“Haven’t we been here before?”: Erica Kohl-Arenas on Philanthropy, Poverty, and the Ford Foundation

The Self-Help Myth: How Philanthropy Fails to Alleviate Poverty
The Self-Help Myth: How Philanthropy Fails to Alleviate Poverty

Erica Kohl-Arenas, author of the forthcoming The Self-Help Myth: How Philanthropy Fails to Alleviate Poverty, places the Ford Foundation under the microscope on this recent article on OpenDemocracy.

“Past philanthropic efforts to address inequality have favored individualistic approaches over programs that directly confront entrenched systems of power, failing to advance any real structural change as a result,” she says of the Foundation’s new mission– to attack inequality at its roots. “Why should Ford’s new mission be any different?”

Through the lens of a provocative set of case studies, The Self-Help Myth reveals how philanthropy maintains systems of inequality by attracting attention to the “behavior” of poor people while shifting the focus away from structural inequities and relationships of power that produce poverty.

"Along with many other American foundations, they have failed to deliver on their promises at many previous points in recent history."
“Along with many other American foundations, they have failed to deliver on their promises at many previous points in recent history.”

Kohl-Arenas uses that very same method of scrutiny in her article, applying it to not only the Ford Foundation, but to other philanthropists, as examples of this phenomenon:

“American philanthropists from Andrew Carnegie to Paul Ylvisaker have promoted the tradition of individualized ‘racial uplift’ or ‘self-help’ that calls for assimilation, upward mobility, and ‘social responsibility’ among poor families and neighborhoods that are often pathologized.” In short, according to her research, the moral tenets upheld in modern philanthropy grow fuzzy; they promote professional and institutional behaviors that leave deeper relationships of poverty and inequality untouched. She closes with a challenge: “Can the Ford Foundation attack its own power and privilege in order to put people back in the driving seat of social change? … Are foundations brave enough to accept this task?”

Erica Kohl-Arenas is Assistant Professor at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School in New York. The Self-Help Myth will be available later this year.

Decoding Albanian Organized Crime wins the DIC / ASC 2015 Outstanding Book Award

We’re pleased to announce that Jana Arsovska’s book, Decoding Albanian Organized Crime: Culture, Politics, and Globalization, is the winner of the 2015 Outstanding Book Award from the Division on International Criminology of the American Society of Criminology.

Decoding Albanian Organized Crime: Culture, Politics, and Globalization
Decoding Albanian Organized Crime: Culture, Politics, and Globalization

The Outstanding Book Award is awarded based upon the criteria of quality of writing, use of theory and prior literature, research and methodology, and a book’s  contribution and originality in international or comparative crime or justice. Based on more than a decade of research, including interviews with victims, offenders, and law enforcement across ten countries, as well as court files and confidential intelligence reports, Decoding Albanian Organized Crime presents a comprehensive overview of the causes, codes of conduct, activities, migration, and structure of Albanian organized crime groups in the Balkans, Western Europe, and the United States.

The award will be presented at the ASC Meetings, which will be held in Washington, DC, this November.

Congratulations, Jana!

Award-Winning UC Press Authors at the AFHVS/ASFS Annual Meeting

Last month, two UC Press authors received major prizes at the annual joint meeting of the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS) and the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society (AFHVS). (Learn more about this year’s ASFS/AFHVS Conference on the official website.)

Julie Guthman (right) receives the AFHVS Excellence in Research Award.
Julie Guthman (right) receives the AFHVS Excellence in Research Award.

Julie Guthman, author of Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism and Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California, received the 2015 Excellence in Research Award from AFHVS.

This prize recognizes members of the AFHVS who have made outstanding contributions to research in the fields of agriculture, food, and human values. Guthman’s work, analyzing of both the American “obesity epidemic” and the realities of organic farming, is groundbreaking: truly deserving of this honor.

Amy Bentley with husband Brett Gary at the James Beard Awards.
Amy Bentley with husband Brett Gary at the James Beard Awards.
Inventing Baby Food: Taste, Health, and the Industrialization of the American Diet
Inventing Baby Food: Taste, Health, and the Industrialization of the American Diet

Amy Bentley’s Inventing Baby Food also received the 2015 ASFS Book Award. This award recognizes exemplary research, insightful theory, and the most significant and novel contributions to food scholarship, particularly books which suggest new questions and avenues of research for the scholarship of food.

Bentley joins other UC Press authors in this honor: since 2010, five UC Press titles have received the award, including Margaret Gray’s Labor and the Locavore in 2014. Bentley’s book is certainly worthy of this recognition: her history of baby food and American consumption is fresh, innovative, and informative. Inventing Baby Food was also a 2015 James Beard Award finalist in the scholarship and reference category.

It’s a pleasure to share this wonderful news, and we are proud to have published with both authors! Congratulations!

“The Best I Have Read”: A Mental Health Professional on Listening to Killers

James Garbarino’s Listening to Killers grants readers an inside look into two decades of murder suspects, and his in-depth account, rather than showing these individuals as singular cases, paints a more complicated picture that mental health professionals are keen for the public to recognize.

In a recent review, Joshua Eudowe praised Garbarino’s work: “[Garbarino’s] knowledge, compassion, insight, and unmatched experience provide us with an amazing opportunity to learn the path that lead children to violence. Listening to Killers, his most recent book, is the best I have read.”


Joshua Eudowe has served in emergency services for over 16 years, having provided psychotherapy to young victims and witnesses of extreme violence and psychoanalytic/behavioral therapy to young adult patients in Connecticut’s State psychiatric hospital Young Adult Services unit. He is completing his doctoral studies in clinical and forensic psychology at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology, with an emphasis in forensics, particularly in mental disorders induced organically or through trauma. He also specializes in the behavioral precursors to violent action.

Like Garbarino, Eudowe notes that broader social and cultural issues can create toxic environments and mentalities for children, especially young victims of trauma. Sometimes, this is enough to drive a youth from innocence to violence.

“For those of us in the field of mental health, law enforcement, and education,” says Eudowe, “it is our role to understand where these behaviors originate in order to be more effective in the delivery of our respective services. But society has a tremendous responsibility that often gets overlooked or ignored. . . society must learn to identify its own contribution to the emotional damage and effect on how these children become killers.”

See the full text on the eA Risk Management Group’s blog.

Whose Child Am I? author interviewed on WAMU 88.5

Susan TerrioSusan Terrio, Professor of Anthropology at Georgetown University and author of the recently released Whose Child Am I?: Unaccompanied, Undocumented Children in U.S. Immigration Custody, appeared on WAMU 88.5 American University Radio. In her book, Terrio delves deeper into the workings of this vast, yet rarely explored system: “What were their motivations for leaving their home country? What happened to them on the journey? What happened to them crossing the border? Who did they belong to? What were their family stories? And who has the ultimate responsibility for them?”

To the full interview and read the full text of the article, follow the link to WAMU 88.5’s website.

Whose Child Am I?: Unaccompanied, Undocumented Children in U.S. Immigration Custody
Whose Child Am I?: Unaccompanied, Undocumented Children in U.S. Immigration Custody

Terrio, speaking with WAMU’s Armando Trull, says of the closed, prison-like organization of these detention centers:

“[The facilities] are institutionalized settings that are organized by security level on a penal model. There are controlled entry and exits, there is monitored movement within the premises, there are stipulated line of sight checks, there is camera surveillance, there is constant supervision.”

“And once the kids go into these facilities, they don’t leave except for appearances in court proceedings and occasional mental and medical health appointments outside. That means that they go to school inside, they play sports within fenced areas. To insist that this system, because it involves civil violations in an administrative court proceeding is not incarceration I think is a fiction that can no longer be sustained.”

Concluding, Terrio argues, “… there is no humane way to incarcerate families and children. It should not be a first response; it should be a last resort.”

Love, Money, and HIV: winner of the 2015 ASA Sex and Gender Section Distinguished Book Award

We’re pleased to announce that Sanyu Mojola’s book, Love, Money, and HIV: Becoming a Modern African Woman in the Age of AIDS, is the winner of the 2015 American Sociological Association Sex and Gender Section Distinguished Book Award.


The Distinguished Book Award recognizes books that are “on the cutting edge of sociological inquiry” within their contributions to the field of sex and gender studies. Love, Money, and HIV elucidates and complicates questions of love and sexuality in the lives of modern women living in developing countries, seen through the lens of the sub-Saharan AIDS epidemic. Engaging as well as compassionate, Sanyu Mojola’s work sheds new light on gender, sexuality, and health in Africa.

This award will be officially presented at ASA’s annual meeting, which will be held in Chicago, Illinois this August.

Congratulations, Sanyu!

Moral Wages wins ASA’s 2015 Outstanding Recent Contribution in Social Psychology Award


Moral Wages: The Emotional Dilemmas of Victim Advocacy and Counseling is the winner of the 2015 Outstanding Recent Contribution in Social Psychology Award, given by the Social Psychology Section of the American Sociological Association.

Kenneth Kolb is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Furman University.
Kenneth Kolb is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Furman University.

Based upon a year of fieldwork, Kenneth Kolb’s book explores the world of domestic violence advocacy work. How are victim advocates and counselors emotionally compensated for the demanding nature of their jobs, and furthermore, how do outside factors affect these “moral wages”? Moral Wages documents the influence of government bureaucracy and waning resources upon these emotional benefits, as well as the role of gender inequality even in the predominantly female field of victim advocacy.

This prize will be awarded at the 2015 ASA Meeting, which will be held this summer. Our congratulations to Kenneth Kolb!

Good Catholics wins the 2015 IPPY Awards


We’re pleased to announce that Patricia Miller’s book, Good Catholics: The Battle over Abortion in the Catholic Church, is a Gold Medalist in the 2015 IPPY Awards for Women’s Issues. The IPPY Awards are presented by the Independent Publishers Book Association to recognize excellence in independent book publishing.

Patricia Miller is a Washington, D.C.–based journalist and editor who has written extensively about the intersection of politics, sex, and religion. She was the editor of Conscience magazine, the leading journal of pro-choice Catholic thought, and was the editor in chief of the daily health care briefings for National Journal.
Patricia Miller is a Washington, D.C.–based journalist and editor who has written extensively about the intersection of politics, sex, and religion.

Good Catholics recounts the dramatic but largely untold history of protest and persecution in the pro-choice debate within the Catholic Church. The book follows the nearly fifty-year struggle to establish the moral legitimacy of pro-choice Catholics, also illustrating the profound influence that the conflict has had on the church itself as well as upon the very fabric of U.S. politics.

Our congratulations to Patti!

Kitty Calavita wins the LSA Kalven Award

Kitty Calavita, co-author of Appealing to Justice: Prisoner Grievances, Rights, and Carceral Logic, will receive the Law and Society Association’s Harry J. Kalven, Jr. Award at next week’s LSA Annual Meeting. The LSA recognizes a scholar’s body of work with The Harry J. Kalven, Jr. Award, based upon “empirical scholarship that has contributed most effectively to the advancement of research in law and society.”

Quoting extensively from their interviews with prisoners and officials, the authors give voice to those who are almost never heard from.
“Quoting extensively from their interviews with prisoners and officials, the authors give voice to those who are almost never heard from.”

Kitty Calavita primarily receives this honor for her outstanding scholarship on immigration policy across multiple countries and time periods. The Kalven Award also recognizes her “subtle and valuable form of sociolegal exploration” in the pages of her latest book:

Appealing to Justice is a rich account of prisoner appeals that shows how inmates make extensive use of their right to appeal even though they rarely achieve the outcomes they seek. Through creative analysis of the narratives of grievances, Calavita and Jenness give voice to prisoners and challenge much conventional wisdom on disputing.”

“As Calavita shows through a fine body of work, law as it is enforced on the ground is often the result of agents, agitators and structures that pull in conflicting directions – teaching us all that law marks conflict with contradiction.”

Visit the LSA’s website to read the official award announcement. This award will be presented at the LSA Annual Meeting Association Luncheon and Award Ceremony in Seattle on Saturday, May 30 at noon.

We’re honored to have published with Kitty Calavita, and we offer her our congratulations for an award well-deserved!

Despite expanding marriage rights, protection from employment discrimination continues to elude most LGBT Americans

This guest post by author Catherine Connell, School’s Out: Gay and Lesbian Teachers in the Classroom, considers recent developments protecting LGBT employees from discrimination.

Connell_SchoolsOut_Author Photo
Catherine Connell

With all the exciting recent news regarding changes to the legality of same-sex marriage, it can be easy to forget about other legal rights lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans are still struggling to secure, including the right to employment. Since 1974, legislators and LGBT policy advocates have tried—and thus far, failed—to pass federal nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sexual identity and gender expression[1]. In April 2013, the reality of employment safeguards for LGBTs seemed just within grasp, when a transgender-inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed the US Senate. Unfortunately, the Republican House Majority leadership prevented the bill from coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives. Even worse, recent changes regarding religious exemptions for enforcing LGBT rights ordinances further threaten the patchwork of employment protections that do exist.

Now, two years later, legislators are expected to introduce a new version of ENDA sometime this month. This will be the eleventh time this bill has been introduced into Congress; until it is passed, it’s up to states and local government to provide nondiscrimination protections for their LGBT workers. At the time of this writing, one can be legally fired on the basis of sexual identity and/or gender expression in more than half of the United States.

In 2008, I interviewed gay and lesbian teachers in California, a state with strong nondiscrimination policies for LGBT workers, and in Texas, a state with only a handful of county or municipal laws that protect them. I focused my research on teachers because they are among the most vulnerable of LGBT workers. While this research focused specifically on gays and lesbians, its findings are also relevant for bisexual and especially transgender workers, who face similar—if not markedly more hostile—working conditions.

school's out
School’s Out: Gay and Lesbian Teachers in the Classroom

As I discuss in my book, School’s Out: Gay and Lesbian Teachers in the Classroom, the policy environment was a crucial factor in gay and lesbian teachers’ decision-making processes about whether and how to come out on the job. Also important were the levels of gay-friendliness in their individual schools—some schools in California could be incredibly hostile environments for gay and lesbian teachers despite a supportive policy context, just as some schools in Texas could be remarkably welcoming. Gender and race mattered, too—gender nonconforming teachers and teachers of color had to contend with more difficult coming out environments than others. That said, the differences between gay and lesbian teachers who do have sexuality nondiscrimination protections and those who don’t are striking. One teacher told me he moved to California specifically for its protections for LGBT teachers, while a Texas teacher recounted how the very public firings of an unmarried pregnant teacher and a gay teacher in her district convinced her not to disclose her sexuality to even her closest colleagues. Clearly, federal legislation like ENDA is sorely needed to help teachers feel safe at work.

Still, passing the legislation is only the first step. I also found that many teachers in both states were unaware of the protections (or lack thereof) available to them. Several teachers in California did not know about the statewide policies that prohibited their employers and coworkers from sexual identity discrimination. In Texas, more than half the teachers I interviewed were unclear on the local and statewide policy environment regarding LGBT employment. Very few knew about the existence of county or municipal protections in cities like Austin, Houston, and Forth Worth, including the teachers who worked in those areas. For example, when I asked one teacher if she knew about her local level protections, she replied, “No, I haven’t got a clue. I haven’t got a clue. I have no idea whether or not I could be fired outright by the school district for being gay.” She was not alone in her lack of awareness: more than half of the teachers who were covered at the city, county, and/or district level in Texas didn’t know about it. More visible and expansive legislation is crucial to the protection of LGBT workers—until they are informed about their legal rights, any such protections are virtually useless.

Of course, even teachers who worked in gay-friendly legal contexts and who knew their rights could be wary of disclosing their sexual identity at school. As one teacher put it, “Even in the hiring paperwork that I signed, it says they don’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. But it’s just one of those things that—just because it says it, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t find other reasons, you know? So I still watch it.” Another agreed, “[the nondiscrimination law] could be overturned…or [they could] look the other way. I think principals wouldn’t support you, the administration wouldn’t support you.” While nondiscrimination policy can empower some teachers, it’s clear that more work must be done to help gay and lesbian teachers and by extension, LGBT workers more generally, feel truly protected. Still, extending employment nondiscrimination policy to include all LGBTs across the US is a crucial first step toward creating more safe and secure working conditions for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens.


Catherine Connell is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Boston University.


[1] Only some of the many employment nondiscrimination bills introduced since 1974 have included protection on the basis of gender expression, which protects transgender and gender nonconforming employees.