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.


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!


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 (

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Author Interview: A conversation with James W. Dean Jr. and Deborah Y. Clarke about The Insider’s Guide to Working with Universities

The Insider's Guide to Working with UniversitiesJames W. Dean Jr. and Deborah Y. Clarke, co-authors of The Insider’s Guide to Working with Universities, discuss the fundamental differences in the ways that universities and businesses operate, and how they can successfully work together in a time of change.

Why do decisions in universities take so long and involve so many people? Why isn’t growth a priority for colleges? Why can’t faculty be managed like any other employees? How can alumni work more effectively with campus leaders? As leaders in higher education with years of experience working with business executives, governing boards, faculty, consultants, and alumni, James W. Dean Jr. and Deborah Y. Clarke have noticed that these questions often arise, revealing that many business-based partners have a limited understanding of academic institutions. Their new book offers practical guidance for those who seek to invest in and help enhance higher education.

The Insider’s Guide to Working with Universities is available now in both print and ebook editions.


Q: Why did you write this book? (Dean and Clarke)

A: We wrote The Insider’s Guide to Working with Universities to help businesspeople, particularly board members and new academic leaders, who work with colleges and universities. This book will give them a clearer and more comprehensive understanding of how higher education works, and it will help them perform better in their university-related roles.

Q: What audience do you hope to reach and what do you hope to accomplish with the book? (Dean and Clarke)

A: As the subtitle implies, we considered many readers: Practical Insights for Board Members, Businesspeople, Entrepreneurs, Philanthropists, Alumni, Parents, and Administrators. Our primary audience is businesspeople who serve on university boards; individuals who bring incredible skills and experience but may have limited prior exposure to higher education. University boards make important decisions about strategic priorities, senior-level hiring, and budgets, their understanding of how universities work is critical to the success of the institutions that they serve. We also wrote for people who take on senior positions within universities, perhaps as a dean or president, as well as businesspeople who would like to teach at the college level; donors, for whom a better understanding of academic institutions could help to shape their philanthropy; lawmakers and legislators, especially at the state level, who are responsible for public funding of higher education; and we also considered people in industries, including consulting and online education partners, whose clients are colleges and universities.

Q: How do you envision your book being used in practice? (Clarke)

University presidents, provosts, deans, and board chairs will share this book as a resource for their board members. It’s also a useful primer for new hires from outside of higher education. One of our colleagues recently purchased several copies for newly hired attorneys in his office. We’ve heard from partners at consulting firms who plan to distribute the book to their associates who engage in higher education business. The book will also be a comprehensive textbook for graduate programs in higher education administration and college student personnel. College counselors may want to share the book with students and their families as they support them in the college search process.

Continue Reading Author Interview: A conversation with James W. Dean Jr. and Deborah Y. Clarke about The Insider’s Guide to Working with Universities

Author Interview: Eric Muller on “The Terror: Infamy”

Eric Muller, editor of Colors of Confinement: Rare Kodachrome Photographs of Japanese American Incarceration in World War II, offers a historical perspective on the opening episodes of the “The Terror: Infamy,” airing now on AMC.


Q: What were your general impressions of the second episode of the AMC anthology series, “The Terror: Infamy,” which is set in part in a Japanese American internment camp during World War II?

A: This episode was heavier on the history and lighter on the horror than the first episode. The story followed many of the main characters through their first move from Terminal Island into Los Angeles, and from there into an “assembly center” at a racetrack, and from there, at the very end, to a permanent “relocation center” in Oregon. (In reality there were no such camps in Oregon.) I found it to be a visually compelling facsimile of the conditions many Japanese Americans endured during this time period. For dramatic reasons, I suppose, the show is presenting the very worst of the conditions and circumstances. Two days to pack up everything. Life in horse stables. Nothing but tough and callous guards. In reality, families were usually given more than two days (sometimes up to two weeks or more); only a small percentage of the total number of detained people were housed in horse stables rather than barracks; there are many stories and images of more kindly guards actively assisting Japanese Americans in their preparations and transportation. So it’s clear that the show has chosen the darkest of depictions of conditions that is true to the historical record.

I would say this as well about one of the most emotionally upsetting scenes in the episode: the arrest and removal of Japanese American children from a Los Angeles orphanage. The show chose to depict this as quite brutal, with armed MPs sweeping unannounced through the orphanage and grabbing little kids by the hand and more or less dragging them away. I have never seen a suggestion that orphans were removed in this way. It’s certainly true that orphan children were “evacuated” along with the rest of the ethnically Japanese population. Most were placed together in an orphanage called the “Children’s Village” at Manzanar in California. But the process of creating the Children’s Village was nothing like the sudden, brutal sweep depicted in the show. It was planned together with representatives of the Japanese American community and the orphanages where the kids were living. The entire process was no doubt traumatic for the children, but I believe the show takes considerable liberties in depicting it as such a sudden and physically and emotionally brutal process.

Continue Reading Author Interview: Eric Muller on “The Terror: Infamy”

UNC Press books featured at the Talking Legal History Podcast

The Trouble with MinnaTalking Legal History Podcast: Interview with Hendrik Hartog about The Trouble with Minna: A Case of Slavery and Emancipation in the Antebellum North

The first episode in the Talking Legal History podcast’s series featuring UNC Press books is now live! You can listen to the episode here.

The series is produced by Siobhan M. M. Barco, J.D. with support from the Versatile Humanists at Duke program.

In the episode, Siobhan talks with Hendrik Hartog about his book The Trouble with Minna: A Case of Slavery and Emancipation in the Antebellum North. The Trouble with Minna is also used as a vessel to explore some of the topics discussed in Law and Social Inquiry’s May 2019 “Review Symposium: Retrospective on the Work of Hendrik Hartog.”

Hendrik Hartog is the Class of 1921 Bicentennial Professor in the History of American Law and Liberty, Emeritus at Princeton University.

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.

Made in the USA: The Crisis in Puerto Rico and the Resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló

Following the recent unrest in Puerto Rico, today we welcome a guest post from César J. Ayala and Rafael Bernabe, authors of Puerto Rico in the American Century:  A History since 1898.

Offering a comprehensive overview of Puerto Rico’s history and evolution since the installation of U.S. rule, Ayala and Bernabe connect the island’s economic, political, cultural, and social past of residents of the island as well as the many Puerto Ricans in the diaspora. The authors discuss a wide range of topics, including literary and cultural debates and social and labor struggles that previous histories have neglected. Ayala and Bernabe argue that the inability of Puerto Rico to shake its colonial legacy reveals the limits of free-market capitalism.

Puerto Rico in the American Century is available now in both print and ebook editions.


Made in the USA: the Crisis in Puerto Rico and the Resignation of Governor Ricardo Roselló

After two weeks of unprecedented massive protests the governor of Puerto Rico resigned on July 24, 2019, effective August 2, 2019. While corruption scandals and an exposed chat between the governor and his inner group were the immediate triggers of the crisis, the explosion in Puerto Rico was too intense and too extensive to have been the product of conjunctural factors. It has long term roots.

In 2006, we wrote in the conclusion to Puerto Rico in the American Century as follows:

“At the time of writing, the decrease in manufacturing employment continues, public debt has reached unprecedented levels and Wall Street rating agencies are close to reducing Puerto Rico’s government financial instruments to the level of junk bonds. More critically, government agencies have run out of funds two months before the end of fiscal year 2005-2006. An impasse between the Popular Democratic Party-controlled Executive and a New Progressive Party-led Legislature forced a two-week layoff of close to 100,000 public employees. Coinciding with this, Congress is conducting hearings on possible mechanisms of dealing with the status question. Erosion of the prestige of the major political parties, fiscal crisis and growing exasperation on the island, on Wall Street and in Washington with Puerto Rico’s overall situation: Puerto Rican society is at the end of an era.”

The trends described in 2006 continued and the crisis deepened: manufacturing employment continued to decrease, public debt spiraled upward, Puerto Rico’s bonds were downgraded to junk-bond rating in 2014 and most analysts eventually recognized that Puerto Rico’s debt is unsustainable and must be restructured (how and on what terms is another matter). Puerto Rico, as we pointed out over a decade ago, is at the end of an era.

Continue Reading Made in the USA: The Crisis in Puerto Rico and the Resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló

Interview: Candy Gunther Brown: How I Became an Expert Witness on Yoga and Meditation

Debating Yoga and Mindfulness in Public Schools: Reforming Secular Education or Reestablishing Religion? By Candy Gunther BrownToday we welcome a guest post from Candy Gunther Brown, author of Debating Yoga and Mindfulness in Public Schools:  Reforming Secular Education or Reestablishing Religion?, just published by UNC Press.

Yoga and mindfulness activities, with roots in Asian traditions such as Hinduism or Buddhism, have been brought into growing numbers of public schools since the 1970s. While they are commonly assumed to be secular educational tools, Candy Gunther Brown asks whether religion is truly left out of the equation in the context of public-school curricula. An expert witness in four legal challenges, Brown scrutinized unpublished trial records, informant interviews, and legal precedents, as well as insider documents, some revealing promoters of “Vedic victory” or “stealth Buddhism” for public-school kids. The legal challenges are fruitful cases for Brown’s analysis of the concepts of religious and secular.

Here, Brown discusses her book with UNC Press Publicist Alison Shay, and how she became an expert witness in legal proceedings over the legality of yoga and meditation in the public schools.

Debating Yoga and Mindfulness in Public Schools is available now in both print and ebook editions.


How I Became an Expert Witness on Yoga and Meditation

Alison Shay: When did you first think about testifying as an expert on yoga and meditation?

Candy Gunther Brown:  When I started graduate school at Harvard in 1993, I never imagined studying yoga or meditation, let alone serving as an expert witness in four legal challenges over whether these practices are too religious to be taught in public schools. Neither did I suspect that more lawsuits—over teaching mindfulness and banning yoga—might be on the horizon.

This isn’t to say that I had no prior interest in religion or law. Growing up, I became obsessed with television courtroom dramas: Perry Mason, LA Law, Law & Order, Against the Law, among others. As a Harvard undergraduate, my favorite elective was a constitutional law class at Harvard Law School; the best part was arguing as an attorney before a moot Supreme Court. I majored in History and Literature and somehow always gravitated to religious subjects. I planned to attend law school. I applied and was accepted by Stanford, Harvard, and Yale, and I deferred admission at Yale Law School. I knew I would love law school, but I worried that I would hate the practice of law—and so I decided to first spend a year working as a paralegal. Now that was a self-fulfilling prophecy. It took me less than two weeks to come to detest the politics and billable hours. So, I applied to graduate school and accepted Harvard’s invitation to return and study the History of American Civilization. I again gravitated to religious subjects. I studied many religious and spiritual traditions, but I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation and first book about evangelical Christians who had played an important role in shaping American culture.

AS: What events led up to your first experience testifying as an expert witness?

CGB:  My first two faculty appointments were in departments of History (Vanderbilt University) and American Studies (Saint Louis University). In 2006, I moved into a department of Religious Studies at Indiana University. This shift pushed me to think more comparatively, since I now had colleagues who specialized, for instance, in Hinduism and Buddhism. I wrote and edited several additional books about Christianity for major university presses such as Harvard and Oxford, but I also started writing more about other religious and spiritual traditions. One of these books, The Healing Gods: Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Christian America, was in press, and I was taking a much-needed sabbatical in the UK, when two law-professor colleagues sent me word of a developing legal challenge to public-school yoga in California. They thought I might be interested because Healing Gods includes a chapter on yoga, and the conclusion assesses the constitutionality of public-school programs. I e-mailed book announcements to the lawyers named in news coverage, hoping that my academic research might inform popular discussions. I expected that to be my only involvement. Several weeks later, the lawyer representing concerned parents e-mailed me, asking if I would consider serving as an expert witness. He wanted me to explain academic and legal definitions of “religion” and “yoga” in a written declaration and possibly to testify in court. I had never before served as an expert witness, but I had given many media interviews and public lectures to community audiences in the line of service as a university professor, so I agreed.

AS: Why did you write a book about your expert witness experiences?

CGB:  I planned to conduct some research on the specific yoga program, write up my findings for a short declaration, possibly fly in and out to testify, and move on with my regular work. I did testify in court—for six hours. What I discovered along the way was so much more complex and fascinating than what I anticipated that I devoted six years to writing a book: Debating Yoga and Mindfulness in Public Schools: Reforming Secular Education or Reestablishing Religion?.

Continue Reading Interview: Candy Gunther Brown: How I Became an Expert Witness on Yoga and Meditation

History Repeats: Eric L. Muller on today’s migrant detention camps and Japanese-American imprisonment camps

While thousands of migrants from Central America are held in detention camps along the U.S. border, comparisons have surfaced to the forced relocation and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Recently, a group of Japanese American imprisonment camp survivors and their descendants gathered to protest at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, speaking out against the planned detention of migrant children on the site of a former WWII imprisonment camp. Japanese American actor George Takei has also spoken publicly about his childhood imprisonment in such camps for the duration of World War II, calling both the imprisonment camps and current migrant detention facilities “concentration camps.”

As history seems to repeat itself, it is a good time to learn more about American histories of incarceration, including Japanese American imprisonment. Rather than turning to government-sanctioned photographs and propaganda from that period, we suggest considering the work of an incarcerated Japanese American who documented life in a camp from his own perspective.

In Colors of Confinement: Rare Kodachrome Photographs of Japanese American Incarceration in World War II, editor Eric L. Muller gathers stunning photographs by Bill Manbo, who documented his imprisonment with his family at the Heart Mountain camp in Wyoming. Muller says of Manbo’s work, “In our current discourse there’s a great deal of talk about those locked up in immigration detention, but we hear very little from them about their lived experiences. Manbo’s photos remind us of the importance of seeing the world through the eyes of those behind barbed wire.”

In the Q&A below (originally published on our blog in 2012), Muller talks about Bill Manbo’s photographs, why they are such a rare and important documentation of imprisonment camp life, and what insight they provide into the history of Japanese Americans.


Q: As Tom Rankin, Director of the Duke Center for Documentary Studies, says in his foreword to Colors of Confinement, “While a range of documentarians and journalists made various kinds of records of the realities of Japanese internment camps during World War II, Bill Manbo’s work is more personal, intimate, and complex.” What else distinguishes Manbo’s photographs, and how would you characterize him as a photographer?

A: The most obvious thing that distinguishes Bill Manbo’s photographs is that they are in color. We are accustomed to thinking of the internees’ lives unfolding in black and white, but the vibrant colors of these images remind us that these injustices took place in a world that looks very much like the one we see out our own windows. Another thing that distinguishes these photographs is how they capture a broader range of Japanese American cultural life behind barbed wire than we are accustomed to seeing: everything from pick-up baseball games and Boy Scouts to judo matches and kimono-clad dancers. Bill Manbo was a hobby photographer who used his camera both to create a semblance of normalcy in his life and to document the camp.

Q: How did you learn of the existence of these color photos? Did you immediately recognize their importance?

A: I learned about these photographs from Bacon Sakatani, a former internee with whom I was working on the development of the core exhibit at the new Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center in Wyoming. Bacon sent me an email with the image that is now on the cover of Colors of Confinement. I was dumbstruck. At that point I did not even know that the technology for color photography existed in 1943. I knew immediately that these images had the potential to reshape our visual understanding of this chapter of American history.

Continue Reading History Repeats: Eric L. Muller on today’s migrant detention camps and Japanese-American imprisonment camps

Craig Bruce Smith: The Minds and Hearts of the People

American Honor by Craig Bruce SmithHappy Fourth!  Today we welcome a guest post from Craig Bruce Smith, author of American Honor: The Creation of the Nation’s Ideals during the Revolutionary Era.

The American Revolution was not only a revolution for liberty and freedom, it was also a revolution of ethics, reshaping what colonial Americans understood as “honor” and “virtue.” As Craig Bruce Smith demonstrates, these concepts were crucial aspects of Revolutionary Americans’ ideological break from Europe and shared by all ranks of society. Focusing his study primarily on prominent Americans who came of age before and during the Revolution—notably John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington—Smith shows how a colonial ethical transformation caused and became inseparable from the American Revolution, creating an ethical ideology that still remains.

American Honor is available now in both print and ebook editions.


The Minds and Hearts of the People

As we celebrate the Fourth of July and the founding of the United States, it’s worth considering why John Adams, though being on the committee responsible for creating the Declaration of Independence, would downplay the “spirit of 1776.” The American Revolution was more than a war or a single document, and much bigger than one date.

Eighty-three-year-old former president John Adams, writing from his home in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1818, reflected back on the path to American independence. He asked, “But what do We mean by the American Revolution? Do We mean the American War?” Instead he concluded that, “The Revolution was effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the Minds and Hearts of the People.”

This “minds and hearts” phrase was a common theme for Adams. Three years earlier, he wrote, “The Revolution was in the Minds and Hearts of the People, and in the Union of the Colonies, both of which were Substantially effected before Hostilities commenced.”

Continue Reading Craig Bruce Smith: The Minds and Hearts of the People

Paul Musselwhite: 1619 – The Origins of America’s Paradox

Today we welcome a guest post from Paul Musselwhite, one of the editors of Virginia 1619:  Slavery and Freedom in the Making of English America, just published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, and UNC Press.

Virginia 1619 provides an opportunity to reflect on the origins of English colonialism around the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic world. As the essays here demonstrate, Anglo-Americans have been simultaneously experimenting with representative government and struggling with the corrosive legacy of racial thinking for more than four centuries. Virginia, contrary to popular stereotypes, was not the product of thoughtless, greedy, or impatient English colonists. Instead, the emergence of stable English Atlantic colonies reflected the deliberate efforts of an array of actors to establish new societies based on their ideas about commonwealth, commerce, and colonialism. Looking back from 2019, we can understand that what happened on the shores of the Chesapeake four hundred years ago was no accident.

Virginia 1619 is available now in both print and ebook editions.


1619 – The Origins of America’s Paradox

This summer, across Virginia, events will commemorate the 400th anniversary of 1619. In late July that year, a handful of elite male colonists constituted the General Assembly in Jamestown, the first representative government in English America. A few weeks later and a few miles downriver, an Anglo-Dutch privateer, the White Lion, came to anchor carrying “twenty and odd” Africans who had been captured from a Portuguese slaving vessel and who were traded away in the colony for supplies. The confluence of these events has long seemed a poignant and ironic coincidence. A hastily arranged gathering of colonists in Jamestown and the chance arrival of a stricken and wind-swept ship ostensibly operating under the Dutch flag appear to have overlapped purely by the chance of tides and timetabling.

Understanding 1619 as a coincidence, though, has profound consequences for how we tell the story of early Virginia and English America more generally. Historians have long recognized that there were many conscious decisions taken to predicate white freedom upon African slavery; but beginning that story with the coincidence of 1619 has all too often provided partial absolution by depicting bumbling colonists who struggled to survive and who simply piggy-backed on existing ideas about slavery and political rights in a desperate effort to make a quick buck. Many have even insisted that the “twenty and odd” Africans were not enslaved because colonists were too disorganized to draft a slave code.

Continue Reading Paul Musselwhite: 1619 – The Origins of America’s Paradox

Welcome to The Greensboro Review!

Announcing a New Journal Partner

Staff of The Greensboro Review

Staff of The Greensboro Review

UNC Press is happy to have formed a new publishing partnership with The Greensboro Review, which has just published issue Number 105 (Spring 2019).

Published by the UNC Greensboro MFA Writing Program, the journal showcase writers whose work may be risk-taking or overlooked. Terry L. Kennedy, editor, and Jessie Van Rheenen, associate editor, discuss the journal’s history and its place in creative writing circles today.


The Greensboro Review often showcases authors who are unpublished or relatively unknown, some of whom go on to very successful literary careers. Can you tell us about some of those success stories?

During its initial years, the GR published Yusef Komunyakaa’s early poetry–two decades before Komunyakaa received the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the Pulitzer Prize–and one of Lewis Nordan’s first stories to appear in print. In 1988, the GR awarded its Literary Prize to Larry Brown for a very early story that Margaret Atwood soon after selected for Best American Short Stories. More recently, we’ve featured debut or early-career work from Christine Sneed, Megan Mayhew Bergman, David James Poissant, and Jesse Goolsby. We published Benjamin Percy back in 2003, and that story, “The Language of Elk,” became the title story of his first collection–and of course, Percy now has four novels, a craft book, a third story collection on the way from Graywolf, and a sci-fi trilogy to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

From the other side of the process, editors of The Greensboro Review have also gone on to establish prominent journals and presses, and have had great literary success in their own right–including Claudia Emerson (winner of the Pulitzer Prize and poet laureate of Virginia), Kelly Link (MacArthur ‘Genius’ recipient and Pulitzer Prize finalist) and Ansel Elkins (Yale Younger Poets Prize and NEA Fellow), to mention just a few.

Continue Reading Welcome to The Greensboro Review!

The UNC Press Has Transformed the South …

[This article is an exerpt cross-posted from the University of North Carolina System website.  You can read the full article here.]

The UNC Press Has Transformed the South …

Now It’s Changing the Rules of Academic Publishing

Not too many university press publications find their way into the luggage of beachward-bound North Carolinians. The coast is for light reading—for books with pages that practically turn themselves. Academic publications are for classrooms, not for relaxation.

But then again, The UNC Press isn’t your average university press. True, many of its titles are formidable, with significant influence on scholarship and little popular appeal. But dig deeper into its catalog and you’ll find plenty of examples of how The UNC Press speaks to all North Carolinians, not just the academics who regularly digest volumes of research.

Not one, but two of its publications have recently made their way onto the silver screen as mainstream movies. One of its titles has sold well over a quarter million copies. The press’s strong suit is history, with a particular emphasis on Southern history and culture. But it also publishes books about music, running the gamut from pop and jazz to bluegrass and the blues. An extensive series of Southern cookbooks includes more than one way to fry a fish, to be sure. A selection of fiction highlights both established and up and coming North Carolina authors. Several titles delve into pulpy crime and horror—the stuff that so many vacationers turn to for their summer escapism, but with a distinctive Tar Heel flair.

In short, The UNC Press is right at home in the best university libraries, online, and on the sands stretching from Corolla to Ocean Isle.

The UNC Press’s vision is broad, demonstrating flexibility not just in terms of the type of content it produces, but also how it delivers content. As a result, it is currently enjoying something that’s virtually unheard of in the realm of university presses: financial stability.

Illuminating the South

In the era of digitized content, financial strains are undermining university presses across the US. It’s not just the smaller presses feeling the heat, either. Stanford University Press, one of the most prestigious academic publishers in the world, has spent 2019 in crisis mode as the university has threatened to withdraw financial support.

And yet, university presses are fundamental to the mission of higher education. They support younger faculty building their publishing portfolios. More importantly, the academic press is the primary platform where ideas are shared, debated, and evaluated.

University presses specialize in monographs—books that explore a single subject in meticulous detail and through the lens of rigorous academic analysis. This scholarship propels the dialogue that shapes our understanding of the world around us. Even while few Americans directly engage with academic manuscripts, nearly everyone has been influenced in some way by ideas that were first exchanged in academic circles.

John Sherer, Spangler Family Director of UNC Press, cites two examples to illustrate how academic publications can fundamentally reshape the way we understand American culture. In 1943, The UNC Press published influential historian John Hope Franklin’s first book, The Free Negro in North Carolina, 1790-1860. The next year, it published Eric Williams’ Capitalism and Slavery, one of the first texts to analyze the vast economic impact of the slave trade.

These books have become foundational. Scholars still rely on them as they begin their own research. More than that, over the decades, they have transformed how Americans think and talk about slavery.

“Of 110 books that we publish every year, 70 are monographs,” said Sherer. “In total, we have about 5000 books in print. That’s a substantive body of work—a silent, steady army of books that are having an impact in small ways.”

The influence of The UNC Press’s work also permeates the national consciousness in more obvious ways.  Victoria Bynum’s The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War and Osha Gray Davidson’s The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South are academic historical accounts that have made the leap from the page to the silver screen.

Many of The UNC Press’s publications, including its Southern cuisine cookbooks, are clearly designed to reach a wider audience. Mildred Council’s Mama Dip’s Kitchen is easily the press’s top-selling book. Sherer is quick to point out that even these non-academic publications are closely tied to the press’s educational mission.

“Soul food was not taken seriously as a cooking tradition that warranted a cookbook. Mama Dip’s Kitchen helped draw the culinary world’s attention to what had been undervalued and overlooked. Now Southern cooking is a hot ticket in publishing, and we find ourselves competing with mass market presses,” he explained.

This actually mirrors the larger mission of the press itself. When it was founded in 1922, it was the first secular publisher in the South. Previously, there were only publishers of hymnals, Bibles, and religious leaflets. Nationally, the South simply wasn’t even looked at as a region worthy of being studied. The UNC Press was a public investment to legitimize the state and the region as a culture.

“We think about that as we publish our books,” Sherer said. “When you put all our books together, we are making a statement: the South is important. Southern history is diverse and complex. Southern literature is a rich tapestry. Southern cooking is a thing. It’s not just a recipe. It’s folklore. It’s a culture. It manifests itself in many different ways.”

[To continue reading this article, click over to the UNC System website.]