Research Library

2016
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.

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.

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.

2015
Allison, Graham T. 2015. “The Thucydides Trap: Are the U.S. and China Headed for War?.” The Atlantic. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In 12 of 16 past cases in which a rising power has confronted a ruling power, the result has been bloodshed.

Mylonas, Harris. 2015. “The Agreekment That Could Break Europe: Euroskeptics, Eurocritics, and Life After the Bailout.” Foreign Affairs. Publisher's VersionAbstract

As the Greek negotiating team was preparing its latest reform proposal for the country’s creditors, I was walking to the Montparnasse metro station in Paris on my way to the Council for European Studies conference held at Sciences Po. At the station, a woman my age was standing behind the ticket booth. In her attempt to help me buy the most appropriate tickets for the next three days, I (apologetically) revealed to her that I am Greek and that I do not speak French. When she heard the word “Greek,” she put her hand close to her heart and repeated the word in French with compassion and solidarity. She asked me to wait for a second. In 30, she came back with her own credit card, swiped it, and handed over to me the first of the three tickets saying: “This is from me. For Greece.”

It is besides the point that I did not personally need this form of solidarity. It was also of little matter that many of my compatriots would find this story depressing. What resonated in the moment was that this exchange was exactly what the founders of the European Union envisaged: a solidary group of European citizens living in peace and prosperity.

Instead, many EU bureaucrats, ministers of finance, and heads of state saw—and some still see—the Greek crisis as a case study in moral hazards. Greece, the thinking goes, needs to fail now in order to discipline other unruly countries. Its governing party, Syriza, needs to fall in order to dampen the European public’s support for parties that are challenging the EU status quo. From this point of view, a hard line toward Greece is a necessary evil.

This logic, however, fails to understand the real problem in Greece and the psychology of the European public. Indeed, from the periphery, it is the European core, mainstream elites, officials, and institutions that all look rather euroskeptic—that is, skeptical of the very idea of unity, prosperity, democracy, solidarity, and mutual respect for which EU founders worked so hard to nurture. As of this writing, it appears that these elites have reached a deal with Greece, but the way they manage the relationship from here on out remains crucial. To avoid fueling the very euroskepticism and sovereigntist tendencies they want to quell, they have to abandon all ideas of vindictiveness and, instead, foster a spirit of cooperation among equal partners.

FROM GREFERENDUM TO AGREEKMENT

The forces supporting Europe’s status quo, namely the euro-establishment spearheaded by the German government, found an opportunity in the Greek financial crisis to reaffirm their commitment to austerity as the main way to guarantee Europe’s continued economic competitiveness. But there are plenty of people who oppose those forces. In fact, at the moment, the deepest divide within European societies is between those who want to leave the EU—in the Greek case this camp is represented mainly by the Communist Party, Golden Dawn, along with some of the more radical members of Greece’s coalition government—and those who want to stay in the union but reform it.

In the first camp are euroskeptics of both the right- and left-wing varieties. They range from the United Kingdom Independence Party’s Nigel Farage to Jobbik’s leader Gábor Vona in Hungary, and they have found in the Greek crisis an opportunity to intensify their rhetoric and accuse the EU for operating as a “prison of nations.” It is no accident that during Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ address to the European Parliament last week, euroskeptic parliamentarians of all stripes held up “no” (όχι) signs—in support of Greeks’ recent “no” vote on the June 25 plan proposed to the Greek government by the creditors.

It is not only euroskeptics that sided with the “no” vote, though, but also eurocritics who don’t want to leave the union but want to reform it. In this camp are a number of parties and figures, including the Podemos party in Spain and Lega Nord in Italy. Some in this camp prefer merely an inter-governmental union. Others envision a federal Europe. Tsipras himself is a eurocritic; he is not against the European Union project as a whole, but would like to see less austerity, more democratic EU institutions, and more redistribution of wealth.  

Core Europeans might have interpreted Greece’s “no” as a vote against the euro or even Europe. But, in fact, the Greek people tried to send multiple messages with their vote. For his part, Tsipras interpreted the vote as a “yes” to a different type of Europe. It is questionable whether the referendum led to a better deal, but it gave Tsipras more power at home to get his way. He isolated domestic opposition, turned Syriza into a more cohesive party, and avoided becoming a “Left Parenthesis”—a phrase that refers to a short-lived government of the Left in Greece that some had predicted or wished for.

The vote also deepened cleavages in Greek society, particularly between the young in poor neighborhoods, who tended to vote “no,” and those over 65 and in wealthy neighborhoods, who tended to vote “yes.” Young Greeks, who rightly feel that they had no part in the system that led Greece to financial ruin, are less tolerant of the current deal and status quo European institutions. The Greek youth, who are experiencing 60 percent unemployment rates, have very little patience. They bristle at the humiliating way in which the euro-establishment treated Tsipras and the Greek people. With deep feelings of marginalization, many eurocritics have been pushed into becoming euroskeptics.

How far this process has gone is hard to quantify. In Greece, it is indicative that many Syriza parliamentarians, as well as the head of the Greek government’s minor coalition partner, Panos Kammenos, openly opposed the latest deal as the product of blackmail by the EU. Elsewhere in Europe, Britain’s upcoming “in/out” referendum to decide its own EU membership will be a critical test. For Europe to survive such trials without significant—if not irreparable—damage, the euro-establishment camp needs to demonstrate that it understands where the legitimacy of the European Union project lies: building an ever closer union of peace, prosperity, respect for human rights, and democratic governance. The deal struck on July 13 is far from a promising first step toward this goal.

Namely, the agreement, which was reached after a marathon summit, could lead to a third bailout for Greece, which would come with the transfer of 50 billion euros ($55 billion) worth of Greek assets to a new fund for the recapitalization of Greek banks, immediate pension and tax reforms, and the reversal of many of the economic measures the Greek government has passed since its election in late January. Not surprisingly, when the newest demands became publicly known, Twitter exploded with hashtags such as #ThisIsACoup.

EUROPEAN DREAMIN

During several decades of economic growth and expansion of the welfare state, EU polities managed to downplay the frictions among and within them. Then the financial crisis hit. The alliances that formed as a result—and the ensuing debates over austerity—cut across the traditional Left-Center-Right ideological axis. In fact, the social cleavages currently dividing EU member states and the populations within them are the product of a dual integration crisis: European and national. The European integration crisis was brought on by the challenges emerging from the recent financial crisis coupled with tensions surrounding the EU’s uneven economic and political development. Meanwhile, the demographic decline across the continent and the inability of European societies to successfully integrate immigrants brought to the fore national integration problems.

Greece was not the only country that faced a financial debt crisis. Cyprus, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain did as well. In all cases, democratically-elected governments no longer had the ability, due to their participation in the eurozone, to devalue their currency or inflate their economies by printing money. As I wrote in Perspectives on Politics, “they were faced with two suboptimal options: to default or to implement austerity measures (internal devaluation).” Meanwhile, the European institutions opted for policies that would punish the already-suffering countries as a way to prevent further contagion. “These developments have since given rise to Euroscepticism throughout the EU, leading to a growing public dissatisfaction in the crisis-stricken countries with their own governments but also with the European Commission and the European Central Bank, and reminding everyone of the democratic deficit problem that has long existed within the European Union.”

It is perhaps bad luck that all this happened while the region’s poorest were hit with other economic and social challenges. Migration from outside of Europe and from within it, coupled with the governments’ failures to successfully integrate the new arrivals, left some Europeans jobless or fearful for their jobs and uncertain about their place in the continent’s social fabric. In turn, they believed that both their national governments and the EU had let them down, and their euroskepticism took on a decidedly nationalist and populist tinge.

In Greece, most—if not all—citizens agree that the policies of the past five years have utterly failed; they also agree that the “patronage social contract” that underwrote political rule for the past four decades is bankrupt. Meanwhile, even those who supported the “no” vote in the recent referendum—those who consider Greece a “colony of debt”—are internally divided on quintessential questions such as whether one is born Greek or can become Greek. France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and others are all facing similar identity crises, which is only exacerbated by the economic situation and the pressures on the welfare state.

All this is happening while austerity—chosen as the main way to keep the euro strong and the EU competitive—has undermined popular support for the union across Europe, not just in Greece. These developments constitute the dual integration crisis: EU and national. The safest way out of this predicament is an ever closer union, a political Europe with a fiscal union and democratically elected institutions that would redistribute more wealth and would achieve competitiveness through innovation, not austerity and internal devaluation.  The hope for such a Europe is still alive. The woman I met in the Montparnasse metro station is a testament to this.

Nye, Joseph S., Jr. 2015. “The Limits of Chinese Soft Power.” Today's Zaman. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In 2007, then-President Hu Jintao told the Communist Party that the country needed to increase its soft power; President Xi Jinping repeated the same message last year. They know that, for a country like China, whose growing economic and military power risks scaring its neighbors into forming counter-balancing coalitions, a smart strategy must include efforts to appear less frightening. But their soft-power ambitions still face major obstacles.

Simmons, Beth A, and Cosette Creamer. 2015. “Do Self-Reporting Regimes Matter? Evidence from the Convention Against Torture.” International Studies Association. New Orleans, Louisiana.Abstract

Human rights treaty bodies have for many years now been criticized as useless and self-reporting widely viewed as a whitewash. Yet very little research explores what, if any, influence this periodic review process has on governments’ implementation of and compliance with treaty obligations. We argue oversight committees may play an important role by providing information for international and domestic audiences. This paper examines the effects of self-reporting and oversight review, using original data on the quality and responsiveness of reports submitted to the Committee Against Torture (CmAT) and a dynamic approach to strengthen causal inference about the effects of the periodic review process on rights practices. We find that the review process in fact does reduce the incidence of torture in self-reporting states. Furthermore, we find that local media attention to the process in Latin American spikes during the review process, consistent with domestic awareness and mobilization made possible by media attention to torture practices and treaty obligations. Thus, this is the first study to present positive evidence on the effects of self-reporting on torture outcomes, contrary to the many studies that assert the process is basically useless.

creamersimmons_isa2015.pdf
Christian Human Rights
Moyn, Samuel. 2015. Christian Human Rights. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In Christian Human Rights, Samuel Moyn asserts that the rise of human rights after World War II was prefigured and inspired by a defense of the dignity of the human person that first arose in Christian churches and religious thought in the years just prior to the outbreak of the war. The Roman Catholic Church and transatlantic Protestant circles dominated the public discussion of the new principles in what became the last European golden age for the Christian faith. At the same time, West European governments after World War II, particularly in the ascendant Christian Democratic parties, became more tolerant of public expressions of religious piety. Human rights rose to public prominence in the space opened up by these dual developments of the early Cold War.

Moyn argues that human dignity became central to Christian political discourse as early as 1937. Pius XII's wartime Christmas addresses announced the basic idea of universal human rights as a principle of world, and not merely state, order. By focusing on the 1930s and 1940s, Moyn demonstrates how the language of human rights was separated from the secular heritage of the French Revolution and put to use by postwar democracies governed by Christian parties, which reinvented them to impose moral constraints on individuals, support conservative family structures, and preserve existing social hierarchies. The book ends with a provocative chapter that traces contemporary European struggles to assimilate Muslim immigrants to the continent's legacy of Christian human rights.

The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine
Plokhy, Serhii. 2015. The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine. New York: Basic Books. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Ukraine is currently embroiled in a tense fight with Russia to preserve its territorial integrity and political independence. But today's conflict is only the latest in a long history of battles over Ukraine's territory and its existence as a sovereign nation. As the award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy argues in The Gates of Europe, we must examine Ukraine's past in order to understand its present and future.

Situated between Central Europe, Russia, and the Middle East, Ukraine was shaped by the empires that used it as a strategic gateway between East and West—from the Roman and Ottoman empires to the Third Reich and the Soviet Union. For centuries, Ukraine has been a meeting place of various cultures. The mixing of sedentary and nomadic peoples and Christianity and Islam on the steppe borderland produced the class of ferocious warriors known as the Cossacks, for example, while the encounter between the Catholic and Orthodox churches created a religious tradition that bridges Western and Eastern Christianity. Ukraine has also been a home to millions of Jews, serving as the birthplace of Hassidism—and as one of the killing fields of the Holocaust.

Plokhy examines the history of Ukraine's search for its identity through the lives of the major figures in Ukrainian history: Prince Yaroslav the Wise of Kyiv, whose daughter Anna became queen of France; the Cossack ruler Ivan Mazepa, who was immortalized in the poems of Byron and Pushkin; Nikita Khrushchev and his protégé-turned-nemesis Leonid Brezhnev, who called Ukraine their home; and the heroes of the Maidan protests of 2013 and 2014, who embody the current struggle over Ukraine's future.

As Plokhy explains, today's crisis is a tragic case of history repeating itself, as Ukraine once again finds itself in the center of the battle of global proportions. An authoritative history of this vital country, The Gates of Europe provides a unique insight into the origins of the most dangerous international crisis since the end of the Cold War.

Art and Risk in Ancient Yoruba: Ife History, Power, and Identity
Blier, Suzanne Preston. 2015. Art and Risk in Ancient Yoruba: Ife History, Power, and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In this book, Suzanne Preston Blier examines the intersection of art, risk, and creativity in early African arts from the Yoruba center of Ife and the striking ways that ancient Ife artworks inform society, politics, history, and religion. Yoruba art offers a unique lens into one of Africa's most important and least understood early civilizations—one whose historic arts have long been of interest to local residents and Westerners alike because of their tour-de-force visual power and technical complexity. Among the complementary subjects explored are questions of art making, art viewing, and aesthetics in the famed ancient Nigerian city-state, as well as the attendant risks and danger assumed by artists, patrons, and viewers alike in certain forms of subject matter and modes of portrayal, including unique genres of body marking, portraiture, animal symbolism, and regalia. This volume celebrates art, history, and the shared passion and skill with which the remarkable artists of early Ife sought to define their past for generations of viewers.

Economics Rules
Rodrik, Dani. 2015. Economics Rules. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In the wake of the financial crisis and the Great Recession, economics seems anything but a science. In this sharp, masterfully argued book, Dani Rodrik, a leading critic from within, takes a close look at economics to examine when it falls short and when it works, to give a surprisingly upbeat account of the discipline.

Drawing on the history of the field and his deep experience as a practitioner, Rodrik argues that economics can be a powerful tool that improves the world—but only when economists abandon universal theories and focus on getting the context right. Economics Rules argues that the discipline's much-derided mathematical models are its true strength. Models are the tools that make economics a science.

Too often, however, economists mistake a model for the model that applies everywhere and at all times. In six chapters that trace his discipline from Adam Smith to present-day work on globalization, Rodrik shows how diverse situations call for different models. Each model tells a partial story about how the world works. These stories offer wide-ranging, and sometimes contradictory, lessons—just as children’s fables offer diverse morals.

Whether the question concerns the rise of global inequality, the consequences of free trade, or the value of deficit spending, Rodrik explains how using the right models can deliver valuable new insights about social reality and public policy. Beyond the science, economics requires the craft to apply suitable models to the context.

At once a forceful critique and defense of the discipline, Economics Rules charts a path toward a more humble but more effective science.

Global Production: Firms, Contracts, and Trade Structure
Antràs, Pol. 2015. Global Production: Firms, Contracts, and Trade Structure. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Global Production is the first book to provide a fully comprehensive overview of the complicated issues facing multinational companies and their global sourcing strategies. Few international trade transactions today are based on the exchange of finished goods; rather, the majority of transactions are dominated by sales of individual components and intermediary services. Many firms organize global production around offshoring parts, components, and services to producers in distant countries, and contracts are drawn up specific to the parties and distinct legal systems involved. Pol Antràs examines the contractual frictions that arise in the international system of production and how these frictions influence the world economy.

Antràs discusses the inevitable complications that develop in contract negotiation and execution. He provides a unified framework that sheds light on the factors helping global firms determine production locations and other organizational choices. Antràs also implements a series of systematic empirical tests, based on recent data from the U.S. Customs and Census Offices, which demonstrate the relevance of contractual factors in global production decisions.

Using an integrated approach, Global Production is an excellent resource for researchers, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates interested in the inner workings of international economics and trade.

The Medieval Islamic Hospital: Medicine, Religion, and Charity
Ragab, Ahmed. 2015. The Medieval Islamic Hospital: Medicine, Religion, and Charity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The first monograph on the history of Islamic hospitals, this volume focuses on the under-examined Egyptian and Levantine institutions of the twelfth to fourteenth centuries. By the twelfth century, hospitals serving the sick and the poor could be found in nearly every Islamic city. Ahmed Ragab traces the varying origins and development of these institutions, locating them in their urban environments and linking them to charity networks and patrons' political projects. Following the paths of patients inside hospital wards, he investigates who they were and what kinds of experiences they had. The Medieval Islamic Hospital explores the medical networks surrounding early hospitals and sheds light on the particular brand of practice-oriented medicine they helped to develop. Providing a detailed picture of the effect of religion on medieval medicine, it will be essential reading for those interested in history of medicine, history of Islamic sciences, or history of the Mediterranean.

Political Standards: Corporate Interest, Ideology, and Leadership in the Shaping of Accounting Rules for the Market Economy
Ramanna, Karthik. 2015. Political Standards: Corporate Interest, Ideology, and Leadership in the Shaping of Accounting Rules for the Market Economy. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Prudent, verifiable, and timely corporate accounting is a bedrock of our modern capitalist system. In recent years, however, the rules that govern corporate accounting have been subtly changed in ways that compromise these core principles, to the detriment of the economy at large. These changes have been driven by the private agendas of certain corporate special interests, aided selectively—and sometimes unwittingly—by arguments from business academia

With Political Standards, Karthik Ramanna develops the notion of “thin political markets” to describe a key problem facing technical rule-making in corporate accounting and beyond. When standard-setting boards attempt to regulate the accounting practices of corporations, they must draw on a small pool of qualified experts—but those experts almost always have strong commercial interests in the outcome. Meanwhile, standard setting rarely enjoys much attention from the general public. This absence of accountability, Ramanna argues, allows corporate managers to game the system. In the profit-maximization framework of modern capitalism, the only practicable solution is to reframe managerial norms when participating in thin political markets. Political Standards will be an essential resource for understanding how the rules of the game are set, whom they inevitably favor, and how the process can be changed for a better capitalism.

Peterson, Sarah Dryden. 2015. “Refugee Education in Countries of First Asylum: Breaking Open the Black Box of Pre-Resettlement Experiences.” Theory and Research in Education, 1-18. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The number of refugees who have fled across international borders due to conflict and persecution is at the highest level in recorded history. The vast majority of these refugees find exile in low-income countries neighboring their countries of origin. The refugee children who are resettled to North America, Europe, and Australia arrive with previous educational experiences in these countries of first asylum. This article examines these pre-resettlement educational experiences of refugee children, which to date have constituted a ‘black box’ in their post-resettlement education. Analysis is of data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, key informant interviews in 14 countries of first asylum, and ethnographic fieldwork and interviews in four countries. The article argues that contemporary conditions of conflict usefully inform conceptual understanding of refugee education globally, including the types of schools that refugees access in countries of first asylum and their rates of access. It further identifies three empirical themes that are common to the educational experiences of refugees in countries of first asylum: language barriers, teacher-centered pedagogy, and discrimination in school settings. The article examines the theoretical and practical relevance of these pre-resettlement educational experiences for post-resettlement education of refugee children.

Sailing the Water’s Edge
Tingley, Dustin H., and Helen V. Milner. 2015. Sailing the Water’S Edge. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

When engaging with other countries, the US government has a number of different policy instruments at its disposal, including foreign aid, international trade, and the use of military force. But what determines which policies are chosen? Does the United States rely too much on the use of military power and coercion in its foreign policies? Sailing the Water’s Edge focuses on how domestic US politics—in particular the interactions between the president, Congress, interest groups, bureaucratic institutions, and the public—have influenced foreign policy choices since World War II and shows why presidents have more control over some policy instruments than others. Presidential power matters and it varies systematically across policy instruments.

Helen Milner and Dustin Tingley consider how Congress and interest groups have substantial material interests in and ideological divisions around certain issues and that these factors constrain presidents from applying specific tools. As a result, presidents select instruments that they have more control over, such as use of the military. This militarization of US foreign policy raises concerns about the nature of American engagement, substitution among policy tools, and the future of US foreign policy. Milner and Tingley explore whether American foreign policy will remain guided by a grand strategy of liberal internationalism, what affects American foreign policy successes and failures, and the role of US intelligence collection in shaping foreign policy. The authors support their arguments with rigorous theorizing, quantitative analysis, and focused case studies, such as US foreign policy in sub-Saharan Africa across two presidential administrations.

Sailing the Water’s Edge examines the importance of domestic political coalitions and institutions on the formation of American foreign policy.

The Story of Swahili
Mugane, John M. 2015. The Story of Swahili. Athens: Ohio University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Swahili, or more properly Kiswahili, was once an obscure littoral dialect of an East African Bantu language. Today more than one hundred million people use Swahili, making it one of the few truly international languages—Swahili is to eastern and central Africa what English is to the world. How this came about and why, of all African languages, it happened only to Swahili is the story that John M. Mugane sets out to explore.

The remarkable adaptability of Swahili has allowed Africans—and others—to tailor the language to their needs, extending its influence far beyond its place of origin. The Story of Swahili calls for a reevaluation of the widespread but fallacious assumption that cultural superiority, military conquest, and economic dominance determine the prosperity of any given language.

The Story of Swahili is about where languages come from, where they are now, and where they are headed, using the success of Swahili as a convenient point of entry. As a language that arose from contact between peoples from diverse cultures, Swahili is an excellent conveyor of the history of communities in eastern and central Africa as well as their associations throughout the Indian Ocean world. It is also a vibrant, living language that continues to adapt to the changing demands of global trade, technology, and communication.

The War on Alcohol
McGirr, Lisa. 2015. The War on Alcohol. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Publisher's VersionAbstract

A groundbreaking history of Prohibition and a new creation story for the powerful American state.

Prohibition has long been portrayed as a “noble experiment” that failed, a newsreel story of glamorous gangsters, flappers, and speakeasies. Now at last Lisa McGirr dismantles this cherished myth to reveal a much more significant history. Prohibition was the seedbed for a pivotal expansion of the federal government, the genesis of our contemporary penal state. Her deeply researched, eye-opening account uncovers patterns of enforcement still familiar today: the war on alcohol was waged disproportionately in African American, immigrant, and poor white communities. Alongside Jim Crow and other discriminatory laws, Prohibition brought coercion into everyday life and even into private homes. Its targets coalesced into an electoral base of urban, working-class voters that propelled FDR to the White House.

This outstanding history also reveals a new genome for the activist American state, one that shows the DNA of the right as well as the left. It was Herbert Hoover who built the extensive penal apparatus used by the federal government to combat the crime spawned by Prohibition. The subsequent federal wars on crime, on drugs, and on terror all display the inheritances of the war on alcohol. McGirr shows the powerful American state to be a bipartisan creation, a legacy not only of the New Deal and the Great Society but also of Prohibition and its progeny.

The War on Alcohol is history at its best—original, authoritative, and illuminating of our past and its continuing presence today.

Lamont, Michèle, Stefan Beljean, and Phillipa Chong. 2015. “A Post-Bourdieusian Sociology of Valuation and Evaluation for the Field of Cultural Production.” Routledge International Handbook of the Sociology of Art and Culture. London: Routledge. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The Routledge Handbook of the Sociology of Arts and Culture offers a comprehensive overview of sociology of art and culture, focusing especially – though not exclusively – on the visual arts, literature, music, and digital culture. Extending, and critiquing, Bourdieu’s influential analysis of cultural capital, the distinguished international contributors explore the extent to which cultural omnivorousness has eclipsed highbrow culture, the role of age, gender and class on cultural practices, the character of aesthetic preferences, the contemporary significance of screen culture, and the restructuring of popular culture. The Handbook critiques modes of sociological determinism in which cultural engagement is seen as the simple product of the educated middle classes. The contributions explore the critique of Eurocentrism and the global and cosmopolitan dimensions of cultural life. The book focuses particularly on bringing cutting edge ‘relational’ research methodologies, both qualitative and quantitative, to bear on these debates. This handbook not only describes the field, but also proposes an agenda for its development which will command major international interest.

Lamont, Michèle, Sabrina Pendergrass, and Mark C. Pachucki. 2015. “Symbolic Boundaries.” International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd Edition, 23: 850-855. Oxford: Elsevier, 23, 850-855. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Fully revised and updated, the second edition of the International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, first published in 2001, offers a source of social and behavioral sciences reference material that is broader and deeper than any other. Available in both print and online editions, it comprises over 3,900 articles, commissioned by 71 Section Editors, and includes 90,000 bibliographic references as well as comprehensive name and subject indexes.