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The Barren Sacrifice

An Essay on Political Violence

According to political theory, the primary function of the modern state is to protect its citizens—both from each other and from external enemies. Yet it is the states that essentially commit major forms of violence, such as genocides, ethnic cleansings, and large-scale massacres, against their own citizens. In this book Paul Dumouchel argues that this paradoxical reversal of the state’s primary function into violence against its own members is not a mere accident but an ever-present possibility that is inscribed in the structure of the modern state. Modern states need enemies to exist and to persist, not because they are essentially evil but because modern politics constitutes a violent means of protecting us against our own violence. If they cannot—if we cannot—find enemies outside the state, they will find them inside. However, this institution is today coming to an end, not in the sense that states are disappearing, but in the sense that they are increasingly failing to protect us from our own violence. That is why the violent sacrifices that they ask from us, in wars and even in times of peace, have now become barren.

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Battle for the soul

Métis children encounter evangelical Protestants at Mackinaw Mission, 1823-1837

Keith R. Widder

In 1823 William and Amanda Ferry opened a boarding school for Métis children on Mackinac Island, Michigan Territory, setting in motion an intense spiritual battle to win the souls and change the lives of the children, their parents, and all others living at Mackinac. Battle for the Soul demonstrates how a group of enthusiastic missionaries, empowered by an uncompromising religious motivation, served as agents of Americanization. The Ferrys' high hopes crumbled, however, as they watched their work bring about a revival of Catholicism and their students refuse to abandon the fur trade as a way of life. The story of the Mackinaw Mission is that of people who held differing world views negotiating to create a "middle-ground," a society with room for all.
     Widder's study is a welcome addition to the literature on American frontier missions. Using Richard White's "middle ground" paradigm, it focuses on the cultural interaction between French, British, American, and various native groups at the Mackinac mission in Michigan during the early 19th century. The author draws on materials from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions archives, as well as other manuscript sources, to trace not only the missionaries' efforts to Christianize and Americanize the native peoples, but the religious, social, and cultural conflicts between Protestant missionaries and Catholic priests in the region. Much attention has been given to the missionaries to the Indians in other areas of the US, but little to this region.

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Battling to the End

Conversations with Benoit Chantre

René Girard

In Battling to the End René Girard engages Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831), the Prussian military theoretician who wrote On War. Clausewitz, who has been critiqued by military strategists, political scientists, and philosophers, famously postulated that "War is the continuation of politics by other means." He also seemed to believe that governments could constrain war.
     Clausewitz, a firsthand witness to the Napoleonic Wars, understood the nature of modern warfare. Far from controlling violence, politics follows in war's wake: the means of war have become its ends.
     René Girard shows us a Clausewitz who is a fascinated witness of history's acceleration. Haunted by the French-German conflict, Clausewitz clarifies more than anyone else the development that would ravage Europe. Battling to the End pushes aside the taboo that prevents us from seeing that the apocalypse has begun. Human violence is escaping our control; today it threatens the entire planet.

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Bawaajimo

A Dialect of Dreams in Anishinaabe Language and Literature

Margaret Noodin

Bawaajimo: A Dialect of Dreams in Anishinaabe Language and Literature combines literary criticism, sociolinguistics, native studies, and poetics to introduce an Anishinaabe way of reading. Although nationally specific, the book speaks to a broad audience by demonstrating an indigenous literary methodology. Investigating the language itself, its place of origin, its sound and structure, and its current usage provides new critical connections between North American fiction, Native American literatures, and Anishinaabe narrative. The four Anishinaabe authors discussed in the book, Louise Erdrich, Jim Northrup, Basil Johnston, and Gerald Vizenor, share an ethnic heritage but are connected more clearly by a culture of tales, songs, and beliefs. Each of them has heard, studied, and written in Anishinaabemowin, making their heritage language a part of the backdrop and sometimes the medium, of their work. All of them reference the power and influence of the Great Lakes region and the Anishinaabeakiing, and they connect the landscape to the original language. As they reconstruct and deconstruct the aadizookaan, the traditional tales of Nanabozho and other mythic figures, they grapple with the legacy of cultural genocide and write toward a future that places ancient beliefs in the center of the cultural horizon.

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Belgians in Michigan

Bernard A. Cook

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Michigan was home to the second-largest Belgian population in the United States, and Detroit had one of the largest Belgian populations in the nation. Although immigration declined after World War I, the Belgian- American community is still prominent in the state. Political, religious, and economic conditions, including a nineteenth- century economic depression, helped motivate the move to America. Belgians brought with them the ability and willingness to innovate, as well as a tradition of hard work and devotion. The Gazette van Detroit, a Flemish-language newspaper first printed in Detroit in 1914, continues to be produced and distributed to subscribers throughout the United States and overseas. Belgian-Americans continue to incorporate traditional values with newfound American values, enabling them to forever preserve their heritage.

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Bending spines

the propagandas of Nazi Germany and the German Democratic Republic

Randall L. Bytwerk

Why do totalitarian propaganda such as those created in Nazi Germany and the former German Democratic Republic initially succeed, and why do they ultimately fail? Outside observers often make two serious mistakes when they interpret the propaganda of this time. First, they assume the propaganda worked largely because they were supported by a police state, that people cheered Hitler and Honecker because they feared the consequences of not doing so. Second, they assume that propaganda really succeeded in persuading most of the citizenry that the Nuremberg rallies were a reflection of how most Germans thought, or that most East Germans were convinced Marxist-Leninists. Subsequently, World War II Allies feared that rooting out Nazism would be a very difficult task. No leading scholar or politician in the West expected East Germany to collapse nearly as rapidly as it did. Effective propaganda depends on a full range of persuasive methods, from the gentlest suggestion to overt violence, which the dictatorships of the twentieth century understood well. 
     In many ways, modern totalitarian movements present worldviews that are religious in nature. Nazism and Marxism-Leninism presented themselves as explanations for all of life—culture, morality, science, history, and recreation. They provided people with reasons for accepting the status quo. Bending Spines examines the full range of persuasive techniques used by Nazi Germany and the German Democratic Republic, and concludes that both systems failed in part because they expected more of their propaganda than it was able to deliver. 
 

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Beneath the Veil of the Strange Verses

Reading Scandalous Texts

Jeremiah L. Alberg

Jeremiah Alberg’s fascinating book explores a phenomenon almost every news reader has experienced: the curious tendency to skim over dispatches from war zones, political battlefields, and economic centers, only to be drawn in by headlines announcing a late-breaking scandal. Rationally we would agree that the former are of more significance and importance, but they do not pique our curiosity in quite the same way. The affective reaction to scandal is one both of interest and of embarrassment or anger at the interest. The reader is at the same time attracted to and repulsed by it. Beneath the Veil of the Strange Verses describes the roots out of which this conflicted desire grows, and it explores how this desire mirrors the violence that undergirds the scandal itself. The book shows how readers seem to be confronted with a stark choice: either turn away from scandal completely or become enthralled and thus trapped by it. Using examples from philosophy, literature, and the Bible, Alberg leads the reader on a road out of this false dichotomy. By its nature, the author argues, scandal is the basis of our reading; it is the source of the obstacles that prevent us from understanding what we read, and of the bridges that lead to a deeper grasp of the truth.

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Beso the Donkey

Richard Jarrette

Beso the Donkey is a poetry cycle about a wounded, neglected, and abandoned jackass. In sparklingly clear and luminous poems, Richard Jarrette tells the story of Beso and of his caregiver's attempts to understand and heal him — an endeavor that teaches the man much about the meaning of life, death, peace, and acceptance. With undertones of Buddhist, Christian, Taoist, and Islamic faiths, Beso the Donkey incorporates elements of philosophy, ethics, religion, and morality.
     As the book progresses, we sense the poet’s growing acceptance of life’s passing. Along with the author, we feel a deeper peace blossoming as Beso’s life is ending (which is itself a beginning). This is a lyrical story of loss and acceptance.
 

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Between the Flowers

A Novel

Harriette Simpson Arnow

Between the Flowers is Harriette Simpson Arnow's second novel. Written in the late 1930s, but unpublished until 1997, this early work shows the development of social and cultural themes that would continue in Arnow's later work: the appeal of wandering and of modern life, the countervailing desire to stay within a traditional community, and the difficulties of communication between men and women in such a community.
    Between the Flowers goes far beyond categories of "local color," literary regionalism, or the agrarian novel, to the heart of human relationships in a modernized world. Arnow, who went on to write Hunter's Horn (1949) and The Dollmaker (1952)—her two most famous works—has continually been overlooked by critics as a regional writer. Ironically, it is her stinging realism that is seen as evidence of her realism, evidence that she is of the Cumberland—an area somehow more "regional" than others.
    Beginning with an edition of critical essays on her work in 1991 and a complete original edition of Hunter's Horn in 1997, the Michigan State University Press is pleased to continue its effort to make available the timeless insight of Arnow's work with the posthumous publication of Between the Flowers.
 

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Beyond Pontiac's Shadow

Michilimackinac and the Anglo-Indian War of 1763

Keith R. Widder

On June 2, 1763, the Ojibwe captured Michigan’s Fort Michilimackinac from the British. Ojibwe warriors from villages on Mackinac Island and along the Cheboygan River had surprised the unsuspecting garrison while playing a game of baggatiway. On the heels of the capture, Odawa from nearby L’Arbre Croche arrived to rescue British prisoners, setting into motion a complicated series of negotiations among Ojibwe, Odawa, and Menominee and other Indians from Wisconsin. Because nearly all Native people in the Michilimackinac borderland had allied themselves with the British before the attack, they refused to join the Michilimackinac Ojibwe in their effort to oust the British from the upper country; the turmoil effectively halted the fur trade. Beyond Pontiac’s Shadow examines the circumstances leading up to the attack and the course of events in the aftermath that resulted in the regarrisoning of the fort and the restoration of the fur trade. At the heart of this discussion is an analysis of French-Canadian and Indian communities at the Straits of Mackinac and throughout the pays d’en haut. An accessible guide to this important period in Michigan, American, and Canadian history, Beyond Pontiac’s Shadow sheds invaluable light on a political and cultural crisis.

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