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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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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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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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Centering Anishinaabeg Studies

Understanding the World through Stories

Jill Doerfler

For the Anishinaabeg people, who span a vast geographic region from the Great Lakes to the Plains and beyond, stories are vessels of knowledge. They are bagijiganan, offerings of the possibilities within Anishinaabeg life. Existing along a broad narrative spectrum, from aadizookaanag (traditional or sacred narratives) to dibaajimowinan (histories and news)—as well as everything in between—storytelling is one of the central practices and methods of individual and community existence. Stories create and understand, survive and endure, revitalize and persist. They honor the past, recognize the present, and provide visions of the future. In remembering, (re)making, and (re)writing stories, Anishinaabeg storytellers have forged a well-traveled path of agency, resistance, and resurgence. Respecting this tradition, this groundbreaking anthology features twenty-four contributors who utilize creative and critical approaches to propose that this people’s stories carry dynamic answers to questions posed within Anishinaabeg communities, nations, and the world at large. Examining a range of stories and storytellers across time and space, each contributor explores how narratives form a cultural, political, and historical foundation for Anishinaabeg Studies. Written by Anishinaabeg and non-Anishinaabeg scholars, storytellers, and activists, these essays draw upon the power of cultural expression to illustrate active and ongoing senses of Anishinaabeg life. They are new and dynamic bagijiganan, revealing a viable and sustainable center for Anishinaabeg Studies, what it has been, what it is, what it can be.

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Chairman of the Board

A Biography of Carl A. Gerstacker

Carl A. Gerstacker was born in 1916 in Cleveland, Ohio. At an early age his father, Rollin, instilled in him an interest in finance and the stock market. In 1930, when Carl turned fourteen, Rollin advised his son to withdraw his paper-route and odd-job money from a local bank and invest it all in The Dow Chemical Company. It was the beginning of a relationship that would last a lifetime. After high school, Carl landed an hourly position with Dow Chemical as a lab assistant and, at the same time, pursued an engineering degree at the University of Michigan as part of the company’s student training course. After graduating in 1938, Gerstacker continued to work for Dow Chemical until the outbreak of World War II when he joined the U.S. Army. Returning to civilian life in 1946, he was rehired by Dow and quickly moved up the corporate ladder, becoming Treasurer in 1949, Vice-President in 1955, and Chairman of the Board in 1960, a position he retained until 1976. He retired five years later in 1981. 
     Carl Gerstacker was a business leader who believed that every company had a special personality and that the Dow personality was largely shaped by its employees. “For Dow Chemical, people are the most important asset, not the patents, the plants, nor the products.” Gerstacker’s personal financial acumen was rivaled only by his own contributions to the sound corporate growth of Dow Chemical, a business he loved and to which he devoted his life. Gerstacker died in 1995, leaving a legacy that lives on in the form of numerous philanthropic endeavors he began during his lifetime and on whose boards he once served. Carl A. Gerstacker was one of the towering figures of twentieth-century American industry.

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Challenge accepted

a Finnish immigrant response to industrial America in Michigan’s copper country

Gary Kaunonen

The copper mines of Michigan's Copper Country, in the Upper Peninsula, were active for 150 years, from 1845 until 1995. Many of the mine workers attempted to unionize, in order to obtain better working conditions, wages, and hours.
     The Michigan miners were unsuccessful in their struggles with mine owners, which came to a climax in the 1913-14 Copper Country Strike. This nine-month battle between workers represented by the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) and the three major mining companies in the region took a particularly nasty turn on Christmas Eve, 1913, at a party for strikers and their families organized by the WFM. As many as 500 people were in the Italian Benevolent Society hall in Calumet, Michigan, when someone reportedly shouted "fire." There was no fire, but it is estimated that 73-79 people, more than 60 of them children, died in the stampede for the exit.
     Against this dramatic backdrop, Gary Kaunonen tells the story of Finnish immigrants to Copper Country. By examining the written record and material culture of Finnish immigrant proletarians-analyzing buildings, cultural institutions, and publications of the socialist-unionist media-Kaunonen adds a new depth to our understanding of the time and place, the events and a people.
 

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The Chican@ Hip Hop Nation

Politics of a New Millennial Mestizaje

The population of Mexican-origin peoples in the United States is a diverse one, as reflected by age, class, gender, sexuality, and religion. Far from antiquated concepts of mestizaje, recent scholarship has shown that Mexican@/Chican@ culture is a mixture of indigenous, African, and Spanish and other European peoples and cultures. No one reflects this rich blend of cultures better than Chican@ rappers, whose lyrics and iconography can help to deepen our understanding of what it means to be Chican@ or Mexican@ today. While some identify as Mexican mestizos, others identify as indigenous people or base their identities on their class and racial/ethnic makeup. No less significant is the intimate level of contact between Chican@s and black Americans. Via a firm theoretical foundation and a collection of vibrant essays, Pancho McFarland explores the language and ethos of Chican@/Mexican@ hip hop and sheds new light on three distinct identities reflected in the music: indigenous/Mexica, Mexican nationalist/immigrant, and street hopper. With particular attention to the intersection of black and Chicano cultures, the author places exciting recent developments in music forms within the context of progressive social change, social justice, identity, and a new transnational, polycultural America.

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