Happy Quasquicentennial to Us!

February 16th, 2018 marks the quasquicentennial of University of California Press, celebrating 125 years of scholarly publishing since its founding on this day in 1893. Throughout this time, UC Press remained one of the most forward-thinking publishers in the world, collaborating with scholars, librarians, and authors, to publish high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship.

With $1000 appropriated by the University of California’s Board of Regents, UC Press was established “to publish papers prepared by members of the Faculty,” 25 years after University of California was founded in 1868. The first UC Press publication was Outlines of the Temporal and Modal Principles of Attic Prose, a pamphlet by Greek Isaac Flagg, which went on sale at the student store in Berkeley in 1893.

From its inception, UC Press disseminated scholarship that has undergone rigorous peer review, and championed work that influences public discourse and challenges the status quo in multiple fields of study. Today, UC Press continues to serve as the nonprofit publisher of the University of California system, publishing 200 books and 30 multi-issue journals each year, and maintaining 4,000 book titles in print. Its mission to drive progressive change by seeking out and cultivating the brightest minds and giving them voice, reach, and impact is evident by its award-winning editorial program. A selection of awards UC Press titles has received in recent years includes: American Book Award, CHOICE Award, Municipal Art Society of New York Brendan Gill Prize, American Musicological Society Award, Daedelus Foundation Award, Smithsonian Eldredge Prize, National Jewish Book Award, ASCAP Foundation Virgil Thompson Award, and PROSE Award.

UC Press has also been recognized as an innovative, global leader in digital publishing, critical to its goal of making its content widely accessible. Its Open Access products, which include Collabra: Psychology, Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene, and Luminos, benefit from the same high standards for selection, peer review, and production as its traditional publishing programs.

Editorial Director Kim Robinson states, “Books make a difference, and I’m enormously proud to be associated with the long publishing history of University of California Press and its progressive publishing mission. Our authors consistently provide vital context and background to the most pressing issues facing us today, and we strive every day to ensure that their critical voices are heard.”

UC Press currently publishes in American studies, anthropology, ancient world/classical studies, art history, Asian studies, California and the West, communications, criminology, economics, environmental studies, film & media studies, food, geography, history, Latin American studies, Middle Eastern studies, music, psychology, public health, religion, and sociology.

Notable UC Press publications from decades past include:

To celebrate this milestone, UC Press will launch Voices Revived, a new cross-disciplinary series that brings field-defining, out-of-print books back into print.

Islamophobia, Close to Home

By Khaled A. Beydoun, author of American Islamophobia: Understanding the Roots and Rise of Fear

Muslim Americans were intimately familiar with Islamophobia well before it became a cognizable term plastered on protest banners and echoed by media pundits. For Muslims, Islamophobia was central to their experience as American citizens or residents. It was manifested by the “random” checks at airports, the incessant stares while walking down the street, the presumption that they don’t speak English at the check out line, and the backlash that descended onto their communities after a terror attack. These experiences, and others, formed the core of the Muslim American experience after the 9/11 terror attacks and, most recently, the rise of Donald Trump, but also characterized the lives for numerous Muslim communities well before these transformative moments.

On April 27, 1995, roughly one week after the domestic terror attack remembered as the “Oklahoma City Bombing” and years before the term “Islamophobia” existed, the phenomenon hit close to home. My family lived in Detroit, right outside the densely Arab and Muslim populated community in East Dearborn, widely regarded as the symbolic hub of Muslim America, and for hate mongers then and today, an easy target. One of my mother’s friends, Zeinab, a middle-aged Lebanese woman that wore the hijab (headscarf), was shopping at a grocery store on Dearborn’s (then predominantly white) west side. It was the evening, and as she was walking to her car in the dimly lit parking let, sensed footsteps tracking her own. As she stopped to unpack her cart and place her groceries in her car, two teens pounced on her.

“They weren’t trying to rob me, like I thought,” she recounted in Arabic, “but were trying to pull my headscarf off of my head, they didn’t try to take my purse.” The teens called her “stupid A-rab,” a racist slur for Arab, and told her “to get out of our country,” although her and her three children were citizens, and had made Michigan their home many years ago. Yet, their message was clear, and manifested a core baseline of the phenomenon we understand as Islamophobia today: that Islam was unassimilable with American values and identity, and Muslims were presumed to be foreign, subversive and terrorists. It did not matter that the culprit of the Oklahoma City Bombing was a white man, Timothy McVeigh, and that roughly 63% of mass shootings since 1982 were commit by white men. The terrorist stereotype eclipsed these statistics, and drove the violent backlash Zeinab endured in that grocery store parking lot and the frightening uptick in anti-Muslim bigotry unfolding in America today.

Source: Mother Jones’ Investigation: US Mass Shootings, 1982-2017 (6/14/2017)

And the law followed suit. The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) was enacted because of the Oklahoma City Bombing. But instead of grappling with the white separatist element that conspired to commit that horrific terror attack, it fixated on Islam. This, before 1995 and indeed well after it, is the very dynamic that not only embeds Islamophobia, but also advances it. Instead of dismantling or disavowing stereotypes about Islam or Muslims, the law, most potently through the War on Terror policy and strategy, endorses and advances it. Therefore, although Islamophobia is today a widely known term as a consequence of 9/11 and the Trump Era, it has long prevailed as a phenomenon and system deeply inscribed into the law. Muslims living in America know this quite well.

Khaled A. Beydoun is Associate Professor at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. A critical race theorist and political commentator, his writing has been featured in top law journals, including the California Law Review, UCLA Law Review, and Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. He is also the 2017 winner of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination (ADC) Advocate of the Year Award.