Why the Food Movement Should Focus on Trade Organizations

This guest post is published around the American Society for Environmental History conference in Riverside, occurring March 14-18, 2018. #ASEH2018

by Anna Zeide, author of Canned: The Rise and Fall of Consumer Confidence in the American Food Industry

In the last six months, as reported by Politico and NPR, many major food companies—such as Campbell Soup, Mars, Tyson, Hershey’s, Cargill—have bowed out of the ranks of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, signaling a huge shift in how the food industry does business. The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is the sort of body that is way more important on the production side than most consumers are aware of. You may not have heard of it, but it has heard of you. That is, the GMA works endlessly behind the scenes to influence consumer choices and to get all of us to buy more processed food. Much of the power of the food industry comes from its ability to band together to influence legislation, resist regulation, and set agendas that benefit a broad range of companies. For the past decade, and, in a different form, for more than a century, it has been the GMA that has been that consolidated voice of power.

The GMA was born in 2007, when the similarly-named Grocery Manufacturers of America joined with the Food Products Association to create an unprecedented force in the world of food. Before that, though, both groups had existed as independent organizations for a full century beforehand. Both trace their origins to those heady days after the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906, when industrial manufacturers recognized a need for more formal organization in the face of federal intervention in food production. The Grocery Manufacturers of America formed in 1908 under that same name, which they carried proudly until the 2007 merger. The Food Products Association, however, began under a different time, back in 1907: the National Canners Association. As I write in my new book, Canned: The Rise and Fall of Consumer Confidence in the American Food Industry, it is with this body of organized canners where the broader story of industrial food really begins.

From its inception, the National Canners Association (NCA) was a pioneer in many of the foundational elements of the modern food industry. The NCA formed among the earliest scientific research laboratories in the food industry in 1913, investigating agricultural production, bacterial contamination, and food safety outbreaks. In so doing, they helped seal the marriage between science and food industry. Later, in 1927, they formally established the NCA Publicity Bureau, which devoted itself to marketing and advertising canned products to a sometimes-reluctant consuming public. The Publicity Bureau commissioned pro-canning works from celebrity chefs, lobbied newspapers to retract stories that blamed canned foods for cases of food poisoning, and published free promotional cookbooks to encourage housewives to embrace canned foods. Beginning as early as the 1930s, the NCA began to get more directly involved in using its leverage to resist government regulation, and to lobby the federal government for more industry-friendly policies. These strategies intensified in the 1970s, culminating in a name change to the National Food Processors Association in 1978 (and later to the Food Products Association in 2005).

By the time this body became the Grocery Manufacturers Association in 2007, it was a behemoth, with more than 300 member-companies, representing nearly all the major brand names in America.

Throughout all of it, though, even as the NCA grew in reach and strength, it always remained particular attuned to and concerned about one particular group: its consumers. The desire to win over consumers has driven this large trade organization from the very beginning.

The defection of some of GMA’s largest members in recent months, then, should not be dismissed as insider politics without larger ramifications for consumers or for the food movement. No, the weakening of this group that has been the foundation of the food industry for over a century means that there is significant space for consumers to voice their concerns even more forcefully. Throughout its history, it has been in moments of weakness that the food industry has been most willing to change its ways in response to consumer concern.

In this moment we must recognize and take advantage of these shifting sands of the industry’s fortune to make our calls for healthier food and a more transparent food system heard.

Anna Zeide is Assistant Professor of Professional Practice at Oklahoma State University, where her research, teaching, and community activism focus on food and food systems.

Spielberg’s Film The Post : Epic Tale of Press Freedoms Prevailing Over Government Censorship

Permission to reprint this blog post is granted by Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University.

By David Rudenstine, author of The Day the Presses Stopped: A History of the Pentagon Papers Case

Not many Hollywood films are made immediately in response to the outcome of a presidential election.  But that is what Steven Spielberg and Amy Pascal have done. They made the film The Post in response to President Donald Trump’s intense, repetitive, and vicious attacks on the legitimacy of the American press.

Indeed, perhaps unique in modern American political history, Trump has used the powerful pulpit of the presidency to insult, denigrate, and bully reporters. He has done so in an effort to convince the American public that reports from such media institutions as The New York TimesThe Washington PostCNNMSNBC are nothing more than “fake news” to which the public must turn both a deaf ear and a blind eye.

In savaging the American press, Trump wants to turn Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black’s magisterial vision of the press upside down. Black wrote that the purpose of the press was “to serve the governed, not the governors,” and that it had to be protected from government censorship so that “it could bare the secrets of government,” “inform the people,” and “expose deception in government.” For Black, a free press was mandatory if it were “to fulfill its essential role in our democracy.”

This president marches to the beat of a different drummer. Although Trump took an oath to “preserve, protect and defend” the constitution, he seems to have very little regard for the meaning of this basic charter. The sad fact is that the political and legal inclinations of this president often seem to tilt more towards those of repressive authoritarian rulers than they do towards the impulses of great American presidents.

This timely film dramatically portrays the enduring conflict between government control of information, and, the right of the people to know what its government is doing in its name, and in so doing it offers the American public an important lesson in democracy.

The Pentagon Study

A summary of the facts underpinning the film underscores the lessons of the Pentagon Papers legal case. That historic 1971 confrontation concerns a Top-Secret 7000-page Pentagon sponsored history of America’s involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1968. This history was prepared by some three-dozen Pentagon “historians” from 1967-1969, and was based mainly on Pentagon documents. Its purpose was to map the decisions made over nearly a quarter century that resulted in the United States having over 500,000 land troops fighting a land war in Southeast Asia. When completed, only 15 copies of the study were made and they were all labeled “Top Secret-Sensitive.”

In the late winter of 1971, Daniel Ellsberg, one of the so-called Pentagon historians, made most of the top-secret study available to Neil Sheehan of The New York Times. He did so because he believed that the history, as told by the government’s own words, established that American political leaders had misled, if not lied, to the American public about the war for many years. And he hoped that once the American public understood the scope of the government’s deceit it would demand an end to the war.

The New York Times Decision to Publish

The Times took three months to study the secret history and to prepare its reports. During those weeks, the editors and the newspaper lawyers argued over whether the newspaper could responsibly publish reports based on top-secret material.

Abe Rosenthal, the Times Executive editor, and others, including Max Frankel, argued that the newspaper had a duty to publish the reports so long as publication did not immediately and irreparably harm vital national security matters.

But the lawyers for the Times, and they included former attorney General Herbert Brownell Jr., took an extreme position at the opposite end of the spectrum and told the publisher and editors that they had a patriotic duty to return the secret study to the government and to forgo all public reports. The lawyers warned the publisher and editors that publication might constitute treason.

The fierce and lengthy internal argument ended with the publisher, Arthur O. Sulzberger, making the courageous decision to publish the planned 10-part series.

And that is what the Times began to do two days later on Sunday, June 13. The next day Attorney General John Mitchell sent a telegram to the Times demanding that the newspaper cease publication forthwith or be sued by the government for a prior restraint. The newspaper declined to cease publication. That decision set the stage for what became a seminal Supreme Court decision defending the critical role of the press in a democratic society.

The Times Long-Standing Lawyers Quit, Floyd Abrams Gets Tapped, and a Rookie Judge Hears the Case

Once the Times informed Attorney General Mitchell that it would not stop publishing its Pentagon Papers series, the newspaper’s lawyers informed their client that they would not defend the Times against the Nixon administration’s effort to enjoin publication. That decision in turn caused the Times to scramble in the middle of the night to retain new lawyers – and the lawyers turned out to be Yale Law Professor Alexander Bickle and a young lawyer named Floyd Abrams who in time became the de facto dean of the national press bar – to represent the newspaper the next morning in the federal district court.

After the newspaper refused to consent to an injunction, District Judge Murray I. Gurfein – and he was a Nixon appointee and this was his first case – granted the United States government a temporary restraining order enjoining the Times from further publication pending a hearing set for that Friday. The next day, Saturday, Judge Gurfein ruled that the government failed to produce evidence that the Times Pentagon Papers series would injure national security and thus he denied the government a preliminary injunction.

The Washington Post Joins the Legal Confrontation

Two days before Judge Gurfein ruled, on Thursday of that week, Ellsberg managed to make available a substantial portion of the papers to The Washington Post. That afternoon and evening an intense debate raged within The Post over whether to publish excerpts from the papers the next day.

The Post’s business leaders and lawyers counseled delay. Ben Bradlee, played by Tom Hanks in the film, and other editors and reporters insisted that the newspaper publish the report forthwith, as if to say to the Nixon administration on behalf of the nation’s press: you will not silence us.

It fell to Katherine Graham, played by Meryl Streep, to make the decision, and the film presents this decision as if it were her coming of age decision as a business leader. Graham’s decision to publish not only helped establish her as independent, resourceful and committed to press freedoms, but it helped sustain the investigations in 1972 and 1973 by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Watergate Scandals at a time when few thought that The Washington Post’s reporting on Nixon’s so-called “dirty-tricks” was sound.

The Landmark Decision

It was a mere 15 days between the government’s filing of its action against the Times and the Supreme Court’s 6 to 3 decision upholding the right of the newspapers to publish the Pentagon Papers reports. The result was that the Times and the Post continued to publish their series, and no credible evidence has ever been produced that these reports injured the national security.

Since this was the first time in the nation’s history that the government had tried to restrain a newspaper from publishing reports on the ground of national security, the press’s victory reverberated not only throughout press circles, but around the nation making the paperback version of the Pentagon Papers a must-have book.

The Film, American Democracy, the Supreme Court

Although the film gives a bow to The New York Times for its historic and magisterial role in defining press rights in this seminal clash, the fact that the film is focused on Graham and Bradlee necessarily robs the Times of its center-stage role in this landmark case.

No film can save the American press from Trump’s vicious onslaught. Only the American people can do that. The people will have to decide whether there are such things as facts, whether facts matter in the discussion of public issues, and how much they cherish the concept of “truth” in journalism. If too many Americans continue to swoon under Trump’s spell and turn his mendacity into the new “normal” of American politics, the nation will quickly head towards a serious crackup. And no film can rescue the nation from that fate.

The Post is not just timely, it is an important film because President Trump’s assault on the press is eating away at the legitimacy of the press, and the nation’s political system requires a responsible press in which the people trust. By dramatically portraying a constitutional crisis that occurred nearly a half century ago when there was no guarantee that the Supreme Court would respect the nation’s most basic tenets and strengthen its democracy, it offers lessons for today. As it turned out, the court in that seminal case did the right thing, and the right of the people to know what its government does because of an uncensored press was immeasurably strengthened.

Hopefully, the members on the Supreme Court today will absorb the lessons of that historic case. The press is critical to holding the government accountable and to do that, it must be free. So, if President Trump tries to utilize the immense power of the national government to gag the press, it will fall to the nine members of the Supreme Court to be the guardians of democratic values, and hopefully we can count on them to do just that.

Professor David Rudenstine is the author of The Day the Presses Stopped: A History of the Pentagon Papers Case, and The Age of Deference: The Supreme Court, National Security, and the Constitutional Order.


UC Press at 125 Years: Q&A with Executive Director Tim Sullivan

You have an extensive background in publishing and the industry, as an Editor, an Author, an Editorial Director, and now an Executive Director. What are you excited to bring to UC Press as you shepherd the organization through its next phase?

Job one is to fulfill the mission of the press, broadly conceived. Our formal mission is “To drive progressive change by seeking out and cultivating the brightest minds and giving them voice, reach, and impact,” but I prefer to think that our job is to make as big a a progressive shaped dent in the world as we can given the tools at our disposal. Everything else flows from that – who we publish, what we publish, and how we publish. I think being “progressive” can encompass everything from the fact that we’re still actively publishing humanities monographs to our open access programs to the way our criminal justice and sociology programs are constructed. I’m tremendously excited to be a part of taking that vision forward.

Second is a focus on publishing fundamentals: the basic detail-oriented blocking and tackling that is necessary to get great ideas into the world, whatever form they take. UC Press has great fundamentals, but creating the space where we can take a breath and think and talk about our books more is part of my job.

Third is the chance to experiment. We’re clearly in a time of great changes in communication in general and scholarly communication in particular. We don’t know where it’s going to go, but we are charged with figuring out how to observe weak signals, test new models, and learn how to proceed through careful and rigorous experimentation. Exploring and developing new models – open access and others – must go hand in hand with the basics of great publishing.

At this point in time, what qualities do you see that differentiates UC Press from other university presses/publishers in general?

Well, we can go back to the mission. There are few scholarly publishers that embrace a mission like ours so explicitly – that’s important for its moral and ethical weight, I think, but for its strategic possibilities. Differentiation is the path to long-term success. Being best in class by doing the same thing as everyone else is tough to pull off; logically, it’s impossible for everyone to be best-in-class. But doing something that’s meaningfully different, that plays to our strengths, and respects our authors and readers – those seems necessary to me. As part of that differentiation I would include our location: within the largest public university system in the world, and in California. Those both set us apart from the rest of the field.

What do you see on the horizon for UC Press?

Great publishing in its many manifestations – at least as I’ve laid it out above.

What do you think UC Press will look like in 125 years from now?

I have no idea. I don’t think that University of California President Martin Kellogg, who endowed the press in 1893, could have imagined the changes that the publishing industry and the press have undergone in the last 125 years. I hope that he would be impressed by the quality of what we do and how we’ve responded to the changes we’ve witnessed and participated in. The press already looks radically different than it did 25 years ago.

Yet the folio form of the book has survived for hundreds of years. Given the fact that it’s a great container for knowledge and argumentation  – I’m tempted to say a perfect one – I kind of think it will still be going strong. But given the changes that digital communication has wrought broadly on media business models and scholarly research, I’m sure we’ll have lots of new ways of connecting our authors with their readers. What those will look like, I’m not sure. It is incumbent on us to figure it out.

What I feel completely sure about is that the press will still be full of dedicated staff who want to make a difference in the world.

What are your favorite UC Press books?

That’s like asking me to choose among my children.

What would your dream job be if you didn’t work in publishing?

John Lane founded The Bodley Head, a UK publishing house, in the 1880s. (He was the uncle of Allen Lane, one of the founders of Penguin.) He named the firm after a bust of Sir Thomas Bodley, the founder of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, that appeared above the door to the shop. In the introduction to one of Bodley’s book that he was reprinting, he wrote, “I have always been in doubt whether the writing of a great book or the capacity to  appreciate it were the finest thing in the world; but I am convinced that next in importance after the writing and the appreciating is the publishing of it.” I second the notion, and I have no idea what would come in fourth.

The Violent Legacies of the U.S. War in Vietnam

By Simeon Man, author of Soldiering through Empire: Race and the Making of the Decolonizing Pacific

This guest post is part of our AAAS blog series published in conjunction with the upcoming meeting of the Association for Asian American Studies in San Francisco, CA, March 29-31, 2018. Browse related titles and share using #AAAS2018.

March 16 marks the 50th anniversary of an event that few Americans want to remember. In 1968, Charlie Company, a unit of the 11th Brigade, 20th Infantry, entered the village of My Lai in South Vietnam and systematically murdered the villagers. An estimated 500 Vietnamese, mostly women, children, and the elderly, died in the massacre. The brutality has been well documented: American soldiers raped, mutilated, and tortured the villagers before killing them; families were dragged from their homes, thrown into ditches and executed. Gruesome photos of the killings began to circulate in the public one and a half years later when journalists broke the story. In 1969, it sparked international outrage and fueled the antiwar movement. Fifty years later, “My Lai” has become synonymous with this dark chapter of the American war in Vietnam, and it continues to haunt and interrupt the nation’s attempt to remember the war in the service of reconciliation and closure.

If there is one thing that remains unspeakable about the My Lai massacre in the United States, it is that the violence was not an aberration, but routine and systemic. The soldiers were told by Capt. Ernest Medina the day before, “There are no innocent civilians in this area,” and that the enemy was “anybody that was running away from us, hiding from us, or appeared to be the enemy.” In the late 1960s, mock Vietnamese villages were fixtures of army bases throughout the United States, and it was in these mock villages where American soldiers learned “search and destroy” tactics that taught them to approach the entire village as an enemy target and to see all Vietnamese as potential “Viet Cong.” The mock village at Schofield Barracks in Hawai‘i included villagers played by Native Hawaiians. There, soldiers preparing for deployment to Vietnam honed the tactics of violence by reenacting the colonial violence in Hawai‘i that, at that moment, was being elided and renewed by Hawai‘i’s transition to statehood. Soldiers who participated in the My Lai massacre trained there in 1967.

My book, Soldiering through Empire: Race and the Making of the Decolonizing Pacific, examines this and other little known episodes of the Vietnam War to show that the war’s violence was intimately tied to the United States’ efforts to make good on its promise of securing freedom and democracy in the post-1945 world. The book tells the story of how the United States mobilized citizens of various nations and territories recently liberated from colonial rule for the war. Between 1964 and 1972, more than 340,000 South Koreans and 6,000 Filipinos fought in South Vietnam. They were drawn by the promises of working in a different country and earning higher wages. Their governments, determined to safeguard their nations’ newfound freedom, made pacts with the United States that allowed for the stationing of American troops in their countries and the use of their citizens for the American war. The United States’ rise to global dominance after 1945 depended on these countries and their citizen-soldiers in manifold and contradictory ways: to affirm the United States’ commitment to spreading freedom and democracy in Asia and to do the work of killing and dying in America’s war. The U.S. military also depended on these soldiers to commit the kinds of indiscriminate violence against the Vietnamese that seemingly no Americans—with the exception of lone individuals such as Lt. William Calley, the only soldier charged and convicted for the killings in My Lai—were deemed capable of committing.

As Americans continue to commemorate the Vietnam War, we would do well to remember that the war had profound and lasting consequences in other parts of the world. A half-century ago, the war thwarted the unfinished project of decolonization in South Korea, the Philippines, Hawai‘i, and other countries and island territories throughout Asia and the Pacific. Instead of achieving freedom from colonialism “in whatever form it appears,” their citizens were asked to fight in another U.S. imperial war, to kill and risk their lives in pursuit of an elusive freedom premised on their nation’s integration into the U.S.-led global capitalist economy. As we mourn the 58,000 American and 3.8 million Vietnamese lives lost, we should remember the unfinished decolonization is also a violent history that Americans bear.

Simeon Man is Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego.

Opportunities to Connect with Feminist Media Histories at #SCMS18

With the annual meeting of the Society of Cinema and Media Studies happening this week in Toronto, conference attendees are invited to connect with Feminist Media Histories at the following in-person events, and at @FemMediaHist and Facebook for free article downloads throughout the conference.

SCMS Women’s Caucus Graduate Student Writing Prize

Don’t miss the announcement of this year’s prize winner at the SCMS Women’s Caucus meeting on Thursday, March 15 at 4:00-5:45pm (Simcoe/Dufferin).

In recent years, Feminist Media Histories has been delighted to partner with the SCMS Women’s Caucus to co-sponsor the SCMS Women’s Caucus Graduate Student Writing Prize, an award that recognizes outstanding scholarship in feminist media history.

We’re celebrating the presentation of the award by offering free access to the winning article of the 2016 Writing Prize:

“Television’s ‘Mr. Moms’: Idealizing the New Man in 1980s Domestic Sitcoms”
Bridget Kies, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee


Meet the Editor: Shelley Stamp (University of California, Santa Cruz)

Visit FMH Editor Shelley Stamp at the UC Press booth on Friday, March 16 from 10:00-11:00am to discuss publishing your work in the journal.

Whether or not you are attending #SCMS18, follow FMH on Twitter (FemMediaHist) and Facebook for news about ongoing free article downloads. In particular, FMH is celebrating Women’s History Month and #SCMS18 by freeing one FMH article for 48 hours every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the month of Month. Follow along to catch free downloads during #SCMS18 and beyond!

Arnold Miller: Coal Miner, War Veteran, Union Dissident, and Environmental Activist

This guest post is published around the American Society for Environmental History conference in Riverside, occurring March 14-18, 2018. #ASEH2018

By Chad Montrie, author of The Myth of Silent Spring: Rethinking the Origins of American Environmentalism

Born to a family line of West Virginia coal miners and union activists in 1923, Arnold Miller quit school and went to work digging coal when he was only 14 years old. Toward the end of World War II he volunteered for the United States Army and trained as a machine-gunner. He was severely wounded in the Normandy invasion but eventually returned home and went back to the mines. After breathing coal dust for decades he developed symptoms of what became known as “black lung.” Facing a corrupt and recalcitrant union leadership, he helped lead a dissident movement to hold coal operators responsible for the disease. After an unsanctioned statewide “wildcat” strike in 1968, the West Virginia legislature finally passed a black lung bill and the next year the federal government passed the Coal Mine Safety and Health Act, followed by the Occupational Health and Safety Act in 1970.

As the “black lung” campaign was going on, Arnold Miller and his fellow deep miners also supported a growing movement to ban surface coal mining. They were concerned with the impact that “stripping” had on the region’s economy, since its efficiency put miners out of work, as well as the ways it ravaged the land and polluted water. Protest had begun long before, dating back at least to the 1930s, and it became intensely militant overtime. By the mid-1960s, activists were resorting to nonviolent civil disobedience (blocking haul roads and bulldozers) and even industrial sabotage (shooting at bulldozer operators and blowing up mine machinery). As a result of this militancy, more and more members of Congress were signing on to an abolition bill introduced by West Virginia representative Ken Hechler. Miller aided that effort by rallying coalfield residents in his home state as well as traveling to Washington, D.C., to offer testimony. He also headed a slate of reform candidates in the 1972 United Mine Workers elections and became president of the union.

Today, unfortunately, few environmental historians or environmental activists know anything about Arnold Miller or the decades-long campaign to end surface coal mining. This is due largely to the way they understand the origins of American environmentalism. By the standard interpretation, the movement started in 1962, with the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, and it was rooted in a receptive suburban middle-class motivated by newfound concerns with quality of life. There is no room in this ‘big book’ origin story for the likes of Arnold Miller and other hard-pressed people living in the Appalachian coalfields, people moved to activism because daily circumstances forced it on them. They do not fit the prototypical definition of “environmentalist.” The Myth of Silent Spring tells their story, as well as the stories of countless others, recovering a new narrative about environmentalism in the past “from the bottom up.”

Chad Montrie is Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He is the author of several books, including A People’s History of Environmentalism in the United States.

The Story of the Mozac Hunter Silk from Silk, Slaves, and Stupas

By Susan Whitfield, author of Silk, Slaves, and Stupas: Material Culture of the Silk Road

This post originally appeared on Silk Road Digressions, author Susan Whitfield’s blog on the geography, history, archaeology, artefacts and archives, old and new, of the Silk Road. An edited excerpt from Silk, Slaves, and Stupas, it tells the story of the Mozac Hunter Silk. To use this book in your course, request an exam or desk copy.

Although several scholars have tried to displace silk from its key role in trade assumed by the term Silk Road and have argued for the equal if not greater influence of other goods, the importance of silk is not so easily dismissed. The reason for this might have less to do with the actual rank of silk in terms of the economics or volume of trade goods—this has yet to be quantified—than with the stories that became attached to this fabric and the hunger to learn its secrets. Although China was the only culture with the knowledge of cultivating silk at the start of the Silk Road period, within a few centuries the technology had dispersed to other cultures along the trade routes.

Lyon, Musée des Tissus MT 27386. Lyon MTMAD. Photograph by Pierre Verrier.

The piece shown above—which has been called the Mozac hunter silk—was made in Byzantium. The empire probably had its own silk production centers from the fourth century using imported thread, cultivation of its own silkworms from possibly as early as the fifth century, and sophisticated looms producing complex patterns as seen here by the eighth century. This piece therefore has many stories to tell, not only of the diffusion of silk production, but of the cultural dialogues and influences seen in the design—here a medallion containing a hunting image, a motif found across the Silk Road. Both the technique and the motif have been subject to different interpretations by scholars, showing how our dialogue with objects from the past is often renewed and we can rarely assume that it has reached a conclusion. There is also the story of the changing functions and value of this silk as it traveled westwards, passing through the hands of emperors, taking on religious significance in a Christian setting and currently a museum artefact.

The story of this silk takes us from Asia into Europe, then on the fringes of the great trading network known as the Silk Road. Though Europe still had no silk production centers of its own, silk was nevertheless highly valued there, especially among the courts and clergy. It was therefore a perfect diplomatic gift, being light and portable. And it was even more so if the design reflected the power of the giver. We do not known if this piece was intended for such purposes or whether, indeed, the purpose was decided in advance of its commission, but at the very least it was probably woven with the possibility that it would become a diplomatic gift.

Our first record of this piece is a source referring to the translation—rehousing—of the relics of Saint Austremoine from the church at Volvic, in the modern Puy de Domes in France, to the Abbey of Mozac, some four miles to its east. The translation happened under the patronage of King Pepin, who, it is recorded, provided a piece of silk to wrap them, had the bundle marked with his royal seal, and traveled with them to their new home.

The name Pepin in this record was originally believed to refer to the Carolingian king, Pepin the Short (r. 751–68), father of Charlemagne, and the date was interpreted as February 1, 764. However, as Maximilien Durand points out, the Pepin referred to in the document about the rehousing of Saint Austremoine’s relics was more probably Pepin II of Aquitaine (838–64), and the date should be read as February 1, 847, or probably 848. Other textual evidence discussed by Durand supports this later date, as does the recent technical analysis of the silk by Sophie Desrosiers.

For now, therefore, the weight of evidence suggests an early or mid-ninth-century origin for the silk. This leaves uncertain how Pepin II acquired the silk, although Durand suggests it was perhaps a gift from Emperor Theophilos (r. 829–42) to Louis the Pious (r. 814–40) in recognition of his help in the campaign against the Arabs. It would then have passed down to Louis’s heir, Pepin I of Aquitaine (r. 797–838) and thence to his son, Pepin II. The piece has been cut and stitched, suggesting it might have been made into a piece of clothing, but we do not know whether this was before or after Pepin’s acquisition.

The abbey at Mozac was a much grander affair than Austremoine’s original burial place in Issoire and the church at Volvic. It had been founded in the sixth or seventh century by Calmin and his wife Namadie, both who also became sanctified. The abbey was endowed, it is recorded, with relics of Saint Peter (Saint Pierre), to whom the church was dedicated: those of Calmin and his wife later joined them.

Detail of the 12th century lintel in the Abbey showing Saint Austremoine. Photograph John Falconer.

There is no evidence to suggest that the relics were moved over the next few centuries. In 1197 there was a new “recognition” of Saint Austremoine, and the relics were checked in their shrine by Bishop Robert of Clermont. He reported seeing the silk with Pepin’s seal intact and, on cutting the tie (to avoid breaking the seal), also found the relics intact. He re-placed them inside the silk. In the sixteenth century a wooden reliquary was made to house them, decorated by an Italian artist with paintings of the twelve apostles (shown below).

StAustremoine_casketCasket holding relics of St Austremoine.

In 1790 during the French Revolution the abbey was dissolved and became the parish Church of Saint Peter. It is possible the relics were disturbed. When the reliquary was opened on October 24, 1839, it was found to contain several objects. These included four teeth in a glass vial contained in a porcelain vase, as well as several parcels of bones wrapped in linen with a parchment tie on which was written “Relics of Saint Austremoine.” There was also a letter of Jean-Pierre Massillon (1663–1742), bishop of Clermont from 1717, concerning the disposition of relics. On January 29, 1852, the bones were listed by a vicar-general and a doctor as a right femur; a left femur; part of a right tibia and a left tibia; a large part of a pelvis; three vertebrae; a kneecap; the base of a skull; almost an entire head; two rib fragments; part of a heel bone; and several small pieces impossible to identify, but also including finger and toe joints.

We now reach the latest chapter in the story of this hunter silk, its removal from a sacred back to a secular setting and a return to the concentration on the silk itself. With the French secularization of the church initiated by the French Revolution, church property, such as St. Calmin’s reliquary—mentioned above—started to be sold. The piece was described by Hippolyte Gomot in his 1872 history of the church as having four hunters and four lions. It seems that, possibly because of Gomot’s publication, interest in the textile grew and the church was able to sell fragments, providing much-needed funds to help with its restoration. Two other pieces are known in the Borgelli Collection in Florence and in the Abegg-Stiftung in Riggisberg.

Lyon was a center of silk and other textile production, and a museum to celebrate this industry was first proposed in 1797. A textile collection started to be amassed by the chamber of commerce over the next decades. This was supplemented with material collected by the first French trade mission to China (1843–46). Many of the Lyon manufacturers attended the London Exhibition in 1850, and calls were renewed for a museum on their return. The chamber voted in favor in 1856. The resulting Museum of Art and Industry was opened on March 6, 1864. It was replaced with the Historical Museum of Textiles on August 6, 1891.

The museum had an active acquisition policy. Émile Guimet (1836–1918), founder in 1879 of the museum of his name in his birthplace of Lyon (it was handed over to the state and transferred to Paris in 1885), persuaded the Lyon Chamber of Commerce to sponsor excavations in Antinoopolis in Egypt. The resulting finds went to the museum. But the museum curators also sought acquisitions from local churches. In 1904 under the directorship of Raymond Jean-Marie Cox (1856–1921), the museum acquired the remains of the hunter silk from Mozac. But, by this time, the remaining piece showed only two hunters: the rest of the silk had presumably been dispersed to others. How the price for this piece was arrived at is not recorded, although a story has been handed down that it was agreed that the museum should pay the price of coins—the French louis—that could fit onto the silk. The acquisition register of the museum clearly records the purchase of this piece for eight thousand francs. This was an enormous amount; the other entries on the page are for tens or, at most, a couple of hundred francs. The franc was linked to the gold standard, and this equated to 2,320 grams of gold, about US$100,000 today.

The hunter silk was classed as a historical artefact on January 20, 1909. It traveled to Paris for exhibitions in 1958 and 1992. It seemed that its future was assured. But as history shows, there is no place of safekeeping. Like many museums worldwide, the Lyon Museum has been under threat from lack of funds. It continued to be supported by the Chamber of Commerce of Lyons, but in 2015 they announced that they could no longer support it and that the museum would close in 2016. By the time of this blog post, closure appeared to have been averted—although not without casualities. Sadly, Maximilien Durand, the Director, resigned his post in June 2017. The news serves as a reminder that a later generation might have another chapter to write in the story of this wonderful textile.

Susan Whitfield, author of Life Along the Silk Road, is a scholar, curator, writer, and traveler who has been exploring the history, art, religions, cultures, objects, exploration, and people of the Silk Road for the past three decades.

Silk, Slaves, and Stupas is a lively, visual, and tangible way to understand the Silk Road and the cultural, economic, and technical changes of the late antique and medieval worlds.

Features Ideal for Classroom Use:

  • Helps students understand the interaction of people, things, cultures, and ideas along these trading routes.
  • Each chapter covers a specific object or commodity in order to illustrate the economic and technical changes of the late antiquity and medieval periods.
  • A unique and lively approach provides an accessible framework for students.
  • Offers a vivid narrative with images throughout

Interesting in using this book in your course? Request an exam copy today.

UC Press at SCMS in Toronto

We are looking forward to the annual conference for the Society of Cinema and Media Studies, convening this week in Toronto.

Visit Our Booth

Browse new titles and save 40% online with discount code 17E3831, or request an exam copy for consideration to use in your upcoming classes.

Film Quarterly is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. Come pick up a copy of the journal’s new March issue, the first issue for the 2018 anniversary year.

Meet Our Editors

Raina Polivka, Acquisitions Editor for our Cinema and Media Studies lists, will be in the booth daily (Thursday, March 15–Saturday, March 17) from 4–5 pm.

Shelley Stamp, Editor for both the Feminist Media Histories journal and Feminist Media Histories book series, will be in the booth on Friday, March 16 from 10–11am.

The Feminist Media Histories book series publishes feminist histories of film, radio, television, video, playable media and digital culture across a range of periods and global contexts. Inter-medial and trans-national in its approach, the series features historical scholarship on an array of 19th-, 20th- and 21st-century media, examining the historical roles gender and sexuality have played in film, video, audio, and digital technologies, while documenting the engagement of women and LGBTQ communities with these media as audiences and consumers, as creators and executives, as critics, writers and theorists, as technicians and laborers, and as educators, activists and librarians.

Ruby Rich, Editor for Film Quarterly, will be in the booth on Thursday, March 15 from 3–4 pm, and Regina Longo, Associate Editor for Film Quarterly, will be in the booth on Friday, March 16 from 2–4 pm.

Jean Ma, Series Co-Editor (with Jim Buhler) for California Studies in Music, Sound, and Media will be at the conference actively seeking proposals.

The California Studies in Music, Sound, and Media series offers scholarship on music and sound in film, television, games, music video, advertising, radio, and new media, in order to promote innovative approaches to the theory and history of media. The aim of the series is to take music and sound as a springboard for rethinking key concepts in media studies, for forging connections across media and disciplines, and for building a global, context-specific knowledge of media history. Topics include studies of the integrated soundtrack; audio-visual poetics; industries and practices of music and sound; technologies of sound reproduction and representation; histories and phenomenologies of listening; and voice, corporeality, and affect.

Richard Abel, Giorgio Bertellini, and Matthew Solomon are Series Editors for a brand new book series, Cinema Cultures in Contact. Giorgio Bertellini will be in Toronto.

The Cinema Cultures in Contact series publishes single- or co-authored books that examine cinematic exchanges across borders through rigorous, original studies of specific instances of movement, transaction, translation, displacement, exchange, encroachment, and/or other modes of “contact” between cinemas in two or more national contexts. Books in the series are engaged with primary sources and current scholarly discourse in at least two different languages. Proposals to the series should be transnationally oriented not only in terms of subject matter, but also in terms of methodologies, references, evidence, and argumentative scope.

The series’ advisory board includes Nilo Couret (University of Michigan); Manishita Dass (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK); Kay Dickinson (Concordia University, Canada); Frieda Ekotto (University of Michigan); Aniko Imre (USC); Rielle Navitski (University of Georgia); Markus Nornes (University of Michigan); Masha Salazkina (Concordia University, Canada); Laura Isabel Serna (USC); Johannes von Moltke (University of Michigan); and Zhen Zhang (NYU).

Watch this space for more SCMS-related news throughout the week.

In Germany, the Role of Family in Recruiting Members into Neo-Nazi Groups

This is the third installment in the #HealingFromHate blog series. Stay tuned for future blog posts in the series. And follow along on Twitter, #HealingFromHate.

In Germany, members of violent extremist groups are more often than not recruited when their family ties are severed in some way, causing young German men to find a sense of family elsewhere. In Healing from Hate: How Young Men Get Into—and Out of—Violent Extremism, Michael Kimmel, a leading expert on men and masculinities, shares how this occurs:

Since 2001, EXIT Deutschland has handled nearly five hundred cases of young skinheads and neo-Nazis who wanted to jump. Four out of every five were male, the average age was about twenty-six, and virtually all fell within the twenty-five–to–thirty-five range. These are not the post-adolescent Swedes or the long-committed ideologues in the United States [described in chapters 3 and 4 of the book].

Typically, the German youth engage while young, through recruitment either from the streets or, more often, in prisons. German prisons are teeming with immigrants, mostly Turks, and so an apolitical white prisoner soon finds “his people” among some of the harder-core Aryans. The young men enter the movement without much in the way of ideology, but they like the scene, connect to the music, and love the community and camaraderie they experience, especially after being loners for so long. From within the prisons, ironically, they feel for the first time that someone has their back. Many are unemployed, and those who have jobs are wage laborers or craft workers. Bernd Wenger [former East German police officer and founder of EXIT Deutschland] gave me a bit of a profile of them.

To begin with, he was quite certain that all of them had a “break” with their families in some way prior to their drifting into the neo-Nazi scene. Their parents were divorced or they grew up in foster care. Some were abused, one or two sexually. Some knew their sisters were being abused and felt powerless to help. “It’s not so much the abuse, or the broken home. It’s that feeling of injustice being allowed to exist, and that feeling that they are powerless to stop it. They all have felt that powerlessness—and they are absolutely determined never to feel it again.”

That observation, of course, matched my observations of every group I examine in this book. The experience of isolation, of emasculation and humiliation at having been abused or ignored or raped—these feelings compromise one’s sense of self, thus posing a core existential threat, and also, not coincidentally, compromise one’s sense of self as a man, capable of acting with power, autonomy, and purpose. Something essential has been stolen  and some of these guys seek an outlet for it on the streets. Of course, as I’ve said, it is not the case that all abused, ignored, or bullied young boys become neo-Nazi terrorists. There are many other paths that they can and do take. But the fact that virtually all those who drift into extremist politics come from such a background ought to suggest that we pay attention to these family variables.

Especially when those family variables parallel their political observations of society. Their fathers may have lost jobs, had to close the family store, or had the family farm taken away, and such losses often correspond with their observations that society is sinking into a degenerative state of decline and despair. “Almost every one speaks of the atomization of society, which they fear,” Wenger explains. “They want stronger institutions, stronger structures to act as a barrier to this general cultural decline.” They want a wall. They may have been happy to see the Berlin Wall come down, but they surely wouldn’t mind a new one, between “us” and “them.”

EXIT hopes to recommend alternatives to the “family” ties created with the Neo-Nazi groups:

EXIT tries to offer an alternative to that—not an alternative ideology, but an alternative experience. The opportunity to build a community of brothers (and sisters) committed to one another—and committed to staying out of the movement. Committed to helping these guys find ways to feel more masculine by helping them find steady jobs, thereby developing a sense of economic efficacy. Committed to helping them build a masculine identity anchored in their communities and in healthy relationships.

Read the first chapter of Healing from Hate. And see what others are saying about the book.

JPMS Editors Look Forward to Expanded Scope with UC Press

by Oliver Wang and Diane Pecknold, editors of the Journal of Popular Music Studies
UC Press is pleased to welcome the Journal of Popular Music Studies (JPMS) to the list of journals we publish. JPMS, the official journal of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, U.S. chapter (IASPM-US), will publish its first issue with UC Press in July. As the IASPM-US 2018 Conference convenes this week in Nashville, we asked JPMS’s editors Oliver Wang and Diane Pecknold to talk about what they are looking forward to as the journal transitions to its new publisher.  

In bringing the Journal of Popular Music Studies (JPMS) over to UC Press, one of the things we’re especially looking forward to is the ability to broaden both both the content and audience for the journal by including writing beyond just peer-reviewed academic articles. We remain committed to publishing the latter, as we always have, but we would also like to follow the lead of entities such as IAPSM-US and the annual Pop Conference in Seattle to embrace other forms of popular music content, be it music reviews, roundtable discussions, and essays by pop music researchers outside of conventional academic circles. To that degree, we’ve been inspired by UC Press’s long tradition with trade journals such as Gastronomica and Film Quarterly, both of which have found a strong balance in the kind of writing they publish.
Popular Music Studies has undergone tremendous change over the past 30 years and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to suggest that, not that long ago, this kind of work hadn’t been fully embraced in more traditional disciplines. However, as popular culture research, in general, has become seen as more and more central to any understanding of societies around the world, both historically and in the current moment, there are few subject areas more vital than pop music. It serves as an identity beacon, as the social glue that creates/holds communities together, as the terrain upon which class/race/gender/etc. tensions are engaged and tussled over. Exploring these issues have always been the focus of our journal and we look to only grow the scope of our content with our new publishing partner.