The American Studies Now series refuses the distinction between politics and culture—focusing on historical cultures of power and protest on the one hand, or the political importance of cultural practices on the other. These short, timely books focus on the issues that matter today and are designed to be used in the classroom.
Focused on resistance, protest, and solidarity, the below titles focus on important movements at the center of public conversation.
Resistance is everywhere, but everywhere a surprise, especially when the agents of struggle are the colonized, the enslaved, the wretched of the earth. Anticolonial revolts and slave rebellions have often been described by those in power as “eruptions”—volcanic shocks to a system that does not, cannot, see them coming. In Anticolonial Eruptions, Geo Maher diagnoses a paradoxical weakness built right into the foundations of white supremacist power, a colonial blind spot that grows as domination seems more complete.
The State’s Indigenous Terrorist
by Joanne Barker
In Red Scare, Joanne Barker shows how US and Canadian leaders leverage the fear-driven discourses of terrorism to allow for extreme responses to Indigenous activists, framing them as threats to social stability and national security. Indigenous criticisms of state policy, resource extraction and contamination, intense surveillance, and neoliberal values are met with outsized and shocking measures of militarized policing, environmental harm, and sexual violence. Red Scare provides students and readers with a concise and thorough survey of these movements and their links to broader organizing; the common threads of historical violence against Indigenous people; and the relevant alternatives we can find in Indigenous forms of governance and relationality.
The Academy and Justice for Palestine
by Sunaina Maira
The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) has expanded rapidly though controversially in the United States. In this short essential book, Sunaina Maira situates the academic boycott in the broader history of boycotts in the United States as well as in Palestine and shows how it has evolved into a transnational social movement that has spurred profound intellectual and political shifts. It explores the movement’s implications for antiracist, feminist, queer, and academic labor organizing and examines the boycott in the context of debates about Palestine, Zionism, race, rights-based politics, academic freedom, decolonization, and neoliberal capitalism.
“A powerful — and personal — account of the movement and its players.”—The Washington Post
“This perceptive resource on radical black liberation movements in the 21st century can inform anyone wanting to better understand . . . how to make social change.”—Publishers Weekly
In Making All Black Lives Matter, award-winning historian and longtime activist Barbara Ransby outlines the scope and genealogy of this movement, documenting its roots in Black feminist politics and situating it squarely in a Black radical tradition, one that is anticapitalist, internationalist, and focused on some of the most marginalized members of the Black community. From the perspective of a participant-observer, Ransby maps the movement, profiles many of its lesser-known leaders, measures its impact, outlines its challenges, and looks toward its future.
The University and Student Protests
by Roderick A. Ferguson
“Puts campus activism in a radical historic context.”—New York Review of Books
In We Demand, Roderick A. Ferguson demonstrates that less than fifty years since this pivotal shift in the academy, the university is moving away from “the people” in all their diversity. Today the university is refortifying its commitment to the defense of the status quo off campus and the regulation of students, faculty, and staff on campus. The progressive forms of knowledge that the student-led movements demanded and helped to produce are being attacked on every front. Not only is this a reactionary move against the social advances since the ’60s and ’70s—it is part of the larger threat of anti-intellectualism in the United States.
The Fifty-Year Rebellion
How the U.S. Political Crisis Began in Detroit
by Scott Kurashige
The corporate architects of Detroit’s restructuring have championed the creation of a “business-friendly” city, where billionaire developers are subsidized to privatize and gentrify Downtown, while working-class residents are being squeezed out by rampant housing evictions, school closures, water shutoffs, toxic pollution, and militarized policing. Grassroots organizers, however, have transformed Detroit into an international model for survival, resistance, and solidarity through the creation of urban farms, freedom schools, and self-governing communities.