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Architecture, Politics, and Identity in Divided Berlin

by Emily Pugh

On August 13, 1961, under the cover of darkness, East German authorities sealed the border between East and West Berlin using a hastily constructed barbed wire fence. Over the next twenty-eight years, the Berlin Wall served as an ever-present and seemingly permanent physical and psychological divider in this capital city, and between East and West during the Cold War. Similarly, stark polarities arose in nearly every aspect of public and private life, perhaps nowhere more apparent than in the built environment. In Architecture, Politics, and Identity in Divided Berlin, Emily Pugh provides an original comparative analysis of selected works of architecture and urban planning in East and West Berlin during the “Wall era,” to reveal the importance of these structures to the formation of political, cultural, and social identities. Pugh uncovers the roles played by organizations such as the Foundation for Prussian Cultural Heritage in West Germany and the East German Building Academy in conveying the preferred political narrative of their respective states through constructed spaces. She also provides an overview of architectural works prior to the Wall era, to show the precursors for design aesthetics in Berlin at large, and also considers projects in the post-Wall period, to demonstrate the ongoing effects of the Cold War. Pugh examines representations of architectural works in exhibits, film, journals, magazines, newspapers, and other media, and discusses the effectiveness of planners’ attempts to ‘win the hearts and minds’ of the public. Ideas of home, belonging, community, and nationalism were common underlying themes on both sides of the wall, and instrumental to the construction of cultural and physical landscapes. Overall, Architecture, Politics, and Identity in Divided Berlin offers a compelling case study of a divided city poised at the precipice between the world’s most dominant political and ideological forces, and the effort expended by each side to sway the tide of public opinion through the built environment.

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Authoritarian Russia

Analyzing Post-Soviet Regime Changes

by Vladimir Gel'man

Russia today represents one of the major examples of the phenomenon of “electoral authoritarianism” which is characterized by adopting the trappings of democratic institutions (such as elections, political parties, and a legislature) and enlisting the service of the country’s essentially authoritarian rulers. Why and how has the electoral authoritarian regime been consolidated in Russia? What are the mechanisms of its maintenance, and what is its likely future course? This book attempts to answer these basic questions. Vladimir Gel’man examines regime change in Russia from the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 to the present day, systematically presenting theoretical and comparative perspectives of the factors that affected regime changes and the authoritarian drift of the country. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia’s national political elites aimed to achieve their goals by creating and enforcing of favorable “rules of the game” for themselves and maintaining informal winning coalitions of cliques around individual rulers. In the 1990s, these moves were only partially successful given the weakness of the Russian state and troubled post-socialist economy. In the 2000s, however, Vladimir Putin rescued the system thanks to the combination of economic growth and the revival of the state capacity he was able to implement by imposing a series of non-democratic reforms. In the 2010s, changing conditions in the country have presented new risks and challenges for the Putin regime that will play themselves out in the years to come.

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Azan on the Moon

Entangling Modernity Along Tajikistan’s Pamir Highway

by Till Mostowlansky

Azan on the Moon is an in-depth anthropological study of people’s lives along the Pamir Highway in eastern Tajikistan. Constructed in the 1930s in rugged high altitude terrain, the road fundamentally altered the material and social fabric of this former Soviet outpost on the border with Afghanistan and China. The highway initially brought sentiments of disconnection and hardship, followed by Soviet modernization and development, and ultimately a sense of distinction from bordering countries and urban centers that continues to this day. Based on extensive fieldwork and through an analysis of construction, mobility, technology, media, development, Islam, and the state along the Pamir Highway, Till Mostowlansky shows how conceptualizations of modernity are both challenged and reinforced in contemporary Tajikistan. In this vein, modernity as a future state to aspire to is juxtaposed with a modern past that people along the highway yearn for, and in the wake of the country’s marginalization and unequal relations with China, with a present in which modernity is under threat. Weaving together the road, a population, and a region, Azan on the Moon presents a rich ethnography of encounters marked by far-reaching transnational connections.

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Bandit Narratives in Latin America

From Villa to Chavez

by Juan Pablo Dabove

Bandits seem ubiquitous in Latin American culture. Even contemporary actors of violence are framed by narratives that harken back to old images of the rural bandit, either to legitimize or delegitimize violence, or to intervene in larger conflicts within or between nation-states. However, the bandit escapes a straightforward definition, since the same label can apply to the leader of thousands of soldiers (as in the case of Villa) or to the humble highwayman eking out a meager living by waylaying travelers at machete point. Dabove presents the reader not with a definition of the bandit, but with a series of case studies showing how the bandit trope was used in fictional and non-fictional narratives by writers and political leaders, from the Mexican Revolution to the present. By examining cases from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela, from Pancho Villa’s autobiography to Hugo Chávez’s appropriation of his “outlaw” grandfather, Dabove reveals how bandits function as a symbol to expose the dilemmas or aspirations of cultural and political practices, including literature as a social practice and as an ethical experience.

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Best Bones

by Sarah Rose Nordgren

Winner of the 2013 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. Best Bones is a house. When you walk around the rooms of the house, you overhear the desires and griefs of a family, as well as the unresolved concerns of lingering ghosts. The various voices in the house struggle against the family roles and social identities that they must wear like heavy garments—mother, father, wife, husband, sister, brother, servant, and master. All these voices crave unification; they want to join themselves into one whole sentient being, into a mansion steering itself. The poems in Best Bones also explore the experience of living in a physical body, and how the natural world intersects with manmade landscapes and technologies. In it, mother has a reset button, servants blend into the furniture, and a doctor patiently oversees the pregnancy of the earth. In these poems, the body is a working machine, a repository of childhood myth and archetype, and a window to the spiritual world. The poems strive to be visceral on the level of dream, or of a story that is half remembered and half fabricated.

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Between Europe and Asia

The Origins, Theories, and Legacies of Russian Eurasianism

Edited by Mark Bassin, Sergey Glebov, and Marlene Laruelle

Between Europe and Asia analyzes the origins and development of Eurasianism, an intellectual movement that proclaimed the existence of Eurasia, a separate civilization coinciding with the former Russian Empire. The essays in the volume explore the historical roots, the heyday of the movement in the 1920s, and the afterlife of the movement in the Soviet and post-Soviet periods. The first study to offer a multifaceted account of Eurasianism in the twentieth century and to touch on the movement's intellectual entanglements with history, politics, literature, or geography, this book also explores Eurasianism's influences beyond Russia. The Eurasianists blended their search for a primordial essence of Russian culture with radicalism of Europe's interwar period. In reaction to the devastation and dislocation of the wars and revolutions, they celebrated the Orthodox Church and the Asian connections of Russian culture, while rejecting Western individualism and democracy. The movement sought to articulate a non-European, non-Western modernity, and to underscore Russia's role in the colonial world. As the authors demonstrate, Eurasianism was akin to many fascist movements in interwar Europe, and became one of the sources of the rhetoric of nationalist mobilization in Vladimir Putin's Russia. This book presents the rich history of the concept of Eurasianism, and how it developed over time to achieve its present form. 

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Between Ruin and Restoration

An Environmental History of Israel

Edited by Daniel E. Orenstein, Alon Tal, and Char Miller

The environmental history of Israel is as intriguing and complex as the nation itself. Situated on a mere 8,630 square miles, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf, varying from desert to forest, Israel’s natural environment presents innumerable challenges to its growing population. The country’s conflicted past and present, diverse religions, and multitude of cultural influences powerfully affect the way Israelis imagine, question, and shape their environment. Zionism, from the late nineteenth onward, has tempered nearly every aspect of human existence. Scarcities of usable land and water coupled with border conflicts and regional hostilities have steeled Israeli’s survival instincts. As this volume demonstrates, these powerful dialectics continue to undergird environmental policy and practice in Israel today. Between Ruin and Restoration assembles leading experts in policy, history, and activism to addresses Israel’s continuing environmental transformation from the biblical era to the present and beyond, with a particular focus on the past one hundred and fifty years. The chapters also reflect passionate public debates over meeting the needs of Israel’s population and preserving its natural resources. The chapters detail the occupations of the Ottoman Empire and British colonialists in eighteenth and nineteenth century Palestine, as well as Fellaheen and pastoralist Bedouin tribes, and how they shaped much of the terrain that greeted early Zionist settlers. Following the rise of the Zionist movement, the rapid influx of immigrants and ensuing population growth put new demands on water supplies, pollution controls, sanitation, animal populations, rangelands and biodiversity, forestry, marine policy, and desertification. Additional chapters view environmental politics nationally and internationally, the environmental impact of Israel’s military, and considerations for present and future sustainability.

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Beyond the Pulpit

Women’s Rhetorical Roles in the Antebellum Religious Press

Lisa J. Shaver

In the formative years of the Methodist Church in the United States, women played significant roles as proselytizers, organizers, lay ministers, and majority members. Although women's participation helped the church to become the nation's largest denomination by the mid-nineteenth century, their official roles diminished during that time. In Beyond the Pulpit, Lisa Shaver examines Methodist periodicals as a rhetorical space to which women turned to find, and make, self-meaning. In 1818, Methodist Magazine first published "memoirs" that eulogized women as powerful witnesses for their faith on their deathbeds. As Shaver observes, it was only in death that a woman could achieve the status of minister. Another Methodist publication, the Christian Advocate, was America's largest circulated weekly by the mid-1830s. It featured the "Ladies' Department," a column that reinforced the canon of women as dutiful wives, mothers, and household managers. Here, the church also affirmed women in the important rhetorical and evangelical role of domestic preacher. Outside the "Ladies Department," women increasingly appeared in "little narratives" in which they were portrayed as models of piety and charity, benefactors, organizers, Sunday school administrators and teachers, missionaries, and ministers' assistants. These texts cast women into nondomestic roles that were institutionally sanctioned and widely disseminated. By 1841, the Ladies' Repository and Gatherings of the West was engaging women in discussions of religion, politics, education, science, and a variety of intellectual debates. As Shaver posits, by providing a forum for women writers and readers, the church gave them an official rhetorical space and the license to define their own roles and spheres of influence. As such, the periodicals of the Methodist church became an important public venue in which women's voices were heard and their identities explored.

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Bloom in Reverse

by Teresa Leo

Bloom in Reverse chronicles the aftermath of a friend's suicide and the end of a turbulent relationship, working through devastation and loss while on a search for solace that spans from local bars to online dating and beyond to ultimately find true connection and sustaining love. Things move backwards, from death to life, like a reverse time-lapse video of a dead flower morphing from brittle, scorched entity to floral glory to nacsent bud. The poems seek to find those places where the natural world connects to and informs experiences at the core of human relationships, and at times call upon principles and theories from physics and mathematics to describe the complexities of love and loss. It's a book where grief, melancholy, heratbreak, and disillusionment intersect with urban romanticism, hope, possibility, and love. Bloom is all of it, the terrible and the beautiful.

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Blowout

Denise Duhamel

In Blowout, Denise Duhamel asks the same question that Frankie Lyman & the Teenagers asked back in 1954—"Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" Duhamel's poems readily admit that she is a love-struck fool, but also embrace the "crazy wisdom" of the Fool of the Tarot deck and the fool as entertainer or jester. From a kindergarten crush to a failed marriage and beyond, Duhamel explores the nature of romantic love and her own limitations. She also examines love through music, film, and history—Michelle and Barak Obama's inauguration and Cleopatra's ancient sex toy. Duhamel chronicles the perilous cruelties of love gone awry, but also reminds us of the compassion and transcendence in the aftermath. In "Having a Diet Coke with You," she asserts that "love poems are the most difficult poems to write / because each poem contains its opposite its loss / and that no matter how fierce the love of a couple / one of them will leave the other / if not through betrayal / then through death." Yet, in Blowout, Duhamel fiercely and foolishly embraces the poetry of love.

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