Book Announcements

 

December 12, 2019

Intellectuals, Inequalities and Transitions: Prospects for a Critical Sociology

by Tamás Demeter. Leiden-Boston: Brill (2019)

This volume is devoted to the central themes in Iván Szelényi’s sociological oeuvre comprising of empirical explorations and their theoretical refinement in the last 50 years. The contributors have been asked to take interpretive and critical stances on his work, and to clarify the relevance of his insights. Iván Szelényi has been asked to write a concluding chapter, and respond to the present reflections on his work. The ensuing volume discusses Szelényi’s captivating scholarship as being grounded in a complex program for the political economy of socialisms and post-socialist capitalisms, and introduces him as a neoclassical sociologist whose research projects continue to investigate inequalities created by the interaction of markets and redistributive structures in various societies.  Contributors include: Dorothee Bohle, Tamás Demeter, Gil Eyal, Béla Greskovits, Michael D. Kennedy, Tamás Kolosi, Karmo Kroos, Victor Nee, David Ost, Iván Szelényi, Bruce Western.  

October 19, 2019

Exit and Voice: The Paradox of Cross-Border Politics in Mexico

by Lauren Duquette-Rury. University of California Press (2019)

Sometimes leaving home allows you to make an impact on it—but at what cost? Exit and Voice is a compelling account of how Mexican migrants with strong ties to their home communities impact the economic and political welfare of the communities they have left behind. In many decentralized democracies like Mexico, migrants have willingly stepped in to supply public goods when local or state government lack the resources or political will to improve the town. Though migrants’ cross-border investments often improve citizens’ access to essential public goods and create a more responsive local government, their work allows them to unintentionally exert political engagement and power, undermining the influence of those still living in their hometowns. In looking at the paradox of migrants who have left their home to make an impact on it, Exit and Voice sheds light on how migrant transnational engagement refashions the meaning of community, democratic governance, and practices of citizenship in the era of globalization.

September 30, 2019

Gringolandia: Lifestyle Migration under Late Capitalism

by Matthew Hayes. University of Minnesota Press (2018).

Even as the “migration crisis” from the Global South to the Global North rages on, another, lower-key and yet important migration has been gathering pace in recent years—that of mostly white, middle-class people moving in the opposite direction. Gringolandia is that rare book to consider this phenomenon in all its complexity.

Matthew Hayes focuses on North Americans relocating to Cuenca, Ecuador, the country’s third-largest city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many began relocating there after the 2008 economic crisis. Most are self-professed “economic refugees” who sought offshore retirement, affordable medical care, and/or a lower–cost location. Others, however, sought adventure marked by relocation to an unfamiliar cultural environment and to experience personal growth through travel, illustrative of contemporary cultures of aging. These life projects are often motivated by a desire to escape economic and political conditions in North America.

Regardless of their individual motivations, Hayes argues, such North–South migrants remain embedded in unequal and unfair global social relations. He explores the repercussions on the host country—from rising prices for land and rent to the reproduction of colonial patterns of domination and subordination. In Ecuador, heritage preservation and tourism development reflect the interests and culture of European-descendant landowning elites, who have most to benefit from the new North–South migration. In the process, they participate in transnational gentrification that marginalizes popular traditions and nonwhite mestizo and indigenous informal workers. The contrast between the migration experiences of North Americans in Ecuador and those of Ecuadorians or others from such regions of the Global South in North America and Europe demonstrates that, in fact, what we face is not so much a global “migration crisis” but a crisis of global social justice.

 

 

September 18, 2019

Global Borderlands: Fantasy, Violence and Empire in Subic Bay, Philippines

by Victoria Reyes. Stanford University Press (2019).

The U.S. military continues to be an overt presence in the Philippines, and a reminder of the country's colonial past. Using Subic Bay (a former U.S. military base, now a Freeport Zone) as a case study, Victoria Reyes argues that its defining feature is its ability to elicit multiple meanings. For some, it is a symbol of imperialism and inequality, while for others, it projects utopian visions of wealth and status. Drawing on archival and ethnographic data, Reyes describes the everyday experiences of people living and working in Subic Bay, and makes a case for critically examining similar spaces across the world. These foreign-controlled, semi-autonomous zones of international exchange are what she calls global borderlands. While they can take many forms, ranging from overseas military bases to tourist resorts, they all have key features in common. This new unit of globalization provides a window into broader economic and political relations, the consequences of legal ambiguity, and the continuously reimagined identities of the people living there. Rejecting colonialism as merely a historical backdrop, Reyes demonstrates how it is omnipresent in our modern world.

September 05, 2019

Anatomies of Revolution

by George Lawson. Cambridge University Press (2019).

Recent years have seen renewed interest in the study of revolution. Spurred by events like the 2011 uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, the rise of Islamic State, and the emergence of populism, a new age of revolution has generated considerable interest. Yet, even as empirical studies of revolutions are thriving, there has been a stall in theories of revolution. Anatomies of Revolution offers a novel account of how revolutions begin, unfold and end. By combining insights from international relations, sociology, and global history, it outlines the benefits of a 'global historical sociology' of revolutionary change, one in which international processes take centre stage. Featuring a wide range of cases from across modern world history, this is a comprehensive account of one of the world's most important processes. It will interest students and scholars studying revolutions, political conflict and contentious politics in sociology, politics and international relations.

May 10, 2019

Gift Exchange: The Transnational History of a Political Idea

by Grégoire Mallard. Cambridge Uni Press (2019).

Since Marcel Mauss published his foundational essay The Gift in 1925, many anthropologists and specialists of international relations have seen in the exchange of gifts, debts, loans, concessions or reparations the sources of international solidarity and international law. Still, Mauss's reflections were deeply tied to the context of interwar Europe and the French colonial expansion. Their normative dimension has been profoundly questioned after the age of decolonization. A century after Mauss, we may ask: what is the relevance of his ideas on gift exchanges and international solidarity? By tracing how Mauss's theoretical and normative ideas inspired prominent thinkers and government officials in France and Algeria, from Pierre Bourdieu to Mohammed Bedjaoui, Grégoire Mallard adds a building block to our comprehension of the role that anthropology, international law, and economics have played in shaping international economic governance from the age of European colonization to the latest European debt crisis. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.

​May 08, 2019

Trade Battles: Activism and the Politicization of International Trade Policy

by Tamara Kay & R. L. Evans. Oxford Uni Press (2018). 

Trade was once an esoteric economic issue with little domestic policy resonance. Activists did not prioritize it, and grassroots political mobilization seemed unlikely to free trade advocates. The passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in the early 1990s was therefore expected to be a fait accompli. Yet, as Trade Battles shows, activists pushed back: they increased the public consciousness on trade, mobilized new constituencies against it, and demanded that the rules of the global economy protect the collective rights and common good of citizens. Activists also forged a sustained challenge to U.S. trade policies after NAFTA, setting the stage for future trade battles. Using data from extensive archival materials and over 215 interviews with Mexican, Canadian, and U.S. trade negotiators; labor and environmental activists; and government officials, Tamara Kay and R.L. Evans assess how activists politicized trade policy by leveraging broad divisions across state and non-state arenas. Further, they demonstrate how activists were not only able to politicize trade policy, but also to pressure negotiators to include labor and environmental protections in NAFTA's side agreements. A timely contribution, Trade Battles seeks to understand the role of civil society in shaping state policy.

​April 05, 2019

Refuge Beyond Reach: How Rich Democracies Repel Asylum Seekers.

by David S. FitzGerald. Oxford Uni Press (2019).

In Refuge beyond Reach, David Scott FitzGerald traces how rich democracies have deliberately and systematically shut down most legal paths to safety. Drawing on official government documents, information obtained via WikiLeaks, and interviews with asylum seekers, he finds that for ninety-nine percent of refugees, the only way to find safety in one of the prosperous democracies of the Global North is to reach its territory and then ask for asylum. FitzGerald shows how the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia comply with the letter of the law while violating the spirit of those laws through a range of deterrence methods - first designed to keep out Jews fleeing the Nazis - that have now evolved into a pervasive global system of “remote control.” While some of the most draconian remote control practices continue in secret, FitzGerald identifies some pressure points and finds that a diffuse humanitarian obligation to help those in need is more difficult for governments to evade than the law alone.

In summary, this book:

  • Explores why 99% of refugees can only find safety in the prosperous democracies of the Global North by asking for asylum after they arrive.

  • Describes how governments have developed increasingly elaborate techniques of remote control to keep asylum seekers away from spaces where they can ask for sanctuary.

  • Uses American diplomatic cables from the 2000s released by WikiLeaks and declassified CIA documents from the 1960s through early 1980s to provide an unprecedented window into policymaking behind the scenes.
     

September 08, 2018

America, As Seen on TV: How Television Shapes Immigrant Expectations around the Globe

by Clara E. Rodriguez. NYU Press (2018).

 

Based on in-depth interviews with 70 international college students and foreign nationals working or living in the US, America, As Seen on TV explores the global and transnational effects of US TV content on global viewers. Specifically, how does watching “American” TV impact views about race, class, gender, and sexuality? And how do these views match the actual realities migrants experience when they come to the US? Rodriguez finds that that many of the foreign born were surprised to learn that America is racially and economically diverse; and, that it does not reflect the “easy-breezy, happy-endings” culture portrayed in the media they watched before they came.  Interestingly, Rodriguez finds that the 171 US millennials she surveyed also share the sense that American TV does not accurately reflect racial/ethnic relations in the US; and that what American TV projects is different from what they have experienced (in this regard) in real life. However, the two groups, i.e., the US millennials and the foreign born, young adults, differ on how much they think US TV has influenced their views in other areas, e.g., in views about  sexual behavior, smoking, and drinking.  These differences allow us to draw a larger picture of media consumption and its effects both in the US and in other countries. As Carlos E. Cortés, author of The Children Are Watching: How the Media Teach about Diversity, says “This is a landmark study of television’s role in shaping popular views of our nation, particularly its racial, ethnic, class, and gender diversity.”  It is particularly timely in today’s political climate, where many have become aware of the role that TV has had in influencing the public’s views on past and future candidates for public office.

 

July 24, 2018

Strategic Impasse: Social Origins of Geopolitical Disarray

by Juan E. Corradi. Routledge (2019).

 

The book seeks to ground geopolitics in social theory and social research, in a language accessible to students and lay readers alike. The first part analyzes the inability of Western powers to enact international initiatives of their choice.  What and who prevents them?  Europe and the United States seem unable to manage and mitigate unavoidable challenges and to prevent avoidable ones.  The book offers some historical and comparative reflections on previous episodes of “losing the center”, as they may apply to the apparent decline of Western hegemony and then moves on to explore (1) the de-coupling of political systems from the concerns of the citizenry, and (2) the polarization within the systems, or the disarray of elites.  It offers an explanation for the distraction of leaders from geopolitical challenges in Europe and the US and a parallel development at the level of civil society:  a mixture of routine distraction and fitful protests.  Ongoing research on the apparent paradox of increased connectivity and collective disengagement from the political process helps us understand a perverse dynamic between publics and elites, with a serious impact on international affairs.

 

The second part of the book is devoted to alternate views of power and destiny manifest in the growing geopolitical weight of China, and the possible scenarios of collaboration or clash between East and West.  A centerpiece of this section of the book is an analysis of the changing nature of armed conflict, not as a topic per se but as a window from which to observe the strategic impasse in which the West finds itself, and to gauge the utility of the concept.  The question here is: how can incipient decline be managed and distracting paralysis overcome?  A final chapter discloses the observational position --a Latin American perspective—as a source of hypotheses.

 

 

June 11, 2018

 

Surviving State Terror: Women’s Testimonies of Repression and Resistance in Argentina by Barbara Sutton. NYU Press (2018).

 

 

Based on oral testimonies of women who survived clandestine detention centers during a period of state terrorism in Argentina (1976–83), this book illuminates the gendered and embodied forms of trauma that women endured as well as their historical and political agency. Through the lens of the body as a transversal theme, the book reveals multiple gendered dimensions of experience during captivity and beyond. While sexual violence as a weapon of state terror is addressed, the book transcends this focus to show more subtle dynamics of gender inscription through torture. Similarly, though the study attends to motherhood ideologies and the egregious treatment of pregnant women in captivity, it also explores women’s experiences beyond maternity. In contrast to much work on human rights violations in Argentina and other parts of Latin America, which focuses on family members of the disappeared, this book brings to the fore the stories of women who themselves were forcibly disappeared but ultimately survived. Surviving State Terror includes accounts of the specific forms of victimization that women experienced, but it also incorporates women’s narratives of solidarity, resistance, and political organizing. Attending to women’s perspectives on social change, human rights, and democracy, the book highlights the importance of their testimonies beyond experiences of captivity. Through these poignant stories, the book connects past, present, and future: it draws on the urgent lessons that women survivors offer to a world that continues to grapple with atrocity and underscores the vital role of collective organizing as a means of social transformation.

 

 

May 21, 2018

Rules Without Rights: Land, Labor, and Private Authority in the Global Economy by Tim Bartley.

Oxford University Press (2018). 

 

Activists have exposed startling forms of labor exploitation and environmental degradation in global industries, leading many large retailers and brands to adopt standards for fairness and sustainability. This book is about the idea that transnational corporations can push these standards through their global supply chains, and in effect, pull factories, forests, and farms out of their local contexts and up to global best practices. For many scholars and practitioners, this kind of private regulation and global standard-setting can provide an alternative to regulation by territorially-bound, gridlocked, or incapacitated nation states, potentially improving environments and working conditions around the world and protecting the rights of exploited workers, impoverished farmers, and marginalized communities. But can private, voluntary standards actually create meaningful forms of regulation? Are forests and factories around the world actually being made into sustainable ecosystems and decent workplaces? Can global norms remake local orders?

 

This book provides striking new answers by comparing the private regulation of land and labor in democratic and authoritarian settings. Case studies of sustainable forestry and fair labour standards in Indonesia and China show not only how transnational standards are implemented 'on the ground' but also how they are constrained and reconfigured by domestic governance. Combining rich multi-method analyses, a powerful comparative approach, and a new theory of private regulation, Rules without Rights reveals the contours and contradictions of transnational governance.

 

 

March 12, 2018

 

Cambridge University Press Contentious Politics Series (2018). 'Political Translation. 
How Social Movement Democracies Survive' by Nicole Doerr

 

Can democracy work in multiethnic, multilingual social movements?

The arrival of millions of refugees in Europe has made many people interested in the challenges that linguistic and cultural misunderstandings may pose to democracy and civic participation. How can people work together across differences in increasingly multilingual, globalized social movements and in local communities and international organizations engaged in solidarity with immigrants, disadvantaged groups, and refugees? Over a decade, scholars of globalization/transnational social movements race/ethnicity, gender/intersectionality, and immigration/political participation have debated this issue. In Political Translation, Nicole Doerr presents the collective practices of political translation, which helped multilingual and culturally diverse social movements and intersectional coalitions work together more democratically. The book’s counterintuitive finding is that because both multilingual and highly diverse deliberative group settings drew explicit attention to cultural differences between participants, these settings also inspired political translation, the collective practice of openly challenging and tackling positional misunderstandings regarding race, gender, class and language differences or other cultural differences. These misunderstandings remain unseen within models of neutral facilitation and, in turn, impede democratic dialogue and deliberation. The book’s analysis reviews a wide range of political deliberations covering high-stakes, fundamental issues, such as inequality in the context of European integration; and immigration, race, gender, and housing politics in the United States.

 

Reviews

 

‘For decades, those of us intensely interested in the inequalities that typically arise in social movements despaired of finding ways to counter those inequalities - of class, gender, race, and language. Now, in a breakthrough analysis, Nicole Doerr shows how the techniques of political translation can right many of the inegalitarian wrongs that typically flow from an open participatory setting. In a series of closely observed and well-analyzed cases, Doerr shows how social movement activists evolved these techniques and used them effectively. A must-read for anyone interested in social movements or (an unusual juxtaposition) deliberative democratic theory.'

     -Jane Mansbridge - Charles F. Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values, Harvard University

‘Political Translation is one of those rare gems that offers a fresh perspective - dare I say, a new language - for understanding recurrent themes in the study and practice of participatory democracy: power, inequality, inclusion/exclusion, and bridging cultural-political differences. This path-breaking analysis highlights translation as a critical practice and metaphor with the potential to transform our understanding of social movements.'

Jeffrey S. Juris - Northeastern University, Massachusetts

‘At last - an innovative, specific way to make public deliberation inclusive, democratic, and effective. Nicole Doerr's groundbreaking study of decision-making forums on two continents is a must-read for anyone interested in moving beyond the tensions and misunderstandings of modern politics.'

     -Kathleen Blee - Senior Associate Dean, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pittsburgh

 

 ‘Rich in empirical evidence and original in its theoretical approach, this book discusses challenges and opportunities for the discursive quality of democracy in culturally diverse forums. Different from neutral facilitators, political translators have the potential to address positional misunderstanding emerging from inequalities and power. An essential read for those who are interested in deliberative democracy in social movements and beyond.'

     -Donatella della Porta - Dean of the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence

 

Global and Transnational Sociology Section

American Sociology Association

© 2018 

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