New Books in Sociology

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We think that we live in democracies: in fact, we live in mediarchies. Our political regimes are based less on nations or citizens than on audiences shaped by the media. We assume that our social and political destinies are shaped by the will of the people without realizing that ‘the people’ are always produced, both as individuals and as aggregates, by the media: we are all embedded in mediated publics, ‘intra-structured’ by the apparatuses of communication that govern our interactions.In his new book Mediarchy (Polity Press, 2019), Yves Citton maps out the new regime of experience, media and power that he designates by the term “mediarchy.” To understand mediarchy, we need to look both at the effects that the media have on us and also at the new forms of being and experience that they induce in us. We can never entirely escape from the effects of the mediarchies that operate through us but by becoming more aware of their conditioning, we can develop the new forms of political analysis and practice which are essential if we are to rise to the unprecedented challenges of our time.This comprehensive and far-reaching book will be essential reading for students and scholars in media and communications, politics and sociology, and it will be of great interest to anyone concerned about the multiple and complex ways that the media – from newspapers and TV to social media and the internet – shape our social, political and personal lives today.Marci Mazzarotto is an Assistant Professor of Digital Communication at Georgian Court University in New Jersey. Her research interests center on the interdisciplinary intersection of academic theory and artistic practice with a focus on film and television studies.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
As the twentieth century roared on, transformative technologies—from trains, trams, and automobiles to radios and loudspeakers—fundamentally changed the sounds of the Egyptian streets. The cacophony of everyday life grew louder, and the Egyptian press featured editorials calling for the regulation of not only mechanized and amplified sounds, but also the voices of street vendors, the music of wedding processions, and even the traditional funerary wails.In Street Sounds: Listening to Everyday Life in Modern Egypt (Stanford University Press) Ziad Fahmy offers the first historical examination of the changing soundscapes of urban Egypt, highlighting the mundane sounds of street life, while "listening" to the voices of ordinary people as they struggle with state authorities for ownership of the streets.Interweaving infrastructural, cultural, and social history, Fahmy analyzes the sounds of modernity, using sounded sources as an analytical tool for examining the past. Street Sounds also reveals a political dimension of noise by demonstrating how the growing middle classes used sound to distinguish themselves from the Egyptian masses. This book contextualizes sound, layering historical analysis with a sensory dimension, bringing us closer to the Egyptian streets as lived and embodied by everyday people.This interview is part of an NBN special series on “Mobilities and Methods.”Ziad Fahmy is a Professor of Modern Middle East History at Cornell University’s Department of Near Eastern studies.Alize Arıcan is a PhD candidate in the department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her work focuses on urban renewal, futurity, care, and migration in Istanbul, Turkey. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In Japan, a country popularly perceived as highly secularized and technologically advanced, ontological assumptions about spirits (tama or tamashii) seem to be quite deeply ingrained in the cultural fabric. From ancestor cults to anime, spirits, ghosts, and other invisible dimensions of reality appear to be pervasive. In Spirits and Animism in Contemporary Japan (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019), international scholars from various backgrounds consider together this “invisible empire” and highlight the “agency of the intangible.”The contributors of this edited volume approach spirits and animism in contemporary Japan from diverse perspectives. Satō Hiroo opens the book with a chapter on the transformation in Japanese visions of the afterlife, the status of the dead, and regional traditions of memorialization. Andrea De Antoni looks further into the ontology of spirits via an investigation into recent cases of spirit possession (tsuki, hyōi) that is treated at the Kenmi Shrine in Shikoku.Jason Josephson-Storm traces both the European and Japanese genealogies of theorizing “primitive” civilizations and their beliefs in spirits, magic, and an animated nature. In Fabio Rambelli’s chapter, a unique type of epistemological system for understanding the existence of spirits is introduced: Minataka Kumagusu’s “Minakata mandala,” which involves Buddhist philosophy, Western science, and an awareness of the Japanese folk tradition all at the same time.In Ellen Van Goethem’s chapter, she explores how and why there were widespread assumptions about how the city of Kyoto was animated by invisible agencies such as guardian spirits and the flow of qi (Jp. Ki). Carina Roth continues the discussion on enchanted landscapes by drawing our attention to “power spots” (pawā supotto) and “healing” forests as recent developments in contemporary Japanese religiosity.Focusing on the role of media in the public perceptions of new religious movements (NRMs) and their animistic positions, Ioannis Gaitanidis shows how the media paradoxically both helps to normalize animism as part of “traditional” Japanese culture while chastising animistic NRM’s egregious behaviors. Concerning spirits in modern Japanese fiction, another type of powerful media in contemporary Japanese society, Rebecca Suter identifies in her chapter a “fantastic hesitation” that authors take on, which opens doors to the “undecidability of reality” that seems to be a main gateway to the spirit world. Centering on the media arts scene in Japan, Mauro Arrighi in his chapter highlights how animism serves as one of the main creative sources for contemporary artists. Then, Jolyon Thomas turns our focus to anime and their depictions of humanity’s connection with nature. In doing so, he invites us to reflect on the term “animism” and how the spirits of anime are really rooted in late capitalist modernity with its attendant pleasures and woes. In the closing chapter, Andrea Castiglioni points out a growing tendency in recent Japanese films to focus on violent spirit entities (araburugami), rather than benign figures. He argues that this perhaps is related to the emergence of a new kind of national identity for Japan as a country that is uniquely able to control the unpredictability of nature and malignant invisible agencies.In this podcast episode, I spoke with the editor of this edited volume, Dr. Fabio Rambelli.Fabio Rambelli is a professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.Daigengna Duoer is a PhD student at the Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara. Her dissertation researches on transnational and transregional Buddhist networks connecting twentieth-century Inner Mongolia, Manchuria, Republican China, Tibet, and the Japanese Empire. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Karl Gerth’s new book, Unending Capitalism: How Consumerism Negated China's Communist Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2020) details how the state created brands, promoted and advertised particular products, set up department stores, and facilitated the promotion of certain luxury consumer products (notably wristwatches, bicycles, and sewing machines)—all in the Mao era. Though not typically considered to be a period of Chinese history driven by consumerism, Gerth’s beautifully researched book shows how, in the early People’s Republic, the Communist Party expanded consumerism and built ‘state capitalism’, and the ferocity of consumer impulses and behaviors that followed.Challenging, provocative, and precisely written, Unending Capitalism is sure to appeal to anyone interested in modern Chinese history and histories of capitalism, as well as any readers looking for a book that uses some really fascinating sources to complicate the dominant narrative of China’s ‘socialist’ history.Sarah Bramao-Ramos is a PhD candidate at Harvard University. She works on Manchu language books and book history and loves anything with a good kesike in it. She can be reached at   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Following the high-profile deaths of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and twenty-five-year-old Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland, both cities erupted in protest over the unjustified homicides of unarmed black males at the hands of police officers. These local tragedies—and the protests surrounding them—assumed national significance, igniting fierce debate about the fairness and efficacy of the American criminal justice system. Yet, outside the gaze of mainstream attention, how do local residents and protestors in Ferguson and Baltimore understand their own experiences with race, place, and policing?In Hands Up, Don’t Shoot: Why the Protests in Ferguson and Baltimore Matter, and How They Changed America (NYU Press), Jennifer Cobbina draws on in-depth interviews with nearly two hundred residents of Ferguson and Baltimore, conducted within two months of the deaths of Brown and Gray.She examines how protestors in both cities understood their experiences with the police, how those experiences influenced their perceptions of policing, what galvanized Black Lives Matter as a social movement, and how policing tactics during demonstrations influenced subsequent mobilization decisions among protesters.Ultimately, she humanizes people’s deep and abiding anger, underscoring how a movement emerged to denounce both racial biases by police and the broader economic and social system that has stacked the deck against young black civilians.Hands Up, Don’t Shoot is a remarkably current, on-the-ground assessment of the powerful, protestor-driven movement around race, justice, and policing in America.Jennifer E. Cobbina is Associate Professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University.Dr. Christina Gessler’s background is in American women’s history, and literature. She specializes in the diaries written by rural women in the 19th century. In seeking the extraordinary in the ordinary, Gessler writes the histories of largely unknown women, poems about small relatable moments, and takes many, many photos in nature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Stephanie Newell, Professor of English at Yale University, came to this project, which explores the concept of “dirt” and how this idea is used and applied to people and spaces, in a rather indirect way, having read the memoirs and journals of merchant traders – particularly the white British traders who were writing about their visits to many of the African colonies. In observing the ways in which these traders discussed the people they encountered in West Africa, Newell notes that the traders cast these encounters as, unsurprisingly, binary. Obviously, the traders also brought their racial, class, and imperial perspectives to these memoirs of their travels. Newell shifts the narrative focus and the voices heard, centering the Histories of Dirt: Media and Urban Life in Colonial and Postcolonial Lagos (Duke UP, 2019) in Nigeria, specifically, Lagos, since a broad part of the analysis is spotlighting how urban environments are particularly cast and imagined in context of dirt. There is also a comparative dimension in the research, since the initial project also included fieldwork and analysis in Nairobi, Kenya, and the overarching analysis of colonial and postcolonial urban history and culture in West Africa.Newell, along with a team of researchers across a variety of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, explore this idea of “dirt” across the long 20th century. Histories of Dirt explores these concepts in three distinct research areas, using different methodological approaches to not only understand the concepts, but also to recenter the voices and considerations of Lagosians themselves. The book traces the views and understandings of this idea and how it has contributed to “social and political life” in Lagos, but the basis for this understanding comes from different sources and different ways to capture public opinion over the course of more than 100 years. The initial basis for the analysis comes from the perspectives of the Lagosians in contrast to the writings and policies of the British colonists. These perspectives are derived from a variety of considerations, including how public health films were understood by the Lagosian populations in the early part of the 20th century. The colonial archives were also used – to excavate the perspectives of Lagosians as well. Newall explains that the research that focuses on the middle period of the 20th century came from a variety of newspapers that were owned and run by Nigerians and thus provided data and information from Lagosian perspectives, though there are also dynamics around class that come through this media-based data and information. The final section of research comes from focus group interviews with current residents of Lagos. By using a multi-method approach, Newall is able to keep the focus on the words and voices of the Lagosians themselves, teasing out the information from their perspectives, as opposed to having those voices mediated by colonizers or western commercial encounters. While the subtitle of this book might suggest that the study is narrow, the analysis and interpretation of this concept of dirt and how the idea and the terminology surrounding it are understood through different lenses and contexts makes this work important on a much broader scale. And because of the variety of data sources and analytical perspectives, this research is truly interdisciplinary in scope. Histories of Dirt is a fascinating exploration and analysis and will be of interest to a wide array of scholars, researchers, and readers.Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015).  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
How does any organization invite the true, full participation of its members? In his new book The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety: Defining the Path to Inclusion and Innovation (Berrett-Koehler, 2020), Timothy Clark explains.Clark is the founder and CEO of LeaderFactor, and ranks as a global authority on senior executive development, strategy acceleration and organizational change. He’s the author of five book, and over 150 articles. Clark earned a doctorate degree in Social Science from Oxford University.Topics covered in this episode include: Why showing respect and granting permission are the keys to unlocking potential. What lies beneath stunning statics like, only 36% of business professional believe their companies foster an inclusive culture, and only one-third of workers believe their opinions count; whereas, 50% of workers report being treated rudely at work at least once a week. How a leader’s “tell-to-ask” ratio relates to whether that person suffers from the narcissism that limits the effectiveness of so many leaders Dan Hill, PhD, is the author of eight books and leads Sensory Logic, Inc. ( To check out his “Faces of the Week” blog, visit  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
While Tibetan Buddhism continues to face restrictions and challenges imposed by the state in contemporary China, it has in fact entered mainstream Chinese society with a growing middle-class and even celebrity following at the same time. In Tibetan Buddhism among Han Chinese: Mediation and Superscription of the Tibetan Tradition in Contemporary Chinese Society (Lexington Books, 2020), Dr. Joshua Esler sheds light on this recent development in Sino-Tibetan Buddhism that is gaining increasing momentum in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Drawing from more than eighty interviews with diverse interlocutors such as Tibetan Buddhist teachers, Han practitioners, and lay Tibetans, Dr. Esler shows how Tibetan Buddhism has been “superscribed” with new religious meanings and “re-mandalized” to include regions outside of geographical Tibet.Joshua Esler is a lecturer and researcher in Asian Studies at Sheridan College, Perth, Australia.Daigengna Duoer is a PhD student at the Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara. Her dissertation researches on transnational and transregional Buddhist networks connecting twentieth-century Inner Mongolia, Manchuria, Republican China, Tibet, and the Japanese Empire. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Muslims in a Post-9/11 America (University of Michigan Press, 2018) examines how public fears about Muslims in the United States compare with the reality of American Muslims’ attitudes on a range of relevant issues. While most research on Muslim Americans focuses on Arab Muslims, a quarter of the Muslim American population, Rachel Gillum includes perspectives of Muslims from various ethnic and national communities—from African Americans to those of Pakistani, Iranian, or Eastern European descent. Using interviews and one of the largest nationwide surveys of Muslim Americans to date, Gillum examines more than three generations of Muslim American immigrants to assess how segments of the Muslim American community are integrating into the U.S. social fabric, and how they respond to post-9/11 policy changes. Gillum’s findings challenge perceptions of Muslims as a homogeneous, isolated, un-American, and potentially violent segment of the U.S. population.Despite these realities, negative political rhetoric around Muslim Americans persists. The findings suggest that the policies designed to keep America safe from terrorist attacks may have eroded one of law enforcement’s greatest assets in the fight against violent extremism—a relationship of trust and goodwill between the Muslim American community and the U.S. government. Gillum argues for policies and law enforcement tactics that will bring nuanced understandings of this diverse category of Americans and build trust, rather than alienate Muslim communities.Beth Windisch is a national security practitioner. You can tweet her @bethwindisch. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Shanghai’s status as a bustling, international place both now and in the past hardly needs much introduction, although the centrality of horse racing to the earlier incarnation of the city’s cosmopolitanism is less known. Taking activities at the erstwhile Shanghai Race Club as a lens through which to examine life in the city, Jay Carter’s Champions Day: The End of Old Shanghai (W W Norton) offers a rich and revealing portrait of multiple colourful lives lived in ‘Old Shanghai’, and their demises.Carter’s narrative moves elegantly between trackside life and events and characters in the wider city, depicting the colourful lives of Shanghai’s colonial settlers, Chinese residents and the dynamics of racism and exclusion as well as hybridisation which existed between them.The Champions Day races, it turns out are also not the only landmark event to transport us into worlds of these people, and by focusing our attention on a single day –12 November 1941 – Carter also gleans a wealth of detail from a posthumous birthday celebration for the founding father of Chinese nationalism, and a funeral procession for china’s wealthiest woman. Occurring on the same day as the marquee races, all these events in the author’s deft hands are windows into a world soon to disappear in a maelstrom of global events.James Carter, professor of history at Saint Joseph’s University, is the author of two previous books on Chinese history and is a Fellow of the National Committee on US-China Relations.Ed Pulford is a Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Manchester. His research focuses on friendships and histories between the Chinese, Korean and Russian worlds, and northeast Asian indigenous groups. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
What happens when a woman seeking an abortion is turned away? Diana Greene Foster, PhD, decided to find out. With a team of scientists—psychologists, epidemiologists, demographers, nursing scholars, and public health researchers—she set out to discover the effect of receiving versus being denied an abortion on women’s lives. Over the course of a ten-year investigation that began in 2007, she and her team followed a thousand women from more than twenty states, some of whom received their abortions, some of whom were turned away.Now, for the first time, the results of this landmark study—the largest of its kind to examine women’s experiences with abortion and unwanted pregnancy in the United States—have been gathered together in one place. Here Foster presents the emotional, physical, and socioeconomic outcomes for women who received their abortion and those who were denied. She analyzes the impact on their mental and physical health, their careers, their romantic lives, their professional aspirations, and even their existing and future children—and finds that women who received an abortion were almost always better off than women who were denied one. Interwoven with these findings are ten riveting first-person narratives by women who share their candid stories.As the debate about abortion rights intensifies, The Turnaway Study: Ten Years, a Thousand Women, and the Consequences of Having—or Being Denied—an Abortion (Scribner, 2020) offers an in-depth examination of the real-world consequences for women of being denied abortions and provides evidence to refute the claim that abortion harms women. With brilliant synthesis and startling statistics—that thousands of American women are unable to access abortions; that 99% of women who receive an abortion do not regret it five years later—The Turnaway Study is a necessary and revelatory look at the impact of abortion access on people’s lives.Dr. Foster and her team have developed a lecture series for students of reproductive health based on the Turnaway Study. One can find short lectures by the investigators, suggested readings, and discussion questions at Greene Foster is a professor at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences and director of research at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH). An internationally recognized expert on women’s experiences with contraception and abortion, she is the principal investigator of the Turnaway Study. She has a bachelor’s of science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a doctorate from Princeton University. She lives with her husband and two children in the San Francisco Bay Area.Dr. Christina Gessler’s background is in American women’s history, and literature. She specializes in the diaries written by rural women in the 19th century. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Going Nowhere Fast: Mobile Inequality in the Age of Translocality (Oxford UP, 2020) brings together more than a decade’s worth of research during one of the most consequential moments in Cambodian history. After years of staggering economic growth and a political breakthrough in 2013, disappointment set in as the fruits of this growth failed to reach many Cambodians and the party of the country’s long-time prime minister, Hun Sen, returned to its authoritarian crackdown. But the scope of this book is much wider than the array of settings where Lawreniuk and Parsons investigate the experiences, narratives, and consequences of inequality. Instead, their research speaks to larger global articulations, such as the limits of inequality, as a concept, to account for contexts outside of the Global North, the rise of right-wing and anti-immigration political movements, and the pernicious mobility of poverty.Sabina Lawreniuk is Nottingham Research Fellow at the School of Geography, University of Nottingham. You can find her on Twitter @SabinaLawreniuk.Laurie Parsons is Lecturer in Human Geography and British Academy Fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London. You can find him on Twitter @lauriefdparsons.Dino Kadich is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge. You can find him on Twitter @dinokadich. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Kathryne M. Young, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, has written a combination of a sociological study and self-help book about and for American law school students.In How to Be Sort of Happy in Law School (Stanford UP, 2018), Dr. Young surveyed over 1,100 then-current law students, 250 alumni, and conducted detailed interviews with law students about their experiences in law school and concerns about pedagogy, other students, law professors, and hopes and fears about school and their future careers. Young’s work reveals the diversity of types of people and personalities who attend law school and how remarkably similar their experiences are, ranging from the most selective schools to the least. She reveals the varieties of perspectives and coping mechanisms used by students to grapple with the challenges of legal education. Dr. Young also includes much of her own impressions from when she was a law student at Stanford. Her perspectives and the responses of her subjects allow the book to also serve as a kind of self-help book for law students and anyone contemplating law school. In this interview, she discusses her sources, the current state of legal education and law students, and her hopes for reforms in legal education.Ian J. Drake is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Law at Montclair State University. His scholarly interests include American legal and constitutional history and political theory. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The Rwandan genocide, the Holocaust, the lynching of African Americans, the colonial slave trade: these are horrific episodes of mass violence spawned from racism and hatred. We like to think that we could never see such evils again--that we would stand up and fight. But something deep in the human psyche--deeper than prejudice itself--leads people to persecute the other: dehumanization, or the human propensity to think of others as less than human.An award-winning author and philosopher, Smith takes an unflinching look at the mechanisms of the mind that encourage us to see someone as less than human. There is something peculiar and horrifying in human psychology that makes us vulnerable to thinking of whole groups of people as subhuman creatures. When governments or other groups stand to gain by exploiting this innate propensity, and know just how to manipulate words and images to trigger it, there is no limit to the violence and hatred that can result.Drawing on numerous historical and contemporary cases and recent psychological research, On Inhumanity: Dehumanization and How to Resist It (Oxford University Press) is the first accessible guide to the phenomenon of dehumanization. Smith walks readers through the psychology of dehumanization, revealing its underlying role in both notorious and lesser-known episodes of violence from history and current events. In particular, he considers the uncomfortable kinship between racism and dehumanization, where beliefs involving race are so often precursors to dehumanization and the horrors that flow from it.On Inhumanity is bracing and vital reading in a world lurching towards authoritarian political regimes, resurgent white nationalism, refugee crises that breed nativist hostility, and fast-spreading racist rhetoric. The book will open your eyes to the pervasive dangers of dehumanization and the prejudices that can too easily take root within us, and resist them before they spread into the wider world.David Livingstone Smith is Professor of Philosophy at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine.Dr. Yakir Englander is the National Director of Leadership programs at the Israeli-American Council. He also teaches at the AJR. He is a Fulbright scholar and was a visiting professor of Religion at Northwestern University, the Shalom Hartman Institute and Harvard Divinity School. His books are Sexuality and the Body in New Religious Zionist Discourse (English/Hebrew and The Male Body in Jewish Lithuanian Ultra-Orthodoxy (Hebrew). He can be reached at: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sufism in America is now a developed sub-field of study that exists at the intersection of Islamic Studies, American religions, and popular spirituality. Varieties of American Sufism: Islam, Sufi Orders, and Authority in a Time of Transition (State University of New York Press 2020) an edited volume by Elliott Bazzano (Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Le Moyne College) and Marcia Hermansen (Professor of Theology and Director of Islamic World Studies at Loyola University Chicago), captures these complex varieties of Sufism in America. The edited volume is organized around different case studies of Sufi communities in America, which are based on ethnographic studies completed by the contributors to the volume. Some of the Sufi communities discussed include the Inayati Order, the Golden Sufi Center, Mevlevi Order of America, Alami Tariqa, Ansari Qadiri Rifa‘i Tariqa, and the Tijani Order.Throughout the different chapters various themes emerge, some of which include questions of charismatic authority in an era of transition, as well as gender and racial dynamics amongst individual American Sufi communities. Through these dynamic discussions, the collective chapters de-center easy categories of Sufi communities in America, be they understood or framed as “hippie” or non-Islamic to Islamic ones by scholars and/or practitioners of Sufism. The volumes’ focus on lived and embodied realities of various Sufi communities and the amplification of voices of American Sufis themselves (such as through oral histories) is a fresh and insightful contribution to the growing field of Sufism in America. The book will be of interest to those who write and think about contemporary Sufism, American Islam, American religions and popular spirituality.Shobhana Xavier is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Queen’s University. Her research areas are on contemporary Sufism in North America and South Asia. She is the author of Sacred Spaces and Transnational Networks in American Sufism (Bloombsury Press, 2018) and a co-author of Contemporary Sufism: Piety, Politics, and Popular Culture (Routledge, 2017). More details about her research and scholarship may be found here and here. She may be reached at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
A quinceañera is a traditional fifteenth birthday celebration for young women (though in contemporary times, it can also be for young men) in many Latinx communities. While the celebration has roots in religiosity, it has also become a space for imagining and performing class, identity, and Americanity. With fieldwork conducted in California, Texas, Indiana, and Mexico City, Dr. Rachel Gonzàlez provides a richly nuanced study in her recent book Quinceañera Style: Social Belonging and Latinx Consumer Identities (University of Texas Press, 2019) that examines the quinceañera as a site of possibility where young woman and their families can take ownership of their identity through consumerist actions and challenge narratives of Latinx class status that emphasize poverty and unstable migratory status by presenting an image of middle-class Latinx familiesIn this podcast, we talk about how Dr. Gonzàlez’s move from studying neurology to studying folklore and why it was so important to study quinceañera with the lens of representation rather than ritual. We also discuss the ways in which aspirations of class mobility and Americanity are articulated through style and consumerist choices. The digital sphere also serves as an important creative space where information about quinceaneras – from clothing, advice, themes, and videos – are shared and allow young women and/or her family to imagine the possibilities for constructing a celebration that reflect their own ideals. Lastly, we discuss the ways in which Lia Garcia, a trans activist based in Mexico, uses the quinceañera in performance art to challenge perceptions of the body.Dr. Rachel Gonzàlez is an Associate Professor of Mexican American and Latino/a Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.Nancy Yan received her PhD in folklore from The Ohio State University and taught First Year Writing, Comparative Studies, and Asian American studies for several years before returning to organizing work.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In the thoroughly researched, lucidly narrated new book Shareholder Cities: Land Transformations Along Urban Corridors in India (University of Pennsylvania Press), Sai Balakrishnan (Assistant Professor of City and Urban Planning at UC Berkeley) examines the novel phenomenon of the conversion of agrarian landowners into urban shareholders in India’s newly emerging “corridor cities.”Working at the unique intersection of urban planning and agrarian politics in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, the book centers an unusual cast of characters based in agrarian space -- propertied sugar elites, marginal cultivators, landless workers – in explaining the production of India’s new urban corridors.Through a meticulous case-study of three privately developed real estate enclaves, the book empirically teases out the tensions between economic liberalization and political decentralization. In the first two corridor cities, the author shows how local, decentralized structures of democratic governance (exemplified in village councils or Gram Sabhas) could not be activated to challenge the unequal processes of economic transformation, but in third enclave, Gram Sabhas were able to be much more active.Through this comparative study, we learn of the critical factors which determine democratic horizons in rural land politics. With its keen attention to the historical production of spatial unevenness and its textured ethnography of a crucial yet understudied topic in Indian social science, this book will be essential reading for geographers, anthropologists, historians, and urbanists working across South Asia and beyond.Aparna Gopalan is a Ph.D. student at Harvard University with interests in agrarian capitalism in rural Rajasthan. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
“Consider the works of the renowned Nobel-prize-winning African American writer, literary and social critic, and activist Toni Morrison (b. 1931),” writes Majid Daneshgar. “Hers—like Said’s—are popular in the West and cover most of the principal themes covered by Orientalism, including otherness, outsider-ship, exploitation and cultural colonialism and imperialism. Yet … one would be hard-pressed to find, for instance, even a free publisher’s copy of Morrison’s essay The Origin of Others, in translation or not, on the bookshelf of one of the Muslim academy’s experts on Islam or history, or politics, or sociology.”With this provocative introductory passage to set the stage for his book, Studying the Qur’an in the Muslim Academy (Oxford University Press), Majid Daneshgar invites his readers on a journey exploring how the Muslim academy—that is, academic institutions in the Muslim-majority world—teaches Islamic Studies, with an emphasis on the Qur’an.Through his personal experience and scholarly endeavors spanning Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, Daneshgar illuminates how Qur’anic and Islamic Studies in the Muslim academy are inevitably circumscribed and delimited by political and polemical agendas—with special attention paid to how Edward Said’s Orientalism is marshaled toward these effort—thus offering only selective readings of the Qur’anic text and wider Islamic source material.In addition, he also shows how such agendas even color intra-Muslim engagement across sectarian and national lines. Daneshgar offers alternative approaches—drawing from both theory and philology—and argues that bringing theories and methods from both the Western academy and the Muslim academy into more constructive dialogue with each other will advance—not hinder—intellectual and public engagement with Islam and the Qur’an. In our increasingly global and interconnected world, we can settle for no less.Majid Daneshgar, Ph.D. is a Research Associate at the Orientalisches Seminar, University of Freiburg, Germany.Asad Dandia is a graduate student of Islamic Studies at Columbia University. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Although Latinos are now the largest non-majority group in the United States, existing research on white attitudes toward Latinos has focused almost exclusively on attitudes toward immigration. Ignored Racism: White Animus Toward Latinos (Cambridge University Press) changes that.It argues that such accounts fundamentally underestimate the political power of whites' animus toward Latinos and thus miss how conflict extends well beyond immigration to issues such as voting rights, criminal punishment, policing, and which candidates to support.Providing historical and cultural context and drawing on rich survey and experimental evidence, Mark Ramirez and David Peterson show that Latino racism-ethnicism (LRE) is a coherent belief system about Latinos that is conceptually and empirically distinct from other forms of out-group hostility, and from partisanship and ideology. Moreover, animus toward Latinos has become a powerful force in contemporary American politics, shaping white public opinion in elections and across a number of important issue areas - and resulting in policies that harm Latinos disproportionately.Mark D. Ramirez is Associate Professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State University.David A. M. Peterson is Professor and Whitaker-Lindgren Faculty Fellow in Political Science at Iowa State University.David-James Gonzales (DJ) is Assistant Professor of History at Brigham Young University. He is a historian of migration, urbanization, and social movements in the U.S., and specializes in Latina/o/x politics and social movements. Follow him on Twitter @djgonzoPhD. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
On a cold March day in 1893, 26-year-old nurse Lillian Wald rushed through the poverty-stricken streets of New York’s Lower East Side to a squalid bedroom where a young mother lay dying—abandoned by her doctor because she could not pay his fee. The misery in the room and the walk to reach it inspired Wald to establish Henry Street Settlement, which would become one of the most influential social welfare organizations in American history.Through personal narratives, vivid images, and previously untold stories, Ellen M. Snyder-Grenier chronicles Henry Street’s sweeping history from 1893 to today in The House on Henry Street: The Enduring Life of a Lower East Side Settlement (NYU Press).From the fights for public health and immigrants’ rights that fueled its founding, to advocating for relief during the Great Depression, all the way to tackling homelessness and AIDS in the 1980s, and into today—Henry Street has been a champion for social justice. Its powerful narrative illuminates larger stories about poverty, and who is “worthy” of help; immigration and migration, and who is welcomed; human rights, and whose voice is heard.For over 125 years, Henry Street Settlement has survived in a changing city and nation because of its ability to change with the times; because of the ingenuity of its guiding principle—that by bridging divides of class, culture, and race we could create a more equitable world; and because of the persistence of poverty, racism, and income disparity that it has pledged to confront. This makes the story of Henry Street as relevant today as it was more than a century ago. The House on Henry Street is not just about the challenges of overcoming hardship, but about the best possibilities of urban life and the hope and ambition it takes to achieve them.Links for companion materials such as the web exhibition, curriculum materials, and a walking tour can be found on this site: http://www.thehouseonhenrystreet.orgEllen M. Snyder-Grenier is a national-award-winning curator and writer, and principal of REW & Co. She has directed research projects, developed physical and digital exhibitions, and written on the history of New York City—as well the urban centers of Newark and Philadelphia—with a focus on social justice. The author of an award-winning history of Brooklyn, Snyder-Grenier is a Fellow of the New York Academy of History.Dr. Christina Gessler’s background is in American women’s history, and literature. She specializes in the diaries written by rural women in the 19th century. In seeking the extraordinary in the ordinary, Gessler writes the histories of largely unknown women, poems about small relatable moments, and takes many, many photos in nature. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
How are algorithms changing journalism? In Metrics at Work: Journalism and the Contested Meaning of Algorithms (Princeton University Press), Angèle Christin, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Stanford University, explores the impact of metrics and analytics on the newsrooms of New York and Paris.Using an ethnography of two organisations, the book demonstrates the complexity, ambivalence, and difference in the use of metrics to make editorial and journalistic judgements. Covering a vast range of issues, from the history of journalism, through methods of managing organisations, to careers and pay, the book gives important insights into the current, and future, practices of our news organisations.As a result, the book is essential reading for social science and humanities scholars, as well as for anyone interested in how we get the news we have today. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
As suburbanization, racial conflict, and the consequences of urban renewal threatened New York City with “urban crisis,” the administration of Mayor John V. Lindsay (1966–1973) experimented with a broad array of projects in open spaces to affirm the value of city life. Mariana Mogilevich provides a fascinating history of a watershed moment when designers, government administrators, and residents sought to remake the city in the image of a diverse, free, and democratic society.New pedestrian malls, residential plazas, playgrounds in vacant lots, and parks on postindustrial waterfronts promised everyday spaces for play, social interaction, and participation in the life of the city. Whereas designers had long created urban spaces for a broad amorphous public, Mogilevich demonstrates how political pressures and the influence of the psychological sciences led them to a new conception of public space that included diverse publics and encouraged individual flourishing.Drawing on extensive archival research, site work, interviews, and the analysis of film and photographs, The Invention of Public Space: Designing for Inclusion in Lindsay's New York (University of Minnesota Press) considers familiar figures, such as William H. Whyte and Jane Jacobs, in a new light and foregrounds the important work of landscape architects Paul Friedberg and Lawrence Halprin and the architects of New York City’s Urban Design Group.The Invention of Public Space brings together psychology, politics, and design to uncover a critical moment of transformation in our understanding of city life and reveals the emergence of a concept of public space that remains today a powerful, if unrealized, aspiration.Mariana Mogilevich is a historian of architecture and urbanism and editor-in-chief of the Urban Omnibus, the online publication of the Architectural League of New York.Bryan Toepfer, AIA, NCARB, CAPM is the Principal Architect for TOEPFER Architecture, PLLC, an Architecture firm specializing in Residential Architecture and Virtual Reality. He has authored two books, “Contractors CANNOT Build Your House,” and “Six Months Now, ARCHITECT for Life.” He is a professor at Alfred State College and the Director of Education for the AIA Rochester Board of Directors. Always eager to help anyone understand the world of Architecture, he can be reached by sending an email to btoepfer@toepferarchitecture. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In 2007, Ecuador joined the Latin American “Pink Tide” by electing a left-wing president, Rafael Correa, who voiced opposition to US imperialism and advocated higher levels of redistribution and social investment. However, shortly after coming to power, Correa came into conflict with members of his own coalition over the future of resource extraction in the country. Should Ecuador try to leverage its mineral wealth and oil fields to promote social welfare and human development, or should the country abandon the extractive model altogether because of its human and environmental costs?Resource Radicals: From Petro-Nationalism to Post-Extractivism in Ecuador (Duke UP, 2020) examines the deeper questions for democratic theory at stake in conflicts over resource extraction. Who are “the people” that have the authority to make decisions about whether the benefits of mining projects exceed the costs, the mining communities or the nation as a whole? How much authority should democratic governments delegate to experts to make decisions with enormous economic and environmental consequences for large groups of people? Using ethnographic and archival methods, Thea Riofrancos delves into the contentious politics of resource extraction, and in the process provides a new perspective on the “resource curse” literature in political science and economics. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
An early wave of research helped make visible the complex dynamics of sexuality and gender norms in Latino life, but a new generation of scholars is bringing renewed energy and curiosity to this field of inquiry. In this episode we sit down with Frederick Luis Aldama, Distinguished University Professor at the Ohio State University and co-editor of Decolonizing Latinx Masculinities (University of Arizona Press), to discuss some of the cutting-edge research in this new edited volume.This rich collection of work from eighteen contributors approaches the topic of masculinities from a diversity of perspectives and methodologies. With special emphasis on the plurality of Latinx masculinities, the essays reveal the divergent manifestations of masculinity across a broad spectrum including politics, social movements, literature, media, popular culture, personal experience, and other analytical angles. The pernicious effect of stereotypes and toxic Latinx masculinity is laid bare throughout the text in chapters that challenge the derogatory performances and reification of machismo in mainstream U.S. culture and society.At the same time, other essays look to how Latinx masculinities are being reclaimed and remade. Rejecting the inherited legacy of colonial thinking and heteronormative labels, authors outline the creation of new masculinities, new ways of being and coexisting. In this way, Decolonizing Latinx Masculinities shows that masculinities are not simply violent and traumatic, but also healing and affirming.Jaime Sánchez, Jr. is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History at Princeton University and a scholar of U.S. politics and Latino studies. He is currently writing an institutional history of the Democratic National Committee and partisan coalition politics in the twentieth century. You can follow him on Twitter @Jaime_SanchezJr. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Off the Derech: Leaving Orthodox Judaism (SUNY Press, 2020), edited by Ezra Cappell and Jessica Lang, combines powerful first-person accounts with incisive scholarly analysis to understand the phenomenon of ultra-Orthodox Jews who leave their insular communities and venture into the wider world.In recent years, many formerly ultra-Orthodox Jews have documented leaving their communities in published stories, films, and memoirs. This movement is often identified as “off the derech” (OTD), or off the path, with the idea that the “path” is paved by Jewish law, rituals, and practices found within their birth communities. This volume tells the powerful stories of people abandoning their religious communities and embarking on uncertain journeys toward new lives and identities within mainstream society. Off the Derech is divided into two parts: stories and analysis. The first includes original selections from contemporary American and global authors writing about their OTD experiences. The second features chapters by scholars representing such diverse fields as literature, history, sociology, psychology, anthropology, religion, and gender studies. The interdisciplinary lenses provide a range of methodologies by which readers can better understand this significant phenomenon within contemporary Jewish society.Today I talked to: Ezra Cappell, Professor of Jewish Studies and English and Director of the Perlmutter Fellows Program at the College of Charleston; Jessica Lang, a Professor of English and Jewish Studies at Baruch College, CUNY; Jericho Vincent, a writer and lecturer; Frieda Vizel, a specialized tour guide in Jewish Brooklyn.Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press, 2020). Visit him online at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Podcast Details

Created by
Marshall Poe
Podcast Status
Jun 12th, 2009
Latest Episode
Sep 28th, 2020
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
About 1 hour

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