A Clear Path for Women’s Rights as Human Rights

Women's March SFThis past Saturday, across the globe, people of all walks of life marched peacefully to show their solidarity with their partners, children and community for the protection of women’s rights, safety, health, and families. With such momentum after an historical event, many want to ensure that the spirit of the march does not end and that there is a “path from protest to power.” And ideas of what to do now are surfacing, ensuring that those who believe in respect and dignity for all have a clear path of action to continue the cause and ensure a productive end.

We at the UC Press believe the work of addressing society’s core challenges–including persistent inequality–can be accelerated when scholarship assumes its role as an agent of engagement and democracy.

Below are just some of the many titles that attempt to address women’s rights as human rights.

ross-solinger.reproductivejusticeReproductive Rights: An Introduction by Loretta Ross and Rickie Solinger

“Controlling reproduction and the bodies of women seems to be the first step in every hierarchy. That’s why reproductive justice—women having power over our own bodies—is the crucial first step toward any democracy and any justice.” —Gloria Steinem

Read what others are saying about Reproductive Rights.

 

 

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Women’s Empowerment and Global Health: A Twenty-First-Century Agenda edited by Shari Dworkin, Monica Gandhi, Paige Passano

Research was completed with the support of University of California Global Health Institute’s (UCGHI)Center of Expertise (COE) on Women’s Health, Gender, and Empowerment.

Women’s Empowerment and Global Health makes a major contribution toward not only the analysis but also the achievement of global health.”—Kim M. Blankenship, Chair of the Sociology Department and Director of the Center on Health, Risk and Society, American University

 

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In Search of Safety: Confronting Inequality in Women’s Imprisonment by Barbara Owen, James Wells, Joycelyn Pollock

“This book shows the profound neglect and violence women face in the criminal justice system, and the unique ways in which gender compounds the punishment of confinement. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to see justice-involved women regain their human and civil rights in the United States and beyond.”—Piper Kerman, author of Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison

 

 

pomerantz-smartgirlsSmart Girls: Success, School, and the Myth of Post-Feminism by Shauna Pomerantz, Rebecca Raby

Smart Girls is unexplored territory. Pomerantz and Raby have conducted a superbly balanced mix of interviews and analysis for a post-feminist and neoliberal age to help us understand why the stereotype of the ‘smart girl’ holds such sway in our culture and how to put girls back on the political and social agenda.”—Leslie C. Bell, author of Hard to Get: Twenty-Something Women and the Paradox of Sexual Freedom

Read what others are saying about Smart Girls. 

 

 

What do you think the largest challenge will be regarding women’s rights as human rights? And how do you anticipate addressing those challenges in your own community?

 


Anti-Discrimination Legislation: A Report from France

by Marie Mercat-Bruns, author of Discrimination at Work: Comparing European, French, and American Law

9780520283800_mercat-brunsSince the publication of Discrimination at Work, a comparative study and critique of European, French and American anti-discrimination law, France has been the focus of continuous debates on discrimination in and outside of the workplace. In 2016, despite new terrorist attacks and the rising popularity of Marine Le Pen’s nationalist movement, both the burkini ban on Riviera beaches and racial profiling were declared illegal by the French supreme courts (civil and administrative high courts). An important national report came out this past September on the high cost of discriminating in employment in France (Le coût économique des discriminations, Rapport France Stratégie, Sept. 2016). It brought to the forefront a different justification to combat inequality beyond the human rights argument too often ignored: the glass ceiling and the gender wage gap for women and unemployment and wage disparities affecting workers with a sub-Saharan or North African background.

What is in store for the new year? A significant piece of legislation passed in November sets up a class action suit to combat discrimination. Will civil society seize this opportunity to engage in strategic litigation to eradicate systemic discrimination in housing, health care, employment, goods and services, or education ? Probably not right away.

The sources of resistance are twofold. First, the class action à la française has been carefully tailored in employment to avoid significant action by specialized NGOs in the field. Only unions are entitled to introduce a claim against discrimination in employment. Few labor representatives have played a very proactive role in the past to fight against racial and sex discrimination. NGOs can only bring a suit for discrimination in hiring, the hardest to prove. Second, even if the discrimination is proven, the new law requires workers to seek individual remedies for personal harm by engaging subsequent claims in labor courts. Under these circumstances, what is the use of a collective mode of action ? The only redeeming feature of this group action, as it is coined in France, is the possibility for the judge to deliver an injunction to cease discrimination in the future. This allows strategic litigation to have a broader impact and target the structural causes of the discrimination in the company.

The most optimistic civil rights defenders see the new French class action suit, despite its narrow scope, as a first step in raising awareness about systemic discrimination at work. “Incremental change is better than no change at all,” some contend. The next French presidential election will certainly determine in part whether public enforcement of discrimination law is high on the political agenda in a context where “religious neutrality” (which could allow for the banning of religious garments in the workplace, for example) has recently been officially recognized as a legitimate business practice in the new French labor law reform of August 8, 2016.

Discrimination at Work is a Luminos Open Access e-book and available for free download.

 

mercat-bruns_au-photoMarie Mercat-Bruns is Affiliated Professor at Sciences Po Law School and Associate Professor in Labor and Employment Law at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers in Paris. She is a member of the Research Institute LISE CNRS (Codirector of the program Gender, Categories and Policy) and also of the scientific committee of PRESAGE (Sciences Po/OFCE Research and Academic Program on Gender Thinking).

 

 

 


Chasing Che and the New Global Latin America

This post is published in conjunction with the American Historical Association conference in Denver, taking place January 5-8.When sharing this post on social media, please be sure to use the hashtag #AHA17!


The opening of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States and continued changes to current Cuban sanctions is just an example of how Latin American countries can impact our global culture, economy, and politics. Yet the impact is usually not so apparent.

Matthew C. Guttmann and Jeffrey Lesser–editors of Global Latin America, part of the new Global Square Series–introduce how Latin American countries have, for quite some time, been global players.

The puzzle that inspired Global Latin America was, Why did we find Che Guevara’s image everywhere we went in the world? Why was a Latin American revolutionary of the 1950s and 1960s so popular among so many people around the globe in 2016? Why was Che easily the most famous Latin American outside the region? Sure, images of the bearded face and beret were often devoid of deep meaning, but there was his image, and we wanted to make sense of it. Trying to understand global Che led us to the larger meanings of global Latin America. …

Che Guevara image on man's cap, Shanghai, 2013. Photo: Matthew Gutmann.
Che Guevara image on man’s cap, Shanghai, 2013. Photo: Matthew Gutmann.

We are often more familiar with the impact of the world on Latin America than with the impact of Latin America on the world. The three C’s Conquest, Colonialism, and Christianity provide a tortured, if better-known story, about how some parts of the world have exercised control over other parts. … Although the significance of Latin America for the rest of the world is not new or sudden, it is ever more apparent. The impact that Latin America has had in the other direction, even though unmistakable, has never been as familiar a narrative. This volume, like the others in the Global Square series, seeks to remind us that regions are not just victims but also global players.

Latin America in 2016 is home to emerging global powers. In 2016, even despite massive downturns economically, Brazil had the seventh largest economy in the world and Mexico was poised to break into the top ten. Latin America is tightly bound to regions from Asia to Africa, from the Middle East to Europe, through commerce and trade, migration, and the arts. In political and economic terms, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico are world leaders, part of the Group of 20 (G20) countries that have greatly expanded membership beyond the old geopolitical leadership of Europe, Japan, and the United States.

In Realpolitik, Latin American leaders from Argentina’s Carlos Menem to Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez have proposed that they are uniquely able to help to resolve global problems, from conflicts in the Middle East to energy to climate change to participatory democracy. Heavy manufacturing in Latin America is reshaping global auto, weapons, and airplane industries. Environmental measures in the enormous Amazon region, positive and negative, are central to global discussions of climate change. Truth commissions formed to document the abuses of past dictatorships in Latin America have become vital reference points for similar efforts from South Africa to Rwanda to Cambodia. …

GutmannLesser.GlobalLatinAmericaGlobal Latin America is for students, business leaders, policy makers, and global travelers interested in better understanding Latin America’s deep entanglements with and influence on our interdependent world. Chapters by academics, politicians, activists, journalists, scientists, and artists shine light on Latin American history, society, and culture. For those who want to appreciate the diversity and global relevance of Latin America in the twenty-first century, this volume collects some of the top scholarship and social analysis about global Latin America today and historically.

 


The 10 Most Adopted Titles for Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

Are you looking for new titles for your Introduction to Cultural Anthropology courses? Let us help you choose. Scroll down to read more about our top 10 most adopted books, and click on each title to quickly and easily request an exam copy. You can review our exam copy policy here.

We are here to help! If you have any questions about these or other titles, feel free to email us.

 

9780520275140Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States by Seth Holmes

Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies provides an intimate examination of the everyday lives and suffering of Mexican migrants in our contemporary food system. An anthropologist and MD in the mold of Paul Farmer and Didier Fassin, Holmes shows how market forces, anti-immigrant sentiment, and racism undermine health and health care. This “embodied anthropology” deepens our theoretical understanding of the ways in which social inequalities and suffering come to be perceived as normal and natural in society and in health care.

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Debunking Media Myths, Those Prominent Cases of Fake News

by W. Joseph Campbell, author of Getting It Wrong: Debunking the Greatest Myths in American Journalism

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The mainstream media’s recent angst and hand-wringing about a surge of “fake news” has tended to ignore that the media themselves have often been purveyors of bogus tales and dubious interpretations.

“Fake news” has plenty of antecedents in mainstream media — several cases of which are documented in my book, Getting It Wrong, a new, expanded edition of which was published recently.

The book examines and debunks media-driven myths, which are well-known stories about and/or by the news media that are widely believed and often retold but which, under scrutiny, dissolve as false or wildly exaggerated. Think of them as prominent cases of “fake news” that have masqueraded as a fact for years. Decades, even.

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Killing Your Neighbors

by Jon Holtzman, author of Killing Your Neighbors: Friendship and Violence in Northern Kenya and Beyond

9780520291928How do we make sense of the horrific things people do to one another? And how do we reconcile that those who do these horrific things are often, in many ways, actually wonderful people?

For many of us our first passion for anthropology came from an introductory class that led us to understand and appreciate that the lives and the worldviews of people around the globe differ radically from what in our upbringing we took for granted. We learned to celebrate human cultural diversity. Advancing in our profession, however, we are increasingly drawn to understanding how, through multiple schisms, humans exercise power over one another in ways that can be quite awful. As ethnographers, our first field experiences can similarly be revelatory, an immersive process where we learn and accept a radically different life and way of thinking. Later we realize that our “adopted” culture’s worldviews are no less contingent than those of our own, a realization that can turn our anthropological imagination towards a more misanthropic one. Rather than avoiding judgments because all cultures are equally valid, perhaps we should judge each and every one of them–nobody comes out looking good?

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Praying and Preying

by Aparecida Vilaça, author of Praying and Preying: Christianity in Indigenous Amazonia

This guest post is published in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association conference in Minneapolis. Check back regularly for new posts through the end of the conference on November 20th.

UC Press is proud to be part of the AAUP’s fifth annual University Press Week. Check out our blog and social media channels through Nov. 19th (plus follow hashtags #ReadUp #UPWeek), and learn how we, along with 40 of our scholarly press colleagues, work diligently to publish vital works benefitting educational, specialized research, and general interest communities.

9780520289147In 1986, when I arrived for the first time, the Negro river village, in the Brazilian state of Rondônia, situated between 6 and 20 hours by boat from the city of Guajará-Mirim (depending on outboard motor size and river level), was inhabited by 350 agriculturists, hunters and gatherers with little access to manufactured goods. Although a health worker, a teacher, an agent of the National Indian Foundation and a missionary couple from the New Tribes Mission were also living among them, they seemed to be living a fairly, we could say, traditional life. They told me that they had been Christians throughout the 1970s, but had ‘abandoned God’ at the start of the 1980s. At the time four shamans were active there, curing people attacked by animal spirits and travelling to the subaquatic world where the dead lived.

This situation was transformed at the turn of the century when a revival occurred, accompanied by a new wave of conversions. According to some, the principal reason for the collective conversion was the fear that the world would end because of the USA’s response to the September 11th attacks, an event the Wari’ had been able to watch on the community television. When I arrived in January 2002, I was surprised by the changes. A house had been transformed into a church where various services were held each week. People came up to ask me whether the war had already reached Rio de Janeiro, my home town, and were eager for international news of the conflict. They said that if the end of the world caught them unprepared, still non-Christians, they would go directly to hell where they would spend eternity roasting like game animals.

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On Shopping Malls and the Politics of Access

by Arlene Davila, author of El Mall: The Spatial and Class Politics of Shopping Malls in Latin America

This guest post is published in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association conference in Minneapolis. Check back regularly for new posts through the end of the conference on November 20th.

UC Press is proud to be part of the AAUP’s fifth annual University Press Week. Check out our blog and social media channels through Nov. 19th (plus follow hashtags #ReadUp #UPWeek), and learn how we, along with 40 of our scholarly press colleagues, work diligently to publish vital works benefitting educational, specialized research, and general interest communities.

9780520286856Since the publication of El Mall, I have been asked what turned me to examining shopping malls and shopping cultures in Latin America, a question that is always loaded with significance.  It often assumes that shopping and shopping malls are irrelevant subjects of study for anthropologists and scholars, or that consumer culture is a vain or superfluous topic, or even that Latin Americans are exempt from the dreams and pulls of global consumer culture. I end these conversations thinking that all the talk around globalization, neoliberalism, mediated lives and materiality notwithstanding anthropologists and interdisciplinary scholars have not fully come to terms with the powerful pull of consumption and consumer cultures throughout the world and with the need to fully engage these topics in our research.

In the twenty or so years that I’ve been researching and writing about consumer culture and the political economy of culture I’ve found that cultural studies on these subjects still focuses overwhelmingly on the United States and Europe, while anthropologist are still shy to take on subjects that would compromise the “authenticity” of their anthropological field sites or topics of research.  Why study shopping malls, or fashion, or commercial media when these cultural phenomena seem indistinguishable from our cozy experiences in our very own consumer landscapes?-goes the thinking.  The fact is that I myself was not immune to these concerns when I embarked on this study.  I wrote about shopping malls not because I had purposefully set out to do so, but because I found myself in the “belly of the beast” – sharing my previous work on Puerto Rican consumer culture in a trade organization meeting of the International Council of Shopping Centers in Medellin – invited by a former interviewee.  It was he who felt I needed to write about shopping mall cultures and who despite my warnings that whatever I wrote would be from a critical perspective –opened my eyes to the booming world of shopping malls developers, contractors, pundits and more.  Soon I learned that this impenetrable business that seemed to materialize all the workings of neoliberal capitalism and remained so intimidating in its scope and reach was ripe for analysis.

Those of use who strive to study up and expose the political economy of institutions, industries and how capitalism works know full well that access is not always easy to get.  Corporate culture is all about confidentiality agreements, closed door meetings, proprietary research, and inaccessibly priced meetings and conferences that keep many of us at bay from knocking at the doors of powerful stakeholders of capitalism.  But with access comes responsibility to follow up and crack up the worlds of industry and neoliberal capitalism with fine tuned ethnographic research.  The result is a book that shows the why and how shopping malls are one of the most powerful engines of social transformations in Latin America, shaping how cities are organized and even how local fashionistas define class and identities on their daily lives.  Most humbly, the result is a reminder of the same lesson I learned when writing Latinos Inc. years earlier:  That capitalism is made up of relationships and that studying up is more necessary than ever in these age of rapid neoliberalization.  Once again, the “mundane” yet shining space of consumer culture surpassed my own expectations of what questions could be asked, and what issues were most relevant within this industry, from urban design to the topic of informal economies and even fast fashion.  In all, I’m very glad I heard the call the mall, and just delved in!

When sharing on social media, please be sure to use the #AAA2016 hashtag!


Arlene Dávila is Professor of Anthropology and Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. She is the author of numerous books, including Barrio Dreams and Latinos Inc..


Plastic Reason

by Tobias Rees, author of Plastic Reason: An Anthropology of Brain Science in Embryogenetic Terms

This guest post is published in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association conference in Minneapolis. Check back regularly for new posts through the end of the conference on November 20th.

UC Press is proud to be part of the AAUP’s fifth annual University Press Week. Check out our blog and social media channels through Nov. 19th (plus follow hashtags #ReadUp #UPWeek), and learn how we, along with 40 of our scholarly press colleagues, work diligently to publish vital works benefitting educational, specialized research, and general interest communities.

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I imagine writing a reply to a book review that has never been written. I imagine the review to be kind and generous. Funny perhaps. It summarizes Plastic Reason elegantly and offers brief summaries of each chapter. And yet, despite its elegance, the review gets everything wrong about my book –– like all book reviews, always.

Or not wrong, no, that isn’t the right word. It gets nothing wrong. It is just that, well, it misses everything I cared about while writing my text.

True, Plastic Reason is about the discovery that some embryogenetic growth processes –– from the sprouting of axons to the birth of new neurons –– occur in the adult brain and thereby render it plastic. I trace, on many pages, how plasticity research emerged and try to show how, in which precise ways –– conceptually, experimentally, ethically –– it amounts to a radical rupture from the neurochemical conception of the brain that has dominated since World War II.

But all of this tracing is just pretext. It is not at all, if you ask me, what the book is about. And that someone could seriously suggest that Plastic Reason is reducible to a mere recounting of the discovery of cerebral plasticity leaves me not only disappointed; it leaves me heartbroken.

But what, then, is Plastic Reason about?

To begin with, it is not about science. Nor about the brain. I am not so much interested in science. Nor in the brain. What intrigued me, instead, was poetry. It is not that I think I am a poet. What I mean instead is the effort, akin to poetry, of capturing something of the intense turmoil provoked by the unanticipated finding of plasticity –– the falling apart of certainty, the loss of truth, the gain of unstable possibilities.

More specifically, I found myself intrigued by the idea that at the center of scientific practice is an irreducible uncertainty.

Imagine that every effort to come to terms with experiments –– the photos, the gels, the the blots, the graphs, the many hours of discussions at the bench –– were all contingent on unarticulated conceptual presuppositions. On so many of them that they could never be all discovered and cleared. The consequence would be an irreducible instability.

I fell in love with just this instability. And I was thrilled –– frenzy –– when I recognized that I shared this love with the men and women who introduced me to the art of experimentation. I learned that labs are not about the production of truth. Or maybe they are but this is not what matters to the experimenter, at least not those I got to know. No, what matters in experimentation is the cultivation of uncertainty. What matters is the art of making uncertainty productive –– of letting it derail yet another set up, of opening yet another, unforeseen horizon.

Sure, I documented how plasticity disrupted the conception of the brain as a fixed, neurochemical machine. But what interested me in this documentation of a rupture was the possibility of showing that it has to be understood as the result of poetry: of the the art of imaging that things could be otherwise as we had thought, of the effort of capturing snapshots of the growth of form, of rendering the brain visible as a form in ceaseless movement.

What intrigued me as well was that the work on the brain, since roughly 1800, was work on the human. Of course, what the brain has changed many times over since Franz Joseph Gall first established the brain as organ of the human. But this is exactly why I got fascinated: Built-into the correlation between brain and human is the exact same instability (or is it a different one?) as in experimentation.

Could I render visible the daily work on plasticity as experimental philosophy –– or poetry –– of the human? As ethical work of a self on a self? In conversation with friends (and mice and fish)? Conducted as an end in itself?

How could a reader not see that even though I work on the terrain of STS, I am not an STS scholar? How could she miss that my ambition has been to render visible, with the tools of the poetic and philosophically inclined fieldworker, the artistic and anthropological of the contemporary?

But I am running out of words. I only had 500 (and wrote 726).

When sharing on social media, please be sure to use the #AAA2016 hashtag!


unnamedTobias Rees is Associate Professor of Anthropology with a dual appointment in the Department of Social Studies of Medicine at McGill University.


Scale: Discourse and Dimensions of Social Life

by E. Summerson Carr and Michael Lempert, co-editors of Scale: Discourse and Dimensions of Social Life

This guest post is published in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association conference in Minneapolis. Check back regularly for new posts through the end of the conference on November 20th.

UC Press is proud to be part of the AAUP’s fifth annual University Press Week. Check out our blog and social media channels through Nov. 19th (plus follow hashtags #ReadUp #UPWeek), and learn how we, along with 40 of our scholarly press colleagues, work diligently to publish vital works benefitting educational, specialized research, and general interest communities.

A free ebook version of this title is available through Luminos, University of California Press’s Open Access publishing program for monographs. Visit www.luminosoa.org to learn more.

9780520291799When Melville’s narrator, Ishmael, encounters the skeletal remains of a beached whale, he begins to make what he characterizes as “a simple, plain statement” that relays the creature’s enormity. Not even two sentences into his description, Ishmael finds that even a whale must be made big. To do so, Ishmael rattles off scalar descriptors. He starts with various quantifications of the whale, detailing its estimated length, height, and circumference, as well as its mass, both in terms of its fleshy past as well as its skeletal present.

Ishmael’s description also betrays that scaling can never be accomplished through quantification alone. He employs an array of scalar metaphors: the whale is like a Gothic cathedral, it’s as big as a village, one thousand inhabitants could fit within its frame, the whale is the Leviathan. It is only through this intricate interscalar description that Ishmael can be sure—and perhaps not even then that landsmen can properly see the awesome stuff of the seafarer’s world.

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