Anthropology News from UC Press

Kate Marshall, our new Anthropology editor!

For more than 50 years, UC Press has been one of the leading publishers in the field of anthropology. We are delighted to share the news that our longtime colleague Kate Marshall is assuming leadership of the program. Kate is preceded by Reed Malcolm, who will now manage our open access initiative Luminos.

Reed Malcolm joined UC Press in 1995 and served as executive editor for anthropology and Asian studies for nearly a decade. While Reed made a significant mark on the anthropology program, he is passionate about open access and eager to expand Luminos, a program created to enhance the global distribution of specialized scholarship by making it freely available to all. Reed will continue to acquire books in Asian studies.

Kate Marshall joined UC Press in 2008 and soon took on our interdisciplinary programs in food studies and Latin American studies. Publishing books by anthropologists has always been a significant part of Kate’s work and she’s excited to devote more attention to the field. Some of her noted publications in anthropology include Jason De León’s The Land of Open GravesHeather Paxson’s The Life of CheeseArlene Dávila’s El Malland Sarah Besky’s The Darjeeling Distinction. Kate will continue to acquire on food and Latin America across disciplines.

Kate or Reed may be contacted through our website. Kate and our marketing colleagues look forward to seeing you at the American Anthropological Association meetings in Washington, DC in a few weeks!


Introducing the 2017 Atelier Finalists

Atelier is a new launched book series in anthropology designed to take a ground-up approach to the acquisition and publication of new ethnographic works. The aim is to set the conditions for collaboration at each stage of a book’s development, from the earliest draft through publication, providing not just meaningful feedback but also constructive engagement from peers and publishers. Rather than considering only those manuscripts in their finished state, this series sets out to curate a cohort of scholars committed to the idea that ethnographic writing is itself a form of intellectual work.

Submissions for 2017 closed at the beginning of June, and we are now proud to announce our finalists! Read on to learn more about their forthcoming projects:

 

Sarah Besky (Brown University)

Market Qualities: Indian Tea and the Composition of Value

Sarah Besky published her first book The Darjeeling Distinction with UC Press in 2013. Her new book project traces how a range of aesthetic and technical experts in India have mobilized notions of quality in attempts to refit a colonially rooted product and industry for a 21st century global democracy.  It analyzes efforts to make “quality tea” at a time when India is trying to secure a place as a global economic leader, showing how, together, the materiality of plants and aesthetic and technoscientific practices mediate—and perhaps impede—economic and political reform.  Working across political economy, science and technology studies, and sensory ethnography, the book argues for an approach to quality that sees it not as a final destination for economic, imperial, or post-imperial projects, but as a generative opening for those projects.

 

Nomi Stone (Princeton University)

Human Technologies and the Making of American War

“Human Technologies and the Making of American War” is a political phenomenology of American Empire, offering micro-histories of aspects of war’s present life across the Middle East and North America. This transnational ethnography is staged between Iraqi refugee neighborhoods of Amman and mock Middle Eastern villages constructed by the US military across the woods and deserts of America to train soldiers deploying to the Middle East. Among mock mosques and markets, Middle Eastern role-players train US soldiers by repetitively pretending to mourn, bargain, and die like the wartime adversary and ally. Seeking to dereify war itself in a post 9-11 world, this project examines previously unexplored sites of encounter between the American military and the “native informants” they employ. Amidst increasing American military focus on omniscience and surveillance in the 21st century, Stone examines the ramifications of militarizing human beings as wartime cultural technologies to decipher the other.

 

Christien Tompkins (UCLA)

Reconstructing Race: New Orleans Education Reform as Experimental Labor

In Post-Katrina New Orleans, the unprecedented conversion of ninety percent of district schools into privately managed charter schools has served as a fertile site for debates over systemic interventions to alleviate racial and economic inequality. “Reconstructing Race: New Orleans Education Reform as Experimental Labor” shows how, despite initial sociopolitical naiveté, reform-minded educators, non-profits, and entrepreneurs have developed sophisticated techniques of recognition, selective inclusion, and racial expertise. “Reconstructing Race” finds that New Orleans’ citywide experimentation with private management as well as the work roles and laboring subjectivities of educators has led to the proliferation of new terrains of racialized neoliberal governance, where educators, policymakers, and entrepreneurs reconfigure and mobilize race under emergent entrepreneurial and expert cultures.


To learn more about the series, visit the series page on our website or reach out to the series editor, Kevin O’Neill.


Tools of the Trade: Anthropologists

As part of our “Tools of the Trade” blog series, we’re highlighting resources for social science scholars and educators to aid in your research, writing, and prep work this summer. Look no further for a refresher of methods that you can use in your own work or share with your students.

Enrich Your Ethnographic Research

Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco, Thirtieth Anniversary Edition by Paul Rabinow

In this landmark study, Paul Rabinow takes as his focus the fieldwork that anthropologists do. How valid is the process? To what extent do the cultural data become artifacts of the interaction between anthropologist and informants? Having first published a more standard ethnographic study about Morocco, Rabinow here describes a series of encounters with his informants in that study, from a French innkeeper clinging to the vestiges of a colonial past, to the rural descendants of a seventeenth-century saint.

 

How Forests Think: Toward and Anthropology of Being Human by Eduardo Kohn

Can forests think? Do dogs dream? In this astonishing book, Eduardo Kohn challenges the very foundations of anthropology, calling into question our central assumptions about what it means to be human—and thus distinct from all other life forms. Avoiding reductionistic solutions, and without losing sight of how our lives and those of others are caught up in the moral webs we humans spin, this book skillfully fashions new kinds of conceptual tools from the strange and unexpected properties of the living world itself.

 

The Extended Case Method: Four Countries, Four Centuries, Four Great Transformations, and One Theoretical Tradition by Michael Burawoy

In this remarkable collection of essays, Michael Burawoy develops the extended case method by connecting his own experiences among workers of the world to the great transformations of the twentieth century—the rise and fall of the Soviet Union and its satellites, the reconstruction of U.S. capitalism, and the African transition to post-colonialism in Zambia. These essays, presented with a perspective that has benefited from time and rich experience, offer ethnographers a theory and a method for developing novel understandings of epochal change.

 

Being There: The Fieldwork Encounter and the Making of the Truth edited by John Borneman and Abdellah Hammoudi

Challenges to ethnographic authority and to the ethics of representation have led many contemporary anthropologists to abandon fieldwork in favor of strategies of theoretical puppeteering, textual analysis, and surrogate ethnography. In Being ThereJohn Borneman and Abdellah Hammoudi argue that ethnographies based on these strategies elide important insights.

 

Reproducing Race: An Ethnography of Pregnancy as a Site of Racialization by Khiara Bridges

Reproducing Race, an ethnography of pregnancy and birth at a large New York City public hospital, explores the role of race in the medical setting. Khiara M. Bridges investigates how race—commonly seen as biological in the medical world—is socially constructed among women dependent on the public healthcare system for prenatal care and childbirth.

 

 

Driving after Class: Anxious Times in the American Suburb by Rachel Heiman

“Rugged entitlement” is Heiman’s name for the middle class’s sense of entitlement to a way of life that is increasingly untenable and that is accompanied by an anxious feeling that they must vigilantly pursue their own interests to maintain and further their class position. Driving after Class is a model of fine-grained ethnography that shows how families try to make sense of who they are and where they are going in a highly competitive and uncertain time.

 

They Leave Their Kidneys in the Fields: Illness, Injury, and Illegality among U.S. Farmworkers by Sarah Bronwen Horton

They Leave Their Kidneys in the Fields takes the reader on an ethnographic tour of the melon and corn harvesting fields of California’s Central Valley to understand why farmworkers suffer heatstroke and chronic illness at rates higher than workers in any other industry. Through captivating accounts of the daily lives of a core group of farmworkers over nearly a decade, Sarah Bronwen Horton documents in startling detail how a tightly interwoven web of public policies and private interests creates exceptional and needless suffering.

 

Scratching Out a Living: Latinos, Race, and Work in the Deep South by Angela Steusse

Based on the author’s six years of collaboration with a local workers’ center, this book explores how Black, white, and new Latino Mississippians have lived and understood these transformations. Activist anthropologist Angela Stuesse argues that people’s racial identifications and relationships to the poultry industry prove vital to their interpretations of the changes they are experiencing


Alien Ocean Wins the 2017 J.I. Staley Prize

We are delighted to announce that Stefan Helmreich was awarded the J.I. Staley Prize for his book, Alien Ocean: Anthropological Voyages in Microbial Seas on behalf of the School for Advanced Research.

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The School for Advanced Research (SAR) presents the J. I. Staley Prize to a living author for a book that exemplifies outstanding scholarship and writing in anthropology. By recognizing groundbreaking books and their authors through the J. I. Staley Prize, SAR seeks to stimulate the best in anthropological research and writing.

Published by the press in 2009, Alien Ocean: Anthropological Voyages in Microbial Seas has received considerable praise from reviewers, and we’re proud that Stefan’s work has earned this significant recognition.

“Unique [and] innovative. . . . Captures the excitement and crucial nature of oceanographic research. . . . Perhaps Alien Ocean will inspire the next generation to fulfill the promise of environmental genomic sequencing.” —Nature

“Erudite, widely ranging account of currently important aspects of marine microbiology and their broader implications.” —A. J. Kohn, Choice


Last Church Standing: Resisting Demolition in Ho Chi Minh City

by Erik Harms, author of Luxury and Rubble: Civility and Dispossession in New Saigon

This guest post is published in conjunction with the Association for Asian Studies conference in Toronto. Check back regularly for new posts through the end of the conference on March 19th.

Since January of this year, Ho Chi Minh City residents and intellectuals have been increasingly rallying around the fate of the Thủ Thiêm Catholic Church and the neighboring convent of the Lovers of the Holy Cross. These architecturally and religiously significant structures currently face the prospect of demolition. The church, which still fills its pews with worshippers at its regular Sunday masses, and the convent, which is still home to an active congregation of nuns who have diligently maintained their historic buildings and grounds, both stand in the middle of a major urban redevelopment scheme called the Thủ Thiêm New Urban Zone. Surrounded by the rubble of mass eviction, the story of these religious structures provides a useful counterpoint to the story of more than 14,500 individual households who have been displaced by the project over the course of more than a decade.

 

Thủ Thiêm Catholic Church and Convent of the Lovers of the Holy Cross, viewed from Ho Chi Minh City’s District One. Once surrounded by dense neighborhoods, all of which have been demolished, the church is itself threatened by demolition. Photo by Erik Harms. June 2016.

 

In 2010 the pace of eviction and demolition picked up rapidly in Thủ Thiêm as many residential areas were reduced to rubble. Photo by Erik Harms. September 2010.

 

The story of the Thủ Thiêm New Urban Zone is detailed in the recent UC Press book, Luxury and Rubble: Civility and Dispossession in the New Saigon. This new urban development, which is being built directly across the Saigon River from Ho Chi Minh City’s central commercial and shopping District, has been saddled with controversy. Throughout the project’s development, the biggest dispute surrounding its construction has swirled around the amount of compensation being offered to individual households who were asked to give up their homes and land to make way for the project. Luxury and Rubble details the ways in which the compensation process itself gradually drew residents into a largely monetized mode of negotiation with project authorities. This process, in turn, transformed how people in the area conceived of land and rights. Their negotiations over land-use rights framed their understanding of rights by focusing on “money and meters,” that is, how many square meters residents would be compensated for and how much money each square meter was deemed to be worth. In the process, evicted residents learned to fight for their right to receive just compensation based on market values. But in doing so, they also started to think of land primarily in terms of its monetary value, which in turn conflates the act of fighting for one’s rights with gaining the market-based value of land.

By contrast, the fight to preserve the Thủ Thiêm Catholic Church and the convent of the Lovers of the Holy Cross employs a very different idiom. Instead of focusing on the monetary value of the land, this fight is has been framed in terms of preserving the cultural and religious value of the structures. For example, in a post to its facebook page on January 12th, the Consulate General of Canada in Ho Chi Minh City posted the question: “Do you think it’s a good idea to demolish something that is even older than Canada?” In a follow-up post on January 25th, the consulate page noted: “Nearly 100% of comments made were in favour of integrating historic buildings such as the Thu Thiem Convent and Parish Church into new urban developments.”

The fact that the Thủ Thiêm church remains standing, while all the individual houses surrounding it have been demolished, makes it worth considering what strategies might be most successful in helping to resist eviction. In this case, resistance is most successful when it rejects the marketized idioms of land compensation and instead focuses on alternative idioms of justice that cannot be calculated in terms of money and meters.


Erik Harms is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Southeast Asia Studies at Yale University and the author of Saigon’s Edge: On the Margins of Ho Chi Minh City.

Luxury and Rubble is currently available as a free, open access eBook as part of our Luminos program. Read it online now.


Race and the Brazilian Body: Exploring ‘Comfortable Racial Contradictions’ in Brazil

This post was originally published on March 6th, 2017 on the University of Arizona’s UANews, by Lori Harwood (UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences).

Jennifer Roth-Gordon will speak about her book “Race and the Brazilian Body: Blackness, Whiteness and Everyday Language in Rio de Janeiro” during the Tucson Festival of Books, to be held March 11 and 12. Roth-Gordon will be part of the panel “A Conversation on Segregated Spaces” at 10 a.m. March 11 at the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences pavilion. With scholars Reginald Dwayne Betts, Jeff Chang and Tyina Steptoe, Roth-Gordon will explore the ways in which racially segregated spaces are constructed through language, law and culture in the U.S. and beyond.


University of Arizona anthropologist Jennifer Roth-Gordon spent 10 days in Brazil leading up to the 2016 Olympic Games with her children, two of whom are African-American and adopted.

During the visit, one shop owner yelled at her son, assuming he was a pivete (street kid). In another instance, a restaurant owner told the waiter not to let Roth-Gordon order any more food for the children, assuming they were begging. In Brazil, racism is considered immoral and un-Brazilian and, in both instances, the business owners were excessively apologetic when they realized their mistake.

In Rio de Janeiro, few geographic boundaries separate the “haves” from the “have-nots.” This housing project occupies some of Latin America’s most expensive real estate. (Photo: Marcelo Santos Braga)

In her new book, “Race and the Brazilian Body: Blackness, Whiteness and Everyday Language in Rio de Janeiro,” Roth-Gordon explores what she calls the “comfortable racial contradiction” that exists in Brazil, a country that prides itself on its history of racial mixture and lack of overt racial conflict. The book, published by the University of California Press, looks at how racial ideas about the superiority of whiteness and the inferiority of blackness continue to play out in the daily lives of Rio de Janeiro’s residents.

The book was 20 years in the making. Roth-Gordon, an associate professor in the UA School of Anthropology, went to Rio de Janeiro in graduate school and has gone back every year since.

Using linguistic and ethnographic analysis, she conducted interviews, recorded conversations and observed the day-to-day lives of people living in the housing projects and in the whiter middle- and upper-middle-class neighborhoods of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. She hired a youth who lived in the housing projects as a research assistant.

Roth-Gordon, an associate professor in the School of Anthropology, has been studying race relations in Rio de Janeiro for more than 20 years.

Roth-Gordon said that one of the most interesting things about race relations in Brazil is that “there is profound racial inequality in Brazil and yet people do not think of themselves as racist.” Brazilians have a history of promoting themselves as a racially mixed and racially democratic society. Many view their racial tolerance as one of the ways they are superior to other countries, especially the United States.

Roth-Gordon said that Brazilians certainly recognize the inequality that exists in their country, as the rich and poor live in close proximity. All of those famous beaches connect by hills that have favelas, or informal settlements. However, many Brazilians believe that the inequality and prejudice is due to socioeconomic class rather than race.

For her research, Roth-Gordon wanted to dig deeper into day-to-day interactions to explore the discrepancy. “Racial inequality has be reconstructed every single day,” she said. “It has to be reproduced.”

In her book, Roth-Gordon emphasizes how Rio residents “read” others for racial signs. The amount of whiteness or blackness a body displays is determined not only through observations of phenotypical features — including skin color, hair texture and facial features — but also through attention to cultural and linguistic practices, including the use of nonstandard Portuguese and slang, which is associated with “poor, black shantytown living.”

Roth-Gordon made recordings of largely dark-skinned youth and played them for middle-class families. She cites an example of when a youth in the projects was talking about his fear of being robbed.

“I played the recording for a family, and they reacted as if he were the criminal,” Roth-Gordon said. “They ignored what he said. All they could hear, because to them slang is such a clear marker of criminality and poverty, was this is the language of a criminal.

“I have a whole chapter on how the white middle class raise their kids to make sure they are avoiding slang and speaking standard Portuguese. When you ask them why, they won’t tell you ‘I don’t want my kid to sound black.'”

The conversations Roth-Gordon collected include youth in the housing projects talking about their strategies for talking to the police, which include speaking standard Portuguese.

“We don’t just size people up by what they look like, especially in a place like Brazil where people are racially mixed,” Roth-Gordon said. “How should this cop treat this kid? Like a poor black criminal or like a middle-class citizen?”

Roth-Gordon believes that acknowledging or studying only overt acts of racism is like studying the “tip of the iceberg.”

“It’s clearly so much deeper than that,” she said. “What is under the water is creating a base for what we can see.”

For example, with regard to police killing black men, she says many are prepared to punish those instances. “But they are unwilling to go beyond that and say these cops are reacting to these ideas that we have about blackness, linking it to criminality. And these ideas are not just ideas. We have a system in both the U.S. and Brazil that disproportionately locks up people of color, a system of justice that has never treated black men fairly. Those ideas are the rest of the iceberg.”


World Anthropology Day: The Field Under the Current Administration

Happy World Anthropology Day! Today is a day to celebrate the field and join a global recognition of all things anthropological. It is also a day to look forward and think about the future of the field, especially under our current political administration. Below, several UC Press authors share their thoughts on what the state of the field may be over the next four years.

T.M. Luhurmann and Jocelyn Marrow, authors of Our Most Troubling Madness: Case Studies in Schizophrenia across Cultures

“I think this new president is highly unpredictable, and it is not at all clear what will happen within the world, not to mention our field. On the upside, the chaos has made some of us feel that scholarship, careful methods, and good evidence matter now acutely.”

Jon Bialecki, author of A Diagram for Fire: Miracles and Variation in an American Charismatic Movement

“Other than the obvious and unfortunate changes to disciplinary funding resources that Trump’s expected budget cuts will bring, I think that this will bring back some of the classic Foucaultian concerns with power and the political that have been partially eclipsed by discussions of topics such as ontology, ethics, and post humanism. The challenge will be for anthropologists to bring the array of possibilities pend up by these more recent discussions to those earlier concerns with power and politics, and to do so in a way that will allow us to connect with a wider audience.”

Naomi Leite, author of Unorthodox Kin: Portuguese Marranos and the Global Search for Belonging

“For decades cultural anthropologists have emphasized the situated, partial nature of all knowledge, including our own, and avoided making claims to truth. The more we hear of “alternative facts” and open dismissal of academic expertise, however, the more I think we will see anthropology move in the opposite direction, toward reclaiming an authoritative voice in the public sphere—or so one can hope.”

Sarah Besky, author of The Darjeeling Distinction: Labor and Justice on Fair-Trade Tea Plantations in India

“As anthropologists, we aren’t in the business of predicting the future, so I can’t say what the impact of this administration will be.  What we can do is help our students and each other gain a better sense of where we are now, and how we got here, by critically examining the intersection of racism, inequality, and corporate power.”

Juan Thomas Ordonez, author of Jornalero: Being a Day Laborer in the USA

“The new administration poses challenges to our discipline in a world where truth, lies and perceptions are conflated and used in the name of a non-existent but well “imagined” homogenous nation; a thing so absurd we had put it more or less aside in our fields of inquiry. We must meet such challenges on different fronts, from the critical stances that have made us what we are, to a more engaged anthropology that is accessible to everyone. Now is the time to speak up in unison, and to do so “bigly.””

Deborah Boehm, author of Returned: Going and Coming in an Age of Deportation

“In these turbulent times, anthropologists are reminded of the immediate—even urgent—need for public scholarship. On World Anthropology Day, I am grateful to be part of a field that includes the tools to carry out this kind of engaged research. Ethnographers are especially well positioned to witness, analyze, and respond to injustice, and to call on policymakers and the public to bring about change.”


Beyond “Africa Rising”?

by Dillon Mahoney, author of The Art of Connection: Risk, Mobility, and the Crafting of Transparency in Coastal Kenya

9780520292895What do African masks and cell phones have in common? They sit on the opposite ends of an evolutionary spectrum: one end representing the past and the other symbolizing the modern present. Since colonial times, African arts and crafts have often functioned to root Africa in the past. The absence or presence of ‘true art’ informed 19th century debates about whether Africa was rising or falling in the same way that digital technology does today. In 2011 and 2012, both The Economist and Time ran cover stories titled “Africa Rising,” focusing on the role new investments and digital technologies have played in boosting African economies. I would suggest that for the Western World, the image of an African holding a cell phone has become an iconic indicator of the extent of 21st century African achievement.

The central questions of my work examine the agenda and assumptions behind the ways by which technology use in Africa is depicted, and the disconnects between those assumptions and lived realities. The image of a cell phone in the hand of an African, which often accompanies such stories, has been a dominant trope of the Western media since the turn of the twenty-first century. Increased access to mobile communications is significant, but we must think carefully about who is producing the Africa Rising narrative and the images that accompany it.

When I began my research in urban Kenya in the early 2000s, few visitors could help but experience the popularity and usefulness of cell phones and Internet cafés. These new technologies were at the center of new patterns of cultural negotiation. Those who had long been denied full and equal participation in world affairs and economic development now were challenged to establish an identity in an environment decorated with the advertisements and billboards of service providers dangling the chance of economic success and social mobility before everyone. But how were the obvious benefits of new digital technologies being distributed? And what of the arts and crafts industry that had been capitalizing on ‘primitive’ and ‘tribal’ images of Africa for decades? How can Kenyans working in the country’s decades-old crafts and tourism industries negotiate the apparent symbolic contradiction of being modern African businesspeople?

The Art of Connection is an invitation to think critically about the politics of digital technologies in Africa today. The book provides a deeper look at the lives of East African tourism operators, crafts vendors, and ‘Fair Trade’ businesspeople who, while ‘grassroots,’ are also worldly and opportunistic. While connecting to the global economy has proved an insufficient pathway out of poverty for many, others have learned to appreciate the continual importance of mobilizing ethnic and family networks, carefully navigating legality and illegality, and balancing the intimacy and distance afforded by new mobile communication technologies for success. The Art of Connection shows us the importance of critiquing simplistic assumptions about technology and social change while embracing the complexity of diverse experiences of globalization in an East African city.


Dillon Mahoney is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of South Florida.


The 10 Most Adopted Titles for Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

Are you looking for new titles for your Introduction to Cultural Anthropology courses? Let us help you choose. Scroll down to read more about our top 10 most adopted books, and click on each title to quickly and easily request an exam copy. You can review our exam copy policy here.

We are here to help! If you have any questions about these or other titles, feel free to email us.

 

9780520275140Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States by Seth Holmes

Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies provides an intimate examination of the everyday lives and suffering of Mexican migrants in our contemporary food system. An anthropologist and MD in the mold of Paul Farmer and Didier Fassin, Holmes shows how market forces, anti-immigrant sentiment, and racism undermine health and health care. This “embodied anthropology” deepens our theoretical understanding of the ways in which social inequalities and suffering come to be perceived as normal and natural in society and in health care.

Continue reading “The 10 Most Adopted Titles for Introduction to Cultural Anthropology”


Killing Your Neighbors

by Jon Holtzman, author of Killing Your Neighbors: Friendship and Violence in Northern Kenya and Beyond

9780520291928How do we make sense of the horrific things people do to one another? And how do we reconcile that those who do these horrific things are often, in many ways, actually wonderful people?

For many of us our first passion for anthropology came from an introductory class that led us to understand and appreciate that the lives and the worldviews of people around the globe differ radically from what in our upbringing we took for granted. We learned to celebrate human cultural diversity. Advancing in our profession, however, we are increasingly drawn to understanding how, through multiple schisms, humans exercise power over one another in ways that can be quite awful. As ethnographers, our first field experiences can similarly be revelatory, an immersive process where we learn and accept a radically different life and way of thinking. Later we realize that our “adopted” culture’s worldviews are no less contingent than those of our own, a realization that can turn our anthropological imagination towards a more misanthropic one. Rather than avoiding judgments because all cultures are equally valid, perhaps we should judge each and every one of them–nobody comes out looking good?

Continue reading “Killing Your Neighbors”