande and Kornbluh entertainingly chronicle how, despite the political clamor surrounding any hint of better relations with Havana, serious negotiations have been conducted by every presidential administration since Eisenhower’s through secret, back-channel diplomacy. What more can I say?

For the full list of our books in Cuban studies, please visit the UNC Press website.

Excerpt: Muslim American Women on Campus, by Shabana Mir

Muslim American Women on Campus: Undergraduate Social Life and Identity, by Shabana MirShabana Mir’s powerful ethnographic study of women on Washington, D.C., college campuses reveals that being a young female Muslim in post-9/11 America means experiencing double scrutiny—scrutiny from the Muslim community as well as from the dominant non-Muslim community. Muslim American Women on Campus: Undergraduate Social Life Identity illuminates the processes by which a group of ethnically diverse American college women, all identifying as Muslim and all raised in the United States, construct their identities during one of the most formative times in their lives.

Mir, an anthropologist of education, focuses on key leisure practices—drinking, dating, and fashion—to probe how Muslim American students adapt to campus life and build social networks that are seamlessly American, Muslim, and youthful. Mir concludes that institutions of higher learning continue to have much to learn about fostering religious diversity on campus.

In this excerpt (pp. 47-51), Mir explores the challenges Muslim American women face amidst the prevalence alcohol culture on college campuses.

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Muslim Participation/Marginality in College Drinking Cultures

Fatima was an adventurous designer of third space identities, a non-hijabi who was at the same time religiously devout, socially liberal, sexually conservative, and politically aware. When Fatima entered the gates of Georgetown, having newly graduated from a strictly Islamic school, she was horrified to find that some of her Muslim friends drank alcohol. Though the overwhelming majority of Muslim theological opinion agrees that intoxicants (beer, wine, and inebriating drugs) are forbidden to adherents of Islam, this ban like most religious taboos is violated as well as observed. Such is also the case with Muslim American college students, men and women. Indeed, in the world of Georgetown, encountering another Muslim drinker was not a momentous discovery. In a world-weary monotone, Fatima said: “But now it’s just, ‘Oh, he drinks: OK, he’s another one among so many.’” As numbers are crucial in any cultural change, this is significant for the future of American Islam. Religious Muslim American students at Georgetown became more unconcerned with alcohol culture over time, even if they did not drink (and, in this book, I do not even deal with the large contingent of liberal postcolonial elites, students from Muslim countries who filled college bars). Fatima was a proud though jaded teetotaler, profoundly aware of the social consequences on campus of not drinking. I met many Muslims like her, and many unlike her. The contours of Muslim religious identity clouded over in the spaces of youth culture, pregnant with multifarious possibilities—drinking; not drinking; drinking with regular breaks for teetotalism; periods of drinking; hanging out with drinkers; avoiding any spaces with alcohol; and not drinking but passing as drinkers. Being Muslim in alcohol cultures is, like the Facebook status, complicated.
Continue reading ‘Excerpt: Muslim American Women on Campus, by Shabana Mir’ »

Stephanie B. Jeffries: Free the Phoenix: Fire and Rebirth in Linville Gorge

Exploring Southern Appalachian Forests: An Ecological Guide to 30 Great Hikes in the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia, by Stephanie B. Jeffries and Thomas R. WentworthWe welcome to the blog today a guest post by Stephanie B. Jeffries, coauthor (with Thomas R. Wentworth) of Exploring Southern Appalachian Forests: An Ecological Guide to 30 Great Hikes in the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia. This unique hiking guide to the southern Appalachian mountains leads readers to explore the rich forest ecosystems and other natural communities visitors encounter along the trail. Drawing on years of experience guiding forest walks throughout the region, Jeffries and Wentworth invite hikers and nature lovers to see their surroundings in new ways. Readers will learn to decipher clues from the tree canopies, forest floor, and other natural features to appreciate more fully the environmental factors that make the southern Appalachians home to an amazing biodiversity.

In today’s post, Jeffries explores the role of fire in the ongoing life of a southern Appalachian wilderness, Linville Gorge.

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“Hike 22 is on fire!”

It was with a mixture of irony and elation that I typed those five words to my co-author, Tom Wentworth, on November 14, 2013.

Not two days prior, we’d submitted the final manuscript for our book, Exploring Southern Appalachian Forests: An Ecological Guide to 30 Great Hikes in the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia, to UNC Press. Hike 22 leads to the summit of Table Rock. Now it was burning, the result of a runaway campfire in the Table Rock Picnic Area.

Nighttime photographs shot from across the Gorge dramatized the fiery landscape. Local news sites carried stories with dozens of reader comments lamenting the loss of Linville Gorge’s pristine beauty.

But as we discuss in our Table Rock hike chapter, fire is as essential to Linville Gorge as the wild and scenic river that cut its steep sides. The exposed, dry, rocky summits have always been susceptible to summer lightning strikes, and the pine forests there are dynamic. The Table Mountain pine and pitch pine that dominate these natural communities require fire to persist—they need full sun and mineral soil for germination of their tiny seeds and successful growth of their seedlings.

Table Mountain pine, found only in the southern Appalachians, holds onto years of resin-sealed cones, which open only in the heat of a fire. This remarkable strategy ensures that the seeds are released into the ideal environment for germination. Meanwhile, pitch pine can resprout from burned branches and trunks, so a burnt tree can survive and regenerate after a fire. In addition to these fire-adapted pines, wildflowers such as the federally endangered Heller’s blazing star and mountain golden heather need fire to keep their sunny, rocky habitats open.

Without fire, fleshy, evergreen shrubs like rhododendron and mountain laurel form a dense understory, and shade- and drought-tolerant oaks sprout atop the spongy organic soil and crowd out the pines and other species. This vegetation is fire retardant, so the forest is less likely to burn. Thus the pine forests slowly disappear, as older trees are killed by bark beetle or old age and their seedlings perish in the evergreen thickets. Truth is, Linville Gorge’s gnarly pine forests have been struggling ever since humans began extinguishing fires in the name of preservation.

Controversy rages over fire policy in Linville Gorge, which was the first designated Federal Wilderness in the East with the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964. Currently, the policy is to suppress any fires that threaten manmade structures, but to allow lower-intensity lightning-strike fires to burn. The latest management plan proposes prescribed burns in the Gorge to promote pines and rare plants and to reduce fuel loads. Homeowners in the Gingercake Acres development, perched on the eastern rim of the Gorge, understandably worry about risk to their homes. Advocacy organizations like Save the Linville Gorge Wilderness argue that fire destroys the wild character of the landscape. Skeptics scoff that the Forest Service maintains only an illusion of control over something as unpredictable and powerful as fire.

Burning a Federal Wilderness isn’t easy. The Forest Service, which manages the Linville Gorge Wilderness, cannot use any mechanized equipment in maintenance, management, or, in this case, fighting forest fires. Continue reading ‘Stephanie B. Jeffries: Free the Phoenix: Fire and Rebirth in Linville Gorge’ »

Video: Celebrating 75 Years of ‘These Are Our Lives’

'These Are Our Lives,' by Federal Writers' Project, Regional StaffIn 1935, President Roosevelt founded the Federal Writers’ Project as part of the Works Progress Administration. The FWP employed thousands of historians, teachers, writers, librarians, and other white-collar workers struggling through the Great Depression, creating jobs and enabling the artistic expression and preservation of an era. One of the publications that resulted from the FWP was These Are Our Lives, published by UNC Press in 1939. Based on interviews conducted throughout North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia, the book collects the “life histories of tenant farmers, farm owners, textile and other factory workers, persons in service occupations in towns and cities (such as bell hops, waitresses, messenger boys, clerks in five and ten cent stores, soda jerks), and persons in miscellaneous occupations such as lumbering, mining, turpentining, and fishing,” wrote UNC Press director and southeastern regional FWP director William Terry Couch.

Upon the book’s publication, Time magazine said, “It gives the South its most pungent picture of common life, the Writers’ Project its strongest claim to literary distinction.” The San Francisco Chronicle called it “praiseworthy from any point of view, whether political, social, or literary.” And the New York Times Book Review declared it “one of the most revealing books that has been written on folkways that largely make the South what it is.”

This past spring the Library of Congress sponsored a 75th anniversary event commemorating the publication of These Are Our Lives. The event featured comments from John Cole, director of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, where the FWP archives are held; historian David Taylor; journalist Ann Banks; StoryCorps recording and archive manager Virginia Millington; plus audio recordings from StoryCorps and live readings of the personal accounts found in These Are Our Lives. See video of the event embedded below.

For additional historical context: in 1939, UNC Press was breaking new ground in the publication of works written by and about African Americans, a controversial pursuit for a southern university press of that era.  Continue reading ‘Video: Celebrating 75 Years of ‘These Are Our Lives’’ »

Lisa Wilson: Cinderella and Her Still Evil Stepmother

A History of Stepfamilies in Early America, by Lisa WilsonWe welcome a guest post today from Lisa Wilson, author of A History of Stepfamilies in Early America. Stepfamilies are not a modern phenomenon, but despite this reality, the history of stepfamilies in America has yet to be fully explored. In her book, Wilson examines the stereotypes and actualities of colonial stepfamilies and reveals them to be important factors in early United States domestic history.

In today’s post, Wilson explores the history of the “evil stepmother” trope in Western history.

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Why do we need to have evil stepmothers?  After two recent remakes of Snow White—Mirror, Mirror (2012) and Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)—we are now turning to Cinderella (a non-animated Disney film) due to come out in the spring of 2015. Fairy tales with evil stepmothers have become a bit of a cottage industry in the film industry as of late. Why do these stories and in particular the characters of evil stepmothers still have an audience?

Looking at the history of the evil stepmother stereotype I think explains some of the staying power of these familiar tales. Although stepmother characterizations have been negative since as far back as ancient Greece, in Western culture the need for evil stepmothers became more urgent in the United States in response to a new idea of the proper family in Enlightenment Europe. Sentimental families, as they were called, became the ideal for the rising middle class in Western Europe. A sentimental family was a child-centered one with a loving companionate couple at the helm. Mothers took on an increasingly important role in society as middle-class families found a new way to display their social status. The nineteenth century brought a new layer of similar priorities centered on a loving home and the woman who made it, as her husband toiled away outside this new domestic haven thanks to the Industrial Revolution.

So what does the cultural rise of loving mothers have to do with stepmothers? Continue reading ‘Lisa Wilson: Cinderella and Her Still Evil Stepmother’ »

Mara Casey Tieken: The Children “Left Behind”

Why Rural Schools Matter, by Mara Casey TiekenWe welcome to the blog today a guest post by Mara Casey Tieken, author of Why Rural Schools Matter. From headlines to documentaries, urban schools are at the center of current debates about education. From these accounts, one would never know that 51 million Americans live in rural communities and depend on their public schools to meet not only educational but also social and economic needs.  For many communities, these schools are the ties that bind. This book shares the untold story of rural education. Drawing upon extensive research in two southern towns, Tieken exposes the complicated ways in which schools shape the racial dynamics of their towns and sustain the communities that surround them. Vividly demonstrating the effects of constricted definitions of public education in an era of economic turmoil and widening inequality, Tieken calls for a more contextual approach to education policymaking, involving both state and community.

In a previous post, Tieken compared the effects of Brown v. Board of Education with recent resegregation in U.S. schools. In today’s post, Tieken evaluates the apparent failure of the No Child Left Behind Act in light of a more holistic view of education.

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It’s 2014, and we failed.

This year, according to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, 100 percent of our nation’s students were to achieve proficiency in reading and math—a target that we came nowhere close to hitting. This failure has long been predicted, leading many to claim that it is NCLB that’s the real failure. And NCLB is a failed policy—but not simply for its punishing absolutism. The real failure lies in its most basic assumptions.

NCLB, passed with bi-partisan support in 2002, required states to administer standardized tests in reading and math and publicly track schools’ and districts’ achievement on these tests. Schools and districts had to make “annual yearly progress” toward this goal of 100 percent proficiency, a deadline to be reached this year.

Thousands failed well before 2014—unable to make their state’s required “adequate yearly progress”—and, with this failure, these schools faced one of the law’s increasingly severe sanctions, including state takeover and closure. But now states are in the uncomfortable position of informing parents that, because 100 percent of students are not proficient in reading and math, all of its schools are “failing.” Most avoided this fate through waivers issued by the Obama administration; these waivers offered states flexibility in meeting some of the act’s requirements, including the 2014 deadline, in exchange for adopting other policies favored by the administration, such as expanding charter schools and tying teacher evaluations to student achievement. But, waivers or not, it’s still 2014, and we are left with the wreckage of all this failure.

Much has been made of NCLB’s flaws, particularly its reliance on test scores and the severity of its sanctions. The realism of NCLB’s target is also worth questioning, especially for an educational system dependent upon a wholly inequitable funding structure. And many have questioned it, even assuming—mistakenly, it turns out—that the sheer rigidity of its goal guaranteed its repeal.

But the Act has another flaw, deeper and more consequential than its 100 percent proficiency mandate. Continue reading ‘Mara Casey Tieken: The Children “Left Behind”’ »

Enter to Win a Signed Copy of New York Times Bestseller ‘Wayfaring Strangers’

Ritchie-NYTbestseller

Update 12/12/2014: And our 5th and final winner is J. Ihasz in New Hampshire. Congratulations!

Update 12/11/2014: Winners have been drawn! Thanks, everyone, for signing up. We’ve got more good stuff on the way. I’m still waiting to hear back from one winner, but so far our winners include:
L. Foster in Mississippi, A. Mitchell in Maryland, C. Panke in Indiana, and T. Williams in Mississippi. Congrats, all!
–ecb

Congratulations to Fiona Ritchie and Doug Orr, whose book Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia is a New York Times Bestseller!!

To celebrate, the UNC Press is giving away 5 signed copies of Wayfaring Strangers to subscribers of our monthly e-newsletter. To register, just enter your email address, then choose which subject areas most interest you. We will draw 5 winners from among the names on our Music, Travel, and Appalachian Studies subscriber lists, so be sure to register for one (or more!) of those lists in order to qualify.

sign me up!

The drawing will be held Wednesday, December 10, 2014. Winners will be selected from subscribers of each of the mailing lists in the above categories and will be notified by email. We will update this post once we’ve gotten in touch with the winners. Good luck!

[Rest assured: We do not sell or share our email lists. We send e-mails to announce new books and to offer special discounts. You only get book news about subject areas that interest you.]

Stay connected by liking the Wayfaring Strangers Facebook page or following Fiona Ritchie on Twitter @fiona_ritchie.

Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia by Fiona Ritchie and Doug OrrPraise for Wayfaring Strangers:

“[Ritchie and Orr] strike all the right chords in this pleasantly tuneful survey of the history of the evolution of Scottish music in Appalachia.”—Publishers Weekly

“Non-musicians will have no trouble appreciating this work’s context, and even those well versed in the subject will find new insights here.”—Library Journal

“Filled with maps, woodcuts, paintings, and photographs of impossibly picturesque Scottish and Irish locales, the book is a treasure trove of imagery and information. Music lovers, prepare to be transported.”—BookPage

“A readable and epic tale tracing the flow of Scottish music. . . . [Ritchie and Orr] tell a story remarkable for its breadth and depth, conveying the drama of Scottish emigration via Ulster to Appalachia, by a people who clung to the music and song they held dear, and bequeathed it to America.”—Scottish Life Magazine

“Represents an extraordinary feat of research, together with copious interview material. . . . A joy to read from cover to cover, it also rewards just dipping in and out.”—fRoots

“Except for my family, there is nothing I love more than being a part of the ‘living tradition’ captured in this book.”—Rosanne Cash

This #GivingTuesday, Become a UNC Press Club Sustainer

GivingTuesdayBanner2014
It’s Giving Tuesday at UNC Press! To celebrate this national day of giving, UNC Press invites you to become a Sustainer of the UNC Press Club by signing up for automatic monthly giving through Network for Good on our website.

What is the UNC Press Club? The Press Club is a group of book lovers who, through their membership, help the Press recruit leading authors and make their publications available in numerous formats. As a nonprofit publisher, roughly 80% of the UNC Press budget comes from the sale of books. Private gifts from corporations, foundations, and individuals like you make up over 12% of our budget.

What’s in it for you?

  • Press Club members get special invitations and access to UNC Press authors, news, and events.
  • UNC Press is a not-for-profit business, so your gift is a charitable, tax-deductible gift.
  • If you become a Sustainer before Wednesday, December 31, your name will be entered into a drawing for your choice of one of the “essential” UNC Press book sets listed below.

For what you might spend on a cup of coffee or lunch with friends, you can become a UNC Press Club Sustainer and be a part of our publishing excellence. Sign up today!

Essential UNC Press North Carolina Nature & Travel Books

Essential UNC Press Civil War Books

Essential UNC Press Religious Studies Books

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Essential UNC Press African American Studies Books

african amer

Sarah Mayorga-Gallo: What We’re Missing When We Talk about Integrated Neighborhoods

mayorga-gallo_behind_PBWe welcome to the blog today a guest post by Sarah Mayorga-Gallo, author of Behind the White Picket Fence: Power and Privilege in a Multiethnic Neighborhood. The link between residential segregation and racial inequality is well established, so it would seem that greater equality would prevail in integrated neighborhoods. But as Mayorga-Gallo argues, multiethnic and mixed-income neighborhoods still harbor the signs of continued, systemic racial inequalities. Drawing on deep ethnographic and other innovative research from “Creekridge Park,” a pseudonymous urban community in Durham, North Carolina, Mayorga-Gallo demonstrates that the proximity of white, African American, and Latino neighbors does not ensure equity; rather, proximity and equity are in fact subject to structural-level processes of stratification.

In today’s post, Mayorga-Gallo examines the “white codes” present in multiethnic neighborhoods that hinder racial and residential integration.

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What is the relationship between residential segregation and racial inequality? Scholars have spent decades analyzing data and arguing that residential segregation is the “linchpin” of racial inequality in the United States. The conclusion that many draw, therefore, is that residential integration is the key to reducing racial inequality. Pretty straightforward, right? Well, not quite.

In my study of Creekridge Park, a multiethnic, mixed income urban neighborhood in Durham, North Carolina, I found that racial stratification can still be reproduced even when different racial-ethnic groups live next door to each other. Creekridge Park is home to white, black, and Latino/a residents, and is “integrated” according to common social science definitions. Through a series of in-depth interviews, participant observation, and a household survey, I found that local social norms actually reinforced high interracial social distance. Contemporary understandings of diversity fuel these interactions.

Many social scientists use spatial measures, such as the dissimilarity index, to understand social processes of inequality. However, without acknowledging the structural and ideological racial context in which segregation takes place, we mistake a symptom for the cause. As a result, we may overlook the inequity of statistically integrated and multiethnic spaces—especially when they are accompanied by exaltations of diversity and progressivism. For example, residents of Creekridge Park scored more liberally than the national average on racial attitude questions, and most white residents I spoke with lauded the neighborhood’s diversity. They criticized the racially segregated “blah” suburbs and specifically sought out a “mixed-up” urban neighborhood. Based on these characteristics, one might assume Creekridge Park is the kind of place where positive interracial interactions would flourish. So how do we explain these seeming contradictions?

What I found is that codes of conduct (which I call white codes) maintain high interracial social distance between white and nonwhite residents in Creekridge Park. These codes of interracial conduct dictate appropriate neighborhood behavior between whites and residents of color and help explain why white residents had mostly white social networks despite living in a multiethnic, statistically integrated neighborhood and praising the neighborhood’s diversity. Diversity ideology, which I discuss at length in Behind the White Picket Fence, is an important part of creating these neighborhood norms.

What do white codes look like? Continue reading ‘Sarah Mayorga-Gallo: What We’re Missing When We Talk about Integrated Neighborhoods’ »

‘Tis the Season to Save

Save 40% on ALL books!

Be jolly this holiday season with a whopping 40% off every print book at from UNC Press—no exceptions! Just enter 01HOLIDAY at checkout. And if you order $75 or more, the shipping is FREE. Below are some great gift ideas. Browse our website to find the perfect book for everyone on your holiday list.

Place your order by December 7th for guaranteed delivery by December 24th.

But there’s more! Get 40% off any Spring 2015 book in our new catalog when you preorder using 01HOLIDAY at checkout.

Note: Forthcoming books will be shipped as soon as they are published. 

Alcohol: A History, by Rod Phillips The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region, by Marcie Cohen Ferris moose_southern Finding Your Roots: The Official Companion to the PBS Series, by Henry Louis Gates Jr. Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana, by William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh A Field Guide to Gettysburg: Experiencing the Battlefield through Its History, Places, and People by Carol Reardon and Tom Vossler summers_ordeal What Is Veiling?, by Sahar Amer The Gift of the Face: Portraiture and Time in Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian, by Shamoon Zamir brownell_showbiz wolfram_talkin Exploring Southern Appalachian Forests: An Ecological Guide to 30 Great Hikes in the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia, by Stephanie B. Jeffries and Thomas R. Wentworth Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia by Fiona Ritchie and Doug Orr The Storied South by William Ferris