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Cornell University Press
A Social and Political History of the Controversial Mammogram
In 2009, an influential panel of medical experts ignited a controversy when they recommended that most women should not begin routine mammograms to screen for breast cancer until the age of fifty, reversing guidelines they had issued just seven years before when they recommended forty as the optimal age to start getting mammograms. While some praised the new recommendation as sensible given the smaller benefit women under fifty derive from mammography, many women's groups, health care advocates, and individual women saw the guidelines as privileging financial considerations over women's health and a setback to decades-long efforts to reduce the mortality rate of breast cancer.
In The Big Squeeze, Dr. Handel Reynolds, a practicing radiologist, notes that this episode was only the most recent controversy in the turbulent history of mammography since its introduction in the early 1970s. In a book written for the millions of women who face the decision about whether to get a mammogram, health professionals interested in cancer screening, and public health policymakers, Reynolds shows how pivotal decisions made during mammography's initial launch made it all but inevitable that the test would be contentious. He describes how, at several key points in its history, the emphasis on mammography screening as a fundamental aspect of women's preventive health care coincided with social and political developments, from the women's movement in the early 1970s to breast cancer activism in the 1980s and '90s.
At the same time, aggressive promotion of mammography made the screening tool the cornerstone of a huge new industry. Taking a balanced approach to this much-disputed issue, Reynolds addresses both the benefits and risks of mammography, charting debates, for example, that have weighed the early detection of aggressively malignant tumors against unnecessary treatments resulting from the identification of slow-growing and non-life-threatening cancers. The Big Squeeze, ultimately, helps to evaluate the ongoing public health controversies surrounding mammography and provides a clear understanding of how mammography achieved its current primacy in cancer screening.
A New Synthesis
Mammals in the genus Martes are mid-sized carnivores of great importance to forest ecosystems. This book, the successor to Martens, Sables, and Fishers: Biology and Conservation, provides a scientific basis for management and conservation efforts designed to maintain or enhance the populations and habitats of Martes species throughout the world. The twenty synthesis chapters contained in this book bring together the perspectives and expertise of 63 scientists from twelve countries, and are organized by the five key themes of evolution and biogeography, population biology and management, habitat ecology and management, research techniques, and conservation.
Recent developments in research technologies such as modeling and genetics, biological knowledge about pathogens and parasites, and concerns about the potential effects of global warming on the distribution and status of Martes populations make new syntheses of these areas especially timely. The volume provides an overview of what is known while clarifying initiatives for future research and conservation priorities, and will be of interest to mammalogists, resource managers, applied ecologists, and conservation biologists.
Race, Asthma, and the Contested Meaning of Genetic Research in the Caribbean
Steadily increasing numbers of Americans have been diagnosed with asthma in recent years, attracting the attention of biomedical researchers, including those searching for a genetic link to the disease. The high rate of asthma among African American children has made race significant to this search for genetic predisposition. One of the primary sites for this research today is Barbados. The Caribbean nation is considered optimal because of its predominantly black population. At the same time, the government of Barbados has promoted the country for such research in an attempt to take part in the biomedical future.
In Biomedical Ambiguity, Ian Whitmarsh describes how he followed a team of genetic researchers to Barbados, where he did fieldwork among not only the researchers but also government officials, medical professionals, and the families being tested. Whitmarsh reveals how state officials and medical professionals make the international biomedical research part of state care, bundling together categories of disease populations, biological race, and asthma. He points to state and industry perceptions of mothers as medical caretakers in genetic research that proves to be inextricable from contested practices around nation, race, and family.
The reader's attention is drawn to the ambiguity in these practices, as researchers turn the plurality of ethnic identities and illness meanings into a science of asthma and race at the same time that medical practitioners and families make the opaque science significant to patient experience. Whitmarsh shows that the contradictions introduced by this "misunderstanding" paradoxically enable the research to move forward.
Anatomy of a Public Health Disaster
In the definitive history of a twentieth-century public health disaster, Alan Derickson recounts how, for decades after methods of prevention were known, hundreds of thousands of American miners suffered and died from black lung, a respiratory illness caused by the inhalation of coal mine dust. The combined failure of government, medicine, and industry to halt the spread of this disease—and even to acknowledge its existence—resulted in a national tragedy, the effects of which are still being felt.
The book begins in the late nineteenth century, when the disorders brought on by exposure to coal mine dust were first identified as components of a debilitating and distinctive illness. For several decades thereafter, coal miners' dust disease was accepted, in both lay and professional circles, as a major industrial disease. Derickson describes how after the turn of the century medical professionals and industry representatives worked to discredit and supplant knowledge about black lung, with such success that this disease ceased to be recognized. Many authorities maintained that breathing coal mine dust was actually beneficial to health.
Derickson shows that activists ultimately forced society to overcome its complacency about this deadly and preventable disease. He chronicles the growth of an unprecedented movement—from the turn-of-the-century miners' union, to the social medicine activists in the mid-twentieth century, and the black lung insurgents of the late sixties—which eventually won landmark protections and compensation with the enactment of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act in 1969. An extraordinary work of scholarship, Black Lung exposes the enormous human cost of producing the energy source responsible for making the United States the world's preeminent industrial nation.
Community Control, Affirmative Action, and the Construction Industry
Black Power at Work chronicles the history of direct action campaigns to open up the construction industry to black workers in the 1960s and 1970s. The book's case studies of local movements in Brooklyn, Newark, the Bay Area, Detroit, Chicago, and Seattle show how struggles against racism in the construction industry shaped the emergence of Black Power politics outside the U.S. South. In the process, "community control" of the construction industry-especially government War on Poverty and post-rebellion urban reconstruction projects- became central to community organizing for black economic self-determination and political autonomy.
The history of Black Power's community organizing tradition shines a light on more recent debates about job training and placement for unemployed, underemployed, and underrepresented workers. Politicians responded to Black Power protests at federal construction projects by creating modern affirmative action and minority set-aside programs in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but these programs relied on "voluntary" compliance by contractors and unions, government enforcement was inadequate, and they were not connected to jobs programs. Forty years later, the struggle to have construction jobs serve as a pathway out of poverty for inner city residents remains an unfinished part of the struggle for racial justice and labor union reform in the United States.
Race in the Making of American Military Empire after World War II
By the end of World War II, many black citizens viewed service in the segregated American armed forces with distaste if not disgust. Meanwhile, domestic racism and Jim Crow, ongoing Asian struggles against European colonialism, and prewar calls for Afro-Asian solidarity had generated considerable black ambivalence toward American military expansion in the Pacific, in particular the impending occupation of Japan. However, over the following decade black military service enabled tens of thousands of African Americans to interact daily with Asian peoples-encounters on a scale impossible prior to 1945. It also encouraged African Americans to share many of the same racialized attitudes toward Asian peoples held by their white counterparts and to identify with their government's foreign policy objectives in Asia.
In Black Yanks in the Pacific, Michael Cullen Green tells the story of African American engagement with military service in occupied Japan, war-torn South Korea, and an emerging empire of bases anchored in those two nations. After World War II, African Americans largely embraced the socioeconomic opportunities afforded by service overseas-despite the maintenance of military segregation into the early 1950s-while strained Afro-Asian social relations in Japan and South Korea encouraged a sense of insurmountable difference from Asian peoples. By the time the Supreme Court declared de jure segregation unconstitutional in its landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, African American investment in overseas military expansion was largely secured. Although they were still subject to discrimination at home, many African Americans had come to distrust East Asian peoples and to accept the legitimacy of an expanding military empire abroad.
The Killing of Olof Palme
The Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, a major figure in world politics and an ardent opponent of apartheid, was shot dead on the streets of Stockholm in February 1986. At the time of his death, Palme was deeply involved in Middle East diplomacy and was working under UN auspices to end the Iran–Iraq war. Across Scandinavia, Palme's killing had an impact similar to that of the Kennedy assassinations in the United States—and it ignited nearly as many conspiracy theories. Interest in the Palme slaying was most recently stirred by reports of the death of Christer Pettersson, who was tried for the murder twice, convicted the first time, and then acquitted on appeal.
In his investigative account of Palme's still-unsolved murder, the historian Jan Bondeson meticulously recreates the assassination and its aftermath. Like the best works of crime fiction, this book puts the victim and his death into social context. Bondeson's work, however, is noteworthy for its dispassionate treatment of police incompetence: the police did not answer a witness’s phone call reporting the murder just 45 seconds after it occurred, and further time was lost as the police sought to confirm that someone had actually been shot. When the police arrived on the scene, they did not even recognize the victim as the Prime Minister. This early confusion was emblematic of the errors that were to follow.
Bondeson demolishes the various conspiracy theories that have been devised to make sense of the killing, before suggesting a convincing explanation of his own. A brilliant piece of investigative journalism, Blood on the Snow includes crime-scene photographs and reconstructions that have never before been published and offers a gripping narrative of a crime that shocked a continent.
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.
The Life and Exile of a Prince Provocateur
p>Prince Prisdang Chumsai (1852–1935) served as Siam's first diplomat to Europe during the most dramatic moment of Siam’s political history, when its independence was threatened by European imperialism. Despite serving with patriotic zeal, he suffered irreparable social and political ruin based on rumors about fiscal corruption, sexual immorality, and political treason. In Bones around My Neck, Tamara Loos pursues the truth behind these rumors, which chased Prisdang out of Siam. Her book recounts the personal and political adventures of an unwitting provocateur who caused a commotion in every country he inhabited.
Prisdang spent his first five years in exile from Siam living in disguise as a commoner and employee of the British Empire in colonial Southeast Asia. He then resurfaced in the 1890s in British Ceylon, where he was ordained as a Buddhist monk and became a widely respected abbot. Foreigners from around the world were drawn to this prince who had discarded wealth and royal status to lead the life of an ascetic. His fluency in English, royal blood, acute intellect, and charisma earned him importance in international diplomatic and Buddhist circles. Prisdang’s life journey reminds us of the complexities of the colonial encounter and the recalibrations it caused in local political cultures. His drama offers more than a story about Siamese politics: it also casts in high relief the subjective experience of global imperialism. Telling this history from the vantage point of a remarkable individual grounds and animates the historical abstractions of imperialism, Buddhist universalism, and the transformation of Siam into a modern state.