Hot Off The Press: March 2022

We’re publishing some great books this month! Read below to learn more about these exceptional titles.

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CITIZENS AND RULERS OF THE WORLD: THE AMERICAN CHILD AND THE CARTOGRAPHIC PEDAGOGIES OF EMPIRE

BY MAHSHID MAYAR

By delving into the complex, cross-generational exchanges that characterize any political project as rampant as empire, this thought-provoking study focuses on children and their ambivalent, intimate relationships with maps and practices of mapping at the dawn of the “American Century.” Considering children as students, map and puzzle makers, letter writers, and playmates, Mahshid Mayar interrogates the ways turn-of-the-century American children encountered, made sense of, and produced spatial narratives and cognitive maps of the United States and the world. Mayar further probes how children’s diverse patterns of consuming, relating to, and appropriating the “truths” that maps represent turned cartography into a site of personal and political contention. 

To investigate where in the world the United States imagined itself at the end of the nineteenth century, this book calls for new modes of mapping the United States as it studies the nation on regional, hemispheric, and global scales. By examining the multilayered liaison between imperial pedagogy and geopolitical literacy across a wide range of archival evidence, Mayar delivers a careful microhistorical study of U.S. empire.

Mayar memorably evokes the world as children of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century encountered it in geographical books, games, and puzzles. Her observations on maps and play will change the way readers think about geopolitical power. This exemplary study will be received with enthusiasm in the fields of American studies, childhood studies, and related disciplines.

Nathalie op de Beeck, Pacific Lutheran University

RUDE CITIZENSHIP: JAMAICAN POPULAR MUSIC, COPYRIGHT, AND THE REVERBERATIONS OF COLONIAL POWER

BY LARISA KINGSTON MANN

In this deep dive into the Jamaican music world filled with the voices of creators, producers, and consumers, Larisa Kingston Mann—DJ, media law expert, and ethnographer—identifies how a culture of collaboration lies at the heart of Jamaican creative practices and legal personhood. In street dances, recording sessions, and global genres such as the riddim, notions of originality include reliance on shared knowledge and authorship as an interactive practice. In this context, musicians, music producers, and audiences are often resistant to conventional copyright practices. And this resistance, Mann shows, goes beyond cultural concerns.

Because many working-class and poor people are cut off from the full benefits of citizenship on the basis of race, class, and geography, Jamaican music spaces are an important site of social commentary and political action in the face of the state’s limited reach and neglect of social services and infrastructure. Music makers organize performance and commerce in ways that defy, though not without danger, state ordinances and intellectual property law and provide poor Jamaicans avenues for self-expression and self-definition that are closed off to them in the wider society. In a world shaped by coloniality, how creators relate to copyright reveals how people will play outside, within, and through the limits of their marginalization.

Refusing the (re)colonizing gaze, Larisa Kingston Mann departs from ethnomusicological approaches that reduce the practices of peoples of the global South to spectacle and evaluate them in terms of their distance from the North. Her self-reflective ethnography examines Jamaican music production, reception practices, and spaces on their own terms and shows that if these spaces are exilic because of their marginality, they are also sites of autonomy and alternative forms of sovereignty.

Boatema Boateng, University of California, San Diego

THE STREETS BELONG TO US: SEX, RACE, AND POLICE POWER FROM SEGREGATION TO GENTRIFICATION

BY ANNE GRAY FISCHER

Police power was built on women’s bodies.

Men, especially Black men, often stand in as the ultimate symbol of the mass incarceration crisis in the United States. Women are treated as marginal, if not overlooked altogether, in histories of the criminal legal system. In The Streets Belong to Us—a searing history of women and police in the modern United States—Anne Gray Fischer narrates how sexual policing fueled a dramatic expansion of police power. The enormous discretionary power that police officers wield to surveil, target, and arrest anyone they deem suspicious was tested, legitimized, and legalized through the policing of women’s sexuality and their right to move freely through city streets.

Throughout the twentieth century, police departments achieved a stunning consolidation of urban authority through the strategic discretionary enforcement of morals laws, including disorderly conduct, vagrancy, and other prostitution-related misdemeanors. Between Prohibition in the 1920s and the rise of “broken windows” policing in the 1980s, police targeted white and Black women in distinct but interconnected ways. These tactics reveal the centrality of racist and sexist myths to the justification and deployment of state power. Sexual policing did not just enhance police power. It also transformed cities from segregated sites of “urban vice” into the gentrified sites of Black displacement and banishment we live in today. By illuminating both the racial dimension of sexual liberalism and the gender dimension of policing in Black neighborhoods, The Streets Belong to Us illustrates the decisive role that race, gender, and sexuality played in the construction of urban police regimes.

Well written, intellectually rigorous, and compelling, this impressive book tackles long-standing issues of policing and gender through the legal policies that impacted American women from the Great Depression to the mid-1990s. Its argument is historical and yet all too timely, making devastatingly clear how women’s bodies, and particularly Black women’s bodies, were central to strengthening and legitimizing the same carceral policing that violated and oppressed them.

Cheryl Hicks, author of Talk with You Like a Woman: African American Women, Justice, and Reform in New York, 1890-1935

BEDLAM IN THE NEW WORLD: A MEXICAN MADHOUSE IN THE AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT

BY CHRISTINA RAMOS

A rebellious Indian proclaiming noble ancestry and entitlement, a military lieutenant foreshadowing the coming of revolution, a blasphemous Creole embroiderer in possession of a bundle of sketches brimming with pornography. All shared one thing in common. During the late eighteenth century, they were deemed to be mad and forcefully admitted to the Hospital de San Hipólito in Mexico City, the first hospital of the New World to specialize in the care and custody of the mentally disturbed. 

Christina Ramos reconstructs the history of this overlooked colonial hospital from its origins in 1567 to its transformation in the eighteenth century, when it began to admit a growing number of patients transferred from the Inquisition and secular criminal courts. Drawing on the poignant voices of patients, doctors, friars, and inquisitors, Ramos treats San Hipólito as both a microcosm and a colonial laboratory of the Hispanic Enlightenment—a site where traditional Catholicism and rationalist models of madness mingled in surprising ways. She shows how the emerging ideals of order, utility, rationalism, and the public good came to reshape the institutional and medical management of madness. While the history of psychiatry’s beginnings has often been told as seated in Europe, Ramos proposes an alternative history of madness’s medicalization that centers colonial Mexico and places religious figures, including inquisitors, at the pioneering forefront.

This superb book provides a beautifully written and impressively researched study of life inside New Spain’s San Hipólito Hospital for the mad. Reconstructing the hospital’s connections to colonial society, Christina Ramos illuminates how inquisitors and secular authorities, physicians and patients, and a host of other historical actors turned San Hipólito into a site of knowledge production. A landmark study in the histories of medicine, colonialism, psychiatry, and the Enlightenment in the Spanish Empire.

Adam Warren, University of Washington