The Economic, Social, and Emotional Toll of Removing Temporary Protected Status for Immigrants

The Trump administration continues to take steps to remove protections from certain immigrants groups. Today, it announced that it will end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for certain nationals of El Salvador, affecting ~200,000 immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for more than 15 years. They will be returning to a country that has one of the highest murder rates in the world as well as a rampant gang problem. Many of the immigrants facing deportation have U.S. born children who now face the possibility of seeing their families torn apart.

Many of these same immigrants play a huge role in farm labor. Farmers are concerned how this, and the loss of other immigration protections, will negatively affect their ability to find laborers to work their crops.

Looking at your own neighborhood and university, which of your neighbors, students, colleagues, friends, and communities are affected by these removal of protections?

Below are books that relate to how immigrants have affected their communities, how immigrants contribute to the U.S. economy, and how immigration and deportation affect children and their families. And consider using the #ImmigrationSyllabus: UC Press Edition to prepare lecture discussions for your courses discussing immigration, labor and work, race relations, families, politics, and much more.

Immigration and Deportation
Labor and Work
Children and Families

 

 


Best of the Blog 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, we’ve compiled ten blog posts that resonated most with our readers over the past year. Popular blog themes closely mirrored current events, and the state of global political realities — immigration, inequality, fascism, and environmental issues; additionally, readers were taken by posts on critical thinking, “slow” cinema, indigenous and world poetry, and the secrets unearthed from an ancient metropolis.

Have a happy new year, and see you in 2018, the 125th year of UC Press’s founding!

Immigration historians from across the United States launched the website #ImmigrationSyllabus to help the public understand the historical roots of today’s immigration debates, inspiring us to follow suit with a list of UC Press suggestions to provide further context to the ongoing conversation. View the Immigration Syllabus: UC Press Edition.

Raj Patel & Jason W. Moore’s A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things focuses on seven areas that are the foundation of modern commerce: nature, money, work, care, food, energy, and lives. In this excerpt, find out how the cheapening of care has made the world safe for capitalism: #7CheapThings: Cheap Care

In Trump’s Transgender Crisis, Jack Halberstam, author of Trans*: A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variability, responds to Donald Trump’s tweeted policy change banning trans soldiers from the military to ask: at a time when the visibility and acceptance of transgender people has never been higher, why this ban, why now?

In today’s fast-paced political news cycle, terms like “fascism” and “populism” are often used, but not always clearly defined. This excerpt from Federico Finchelstein’s From Fascism to Populism in History, explores the origins of these ideologies, their significance, and the important distinctions between them: Fascism or Populism? Playing the “Democratic Game”

One of the earliest, largest, and most important cities in the ancient Americas, Teotihuacan is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most visited archaeological site in Mexico. Take a Look at Teotihuacan to see some of the rare and awe-inspiring artifacts featured in the exhibition and accompanying catalogue Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire.

 

Fifty years since its original publication, Jerome Rothenberg’s Technicians of the Sacred continues to inspire and educate readers with its ability to expand the possibilities of poetry throughout the world. Rothenberg recently visited the UC Press offices to discuss the book’s enduring power and read from the 50th anniversary edition.

 

 

Peter M. Nardi, sociologist and author of Critical Thinking: Tools for Evaluating Research, addressed the importance of looking beyond the “two-sides-of-the-coin” perspective when responding to complex issues in his post False Balance, Binary Discourse, and Critical Thinking.

Releasing in May 2018, Paul Schrader’s seminal text Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer will be reissued with a substantial new introduction representing his experiences and ideas as a filmmaker that have evolved over time, giving the original work both new clarity and a contemporary lens. Hear Schrader discuss some of the techniques and attitudes of slow films in Transcendental Style in Film Revisited.

During the 2017 International Open Access Week, we interviewed Interim Director Erich van Rijn to survey the landscape of OA publishing at UC Press, discussing the progress and future of Luminos (our OA monograph program), and Collabra: Psychology and Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene (our two OA journals).

What is a case study, and how can case studies positively impact critical thinking and knowledge acquisition, as well as inform research in academia and training in professional practice? In the post The Case for Case StudiesCase Studies in the Environment Editor-in-Chief Wil Burns explains what case studies are, and how they can provide an important bridge to understanding important environmental issues.


#7CheapThings: Cheap Lives

excerpted from A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet by Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore

Welcome to the seventh post in our #7CheapThings blog series! Raj Patel & Jason W. Moore’s A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things focuses on seven areas that are the foundation of modern commerce: nature, money, work, care, food, energy, and lives. How has the cheapening of these things made the world safe for capitalism? Follow along to find out.

#7CheapThings care book coverIn the case of every cheap thing so far, we’ve seen organized acts of resistance. Women, wageworkers, Indigenous People, and even those members of the ruling class on whose fortunes the sun has set—all have fought, more or less successfully, against the requirement of their subservience. In response, capitalists developed new strategies to forge new frontiers and to deepen existing ones. This cat-and-mouse game of resistance, strategy, and counterstrategy has been the history of capitalism’s ecology. Governments, merchants, and financiers scaled new heights of creativity and destruction in the search for profit. But capitalism’s ecology has also expanded and consolidated itself through prodigious experimentation in the arts and science of social order. Among the more durable and flexible technologies of social control is one that has become so familiar that it’s easy to forget its novelty and peculiarity: the nation-state.

The argument of this chapter is that capitalism’s ecology has shaped the modern nation-state and vice versa, through the colonial frontier, through the interactions between early capitalists and “savages,” and through the technologies of communication that capitalism fostered at its inception. The ordering and reordering of Society through cheap things has always proceeded by both force and suasion, coercion and consent. To maintain hegemony is, as Antonio Gramsci observed, to recruit and maintain forces from across society in a bloc that is able to continually outmaneuver its rivals. In the pursuit of order and control, the idea of “the nation” became affixed to the state in ways that few could predict and which continue to shape the planet.

Keeping things cheap is expensive. The forces of law and order, domestic and international, are a costly part of the management of capitalism’s ecology. We’ve titled this chapter “Cheap Lives” and not “Expensive State” because we want to focus not on the institutions of government but on their processes and consequences. Technically, lives aren’t a cheap thing in the way that the others are—but it would have made for an infelicitous title to admit this earlier. Understand how capitalism has made “cheap lives” a strategy of cheap nature, and you understand not only the forces required to keep money, work, care, food, and energy cheap but also how the most sophisticated and subtle modern institution, the nation-state, still draws on early modern roots and natural science to manage modern life. More important still, as states confront the limits of their ability both to manage the lives in their charge and to provide conducive environments for liberal capitalism, we’re reaching the end of an era of cheap lives. We make this argument not with relish for the successor to the liberal nation-state but out of concern for what may follow. We’re astute enough students of history to know that what comes next might be far worse.


Raj Patel care author photoRaj Patel is an award-winning writer, activist and academic. He is a Research Professor in the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin and a Senior Research Associate at the Unit for the Humanities at Rhodes University. He is the author of Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System and The Value of Nothing.

Jason W. Moore author photo careJason W. Moore teaches world history and world-ecology at Binghamton University, and is coordinator of the World-Ecology Research Network. He is the author of several books, including Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital, and numerous award-winning essays in environmental history, political economy, and social theory.


The (Chronic) Crisis of Legitimacy in Policing

This guest post is published during the American Society of Criminology conference in Philadelphia, occurring November 15-18, and in relation to this year’s ASC theme of Crime, Legitimacy and Reform: Fifty years since the President’s Commission #ASCPhilly

By Nikki Jones, author of The Chosen Ones: Black Men and the Politics of Redemption (forthcoming June 2018)

Fifty years ago, in the wake of urban uprisings across the country, the vast majority of which were sparked by a negative police encounter, President Lyndon Johnson charged The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders to answer three seemingly simple questions: What happened? Why did it happen? What can be done?

The five problem areas identified then are familiar now: 1) police operations and misconduct in ghetto neighborhoods, 2) police practices that failed to protect Black residents, 3) the lack of effective and transparent grievance processes to report officer misconduct, 4) the lack of clear policy guidelines to direct officer behavior, especially use of force, and 5) the lack of community support for law enforcement.

In answering the President’s charge, the report did not shy away from the topic of race and racism. Instead, the report linked the problem of policing to histories of racist violence (from which millions of Black Americans fled during the Great Migration) and racist housing policies in American cities that turned ghetto neighborhoods into tinderboxes for the urban uprisings the Commission was called on to explain and, ultimately, prevent in the future.

In addition to highlighting the role that systemic racism played in the problems between the police and Black Americans at the time, the report also drew attention to a culture of racism among police departments.

All in all, the report (along with similar state and local reports of the time) had a dramatic impact on policing. Today, America’s largest cities are home to the most well-funded, well-trained, and professionalized law enforcement departments in our nation’s history. State and local law enforcement agencies receive historically unmatched support from the federal government and a vast network of researchers and academics that supports the development and implementation of policing innovations in cities across the country.

While today’s law enforcement agencies are stronger than they have ever been, they are also, if we are to believe some leaders in law enforcement, the most fragile when it comes to responding to charges of racism. This supposed fragility is evidenced in Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ assertion that the increased scrutiny of law enforcement (or, it seems, any scrutiny at all) is bad for officer morale as well as other calls to quiet (or quash) serious discussion of the ways that race and racism influence policing today.

Fifty years ago, incisive critiques of law enforcement led to monumental changes in policing. Fifty years later, it is clear that much work remains, including the need to acknowledge the historical role that policing has played in enforcing the racial order and reproducing racial inequality in the U.S. – not just in the South and not just decades ago.

Today, the potential for such discussions is limited by the fragility framework and color-blind criminological sound bites (e.g., the common refrain that there are more police contacts in Black neighborhoods because that is where the crime is) that demonstrate a resistance to discussing anything but implicit racism in policing.

Where will that leave us fifty years from now?


Nikki Jones is Associate Professor of African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Between Good and Ghetto: African American Girls and Inner-City Violence. 


Not Beyond Racism: Teens Talk about Violence and the “Jacked Up” U.S. System

This guest post is published during the American Society of Criminology conference in Philadelphia, occurring November 15-18. #ASCPhilly

By Katherine Irwin, co-author of Jacked Up and Unjust: Pacific Islander Teens Confront Violent Legacies 

Like many of us, I remember the Obama years fondly. At the beginning of his first term in office, phrases like “the post-racist” society and “America’s color-blindness” were bandied about in the media with a sense that some significant change in U.S. race relations was underway. I can even remember some of my colleagues who were writing about racism in the criminal justice system being somewhat perturbed that their work had instantly become passé after Obama was elected. Then came Trump, neo-racism, and neo-nationalism. Race and racism are squarely back on the table of discussion. It seems that we are not a post-racist society after all.

Given the quickly changing discourses about race and racism, my co-author Karen Umemoto and I thought it was time to illuminate important nuances of America’s racist history as they are felt and experienced by groups of teens who are often overlooked. In our book, Jacked Up and Unjust: Pacific Islander Teens Confront Violent Legacies, we allow girls and boys to tell us about racism, harsh criminal justice punishments, and the use of violence to enact vengeance. Teens in this study spoke of the U.S. as an inherently racist country – a place where the police, teachers, and school administrators were out to punish them and where they had few chances to thrive. The fact that most of the teens who acted violently in this study had at least one family member who had been incarcerated reinforced the idea that the “U.S. system” was much more likely to target than to help the teens in our study.

The story that the teens shared during the nine years that I spent researching violence in public high schools in Hawaii taught me some lessons about using retributive measures to solve deep seated problems in the U.S. As we know, America’s reliance on harsh criminal justice sanctions over the past few decades has made us the most incarcerating industrialized nation in the world. What I learned during this study with Pacific Islander teens is that the punitive turn in the U.S. has also left lasting legacy in the psyche of many young people. Not only did these teens feel the sting of poverty, racism, and political neglect, but they also came to avoid adults and adult institutions in fear of punishment.

There is also good news revealed in Jacked Up and Unjust. High school staff and community leaders provided extensive support services to youth during this study. Kids who started out their school careers as tough fighters, willing to “throw-down” at the slightest provocation, eventually became less violent and more engaged in school because of support services. The takeaway lesson from Jacked Up and Unjust is that young people who behave violently are not headed for a lifetime of pathology, hate, and brutality. Marshaling services and providing spaces for youth to feel connected, cared for, and listened to can change lives. This book instructs us all about how to provide such support for teens.

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Attend Katy’s author meets critic session on Friday, November 17, 2:00 to 3:20pm, Marriott, Room 502, 5th Floor as well as her other sessions too. And learn more about Katy and Karen’s work with teens in Hawaii.


Katherine Irwin is Professor of Sociology at the University of Hawai‘i, Manoa. She is the co-author of Jacked Up and Unjust with Karen Umemoto and co-autho of Beyond Bad Girls: Gender, Violence, and Hype with Meda Chesney-Lind.


Young and At Risk: Canada’s First Nation Women and California’s Latinas

This guest post is published during the American Society of Criminology conference in Philadelphia, occurring November 15-18. #ASCPhilly

By Jerry Flores, author of Caught Up: Girls, Surveillance, and Wraparound Incarceration

Tamara Lynn Chipman, missing since 2005.

Across Canada there has been tens of thousands of missing first nations women like Tamara Lynn Chipman. A similar pattern has occurred near American reservations as well as places like Juarez, Mexico where scores of women as young as 14 years old have been kidnapped, raped, murdered and never returned to their families. Most of these women have received little media coverage, scant support from criminal justice institutions and are seldom found alive, if at all.

As an incoming faculty member in the sociology department at the University of Toronto, a new resident to Canada, and a Chicano feminist I was stunned by these stories. During the last ten years, there have been an increase in documentaries on this issue, scores of independent efforts to find these people, but there has been little government support to successfully find these women or to curtail these disappearances. As I began to read about this issue I was baffled by how similar the stories of these youth compare to the experiences of justice involved Latinas that I interviewed in Caught Up: Girls, Surveillance and Wraparound Incarceration. In this book, I address the multiple home factors that contribute to Latinas in Southern California ending up behind bars and the challenges they face when attempting to return to a “normal life.” I interviewed over 30 young women and included twenty more via group interviews or ethnographic fieldwork.

Identical Challenges

Despite the roughly 4,048 kilometers between my field site in Southern California and the greater Toronto Area, young at risk Latinas and First Nations women experience almost identical challenges when attempting to survive to adulthood. They must negotiate abuse in the home, a lack of social services (even in Canada), the ever-present threat of sexual violence, and the looming possibility of ending up behind bars. Additionally, schools, community centers and even well intentioned adults cannot seem to provide them the tools they need to avoid victimization and to be successful. This—and what seems to be a lack of interest or just plain oversight from various institutions—pushes young women to run away, hitchhike large distances, and participate in other high-risk behavior. As a result, thousands of young native women like Tamara eventually disappear or end up murdered on the side of rural roads across North America.

As an academic, feminist and victim of childhood sexual assault, I hope that we as a society can find a way to stop the continued attack on women and more broadly on all marginalized and oppressed groups. Additionally, I hope we can find these First Nations women and help prevent their disappearance in the first place. It is high time that we make marginalized young women the focal point of our efforts.

Moving forward there are a few simply things caring individuals and policy makers can do to help these young women:

  • First, introduce safe space where youth can report victimization without the fear of retribution.
  • Second, encourage schools and community centers to provide mental health services to anyone in need and free of charge.
  • And finally, make sure that all marginalized people including First Nations women and Latinas have access to quality K-12 education, three meals a day, clean water and a safe place to sleep.

Taken together, this will help address the main issues that encourage young women to leave their homes in the first place.

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Attend Jerry’s author meets critics session on Friday, November 17, 8:00 to 9:20am, Marriott, Room 406, 4th Floor as well as his other sessions. And learn more about the book from Jerry.  


Jerry Flores is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto.


The Institutionalization of Young People: 50 Years Later

This guest post is published during the American Society of Criminology conference in Philadelphia, occurring November 15-18. #ASCPhilly

By Patrick Lopez-Aguado, author of Stick Together and Come Back Home: Racial Sorting and the Spillover of Carceral Identity (forthcoming January 2018)

When the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice released its report in 1967, much of the group’s assessment was devoted to concerns about the juvenile justice system. In this report, the commission stressed avoiding the institutionalization of juvenile offenders, both through limiting the range of offenses that would require court intervention (especially for non-violent offenders), and by taking full advantage of any possible alternatives to incarceration.Their hopes in recommending these measures were to minimize the stigmas attached to criminalized young people, and to prevent law enforcement intervention from isolating these youth from their communities.

However, this is not what characterizes juvenile justice today. Instead, much of the policing of youth crime is carried out through a system known as a school to prison pipeline precisely because of how effectively it funnels children into criminal justice facilities. Within this institutional infrastructure,the formal labeling of youth, and particularly poor youth of color, as criminals is often mandated by zero tolerance policies that require schools to report disruptive or troublesome students to local juvenile probation agencies as criminal offenders. Once inside the juvenile justice system, youth are then frequently marked with gang labels that then subject them to ongoing surveillance, punishment, and exclusion from the public sphere.

But this institutionalization is not limited to the management of the juvenile justice system either, as some of its effects may be experienced even before young people are ever placed in a criminal justice facility. The concentration of imprisonment rates condenses many of its collateral consequences into high-incarceration communities, the consequences of prisonization among them. Here, the persistent gang labels used to categorize residents inside justice system institutions (Norteña/os and Sureña/os for example) also regularly appear in the neighborhood, and are similarly ascribed to young residents. The identities and conflicts that stem from these categories then represent an extended socialization of institutional life that now informs the criminalization of poor communities of color.

In the 50 years since the president’s commission, the criminal justice system has wandered far from its stated ideals of minimizing the institutionalization of young people. But it’s never too late to begin moving this system in the right direction. Dismantling the school to prison pipeline stands out as an obvious need, but we also need to interrogate how this status quo has shaped our understanding of youth crime, particularly the need to seek out and control “gang” youth. To this end, the Trump administration’s fixation on “gang members” as folk devils characterizing Latina/o criminality is certainly not encouraging. But we must remember that criminalization is a process that unfolds locally, within the social contexts that we do have the power, and obligation, to change.

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See Patrick at the #ASCPhilly conference during a session on Policing Blackness with his paper on  Constructing Masculine Identity and Performance in the Carceral Social Order on Thursday, November 16, 2:00 to 3:20pm, Marriott, Room 302, 3rd Floor.

And hear more about the book during Patrick’s interview this past July with KZSC Santa Cruz.


Patrick Lopez-Aguado is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Santa Clara University.


Disparities in Perspectives on Addiction

This guest post is published during the American Society of Criminology conference in Philadelphia, occurring November 15-18. #ASCPhilly

by Rashi K. Shukla, author of Methamphetamine: A Love Story

Why do we seem to care more about some than others when it comes to addiction and drug abuse? It is a haunting question that mirrors the realities of today. Nationally, attention to opioids have led to calls for treatment and increases in funding. An estimated 91 people die each day as a result of their addiction. Federally, funds were recently allocated to expand efforts to battle the problem. While those who die as a result of their opioid abuse are often referred to as victims of the drug, there is a disconnect when it comes to how we think about, and more importantly, how we respond to, addiction in the U.S.

Drug addiction is not new. It has plagued individuals and communities for decades. Though policies are in the midst of change, the U.S. has been engaged in a War on Drugs against those who use, abuse, and become addicted to illicit drugs for more than 30 years. Large proportions of the U.S. prison population are incarcerated for drug-related offenses. Take into account other aspects of the system (e.g., probation and parole), and the numbers only increase. What has changed? Why is it that today, many in society are willing to view those who become addicted to certain drugs, such as opioids, with more empathy and concern than those who abuse other illicit drugs?

As someone who has studied methamphetamine for a decade, I have come face-to-face with the demonization, criminalization, and stigmatization that forever follows those who fell prey to addiction and the accompanying lifestyle. While their levels of engagement in criminal and deviant lifestyles may differ from those of suburban drug users, at the end of the day, their addictions were not that different. And yet, the type of drug that one becomes addicted to makes all of the difference in our views and responses. It seems that compassion and calls for treatment that dominate the national discussion on addiction are not equally aimed at all addicts.

Methamphetamine devastates lives and communities, and yet, there is no sympathetic lens for addicts of meth and other illicit drugs. Some who get labeled with felony convictions related to their meth addiction will tell you, “it’s a life sentence.” For some, convictions and addictions are negative labels that stick.

There is a need for a shift in perspective and policy, not just for opioids, but for all who become impacted by drug addiction. Though the increased attention is a step in the right direction, to overlook the devastation being caused by other drugs is a disservice at best.

Those who manage to escape addiction, be it to opioids, methamphetamine, or other drugs, face numerous challenges in the roads that lie ahead. The need for greater understanding and increased resources for all, not just those who use certain types of drugs. Failing to respond more effectively to all of those who are burdened by addictions will only exacerbate the problem.

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See Rashi during her Author Meets Critics session on Thursday, November 16, 9:30 to 10:50am, Marriott, Room 411, 4th Floor.

And hear more about the book from Rashi.


Rashi K. Shukla is Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Central Oklahoma. She received her PhD in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University and has served as lead investigator of a multi-method study of the methamphetamine problem for more than a decade. Her research, which focuses on offender decision-making and the evolution of drug problems, has been presented in numerous forums, both nationally and internationally.


#7CheapThings: Cheap Energy

excerpted from A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet by Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore

Welcome to the sixth post in our #7CheapThings blog series! Raj Patel & Jason W. Moore’s A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things focuses on seven areas that are the foundation of modern commerce: nature, money, work, care, food, energy, and lives. How has the cheapening of these things made the world safe for capitalism? Follow along to find out.

#7CheapThings care book coverCapitalism’s ecology has a distinctive pyrogeography, one that is part of the fossil record. Indigenous People had thoroughly modified New World landscapes through fire. In eastern North America, they coproduced the “mosaic quality” of forest, savannah, and meadow that Europeans took for pristine nature. Between Columbus’s arrival and around 1650, disease and colonial violence reduced Indigenous populations in the Americas by 95 percent. With fewer humans burning and cutting them down, forests recovered so vigorously that the New World became a planetary carbon sink. Forest growth cooled the planet so much that the Indigenous holocaust contributed to the Little Ice Age’s severity. By the middle of the seventeenth century, some of the early modern era’s worst winters were being recorded across Eurasia and the Americas. Not coincidentally, it was an era of bitter war and political unrest, from Beijing to Paris. To reprise an idea from the introduction, it would be wrong to characterize this episode of genocide and reforestation as anthropogenic. The colonial exterminations of Indigenous Peoples were the work not of all humans, but of conquerors and capitalists. Capitalogenic would be more appropriate. And if we are tempted to conflate capitalism with the Industrial Revolution, these transformations ought to serve notice that early capitalism’s destruction was so profound that it changed planetary climate four centuries ago.

For many commoners in Europe and beyond, forests and woodlands were—and remain—as essential to survival as food. The destruction of the commons involved more than the creation of hunger. It also removed common rights to gather wood, imposing a poverty of fuel and construction material. In feudal Europe, demographic and settlement expansion in the eleventh and twelfth centuries led to conflict not just over farmland but also over access to forests, which had become lucrative income sources for nobles and kings. When England’s King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta in 1215, it’s significant that he was also compelled to sign a second document at the same time: the Charter of the Forest. Where the Magna Carta turns on legal and political rights, the Charter of the Forest was about “economic survival”: securing for peasants something called estovers, a broad category of subsistence wood products. The Forest Charter was an assurance of English commoners’ access to fuel, food, and building materials.

In Germany, as Peter Linebaugh notes, “the first great proletarian revolt of modern history, the Peasants’ Revolt of Germany in 1525, demanded the restoration of customary forest rights.” These included rights to use “ ‘windfall wood, rootfall trees, and inbowes,’ where these latter were defined ‘also only to so much thereof as the bees do light on, and the honey that shall be found in the tree, but not to cut any main bough or tree itself by color thereof.’ ” People have been fighting for centuries over the fuel and construction material that wood can become. It’s worth mentioning all this because it’s too often forgotten that capitalism’s energy revolution began not with coal but with wood—and with the privatization that forest enclosure implies.

This is not to privilege a European and North American history of energy over the histories of deforestation in, say, China. Notwithstanding the moderating effects of the forest police, China’s great deforestation one thousand years ago had consequences that persist today: at ten cubic meters (353 cubic feet), the country’s per capita forest reserves are an eighth of the world average. But China’s world-ecology wasn’t committed to global conquest. Europe’s was.

The reason to look at energy in Europe lies in the different use of fuel—a kind of cheap nature—as an intrinsic part of capitalism’s ecology. Cheap energy is a way of amplifying—and in some cases substituting for—cheap work and care. If cheap food is capitalism’s major way of reducing the wage bill, cheap energy is the crucial lever to advance labor productivity. The two can function as a logical sequence, even if the actual history is more complex. First, peasants must be ejected from the commons. These new workers must find wage work in some form. Second, the workshops and factories that employ these workers have to compete with one another. And while there’s a long history of bosses’ overworking their employees, the competitive struggle between capitalists is ultimately decided by labor productivity. We normally think of labor productivity—that is, the production of more commodities per average hour of work—as something determined by machines. But capitalist machines function because they draw on the work of extrahuman natures, and these have to be cheap, because the demand is limitless. For this reason, the enclosure of terrestrial commons coincided with the enclosure of the subterranean world. At the very moment when peasant life was turned upside down in sixteenth-century England, the country’s great coal mines were pumping out coal by the thousands of tons. Here a new layer of cheapness emerges in our picture of the world: capitalism’s global factory requires not just a global farm and a global family, but a global mine as well.

In this chapter we explore how energy became one of capitalism’s cheap things through energy revolutions in Europe and the Americas, and what cheap energy means for the twenty-first century’s global ecology. Energy qualifies as a “thing” insofar as it is transformed from part of the web of life into a commodity to be bought and sold. Fossilized life becomes stuff for a fire and an engine’s fuel tank only through capitalism’s ecology. But capitalism’s energy system does several tasks at once. It makes both energy and inputs cheaper: cheap coal makes cheap steel; cheap peat makes for cheap(er) bricks. This reduces the costs of doing business and enhances profitability. Cheap energy also helps keep labor costs down, by controlling one of the largest costs (after food) in a family budget. While enclosure made energy more expensive for most peasants by removing their access to the commons—where, in many parts of the world, collecting resources had fallen to women—it also pulled workers into the cash economy, where they had to pay for their building materials and fuel. Controlling energy costs was another way to manage and sustain cheap work.


Raj Patel care author photoRaj Patel is an award-winning writer, activist and academic. He is a Research Professor in the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin and a Senior Research Associate at the Unit for the Humanities at Rhodes University. He is the author of Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System and The Value of Nothing.

Jason W. Moore author photo careJason W. Moore teaches world history and world-ecology at Binghamton University, and is coordinator of the World-Ecology Research Network. He is the author of several books, including Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital, and numerous award-winning essays in environmental history, political economy, and social theory.


ASC Conference 2017: Author Meets Critics Sessions

This year’s American Society of Criminology conference in Philadelphia from November 15 – 18 includes exciting author meets critics sessions, highlighting titles that serve as a catalyst for change. Get 40% off of these titles by visiting Booth #27 and picking up an order form! #ASCPhilly

Cross-National Public Opinion about Homosexuality: Examining Attitudes across the Globe by Amy Adamczyk

Wed, Nov 15, 9:30 to 10:50am, Marriott, Room 402, 4th Floor.

Attend Amy’s other sessions and read her thoughts on why some countries disapprove of homosexuality.

LGBTQ Intimate Partner Violence:Lessons for Policy, Practice, and Research by Adam Messinger

Wed, Nov 15, 11:00am to 12:20pm, Marriott, Room 404, 4th Floor.

Attend Adam’s other sessions and read an interview about how abuse in LGBTQ relationships are harder to detect.

Methamphetamine: A Love Story by Rashi K. Shukla

Thu, Nov 16, 9:30 to 10:50am, Marriott, Room 411, 4th Floor

See the video about the book and listen to Rashi as she discusses how her research on this topic began. And learn more about the book and Rashi’s current research.

Abusive Endings: Separation and Divorce Violence against Women by Walter DeKeseredy, Molly Dragiewicz, Martin D. Schwartz 

Fri, Nov 17, 8:00 to 9:20am, Marriott, Room 305, 3rd Floor

Attend other sessions forWalterMolly, and Martin. And read about their thoughts on the visibility of violence against women and image-based sexual abuse.

Caught Up: Girls, Surveillance, and Wraparound Incarceration by Jerry Flores

Fri, Nov 17, 8:00 to 9:20am, Marriott, Room 406, 4th Floor

Attend Jerry’s other sessions. And read Jerry’s comments on why he felt it imperative to write the book.

Jacked Up and Unjust: Pacific Islander Teens Confront Violent Legacies by Katherine Irwin , Karen Umemoto

Fri, Nov 17, 2:00 to 3:20pm, Marriott, Room 502, 5th Floor.

Attend Katy’s other sessions. And read Katy and Karen’s thoughts on the book as well as the importance of combatting cultures of youth violence.