Banned Books Week 2017: What Feminism Means

As part of Banned Books Week, we share a list of recommended titles that promote the freedom to seek and express ideas. UC Press is proud to publish esteemed feminist scholars and activists who argue for inclusivity and social justice in all forms, who advocate for feminism and the movement towards an equal society for all people, without discrimination.

During Banned Books Week (ending September 30), get a 30% discount on these selected titles on Feminism.

Below, enjoy some highlights from our list:

How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics: From Welfare Reform to Foreclosure to Trump
by Laura Briggs

“This book is a tour de force that highlights the failures of neoliberalism for many American families. With intensity and verve, Laura Briggs reveals the crisscrossing binds that constrain women, particularly women of color, queer women, and poor women.”—Alexandra Minna Stern, author of Eugenic Nation and Telling Genes

“Move over Sheryl Sandberg and Anne-Marie Slaughter. Here comes Laura Briggs, who shows how questions of care stand at the center of all politics. Briggs unmasks the racialized, classed, and gendered politics of this neoliberal moment with verve, sophistication, and vision.”—Eileen Boris, coauthor, Caring for America: Home Health Workers in the Shadow of the Welfare State


The Big Push: Exposing and Challenging the Persistence of Patriarchy
by Cynthia Enloe

“With Cynthia’s accessible and engaging style, The Big Push shines an important new light on contemporary and historical events.”—Sandra Whitworth, author of Men, Militarism and UN Peacekeeping

“Women and men who care about democracy and social justice need to read this book. Cynthia Enloe’s astute and far-sighted interpretation of ‘sustainable patriarchy’ is just what we need for the feminist struggles unfolding in the twenty-first century.”—Kathryn Kish Sklar, author of Women’s Rights Emerges within the Anti-Slavery Movement, 1830-1870



Radical Eroticism: Women, Art, and Sex in the 1960s
by Rachel Middleman

“With detailed discussions of the bold ways that heterosexual women artists foregrounded their sexuality as confrontational, critical, and political, Radical Eroticism makes an important contribution to the literature on Sixties art and adds to the revisions of its history that locate sex and gender as defining characteristics of the decade.”—David J. Getsy, Goldabelle McComb Finn Distinguished Professor of Art History, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

“A crucial resource for future studies of contemporary women’s erotic art and the sexual politics of erotic representations.”—Susan Richmond, Associate Professor of Art History, Georgia State University


Provocations: A Transnational Reader in the History of Feminist Thought
by Susan Bordo

Provocations is an ambitious, pioneering, interdisciplinary anthology that promises to disrupt hegemonic narratives of the complex histories of feminisms that permeate women’s studies classrooms in the U.S. academy. From the ancient world to the recent Arab Spring, Provocations engages some of the most compelling and contentious debates in the centuries old ‘woman question.’”—Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies and Founding Director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center at Spelman College



Reproductive Justice: An Introduction
by Loretta Ross & Rickie Solinger

“Controlling reproduction and the bodies of women seems to be the first step in every hierarchy. That’s why reproductive justice—women having power over our own bodies—is the crucial first step toward any democracy, any human rights, and any justice.” —Gloria Steinem

“We need to know the history laid out in Reproductive Justice, because we need to not repeat the ugliness of the past. Our strategies need to be inclusive and intersectional.None of us are free until we’re all free.”—Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America



Ronnie Gilbert: A Radical Life in Song
by Ronnie Gilbert with a foreword by Holly Near 

“Activism is just one of the threads winding through this title, along with music, theater, performance, politics, and the challenges of building a life outside of the 20th-century mainstream. . . . Yet it’s the music that shines the brightest in this memoir; Gilbert’s time with the Weavers and her creative partnership with Holly Near bookend a life no less remarkable for being remarkably nonlinear.”—Library Journal

“Gilbert’s memoir brings to life the frightening political climate of the times. . . . We are fortunate that Gilbert took the time to document her singular experiences as a committed activist and singer whose soaring contralto and “dangerous songs” both accompanied and animated the progressive movements of her time.”—San Francisco Chronicle

Berkeley Has NOT Violated Ann Coulter’s Free Speech Rights


by Robert Cohen, 

Mario Savio leading a rally on the steps of Sproul Hall in 1966 (Photo by Mjolvas/Creative Commons)

Anyone familiar with Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement of 1964 knows what a real free speech movement looks like. And the current Ann Coulter/College Republican free speech charade at Berkeley bears no resemblance to such a movement.

In the free speech controversy of 1964 the UC Berkeley administration closed down the traditional free speech area just outside the campus’s south entrance. This suppression generated mass protest by a wide spectrum of student groups from the Young Socialist alliance to Goldwater Republicans. It took months of negotiations, sit-ins, a semester full of non-violent demonstrations, the largest mass arrests in California history, and the most intensive organizing by thousands of students to win over the faculty to the Free Speech Movement’s central demand – affirmed in a landslide vote by the Berkeley Academic Senate – in its December 8, 1964 resolutions “that the content of speech or advocacy should not be restricted by the University.” In other words, the Berkeley administration, headed by Chancellor Edward W. Strong, had to be forced by a broad student movement and a majority of its voting faculty to open the campus to free speech and political advocacy.

The contrast between the Strong administration of 1964 and today’s UC Berkeley administration, headed by Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks, could not be starker. When a small group of students back in 2014 demanded that UC disinvite comedian Bill Maher from speaking at its graduation ceremony on the grounds that Maher’s humor was Islamophobic, Dirks invoked Berkeley’s free speech tradition and insisted that Maher be allowed to speak – which he was. When earlier this semester student activists and an open letter from some 100 faculty urged him to ban the bigoted alt right speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, Dirks refused to do so, again standing up for free speech. It was only after an ugly riot and arson by non-student anarchists on the night of the Yiannopoulos talk (leaving more than $100,000 in property damage on the Berkeley campus) that the chancellor reluctantly canceled the talk in the interests of public safety.

Fearing a recurrence of the Yiannopoulos violence, the Berkeley administration sought to postpone Coulter’s speech, and in the end asked that in the interest of security it be delayed a week. The administration cited threats it had received against Coulter, which is not surprising given that she is an intemperate nativist. Coulter and her College Republican and Young American Foundation sponsors responded with claims that the administration was trying to stifle conservative speech and that it had caved in to Berkeley’s “rabid off-campus mob” in doing so.

There are very few students on the Berkeley campus who see this week’s delay of the Coulter speech on public safety grounds as a free speech violation. That’s why the lawsuit the College Republicans filed this week against the UC administration had no Berkeley student sponsors other than the College Republicans. Think of the contrast with 1964, when there was a genuine free speech violation and a mass free speech movement; it mobilized virtually every Berkeley student group from left to right and even created a new organization of students, the independents, so that those who had been unaffiliated with any political group could be a part of the Free Speech Movement. In 1964 thousands of Berkeley students marched and hundreds engaged in civil disobedience when free speech was genuinely under threat. Not so today.

No, this is not a real free speech movement at Berkeley today, and that is because there has been no free speech violation by the UC administration. What the Coulter affair really amounts to is a “time, place, and manner” quibble. The settlement of the 1964 Free Speech Movement, as embodied in the December 8 resolutions, included a provision authorizing the university to impose reasonable regulations on the “time, place, and manner of political activity” on campus so that such activity does not interfere with “the normal functions of the university.” The administration has used this “time place and manner” authority in the face of the threats it received, acting on the belief that the time and place for the Coulter talk that would not end in violence and disrupt the normal functions of the university was in early May at a more secure location.

Whether out of a desire for free publicity, concern about her $20,00 speakers fee, or a desire to bash UC’s liberal administration and the Berkeley left, Coulter presented herself as a free speech martyr, and in this she has been joined by her College Republican sponsors. But there has never been a mass “time, place, and manner” movement at Berkeley. And judging by the collective yawn with which the campus has reacted to Coulter’s posturing and the College Republicans’ lawsuit, there is not about to be one.


Robert Cohen is a professor of history and social studies in NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. He is an affiliated member of NYU’s History Department. His historical scholarship focuses on politics, higher education, and social protest in twentieth-century America. His social studies work links middle and high school teachers with the recent advances in historical scholarship, and develops curriculum aimed at teaching their students to explore history as a critical discipline – and one that is characterized by intense and exciting debate.

Editor’s Spotlight: Meet Susanna Elm, associate editor of Studies in Late Antiquity

This post is part of a blog series introducing the editors of Studies in Late Antiquity (SLA), our new online quarterly journal scheduled to launch in February 2017. Stay tuned for more Editor’s Spotlights with other SLA editors leading up to the journal launch.

Susanna Elm, UC Berkeley

We are pleased to introduce Susanna Elm, Professor of History at UC Berkeley and one of the associate editors of Studies in Late Antiquity. Having received her D.Phil in Ancient History from St. Hilda’s College, University of Oxford, Elm has taught at UC Berkeley since 1988, teaching at the graduate and undergraduate levels in subjects varying from Ancient Mediterranean History and Archaeology, to Classics, to Religious Studies.

Elm’s areas of expertise fit seamlessly into the broad editorial scope of SLA, with her Ancient History research focused on the political, economic, religious, and cultural history of the later Roman Empire across the East and West. Her current projects include research on Augustine of Hippo and slavery, the possibility of formulating a theology of economics, late Roman Antioch, elite display, and aspects of ancient medicine.

We sat down with Elm to talk more about her research interests, her involvement in the journal, and how she thinks Studies in Late Antiquity will influence scholarship in her field.

Can you tell us more about your research interests and areas of expertise?

My area of expertise is the history of the later Roman empire with an emphasis on social, economic and cultural history. Central to my endeavor is an integrated approach that combines written sources from authors that are Christian and non-Christian with documentary and material sources. Currently, I am particularly interested in questions of slavery and taxation in relation to theology, but also in aspects of masculinity as transmitted through the depictions of Roman, barbarian, and Christian men in a wide variety of contexts in our fourth and fifth century sources.

unnamedWhat drew you to editorship of Studies in Late Antiquity?

My interest in the journal is of very long standing: it goes back to the early days of the collaboration of scholars interested in matters of late antique studies in California, which, early on, always also included the regions bordering on the Roman empire. In fact, I always thought that California itself, such a complex, dynamic region, facing both East and toward the Pacific Rim, always creating and adapting to change, is an incredibly “late antique” world. In other words, for me, living in California has really influenced the way I look at the later Roman empire, and I see aspects of that empire reflected in California. And remember, though many have seen decline when they looked at the later Roman empire, it took a very, very long time until that actually happened – if it actually ever did (just to mention a perennial debate).

How do you anticipate Studies in Late Antiquity will transform the scholarship in your field?

I am very exited about the intention of this journal and its editors to work hard to bring together those who strive to look beyond Rome’s borders from both sides, and also beyond questions of Christian, non-Christian, religious, secular, and so on. I do hope that our colleagues in the non-Roman world will tell us where our blind spots are, what we take for granted without further examination, and to encourage us to experiment with methodological approaches that extend our comfort zone. To offer a forum for such debates is, I find, most distinct, interesting and exiting about SLA.

Want to get more involved with SLA? Here are just a few ways:

  • Submit your papers to SLA. Visit for more information.
  • Recommend SLA to your institution. Give this Library Recommendation Form to your campus librarian to request that your library pre-order a subscription.
  • Sign up for SLA launch updates! For future updates on the inaugural issue, free sample content, and more, sign up for email alerts at

The Political Spirituality of Cesar Chavez: Crossing Religious Borders

by Luis D. León, author of The Political Spirituality of Cesar Chavez: Crossing Religious Borders

As part of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we recognize Hispanic and Latino Americans’ current contributions–and current struggles–in the United States. Learn more at #HispanicHeritage Month.

This post was originally published on November 12th, 2014.

I grew up in California’s East Bay Area, in San Lorenzo. Even while my family was suburban, and not involved in farm work (my paternal grandmother and grandfather were farm laborers), Cesar Chavez loomed large in my cultural and political ecology. He once spoke at my high school. He seemed to be speaking for us, the Latina/os, at a time when I was aware of only negative and stereotypical media images of brown bodies. When I took a Chicano history course as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley I learned that Chavez was primarily a labor leader. As a doctoral student conducting primary source research in the Chicano archives at UCSB I discovered another Chavez—a distinctly spiritual and religious leader. I knew then that I wanted to uncover and tell that part of his story.

My hope is that scholars will discover a different Chavez, one who defies conventional classification, and encounter also a fresh way of narrating his work—one not insistent upon modernist notions of truth and subjectivity. The book is neither a history or biography, the focus is on the mythology—that is the myths he created about himself and those that were manufactured around him. I recognize that it is important to be factual about the research, but really I am writing about the record itself, rather than his actual life. In the words of Ruth Behar: “There is no true story of a life, after all. There are only stories told about and around a life.” Story telling is a political act, and Chavez was adept at telling very effective stories.

One of the turning points in the research was learning that Chavez was active in the struggle for LGBT civil rights. In 1987 he was one of the Grand Marshalls for the second annual march on Washington D.C. for Lesbian and Gay Rights. At the ceremony culminating the protest, he addressed a crowd of 200,000 people, claiming that his movement had been supporting gay rights for over 20 years. His activism on behalf of the LGBT community has been elided from the historiography; I came upon it through research in newspapers.

I consider my book as a contribution to an ongoing conversation. There is much remaining to be told about the late labor leader.

Luis D. León is Associate Professor in the department of Religious Studies at the University of Denver and author of La Llorona’s Children: Religion, Life, and Death in the U.S.-Mexican Borderlands.

Free Speech at 50: Mario Savio on What Makes Us Human

“To me, freedom of speech is something that represents the very dignity of what a human being is. . . . That’s what marks us off from the stones and the stars. You can speak freely. It is almost impossible for me to describe. It is the thing that marks us as just below the angels.”

—Mario Savio

It’s been 50 years since Mario Savio awakened the country to the possibilities of resistance, civil disobedience, and personal expression on the UC Berkeley campus. The Free Speech Movement, led by Savio, would grow into one of the most important social movements of the post-war period in the United States.

We’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the movement with the publication of The Essential Mario Savio, a compendium of influential speeches and previously unknown writings, offering insight into and perspective on the disruptive yet nonviolent civil disobedience tactics used by Savio.

Below, watch the moment it all caught fire: Savio’s famous “Machine Speech,” delivered on the steps of Sproul Hall on December 2, 1964.


Watch a slideshow of some of the pivotal actions and protests in the movement’s history:

  • Mario Savio speaking from the top of the police car. Oct. 1, 1964. Credit: Steve Marcus, Courtesy of UC Berkeley, The Bancroft Library


Join the conversation and help us celebrate on Facebook and Twitter using #FSM50, #MarioSavio, and #FreeSpeech.

And save 30% when you order The Essential Mario Savio—enter discount code 15W4312 at checkout!



Dig Deeper into Labor Relations with UC Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment

When Mandates Work looks at the public policy experiments of San Francisco in the 1990s to improve wages and benefits for thousands of local workers. Although opponents predicted a range of negative impacts, the evidence tells a decidedly different tale. The book book brings together that evidence for the first time, reviews it as a whole, and considers its lessons for local, state, and federal policymakers.

The book’s editors, Michael Reich, Ken Jacobs, Miranda Dietz, all come from the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) at UC Berkeley. IRLE’s website is a great resource for anyone interested in labor and employment relations in California. They host an extensive online library of faculty research, as well as working papers on a wide range of labor topics.

An Editing Love Story at UC Press

Legendary environmental leader and publisher David Brower (the subject of an exhibit at Doe Library at UC Berkeley until March 31) worked as an editor at UC Press 70 years ago and met his future wife, Anne, on the job. In the current issue of the Cal alumni magazine, their son Kenneth Brower shares this story of how his parents met:

My parents met in 1941 as editors at the University of California Press. To my mother’s annoyance, the press manager assigned my father a desk in her small office. The new hire—a mountain climber, tall, unpolished—irritated her not just by his personality and his invasion of her space, but by his salary. Gender equality was not yet a blip on the radar. (Radar itself, coined just the year before, was not yet a blip on the radar.) My mother had seniority, yet from his first day my father, with his Y chromosome, drew a paycheck nearly equal to hers.

In time she relented. Their conversations grew warmer. My father found he could make her laugh.

It happened one week that Anne Hus, my mother, was struggling with a dull manuscript overloaded with footnotes. David Brower, my father, waited until she was away at lunch and then typed up a page himself and slipped it in. His insert began in the author’s stuffy style, then slowly morphed into parody and finally into ridiculousness, complete with nonsensical footnotes. My mother, pencil in hand, was halfway through the page when she realized her manuscript had been hijacked. The look on her face, and then her laughter—it was a small triumph my father would never forget. There were complications to the stunt, unfortunately: When the author asked for the manuscript back to make some changes, my mother forgot to remove the apocryphal page. The author was not amused.

But it all worked out in the end. As nearly as I can figure, I owe my existence to a slow day at UC Press and a bunch of counterfeit footnotes.

2 UC Press Authors Elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Congratulations to Mary Power and Dan Simberloff who, along with 82 other distinguished scientists (4, including Power, from UC Berkeley), were elected to the National Academy of Sciences this week.

Mary Power is a freshwater ecologist and has done groundbreaking work on the Eel River.  Mary also serves on the editorial board of our own Freshwater Ecology series, is a contributor to a forthcoming UC Press book on the ecosystems of California, and is President of the Ecological Society of America.

Dan Simberloff is from the University of Tennessee and the lead editor of the third volume in the Encyclopedias of the Natural World series.  His volume is the Encyclopedia of Biological Invasion, which he co-edited with Marcel Rejmanek from UC Davis. Dan has contributed several blurbs for UC Press books including Laws, Theories and Patterns in Ecology and the brand new Encyclopedia of Theoretical Ecology, which he describes as a “… great service …”

That makes two posts in the same week where I got to open with the word “Congratulations.”  Not bad.

Martín Sánchez-Jankowski Wins C. Wright Mills Award


UC Berkeley Sociology Professor Martín Sánchez-Jankowski has devoted his career to studying the very thing he once tried to escape—poverty.

Born to indigenous and mestizo migrant laborers in Sonoro, Mexico, Sánchez-Jankowski moved to Michigan with his family when he was a child.

“Obviously when you live in (poverty), you want to get out of it,” he said, but added that he knew his background would inform his professional and scholarly direction in the future.

Sánchez-Jankowski is the author of the recent UC Press title Cracks in the Pavement: Social Change and Resilience in Poor Neighborhoods, about urban poverty in Los Angeles and New York.

The book was recently named the 2008 recipient of the C. Wright Mills Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP), an honor presented annually to a book that “demonstrates dedication to a search for a sophisticated understanding of the individual and society.”

Sánchez-Jankowski spent extended periods of time living in the neighborhoods he studied over the course of nearly a decade.

UC Press Executive Editor Naomi Schneider said the book “gives a whole different portrait” of urban neighborhoods by looking at community institutions that work, like barbershops and beauty salons, as opposed to examining what makes urban neighborhoods dysfunctional.

“(It’s) a corrective to the way we see urban ghettos,” she explained.

Cracks in the Pavement is one of a dozen UC Press books that have won the prestigious C. Wright Mills Award. UC Press has been honored with the award seven times in the past 10 years, and 12 times overall since the award was instated in 1964.

The 2007 recipient was UC Press title Brewing Justice, by Daniel Jaffee, which analyzes the fair trade industry through the lens of Mexican coffee farmers.

The award is named after sociologist C. Wright Mills, a social and political activist known for revolutionizing American sociology during the 1950s.

Schneider, who has sponsored eight winning titles, attributes the continual recognition to the progressive nature of the UC Press sociology list.

“(Winning books) often look at the disenfranchised and they try to give voice to people who are ignored in our society,” she said.

While Sánchez-Jankowski says he was influenced by the namesake of his recent award, particularly by Mills’ book The Sociological Imagination, he said he felt a stronger connection to political scientist Harold Lasswell.

When Sánchez-Jankowski was in graduate school, Lasswell took him out to lunch and asked him about his plans for the future. He encouraged Sanchez-Jankowski to plan out his research following his dissertation, so that when the burgeoning sociologist grew old, he would be able to sit down and write a book about all that he had learned.

Sánchez-Jankowski is still following that plan, currently studying rural poverty in the same way he studied urban poverty—by living among those who experience it. He will be spending the next several years hopping back and forth between Fijian indigenous communities and Native American reservations in Arizona and South Dakota.

While he said it was too soon to draw any conclusions from his ongoing research, he observed that “in the process of trying to help people get out of poverty, we destroy their understanding of who they are and being traditional.”

Like the work of C. Wright Mills, Sánchez-Jankowski’s research is influential in both the academic and public realms. For example, a book he wrote about gangs is used by both prosecutors and defense attorneys.

“I always intended (my research) to be a help for people,” Sánchez-Jankowski said. “(Sociologists’) job was always to enlighten the world with what’s going on inside it.”

The Odyssey Experience: Physical, Social, Psychological, and Spiritual Journeys

Odyssey Experience
Neil J. Smelser is University Professor of Sociology Emeritus at
the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of numerous
books, including The Social Edges of Psychoanalysis, Problematics of Sociology, and Social Paralysis and Social Change, all from UC Press. Smelser's most recent title, The Odyssey Experience: Physical, Social, Psychological, and Spiritual Journeys, was released by UC Press in February 2009. In his blog entry below, Smelser talks about his experiences on his inspirational trip to Austria.

By: Neil J. Smelser

In 1951, as a junior at Harvard, I was selected as one of four undergraduates to participate the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies.  This meant living six weeks in an eighteenth-century schloss outside Salzburg, Austria, along with about 50 young European scholars and a half-dozen other Harvard students.  The essence of the experience was to attend a number of courses offered by eminent American faculty in the areas of American history, society, and culture and to mingle with the others.  The seminar had been founded several years earlier by a number of idealistic American undergraduates, thinking that such an institution could help America-European relations and contribute modestly to rebuilding a war-ravaged Europe.

I knew in advance that this was going to be a romantic adventure, but I did not realize how profound it would be.  All the participants found themselves engulfed in a journey that was far more than intellectual.  Deep personal attachments were formed; the scholars found themselves swept into a community with an unimagined solidarity; everyone seemed equal and equally involved; and the closing party was at once euphoric, sentimental and tearful.  I shared fully in these experiences, and emerged with a feeling of personal regeneration and a deep nostalgia that has never weakened.

The experience in Salzburg was a remarkable one, but I always regarded it as an event in itself, not really comparable to other experiences. Over the years, however, in living kindred experiences, and in my research as a social scientist, the idea gradually grew on me that many different episodes constitute a genre of human behavior that is widespread if not universal in personal and social life, and touches what is deepest psychologically and spiritually in the human condition. As the idea developed in my mind, I came to call it The Odyssey Experience.

As my imagination and thinking developed, I came to appreciate that the logic of the odyssey experience covered a galaxy of  experiences—religious and secular rites of passage, pilgrimages, religious conversion, intense involvement in social movements, travel and tourism, academic leaves, psychotherapy, and initiations and ordeals.  The essence of the odyssey experience is this:  a finite period of disengagement from the routines of life and immersion into a simpler, transitory, often collective and often intense period of involvement that often culminates in some kind of regeneration. 

Now, in the twilight years of my career, I have written a general book on the subject, puling together all my wanderings and thoughts on the subject, and have in that book developed a comprehensive theory of the odyssey experience.  I hope the book will contribute to our understanding of human affairs, and will excite readers’ ideas about their own involvements in life’s odysseys.