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Fighting for Safe Workplaces and Healthy Communities
What do unions and environmental groups have to gain by working together and how do they overcome their differences? In Blue-Green Coalitions, Brian Mayer answers these questions by focusing on the role that health-related issues have played in creating a common ground between the two groups. By recognizing that the same toxics that cause workplace hazards escape into surrounding communities and the environment, workers and environmentalists are able to collaborate for the protection of all.
Mayer examines three contemporary cases of successful labor-environmental alliances to demonstrate how health and safety issues are used to create durable and politically influential social movement coalitions:
•Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, a coalition of environmental, labor, community, and public health organizations in Massachusetts that has developed a successful prevention-based approach to safe workplaces and a clean environment;
•the Work Environment Council in New Jersey, which succeeded in passing the first statewide right-to-know law and concentrates on protecting citizens from the dangerous toxics generated by the state's chemical industries;
•the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, an organization that began in the 1980s fighting hazardous high-tech practices that were affecting the Valley residents and the high-tech industry's largely immigrant workforce.
In Mayer's ethnographic accounts of the challenging work of bringing these blue-green coalitions together, it becomes clear that stereotypes about environmentalists and workers are largely irrelevant when thinking about who is at risk of exposure to dangerous toxic substances. Both movements share a common concern for protecting their members' health from toxic hazards that are by-products of the modern industrial economy.
International NGOs in the United States, Britain, and France
In Borders among Activists, Sarah S. Stroup challenges the notion that political activism has gone beyond borders and created a global or transnational civil society. Instead, at the most globally active, purportedly cosmopolitan groups in the world-international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs)-organizational practices are deeply tied to national environments, creating great diversity in the way these groups organize themselves, engage in advocacy, and deliver services.
Stroup offers detailed profiles of these "varieties of activism" in the United States, Britain, and France. These three countries are the most popular bases for INGOs, but each provides a very different environment for charitable organizations due to differences in legal regulations, political opportunities, resources, and patterns of social networks. Stroup's comparisons of leading American, British, and French INGOs-Care, Oxfam, Médicins sans Frontières, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and FIDH-reveal strong national patterns in INGO practices, including advocacy, fund-raising, and professionalization. These differences are quite pronounced among INGOs in the humanitarian relief sector, and are observable, though less marked, among human rights INGOs.
Stroup finds that national origin helps account for variation in the "transnational advocacy networks" that have received so much attention in international relations. For practitioners, national origin offers an alternative explanation for the frequently lamented failures of INGOs in the field: INGOs are not inherently dysfunctional, but instead remain disconnected because of their strong roots in very different national environments.
Living and Losing the Good Life in Socialist Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia was unique among the communist countries of the Cold War era in its openness to mixing cultural elements from both socialism and capitalism. Unlike their counterparts in the nations of the Soviet Bloc, ordinary Yugoslavs enjoyed access to a wide range of consumer goods and services, from clothes and appliances to travel agencies and discotheques. From the mid-1950s onward the political climate in Yugoslavia permitted, and later at times encouraged, a consumerist lifestyle of shopping, spending, acquiring, and enjoying that engaged the public on a day-to-day basis through modern advertising and sales techniques. In Bought and Sold, Patrick Hyder Patterson reveals the extent to which socialist Yugoslavia embraced a consumer culture usually associated with capitalism and explores the role of consumerism in the federation's collapse into civil war in 1991.
Patterson argues, became a land where the symbolic, cultural value of consumer goods was a primary factor in individual and group identity. He shows how a new, aggressive business establishment promoted consumerist tendencies that ordinary citizens eagerly adopted, while the Communist leadership alternately encouraged and constrained the consumer orientation. Abundance translated into civic contentment and seemed to prove that the regime could provide goods and services equal to those of the capitalist West, but many Yugoslavs, both inside and outside the circles of official power, worried about the contradiction between the population's embrace of consumption and the dictates of Marxist ideology. The result was a heated public debate over creeping consumerist values, with the new way of life finding fierce critics and, surprisingly for a communist country, many passionate and vocal defenders.
The Culture of Illicit Liquor in Sri Lanka
"I'm going to break the ashes," yelled one daily drinker to another as their paths crossed early in the morning in the Sri Lankan village Michele Ruth Gamburd calls Naeaegama. The drinker's cryptic comment compared the warming power of alcohol-in the form of his first shot of kasippu, the local moonshine-with the rekindled heat of a kitchen fire. As the adverse effects of globalization have brought poverty to many areas of the world, more people, particularly men, have increased their use and abuse of alcohol. Despite Buddhist prohibitions against the consumption of mind-altering substances, men in Naeaegama are drinking more, at a younger age, and the number of problem drinkers has begun to grow.
In Breaking the Ashes, Gamburd explores the changing role of alcohol. Her account is populated with lively characters, many of whom Gamburd has known since visiting the village for the first time as a child. In wonderfully clear prose Gamburd offers readers an understanding of the cultural context for social and antisocial alcohol consumption, insight into everyday and ceremonial drinking in Naeaegama, and an overview of the production of illicit alcohol. Breaking the Ashes includes a discussion of the key economic aspects that fuel conflicts between husbands and wives, moonshine-makers and police. Addressing Western and indigenous ways to conceptualize and treat alcohol dependence, Gamburd explores the repercussions-at the family as well as the community level-of alcohol's abuse.
The Politics of Marital Strife in Late Imperial Russia
Russia's Great Reforms of 1861 were sweeping social and legal changes that aimed to modernize the country. In the following decades, rapid industrialization and urbanization profoundly transformed Russia's social, economic, and cultural landscape. Barbara Alpern Engel explores the personal, cultural, and political consequences of these dramatic changes, focusing on their impact on intimate life and expectations and the resulting challenges to the traditional, patriarchal family order, the cornerstone of Russia's authoritarian political and religious regime. The widely perceived "marriage crisis" had far-reaching legal, institutional, and political ramifications. In Breaking the Ties That Bound, Engel draws on exceptionally rich archival documentation-in particular, on petitions for marital separation and the materials generated by the ensuing investigations-to explore changing notions of marital relations, domesticity, childrearing, and intimate life among ordinary men and women in imperial Russia.
Engel illustrates with unparalleled vividness the human consequences of the marriage crisis. Her research reveals in myriad ways that the new and more individualistic values of the capitalist marketplace and commercial culture challenged traditional definitions of gender roles and encouraged the self-creation of new social identities. Engel captures the intimate experiences of women and men of the lower and middling classes in their own words, documenting instances not only of physical, mental, and emotional abuse but also of resistance and independence. These changes challenged Russia's rigid political order, forcing a range of state agents, up to and including those who spoke directly in the name of the tsar, to rethink traditional understandings of gender norms and family law. This remarkable social history is thus also a contribution to our understanding of the deepening political crisis of autocracy.
Transatlantic Perspectives on Immigrant Political Incorporation
For immigrants, politics can play a significant role in determining whether and how they assimilate. In Bringing Outsiders In, leading social scientists present individual cases and work toward a comparative synthesis of how immigrants affect-and are affected by-civic life on both sides of the Atlantic. Just as in the United States, large immigrant minority communities have been emerging across Europe. While these communities usually make up less than one-tenth of national populations, they typically have a large presence in urban areas, sometimes approaching a majority.
That immigrants can have an even greater political salience than their population might suggest has been demonstrated in recent years in places as diverse as Sweden and France. Attending to how local and national states encourage or discourage political participation, the authors assess the relative involvement of immigrants in a wide range of settings. Jennifer Hochschild and John Mollenkopf provide a context for the particular cases and comparisons and draw a set of analytic and empirical conclusions regarding incorporation.
Shakespeare and the Politics of Music
Music was a subject of considerable debate during the Renaissance. The notion that music could be interpreted in a meaningful way clashed regularly with evidence that music was in fact profoundly promiscuous in its application and effects. Subsequently, much writing in the period reflects a desire to ward off music's illegibility rather than come to terms with its actual effects. In Broken Harmony, Joseph M. Ortiz revises our understanding of music's relationship to language in Renaissance England. In the process he shows the degree to which discussions of music were ideologically and politically charged.
Offering a historically nuanced account of the early modern debate over music, along with close readings of several of Shakespeare's plays (including Titus Andronicus, The Merchant of Venice, The Tempest, and The Winter's Tale) and Milton's A Maske, Ortiz challenges the consensus that music's affinity with poetry was widely accepted, or even desired, by Renaissance poets. Shakespeare more than any other early modern poet exposed the fault lines in the debate about music's function in art, repeatedly staging disruptive scenes of music that expose an underlying struggle between textual and sensuous authorities. Such musical interventions in textual experiences highlight the significance of sound as an aesthetic and sensory experience independent of any narrative function.
Writing the Secret Lives of Fathers
A devoted reader of autobiographies and memoirs, Roger J. Porter has observed in recent years a surprising number of memoirs by adult children whose fathers have led secret lives. Some of the fathers had second families; some had secret religious lives; others have been criminals, liars, or con men. Struck by the intensely human drama of secrecy and deception played out for all to see, Porter explores the phenomenon in great depth. In Bureau of Missing Persons he examines a large number of these works-eighteen in all-placing them in a wide literary and cultural context and considering the ethical quandaries writers face when they reveal secrets so long and closely held.
Among the books Porter treats are Paul Auster's The Invention of Solitude, Alison Bechdel's graphic memoir Fun Home, Essie Mae Washington-Williams's Dear Senator (on her father, Strom Thurmond), Bliss Broyard's One Drop, Mary Gordon's The Shadow Man, and Geoffrey Wolff's The Duke of Deception. He also discusses Nathaniel Kahn's documentary film, My Architect. These narratives inevitably look inward to the writer as well as outward to the parent. The autobiographical children are compelled, if not consumed, by a desire to know. They become detectives, piecing together clues to fill memory voids, assembling material and archival evidence, public and private documents, letters, photographs, and iconic physical objects to track down the parent.