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Michigan State University Press

Michigan State University Press

Website: http://www.msupress.msu.edu/

Michigan State University Press, the scholarly publishing arm of Michigan State University, helps to carry out the institution's land-grant mission through the publication of research and intellectual inquiry that make significant contributions to scholarship in the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. General and specialized works include African studies; business and business history; environmental affairs and human ecology; literature, literary criticism, and poetry; Native American studies; North American history with an emphasis on the upper Midwest and the Great Lakes region; medieval studies; rhetoric and public affairs.


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Michigan State University Press

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Black Eden

the Idlewild community

Lewis Walker

Black Eden chronicles the history of Idlewild, a Michigan black community founded during the aftermath of the Civil War. As one of the nation’s most popular black resorts, Idlewild functioned as a gathering place for African Americans, and more importantly as a touchstone of black identity and culture. Benjamin C. Wilson and Lewis Walker examine Idlewild’s significance within a historical context, as well as the town’s revitalization efforts and the need for comprehensive planning in future development. In a segregated America, Idlewild became a place where black audiences could see rising black entertainers.
     Profusely illustrated with photos from the authors’ personal collections, Black Eden provides a lengthy discussion about the crucial role that Idlewild played in the careers of artists such as Louis Armstrong, B. B. King, Sammy Davis Jr., Jackie Wilson, Aretha Franklin, and Della Reese. Fundamentally, the book explores issues involved in living in a segregated society, the consequences of the civil rights movement, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and subsequent integration, and the consequences of integration vs. racial solidarity. The authors ask: Did integration kill Idlewild? suggesting rather that other factors contributed to its decline.

 

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Black November

The Carl D. Bradley Tragedy

Michigan’s "storms of November" are famous in song, lore, and legend and have taken a tragic toll, breaking the hulls of many ships and sending them to cold, dark, and silent graves on the bottoms of the Great Lakes. On November 18, 1958, when the limestone carrier Carl D. Bradley broke up during a raging storm on Lake Michigan, it became the largest ship in Great Lakes' history to vanish beneath storm-tossed waves. Along with the Bradley, thirty-three crew members perished. Most of the casualties hailed from the little harbor town of Rogers City, Michigan, a community that was stung with grief when, in an instant, twenty-three women became widows and fifty- three children were left fatherless. Nevertheless, this is also a story of survival, as it recounts the tale of two of the ship’s crew, whose fifteen-hour ordeal on a life raft, in gale-force winds and 25 foot waves, is a remarkable story of endurance and tenacity. 
     Written in a style that is equally appealing to young adults and adult readers, Black November is a tale of adventure, courage, heroism, and tragedy. Kantar, the author of 29 Missing, a book about the loss of the great lakes freighter the Edmund Fitzgerald, has once again crafted a dramatic narrative that is both informative and compelling. Although the Carl D. Bradley has been called "the ship that time forgot," Black November recalls that tragic day nearly fifty years ago and is a moving tribute to the ship and its crew.

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Blackbird's Song

Andrew J. Blackbird and the Odawa People

Theodore J. Karamanski

For much of U.S. history, the story of native people has been written by historians and anthropologists relying on the often biased accounts of European-American observers. Though we have become well acquainted with war chiefs like Pontiac and Crazy Horse, it has been at the expense of better knowing civic-minded intellectuals like Andrew J. Blackbird, who sought in 1887 to give a voice to his people through his landmark book History of the Ottawa and Chippewa People. Blackbird chronicled the numerous ways in which these Great Lakes people fought to retain their land and culture, first with military resistance and later by claiming the tools of citizenship. This stirring account reflects on the lived experience of the Odawa people and the work of one of their greatest advocates.

 

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Bleeder

A Memoir

Shelby Smoak

I am Caucasian, five foot eleven, have sandy brown hair, blue eyes, and am a tender slip of bone. And I am at the hospital.
A coming-of-age memoir for modern times, Bleeder is the incredibly compelling tale of author Shelby Smoak. A hemophiliac, Smoak discovered he had been infected with HIV during a blood transfusion at the start of his college career. This devastating and destabilizing news led Smoak to see his world from an entirely new perspective, one in which life-threatening illness was perpetually just around the corner. Set in the 1990s along the North Carolina coast, Bleeder traces Smoak’s quest for love in a world that feels increasingly dangerous, and despite a future that feels increasingly uncertain. From the bedroom to the operating room, and from one hospital to the next, Smoak seeks out hope and better health. Winner of a PEN American Center award for writers living with HIV, Smoak, whose work has appeared in numerous journals and magazines, constructs this unforgettable story of life and love against insurmountable difficulties in breathtaking, tightly drawn prose.

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Brazilian-African Diaspora in Ghana

The Tabom, Slavery, Dissonance of Memory, Identity, and Locating Home

Brazilian-African Diaspora in Ghana is a fresh approach, challenging both pre-existing and established notions of the African Diaspora by engaging new regions, conceptualizations, and articulations that move the field forward. This book examines the untold story of freed slaves from Brazil who thrived socially, culturally, and economically despite the challenges they encountered after they settled in Ghana. Kwame Essien goes beyond the one-dimensional approach that only focuses on British abolitionists’ funding of freed slaves’ resettlements in Africa. The new interpretation of reverse migrations examines the paradox of freedom in discussing how emancipated Brazilian-Africans came under threat from British colonial officials who introduced stringent land ordinances that deprived the freed Brazilian- Africans from owning land, particularly “Brazilian land.” Essien considers anew contention between the returnees and other entities that were simultaneously vying for control over social, political, commercial, and religious spaces in Accra and tackles the fluidity of memory and how it continues to shape Ghana’s history. The ongoing search for lost connections with the support of the Brazilian government—inspiring multiple generations of Tabom (offspring of the returnees) to travel across the Atlantic and back, especially in the last decade—illustrates the unending nature of the transatlantic diaspora journey and its impacts.
 

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Bridging Scholarship and Activism

Reflections from the Frontlines of Collaborative Research

This timely book brings together activist scholars from a number of disciplines (political science, geography, sociology, anthropology, and communications) to provide new insights into a growing trend in publicly engaged research and scholarship. Bridging Scholarship and Activism creatively redefines what constitutes activism without limiting it to a narrow range of practices. Acknowledging that the current conjuncture of neoliberal globalization has created constraints on as well as possibilities for activist scholarly engagement, the book argues that racism and its intersections with gender and class oppression are salient forces to be interrogated and confronted in the predicaments and struggles activist scholarship targets. The book’s ultimate goal is to create a decolonized and democratized forum in which activist scholars from the Global South converse and cross-fertilize ideas and projects with their counterparts from the United States and other North Atlantic metropolitan-based academy. The coeditors and contributors attempt to decenter hegemonic knowledge and to create some of the necessary (if not sufficient) conditions for a more pluriversal (rather than orthodox “universal”) context for producing enabling knowledge, without the naiveté and romanticism that has characterized earlier projects in critical and radical social science.

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Building a Green Economy

Perspectives from Ecological Economics

The first decade of the twenty-first century has been characterized by a growing global awareness of the tremendous strains that human economic activity place on natural resources and the environment. As the world’s population increases, so does the demand for energy, food, and other resources, which adds to existing stresses on ecosystems, with potentially disastrous consequences. Humanity is at a crossroads in our pathway to future prosperity, and our next steps will impact our long-term sustainability immensely. In this timely volume, leading ecological economics scholars offer a variety of perspectives on building a green economy. Grounded in a critique of conventional thinking about unrestrained economic expansion and the costs of environmental degradation, this book presents a roadmap for an economy that prioritizes human welfare over consumerism and growth. As the authors represented here demonstrate, the objective of ecological economics is to address contemporary problems and achieve long-term socioeconomic well-being without undermining the capacity of the ecosphere. The volume is organized around three sections: “Perspectives on a Green Economy,” “Historical and Theoretical Perspectives,” and “Applications and Practice.” A rich resource in its own right, Building a Green Economy contains the most innovative thinking in ecological economics at a critical time in the reexamination of the human relationship with the natural world.

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Can We Survive Our Origins?

Readings in René Girard's Theory of Violence and the Sacred

Are religions intrinsically violent (as is strenuously argued by the ‘new atheists’)? Or, as Girard argues, have they been functionally rational instruments developed to manage and cope with the intrinsically violent runaway dynamic that characterizes human social organization in all periods of human history? Is violence decreasing in this time of secular modernity post-Christendom (as argued by Steven Pinker and others)? Or are we, rather, at increased and even apocalyptic risk from our enhanced powers of action and our decreased socio-symbolic protections? Rene Girard’s mimetic theory has been slowly but progressively recognized as one of the most striking breakthrough contributions to twentieth-century critical thinking in fundamental anthropology: in particular for its power to model and explain violent sacralities, ancient and modern. The present volume sets this power of explanation in an evolutionary and Darwinian frame. It asks: How far do cultural mechanisms of controlling violence, which allowed humankind to cross the threshold of hominization—i.e., to survive and develop in its evolutionary emergence—still represent today a default setting that threatens to destroy us? Can we transcend them and escape their field of gravity? Should we look to—or should we look beyond—Darwinian survival? What—and where (if anywhere)—is salvation?

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The Canals of Mars

Gary Fincke

The Canals of Mars is a memoir that explores and ponders "weakness," which in Gary Fincke's family was the catch-all term for every possible human flaw-physical, psychological, or spiritual. Fincke grew up near Pittsburgh during the 1950s and 1960s, raised by blue-collar parents for whom the problems that beset people-from alcoholism to nearsightedness to asthma to fear of heights-were nothing but weaknesses.
     In a highly engaging style, Fincke meditates on the disappointments he suffered-in his body, his mind, his work-because he was convinced that he had to be "perfect." Anything less than perfection was weakness and no one, he understood from an early age, wants to be weak.
     Six of the chapters in the book have been cited in Best American Essays. The chapter that provides the book's title, The Canals of Mars, won a Pushcart Prize and was included in The Pushcart Book of Essays: The Best Essays from a Quarter Century of the Pushcart Prize.

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The Cassava Transformation

Africa's best-kept secret

Felix Nweke

Cassava is Africa's "poverty fighter" and second most important food crop. This book discusses Cassava's real role and traces research over the past 65 years. The "Cassava transformation" that is now underway in Africa has changed this traditional, reserve crop to a high-yield cash crop. However, Cassava is being neglected by governments and donor agencies because of myths and half-truths about its nutritional value and role in farm systems.

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