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How are peoples' ideas about languages, ways of speaking and expressive styles shaped by their social positions and values? How is difference, in language and in social life, made - and unmade? How and why are some differences persuasive as the basis for action, while other differences are ignored or erased? Written by two recognised authorities on…
 
Welcome to Cover Story, a podcast by New Books Network devoted to long form journalism. Today, we are talking to Texas-based writer Sarah Hepola. Hepola is most known from her brave writing about drinking and the 2015 bestselling memoir Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget. She's appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air and published in The New Yo…
 
Do newborns think-do they know that 'three' is greater than 'two'? Do they prefer 'right' to 'wrong'? What about emotions--do newborns recognize happiness or anger? If they do, then how are our inborn thoughts and feelings encoded in our bodies? Could they persist after we die? Going all the way back to ancient Greece, human nature and the mind-bod…
 
Since 2004 the Malay-Muslim majority provinces in the border region of southern Thailand have been wracked by a violent insurgency. Over 7000 people have been killed and many thousands more injured. Currently 60,000 Thai security personnel are stationed in the region to conduct counter-insurgency operations. Another 80,000 people have been organize…
 
Set in the eastern state of Odisha in a district known as the “Somalia of India,” Everyday State and Politics in India: Government in the Backyard in Kalahandi (Routledge 2018) studies a development project in a region iconic for development failure. Drawing on rich fieldwork with a watershed development project in district Kalahandi, anthropologis…
 
In Episode 69, Dan Dissinger talks to the founder of Progress Playbook, Lloyd Cambridge about practicing mindfulness to be a better entrepreneur and person, community building, and supplementing the gaps in higher education with experiential project-based learning. Lloyd J. Cambridge is the founder & CEO of Progress Playbook, a small business train…
 
What Is Religious Authority?: Cultivating Islamic Communities in Indonesia (Princeton UP, 2021) by Ismail Fajrie Alatas draws on groundbreaking anthropological insights to provide a new understanding of Islamic religious authority, showing how religious leaders unite diverse aspects of life and contest differing Muslim perspectives to create distin…
 
Hijras, one of India’s third gendered or trans populations, have been an enduring presence in the South Asian imagination—in myth, in ritual, and in everyday life, often associated in stigmatized forms with begging and sex work. In more recent years hijras have seen a degree of political emergence as a moral presence in Indian electoral politics, a…
 
As we taste, chew, swallow, digest, and excrete, our foods transform us, while our eating, in its turn, affects the wider earthly environment. In Eating in Theory (Duke UP, 2021), Annemarie Mol takes inspiration from these transformative entanglements to rethink what it is to be human. Drawing on fieldwork at food conferences, research labs, health…
 
What do we really know about how and where religions began, and how they spread? Robin Derricourt considers the birth and growth of several major religions, using history and archaeology to recreate the times, places and societies that witnessed the rise of significant monotheistic faiths. Beginning with Mormonism and working backwards through Isla…
 
The realities of race that continue to plague the United States have direct ties to anthropology. Anthropologists often imagine their discipline as inherently anti-racist and historically connected to social justice movements. But just how true is that? In Boasians at War: Anthropology, Race, and World War II (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) Anthony Haza…
 
Distributing Condoms and Hope: The Racialized Politics of Youth Sexual Health (U California Press, 2020) is a feminist ethnographic account of how youth sexual health programs in the racially and economically stratified city of “Millerston” reproduce harm in the marginalized communities they are meant to serve. Chris Barcelos makes space for the st…
 
In Radiant Infrastructures: Media, Environment, and Cultures of Uncertainty (Duke UP, 2020), Rahul Mukherjee explores how the media coverage of nuclear power plants and cellular phone antennas in India—what he calls radiant infrastructures—creates environmental publics: groups of activists, scientists, and policy makers who use media to influence p…
 
Why do we find pervasive gender-based discrimination, exclusion and violence in India when the Indian constitution builds an inclusive democracy committed to gender equality? This is the puzzle that animates Natasha Behl’s book, Gendered Citizenship: Understanding Gendered Violence in Democratic India (Oxford University Press, 2019), but it is, as …
 
In Episode 68, Dan Dissinger talks to the founder of StoryBilder, Tanya Gough, about breaking the rules for the sake of creativity, curating the first-ever Shakespeare on film catalog, and teaching English in Japan pre-internet. Tanya Gough has been an ESL teacher, a retail store owner, a corporate digital marketer, and a freelance content strategi…
 
What makes some cities world class? Increasingly, that designation reflects the use of a toolkit of urban planning practices and policies that circulates around the globe. These strategies—establishing creative districts dedicated to technology and design, “greening” the streets, reinventing historic districts as tourist draws—were deployed to buil…
 
In Epidemic Illusions: On the Coloniality of Global Public Health (MIT Press, 2020), physician-anthropologist Eugene T. Richardson explores how public health practices—from epidemiological modeling to outbreak containment—help perpetuate global inequities. This book questions the Global North's "monopoly on truth" in global public health science, m…
 
Today I interviewed Kailing Xie on her recently published book, Embodying Middle Class Gender Aspirations: Perspectives from China's Privileged Young Women (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021). This book takes a feminist approach to analyse the lives of well-educated urban Chinese women, who were raised to embody the ideals of a modern Chinese nation and are…
 
In Finding Afro-Mexico: Race and Nation after the Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2020) Theodore Cohen examines the ways in which different protagonists sought to incorporate Blackness into Mexican national identity. After the Revolution in 1910, a group of intellectuals, researchers, and cultural producers elaborated on the meanings of Bla…
 
In Everything Ancient Was Once New: Indigenous Persistence from Hawaiʻi to Kahiki (U Hawaii Press, 2021), Emalani Case explores Indigenous persistence through the concept of Kahiki, a term that is at once both an ancestral homeland for Kānaka Maoli (Hawaiians) and the knowledge that there is life to be found beyond Hawaiʻi’s shores. It is therefore…
 
It’s hard to imagine a place more central to American mythology today than Silicon Valley. To outsiders, the region glitters with the promise of extraordinary wealth and innovation. But behind this image lies another Silicon Valley, one segregated by race, class, and nationality in complex and contradictory ways. Its beautiful landscape lies atop u…
 
How Social Science Creates the World is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and UC Berkeley political scientist Professor Mark Bevir. Mark Bevir is an internationally acclaimed expert in the theory of governance. This thought-provoking conversation explores how attempts to shoehorn political science into a natural science…
 
The rights of pregnant workers as well as (the lack of) paid maternity leave have increasingly become topics of a major policy debate in the United States. Yet, few discussions have focused on the U.S. military, where many of the latest policy changes focus on these very issues. Despite the armed forces' increases to maternity-related benefits, ser…
 
In Voyagers: The Settlement of the Pacific (Apollo, 2020), the distinguished anthropologist Nicholas Thomas tells the story of the peopling of the Pacific. In clear, accessible language Thomas shows us that most Pacific Islanders are in fact 'inter-islanders', or people defined by their movement across the ocean and between islands, rather than 'tr…
 
For more than thirteen centuries, caravans transported millions of enslaved people from Africa south of the Sahara into what is now the Kingdom of Morocco. Today there are no museums, plaques, or monuments that recognize this history of enslavement, but enslaved people and their descendants created the Gnawa identity that preserves this largely sup…
 
In today’s interview, we speak with Dr. Jon Gordon, incoming Assistant Professor of Sociology at Appalachian State University, who tells us about his research with criminalized men in an armed group in a marginal neighborhood in Medellín, Colombia. Jon tells us how his experiences as a teacher in both Chicago and Medellín got him interested in stud…
 
In Episode 67, Dan Dissinger talks with to Actor, Director, and Board Certified Music Therapist Spencer Frankeberger about adaptability in Music Therapy, how being scared of improv is the best reason to do improv, we discuss systemic ableism in standardized testing from the bar exam to the GREs, and this all somehow ends up inContinue reading "Epis…
 
Why is Vietnam's modern history so closely associated with a place that lies only just within the country's borders? What was at stake in the contest for the mountainous Black River region that culminated in the legendary French defeat of 1954? How did the different ethnic groups living around Điện Biên Phủ position themselves, when forced to choos…
 
Being Social is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Roy Baumeister, Professor of Psychology at the University of Queensland. This extensive conversation explores Roy Baumeister’s unique combination of biological and psychological thinking from recognizing essential energetic factors involved with willpower and decisio…
 
Today on New Books in Gender Studies Jana Byars talks with Lindy McDougall, of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia about her new book, The Perfect Vagina: Cosmetic Surgery in the Twenty-First Century, out this year, 2021, with Indiana University Press. In The Perfect Vagina, Lindy McDougall provides an ethnographic account of women who choose…
 
Cooperation is the means by which life arose in the first place. It’s how we progressed through scale and complexity, from free-floating strands of genetic material, to nation states. But given what we know about the mechanisms of evolution, cooperation is also something of a puzzle. How does cooperation begin, when on a Darwinian level, all that t…
 
Aase Kvaneid’s new book explores local perceptions of climate change through ethnographic encounters with the men and women who live at the front line of climate change in the lower Himalayas. From data collected over the course of a year in a small village in an eco-sensitive zone in North India, this book presents an ethnographic account of local…
 
In Episode 66, Dan Dissinger talks with recent graduate of USC’s Film and Television Production program Sydney Laws about how Black stories are represented in media, cultural anthropology, and Storytelling versus Story-breaking. Sydney Laws is a very proud ATLien and recent graduate of USC’s Film and Television Production program. She defines herse…
 
Why are land rights so bitterly contested in Indonesia, even after the end of Suharto’s New Order in 1998? What methods have grassroots movements used to re-possess – or to occupy – lands that have been seized by powerful entities? How come small-scale Indonesian farmers and marginalized communities crave legal recognition from the state? How did t…
 
This book sounds an alarm: after decades of being lulled into complacency by narratives of technological utopianism and neutrality, people are waking up to the large-scale consequences of Silicon Valley–led technophilia. This book trains a spotlight on the inequality, marginalization, and biases in our technological systems, showing how they are no…
 
The vibrant media landscape in the southern Indian state of Kerala, where kiosks overflow with magazines and colorful film posters line roadside walls, creates a sexually charged public sphere that has a long history of political protests. The 2014 “Kiss of Love” campaign garnered national attention, sparking controversy as images of activists kiss…
 
In Sorting Sexualities: Expertise and the Politics of Legal Classification (University of Chicago Press, 2021), Stefan Vogler deftly unpacks the politics of the techno-legal classification of sexuality in the United States. His study focuses specifically on state classification practices around LGBTQ people seeking asylum in the United States and s…
 
There are more than 700,000 Bulgaristanlı migrants residing in Turkey. Immigrants from Bulgaria who are ethnically Turkish, they assume certain privileges because of these ethnic ties, yet access to citizenship remains dependent on the whims of those in power. Through vivid accounts of encounters with the police and state bureaucracy, of nostalgic …
 
Energy Islands: Metaphors of Power, Extractivism, and Justice in Puerto Rico (University of California Press, 2021) provides an urgent and nuanced portrait of collective action that resists racial capitalism, colonialism, and climate disruption. Weaving together historical and ethnographic research, this story challenges the master narratives of Pu…
 
Children’s folklore is simultaneously a conservator of tradition and a site for creativity and innovation. For over five decades, Dr. Jeanne Pitre Soileau documented and collected the jokes, chants, rhymes, and games that that she observed on school playgrounds throughout her career as a public school teacher in southern Louisiana. From the early d…
 
In India, elite law firms offer a surprising oasis for women within a hostile, predominantly male industry. Less than 10 percent of the country's lawyers are female, but women in the most prestigious firms are significantly represented both at entry and partnership. Elite workspaces are notorious for being unfriendly to new actors, so what allows f…
 
Hello, this is Eric LeMay, a host on the New Books Network. Today I interview Sergio Lopez-Pineiro about his new book, A Glossary of Urban Voids (2020). It's one of the more fascinating books I've encountered in some time. And I say "encountered" because it's not only a book, in the traditional sense of something you read, but also a keen intellect…
 
In many ways, divorce is a quintessentially personal decision—the choice to leave a marriage that causes harm or feels unfulfilling to the two people involved. But anyone who has gone through a divorce knows the additional public dimensions of breaking up, from intense shame and societal criticism to friends’ and relatives’ unsolicited advice. In I…
 
Unlike other athletes, the rock climber tends to disregard established norms of style and technique, doing whatever she needs to do to get to the next foothold. This figure provides an apt analogy for the scholar at the center of this unique book. In Rocking Qualitative Social Science, Dr. Ashley T. Rubin provides an entertaining treatise, correcti…
 
No Laughing Matter: Race Joking and Resistance in Brazilian Social Media (Vernon Press, 2020) examines the social phenomenon of construction and dissemination of colonial-like racist discourses fostered against upwardly-mobile black women through disparagement humour on social media platforms, adopting a fresh and innovative perspective. In this bo…
 
In Episode 65, Dan Dissinger talks with filmmaker Scott Barber about storytelling through documentary, why Nickelodeon was such a positive creative force in the early 90s, and the role of writing when making a documentary. And who can forget GWAR. Scott made his directorial debut with his film, The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story, featuring Ken…
 
Nicole Curato's Democracy in a Time of Misery: From Spectacular Tragedies to Deliberative Action (Oxford UP, 2019) investigates how democratic politics can unfold in creative and unexpected of ways even at the most trying of times. Drawing on three years of fieldwork in disaster-affected communities in Tacloban City, Philippines, this book presents…
 
Although it is not described as such anywhere in the book, Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World (HarperOne, 2021) is indeed a systems-thinking book—one that offers a much-needed fresh perspective. Tyson Yunkaporta stands on the shoulders of who we should consider the original systems thinkers: Indigenous elders—the keepers & teache…
 
Since the nineteenth century, a succession of states has classified the inhabitants of what are now the borderlands of Northeast India and Bangladesh as Muslim "frontier peasants," "savage mountaineers," and Christian "ethnic minorities," suspecting them to be disloyal subjects, spies, and traitors. In Jungle Passports Malini Sur follows the strugg…
 
Since the 2008 financial crisis, complex capital flows have ravaged everyday communities across the globe. Housing in particular has become increasingly precarious. In response, many movements now contest the long-held promises and established terms of the private ownership of housing. Immigrant activism has played an important, if understudied, ro…
 
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