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

Contemporary documentary projects such as StoryCorps and Humans of New York thrive today in a spirit similar to that which led the vision of the Federal Writers’ Project and These Are Our Lives. They remind us that every life has a story, and every story matters.

Lisa Wilson: Cinderella and Her Still Evil Stepmother

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.

This #GivingTuesday, Become a UNC Press Club Sustainer

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, and win books!

George W. Houston: From a Trash Heap: The Mind of an Ancient Book Collector

Thrown out in the third century, rediscovered in 1906, these book rolls are finally now, in the twenty-first century, revealing to us the interests and priorities of a book collector who lived, read, and strove to understand his texts some eighteen hundred years ago.

Michael Barkun: Reverse Transparency in Post-9/11 America

Unlike the covert electronic infringements by the NSA, some other infringements are open and obvious—for example, security check-points at airports and government buildings, or surveillance cameras covering public spaces. These are examples of what I term “reverse transparency.” Traditionally, transparency has been a standard applied to organizations, such as corporations or governments, by which we require that their decisions be clear and open in order to permit accountability. Increasingly, however, under the pressure of homeland security concerns, this traditional conception has been, as it were, stood on its head.

Announcing a new book series: Studies in United States Culture

Studies in United States Culture will publish provocative books that explore United States culture in its many forms and spheres of influence. Under the series umbrella, UNC Press seeks interdisciplinary work characterized by big ideas, brisk prose, bold storytelling, and methodological sophistication.

Excerpt: Behind the White Picket Fence, by Sarah Mayorga-Gallo

The use of non-White bodies by Whites to designate neighborhood space as distinct from racially segregated suburbia is an important commodifying and classifying practice of this white, urban, middle-class habitus. Important to note here is that in Creekridge Park very few White residents have relationships with their non-White neighbors. Whites did, however, regularly refer to non-Whites during our interviews to signal neighborhood diversity and interracial interactions.

Lisa Wilson: Stepfamilies Are “Traditional” American Families

What is a traditional American family? In a recent article in AARP Magazine, “The New American Family: Meet 6 clans who embody our country’s changing ideas about what kinship is,” Brennan Jensen, citing high divorce rates, argues that modern families now include “a tumble of step- and half-siblings.” I applaud Jensen’s effort to complicate what we think of as a “real” American family, but I would suggest that the “new” American family is actually the “old” American family—at least in terms of the presence of stepfamilies.

Luther Adams: W. E. B. Du Bois’ One Charge

“Black-on-black crime” is not real. It only exists to suggest being black is the true crime, and to deflect attention away from the fact of ongoing inequality. What many have termed “black-on-black crime” tells us more about white supremacy, and the devaluation of black life, than it does about crime. Connecting crime and blackness is central to racial control, as is the link between guns and white supremacy. The true crime is that black lives have less value to society and to even to other black people.

Edward E. Curtis IV: Teaching about Islam and the African Diaspora

These discoveries have changed the way I teach about Islam even at the introductory level. I now try to put Black people at the center of my course rather than on the margins of it (and by extension, on the margins of Islam).

Excerpt: The Red Atlantic, by Jace Weaver

Leif Erikson sighted the northern coast of North America in approximately 1000 C.E., calling it Vinland. Shortly thereafter, around 1003, the Vikings founded a settlement in present-day L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. They encountered “Red Indians” (as distinguished from the Inuit), whom they called skrælings, an archaic word of uncertain meaning but commonly assumed to mean something like “wretches.” These meetings are recorded in the Icelandic sagas.

Excerpt: Ain’t Got No Home, by Erin Royston Battat

Yet a closer inspection of the Scottsboro case reveals how complicated was the relationship between African Americans and the Communist Party in the 1930s. The CP championed the working-class and unemployed masses, but these were precisely the people who had terrorized the black boys on the train, falsely accused them of rape, and would have lynched them without the governor’s intervention. Antilynching activists, on one hand, and labor defenders, on the other, relied on diametrically opposed conceptions of the populist masses and the law. Whereas the antilynching movement called for the rule of law to quell mob hysteria, labor defense stood up for workers against a prejudicial legal system. These opposing views posed a challenge to the CP in attracting black members and sympathizers. While communists prophesied a future revolution led by an international proletariat, the most visible form of proletarian collective action in the South, according to some skeptical observers at the time, was the lynch mob.

Chantal Norrgard: Wisconsin Mining Legislation and the Fallacy of Jobs vs. Treaty Rights

Since the legislation was first introduced in 2011, local community members, environmental activists, and Ojibwe Bands from throughout the region have fiercely opposed it. The Bad River Band asserts that the legislation violates their rights to hunt, fish, and gather in ceded territory reserved in treaties with the United States in 1837 and 1842 and that the state has failed to consult with them on the bill. They are currently seeking federal redress. However, Governor Walker and Wisconsin Republican legislators have disregarded this opposition and have received $15 million from mining executives and supporters.

Excerpt: Pageants, Parlors, and Pretty Women, by Blain Roberts

On the whole, black southern women forged a more intimate—and more active—relationship with the burgeoning world of beauty than did white southern women.

Come Celebrate NCpedia September 13

North Carolina’s history and more unusual stories will be celebrated at “Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories Found in NCpedia,” a free event at the North Carolina Museum of History, 5 E. Edenton St., Raleigh, on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

SALE on new and recent books in Religious Studies

Our Religious Studies SALE is now underway! Use discount code 01REL40 at checkout on the UNC Press website for savings, and if your book total is $75 or more, shipping costs are on us!

Claude Andrew Clegg III: Elijah Muhammad, Then and Now

Our America is a product of Muhammad’s America and to know our times is to appreciate the era in which he lived.

Gregory F. Domber: What Putin Misunderstands about American Power

Putin is pushing a new nationalist conservatism with a strong strain of anti-Americanism, promoting a vision of the United States as the primary conspirator pulling strings to foster international chaos and regime change.

As former Ambassador to Russia Mike McFaul noted recently in the New Yorker, “Putin has a theory of American power that has some empirical basis.” The CIA overthrew governments in Iran and Guatemala, the United States bombed Belgrade to remove a dictator, and there is, of course, Iraq. However, a close examination of American policy toward Poland—the country the United States pushed hardest to break from the Soviet sphere in the 1980s—brings to the fore just how far the Russian president’s views are removed from reality. The United States is not nearly the revolutionary mastermind Putin seems to think it is.

Excerpt: Framing Chief Leschi, by Lisa Blee

In this excerpt, Lisa Blee examines how the war in Iraq informed the Historical Court of Justice’s decision to exonerate Chief Leschi 150 years later.

Stephen Cushman on one of the quieter anniversaries of the Civil War

Over at our Civil War blog, Stephen Cushman, author of Belligerent Muse: Five Northern Writers and How They Shaped Our Understanding of the Civil War highlights a Civil War anniversary likely to be overlooked in this year’s sesquicentennial observances.