Congratulations to the Lambda Literary Awards Finalists

We’re pleased to announce that After Silence by Avram Finkelstein, Lavender and Red by Emily K. Hobson, and Punishing Disease by Trevor Hoppe have all been selected as finalists of the 30th Annual Lambda Literary Awards, awarded by the nation’s oldest and largest literary arts organization advancing LGBTQ literature.

After Silence: A History of AIDS through Its Images
By Avram Finkelstein
LGBTQ Nonfiction Finalist

A protest poster of a pink triangle with the words “Silence = Death” became one of the most iconic and lasting images that would come to symbolize a movement. Cofounder of the collective Silence = Death and member of the art collective Gran Fury, Avram Finkelstein tells the story of how his work and other protest artwork associated with the early years of the pandemic were created, many of which still resonate today.


Lavender and Red: Liberation and Solidarity in the Gay and Lesbian Left
By Emily K. Hobson
LGBTQ Studies Finalist

Lavender and Red recounts a history of queer radicals who understood their sexual liberation as intertwined with solidarity against imperialism, war, and racism. Bringing together archival research, oral histories, and vibrant images, Emily K. Hobson rediscovers the radical queer past for a generation of activists today.



Punishing Disease: HIV and the Criminalization of Sickness
By Trevor Hoppe
LGBTQ Studies Finalist

Punishing Disease looks at how HIV transformed from sickness to badness in criminal law and investigates  consequences of inflicting penalties on people living with disease. Now that the door to criminalizing sickness is open, what other ailments will follow? With moves in state legislatures to extend HIV-specific criminal laws to include diseases such as hepatitis and meningitis, the question is more than academic.

The finalists were chosen from nearly 1,000 submissions and over 300 publishers. “Celebrating our 30th year of Lambda Literary Award finalists is to recognize that this organization has been at the center of contemporary queer literature for decades,” said Lambda Literary Executive Director Tony Valenzuela. “This year is no different with another stellar list of authors demonstrating through their work that LGBTQ books tell richly textured stories about who we are in all our incredible diversity.” The winners will be announced at a gala ceremony on Monday, June 4th in New York City.

Many congratulations to Avram, Emily, and Trevor and the rest of this year’s Lambda Literary Award finalists!

Journals for 19th-Century Americanists

In honor of this week’s C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists conference, we are making a selection of content from Representations and Nineteenth-Century Literature available for free for a limited time. We hope that this content will generate thought-provoking discussions and encourage you to tag comments on social media with the C19 conference hashtag  and with C19’s recommendation hashtag  

Representations invites you read its special issue on Fallacies for free online. If you are in Albuquerque at the conference, please swing by the Scholar’s Choice booth to take a look at the issue in person.

It is hard not to see that we are living in in an especially fallacious age. Fallacies appeal to our emotions, to our respect for authority, and to our faith in numbers. A president will be blamed for an economic downturn that precedes him or credited for job growth that is inconsequent to his acts. As mistakes of logic, fallacies are not lies and not exactly nonsense either, but things that, not being valid, “are susceptible of being mistaken” for valid.

In Representations’s special issue on Fallacies, eleven scholars take up a variety of ways in which, in our disciplines and critical practices, truth appears. In explaining a few of the well-known fallacies and naming others, the essays are all concerned with ways of reading that bring ideas and experiences to a subject that are not germane to the subject. They ask us to look, as I. A. Richards does, at “instances of irrelevance” in thinking, at what fits and doesn’t fit or is there by accident. They raise our awareness of those “inadequate” revelations that W. K. Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley, in their famous essay on the intentional fallacy, tried to arm us against and exclude from critical judgment “like lumps from pudding and ‘bugs’ from machinery.”

To return to the question of fallacies in the twenty-first century is to ask what is most material to our arguments if we want them to be practical and satisfying and if, in Beardsley’s words, “we wish to get out of them what is most worth getting.”

These essays offer just such a reward.

If you are not doing so already, we encourage you to subscribe to Representations and/or recommend the journal to your institution’s librarian, and please follow the journal on Twitter at @rep_journal.

Nineteenth-Century Literature is pleased to offer you a selection of recently published articles on nineteenth-century American literature for you to read for free for a limited time.

Must-Read Asian Studies Journals

The Washington, DC Friendship Archway

Whether or not you are attending the annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, which is being held this week in Washington, DC, we invite you to read a selection of content from Asian Survey and the Journal of Vietnamese Studies for free for a limited time. We hope that this content will inspire further discourse and encourage you to continue the conversation online using the conference hashtag .

Asian Survey invites you to read its 2017 year-in-review issue, “Asia in 2017: The Return of the Strongman.” Asian Survey’s year-in-review issues are some of the journal’s most popular, and we are pleased to be able to offer you an opportunity to read this issue for free for a limited time.

For continuing access to Asian Survey, please subscribe and/or recommend the journal to your institution’s library.



The Journal of Vietnamese Studies is making its current issue free for a limited time. Since the journal publishes content that is of interest both to Asian Studies scholars and to scholars of Asian American Studies, we are also encouraging attendees of the annual conference of the Association for Asian American Studies, which is being held next week in San Francisco, to read and discuss this issue using the conference hashtag #AAAS2018 and to watch for our AAAS-focused post next week, which will feature additional content from JVS and other journals.

To continue to read the Journal of Vietnamese Studies, please subscribe and/or recommend the journal to your institution’s library.



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.

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.

Being a “Real Man”

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

“Who are these young men? What draws them to violent extremism? What are the ideologies that inspire them, the psychological predispositions that lead some and not others to sign up? What emotional bonds are forged and sustained through membership in violent extremist groups?”

—Michael Kimmel in Healing from Hate: How Young Men Get Into—and Out of—Violent Extremism

Looking at the world today, violent extremist groups, white nationalism, and mass and school shootings seem to have an element in common that is obviously seen but inadvertently overlooked—the role of gender expectations, and specifically masculinity.

Why are most members of violent extremist groups men rather than women? Why is it mainly men that are apparent perpetrators of mass shootings?

In Michael Kimmel’s new book, Healing from Hate: How Young Men Get Into—and Out of—Violent Extremismhe shares what he learned from members of extremist groups, in this case the extreme right:

I heard them express their distress that the respect and obedience they felt was theirs by birthright actually had been upended, leaving them both bereft and enraged. I saw how they felt emasculated—humiliated as men—by preparing to be breadwinners, family providers, in a world that no longer seemed to need the skills they possessed. I explored how they used gender, in particular masculinity, to “problematize” the Other, to claim that racial or ethnic or religious sexual minorities were not worthy of the rewards they were now reaping, because “they” were not “real men.” And I saw how the organizations on the extreme right used masculinity to manipulate these guys’ pain and despair into white supremacist and neo-Nazi hatred as a way to “take their manhood back.” Was there a way to reach them, to help them get out of such a downward spiral?

It turns out that it was already happening. I began hearing about projects to help neo-Nazi skinheads, white nationalists, Islamist jihadists, and others get out of the movements they’d joined. It was the former members themselves who were doing it, one skinhead at a time, providing the support they needed—material and emotional—to break with a movement that had no future. And they were doing it precisely by addressing what the active members believed they were getting out of their participation. The world of “formers” was a world of building an alternative community, of offering solidarity, friendship, camaraderie, and compassion. Sometimes these formers offered material support, such as safe houses, job training, or job placement. Sometimes they just offered support without judgment, since so many guys feel tremendous shame about what they did while they were in the movement. (In fact, as I came to understand, some guys stay in the movement just because they cannot face the shame of honestly confronting their pasts.)

As I watched groups like EXIT in Stockholm, listened to a leader from Life After Hate recount his story to a throng of entranced Yeshiva students in Brooklyn, or learned how an anti-jihadist imam sits for hours, days even, with young jihadists, I began to see that what they offered these guys getting out was an alternative grounding for their identity, a way to feel like a man without the violence and hatred on which their sense of masculine identity had come to depend.

Being a “real man” may have nothing to do with violence but more to do with supporting one another. Read the first chapter of Healing from Hate. And see what others are saying about the book.

Read the first installment of the #HealingFromHate blog series regarding The President and the Populace: On Gender and Violent Extremism

Achieving the Afrofuturist Vision of Chocolate Cities

“We didn’t get our forty acres and a mule, but we got you, C[hocolate] C[ity]!”— George Clinton on the title track of Parliament Funkadelic’s 1975 Chocolate City album

Black History Month provides an opportunity to reflect on the numerous events, social movements, and figures that have spurned societal change.

It also allows us to consider how far U.S. society has genuinely come in reflecting these values as well as what still needs to be done.

Over the past few decades, from Central District Seattle to Harlem to Holly Springs, Black people have built a dynamic network of cities and towns where Black culture is maintained, created, and defended. But imagine—what if current maps of Black life are wrong?

In Chocolate Cities: The Black Map of American Life, authors Marcus Anthony Hunter and Zandria F. Robinson trace the Black American experience of race, place, and liberation, mapping it from Emancipation to now. In their Preface, they share why this journey is still required. Using the Parliament Funkadelic’s 1975 Chocolate City album as a jumping off point, they note:

Rather than wait for unfulfilled political promises, Black Americans were occupying urban and previously White space in massive numbers, their movement and increasing political power embodied on the track by multiple yet complementary melodies. Bass and piano take turns keeping the beat and beginning new melodies, saxophones speak, a synthesizer marks a new era, and a steady high hat ensures the funk stays in rhythm. The Parliament, its own kind of funky democratic government, chants “gainin’ on ya!” as Clinton announces the cities that Black Americans have turned or will soon turn into “CC’s”: Newark, Gary, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New York. Parliament’s “Mothership Connection” public-service announcement is broadcast live from the capitol, in the capital of chocolate cities, Washington, DC, where “they still call it the White House, but that’s a temporary condition.”

Spurred on by postwar suburbanization, by 1975 the chocolate city and its concomitant “vanilla suburbs” were a familiar racialized organization of space and place. The triumphant takeover tenor of Chocolate City may seem paradoxical in retrospect, as Black people inherited neglected space, were systematically denied resources afforded to Whites, and were entering an era of mass incarceration. Still, for Parliament, like for many other Black Americans, chocolate cities were a form of reparations and were and had been an opportunity to make something out of nothing. For generations these chocolate cities—Black neighborhoods, places on the other side of the tracks, the bottoms—had been the primary locations of the freedom struggle, the sights and sounds of Black art and Black oppression, and the container for the combined ingredients of pain, play, pleasure, and protest that comprise the Black experience.

Four decades after Chocolate City, including eight years of the first African American president, what is the status of Clinton’s Afrofuturist vision of the chocolate city? Did Barack Obama turn the White House Black? Which cities became chocolate cities? How have the connections between cities expanded and shifted? And what does it mean when the CC capital is no longer, in fact, a CC? How have Black Americans mobilized space, place, geography, and movement to resist and repair the conditions in which they find themselves?

Inspired by a collection of Black intellectuals, adventurers, explorers, culture producers, and everyday folk, the goal of this book is to expand and extend the idea of the chocolate city, tracing it from its antebellum origins to the Black Lives Matter era. We use and pluralize the funk-inflected sociopolitical concept, henceforth chocolate cities, to disrupt and replace existing language often used to describe and analyze Black American life. Though always present in Black artistic and intellectual endeavors, the idea of chocolate cities and this book are uniquely linked to the story of how we came to meet, know, understand, and care for one another.

Read more from Marcus and Zandria on their thoughts on why Los Angeles is still part of The South and how Black lives are affected by current policies today. And see both Marcus and Zandria on March 24th at Crosstown Concourse at Chocolate Cities: A Symposium, co-presented by the Center for Southern Literary Arts and Africana Studies at Rhodes College.

Resistance in the West Bank, Solidarity in the U.S.

By Sunaina Maira, author of Boycott!: The Academy and Justice for Palestine

On December 19, 2017, sixteen-year old Ahed Tamimi slapped Israeli soldiers who had invaded her home in the West Bank. The slap by this Palestinian teenage girl resounded around the world. Tamimi was confronting the soldiers hours after they had shot her teenage cousin, Mohamed, with rubber bullets that broke his jaw and entered his skull. Tamimi has been fending off Israeli soldiers all of her young life. In 2015, she became famous when a video, that went viral, showed her wrestling a masked Israeli soldier with her bare arms while he throttled her little brother who had a broken arm. Mohamed Tamimi was violently attacked while protesting against Trump’s decision to move the capital of Israel to Jerusalem, a city under illegal Israeli military occupation since 1967. Trump’s unilateral move, in defiance of the international consensus that recognizes that the status of Jerusalem is still contested due to the occupation, sparked widespread protests by Palestinians that included general strikes. Colleges and schools also closed as part of acts of collective rejection of this blow to Palestinian sovereignty.

The Tamimi family’s village, Nabi Saleh, is renowned for the ongoing, regular, nonviolent resistance of its Palestinian residents to Israel’s confiscation of its land and its water and the illegal construction of Jewish-only settlements that encroach on the village. Palestinian resistance to five decades of occupation has included countless such acts of civil disobedience and nonviolent protest, including general strikes, hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners, and peaceful actions against land confiscation, home demolitions, and enclosure by militarized borders and the Israeli Wall. Nabi Saleh is not the only village where unarmed men, women, and children, like Tamimi and her family members, routinely confront Israeli soldiers with lethal weapons and are routinely maimed, killed, and arrested without trial. Israeli military laws criminalize peaceful political protests, including even waving Palestinian flags, and Ahed’s father, Bassem Tamimi, has been in prison and tortured for many years.

Other West Bank villages such as Ni’lin and Bil’in also have a history of civil disobedience challenging the occupation and colonization of their land, based on the Palestinian concept of sumud, or steadfastness, a notion that evokes the indigenous attachment to staying on and defending the land. This notion of resilience is also at the core of international solidarity with the Palestinian refusal to accept the rule of the occupier and challenge the denial of their right to be human. International volunteers regularly attend the Friday protests against the Wall and settlements in West Bank villages and have also been tear gassed and attacked by Israeli soldiers.

The arrest of Tamimi sparked an international solidarity campaign, #FreeAhedTamimi, to bring attention to her conviction as a “terrorist” by an Israeli military court and the arrests and physical assaults of her family members. The feminist peace organization, Code Pink, organized a campaign to send letters to Tamimi on her 17th birthday, which she celebrated while in Israeli prison; the campaign aims to challenge the systematic detention and torture of Palestinian children in violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is finally being opposed by legislation introduced in Congress in winter 2017. While it is highly unlikely that this law will ever be passed by a consistently pro-Israel U.S. legislature, it is important to note that Israel is the only country in the world that systematically detains and prosecutes children-as well as adults–in a military court system that lacks due process (the system of “administrative detention”). Hundreds of children are locked up every year simply for throwing stones—against the tanks of an occupying army and soldiers with lethal weapons. Addameer, a prisoner rights organization, reports that the number of child prisoners has actually doubled over the past 3 years, also noting that approximately 20% of the Palestinian population in the occupied territoriees has been in Israeli prisons (and 40% of all men) since the occupation began in 1967; this is why Israel is called a carceral state. Palestinian children are regularly tortured in prison; Defence of Children-International found that 75% of Palestinian children are physically abused after arrest.

Furthermore, Israeli soldiers regularly use rubber bullets, as they did against Mohammed Tamimi, as a “crowd control” weapon targeting Palestinian protesters and disabling and killing children, as documented by Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. In places such as Nabi Saleh and other sites of organized collective resistance, documented by harrowing documentary films such as Five Broken Cameras, Bil’in Habibti, and Budrus, the use of such lethal weapons against children is a form of collective punishment against family members of those involved in political activism. It should be noted that just in January 2018, four Palestinian children—who were all 16 years old—were killed by Israeli soldiers in West Bank protests or “ambushes” by Israeli soldiers, who regularly shoot Palestinian youth in the head with live ammunition.

Ahed Tamimi, interestingly, is blond and light-skinned—as are some Palestinians—and one of the troubling tactics that Israeli officials have used to discredit her after she garnered global media attention is to allege that, because of her fair complexion and blond hair, she is not really a Tamimi family member. This reveals the racist and colonialist logics underlying the Zionist regime, that is, Palestinians, especially women, are not capable of courageous acts of resistance and if they are, are not authentic Palestinians – while crushing even the tiniest acts of resistance with brutal force. Some Israeli Zionists went even further in attacking Tamimi, suggesting that she should be subjected to rape and murder for daring to defy an Israeli soldier.

So what can those concerned about the horrific abuse of children and authoritarian repression of civil disobedience do in protest, here in the U.S.? Palestinians have told us, consistently, what we can do: they have called on international civil society to engage in engage in boycott, divestment, and sanctions till Israel complies with human rights law. The BDS movement calls on Israel to 1) end its occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands and dismantle the Wall; 2) respect the right of Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and 3) protect and promotes the right of Palestinian refugees to return as upheld by UN Resolution 194.

As I discuss in my new book, Boycott! The Academy and Justice in Palestine, the academic boycott movement draws attention to this systemic degradation of academic (and human) freedom in Palestine and has been an incredibly effective and growing campaign in the U.S. academy in recent years, with boycott resolutions adopted by several national academic associations. It is also a movement that engages in joint struggles against xenophobia, militarization, border violence, police brutality, and carcerality and for justice, here and there.

Sunaina Maira is Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Davis.

“In deftly demonstrating that Palestinian solidarity belongs at the center of all of our justice concerns, Boycott! both exemplifies the challenge of this moment and urges us to fearlessly rise up to it.”—Angela Y. Davis


The President and The Populace: On Gender and Violent Extremism

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

“It is always difficult to approach an historical event in hindsight.” —Michael Kimmel in Healing from Hate: How Young Men Get Into—and Out of—Violent Extremism

On this President’s Day, we look at the relationship between U.S. presidents and the people they work to serve. From immigration, to health care, to taxation, and many other issues, each sitting president’s viewpoint on various cultural and economic issues helped to shape social and public policy—as well as shape a president’s place in U.S. history.

One such issue of the day is violent extremism and the role that gender plays in its evolution. In Healing from Hate: How Young Men Get Into—and Out of—Violent Extremism, Michael Kimmel, sociologist and founder of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook, shares how gender is inherently omitted from the lexicon of violent extremism:

When then-president Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry convened a three-day conference titled “Combating Violent Extremism” at the White House in February 2015, hundreds of experts from the diverse fields of law enforcement, security personnel, psychology, international relations, and criminology discussed how young people are recruited into these extremist groups, including scrutiny of recruits’ backgrounds, mental health statuses, and religious beliefs. Legal and penal experts discussed court proceedings and incarceration issues.

During the entire conference, participants heard not one word about “masculinity.” (Indeed, the big controversy was whether President Obama sufficiently and specifically addressed Islamic terrorists.)

“We have to confront squarely and honestly the twisted ideologies that these terrorist groups use to incite people to violence,” Mr. Obama told the audience. A year earlier, Secretary Kerry had argued that countering terrorism should involve “better alternatives for a whole bunch of young people” and greater “opportunity for marginalized youth.” “People.” “Youth.”

But which “people” exactly? What “youth?” If we close our eyes and imagine those people, those young people, whom do we see? And what is their gender?

Kimmel sheds light on the basic—and most crucial—question: why do we ignore the impact of gender expectations when discussing violent extremism? He asks: “Who are these young men? What draws them to violent extremism? What are the ideologies that inspire them, the psychological predispositions that lead some and not others to sign up? What emotional bonds are forged and sustained through membership in violent extremist groups?”

The Obama administration may have overlooked the role of gender on violent extremism. The current Trump administration seemingly does the same, focusing on race over gender rather than recognizing their interplay:

According to a report from the New America Foundation, “Since the attacks on September 11, 2001, nearly twice as many Americans have been killed by non-Muslim extremists than by jihadists.” The Trump administration’s response was to insist that all references to “terrorism” have the words “radical Islamist” in front of it, and that all programs and projects designed to address domestic terrorism be scrapped.

Sadly, one of the organizations I discuss in this book was actually defunded by this new administration. Life After Hate, a North American organization dedicated to helping violent right-wing extremists get out of the movement, had been awarded a substantial grant over two years to develop a deradicalization program in the United States modeled on EXIT in Sweden. In late June, the Trump administration approved the funding of all the successful grant recipients—except those that addressed rightwing extremism or worked in Muslim communities. …

All across the landscape of what President Donald Trump has insisted be collectively called “radical Islamic terrorism,” there are significant differences in tactics and ideology, distinctions that may be too subtle for a blanket nationalist condemnation. But on gender issues, these disparate groups appear pretty similar: global economic conditions produce a “crisis” of masculinity, a new anxiety among men about their ability to claim their entitlement to be productive and respected workers in public and unquestioned patriarchs at home. With employment more precarious, their children gradually escaping complete parental control in schools, and their wives entering the marketplace, where they develop alternative poles around which their social lives might revolve, a sense of “aggrieved entitlement” grows within them, a sense of humiliation at not being enough of a “real man.”

As history continues to unfold on the role of gender on violent extremism in our world today, we remind ourselves that a president’s viewpoint is but one of many markers that influence the cultural discourse and social policy around this issue. And only history will tell which side we will land—on the side of intolerance or on the side of understanding.

Read more from Healing from Hate. And learn more about the upcoming documentary, Healing from Hate: Angry White Men and the Alt-Right, which was inspired by the book.

#MeToo and #TimesUp: Women in Prison Require a Movement Too

This guest post is published around the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences conference in New Orleans, occurring February 13-17, 2018. #ACJS2018 #ACJS18

By Barbara Owen, co-author of In Search of Safety: Confronting Inequality in Women’s Imprisonment

The #MeToo movement is drawing increasing attention to the range of sexual harassment and abuse across multiple industries. Women (and it is mostly women) are coming forward with allegations against men (and yes, it is mostly men) in the entertainment, media, sports, politics and other high-profile worlds. Each week, more news hits the airwaves about particularly egregious assaults perpetrated by marquee names, many showing a pattern of repeated harassment and assaults over long periods of time. One group of women unlikely to get much media attention are those incarcerated in jails and prisons. Their experiences with predatory staff are unlikely to get the public attention of those with more social and personal capital. These concerns are amplified in a population of imprisoned women who are often labeled as underserving and unsympathetic victims, suggesting that some are not worthy of the same level of attention and support given to those on the outside.

There are disquieting similarities as women inside and out report experiences with sexual harassment and assault: women are afraid to come forward and make claims against the more powerful people who harm them; they fear not being believed and suffering the consequences for such claims; and there is often little evidence of the event, further throwing their reports into disrepute.

As Lovisa Stannow, my friend and colleague from Just Detention International, a human rights organization focused on ending such assaults within custodial environments, stated in an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times:

But in this moment of heightened awareness of sexual violence and women’s safety, we need to remember those survivors who cannot tell their stories. Social media campaigns are now being used to rebuke sexism and have sent powerful ripples across the media and entertainment industries. But incarcerated women live in a world without hashtags and Facebook.

Most troubling to me is the ways in which industries and prison systems can be complicit in allowing such assaults to occur in these shadows. We echo the claims of the #TimesUp movement in calling for increased attention to the experiences of women in chains. While the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act provides a framework for protecting women (and men) who have been assaulted by staff while serving time, there is a renewed need to address how the severe consequence of gendered inequality within correctional environments can result in sexualized punishment. Time is up for the unnecessary suffering brought upon by all forms of sexual harassment and abuse against imprisoned women and girls.

Along with her colleagues from the Thailand Institute of Justice, Barbara Owen will be presenting at ACJS in New Orleans this Saturday, February 17 at 8:00am on Research and Hunan Rights: Foreign National Women’s Experience of Imprisonment in Cambodia. 

Barbara Owen is Professor Emerita at California State University, Fresno. She is co-author of In Search of Safety, with James Wells, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice in the School of Justice Studies at Eastern Kentucky University, and Joycelyn Pollock, Distinguished Professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Texas State University.