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Pursuing Sustainability: A Guide to the Science and Practice
Clark, William C., Pamela Matson, and Krister Andersson. 2016. Pursuing Sustainability: A Guide to the Science and Practice. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Sustainability is a global imperative and a scientific challenge like no other. This concise guide provides students and practitioners with a strategic framework for linking knowledge with action in the pursuit of sustainable development, and serves as an invaluable companion to more narrowly focused courses dealing with sustainability in particular sectors such as energy, food, water, and housing, or in particular regions of the world.

Written by leading experts, Pursuing Sustainability shows how more inclusive and interdisciplinary approaches and systems perspectives can help you achieve your sustainability objectives. It stresses the need for understanding how capital assets are linked to sustainability goals through the complex adaptive dynamics of social-environmental systems, how committed people can use governance processes to alter those dynamics, and how successful interventions can be shaped through collaborations among researchers and practitioners on the ground.

The ideal textbook for undergraduate and graduate students and an invaluable resource for anyone working in this fast-growing field, Pursuing Sustainability also features case studies, a glossary, and suggestions for further reading.

American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper
Pierson, Paul, and Jacob S. Hacker. 2016. American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper. New York: Simon & Schuster. Publisher's VersionAbstract

From the groundbreaking author team behind the bestselling Winner-Take-All Politics, a timely and topical work that examines what’s good for American business and what’s good for Americans—and why those interests are misaligned.

In Winner-Take-All Politics, Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson explained how political elites have enabled and propelled plutocracy. Now in American Amnesia, they trace the economic and political history of the United States over the last century and show how a viable mixed economy has long been the dominant engine of America’s prosperity.

Like every other prospering democracy, the United States developed a mixed economy that channeled the spirit of capitalism into strong growth and healthy social development. In this bargain, government and business were as much partners as rivals. Public investments in education, science, transportation, and technology laid the foundation for broadly based prosperity. Programs of economic security and progressive taxation provided a floor of protection and business focused on the pursuit of profit—and government addressed needs business could not.

The mixed economy was the most important social innovation of the twentieth century. It spread a previously unimaginable level of broad prosperity. It enabled steep increases in education, health, longevity, and economic security. And yet, extraordinarily, it is anathema to many current economic and political elites. And as the advocates of anti-government free market fundamentalist have gained power, they are hell-bent on scrapping the instrument of nearly a century of unprecedented economic and social progress. In American Amnesia, Hacker and Pierson explain how—and why they must be stopped.

Siege of the Spirits: Community and Polity In Bangkok
Herzfeld, Michael. 2016. Siege of the Spirits: Community and Polity In Bangkok. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

What happens when three hundred alleged squatters go head-to-head with an enormous city government looking to develop the place where they live? As anthropologist Michael Herzfeld shows in this book, the answer can be surprising. He tells the story of Pom Mahakan, a tiny enclave in the heart of old Bangkok whose residents have resisted authorities’ demands to vacate their homes for a quarter of a century. It’s a story of community versus government, of old versus new, and of political will versus the law.          

Herzfeld argues that even though the residents of Pom Mahakan have lost every legal battle the city government has dragged them into, they have won every public relations contest, highlighting their struggle as one against bureaucrats who do not respect the age-old values of Thai/Siamese social and cultural order. Such values include compassion for the poor and an understanding of urban space as deeply embedded in social and ritual relations. In a gripping account of their standoff, Herzfeld—who simultaneously argues for the importance of activism in scholarship—traces the agile political tactics and styles of the community’s leadership, using their struggle to illuminate the larger difficulties, tensions, and unresolved debates that continue to roil Thai society to this day.

Accidental Activists: Victim Movements and Government Accountability in Japan and South Korea
Arrington, Celeste. 2016. Accidental Activists: Victim Movements and Government Accountability in Japan and South Korea. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Government wrongdoing or negligence harms people worldwide, but not all victims are equally effective at obtaining redress. In Accidental Activists, Celeste L. Arrington examines the interactive dynamics of the politics of redress to understand why not. Relatively powerless groups like redress claimants depend on support from political elites, active groups in society, the media, experts, lawyers, and the interested public to capture democratic policymakers' attention and sway their decisions. Focusing on when and how such third-party support matters, Arrington finds that elite allies may raise awareness about the victims’ cause or sponsor special legislation, but their activities also tend to deter the mobilization of fellow claimants and public sympathy. By contrast, claimants who gain elite allies only after the difficult and potentially risky process of mobilizing societal support tend to achieve more redress, which can include official inquiries, apologies, compensation, and structural reforms.

Arrington draws on her extensive fieldwork to illustrate these dynamics through comparisons of the parallel Japanese and South Korean movements of victims of harsh leprosy control policies, blood products tainted by hepatitis C, and North Korean abductions. Her book thereby highlights how citizens in Northeast Asia—a region grappling with how to address Japan’s past wrongs—are leveraging similar processes to hold their own governments accountable for more recent harms. Accidental Activists also reveals the growing power of litigation to promote policy change and greater accountability from decision makers.

Electoral Reform and National Security in Japan: From Pork to Foreign Policy
Catalinac, Amy. 2016. Electoral Reform and National Security in Japan: From Pork to Foreign Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Japan is the third-largest economy in the world and a key ally of the United States. Yet the determinants of Japanese security policy are not well understood. The question of why Japan never sought the independent military capabilities that would be commensurate with its economic power has puzzled scholars of international relations for decades. Applying new tools for the quantitative analysis of text to a new collection of 7,497 Japanese-language election manifestos used in elections between 1986 and 2009, this book argues that the electoral strategies politicians in the ruling party were forced to adopt under Japan's old electoral system made it extraordinarily difficult for them to focus on security issues and to change security policy. It was only when their electoral strategies shifted after electoral reform in 1994 that these same politicians became able to pay attention and change security policy.

Humanitarian Invasion: Global Development in Cold War Afghanistan
Nunan, Timothy. 2016. Humanitarian Invasion: Global Development in Cold War Afghanistan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Humanitarian Invasion is the first book of its kind: a ground-level inside account of what development and humanitarianism meant for Afghanistan, a country touched by international aid like no other. Relying on Soviet, Western, and NGO archives, interviews with Soviet advisers and NGO workers, and Afghan sources, Timothy Nunan forges a vivid account of the impact of development on a country on the front lines of the Cold War. Nunan argues that Afghanistan functioned as a laboratory for the future of the Third World nation-state. If, in the 1960s, Soviets, Americans, and Germans sought to make a territorial national economy for Afghanistan, later, under military occupation, Soviet nation-builders, French and Swedish humanitarians, and Pakistani-supported guerrillas fought a transnational civil war over Afghan statehood. Covering the entire period from the Cold War to Taliban rule, Humanitarian Invasion signals the beginning of a new stage in the writing of international history.

How Solidarity Works for Welfare: Subnationalism and Social Development in India
Singh, Prerna. 2016. How Solidarity Works for Welfare: Subnationalism and Social Development in India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Why are some places in the world characterized by better social service provision and welfare outcomes than others? In a world in which millions of people, particularly in developing countries, continue to lead lives plagued by illiteracy and ill-health, understanding the conditions that promote social welfare is of critical importance to political scientists and policy makers alike. Drawing on a multi-method study, from the late nineteenth century to the present, of the stark variations in educational and health outcomes within a large, federal, multiethnic developing country—India—this book develops an argument for the power of collective identity as an impetus for state prioritization of social welfare. Such an argument not only marks an important break from the dominant negative perceptions of identity politics but also presents a novel theoretical framework to understand welfare provision.

What Works: Gender Equality by Design
Bohnet, Iris. 2016. What Works: Gender Equality by Design. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Gender equality is a moral and a business imperative. But unconscious bias holds us back, and de-biasing people’s minds has proven to be difficult and expensive. Diversity training programs have had limited success, and individual effort alone often invites backlash. Behavioral design offers a new solution. By de-biasing organizations instead of individuals, we can make smart changes that have big impacts. Presenting research-based solutions, Iris Bohnet hands us the tools we need to move the needle in classrooms and boardrooms, in hiring and promotion, benefiting businesses, governments, and the lives of millions.

What Works is built on new insights into the human mind. It draws on data collected by companies, universities, and governments in Australia, India, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, and other countries, often in randomized controlled trials. It points out dozens of evidence-based interventions that could be adopted right now and demonstrates how research is addressing gender bias, improving lives and performance. What Works shows what more can be done—often at shockingly low cost and surprisingly high speed.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
Desmond, Matthew. 2016. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. Penguin Random House. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind.

The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs one of the worst trailer parks in Milwaukee. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but as Sherrena puts it, “Love don’t pay the bills.” She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas.

Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality—and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.

Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.

Reflections on Memory and Democracy
Grindle, Merilee S., and Erin E. Goodman, ed. 2016. Reflections on Memory and Democracy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

What is the role of history in the life of new democracies? In this volume, twelve reflections—the work of journalists, writers and poets, literary critics, political scientists, historians, philosophers, economists, and linguists—explore legacies of authoritarian political regimes noted for repression and injustice, questioning how collective experiences of violence shape memory and its relevance for contemporary social and political life in Latin America. The past matters deeply, the essayists agree, but the past itself is debatable and ambiguous. Avoiding its repetition introduces elusive and contested terrain; there are, indeed, many histories, many memories, and many ways they can be reflected in democratic contexts. In much of contemporary Latin America, this difficult past has not yet been fully confronted, and much remains to be done in reconciling memory and democracy throughout the region. As this is done, the lessons of the past must contribute not only to the construction of democratic institutions, but also to the engagement of democratic citizens in the collective work of governance and participation.

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