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.

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.

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.

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.

Inspiring Gender Parity on International Women’s Day

In recognition of International Women’s Day, we celebrate the economic, social, and political accomplishments of women worldwide. From the #metoo movement to the protection of reproductive health to the tireless work of activists, below are just some of our titles that inspire the ongoing work of accomplishing gender parity.

Race Women Internationalists: Activist-Intellectuals and Global Freedom Struggles (Forthcoming June 2018; preorder today)
By Imaobong D. Umoren

Race Women Internationalists explores how a group of Caribbean and African American women in the early and mid-twentieth century traveled the world to fight colonialism, fascism, sexism, and racism. Bringing together the entangled lives of three notable but overlooked women: Eslanda Robeson, Paulette Nardal, and Una Marson, it explores how, between the 1920s and the 1960s, the trio participated in global freedom struggles by traveling; building networks in feminist, student, black-led, anticolonial, and antifascist organizations; and forging alliances with key leaders to challenge various forms of inequality facing people of African descent across the diaspora and the continent.




The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century, Updated and Expanded Edition 
By Grace Lee Boggs with Scott Kurashige

A vibrant, inspirational force, Grace Lee Boggs was a tireless activist for feminism, Black Power, civil rights, environmental justice, and workers’ rights. She was a recipient of many human rights and lifetime achievement awards, including a place in the National Women’s Hall of Fame, and remained a crusader for social justice right up to her 100th year. In this expanded edition of The Next American Revolution, Boggs drew from seven decades of activist experience to redefine “revolution” for our times. In her shrewd assessment of the modern political, economical, and environmental crisis, she shows how to create the radical social change we need to confront new realities. Hers is an enduring manifesto for creating alternative modes of work, politics, and human interaction that will continue to constitute the next American Revolution for years to come.


The Gender Effect: Capitalism, Feminism, and the Corporate Politics of Development
By Kathryn Moeller

Using the Girl Effect, the philanthropic brand of Nike, Inc., as a central case study, the book examines how these corporations seek to address the problems of gendered poverty and inequality, yet do so using an instrumental logic that shifts the burden of development onto girls and women without transforming the structural conditions that produce poverty. These practices, in turn, enable corporations to expand their legitimacy, authority, and reach while sidestepping contradictions in their business practices that often exacerbate conditions of vulnerability for girls and women. With a keen eye towards justice, author Kathryn Moeller concludes that these corporatized development practices de-politicize girls’ and women’s demands for fair labor practices and a just global economy.


Reproductive Justice: An Introduction
By Loretta Ross and Rickie Solinger

Legendary scholar-activists Loretta J. Ross and Rickie Solinger put the lives and lived experience of women of color at the center of the book and use a human rights analysis to show how the discussion around reproductive justice differs significantly from the pro-choice/anti-abortion debates that have long dominated the headlines and mainstream political conflict. Arguing that reproductive justice is a political movement of reproductive rights and social justice, the authors illuminate, for example, the complex web of structural obstacles a low-income, physically disabled woman living in West Texas faces as she contemplates her sexual and reproductive intentions. In a period in which women’s reproductive lives are imperiled, Reproductive Justice provides an essential guide to understanding and mobilizing around women’s human rights in the twenty-first century.

And read our Herstory blog series.

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

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.

LA is Still the South

By Marcus Anthony Hunter and Zandria F. Robinson, authors of Chocolate Cities: The Black Map of American Life

A man is dragged from his seat. A group of police officers congregate around him as the recording continues. By the end of the ordeal the man, hospitalized and humiliated, becomes a siren song for resistance and uprising. A half-hearted apology is issued by those responsible. Sounds familiar? You may be thinking of the recent United Airlines ordeal. Yet twenty-five years ago, the scene was a traffic stop in Los Angeles. The man, not a doctor and not of Asian descent but instead is a black resident of Los Angeles named Rodney King.

The verdict “not guilty,” rang out across the Los Angeles’s Black belt like acid on old wounds. By 1992, black migration from the American South had over the 20th Century manifested into a entire Black region, South Central Los Angeles. Neighborhoods like Leimert Park and Baldwin Hills were built on a history of black artists and entertainers great enough to make millions but too black for Beverly Hills and Bel-Air. Separate water fountains and bathrooms had been replaced with separate communities and regions of the city. So when the brutal beating of Rodney King hit the television and airwaves, the graphic images and tale were an all too familiar reminder that black migrants hadn’t escape the chokehold of the Jim Crow South. The South followed them to California, refracted back in a video of a Black man savagely beaten by police officers. Never before had a recording so captured the experience. Never before had there been such clear indisputable evidence of the tendency for police officers to be forgetful of the humanity of black citizens. Even still, hearts would be crushed, tears shed and storefronts damaged after word of the verdict spread through South-Central.

From late April until early May ‘the Rodney King verdict’ reverberated across the city and nation in waves of protests, unrest and heavy police presence. Stores and buildings burned with the fury of a population that had escaped the South only physically. The commonly unheard voices of the city’s Black and Latino residents roared just beyond the gates and palm tree-lined campus of the University of Southern California.

More Than 25 Years Later

More than 25 years later many things have changed. On the site of the 1992 uprisings now sits a construction site accompanied by the noise and scaffolding of light rail construction. Built on the future of Los Angeles, the site—packed with steel and concrete, will create a vast transportation intersection between South Central and the rest of the city by 2020. As predominantly white runners clubs jog along the blocks that burned after the verdict, the spectacle of 25 years ago is merely a distant memory.

The name of the region of the city has changed too. No longer ‘South Central’, the area is called ‘South LA’ and ‘Mid-City’ now. Trolley cars shuttle back and forth between downtown and the Santa Monica promenade, as young white families and residents have discovered how convenient the area is. Where there was once an isolated set of black neighborhoods, there are gentrifying blocks. Many displaced black residents have gone back to the South to states like Texas and Louisiana and cities like Atlanta and Houston. Those who are poor, homeless and unemployed move about the city’s shrinking residential choices, as the cost of living continues to price them out.

More than 25 years later many things remain deeply consistent too. Tinsel town continues to draw Black people West in search of fame, fortune and freedom. Los Angeles still reflects the unrealized aspirations of the some of the oldest Americans, Black people. Indeed, UCLA’s recent reports confirm that diversity in Hollywood remains relatively non-existent. Hollywood, like the famous sign affixed to Laurel Canyon, is still white. Black actresses, like most all the black LA workforce, are forced to live out their dreams in a highly segmented and segregated labor industry. Although the median household income of black households in Los Angeles has historically outpaced the national average, black homeownership and black employment levels remain low and are declining.

Historically Black neighborhoods are contracting. New all white residential zones are forming. Police helicopters fly above. And shiny new trains traverse old gang boundaries. The city emerges from the ashes of the uprising, while long-standing Black residents fend for themselves. The makings of a classic movie about the South or country western, this, however is just a slice of black life in LaLa Land 25 years after the verdict. #BlackHistoryMonth #BHM

Marcus Anthony Hunter is Chair of the Department of African American Studies, Associate Professor of Sociology, and he holds the Scott Waugh Endowed Chair in the Division of the Social Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Black Citymakers: How the Philadelphia Negro Changed Urban America and the president of the Association of Black Sociologists.



Zandria F. Robinson is Associate Professor in Rhodes College’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology. She is the author of This Ain’t Chicago: Race, Class, and Regional Identity in the Post-Soul South and coeditor of Repositioning Race: Prophetic Research in a Postracial Obama Age. See Zandria’s website New South Negress.

Extraordinary Histories

An opportunity to reflect on the numerous events and figures in American history, Black History Month is more than a month; it is an expansive and growing history of America. The recommended books below highlight poignant historical moments and social movements and exemplary leaders at the front of societal change. Just a sample of the breadth of titles we publish in African American history, and on ethnic studies, more broadly, these titles foster greater understanding of national and world history.

Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party
By Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin Jr.

In Oakland, California, in 1966, community college students Bobby Seale and Huey Newton armed themselves, began patrolling the police, and promised to prevent police brutality. Unlike the Civil Rights Movement that called for full citizenship rights for blacks within the United States, the Black Panther Party rejected the legitimacy of the U.S. government and positioned itself as part of a global struggle against American imperialism. In the face of intense repression, the Party flourished, becoming the center of a revolutionary movement with offices in sixty-eight U.S. cities and powerful allies around the world. The notions of self-reliance and self-determination were at the core of the Panther’s beliefs, but the Party’s legacy has been largely misunderstood.

With Black Against Empire, historian Waldo E. Martin and sociologist Joshua Bloom provide the most comprehensive, unvarnished examination of the Party and its place in the larger scope of revolutionary and political tides swirling in the tumultuous 1960s. A book Bobby Seale called “profoundly important,” this bold, engrossing, and richly detailed history cuts through the mythology to reveal the political dynamics that drove the explosive growth of this revolutionary movement.

Selected as San Francisco’s 2017 One City One Book.

Houston Bound: Culture and Color in a Jim Crow City
By Tyina L. Steptoe

Beginning after World War I, the city of Houston was transformed from a black-and-white frontier town into one of the most ethnically and racially diverse urban areas in the United States. Tyina L. Steptoe’s award-winning Houston Bound draws on social and cultural history to show how, despite Anglo attempts to fix racial categories through Jim Crow laws, converging migrations—particularly those of Mexicans and Creoles—complicated ideas of blackness and whiteness and introduced different understandings about race. This migration history also examines these racial complexities through music and sound to trace the emergence of Houston’s blues and jazz scenes in the 1920s as well as the hybrid forms of these genres that arose when migrants forged shared social space and carved out new communities and politics.

Winner of the Urban History Association’s 2016 Kenneth Jackson Award, the Western History Association’s 2017 W. Turrentine-Jackson Award, and the Friends of the Texas Room’s 2017 Julia Ideson Award.

Chocolate Cities: The Black Map of American Life
By Marcus Anthony Hunter and Zandria Robinson

When you think of a map of the United States, what do you see? Now think of the Seattle that begot Jimi Hendrix. The Dallas that shaped Erykah Badu. The Holly Springs, Mississippi, that compelled Ida B. Wells to activism against lynching. The Birmingham where Martin Luther King, Jr., penned his most famous missive. Now how do you see the United States?

Chocolate Cities offers a new cartography of the United States—a “Black Map” that more accurately reflects the lived experiences and the future of Black life in America. Drawing on cultural sources such as film, music, fiction, and plays, and on traditional resources like Census data, oral histories, ethnographies, and health and wealth data, the book offers a new perspective for analyzing, mapping, and understanding the ebbs and flows of the Black American experience—all in the cities, towns, neighborhoods, and communities that Black Americans have created and defended. Black maps are consequentially different from our current geographical understanding of race and place in America. And as the United States moves toward a majority minority society, Chocolate Cities provides a broad and necessary assessment of how racial and ethnic minorities make and change America’s social, economic, and political landscape.

Charles Burnett: A Cinema of Symbolic Knowledge
By James Naremore

Considered by the Chicago Tribune as “one of America’s very best filmmakers” and by The New York Times as “the nation’s least-known great filmmaker and most gifted black director,” Charles Burnett is a crucial figure in the history of American cinema and often regarded as the most influential member of the L.A. Rebellion group of African American filmmakers. The first book devoted to Burnett, James Naremore provides a close critical study of all Burnett’s major pictures for movies and television, including Killer of SheepTo Sleep with AngerThe Glass ShieldNightjohnThe WeddingNat Turner: A Troublesome Property, and Warming by the Devil’s Fire. Having accessed new information and rarely seen material, Naremore shows that Burnett’s career has developed against the odds and that his artistry, social criticism, humor, and commitment to what he calls “symbolic knowledge” have given his work enduring value for American culture.

Holy Hip Hop in the City of Angels
By Christina Zanfagna

In the 1990s, Los Angeles was home to numerous radical social and environmental eruptions. In the face of several major earthquakes and floods, riots and economic insecurity, policebrutality and mass incarceration, some young black Angelenos turned to holy hip hop—a movement merging Christianity and hip hop culture—to “save” themselves and the city. Converting street corners to open-air churches and gangsta rap beats into anthems of praise, holy hip hoppers used gospel rap to navigate complicated social and spiritual realities and to transform the Southland’s fractured terrains into musical Zions. Armed with beats, rhymes, and bibles, they journeyed through black Lutheran congregations, prison ministries, African churches, reggae dancehalls, hip hop clubs, Nation of Islam meetings, and Black Lives Matter marches. Zanfagna’s fascinating ethnography provides a contemporary and unique view of black LA, offering a much-needed perspective on how music and religion intertwine in people’s everyday experiences.

The Chosen Ones: Black Men and the Politics of Redemption
By Nikki Jones 

In The Chosen Ones, sociologist and feminist scholar Nikki Jones shares the compelling story of a group of Black men living in San Francisco’s historically Black neighborhood, the Fillmore. Against all odds, these men work to atone for past crimes by reaching out to other Black men, young and old, with the hope of guiding them toward a better life. Yet despite their genuine efforts, they struggle to find a new place in their old neighborhood. With a poignant yet hopeful voice, Jones illustrates how neighborhood politics, everyday interactions with the police, and conservative Black gender ideologies shape the men’s ability to make good and forgive themselves—and how the double-edged sword of community shapes the work of redemption.

Forthcoming June 2018; preorder today.

Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the 21st Century
By Barbara Ransby 

In the wake of the murder of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012 and the exoneration of his killer, three black women activists launched a hashtag and social-media platform, Black Lives Matter, which would become the rubric for a larger movement. To many, especially those in the media, Black Lives Matter appeared to burst onto the national political landscape out of thin air.

But as historian and esteemed activist Barbara Ransby shows in her highly-anticipated Making All Black Lives Matter, the movement has roots in prison abolition, anti-police violence, black youth movements, and radical mobilizations across the country dating back at least a decade. Ransby interviewed more than a dozen of the movements principal organizers and activists, and she provides a detailed review of its extensive coverage in mainstream and social media. A critical history of the present, Making All Black Lives Matter offers one of the first overviews of Black Lives Matter and explores the challenges and possible future for this growing and influential movement.

Forthcoming September 2018; preorder today.