The United States of Zion—Looking at Jewish American Identities

May is Jewish American Heritage Month, a celebration of the rich history of Jewish contributions to American culture in a multitude of fields. Our forthcoming book, Judaisms: A Twenty-First-Century Introduction to Jews and Jewish Identities, publishing in June 2016, looks at what it means to be a Jew in the twenty-first century. In the below passage from the book, author Aaron Hahn Tapper weaves together his personal experiences with historical representations of Jewish identity.

Judaisms cover

I was in one of the oldest synagogues in California, Congregation Sherith Israel, with sixteen students from the University of San Francisco, the Jesuit Catholic university where I teach. Each week, the class met at a different site of importance to Bay Area Jewish communities. Today we were at one of the area’s many Reform-affiliated synagogues, originally founded by Orthodox Jews.

One of the core ideas of the course is that communal identities are performed, a phenomenon that manifests in a number of different ways. For the Jewish community—because people consider their Jewish identities to be a reflection of their culture, ethnicity, nationality, political orientation, race, religion, and more—there are, perhaps, more ways to enact their identities, their Jewishness—more ways to be a Jew—than there are for other groups.

One way that Jews have been able to exist, and even thrive, is by reconstructing itself time and again, to habitually acclimate from place to place. More nomadic than most, Jews have had a transmutable notion of the revelation at Mount Sinai. Their collective understanding of this event has shifted from one form to others, from an extraordinary, cosmic experience with God on Mount Sinai to the words found on a Torah scroll.

Another way lies in their long-standing adaptation of the idea of Zion, also known as the “Promised Land.” The mutability of this concept is exemplified in Sherith Israel by a stained glass picture on the upper wall of the synagogue’s main sanctuary. Originally unveiled in 1905, it depicts Moses and the biblical Israelites standing at the foot of a mountain. Moses has the Ten Commandments in hand, while the Israelite leaders are carrying flags, representing, one assumes, the twelve tribes of Israel.

Figure 3.1: Moses holding the Ten Commandments . . . in Yosemite. This stained glass window is found in the main sanctuary of Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco.
Figure 3.1: Moses holding the Ten Commandments . . . in Yosemite. This stained glass window is found in the main sanctuary of Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco.

But on closer inspection, one sees that the flags do not depict ancient Israelite symbols (indeed, the colors and designs were made up); perhaps the most obvious nonbiblical flag is that of the United States of America. Nor are Moses and the Israelites standing at the foot of Mount Sinai. Instead, their backdrop is the Sierra Nevada mountain range, with two of Yosemite National Park’s most iconic peaks, Half Dome and El Capitan, rising over each one of Moses’s shoulders. The people in this powerful image are not in the Middle East but Northern California; Moses is facing away from Yosemite and the physical city of Jerusalem far to the east, and toward San Francisco, a new Promised Land.

In this stained glass picture, Zion has been re-created yet again, this time in the Golden State. For the early members of this synagogue, California—not New York, not the United States, and not the Land of Israel—was the Promised Land, San Francisco the new Jerusalem.

Photo by Barbara Ries © 2013
Photo by Barbara Ries © 2013

Aaron J. Hahn Tapper is the Mae and Benjamin Swig Associate Professor in Jewish Studies and the Founder and Director of the Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice at the University of San Francisco.

Serendipity and Sea Otters

It’s International Otter Awareness Day! In honor of our semiaquatic, aquatic, and marine friends, we’ve posted a particularly otter-centric excerpt from Serendipity: An Ecologist’s Quest to Understand Nature. The book chronicles acclaimed ecologist Jim Estes’ otterly important early research of sea otters and kelp forests off the coast of Alaska, and how that research would eventually inform his entire career. Read more below, and click here to learn about IOAD events happening today around the world.




“Not the end of the world but you can see it from here” were the first words I saw as I exited the DC 6 aircraft at Shemya and entered a small building with my colleagues and a few other travelers, most of whom were in transit back to Anchorage. After the plane and passengers had departed, a surprised-looking airman asked why we hadn’t left with them. When I told him we were the biologists from Amchitka, he went on high alert. We were taken to a small, windowless room and put under armed guard while the Air Force tried to sort out what was going on and what to do with us. My colleagues and I thought it was funny but the guards didn’t share our humor. Eventually we were taken to see the base commander, a serious-looking full-bird colonel who was clearly put out by our presence and not someone to be trifled with. The colonel glared at us from across his desk, telling us that while he had confirmed our authorization to visit Shemya, he also considered us a risk to military security and a threat to morale. But after this initial bluster he warmed and seemed to soften, expressing interest in what we were studying and offering to show us around the island.

Finally, at the end of the day, we walked to the shore for a brief look around. In the fading light I was struck by two observations—the numerous tests of beach-cast sea urchins that were much larger than anything I had ever seen dead or alive at Amchitka, and a green hue to the beach sand. These were the first hints that sea otters mattered, and that I was on the track of something exciting.

The next day we were up early. John and Charlie prepared for a visit to the rocky shore while Phil and I geared up for a dive. We had to assemble and inflate the skiff, find some gasoline for the outboard motor, fill the scuba tanks, and locate a safe place to launch. The wind and sea were calm and so on this first dive we decided to simply swim out from shore. Although the water was clear, I couldn’t see the sea floor until I slipped into the water and dropped below the surface. When I looked down at the sea floor, I was stunned by the vast numbers of urchins and absence of kelp. I looked at Phil and saw what struck me as an incredulous, impish grin. I swam out into deeper water and then a short distance up and down the shore, trying to get a sense of whether what I was seeing was unusual or typical of the area. Every place I looked was the same—large and abundant sea urchins over a seafloor of crustose coralline algae with little or no kelp. After almost a year of diving at Amchitka, I immediately understood why Shemya was so different. In the absence of sea otter predation, sea urchins had increased in size and numbers, and the larger and more abundant sea urchins had eaten the kelp. This was my “aha” moment, a profound realization that would set a path for the remainder of my life. I sat up most of the night, thinking and jotting down notes about what I had seen and what it meant.

My mind was buzzing with ideas but the immediate problem was to document what I had seen at Shemya in an objective and rigorous manner. I had 5 days left to work at Shemya and the notoriously unpredictable Aleutian Islands weather might turn for the worst at any time. My plan was to measure the density and size structure of the sea urchin population and the percent cover and species composition of fleshy macroalgae at 3 depths—10, 30 and 60 ft. I would do this at several sites, time and weather permitting.

Save 40% with UC Press during the North American Patristics Society Annual Meeting

The 2016 North American Patristics Society annual meeting convenes May 26–28 in Chicago, IL.

Please come by the UC Press booth to browse display copies of new titles and pick up a flier to save 40% online with discount code 16E8104. The discount code expires June 12, 2016.

Attendees can also learn about Christianity in Late Antiquity, the official book series of the North American Patristics Society, plus peruse a copy of the first recently-published title.

NAPS attendees may also meet the editors of our newest journal launching in 2017, Studies in Late Antiquity. Several editors and editorial board members will be at the Saturday Coffee Break (10:40am–11:00am) to answer questions about the new journal and offer information for submitting papers.

View the final conference program, and follow along using #NAPS2016.

Forensic Evidence: Reality and Fiction

By Corinna Kruse, author of The Social Life of Forensic Evidence

I have a confession to make: I find CSI (the long-running TV show Crime Scene Investigation) much less interesting than the non-fictional criminal justice system.

Kruse.SocialLifeOfForensicEvidenceI do admit, it feels a little unappreciative to write this. I’m quite sure that CSI’s popularity has helped my work find audiences, both within and without academia. But it’s no less true. Studying the (Swedish) criminal justice system from the inside – at least, from the considerable part of its insides that I was graciously given access to – has made me realize just how much more interesting non-fictional forensics are.

This difference, I think, boils down to complexity–complexity that I find fascinating and complexity that the criminal justice system has and CSI doesn’t. For example, on CSI, the same (fictional) crime scene investigators do lots of different things. They go to crime scenes and collect traces, they analyze these traces – and quite different kinds of traces, at that – in the laboratory, they talk to witnesses, and they cause suspects to confess in the face of overwhelming evidence.

In non-fictional criminal justice, these different tasks are done by different experts: in the Swedish criminal justice system, crime scenes are examined by crime scene technicians, traces are analyzed by forensic scientists – different forensic scientists for different types of evidence – and witnesses, plaintiffs, and suspects are interviewed by police investigators. What is more, work on a case is led and coordinated by an investigation leader, often a prosecutor but sometimes a police investigator. Other criminal justice systems may differ in organization and labor division – not all forensic scientists are state employees like the Swedish ones are, for example – but what they have in common is that forensic evidence (and criminal justice) is produced through the cooperation of a number of professions.

This is unavoidable. Regardless of the dismissiveness with which CSI treats crime work outside of the laboratory and crime scene, all these tasks require quite different skills and competences. Knowing where and how to find and recover relevant traces from a crime scene is a different thing entirely from analyzing them, or from persuading a witness, plaintiff, or suspect to want to talk to the police. So is producing suspects in the first place – which, on CSI, is, not surprisingly, done by means of forensic evidence.

To me, these different competences and skills are fascinating. And what I find, if possible, even more fascinating are the different perspectives that come with these competences and skills: to crime scene technicians, forensic evidence is the hoped-for end product of their examination of the crime scene – but certainly not all putative crime scenes yield decisive evidence. To forensic scientists, forensic evidence is most often a single trace, and, because forensic scientists only see cases in which forensic evidence is expected to provide essential answers, they regard it as very important for criminal justice. To police investigators, forensic evidence is a tool to be used in (mainly) interrogations. And to prosecutors as well as judges, forensic evidence is but one piece, and not necessarily the most important piece, in a large puzzle. Their different perspectives may at times cause friction, but also that makes their cooperation much more interesting than CSI’s rather one-dimensional production of forensic evidence.

Another complexity in the criminal justice system has to do with uncertainty. What forensic science does on CSI is to produce absolute certainty – in other words to eliminate any and all uncertainty – just by virtue of it being “scientific.” This scientificness seems to mainly consist of the main characters’ assertion that they are scientists and that, in consequence, evidence speaks to them.

No doubt a great arrangement. But non-fictional forensic evidence does not speak, neither to “scientists” nor to anyone else, and absolute certainty is unattainable. Instead, the criminal justice system must deal with inescapable uncertainties: there is the uncertainty whether or not the site the crime scene technicians examine has been the scene of a crime – the presumed crime may have been committed elsewhere or not at all. In addition, at the time the crime scene is being examined, there often is quite a lot of uncertainty about which crime may have been committed and which kind of questions – and thus which kind of evidence – will become salient later in the investigation. Then, there is the uncertainty whether a match between, say, a fiber from the crime scene and one from the suspect’s shirt is due to coincidence or their presence at the scene. There is the uncertainty whether a witness (or plaintiff, or suspect) is telling the truth – and which truth, at that. Even when they’re truthful about what they have seen, they may still misremember, and everyone sees the world through their frame of reference. And finally, there is always the uncertainty whether more work might produce more evidence that might change the outcome of the case. Seeing my interlocutors deal with these uncertainties and still manage to achieve certainty beyond a reasonable doubt in many cases has been much more fascinating than watching CSI achieve absolute certainty.

Of course, it would be difficult to convey all of these complexities in a TV series. And in this case, at least I certainly prefer reality over fiction.

Corinna Kruse is a lecturer in the Department of Thematic Studies—Technology and Social Change at Linköping University.

Freedom Struggles and the Rise of the Neoliberal State

In the last 40 years millions of jobs in the United states have been lost due to capital flight and deindustrialization. Unemployment rates have skyrocketed for all workers, but especially Black workers. Structural joblessness, poverty, and homelessness have become permanent features of the political economy. Meanwhile, prison populations have exploded. In Incarcerating the Crisis Jordan T. Camp traces the rise of the neoliberal carceral state through a series of historical moments in US history—the Watts insurrection in 1965, the Detroit rebellion in 1967, the Attica uprising in 1971, and the Los Angeles revolt in 1992, and events in post-Katrina New Orleans in 2005.

The carceral population grew from two hundred thousand people in the late 1960s to more than 2.4 million people in the 2000s. Currently, one in thirty-five, or 6.9 million adults in the United States, are in jail or prison, or on parole or probation. Increased spending on incarceration has occurred alongside the reduction of expenditures for public education, transportation, health care, and public-sector employment. Prison expansion has coincided with a shift in the racial composition of prisoners from majority white to almost 70 percent people of color. The unemployed, underemployed, and never-employed Black and Latino poor have been incarcerated at disproportionate rates. With the highest rate of incarceration on the planet, the United States currently incarcerates Black people at higher rates than South Africa did before the end of apartheid. All of these numbers bespeak a collision of race, class, and carceral state power without historical precedent, but certainly not without historical explanation.

Jordan T. Camp is Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America and the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.


UC Press Books in the News: A Sea of Glass

This post is part of a recurring series that highlights UC Press books of note that have been featured recently in the media. This post focuses on our recent title A Sea of Glass: Searching for the Blaschkas’ Fragile Legacy in an Ocean at Risk.


The book received a mention in a recent New Scientist article about the Blaschka glass collection: ““If ever there was a time to compare the plentiful past with an ocean in jeopardy, that time would be now,” says author Drew Harvell, who was instrumental in bringing Cornell’s Blaschka collection out of storage and into the Corning Museum of Glass in New York state. “We hope to find out whether they are surviving in the sea as magnificently as they do in glass,” she says.”

A recent review in Library Journal said: “The author makes an eloquent plea for marine biodiversity conservation. ­VERDICT: General readers, as well as those who enjoyed J.E.N. ­Veron’s A Reef in Time: The Great Barrier Reef from Beginning to End and Richard ­Ellis’s The Empty Ocean, will appreciate this ­volume.”

Discover Magazine ran a profile of Drew Harvell, available online to magazine subscribers, as well as a beautiful slideshow of the Blaschka glass creatures.

The book was reviewed this week in Hakai Magazine. Julie Schwietert Collazo called the book “an SOS call for a change in human behavior.”

NPR’s Science Friday ran a piece on their blog about the Blaschka collection, mentioning the current exhibit at the Corning Museum of Glass as well as A Sea of Glass: “Today, the marine models are enduring examples of a successful union between science and art, and Harvell uses them as teaching aids at Cornell. For her, they’re a source of inspiration at a crucial time for ocean conservation. As she writes in A Sea of Glass, “My vision is that these masterpieces of glass art motivate wonder and appreciation for our ocean world.””

And to cap off the outstanding reception to A Sea of Glass, Eve M. Kahn mentioned the book in an article she wrote for the New York Times antiques column earlier this month.


Get Caught Reading . . . The Teachings of Don Juan

May is Get Caught Reading Month, and what better book to be caught red-handed with than our newly repackaged edition of a classic?


A bit of backstory on this influential book is in order. In 1968 University of California Press published an unusual manuscript by an anthropology student named Carlos Castaneda. The Teachings of Don Juan enthralled a generation of seekers dissatisfied with the limitations of the Western worldview. Castaneda’s quintessential book remains controversial for the alternative way of seeing that it presents and the revolution in cognition it demands. Whether read as ethnographic fact or creative fiction, it is the story of a remarkable journey that has left an indelible impression on the life of more than a million readers around the world.

Dip into this extraordinary world with the passage below.

When I awakened, I was lying on my back at the bottom of a shallow irrigation ditch, immersed in water up to my chin. Someone was holding my head up. It was don Juan. The first thought I had was that the water in the channel had an unusual quality; it was cold and heavy. It slapped lightly against me, and my thoughts cleared with every movement it made. At first the water had a bright green halo, or fluorescence, which soon dissolved, leaving only a stream of ordinary water.

I asked don Juan about the time of day. He said it was early morning. After awhile I was completely awake and got out of the water.

“You must tell me all you saw,” don Juan said when we got back to his house. He also said he had been trying to “bring me back” for three days, and had had a very difficult time doing it. I made numerous attempts to describe what I had seen, but could not seem to concentrate. Later on, during the early evening, I felt I was ready to talk with don Juan, and I began to tell him what I remembered from the time I had fallen on my side, but he did not want to hear about it. He said the only interesting part was what I saw and did after he “tossed me into the air and I flew away.”

All I could remember was a series of dreamlike images or scenes. They had no sequential order. I had the impression that each one of them was like an isolated bubble, floating into focus and then moving away. They were not, however, merely scenes to look at. I was inside them. I took part in them. When I tried to recollect them at first, I had the sensation that they were vague, diffused flashes, but as I thought about them I realized that each one of them was extremely clear although totally unrelated to ordinary seeing—hence, the sensation of vagueness. The images were few and simple.

As soon as don Juan mentioned that he had “tossed me into the air” I had a faint recollection of an absolutely clear scene in which I was looking straight at him from some distance away. I was looking at his face only. It was monumental in size. It was flat and had an intense glow. His hair was yellowish, and it moved. Each part of his face moved by itself, projecting a sort of amber light.

The next image was one in which don Juan had actually tossed me up, or hurled me, in a straight onward direction. I remember I “extended my wings and flew.” I felt alone, cutting through the air, painfully moving straight ahead. It was more like walking than like flying. It tired my body. There was no feeling of flowing free, no exuberance.

Then I remembered an instant in when which I was motionless, looking at a mass of sharp, dark edges set in an area that had a dull, painful light; next I saw a field with an infinite variety of lights. The lights moved and flickered and changed their luminosity. They were almost like colors. Their intensity dazzled me.

At anther moment, an object was almost against my eye. It was a thick, pointed object; it had a definite pinkish glow. I felt a sudden tremor somewhere in my body and saw a multitude of similar pink forms coming toward me. They all moved on me. I jumped away.

The last scene I remembered was three silvery birds. They radiated a shiny, metallic light, almost like stainless steel, but intense and moving and alive. I liked them. We flew together.

Don Juan did not make any comments on my recounting.

To read more, get a copy of your own at your local bookstore, or online at IndieboundAmazonBarnes & Noble, or UC Press (to save 30% on, enter discount code 16M4197 at checkout).

New book by ecologist James Estes recounts pioneering research in Alaska

This post was originally featured on the UC Santa Cruz News Center, and has been reblogged with the permission of the author.

by Tim Stephens

In his new book, Serendipity: An Ecologist’s Quest to Understand Nature (UC Press, May 2016), marine ecologist James Estes recounts the simple twists of fate that sent him to the Aleutian Islands in 1970 to study the distribution and abundance of sea otters. It was the start of a remarkable journey of discovery that led to profound insights about the complexity of ecological interactions and the importance of predators in natural ecosystems.cover-400

Now a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz, Estes has returned to the Aleutian Islands nearly every year after that first visit, developing a deep knowledge of the area’s natural history and witnessing dramatic changes in its ecosystems. InSerendipity, he starts with his research on sea otters and kelp forests, shows how one question led to another, and explains the broader principles of ecology illuminated by his findings.

“I try to not only tell the story of the science, but also give an explanation of how it came about and highlight why it’s important to the science of ecology,” Estes said.

Keystone species

His research showed that sea otters are a “keystone species” that maintains kelp forest ecosystems by controlling populations of kelp-grazing sea urchins. Sea otters had been hunted to near extinction for the fur trade, and the recovery of their populations was uneven and fragmented across the Aleutian Archipelago. This enabled Estes to compare coastal ecosystems around islands with and without sea otters, and he found that there were no kelp forests without sea otters.

His findings have become a classic example of how apex predators shape ecosystems. Estes continued to build on his early observations over the following decades, carefully documenting the interactions among sea otters, sea urchins, and other elements of kelp forest ecosystems. He conducted long-term studies tracking the changes at sites where sea otters recolonized an island and expanded their numbers, and at other sites where once thriving populations underwent sudden declines.

Unexpected collapse

The unexpected collapse of sea otter populations in parts of the Aleutian Archipelago in the 1990s led the research in new directions. Estes concluded that the likely cause of the decline was predation by killer whales. But why had killer whales begun preying on sea otters? It appeared to be part of a broader “megafaunal collapse” that included several species of seals and sea lions.

James Estes (photo by C. Lagattuta)

Estes and others proposed that industrial whaling had forced a dietary shift in killer whales that had previously preyed on large whales. As the great whales became scarce, the killer whales turned to smaller marine mammals, including seals, sea lions, and sea otters, all of which underwent marked population declines. This remains a controversial hypothesis, and Estes devotes a chapter of the book to the ongoing debate.

In recent years, he has led international teams of scientists investigating how a broad range of ecosystems have been disrupted by the decline of large predators and other “apex consumers” at the top of the food chain.

“Natural ecosystems are strongly influenced by these big predators,” Estes said. “The top predators have really important roles in the way ecosystems are structured and how they operate, and the loss of these animals as part of the erosion of biodiversity is an issue of global significance.”


The book’s title, Serendipity, reflects the unpredictable and often surprising course of his research career, Estes said. “So much of the process of science has to do with fortuitous events, the people you meet, and the ideas that surface during informal conversations.”

A crucial encounter for Estes was a brief conversation in 1971 with the pioneering ecologist Robert Paine during a visit Paine made to Amchitka Island, where Estes was based. Estes had been observing a thriving sea otter population around Amchitka Island, diving in the kelp forests, and trying to come up with an idea for a Ph.D. thesis. Inspired by Paine, he organized a trip to another island in the Aleutian archipelago where the sea otter population had never recovered.

“That was probably the most exciting moment in my career, when I first went to an island that lacked sea otters and stuck my head in the water, and I saw how incredibly different it was,” Estes said. “That was such a powerful experience, probably the most defining moment of my life, and it happened in less than a second.”

Estes, who joined the UCSC faculty in 1978, was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2014. He is also a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences and has received the Western Society of Naturalists’ Lifetime Achievement Award, a Pew Marine Conservation Fellowship, and the C. Hart Merriam Award of the American Society of Mammalogists.

The Transformation of Zouping, China

It’s common knowledge at this point that China has rapidly transformed over the last few decades. Andrew Kipnis, an Anthropologist at The Australian National University, has looked at how one city, Zouping, has changed since 1988. Despite the benefits of modernization, Zouping is far from a utopia: alienation, class formation, and pollution are new challenges its longtime residents and newcomers face. From Village to City develops a new theory of urbanization in a compelling portrait of an emerging metropolis.

From 1988 to 2013, I regularly visited a place called Zouping in Shandong province, of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Zouping is the name of both an agricultural county and the urban area that is the county seat. Over these years, the county seat transformed from a relatively impoverished, sleepy town of thirty thousand people to a bustling city of more than three hundred thousand, complete with factories and high-rises, parks and bus routes, shopping malls and school campuses, and just about everything you might expect from a relatively wealthy mid-sized city in eastern China. In the process of its expansion, many rural villages were incorporated into the city’s territory as it expanded, many other former rural dwellers moved there from more distant villages. This book is about the urbanization of Zouping: the transformations of the place itself, the transformations of the lives of formerly rural but now urban people who live there, and the interrelations between these two types of transformation.

Andrew B. Kipnis is Professor of Anthropology in the School of Culture, History and Language of the College of Asia and the Pacific at The Australian National University.

Motherhood Today: Doing the Best They Can

Motherhood (mŭth′ər-ho͝od′). noun: the state or experience of having or raising a child.

Sounds straightforward. Yet motherhood today is anything but straightforward. Whether they are single mothers, working mothers, teenage mothers, or surrogate mothers, all mothers seem to share a common thread — the constant struggle to navigate economic pressures and societal expectations while maintaining their identity and simultaneously creating a secure life for their children.

In recognition of Mother’s Day — and in honor of mothers in all walks of life — below are some books that shed light on the varying states of motherhood today.


On Becoming a Teen Mom: Life Before Pregnancy by Mary Patrice Erdmans and Timothy Black

Ironically, and sadly, when teen mothers are defined “as a problem, rather than a people with problems,” policies tend to focus on changing behaviors rather than addressing needs. Offering a fresh perspective on the links between teen births and social inequalities, this book demonstrates how the intersecting hierarchies of gender, race, and class shape the biographies of young mothers.

Hear from the authors about their experience interviewing teenage mothers.



Birthing a Mother: The Surrogate Body and the Pregnant Self by Elly Teman

In this beautifully written and insightful book, Elly Teman shows how surrogates and intended mothers carefully negotiate their cooperative endeavor. Teman traces the processes by which surrogates relinquish any maternal claim to the baby even as intended mothers accomplish a complicated transition to motherhood. Teman’s groundbreaking analysis reveals that as surrogates psychologically and emotionally disengage from the fetus they carry, they develop a profound and lasting bond with the intended mother.




The Fourth Trimester:Understanding, Protecting, and Nurturing an Infant through the First Three Months by Susan Brink

What every new mother needs! A comprehensive, intimate, and much-needed “operation manual” for newborns. Combining the latest scientific findings with real-life stories and experiences, Susan Brink offers well-informed, practical information and the reasons behind her advice so that parents and caretakers can make their own decisions about how to care of a newborn during this crucial period.




Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood before Marriage, With a New Preface by Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas

Why do so many poor American youth continue to have children before they can afford to take care of them? Authors Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas offer an intimate look at what marriage and motherhood mean to low income, single mothers and provides the most extensive on-the-ground study to date of why they put children before marriage despite the daunting challenges they know lie ahead.



Villalobos.MotherloadMotherload: Making It All Better in Insecure Times by Ana Villalobos

Inadvertently, mothers overwhelmingly expect the mothering relationship to “make it all better” for themselves and their children. But often their attempts to create security through mothering backfire, exhausting them and deflecting their focus from other possible sources of security and thereby creating more stress. Pointing to hopeful alternatives, Villalobos shows how more realistic expectations about motherhood lead to greater security in families and, ultimately, bring greater joy to mothering.

Read Ana Villalobos’ thoughts on how social inequality means insecurity for all.



Shadow Mothers: Nannies, Au Pairs, and the Micropolitics of Mothering by Cameron Lynne Macdonald

This book shines new light on an aspect of contemporary motherhood often hidden from view: the need for paid childcare by women returning to the workforce, and the complex bonds mothers forge with the “shadow mothers” they hire. Macdonald illuminates both sides of an unequal and complicated relationship and argues that these conflicts arise from unrealistic ideals about mothering, inflexible career paths and work schedules, and the devaluation of paid care work.