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University of Minnesota Press

University of Minnesota Press

Website: http://www.upress.umn.edu

The University of Minnesota Press is a nonprofit scholarly publisher whose primary mission is to disseminate through book publication work of exceptional scholarly quality and originality. The Press draws on and supports the intellectual activities of the University and its faculty in conjunction with the long-term development of its editorial program, thus enhancing the University's missions of research and instruction.


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University of Minnesota Press

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Breathing Race into the Machine Cover

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Breathing Race into the Machine

The Surprising Career of the Spirometer from Plantation to Genetics

Lundy Braun


In the antebellum South, plantation physicians used a new medical device—the spirometer—to show that lung volume and therefore vital capacity were supposedly less in black slaves than in white citizens. At the end of the Civil War, a large study of racial difference employing the spirometer appeared to confirm the finding, which was then applied to argue that slaves were unfit for freedom. What is astonishing is that this example of racial thinking is anything but a historical relic.

In Breathing Race into the Machine, science studies scholar Lundy Braun traces the little-known history of the spirometer to reveal the social and scientific processes by which medical instruments have worked to naturalize racial and ethnic differences, from Victorian Britain to today. Routinely a factor in clinical diagnoses, preemployment physicals, and disability estimates, spirometers are often “race corrected,” typically reducing normal values for African Americans by 15 percent.

An unsettling account of the pernicious effects of racial thinking that divides people along genetic lines, Breathing Race into the Machine helps us understand how race enters into science and shapes medical research and practice.

Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds Cover

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Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds

The Dark Dreams of Dario Argento

Maitland McDonagh

Italian filmmaker Dario Argento’s horror films have been described as a blend of Alfred Hitchcock and George Romero—psychologically rich, colorful, and at times garish, excelling at taking the best elements of the splatter and exploitation genres and laying them over a dark undercurrent of human emotions and psyches. Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds, which dissects such Argento cult films as Two Evil Eyes, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Suspiria, and Deep Red, includes a new introduction discussing Argento’s most recent films, from The Stendahl Syndrome to Mother of Tears; an updated filmography; and an interview with Argento.

Brutal Vision Cover

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Brutal Vision

The Neorealist Body in Postwar Italian Cinema

Karl Schoonover

Film history identifies Italian neorealism as the exemplar of national cinema, a specifically domestic response to wartime atrocities. Brutal Vision challenges this orthodoxy by arguing that neorealist films—including such classics as Rome, Open City; Paisan; Shoeshine; and Bicycle Thieves—should be understood less as national products and more as complex agents of a postwar reorganization of global politics. For these films, cinema facilitates the liberal humanist sympathy required to usher in a new era of world stability.

In his readings of crucial films and newly discovered documents from the archives of neorealism’s international distribution, Karl Schoonover reveals how these films used images of the imperiled body to reconstitute the concept of the human and to recalibrate the scale of human community. He traces how Italian neorealism emerges from and consolidates the transnational space of the North Atlantic, with scenarios of physical suffering dramatizing the geopolitical stakes of a newly global vision. Here we see how—in their views of injury, torture, and martyrdom—these films propose a new mode of spectating that answers the period’s call for extranational witnesses, makes the imposition of limited sovereignty palatable, and underwrites a new visual politics of liberal compassion that Schoonover calls brutal humanism.

These films redefine moviegoing as a form of political action and place the filmgoer at the center of a postwar geopolitics of international aid. Brutal Vision interrogates the role of neorealism’s famously heart-wrenching scenes in a new global order that requires its citizenry to invest emotionally in large-scale international aid packages, from the Marshall Plan to the liberal charity schemes of NGOs. The book fundamentally revises ideas of cinematic specificity, the human, and geopolitical scale that we inherit from neorealism and its postwar milieu—ideas that continue to set the terms for political filmmaking today.

Building a House in Heaven Cover

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Building a House in Heaven

Pious Neoliberalism and Islamic Charity in Egypt

Mona Atia


Charity is an economic act. This premise underlies a societal transformation—the merging of religious and capitalist impulses that Mona Atia calls “pious neoliberalism.” Though the phenomenon spans religious lines, Atia makes the connection between Islam and capitalism to examine the surprising relations between charity and the economy, the state, and religion in the transition from Mubarak-era Egypt.

Mapping the landscape of charity and development in Egypt, Building a House in Heaven reveals the factors that changed the nature of Egyptian charitable practices—the state’s intervention in social care and religion, an Islamic revival, intensified economic pressures on the poor, and the subsequent emergence of the private sector as a critical actor in development. She shows how, when individuals from Egypt’s private sector felt it necessary to address poverty, they sought to make Islamic charities work as engines of development, a practice that changed the function of charity from distributing goods to empowering the poor. Drawing on interviews with key players, Atia explores the geography of Islamic charities through multiple neighborhoods, ideologies, sources of funding, projects, and wide social networks. Her work shifts between absorbing ethnographic stories of specific organizations and reflections on the patterns that appear across the sector.

An enlightening look at the simultaneous neoliberalization of Islamic charity work and Islamization of neoliberal development, the book also offers an insightful analysis of the political and socioeconomic movements leading up to the uprisings that ended Mubarak’s rule and that amplified the importance of not only the Muslim Brotherhood but also the broader forces of Islamic piety and charity.

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Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum

Vol. 14 (2007) through current issue

Buildings & Landscapes examines the built world-houses and cities, farmsteads and alleys—churches and courthouses, subdivisions and shopping malls—that make up the spaces that most people experience every day. Strongly based on fieldwork and archival work that views buildings as windows into human life and culture, articles are written by historians, preservationists, architects, cultural and urban geographers, cultural anthropologists, and others whose work involves the documentation, analysis and interpretation of the built world. Formerly titled Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture, Buildings & Landscapes is presently an annual publication that will begin publishing two issues a year beginning in 2009.

A Burnt Child Cover

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A Burnt Child

A Novel

Stig Dagerman

After the international success of his collection of World War II newspaper articles, German Autumn—a book that solidified his status as the most promising and exciting writer in Sweden—Stig Dagerman was sent to France with an assignment to produce more in this journalistic style. But he could not write the much-awaited follow-up. Instead, he holed up in a small French village and in the summer of 1948 created what would be his most personal, poignant, and shocking novel: A Burnt Child.

Set in a working-class neighborhood in Stockholm, the story revolves around a young man named Bengt who falls into deep, private turmoil with the unexpected death of his mother. As he struggles to cope with her loss, his despair slowly transforms to rage when he discovers his father had a mistress. But as Bengt swears revenge on behalf of his mother’s memory, he also finds himself drawn into a fevered and conflicted relationship with this woman—a turn that causes him to question his previous faith in morality, virtue, and fidelity.

Written in a taut and beautifully naturalistic tone, Dagerman illuminates the rich atmospheres of Bengt’s life, both internal and eternal: from his heartache and fury to the moody streets of Stockholm and the Hitchcockian shadows of tension and threat in the woods and waters of Sweden’s remote islands. A Burnt Child remains Dagerman’s most widely read novel, both in Sweden and worldwide, and is one of the crowning works of his short but celebrated career.

Calling All Cars Cover

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Calling All Cars

Radio Dragnets and the Technology of Policing

Kathleen Battles

Calling All Cars shows how radio played a key role in an emerging form of policing during the turbulent years of the Depression. Until this time popular culture had characterized the gangster as hero, but radio crime dramas worked against this attitude and were ultimately successful in making heroes out of law enforcement officers.
 
Through close analysis of radio programming of the era and the production of true crime docudramas, Kathleen Battles argues that radio was a significant site for overhauling the dismal public image of policing. However, it was not simply the elevation of the perception of police that was at stake. Using radio, reformers sought to control the symbolic terrain through which citizens encountered the police, and it became a medium to promote a positive meaning and purpose for policing. For example, Battles connects the apprehension of criminals by a dragnet with the idea of using the radio network to both publicize this activity and make it popular with citizens.
 
The first book to systematically address the development of crime dramas during the golden age of radio, Calling All Cars explores an important irony: the intimacy of the newest technology of the time helped create an intimate authority—the police as the appropriate force for control—over the citizenry.

Cape Town after Apartheid Cover

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Cape Town after Apartheid

Crime and Governance in the Divided City

Tony Roshan Samara

Nearly two decades after the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa, how different does the nation look? In Cape Town, is hardening inequality under conditions of neoliberal globalization actually reproducing the repressive governance of the apartheid era? By exploring issues of urban security and development, Tony Roshan Samara brings to light the features of urban apartheid that increasingly mark not only Cape Town but also the global cities of our day—cities as diverse as Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, and Beijing.

Cape Town after Apartheid focuses on urban renewal and urban security policies and practices in the city center and townships as this aspiring world-class city actively pursues a neoliberal approach to development. The city’s attempt to escape its past is, however, constrained by crippling inequalities, racial and ethnic tensions, political turmoil, and persistent insecurity. Samara shows how governance in Cape Town remains rooted in the perceived need to control dangerous populations and protect a somewhat fragile and unpopular economic system. In urban areas around the world, where the affluent minority and poor majority live in relative proximity to each other, aggressive security practices and strict governance reflect and reproduce the divided city.

A critical case for understanding a transnational view of urban governance, especially in highly unequal, majority-poor cities, this closely observed study of postapartheid Cape Town affords valuable insight into how security and governance technologies from the global North combine with local forms to create new approaches to social control in cities across the global South.

Capital Fictions Cover

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Capital Fictions

The Literature of Latin America's Export Age

Ericka Beckman

Between 1870 and 1930, Latin American countries were incorporated into global capitalist networks like never before, mainly as exporters of raw materials and importers of manufactured goods. During this Export Age, entire regions were given over to the cultivation of export commodities such as coffee and bananas, capital and labor were relocated to new production centers, and barriers to foreign investment were removed. Capital Fictions investigates the key role played by literature in imagining and interpreting the rapid transformations unleashed by Latin America’s first major wave of capitalist modernization.

Using an innovative blend of literary and economic analysis and drawing from a rich interdisciplinary archive, Ericka Beckman provides the first extended evaluation of Export Age literary production. She traces the emergence of a distinct set of fictions, fantasies, and illusions that accompanied the rise of export-led, dependent capitalism. These “capital fictions” range from promotional pamphlets for Guatemalan coffee and advertisements for French fashions, to novels about stock market collapse in Argentina and rubber extraction in the Amazon.

Beckman explores how Export Age literature anticipated some of the key contradictions faced by contemporary capitalist societies, including extreme financial volatility, vast social inequality, and ever-more-intense means of exploitation. Questioning the opposition between culture and economics in Latin America and elsewhere, Capital Fictions shows that literature operated as a powerful form of political economy during this period.

A Cavalcade of Lesser Horrors Cover

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A Cavalcade of Lesser Horrors

Peter Smith

We exist. We try to lead good, thoughtful lives. And while we all try our best, we can’t avoid the startling moments, or we make mistakes and experience little shocks and embarrassments—our lesser horrors—that make us wince and come back to haunt us again and again.

For Peter Smith—whose weekly essays for Minnesota Public Radio have endeared him to thousands of listeners and readers—these awkward times are not without their humor, and a healthy dose at that. We all know the circumstances and places the lesser horrors are likely to await—sibling rivalries, high school gym class, job successes and failures, raising children. In this series of funny, honest, and moving pieces, Smith explores a few messy episodes from his own life: growing up Catholic on the south side of Chicago, seeing his tricycle stolen before his eyes, and onward to American life in the ’50s and ’60s, Vietnam, and a career in advertising, where bosses feed employees anxieties to increase creativity. Along the way, Smith discovers how these moments not only help define what it is to be human but are also a major source of our inspiration and imagination.

So cover your eyes, peek through your fingers. Life is a cavalcade of lesser horrors. They may not be the easiest memories to relive, but they are often among the funniest. And by facing them squarely and perhaps even with a smile, Smith finds himself uncovering a simple reassurance, an uneasy truth we should take to heart: we’re all on this wild ride together.

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