Cynthia A. Kierner: Women and Children First?

Inventing DisasterToday we welcome a guest post from Cynthia A. Kierner, author of Inventing Disaster: The Culture of Calamity from the Jamestown Colony to the Johnstown Flood, published this month by UNC Press.

When hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and other disasters strike, we count our losses, search for causes, commiserate with victims, and initiate relief efforts. Amply illustrated and expansively researched, Inventing Disaster explains the origins and development of this predictable, even ritualized, culture of calamity over three centuries, exploring its roots in the revolutions in science, information, and emotion that were part of the Age of Enlightenment in Europe and America.

Inventing Disaster is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Women and Children First?

In September 1854, the S.S. Arctic collided with another ship, exploded, caught fire, and ultimately sank off the coast of Newfoundland. More than 300 people died in this steamboat disaster, which was one of many that took the lives of thousands of nineteenth-century Americans.

The Arctic was a special case, though, because all of the women and children aboard the ship died horrifically—devoured by raging flames or churning seas—while a significant number of the male passengers and crewmembers survived.  Many Americans found the contrast with the wreck of the British steamboat Birkenhead, two years earlier, especially galling.  Of the 650 people aboard the Birkenhead, only 192 survived, but nearly all of the women and children were saved.

The comparison made Americans—and especially American men—look bad, to say the least. One widely circulating press account of the Arctic disaster condemned the “unmanly spectacle” of so many “robust cowards . . . treacherously deserting feeble and delicate women, and shutting their ears to cries from little children” as they fled the scene in their ship’s lifeboats. This scene, and the values it represented, differed dramatically—and distressingly—from that of the “heroic band” of British men aboard the Birkenhead, who stoically sacrificed their own lives as the women and children were saved. Were American men heartless cowards, unwilling or unable to replicate the heroics of their lionhearted British counterparts?

Continue Reading Cynthia A. Kierner: Women and Children First?

Author Interview: Shalom Goldman on How the Arts Shaped American Passions about Israel

In this Q&A, Shalom Goldman discusses his new book, Starstruck in the Promised Land: How the Arts Shaped American Passions about Israel, out now from UNC Press.

From the days of steamship travel to Palestine to today’s evangelical Christian tours of Jesus’s birthplace, the relationship between the United States and the Holy Land has become one of the world’s most consequential international alliances. While the political side of U.S.-Israeli relations has long played out on the world stage, the relationship, as Shalom Goldman shows in this illuminating cultural history, has also played out on actual stages. Telling the stories of the American superstars of pop and high culture who journeyed to Israel to perform, lecture, and rivet fans, Goldman chronicles how the creative class has both expressed and influenced the American relationship with Israel.

Starstruck in the Promised Land is now available in print and ebook editions.

For readers in the NYC area, Shalom Goldman will give a book talk at the 92nd Street Y this Friday, November 15, at 12PM. Reserve tickets here.

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Q: How is the relationship between Israel and America unusual or remarkable?

A: The relationship between Britain and the United States in the first part of the twentieth century was the previous “special relationship” in U.S. history. That was a partnership between two world powers, though one, the U.S., was growing more powerful at the time, and the other, the United Kingdom, was growing less powerful. The U.S.’s special relationship with Israel, first articulated by John F. Kennedy in the 1960s, was highly unusual in that at that time Israel was a small nation with very limited resources, power, and influence. The reasons that this odd international partnership developed to where it is today are varied and complex. My argument in Starstruck in the Promised Land is that cultural forces, particularly the performing arts, are a large—and previously undiscussed—part of the American-Israeli story.

Q: How many years back does this connection go?

A: The connection was forged in 1948 when President Truman granted recognition to the State of Israel within minutes of its declaration of statehood. But in many senses the connection is even older than that. With the establishment of the Zionist movement in the last years of the nineteenth century, many influential American Protestant clergymen, and many members of Congress and business leaders—again, most of them from the then-dominant Protestant elites—expressed support for the Zionist idea.

Continue Reading Author Interview: Shalom Goldman on How the Arts Shaped American Passions about Israel

Author Interview: Lana Dee Povitz on Stirrings: How Activist New Yorkers Ignited a Movement for Food Justice

In this Q&A, Siobhan Barco (@SiobhanBarco) speaks with author Lana Dee Povitz about her new book Stirrings: How Activist New Yorkers Ignited a Movement for Food Justice, out this week from UNC Press.

In the last three decades of the twentieth century, government cutbacks, stagnating wages, AIDS, and gentrification pushed ever more people into poverty, and hunger reached levels unseen since the Depression. In response, New Yorkers set the stage for a nationwide food justice movement. Whether organizing school lunch campaigns, establishing food co-ops, or lobbying city officials, citizen-activists made food a political issue, uniting communities across lines of difference. The charismatic, usually female leaders of these efforts were often products of earlier movements: American communism, civil rights activism, feminism, even Eastern mysticism. Situating food justice within these rich lineages, Lana Dee Povitz demonstrates how grassroots activism continued to thrive, even as it was transformed by unrelenting erosion of the country’s already fragile social safety net.

We are happy to include this Q&A in the 2019 University Press Week Read. Think. Act. blog tour under today’s theme, “How to build community.” We hope that Dr. Povitz’s research on community-based efforts for food justice in New York City can not only provide a window into history but also a blueprint for grassroots activists today. To read blog posts from other university presses on the subject of building community, click here.

Finally, if you’re in the New York City area, you can hear Lana Dee Povitz discuss her work at Book Culture on Columbus tonight, 11/7 at 7PM. She will be in conversation with Monica White, author of Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement, and Justice, Power, and Politics book series editor Rhonda Y. Williams. More information here.

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A Conversation with Lana Dee Povitz

Q: What kinds of power does food hold as an organizing tool?

A: Food has the capacity to bring people together across lines of difference. It is immediately intelligible because everyone eats (although of course not everyone has the same relationship to food and eating). Its accessibility makes it relatively easy to get people to care about it. Efforts to democratize the food system are a way of giving people a say over something that affects them multiple times a day, and it draws the participation of people who might not ordinarily think of themselves as “political” or “activists.”  You don’t have to be “political” to care about hunger; you just have to know or imagine what it feels like not to have food on the table.

“Food activism” is broad, so depending on what issues motivate you, there are different paths to action. Maybe you worry about the safety of the food you eat, and from there begin to think about the health of the workers who produced it. Maybe you want to try to prevent impending environmental collapse. Maybe you want to achieve racial justice. Whatever the issue, you find that if you frame it through food, people are readily interested.

Finally, food is tangible. When you offer it to people, you have the potential to make a connection. When a volunteer brought a gourmet meal to someone dying of AIDS—a person who had perhaps been shunned by their family, fired from their job, and scorned by society—it resonated on an extremely deep level. Or take a young mother, a recent immigrant from Puerto Rico, who speaks little English and has little formal education. When a meeting is held at her children’s school about test scores, she might not feel comfortable participating. But if the meeting is about what her children should be served at lunch–suddenly, she’s emboldened to speak up. These are just two examples of how food can be a way of forging connections that might otherwise not be made.

Q: Can you give us a brief overview of the four community-based efforts your work examines?

Shopping Coop members waiting in line. Courtesy of the Park Slope Food Coop.

A: Sure. First, I explore United Bronx Parents, a grassroots anti-poverty organization founded in the mid-1960s by a group of Puerto Rican and African American mothers. United Bronx Parents are best known for trying to end the racist inequality of NYC schools, but they also initiated the city’s first sustained grassroots campaign to reform school lunch! Second, I look at the Park Slope Food Coop, a worker-member food cooperative founded in 1973, which is today the largest in the country. The founders were ten friends who came out of the white New Left. Many had organized against the Vietnam War, and they were interested in figuring out a way to obtain high quality, organic, and natural food at low cost, which they were very successful in doing.

Next is the whimsically named God’s Love We Deliver. This organization was founded 1985 at the height of the AIDS epidemic in NYC. Founded by two women with no ties to the AIDS community but who were devotees of a spiritual guru from India, they started an organization that brought delicious gourmet meals to homebound people with AIDS at a time when the larger public treated them as pariahs. Finally, I tell the story of Community Food Resource Center, which was founded in 1980 as a response to the election of Ronald Reagan. Unusually, CFRC combined advocacy work with direct service provision—getting actual food and other services directly to hungry and poor people. So, on the one hand, they fought to expand the use of federal entitlement programs like school breakfast and food stamps. And, at the same time, they responded to rising levels of poverty by starting New York’s first food bank (today the largest in the country) and an innovative soup kitchen that also connected people with social benefits like welfare and legal services.

Continue Reading Author Interview: Lana Dee Povitz on Stirrings: How Activist New Yorkers Ignited a Movement for Food Justice

Alex Dika Seggerman: A New Modernism for a New America

Today we welcome a guest post from Alex Dika Seggerman, author of Modernism on the Nile: Art in Egypt Between the Islamic and the Contemporary, out now from UNC Press.

Analyzing the modernist art movement that arose in Cairo and Alexandria from the late nineteenth century through the 1960s, Alex Dika Seggerman reveals how the visual arts were part of a multifaceted transnational modernism. While the work of diverse, major Egyptian artists during this era may have appeared to be secular, she argues, it reflected the subtle but essential inflection of Islam, as a faith, history, and lived experience, in the overarching development of Middle Eastern modernity.

We’ve chosen to publish this blog post as part of the AUPresses University Press Week blog tour, under today’s theme of “How to be a better (global) citizen.” In this post, Alex Dika Seggerman considers how a global perspective and the concept of “constellational modernism” might help to dismantle the white, male-centric canonical narrative of modernism in art history.

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A New Modernism for a New America

Last fall, I began teaching at Rutgers University-Newark. A public institution that serves mostly commuter students from Northern New Jersey, the school is ranked the one of the United States’ most diverse university campuses. My students arrive in class knowing little about art history, as it is not commonly integrated into public high school curricula. Moreover, often as first-generation Americans or first-time college students, my students are not tied to the “Western Canon” of art history. In this way, they are unlike the students I taught at Yale University and Smith College, who often had already been to major European museums, like the Uffizi in Florence, the Louvre in Paris or the Tate Modern in London.

It has been invigorating to teach the Rutgers students precisely because they do not carry preconceived notions about European superiority in art history.

MoMA90 attendees with Jackson Pollock, One: Number 31, 1950, 1950 (left) and Alice Neel Georgie Arce, 1953 (right)

Last semester, I taught “Global Modern Art,” in which we studied Katsushika Hokusai (Japan), Mahmoud Mukhtar (Egypt), Wifredo Lam (Cuba), Frida Kahlo (Mexico), and Amrita Sher Gil (India) alongside new interpretations of Edouard Manet (France), Pablo Picasso (Spain), and Jackson Pollock (USA). We discussed how works by Mukhtar, Lam, and Kahlo visualized artists’ nationalities as well as issues facing their communities, particularly through referencing indigenous cultural forms. I asked them to look again at the work of Jackson Pollock’s No. 31 from the Museum of Modern Art. Even though the mainstream understanding of Pollock focuses on the formal “genius” of Abstract Expressionism, I asked them if they thought Pollock too reflected on the current issues facing America. A Latinx student in a bright pink shirt raised his hand, and said: “The painting has a mixture of black, brown, and white paint. Maybe that symbolizes the different races in America – sometimes it’s violent and chaotic, but we are all here mixed up together for better or worse.” Even though I have been looking at Pollock’s paintings for over two decades, this interpretation never crossed my mind. This perspective, which acknowledges the profound diversity, and violence, of the United States and its history, represents the future of the field of art history.

Continue Reading Alex Dika Seggerman: A New Modernism for a New America

Author Interview: Jeremy Zallen on American Lucifers: The Dark History of Artificial Light, 1750-1865

In this Q&A, UNC Press graduate student intern Eric Bontempo (@ebontemp) talks with author Jeremy Zallen about his new book American Lucifers: The Dark History of Artificial Light, 1750-1865out this month from UNC Press.

From whale oil to kerosene, from the colonial period to the end of the U.S. Civil War, modern, industrial lights brought wonderful improvements and incredible wealth to some. But for most workers, free and unfree, human and nonhuman, these lights were catastrophes. This book tells their stories. The surprisingly violent struggle to produce, control, and consume the changing means of illumination over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries transformed slavery, industrial capitalism, and urban families in profound, often hidden ways. Only by taking the lives of whalers and enslaved turpentine makers, match-manufacturing children and coal miners, night-working seamstresses and the streetlamp-lit poor—those American lucifers—as seriously as those of inventors and businessmen can the full significance of the revolution of artificial light be understood.

American Lucifers is now available in print and ebook editions.

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Eric: Why did you title your book American Lucifers?

Jeremy: “Lucifer” means “bringer of light” and my book is about the working people who produced and consumed (burned) illuminants in North America from 1750-1865. Lucifer is also, of course, the name of the angel before he fell and became Satan, so a sense of ominous tragedy was also something that interested me for the title. Third, the friction matches that revolutionized people’s relationship to fire during this period were most commonly called “lucifer matches.”       

EB: How did you become interested in this topic?

JZ: When I began my research I knew I wanted to write about a topic that combined the histories of labor, capitalism, energy, and environmental history, and that combined analysis of both production and consumption. At first, I thought I’d write about electricity, but when I started exploring what came before, I realized the far more interesting story was the industrialization of light between the birth of the American whaling/whale oil industry in the 1750s and the dramatic changes wrought by the Civil War. The more I followed the free and unfree workers around the world risking their lives to make light in America, the more I realized that what has usually been told as a history of uncomplicated progress was, at its core, a story of shocking exploitation and struggle.

Continue Reading Author Interview: Jeremy Zallen on American Lucifers: The Dark History of Artificial Light, 1750-1865

Author Interview: Daniel S. Pierce on Why North Carolina Needs a Moonshine Hall of Fame (and Shame)

Today we’re pleased to share Part Two of our Q&A with Daniel S. Pierce, author of Tar Heel Lightnin’: How Secret Stills and Fast Cars Made North Carolina the Moonshine Capital of the World. Check out Part One here.

From the late nineteenth century well into the 1960s, North Carolina boasted some of the nation’s most restrictive laws on alcohol production and sale. For much of this era, it was also the nation’s leading producer of bootleg liquor. Over the years, written accounts, popular songs, and Hollywood movies have turned the state’s moonshiners, fast cars, and frustrated Feds into legends. But in Tar Heel Lightnin’, Daniel S. Pierce tells the real history of moonshine in North Carolina as never before. This well-illustrated, entertaining book introduces a surprisingly varied cast of characters who operated secret stills and ran liquor from the swamps of the Tidewater to Piedmont forests and mountain coves.

Tar Heel Lightnin’ is now available in print and ebook editions.

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Q: Tar Heel Lightnin’ is packed with fascinating sidebars profiling your candidates for a strictly hypothetical “North Carolina Moonshine Hall of Fame (and Shame).” How did you choose the members for this list?

A: Some were easy choices, like Junior Johnson or Popcorn Sutton, and anyone who was profiled in a national publication or media outlet qualified. Others, like Amos Owens or Alvin Sawyer, were/are well known in the state. I did want the Hall of Fame to reflect both the geographic and demographic spread of moonshiners, however, so that meant some of the folks would not be that well known. Few people have recognized how important women, African Americans, and Native Americans were in the illegal liquor business and most of those folks operated in relative obscurity. They just did not fit the stereotype that the press wanted. Given that, I chose some folks, such as Rhoda Lowry and Howard “Reno” Creech, as exemplars of large groups of people. And while they don’t have the big reputations of the Juniors and Popcorns, they are just as important to the story.

Q: Were there any other criteria?  

A: I included those individuals who had significant regional, national, and even international reputations. “King of the Moonshiners” Lewis Redmond was profiled in the New York Times and was the subject of two dime novels, a play, several documentaries, and numerous books; Percy Flowers was profiled in the Saturday Evening Post; Tom Wolfe wrote a famous article on Junior Johnson in Esquire; Quill Rose was featured in a couple of books that were nationally distributed including Horace Kephart’s Our Southern Highlanders; Jerry Rushing served as the model for Bo Duke of the Dukes of Hazzard; and Popcorn Sutton and Jim Tom Hedrick have been constants on national cable TV over the last several years.

Others were well known within the state, at least for a short period. Betty Sims received a good bit of notoriety in her day, particularly in the Charlotte Observer; Amos Owens was so well known in North Carolina that some folks sold thousands of “Amos Owens cherry trees” across the state; Alvin Sawyer was profiled in Our State magazine and numerous newspapers; and the Burgess brothers were well known in the state due to their highly publicized trials and their involvement in NASCAR as track owners. Other folks made it into the Hall of Fame as exemplars of important groups involved in the moonshine business, often under-represented in the literature. Rhoda Lowry, Howard Creech, and Ada Thompson aren’t very well known, but well represent the roles women, African Americans, and Native Americans played in making the state the “moonshine capital of the world.”

Continue Reading Author Interview: Daniel S. Pierce on Why North Carolina Needs a Moonshine Hall of Fame (and Shame)

Brianna Theobald: A Birth in the Water Protector Camps

Today we welcome a guest post from Brianna Theobald, author of Reproduction on the Reservation: Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Colonialism in the Long Twentieth Century, published last week by UNC Press.

This pathbreaking book documents the transformation of reproductive practices and politics on Indian reservations from the late nineteenth century to the present, integrating a localized history of childbearing, motherhood, and activism on the Crow Reservation in Montana with an analysis of trends affecting Indigenous women more broadly. As Brianna Theobald illustrates, the federal government and local authorities have long sought to control Indigenous families and women’s reproduction, using tactics such as coercive sterilization and removal of Indigenous children into the white foster care system. But Theobald examines women’s resistance, showing how they have worked within families, tribal networks, and activist groups to confront these issues.

Part of our Critical Indigeneities series, Reproduction on the Reservation is now available in both paperback and ebook editions.

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A Birth in the Water Protector Camps

Thousands of Native peoples—and non-Native supporters—journeyed to North Dakota in 2016 to join the Standing Rock Sioux Nation in its protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Zintkala Maypiya Wi Blackowl (Lakota), a resident of Oregon, traveled to Standing Rock with her family that September. The following month, Blackowl gave birth to her sixth child in a tepee alongside the Cannonball River. The Lakota mother chose not to deliver in the nearest Indian Health Service hospital and instead gave birth alone, although Native midwives were nearby. Blackowl understood the birth of her daughter to be connected to the larger political struggle she and others waged at Standing Rock. The decisions she made regarding the birth—where, how, and with whom she delivered—were deliberate acts of resistance.

Although many aspects of Blackowl’s childbearing experience are unusual, including her desire to birth alone, she is part of a small but visible movement of Native women who are questioning or challenging Western models of medicalized birthing. Blackowl had also been born at home, however, which reminds us that these developments are not entirely new. Taking a longer view, contemporary movements to transform Native pregnancy and childbirth can in fact be viewed as a continuation of a movement that began in the 1970s.

Continue Reading Brianna Theobald: A Birth in the Water Protector Camps

Author Interview: Daniel S. Pierce on Tar Heel Lightnin’: How Secret Stills and Fast Cars Made North Carolina the Moonshine Capital of the World

In this Q&A, Daniel S. Pierce, author of Tar Heel Lightnin’: How Secret Stills and Fast Cars Made North Carolina the Moonshine Capital of the Worldsits down with director of publicity Gina Mahalek to discuss the business of moonshine in North Carolina.

From the late nineteenth century well into the 1960s, North Carolina boasted some of the nation’s most restrictive laws on alcohol production and sale. For much of this era, it was also the nation’s leading producer of bootleg liquor. Over the years, written accounts, popular songs, and Hollywood movies have turned the state’s moonshiners, fast cars, and frustrated Feds into legends. But in Tar Heel Lightnin’, Daniel S. Pierce tells the real history of moonshine in North Carolina as never before. This well-illustrated, entertaining book introduces a surprisingly varied cast of characters who operated secret stills and ran liquor from the swamps of the Tidewater to Piedmont forests and mountain coves.

Tar Heel Lightnin’ is now available in print and ebook editions.

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Q: Why is moonshine worthy of serious study?

A: Producing corn liquor has been an important North Carolina industry since the Colonial Period and that did not change when the federal excise tax made much of that production illegal. It’s impossible to say how much illegal liquor was (and is) produced in the state, but from the statistics and anecdotal evidence we have, illegal liquor was one of North Carolina’s most important and lucrative products from the 1860s to the 1960s. In addition to its economic impact, the moonshine business also shaped North Carolina’s cultural and social life in many ways. Finally, moonshine was important in every section of North Carolina and in every social and ethnic/racial demographic.

Q: When did moonshine become linked to North Carolina and its citizens?

A: Beginning in the late 1860s when the federal government started cracking down on liquor producers who did not pay the new federal excise tax. In the 1870s and 80s, Western North Carolina was a major focus of revenue agents in the so-called “Moonshine Wars” and became nationally known as one of the major producers of illegal liquor through intensive and sensationalized coverage in the press (including such major papers as The New York Times), in fictionalized “local color” magazine articles and novels, and even in dime novels. From this point on, North Carolina and moonshine became inextricably linked. The state’s equally (and paradoxically) strong attachment to prohibition only increased the market for moonshine in the state and kept the state in the forefront of illegal liquor production nationally through the 1960s.

Continue Reading Author Interview: Daniel S. Pierce on Tar Heel Lightnin’: How Secret Stills and Fast Cars Made North Carolina the Moonshine Capital of the World

Rachel F. Seidman: Voices from Speaking of Feminism

Today we welcome a guest post from Rachel F. Seidman, author of Speaking of Feminism: Today’s Activists on the Past, Present, and Future of the U.S. Women’s Movement.

From the Women’s Marches to the #MeToo movement, it is clear that feminist activism is still alive and well in the twenty-first century. But how does a new generation of activists understand the work of the movement today? How are their strategies and goals unfolding? What worries feminist leaders most, and what are their hopes for the future? In Speaking of Feminism, Rachel F. Seidman presents insights from twenty-five feminist activists from around the United States, ranging in age from twenty to fifty. Allowing their voices to take center stage through the use of in-depth oral history interviews, Seidman places their narratives in historical context and argues that they help explain how recent new forms of activism developed and flourished so quickly.

Speaking of Feminism is available now in both paperback and ebook editions.

A schedule of Rachel F. Seidman’s author events this fall can be found on our website.

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A book based on oral histories has a conundrum at its heart:  while the printed stories are powerful, they can’t convey all that comes across in the spoken word.  Listening to people is the only way to tap into all the richness of these personal histories.  You can hear things that don’t come across in transcriptions: regional accents; voices trembling with emotion; words speeding up with excitement or slowing down in anger; long pauses when someone is hesitating about whether or not to share something; knuckles rapping on a table for emphasis.  I believe the variety of voices and perspectives presented in Speaking of Feminism is one of the book’s strengths; by hearing those voices you get a new level of understanding of the individuals who contributed their stories to this mosaic of the women’s movement today.

In the following short audio excerpts from the interviews on which my book is based, several feminist activists share their thoughts on one of the major themes of the book: the impact of social media and how it has affected the movement for both positively and negatively.  I hope the short clips will give you a sense of these activists’ unique voices and the power of their insights and stories.  In addition to reading the book, you can visit https://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/project/collection/sohp/, where you can find both the audio and the transcripts of the full interviews.

Rebecca Traister is a nationally known journalist and author, who has written about politics and culture from a feminist perspective for many magazines, newspapers and websites including New York, The New Republic, Salon, The NationThe New York ObserverThe New York Times, and The Washington Post. Her newest book is Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger. In this audio clip,  you can hear her adding emphasis to her words by drumming her hand on the table.  She’s talking here about the rise of social media and how it democratized whose voices can get heard.  She notes, though, that differences in goals between journalists and activists led to some of the tension and anger in ‘online feminism.’

 

Continue Reading Rachel F. Seidman: Voices from Speaking of Feminism

Here Come the OA History Monographs

Today we welcome an update from John Sherer on the Sustainable History Monograph Pilot. This Mellon-funded pilot is being led by UNC Press, utilizing its shared platform at Longleaf Services.

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As we enter the second year of our three-year pilot, the pace is quickening.

shmp Logo

The Sustainable History Monograph Pilot (SHMP) is a Mellon-funded initiative to publish open digital editions of high-quality books from university presses in the field of history. Unlike other Open Access (OA) pilots, SHMP transforms the publishing process and outputs, while focusing on a single academic discipline. Led by the University of North Carolina Press and utilizing its subsidiary, Longleaf Services, we are aiming to publish at least 75, and potentially as many as 125, monographs during the period.

In August of 2018, we convened a working group in Chapel Hill, NC, to help plan the phasing of the pilot. Made up of presses, librarians, and platform providers, we confirmed the proposed timeline and discussed some of the open questions, including:

  • How much of a subsidy should a press receive for the cost of acquiring? Answer: $7,000.
  • What is the optimal lag time between the digital publication date and the availability of a print version? Answer: 90 days.
  • Should the pilot have a branded name? Answer: Yes, the Sustainable History Monograph Pilot.
  • To what degree would marketing the collection of titles be beneficial versus putting the burden of marketing exclusively on the presses? Answer: There was consensus that while the primary burden of marketing individual titles always lies with the originating press, there would be benefits to marketing the “collection” especially at history conferences.
  • Should Longleaf or the individual presses distribute content and metadata files? Short answer: Longleaf; long answer: it’s complicated—see more on this below.
  • What type of usage metrics should be provided to authors, presses, and institutions? Answer: Unclear and a topic of much discussion among other grant-funded working groups.

Following that session, we put out a call to members of the Association of University Presses for participation and crafted a memorandum of understanding to confirm their commitment. As of this writing, we’ve had 23 presses commit, representing a broad cross-section of the university press world.

PARTICIPATING PRESSES

University of British Columbia Press
Cambridge University Press
University Press of Colorado
Cornell University Press
Duke University Press
Fordham University Press
University of Georgia Press
University of Hawaii Press
Indiana University Press
Kent State University Press
Liverpool University Press
Louisiana State University Press
Manchester University Press
University of Michigan Press
University Press of Mississippi
University of Nebraska Press
University of New Mexico Press
University of North Carolina Press
(and The Omohundro Institute)
University of Oklahoma Press
Oxford University Press
University of Rochester Press
University of South Carolina Press
University of Virginia Press
University of Washington Press

Overlapping with that signup period, we began stitching together our workflow, developing our internal forms (such as manuscript appraisal and transmittal forms, “the case for authors” form; subsidy request forms; memos on how to secure DOIs, ORCIDS, and CC licenses for our presses) and putting in place the tools we will be using during the grant.

But we’re still wrestling with real challenges.

Our OA platform partners want Longleaf to distribute publishers’ metadata to them, but OA metadata poses an unusual set of challenges. Most publishers’ content management systems don’t have all of the fields required for OA distribution (including things like chapter-level metadata, DOIs, ORCIDs, CC licenses). Metadata tends to be distributed seasonally (twice a year) but we need to push out metadata on a rolling basis as new books are ready. Wholesaler intermediaries play a valuable role in the distribution of digital content, but when sales commissions models are upended by zero-cost products, how do presses step in and try and perform those tasks?

We’ve also experienced some pushback from authors about participating in the pilot. Or more precisely, several prospective authors (especially those who are tenure-track) have said they would like to participate, but when they’ve asked among their peer historians, the advice has sometimes been to select a more traditional publishing option. We are collecting data on why authors agree or refuse to include their project in the program and this, fortunately, is a minority position.

And we have only begun to take on the challenges of how to measure OA usage. This is a major topic and we will dedicate a future blog post to it.

But in the meantime, it’s been incredibly satisfying to watch our first books emerge from our process. These books are high-quality history monographs published by some of the world’s finest university presses—and they’ll be available immediately to readers around the globe.

Brianna Theobald: The History-Making Work of Native Nurses

On this Indigenous Peoples’ Day we welcome a guest post from Brianna Theobald, author of Reproduction on the Reservation: Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Colonialism in the Long Twentieth Century, published this month by UNC Press.

This pathbreaking book documents the transformation of reproductive practices and politics on Indian reservations from the late nineteenth century to the present, integrating a localized history of childbearing, motherhood, and activism on the Crow Reservation in Montana with an analysis of trends affecting Indigenous women more broadly. As Brianna Theobald illustrates, the federal government and local authorities have long sought to control Indigenous families and women’s reproduction, using tactics such as coercive sterilization and removal of Indigenous children into the white foster care system. But Theobald examines women’s resistance, showing how they have worked within families, tribal networks, and activist groups to confront these issues.

Part of our Critical Indigeneities series, Reproduction on the Reservation is now available in both paperback and ebook editions.

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The History-Making Work of Native American Nurses

When I began researching the history of pregnancy and childbirth on Indian reservations, Native American nurses were not on my radar. Years later, I have concluded that these women—for most of the twentieth century, nurses on reservations were almost entirely women—were key historical figures in the evolution of Native women’s reproductive experiences over the course of the twentieth century. Through their presence and their labor, Native nurses helped shape patients’ experiences of government hospitals. They served as cultural mediators and often as patient advocates and watchdogs. At key moments in Native American history, their status as “insiders” within the federal medical apparatus spurred Native nurses to activism.

Throughout the nineteenth century, Native women as well as men played important roles as healers in Native communities. A woman, particularly an older woman, might have been regarded as having particular knowledge regarding plant-based medicines, for example, and women performed vital work as midwives, a role that often extended beyond assistance during childbirth. As the federal government implemented its assimilation agenda in the last decades of the century, however, policymakers and local authorities viewed health and medicine as a crucial site for transformation. The Bureau of Indian Affairs criminalized the work of male healers and disparaged Native women’s healing knowledge.

Continue Reading Brianna Theobald: The History-Making Work of Native Nurses

Book Giveaway: Enter to win a selection of books from our Justice, Power, and Politics series!

UNC Press is raffling off a selection of books from our acclaimed Justice, Power, and Politics series.

We’re excited to present this giveaway in celebration of #ASALH2019, the upcoming publication of Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s Race for Profit, and the October launch of our Justice, Power, and Politics newsletter.

To enter, simply follow the series on Twitter (@jppbooks), retweet this contest, and/or enter your email address at the link below to sign up for our brand new Justice, Power, and Politics newsletter (worth two entries).

The winner will be selected randomly from all entries received.  Winner will be selected after close of the contest on October 18, 2019.

The prize includes copies of the following titles:

City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles, 1771-1965 by Kelly Lytle Hernández

Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement by Monica M. White

Remaking Black Power: How Black Women Transformed an Era by Ashley D. Farmer

Chained in Silence: Black Women and Convict Labor in the New South by Talitha F. LeFlouria

 

Click here for more info and to enter!

Good luck!

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Veteran Editor Deborah Gershenowitz Joins UNC Press Editorial Team

The University of North Carolina Press is delighted to announce that Deborah Gershenowitz will join its acquisitions editorial team as executive editor, effective November 1, 2019.

Gershenowitz will commission and acquire expansively in American and transnational history, with special interests in the histories of race and ethnicity, histories of gender and sexuality, law and legal history, and military history. She will be based in New York City.

Gershenowitz is an accomplished editor with a record of developing award-winning books in history, law, and related fields. Since 2012 she has been senior editor for American and Latin American history at Cambridge University Press. While at Cambridge she commissioned trade, reference, and scholarly books by distinguished authors including Martha Jones, Richard J. M. Blackett, Sarah Barringer Gordon, Alejandro de la Fuente, Ariela Gross, Aaron Sheehan-Dean, Pierre Asselin, Edmund Russell, and more. Working with colleagues in Cambridge University Press’s journals division, Gershenowitz also helped create the new journal Modern American History. Before joining the acquisitions staff at Cambridge University Press, she spent ten years as editor and senior editor at New York University Press. She also held previous editorial positions at Scribner’s and Palgrave Macmillan. She holds a graduate degree in history from Indiana University.

As executive editor, Gershenowitz will help lead a strategic expansion of UNC Press’s acquisitions program, extending the Press’s core strengths in the history of the Americas and building in new directions. “I can’t think of a better person to help us grow our list as UNC Press embarks on its second century of publishing,” said UNC Press Editorial Director Mark Simpson-Vos. “Debbie has consistently earned the admiration of her peers and the affection of her authors. We are thrilled to have her join our team.”

“From my days as a graduate student, when UNC Press books formed the bulk of the U.S. history canon, to the decades I’ve spent as an editor, I’ve applauded—and frequently envied—the Press’s award-winning lists,” Gershenowitz said. “I am honored by the opportunity to join the Press’s team. With the Press’s centenary approaching in 2022, I’m excited to build on its acclaimed backlist as I propel the list forward with books for academics and general readers around the world.”

Gershenowitz joins an already strong acquisitions team that includes editorial director Simpson-Vos, executive editors Chuck Grench and Elaine Maisner, senior editor Brandon Proia, and editor Lucas Church.

Founded in 1922, UNC Press is the oldest university press in the South and one of the oldest in the United States.

Contact: Alison Shay, Publicist, UNC Press (ashay@uncpress.org)

Interview with Candy Gunther Brown about Debating Yoga and Mindfulness in Public Schools: Reforming Secular Education or Reestablishing Religion?

Debating Yoga and Mindfulness in Public Schools: Reforming Secular Education or Reestablishing Religion? By Candy Gunther BrownThe second episode in Siobhan Barco’s podcast series featuring UNC Press books is live! You can listen to Siobhan talk with Candy Gunther Brown on New Books in Law about her book Debating Yoga and Mindfulness in Public Schools: Reforming Secular Education or Reestablishing Religion?  (UNC Press, 2019). The series is produced with support from the Versatile Humanists at Duke program.

Candy Gunther Brown, professor of religious studies at Indiana University, is the author of several books including The Word in the World and The Healing Gods.

New episodes will be released monthly this fall. For updates on the series keep your eye on the UNC Press Blog and follow @SiobhanBarco on Twitter.

Oscar de la Torre: The Towering Inferno: Fire and Globalization in Amazonia

The People of the River by Oscar de la TorreToday we welcome a guest post from Oscar de la Torre, author of The People of the River: Nature and Identity in Black Amazonia, 1835-1945published last fall by UNC Press.

In this history of the black peasants of Amazonia, Oscar de la Torre focuses on the experience of African-descended people navigating the transition from slavery to freedom. He draws on social and environmental history to connect them intimately to the natural landscape and to Indigenous peoples. Relying on this world as a repository for traditions, discourses, and strategies that they retrieved especially in moments of conflict, Afro-Brazilians fought for autonomous communities and developed a vibrant ethnic identity that supported their struggles over labor, land, and citizenship.

The People of the River is available in both paperback and ebook editions.

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The Towering Inferno: Fire and Globalization in Amazonia

In the 1974 disaster movie, The Towering Inferno, a roaring fire broke out in a 138-stories-high skyscraper just as it was being dedicated in a lavish and flamboyant ceremony. Somewhat concealed amidst all the suspense and the spectacular drama of the burning tower was a subtle message about how ostentation and the pursuit of profit should never come before safety and responsible planning, a lesson that almost half a century later seems to have fallen on deaf ears. During this past August, close to 30,000 fires have been counted in the Amazon basin, engulfing entire areas of the forest and covering with black clouds the skies of cities including São Paulo, Brazil’s economic capital, located about 600 miles away from Amazonia, the largest tropical forest in the world.

Active fire detections in South America as observed by NASA instruments August 15-22, 2019. Source: NASA Earth Observatory.

Since homo sapiens arrived in the Amazon region 13,000 or so years ago, slash and burn agriculture has always been used as the default method for practicing agriculture there. However, in the last century, the arrival of agribusiness—especially soy cultivation and the expansion of large-scale cattle ranching—and the repeated colonization projects carried out by the Brazilian, Bolivian, Colombian, and Peruvian governments have accelerated traditional rates of deforestation. There are more western-style farmers, agribusinesses, ranches, and mines in Amazonia now than ever before, which naturally increases the pressure to clear new areas of the forest.

That these economic activities put pressure on the forest is normal in the capitalist systems that are prevalent throughout the Americas. Governments can, however, ease such pressures by supervising deforestation, slowing it down, demarcating areas to be kept as uncultivated forest, and relying on native populations (including indigenous peoples, descendants of maroons, rubber tappers, and others) to manage the forest in a sustainable way.

The problem is that the current presidential administration of Brazil (and those of surrounding countries too) are actually doing the opposite.

Continue Reading Oscar de la Torre: The Towering Inferno: Fire and Globalization in Amazonia

Rachel F. Seidman: On the Autumn Equinox, Why Today’s Feminists Give Me Hope

Today we welcome a guest post from Rachel F. Seidman, author of Speaking of Feminism: Today’s Activists on the Past, Present and Future of the U.S. Women’s Movementpublished today by UNC Press.

From the Women’s Marches to the #MeToo movement, it is clear that feminist activism is still alive and well in the twenty-first century. But how does a new generation of activists understand the work of the movement today? How are their strategies and goals unfolding? What worries feminist leaders most, and what are their hopes for the future? In Speaking of Feminism, Rachel F. Seidman presents insights from twenty-five feminist activists from around the United States, ranging in age from twenty to fifty. Allowing their voices to take center stage through the use of in-depth oral history interviews, Seidman places their narratives in historical context and argues that they help explain how recent new forms of activism developed and flourished so quickly.

Speaking of Feminism is available now in both paperback and ebook editions.

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On the Autumn Equinox, Why Today’s Feminists Give Me Hope

Today is the autumnal equinox, when day and night are of equal length.  In terms of the seasons, we know what’s coming: night will win, for a while; the days will get shorter and shorter, the weather colder and colder, and eventually, daylight and warmth will return.  But if we start thinking about the moment metaphorically, it’s easy to feel less sanguine.  Many Americans—on both sides of our political divide—feel that there is a tug of war going on between two vastly different visions of what this country can and should be. Many of us on the left express faith in Dr. Martin Luther King’s saying that “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” That can feel like cold comfort, though, when the pain and suffering around us are so intense, and when we see progress we thought we had made being unraveled, shredded, tossed aside.

What gives me hope is talking to people who are putting their heads down and doing good work.  As the Director of the Southern Oral History Program, I get to hear every day the stories of people whose lives are profoundly different from mine, and who seek to make their mark on their families, communities, region, and even the world, in their own unique and powerful ways.  No matter what their politics or backgrounds, people’s stories are compelling.

Continue Reading Rachel F. Seidman: On the Autumn Equinox, Why Today’s Feminists Give Me Hope

Author Interview: Charles L. Hughes on “Country Music: A Film by Ken Burns”

Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American SouthCharles L. Hughes, author of Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South, weighs in on Ken Burns’ new documentary Country Music as well as past and present manifestations of “the central racial paradox at the heart of country music.”

In the sound of the 1960s and 1970s, nothing symbolized the rift between black and white America better than the seemingly divided genres of country and soul. Yet the music emerged from the same songwriters, musicians, and producers in the recording studios of Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee, and Muscle Shoals, Alabama—what Charles L. Hughes calls the “country-soul triangle.” In legendary studios like Stax and FAME, integrated groups of musicians like Booker T. and the MGs and the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section produced music that both challenged and reconfirmed racial divisions in the United States. Working with artists from Aretha Franklin to Willie Nelson, these musicians became crucial contributors to the era’s popular music and internationally recognized symbols of American racial politics in the turbulent years of civil rights protests, Black Power, and white backlash.

Country Soul is available in paperback and ebook editions. Ken Burns’ Country Music will continue to air on PBS Sept. 22-25, and previously aired episodes can be streamed online.

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Q: With the airing of the multipart film documentary Ken Burns’ Country Music, there is a renewed discussion of what is “country music”? This is a question that you considered in your book, Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South. In what ways did your book, published in 2015, turn out to be timely?

A: A central argument in Country Soul is that we must consider the central racial paradox at the heart of country music: on one hand, the genre has incorporated Black music from the very beginning, while it has also had a troubled relationship with Black people. This is a story of appropriation, of course, but also about a broader tension between an inclusive sound and an exclusive politics. In the last few years, these tensions have risen to the surface of the conversation in ways that I honestly couldn’t have expected when I wrote the book.

Country Soul ends with Brad Paisley and LL Cool J’s “Accidental Racist,” which was at the time the most potent example of this relationship. But, as interesting (and complicated) as that track was, it now feels more like a precursor to the remarkable period we’re in now. I don’t want to say that the story of Black involvement in country music has become the central story in the genre—the connected questions of sexism and women’s reactions to it are just as important—but it’s easily one of the most important. Kane Brown, Jimmie Allen and Darius Rucker have all established themselves as regular hit-makers on the country charts. Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons, Yola and others have re-asserted the genre’s Blackness and forced a conversation on the Americana/roots side. And, of course, there’s Lil Nas X, who embodied and exploded a century’s worth of genre policing with “Old Town Road.”

Continue Reading Author Interview: Charles L. Hughes on “Country Music: A Film by Ken Burns”

Jessica M. Kim: Roads and Walls in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

Imperial Metropolis by Jessica M. KimToday we welcome a guest post from Jessica M. Kim, author of Imperial Metropolis:  Los Angeles, Mexico, and the Borderlands of American Empire, 1865–1941, published this month by UNC Press.

In this compelling narrative of capitalist development and revolutionary response, Jessica M. Kim reexamines the rise of Los Angeles from a small town to a global city against the backdrop of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, Gilded Age economics, and American empire. It is a far-reaching transnational history, chronicling how Los Angeles boosters transformed the borderlands through urban and imperial capitalism at the end of the nineteenth century and how the Mexican Revolution redefined those same capitalist networks into the twentieth.

Imperial Metropolis is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Roads and Walls in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

Much of Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric and policy proposals focus on the closure of borders, the building of walls, and limiting the flow of goods and people across international boundaries.  This inflammatory speech belies the deep historical connectedness of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, from migration and employment patterns, to the flow of trade goods and services, to the existence of transnational family units, and even to the construction of cross-border infrastructure.  As explored in my book Imperial Metropolis: Los Angeles, Mexico, and the Borderlands of American Empire, Los Angeles and Mexico, particularly northern Mexico, have been a profoundly integrated cross-border region for well over a century.  In fact, Los Angeles grew from a small town to a global city through investments in Mexico between the Civil War and World War II.

In this excerpt from the final chapter, I explore the history of a trans-border highway, designed by a number of American and Mexican business leaders and policymakers to link Los Angeles directly to Mexico City along the Pacific coast and to facilitate the flow of tourists and trade goods along an international road.  The history of this highway reflects how historically entrenched cross-border trade has been across the twentieth century and just how deep the relationship between the United States and Mexico runs.

Continue Reading Jessica M. Kim: Roads and Walls in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

Excerpt: Sean Brock’s Foreword to The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery, Revised Edition

The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery

UNC Press is proud to be releasing this month the new Revised Edition of The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery, edited by T.J. Smith—and with a brand new foreword by Chef Sean Brock. Always a tremendous resource for all interested in the region’s culinary culture, the book is being reimagined warmly with today’s heightened interest in cultural-specific cooking and food-lovers culture in mind.

First published in 1984—one of the wildly popular Foxfire books drawn from a wealth of material gathered by Foxfire students in Rabun Gap, Georgia—The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery combines hundreds of unpretentious, delectable recipes with the practical knowledge, wisdom, and riveting stories of those who have cooked this way for generations. This edition features new documentation, photographs, and recipes drawn from Foxfire’s extensive archives while maintaining all the reminiscences and sharp humor of the amazing people originally interviewed.

The new Revised Edition of The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery is available now in both print and ebook editions.

Chef Sean Brock, founder of Husk restaurant in Charleston and featured in Chef’s Table on Netflix, will be opening a new restaurant dedicated to Appalachian cooking—Audrey, in Nashville. As Brock notes in his foreword, he is a native of Wise County, Virginia, where his family “lived in Scott Roberson Holler, up a steep, winding, and barely paved road on ‘Brock Hill.’” His foreword, which follows, makes passionately clear why The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery has long held a treasured place in his culinary heart.

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First and foremost, sitting here in front of a blank page about to write the foreword for The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery is about as surreal as it gets for me. I am beyond thankful to have been bestowed this important privilege. I have to admit, I never saw this coming when I discovered this book in my late teens. I had moved to Charleston, South Carolina, to attend cooking school and came across it in the library. I was struck by the honest black-and-white images, the familiar dialect, and the food of my family within its pages.

I’ll never forget the emotions and memories from my childhood that flooded my mind and soul that day. I became obsessed with this book and began to collect the other Foxfire volumes as they popped up at yard sales or on eBay. It was my visual aid to show all the cooks I worked with where I came from and how old-fashioned the food was there. Most people flinched at the images of chickens getting their necks rung before supper or cute little animals being skinned. All I could think about was squirrel gravy on top of a cathead biscuit. These reactions were a surefire sign that most people in cooking school hadn’t grown up the way I did. I would no longer take those sorghum potlucks or strings of leather breeches hanging on the porch for granted. I began to dig in to my family’s traditions and badger my Grandma Audrey about her kitchen and garden wisdom. That’s the sign of a good book, one that inspires gratitude and incites childlike curiosity.

Continue Reading Excerpt: Sean Brock’s Foreword to The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery, Revised Edition

Jessica M. Kim: Why Trump’s Wall Will Fail

Imperial Metropolis by Jessica M. KimToday we welcome a guest post from Jessica M. Kim, author of Imperial Metropolis: Los Angeles, Mexico, and the Borderlands of American Empire, 1865–1941, published this month by UNC Press.

In this compelling narrative of capitalist development and revolutionary response, Jessica M. Kim reexamines the rise of Los Angeles from a small town to a global city against the backdrop of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, Gilded Age economics, and American empire. It is a far-reaching transnational history, chronicling how Los Angeles boosters transformed the borderlands through urban and imperial capitalism at the end of the nineteenth century and how the Mexican Revolution redefined those same capitalist networks into the twentieth.

Imperial Metropolis is available now in both print and ebook editions.

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Why Trump’s Wall Will Fail

Much of the $700 billion in annual trade between the U.S. and Mexico is centered in major borderlands cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Laredo, and El Paso.[1] Indeed, even as Trump tweeted threats to close the border in early 2019, investors met in Los Angeles to convene the second annual U.S.-Mexico Real Estate Business Investment Summit which drew together hundreds of executives from Los Angeles, California, and northwestern Mexico.  Their objective was to “deliver a comprehensive analysis regarding the current situation and outlook of the real estate market in Mexico…[and] opportunities in commercial, industrial, tourism and residential real estate in Mexico open for U.S. industry players.”[2]

Los Angeles and other border cities will be the grounds where battles over immigration and trade policy are fought and where Americans are increasingly questioning the inequalities of global capitalism. No wall can stop that.

The meeting of a Mexican and American financial elite in Los Angeles to map out foreign investment in Mexico is nothing new.  As I explore in Imperial Metropolis: Los Angeles, Mexico, and the Borderlands of American Empire, 1865-1941, for well over a century Los Angeles and other borderlands cities have served as the nexus for Mexican and American investors and policymakers intent on facilitating the flow of investment dollars and trade across the U.S.-Mexico border. In fact, the rhetoric of the Los Angeles summit in early 2019 sounds eerily similar to a meeting of Los Angeles investors and Mexico policymakers that took place in 1897. Over a lavish dinner in downtown Los Angeles, they celebrated plans to “study what lines of trade can be profitably carried on between Southern California and Mexico, and to try to stimulate trade as much as possible.”[3]  Nineteenth-century Los Angeles boosters and investors were the leading proponents of cross-border trade and investment while also working to carefully control the flow of labor between the two countries for the benefit of agricultural employers.  They believed that Los Angeles could boom by building a borderlands economy that reached deep into Mexico for development opportunities and exploited Mexican workers north and south of the border.  As a result of their efforts, both in the late nineteenth century and at the dawn of the twentieth, Los Angeles has historically functioned as a node of concentrated wealth and power in a borderlands economy, a phenomenon explored in more depth in the book.

Continue Reading Jessica M. Kim: Why Trump’s Wall Will Fail