Jerome Rothenberg on “The Symposium of the Whole”

Fifty years ago, when I was assembling and then publishing the first edition of Technicians of the Sacred, my concentration was on the poetry foremost, the sense that came to me as a poet that the roots and resources of poetry were far more complex and widespread than how we commonly thought of them. In my search, informed by the ways in which poets of my own generation and those immediately before had expanded the idea of what we could both hear and create as poetry, I discovered by looking “everywhere” (but especially in places neglected by others) a richness of poetic means and methods that both extended and confirmed the sense of what we were doing in our own place and time. What I stressed far less, though I thought it was apparent to all, was that behind the poetry as such was a diversity of autonomous peoples and deep cultures beyond anything we had previously imagined and cherished. And with that came not only new possibilities for our work as poets and artists, but the possibility of opening up the full dimension of what it meant to be totally and meaningfully human.

Today that total humanity – that “symposium of the whole,” as our fellow poet Robert Duncan named it – has again come to be challenged. I take this as the context in which this revised and expanded edition of Technicians of the Sacred is now appearing. As Anne Waldman expresses it for me, “More radically timely than ever in a tormented era of xenophobia, racism, post-truth, and psychic crisis when words are abased, perhaps it will be transmission such as this that reinvigorates imagination and highlights our generative cultural inter-dependence.” In my own words I see the new Technicians both as a testament to the survival and revival of many indigenous and threatened poetries and languages and as an instrument against new acts of genocide and ethnic and religious cleansing abroad and an upsurge closer to home of still potent nationalisms & racisms, directed most often against the diversity of mind and spirit of which the earlier Techni­cians was so clearly a part.

That I continue to assert a central place for poetry as an instrument of change and difference is also to be noted.


Watch Jerome Rothenberg’s recent lecture on ethnopoetics and Technicians of the Sacred given at the The Faculty of Arts – The University of Melbourne.

https://vimeo.com/228334049


False Balance, Binary Discourse, and Critical Thinking

This guest post is published as part of a series related to the American Sociological Association conference from August 12 – 15 in Montreal, Quebec. #ASA17

By Peter M. Nardi, author of Critical Thinking: Tools for Evaluating Research

Just because two sides of a story are presented does not necessarily mean the truth is somewhere in the middle. Nor does it mean there are only two sides and each side is equally balanced. Most social behaviors and attitudes exist for complex reasons. When people argue from a “two-sides-of-the-coin” perspective, we fail to realize that there are in fact multiple sides, perhaps even a continuum with viewpoints all along the way.

Humans have a tendency to dichotomize reality: male and female, life and death, religious and nonreligious, tall and short, body and soul, pro and con, Republican and Democrat. How simplistic to think of reality in such limited ways with such minimal binary conceptualizations.

As anyone who has ever watched television news knows, endless debates about controversial topics characterize cable shows. Partly due to journalistic ethics of demonstrating fairness by providing balance, viewers get to experience shouting matches and unintelligent debates among competing perspectives.

Despite engaging with alternative ideas and hearing varied views, we tend to listen selectively and employ confirmation bias in reinforcing our already-held opinions. What should be presentations of facts and scientifically-derived evidence typically turn out to be shouting contests of personal opinions. A critical thinker needs to discern these opinions, attend to the wide-range of claims and data, and decide what a fair and balanced approach to the issues should be. Not all topics require a range of positions, of course; you wouldn’t have a member of the Ku Klux Klan as a balance to someone highlighting hate crimes against ethnic and racial minorities. Or would you, as presidential comments about recent news events from Charlottesville suggest?

When engaging with news stories, research, and media reports, it’s important to critically think about the ways fairness and balance may actually be misused. Objectivity in gathering information is almost always affected by some subjective elements of those people collecting, interpreting, and disseminating the facts. Often just the choice of what to report or research is reflective of someone’s preferences and biases.

Notice also that when established views or facts are questioned by an activist group or individual protesting the status quo, media often then seek out commentary from “the other side” composed of established leaders and officials, thereby reinforcing the conventional wisdom and power positions.

Reporting of controversial events with balance may seem fair unless the language, visuals, and commentary used in introducing various positions are loaded with consciously chosen or inadvertent bias. Look for such labels as “the so-called leader” or defining the murderer as a “thug” or a “terrorist” or a “loner.” What impact do these loaded words have on the public when a claim is made in this manner?

One of the problems with balance in the media is that it can distort the proportion of opposing views. When two sides are given equal treatment, viewers might assume a 50-50 split on important topics, thereby creating a false impression. False balance occurs when “both sides” are presented despite one perspective being overwhelmingly agreed upon by scientific consensus. Research confirms that this kind of two-sided balancing creates uncertainty about the topic in the public eye. Consider that while there is 97% agreement among scientists (in published peer-reviewed articles taking a position) that human activity causes global warming and climate changes, less than half of respondents in a Pew Research study thought scientists agreed on this subject.

When the media highlight an “other side of the coin” skeptical view to balance a scientifically agreed upon position, it creates an impression that these 3% represent half of the experts. Critical thinking skills demand we look more closely at these public presentations of complex issues. Such false balance and belief in a limited binary approach perpetuates the divisions in public discourse, social policy, and presidential pronouncements. False balance and simplistic “sides of the coin” arguments are no way to address the needs of a society and its citizens seeking leadership and intelligent responses to the complexities facing us today.


Peter M. Nardi is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Pitzer College. He is the author of Doing Survey Research: A Guide to Quantitative Methods.

For Critical Thinking: Tools for Evaluation Research, visit the  companion website, which includes links to articles and books mentioned in the chapters, illustrative items, videos, and current news and research that elaborate on each chapter’s key concepts.


American Studies: A User’s Guide by Philip J. Deloria and Alexander I. Olson, Available Now for Fall Courses

American Studies has long been a home for adventurous students seeking to understand the culture and politics of the United States. This welcoming spirit has found appeal around the world, but at the heart of the field is an identity crisis. Nearly every effort to articulate an American Studies methodology has been rejected for fear of losing intellectual flexibility and freedom. But what if these fears are misplaced? Providing a fresh look at American Studies in practice, this book contends that a shared set of “rules” can offer a springboard to creativity.

Read Chapter 1

Ideal for classroom use, American Studies: A User’s Guide:

  • Introduces students to the history and methods of this exciting and interdisciplinary field
  • Teaches students strategies for interpretation, curation, analysis, and theory
  • Provides a set of how-to’s—such as how-to understand cultural practice; how-to research and use archives—via “Toolkits”
  • Presents curated “Mixtapes” of scholarly literature in the field

“This book fills a long-felt need for a single work that can be used as a touchstone and launching pad for students of American studies at all levels. Deloria and Olson do a superb job of conveying the pleasure and the stakes of working in this field as well as the craft skills required to do it well.”—Carlo Rotella, Boston College

“A very smart and playful hybrid of a book that captures the challenges and rewards of work in American Studies.”—Ann Fabian, Rutgers University

“This book crackles with insight, wit, conceptual range, and analytical precision. Students will learn what American studies is and how to model and perform its methods.”—Ramzi Fawaz, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Exam copies of American Studies can be requested here.

See also:
American Studies Now Series

Print Exam Copies:

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  • Online ordering is available for professors in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. International customers, please find out how to order at ucpress.edu/go/exam.
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  • You’ll have 365 days to review your e-exam copy and do not need to purchase or return it.

Where Photographs Meet Words: A #WorldPhotoDay Reading List

Tomorrow is World Photo Day, a celebration bringing together millions of photographers worldwide to share their stories and inspire global change through the power of photography. A snapshot of some of our great photography titles is below; be sure to check out our photography subject page to browse even more titles, as well as our previous World Photo Day posts.

In the Fields of the North / En los campos del norte by David Bacon 

In this landmark work of photo-journalism, activist and photographer David Bacon documents the experiences of some of the hardest-working and most disenfranchised laborers in the country: the farmworkers who are responsible for making California “America’s breadbasket.” Combining haunting photographs with the voices of migrant farmworkers, Bacon offers three-dimensional portraits of laborers living under tarps, in trailer camps, and between countries, following jobs that last only for the harvesting season. He uncovers the inherent abuse in the labor contractor work system, and drives home the almost feudal nature of laboring in America’s fields.

Told in both English and Spanish, these are the stories of farmworkers exposed to extreme weather and pesticides, injured from years of working bent over for hours at a time, and treated as cheap labor. The stories in this book remind us that the food that appears on our dinner tables is the result of back-breaking labor, rampant exploitation, and powerful resilience.

 

The Uses of Photography: Art, Politics, and the Reinvention of a Medium edited by Jill Dawsey 

The Uses of Photography examines a network of artists who were active in Southern California between the late 1960s and early 1980s and whose experiments with photography opened the medium to a profusion of new strategies and subjects. Tracing a crucial history of photoconceptual practice, The Uses of Photography focuses on an artistic community that formed in and around the young University of California San Diego, founded in 1960, and its visual arts department, founded in 1967. Artists such as Eleanor Antin, Allan Kaprow, Fred Lonidier, Martha Rosler, Allan Sekula, and Carrie Mae Weems employed photography and its expanded forms as a means to dismantle modernist autonomy, to contest notions of photographic truth, and to engage in political critique.

Contributors include David Antin, Pamela M. Lee, Judith Rodenbeck, and Benjamin J. Young. Published in association with the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

 

Freedom Now!: Forgotten Photographs of the Civil Rights Struggle by Martin A. Berger

In this groundbreaking catalogue, Martin Berger presents a collection of forgotten photographs that illustrate the action, heroism, and strength of black activists in driving social and legislative change. Freedom Now! highlights the power wielded by black men, women, and children in courthouses, community centers, department stores, political conventions, schools, and streets. Freedom Now! reveals that we have inherited a photographic canon—and a picture of history—shaped by whites’ comfort with unthreatening images of victimized blacks. And it illustrates how and why particular people, events, and issues have been edited out of the photographic story we tell about our past. By considering the different values promoted in the forgotten photographs, readers will gain an understanding of African Americans’ role in rewriting U.S. history and the high stakes involved in selecting images with which to narrate our collective past.

 

The Polaroid Project: At the Intersection of Art and Technology edited by William A. Ewing and Barbara P. Hitchcock 

Published to accompany a major traveling exhibition, The Polaroid Project is a creative exploration of the relationship between Polaroid’s many technological innovations and the art that was created with their help. Richly designed with over 300 illustrations, this impressive volume showcases not only the myriad and often idiosyncratic approaches taken by such photographers as Ansel Adams, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ellen Carey, and Chuck Close, but also a fascinating selection of the technical objects and artifacts that speak to the sheer ingenuity that lay behind the art. With essays by the exhibition’s curators and leading photographic writers and historians, The Polaroid Project provides a unique perspective on the Polaroid phenomenon—a technology, an art form, a convergence of both—and its enduring cultural legacy.

Contributors: William A. Ewing, Barbara P. Hitchcock, Deborah G. Douglas, Gary Van Zante, Rebekka Reuter, Christopher Bonanos, Todd Brandow, Peter Buse, Dennis Jelonnek, and John Rohrbach.

 

Artist as Reporter: Weegee, Ad Reinhardt, and the PM News Picture by Jason E. Hill

Active from 1940 to 1948, PM was a progressive New York City daily tabloid newspaper committed to the politics of labor, social justice, and antifascism—and it prioritized the intelligent and critical deployment of pictures and their perception as paramount in these campaigns. With PM as its main focus, Artist as Reporter offers a substantial intervention in the literature on American journalism, photography, and modern art. The book considers the journalistic contributions to PM of such signal American modernists as the curator Holger Cahill, the abstract painter Ad Reinhardt, the photographers Weegee and Lisette Model, and the filmmaker, photographer, and editor Ralph Steiner. Each of its five chapters explores one dimension of the tabloid’s complex journalistic activation of modernism’s potential, showing how PM inserted into daily print journalism the most innovative critical thinking in the fields of painting, illustration, cartooning, and the lens-based arts. Artist as Reporter promises to revise our own understanding of midcentury American modernism and the nature of its relationship to the wider media and public culture.

 

Uncertain Histories: Accumulation, Inaccessibility, and Doubt in Contemporary Photography by Kate Palmer Albers

The compulsion to dwell on history—on how it is recorded, stored, saved, forgotten, narrated, lost, remembered, and made public—has been at the heart of artists’ engagement with the photographic medium since the late 1960s. Uncertain Histories considers some of that work, ranging from installations that incorporate vast numbers of personal and vernacular photographs by Christian Boltanski, Dinh Q. Lê, and Gerhard Richter to confrontations with absence in the work of Joel Sternfeld and Ken Gonzales-Day. Projects such as these revolve around a photographic paradox that hinges equally on knowing and not knowing, on definitive proof coupled with uncertainty, on abundance of imagery being met squarely with its own inadequacy. Photography is seen as a fundamentally ambiguous medium that can be evocative of the historical past while at the same time limited in the stories it can convey. Rather than proclaiming definitively what photography is, the work discussed here posits photographs as objects always held in suspension, perpetually oscillating in their ability to tell history. Yet this ultimately leads to a new kind of knowledge production: uncertainty is not a dead end but a generative space for the viewer’s engagement with the construction of history.

 

Reconstructing the View: The Grand Canyon Photographs of Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe by Rebecca A. Senf and Stephen J. Pyne

Using landscape photography to reflect on broader notions of culture, the passage of time, and the construction of perception, photographers Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe spent five years exploring the Grand Canyon for their most recent project, Reconstructing the View. The team’s landscape photographs are based on the practice of rephotography, in which they identify sites of historic photographs and make new photographs of those precise locations. Klett and Wolfe referenced a wealth of images of the canyon, ranging from historical photographs and drawings by William Bell and William Henry Holmes, to well-known artworks by Edward Weston and Ansel Adams, and from souvenir postcards to contemporary digital images drawn from Flickr. The pair then employed digital postproduction methods to bring the original images into dialogue with their own. The result is this stunning volume, illustrated with a wealth of full-color illustrations that attest to the role photographers—both anonymous and great—have played in picturing American places.

Rebecca Senf’s compelling essay traces the photographers’ process and methodology, conveying the complexity of their collaboration. Stephen J. Pyne provides a conceptual framework for understanding the history of the canyon, offering an overview of its discovery by Europeans and its subsequent treatment in writing, photography, and graphic arts.

 

The Last Pictures by Trevor Paglen

The Last Pictures, co-published by Creative Time Books, is rooted in the premise that these communications satellites will ultimately become the cultural and material ruins of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, far outlasting anything else humans have created. Inspired in part by ancient cave paintings, nuclear waste warning signs, and Carl Sagan’s Golden Records of the 1970s, artist/geographer Trevor Paglen has developed a collection of one hundred images that will be etched onto an ultra-archival, golden silicon disc. The disc, commissioned by Creative Time, will then be sent into orbit onboard the Echostar XVI satellite in September 2012, as both a time capsule and a message to the future.

The selection of 100 images, which are the centerpiece of the book, was influenced by four years of interviews with leading scientists, philosophers, anthropologists, and artists about the contradictions that characterize contemporary civilizations. Consequently, The Last Pictures engages some of the most profound questions of the human experience, provoking discourse about communication, deep time, and the economic, environmental, and social uncertainties that define our historical moment.


Who “Owns” Information when Environmental and Corporate Interests Clash?

In this post, Daniel Bourgault, professor and researcher of physical oceanography at Institut des sciences de la mer de Rimouski in Quebec, Canada, talks about the difficulties environmental researchers can run into when commercial interests withhold environmental data.

Professor Bourgault, you recently published the article “Commercially Sensitive” Environmental Data: A Case Study of Oil Seep Claims for the Old Harry Prospect in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada in UC Press’s new journal Case Studies in the Environment. So tell us, is there a big, natural oil seep in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence?

DB: We don’t really know, but it would be surprising that there would be significant amounts of oil naturally seeping out of the seafloor of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Example of oil slicks (these, in the Gulf of Mexico), as seen by satellite. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory

The Gulf of St. Lawrence has been studied and monitored for many decades by oceanographers, including chemists, geologists, biologists and physicists. If oceanographers had ever found any indications or had serious suspicions of the presence of natural oil in the seawater of the Gulf of St. Lawrence it would certainly have been reported. Yet, there is nothing in the scientific literature that points at any such evidence. But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, so the possibility cannot be completely ruled out either. The only indications we have are provided by the oil company Corridor Resources who have been stating for about the last 15 years in their publicly available annual reports that they have indications from satellite images that there are six sites around the Old Harry prospect that would naturally and permanently seep oil. Under some circumstances, satellite images may indeed reveal the presence of oil at the sea surface. Think for example of large incidents such as the Deep Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico where surface oil slicks could easily be detected from space. In some cases, the oil detected from satellite images could also come from natural seafloor seeps if the oil is light enough to float all the way to the sea surface and if the amount released is large enough to be detected by satellite images. However, while this information might be credible, it cannot be independently verified since the satellite data and analyses that Corridor Resources hold are kept secret in the name of “commercial sensitivity”. Unambiguously identifying oil seeps from satellite images is not a trivial task by itself. Plus, determining the source of the seeps and whether the source is natural or not is really difficult and can rarely be done with satellite images only. So we are puzzled as to how Corridor Resources could have concluded that there were six oil seeps around the Old Harry prospect based only on an analysis of satellite images.

What does it mean when data is “commercially sensitive?”

DB: The specific meaning of this expression varies from state to state, and it depends on how it is defined in laws and case law. But in general, it means that the industry, or government, considers that publicly disclosing the information may result in a material loss to, or a prejudice to its competitive position. Basically, it implies that the potential harm resulting from the disclosure outweighs the public interest in making the disclosure. In our case study, it’s not clear to us why the information is judged to be commercially sensitive by Corridor Resources or Airbus Defence and Space (i.e. the consultant who actually carried out the analyses and provided the data). What appears to us to be paradoxical is that Corridor Resources publicly discloses the main conclusion of their private study, i.e. that they have apparently found evidence that there are six persistent oil seep sites around the Old Harry prospect (they’ve even presented a map of the location of those six seeps), but can decline to – and indeed cannot be forced to – present the data and analyses that support this conclusion. We wonder what material loss or prejudice could result from presenting the data and the method that the conclusions wouldn’t already? One possibility could be that Corridor may lose potential investments and take a hit on their share value if the conclusion is demonstrated as false or weak.

From an environmental point of view, the information about whether or not the Gulf of St. Lawrence naturally seeps oil is fundamental to know. Such information is needed in order to construct a reliable baseline initial state against which any new man-made oil contribution resulting from eventual oil and gas development could be compared with, and impacts on the marine environment, ecosystem, and people be then truly assessed.

In this context, we propose that it might appear sensible to label some information as “socially sensitive” or “environmentally sensitive” to balance the existing “commercially sensitive” information.

What is the most surprising thing you found when communicating with Corridor Resources or with Airbus Defence and Space in order to gain access to the data behind their claims about Old Harry prospect?

DB: How long it took to obtain answers! The questions we initially asked were simple and straightforward and could really have been answered in a week or so. Yet, the process took 9 months, from 20 July 2015 until 26 April 2016.

For example, here’s an excerpt of the first email I sent to Corridor Resources:

20 July 2015

I recently came across a document published by Corridor in 2011 that tells that evidence were found from satellite images of oil seeps emanating from the flanks of Old Harry.

Corridor’s annual reports also tells that six such seeps had been detected. For example, we can read in the 2000 annual report that: “Six natural oil seeps have been detected on the ocean surface by satellite, emanating from the flanks of this prospect.” I find this information very interesting and very relevant and I’d like to learn more. Could you please send me more information? Could you please send me the satellites images that were analyzed as well as a report that tells how these images were analyzed and interpreted? That would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Daniel Bourgault

I then had to send two reminders to finally receive a first response on September 2, 43 days later. I received a short response telling me that the data were proprietary information and that Corridor Resources was not at liberty to distribute them.

I immediately acknowledge the receipt and asked a few more questions on September 2. Again, I had to wait another 40 days to get a response (on October 12). It has been like this for 9 months.

But again, as I mentioned above, what I find most surprising is that Corridor Resources is at the liberty to publicly share the conclusion of the analyses but not the data or the method.

Does the public have a right to access environmental data?

DB: In general, at least in Canada and in the US, a lot of environmental data are publicly available. For example, the St. Lawrence Global Observatory (https://ogsl.ca/en) portal offers to anyone a lot of basic environmental data for the Gulf of St. Lawrence such as air temperature, wind conditions, sea temperature, salinity, currents, dissolved oxygen, sea level and much more. Some satellite images are also publicly and freely available from the US or Europe. However, some very specialized data sets and analyses are not always publicly available, especially when those data are owned by the private sector. For example, the oil seeps detection analyses carried out by Airbus Defence and Space for Corridor Resources on specialized satellite images are not publicly available.

In our paper, we introduce the idea that under some special circumstances of public interest, the public should have the right to access specialized environmental data in the name of an alternative concept we could call “socially sensitive” or “environmentally sensitive information or data.” This could balance the rights of the public to know and the right of the industry to secrecy. At the moment, the laws and regulations usually give precedence to the right to secrecy, but the balance sheet of the industry is not the only thing we should protect.

 

Case Studies in the Environment is a journal of peer-reviewed case study articles, case study pedagogy articles, and a repository for editor-reviewed case study slides. The journal aims to inform faculty, students, educators, professionals, and policymakers on case studies and best practices in the environmental sciences and studies.

Through December 31, 2017, all Case Studies in the Environment content is available free. To learn more about the journal, please visit cse.ucpress.edu.


#CharlottesvilleCurriculum, #CharlottesvilleSyllabus: UC Press Edition

Over the past few days, we received an influx of requests from faculty for books that provide context around the tragic events in Charlottesville. We’ve curated the list of titles below. Our hope is that this list serves as a resource for instructors preparing for fall courses, and that the books offer a foundation of understanding for students and readers.

Relevant Forthcoming Titles

Easily and quickly request exam and desk copies online by visiting any of the books’ pages above. If you need assistance in choosing the right texts for your course, we’d be glad to help, contact us here.

For other relevant resources, follow #CharlottesvilleCurriculum and #CharlottesvilleSyllabus, and read the Charlottesville Curriculum.


Punishing Disease: Charlie Sheen, Usher, and the Impulse to Criminalize Sickness

This guest post is published as part of a series related to the American Sociological Association conference from August 12 – 15 in Montreal, Quebec. #ASA17

By Trevor Hoppe, author of Punishing Disease: HIV and the Criminalization of Sickness

Charlie Sheen and Usher were in the news again in recent weeks; but this time, it wasn’t for a penchant for “Tiger Blood” or a #1 single. Online gossip rags reported that Sheen – who made public his HIV-positive status in 2015 – was the subject of a lawsuit by a former male lover who claims Sheen failed to disclose his HIV-positive status. Days later, a California lawyer announced that she was filing a lawsuit on behalf of three women against musician Usher for allegedly failing to disclose that he had herpes.

The idea of punishing people who carry infectious diseases is not new; however, there are signs that the impulse to punish and criminalize disease is become more widespread. As I describe in my forthcoming book, Punishing Disease, over 30 U.S. states passed HIV-specific criminal laws in the 1980s and 1990s. Under such criminal laws, individuals are subject to criminal penalties for failing to disclose their HIV-positive status; they can be incarcerated for decades.

Should we punish Sheen and Usher for their alleged misdeeds? I think we ought to pause to consider the implications.

When a co-worker shows up to work with the flu, many of us probably think unkind thoughts to ourselves about their behavior. We may even wish for karmic retribution. But do we really think they ought to be sued or imprisoned?

Some may reject the comparison of the co-worker’s offense and the failure to disclose one’s HIV-positive status – perhaps because HIV is an incurable illness and because many mistakenly continue to think of it as a “death sentence.” But HIV is no longer what it was in the 1980s; once-a-day pill regimens now allow people to live healthy and full lives.

Moreover, you don’t need to infect someone with HIV to be imprisoned in the U.S. –or even risk that outcome. Simply failing to tell a sexual partner that you have the disease is a crime, even if cases where there was no risk of transmission (such as a 2009 case involving a woman who gave a man a lap dance).

Let’s think back to that co-worker. Imagine for a moment that they had exposed a pregnant woman to the flu. While the flu is not normally deadly, it can cause serious complications for pregnant women, including miscarriage. If we were to punish disease using the same logic as HIV disclosure laws in the U.S., simply showing up to work sick could be construed a crime.

People living with infectious disease are not individually responsible for controlling an epidemic. We must also consider the social factors that shape their lives. For example, American law does not require employers to provide workers with paid sick leave, a policy failure that undoubtedly causes epidemics to spread with greater ease.

Blame and shame will do little to curtail HIV or herpes outbreaks. Put simply, they are not the right tools for the job.


Trevor Hoppe is Assistant Professor of Sociology at University at Albany, State University of New York, and coeditor of The War on Sex. 


Healing from Hate: How Young Men Get Into—and Out of—Violent Extremism

The events in Charlottesville this past weekend drew international attention to the increasing number of hate groups in the United States, and left many wondering: what draws people into white extremist groups? What ideologies motivate these recruits? And finally, is there hope that people will leave these groups?

Michael Kimmel, the SUNY Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University, is one of the world’s leading experts on men and masculinities. In his forthcoming book, Healing from Hate: How Young Men Get Into—and Out of—Violent Extremism, Dr. Kimmel examines young recruits of violent extremist groups, and unveils how white extremist groups wield masculinity to recruit and retain members—and also prevent members from exiting the movement. Watch an interview with Dr. Kimmel  and hear his response to the tragic events in Virginia.

Based on in-depth interviews with ex-white nationalists and neo-Nazis in the United States, as well as ex-skinhead and neo-Nazis in Germany and Sweden, Kimmel sheds light on these young white men’s feelings—yet clearly make no excuses for their actions. Healing From Hate reminds us of their efforts to exit the movement and reintegrate themselves into society, and is a call to action to help others to turn around and to do the same. 

Learn more about Dr. Michael Kimmel on his website or on Twitter @MichaelS_Kimmel. 

And for resources to discuss this issue with students or others in your community, follow #CharlottesvilleCurriculum and read the Charlottesville Curriculum.

 

 


The Growing Social Power of Iran’s Middle Class

This guest post is published as part of a series related to the American Sociological Association conference, which occurred from August 12 – 15 in Montreal, Quebec. #ASA17

By Kevan Harris, author of A Social Revolution: Politics and the Welfare State in Iran


My book emerged from a simple observation. The Iran I experienced in person looked very different from the Iran I read about in journalism and scholarship.

In 2009, I visited Iran to conduct a year-long study of the country’s welfare system. My plane landed a day after the June 12th presidential election in which the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was controversially declared the winner in the first round of voting. After highly charged pre-election campaigns had led supporters of opposition candidates to believe that they would at least push the election into another round, many skeptical voters did not give credence to the results. Protests shook the city that evening and the next day. Over the next several weeks, Iran experienced the largest public demonstrations since the 1979 revolution. Participants labeled themselves the Green Movement. Millions of Iranians marched in the streets, chanted slogans, made demands on the state, and captivated the attention of the world media.

On my second day in Tehran, I stepped onto the subway and got out at a scheduled demonstration, not knowing what would occur. I was swept up the train-station stairs with thousands of other metro passengers. Emerging into daylight, I saw hundreds of thousands of individuals gathered in a north-central square of the capital. They marched in silence, exhibiting high levels of self-discipline even though the movement was apparently leaderless. In a sense, the protestors were following in the tradition of not just the 1979 Iranian revolution but a hundred years of bottom-up protest in Iran that has been relatively peaceful and nonviolent. As the protesters mobilized during the months of June and July, and then demobilized through the fall of 2009 and spring of 2010, I watched the unfolding of what sociologists call the “dynamics of contention.” The protests directed a surge of youthful emotional energy at the state’s hypocritical public rhetoric about democratic fairness. The demonstrations, initially in response to a perceived fraudulent election, transcended the original demands of the opposition. Protestors drew on and reformulated the symbols and slogans of Iran’s 1979 revolutionary repertoire. Nationalist calls for unity emanating from the state were matched with an equally forceful nationalism from below, which questioned the legitimacy of politicians who claimed to act in the national interest. Both sides of the struggle changed tactics in response to new opportunities, appealed to the population for support, and polarized their temperaments in relation to each other.

The effervescence of the 2009 Green Movement in the initial post-election period peaked in a multimillion-person march in Tehran on June 15th. The excitement, however, concealed weaknesses, which soon became apparent. The movement lacked any extensive autonomous organizations that could strategically coordinate a limited number of participants for maximum effect. The rallies also lacked strong connections with provincial towns across Iran, not to mention the countryside. Indeed, as I learned during travels to other provinces over the next year, the 2009 Green Movement was largely a Tehran-based event. This made the 2009 protests quite dissimilar to the 1979 Iranian revolution as well as the subsequent 2011 Egyptian revolution, both of which powerfully connected the provinces with the capital.

Continue reading “The Growing Social Power of Iran’s Middle Class”


Update: ASA Conference 2017, Author Sessions

Continue to enjoy all that this year’s ASA has to offer with more sessions from our authors!

Ranita Ray, The Making of a Teenage Service Class: Poverty and Mobility in an American City

Monday, August 14, 4:30 to 6:10pm, The Making of A Teenage Service Class: Race, Class, Gender, and “College For All”

Read Ranita’s thoughts on the “rules” of social mobility imposed on black and brown teenagers.

 

Jean Beaman, Citizen Outsider: Children of North African Immigrants in FranceAnd at publication date, a free ebook version of this title will be available through Luminos, the UC Press open access publishing program.

Monday, August 14, 4:30 to 6:10pm, Boundaries of Difference and Transnational Blackness

Read more about Jean’s thoughts on France’s other state of emergency.

Sharon Sassler and Amanda Miller,Cohabitation Nation: Gender, Class, and the Remaking of Relationships

Tuesday, August 15, 10:30 to 11:30am, The Gender Revolution in Action

And read about a deepening family divide in marriage due to social class.


Don’t miss any any of our author sessions. And visit Booth #709 to order your copy of any of these books.