The idea for a national day to focus on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes from Harvard as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land. April 22, falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, was selected as the date.
While there may be some debate about the origins of the environmental movement as we know it, there can be no debate that we face many environmental challenges in the world today. Earth Day is a time to reflect on these challenges but also to be thankful for new understandings and solutions, and to continue to build towards a brighter environmental future for us all.
While we will not have a booth at the Pop Conference next week in Seattle, we will be well-represented by our Music Acquisitions Editor, Raina Polivka, and H. Samy Alim, co-editor (with Jeff Chang) of our new Hip Hop Studies Series.
The Hip Hop Studies Series publishes critical, accessible books by innovative thinkers exploring Hip Hop’s cultural, musical, social, and political impact around the world—from Los Angeles to London to Lagos and all points beyond and in between. Like Hip Hop Culture itself, the series advances original, creative, public-facing, social justice-oriented, dope intellectual work.
Have an idea or project to pitch? Follow us on Twitter at @ucpress to find where to meet our editors on Saturday at the Pop Conference.
In addition, in celebration of the 125th anniversary of UC Press in 2018, we are offering free access to all UC Press journals throughout the month of April. Read Southern California Quarterly (and all other UC Press journals) for free here.
In February 2018, the Historical Society of Southern California and UC Press released the Southern California Quarterly’s Volume 100, Number 1—a cause for celebration! While this marks its role as the oldest historical publication in the state, it’s quite an understatement, due to a change in its numbering system way back when. The Society has actually been publishing its journal for 134 years so far, starting in 1884, under varying titles:
Historical Society of Southern California, Los Angeles
Annual Publication of the Historical Society of Southern California
Historical Society of Southern California
The Quarterly: Historical Society of Southern California
and finally, since 1962, Southern California Quarterly
Over the years the content has evolved in step with the historical profession. The first issue merely published the charter of the organization, which was founded late in 1883. In the early years, along with perfunctory committee reports, the journal featured the reminiscences of early pioneers. In 1887 (vol. 1, no. 3; pp. 30-35), “A Sketch of Some of the Earliest Kentucky Pioneers of Los Angeles,” by Stephen C. Foster provided short biographies of early fur trappers who had settled in Los Angeles before 1848—all of them personal acquaintances of his. The Society’s early journals also featured translations of significant historical documents from California’s Spanish and Mexican eras, such as “A Letter of Sebastian Viscaino,” translated and commented upon by George Butler Griffin (vol. 1, no. 4, 1888-89, pp. 15-20) that the Spanish explorer had written to New Spain’s viceroy in 1602. The pioneer memoirs and translated documents still serve historians as valuable research sources.
By the 1920s the penchant for romanticizing the mission and ranchero eras colored the pages of the journal, serving as valuable examples of the “Spanish Romance” tendency, but also as useful tools for today’s readers. Note, for example, Marion Parks’ article, “In Pursuit of Vanished Days: Visits to the Extant Historical Adobe Houses of Los Angeles County, Part I,” that appeared in vol. 14, no. 1, in 1928, pp. 7-63. Parks identifies not only the few adobes still existing in 2018, but many long gone and no longer remembered. Because he gave the locations, provided maps, and illustrated the article with 1920s photos, they are rich tools for urban geographers and site analyses. His writing style conveys all the sentimental nostalgia representative of his time:
In the abandoned adobes…I sensed the spirit of a happy, unhurried time when everybody lived comfortably in the knowledge that tomorrow would come along unfailingly, just as good a day as today, and people were contented in the honest simplicity of an honest time. (p. 10)
The journal continued to carry transcriptions of important historical documents. Volume 16 (1934) contains three: “An Unusual Fremont Document,” by Carl I. Wheat (pp. 56-57); “The Secularization of the Missions: A Newly Discovered California Document,” by Henry R. Wagner (pp. 66-73); and “The Record Book of the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino,” transcribed and edited by Lindley Bynam (pp. 1-55). The latter contains one facsimile page of the hand-written source, identifies the historical context for Isaac Williams’ ranch, and quotes the testimonies and transactions of the travelers on the Old Spanish Trail who stopped there between 1849 and 1856.
In the mid-twentieth century, secondary researched articles by historians dominated the pages but, while they recorded historical events and trends fastidiously, usually appeared as narrative accounts and often lacked footnotes, thus Marco R. Newmark’s catalog of “Early California Resorts,” some of them based on his own childhood memories, others of unknown origin (vol. 35, no. 2: June 1953, pp. 129-152), and Dennis Aronson’s “The Pomona Street Railways in the Southern California Boom of the 1880s,” in vol. 47, no. 3: September 1965 (pp. 245-267), which describes the equipment of early streetcar lines and projects their impact on real estate development and tourism in early Pomona.
The history discipline shifted focus in the 1970s from a narrative literature standard to interdisciplinary scientific methodology. History’s focus on Great Men and Big Adventures widened to include women, workers, ethnic minorities, etc. Research is documented in footnotes or endnotes, and authors locate their discoveries and new perspectives in the context of previous scholarship. New subfields of history have been recognized in the Quarterly’s modern era, too:, Public History, Environmental History, Sports History, Borderlands and Pacific Rim History, the History of Science and Technology, and Food History, to name a few. Two good examples are:
The Southern California Quarterly’s Spring 2018 issue, volume 100, no. 1, brings together articles on election fraud, artists in the California landscape, and African Americans’ search for citizenship. In the Summer 2018 issue a cluster of articles under the umbrella title of “Food Matters” will explore a history of California foodways, from field to table. Good reading ahead!
 Readers can find all back issues, no matter how they’re titled, on-line through the University of California Press Journals and JSTOR databases at participating libraries. HSSC members at the Scholar and Patron levels enjoy direct access via the HSSC website.
This year, we’ve been celebrating the quasquicentennial anniversary of University of California Press in 2018, marking 125 years of scholarly publishing since its founding in 1893. Throughout this time, UC Press has remained one of the most forward-thinking publishers in the world, collaborating with scholars, librarians, and authors, to publish high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship.
As the Association for Asian American Studies convenes this week in San Francisco, we are making a selection of content from our journals program available to read for free for a limited time. We hope that these articles will provoke discussion among AAAS attendees and the wider community of Asian American studies scholars. We encourage you to post/comment online using the #AAAS2018 hashtag.
Boom California‘s peer-reviewed articles exploring the vital issues of our time in California and the world beyond, are always free to read online. In coming weeks, Boom will be publishing additional articles on the theme of Vietnamese California, so please keep an eye on the site.
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.”
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 #AAS2018.
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.
In recognition of World Water Day 2018, in this post, we speak with Dr. Heather O’Leary, an environmental anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis, about citizen science and how water researchers can engage with marginalized communities to improve water quality. Her article “Engaging Science for Inclusive Water Governance: An engaged ethnographic approach to WaSH data collection in Delhi, India” publishes soon in UC Press’s journal Case Studies in the Environment.
UC Press: Tell us a little about the informal settlements, or “slums,” of Delhi, India where you conducted your water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) research.
Heather O’Leary: My research shows how we can use water as a lens to demonstrate core challenges and opportunities to sustainable urban development. One of my research questions has always been: How do different development patterns challenge people’s relationship to critical life-giving natural resources, like water? In Asia’s booming megacities, like many cities worldwide, people make deeply ingrained cultural assumptions about who belongs and what they are entitled to—and this is evident through measurable, material contexts, like water quantities and qualities.
In Delhi, I examined three interstitial sites—places “in-between”—where the answers to questions about water are presumed to be known without any formal scientific verification. Of these sites, rapidly transforming demographic and infrastructures of informal “slum” communities showed dynamic transformations between people by using water as a sign of upward mobility.
Many people who in-migrate to cities are seeking a better life, or are being pushed into cities from areas with lesser access to opportunities and resources. New trajectories of upward mobility can be both indicated by new access to water and new practices of water use. But a lot of the water acquired in informal settlement communities is either not legal or hard to come by, since deliveries to squatter residents are not well supported by the larger urban community. Typically, residents of legal homes get a few hours of water pressure through municipal pipes each day. In some communities, wells and public standpipes are also sources of water. The Delhi Jal Board (the municipal water organization) also sends tanker-trucks of water to roadside pickup points. Tankers are sent to informal communities that the city does not want to legitimize with civic infrastructure and also in relief situations—for wealthy communities in times of scarcity or to poor, informal neighborhoods with a population spike. Access to water is precious and signals a lot about where and how a person fits into the narrative of the city.
So, as you can imagine, people are hesitant to talk about even the most mundane aspects of water collection and storage. Essentially, they risk losing a precious leg-up they have in a city not entirely hospitable to them. This is one reason why, in my WaSH research, I collaborate with residents to discover, in their own words, how do they determine who belongs to a city.
For instance, by what magical transformation do recent in-migrants demonstrate they are now city-folk, and how does water sourced from the countryside and deep wells become the most salient symbol of urban contemporary life? Because this question is hard to measure through words alone, residents use water access as a proxy for deeper, ineffable cultural issues that mediate millions of peoples’ relationship to the people and resources around them. The research presented in my CSE article gives a snapshot of one way to improve research techniques in informal communities. It was collected over 18 continuous months of fieldwork in Delhi as part of my decades-long research in the cultural dimensions of human-environment interactions.
UC Press: What are some of the dangers of imposing research on marginalized communities, rather than engaging and empowering them in the research process?
Heather O’Leary: When researchers impose their projects on marginalized communities not only do they risk reproducing the inaccuracies of past research, but they also perpetuate a long history of extractivist epistemic violence. That is to say, many research traditions treat marginalized communities as case studies and the people within them as objects of study. This harmfully reduces populations of human beings into repositories of data ready to be analyzed by clever folks trained in scientific research traditions. But this privileges only certain ways of knowing, or epistemologies. In other words, this is a system that downplays the critical diversity of the ways in which we can understand problems and solutions.
By dehumanizing experts in other knowledge traditions and other knowledge areas (for example, experts in navigating slum life), it makes it seem more ok to treat other humans not as peers but as objects of study. This has perpetuated stratified systems of who is considered an expert and what knowledge traditions are considered legitimate. Yet, research in situ, with boots-on-the-ground, does not typically require the objective distance and non-disruption of blind experiments conducted in a lab. In fact, subjectivity is a strength of field research that only grows when researchers openly acknowledge their situatedness—or how their identities have affected their research. Instead of ignoring privilege and vast histories of hierarchy perpetuated by the supposedly objective gaze, when working in the field researchers should actively engage and empower partners in marginalized communities. Through collaboration and seeing the world through the eyes of other capable experts, empowering marginalized populations by treating them as citizen-scientists can be a powerful engine to generating new insight and better research, not to mention taking a step toward more ethical science.
UC Press: Research projects leveraging data from citizen-scientists have become increasingly common in recent decades, but oftentimes, underprivileged communities are under-represented in these projects. What are some of the benefits of better democratizing citizen science?
Heather O’Leary: Researchers take a step in the right direction when they try to broaden the representation of their samples to include traditionally underrepresented populations. Not only does this help close the critical gaps in sampling representation, but it also recognizes these populations as stakeholders who participate in systems—from being affected by dangers, to coping through creative solutions.
However, I join a critical community of scholars who argue that many inclusion tactics treat people in underprivileged communities as objects, rather than subjects. Essentially, this means that researchers observe and collect data on populations without forming essential partnerships that recognize the agency and talents of everyday people. By approaching members of underrepresented populations as legitimate, credible experts who collect untapped data and form complex theories governing their everyday experiences, researchers glean a whole lot more than diverse participation in data collection.
Democratizing citizen-science means including everyday people as partners in every step along the way: framing research projects, troubleshooting methods, interpreting resulting data, and determining next steps towards broader impact. By democratizing citizen-science, researchers issue a powerful invitation to participate in creating more nuanced hypotheses, higher-quality data collection, and holistic systemic solutions. My article demonstrates one of many instances where training and partnering with people in the local community generated even better research frameworks and how these partnerships mobilized a community of citizen-scientists to improve WaSH according to their specific, local needs.
This could mark an exciting new juncture in how we approach the “wicked problem” of urban WaSH and human-environmental interactions more broadly. Consider that as a global community we’ve made laudable, marked progress towards eradicating and reducing waterborne and vector disease. We have also worked toward reducing the barriers to clean, adequate levels of water at multi-scalar levels: from transnational rivers and aquifers, to balanced uses shared in regions, to democratizing access in communities and homes. Yet, change may not be rapid enough. This may be because we’re working with models and solutions that either do not address the vast collective human knowledge on water management and, alarmingly, we systematically repress the expertise of the most hydraulically and socially marginalized. What new models of water management could be possible if we learned to work together, as partnered equals? Which existing knowledge tradition could unlock a sustainable water future for all? Rather than looking for solutions solely in the future of science, what if we also listened to the citizen experts among us just a little more closely?
Dr. O’Leary’s article is part of a forthcoming Case Studies in the Environment “special issue” on water science and collaborative governance for addressing water quality. For more on this special issue, see our call for papers here (submissions close May 1, 2018).
Case Studies in the Environment is a journal of peer-reviewed case-study articles, case-study pedagogy articles, and a repository for editor-reviewed case-study slides. The journal informs faculty, students, educators, professionals, and policymakers on case studies and best practices in the environmental sciences and studies.
In honor of World Water Day 2018 on March 22, we are pleased to highlight 6 water-focused articles from our open access, trans-disciplinary journal Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene. With research on floods and droughts, oceans and rivers, agriculture and food-energy systems, these articles are among Elementa‘s many peer-reviewed scientific reports addressing water challenges and solutions in this era of human impact. #WorldWaterDay
About Elementa:Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene is a trans-disciplinary, open-access journal committed to the facilitation of collaborative, peer-reviewed research. With the ultimate objective of accelerating scientific solutions to the challenges presented by this era of human impact, it is uniquely structured into six distinct knowledge domains, and gives authors the opportunity to publish in one or multiple domains, helping them to present their research and commentary to interested readers from disciplines related to their own.
To read more open access Elementa content, or to submit your own article, please visit us at elementascience.org.