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Trauma Narrative and Social Action in Latin American Testimonio
As if in direct response to The New Yorker's question of “The Power of the Pen: Does Literature Change Anything?” Kimberly Nance takes up the relationship between ethics and literature. With the 40th anniversary of the testimonio occurring in 2006, there has never been a better time to reconsider its role in achieving social justice. The advent of the testimonio--loosely, a political autobiography of a Latin American activist who hopes, through the telling of her life story, to bring about change--was met with a great deal of excitement by scholars who posited it as a radical new form of literature. Those accolades were almost immediately followed by a series of critical problems. In what sense were testimonios "true"? What right did privileged scholars in the U.S. have to engage accounts of suffering with traditional modes of criticism? Were questions of veracity or aesthetics more important? Were these texts autobiography or political screeds? It seemed critics didn't know quite what to make of the testimonio and so, after a brief bout of engagement, disregarded it. Nance, however, argues that any form as prolific as the testimonio is well worth examining and that these questions, rather than being insurmountable, are exactly the questions with which scholars ought to be wrestling. If, as critics claim, that the testimonio is one of the most pervasive contemporary Latin American cultural genres, then it is high time for a comprehensive study of the genre such as Nance's.
A Captive's Tale
“[Highly recommended] not because it gives a personal picture of prison life . . . or because it bolsters a *new* theory of *trauma criticism* . . . [but] because it accomplishes something that is greatly needed among Hispanicicists, which is to say that it gets out of the fiction into the real world in which it was produced.” --BHR (2003:3) Returning to Spain after fighting in the Battle of Lepanto and other Mediterranean campaigns against the Turks, the soldier Miguel de Cervantes was captured by Barbary pirates and taken captive to Algiers. The five years he spent in the Algerian bagnios or prison-houses (1575-1580) made an indelible impression on his works. From the first plays and narratives written after his release to his posthumous novel, the story of Cervantes's traumatic experience continuously speaks through his writings. Cervantes in Algiers offers a comprehensive view of his life as a slave and, particularly, of the lingering effects this traumatic experience had on his literary production. No work has documented in such vivid and illuminating detail the socio-political world of sixteenth-century Algiers, Cervantes's life in the prison-house, his four escape attempts, and the conditions of his final ransom. Garcés's portrait of a sophisticated multi-ethnic culture in Algiers, moreover, is likely to open up new discussions about early modern encounters between Christians and Muslims. By bringing together evidence from many different sources, historical and literary, Garcés reconstructs the relations between Christians, Muslims, and renegades in a number of Cervantes's writings. The idea that survivors of captivity need to repeat their story in order to survive (an insight invoked from Coleridge to Primo Levi to Dori Laub) explains not only Cervantes's storytelling but also the book that theorizes it so compellingly. As a former captive herself (a hostage of Colombian guerrillas), the author reads and listens to Cervantes with another ear. "The significance of this book is enormous, as it is the first to chronicle Cervantes's five-year captivity in Algiers as both a traumatic and creative event. Cervantes's major novel, as he himself reminds us in the prologue to part one of Don Quijote, was 'hatched in a prison.' Garcés's book will open up new avenues not only for rethinking the connections between trauma and captivity, but also for questioning the complex relations between Christian Spain and Islam in early modern times."-Diana de Armas Wilson
Women's Colleges Since the 1960s
Challenged by Coeducation details the responses of women's colleges to the most recent wave of Women's colleges originated in the mid-nineteenth century as a response to women's exclusion from higher education. Women's academic successes and their persistent struggles to enter men's colleges resulted in coeducation rapidly becoming the norm, however. Still, many prestigious institutions remained single-sex, notably most of the Ivy League and all of the Seven Sisters colleges.
In the mid-twentieth century colleges' concerns about finances and enrollments, as well as ideological pressures to integrate formerly separate social groups, led men's colleges, and some women's colleges, to become coeducational. The admission of women to practically all men's colleges created a serious challenge for women's colleges. Most people no longer believed women's colleges were necessary since women had virtually unlimited access to higher education. Even though research spawned by the women's movement indicated the benefits to women of a "room of their own," few young women remained interested in applying to women's colleges.
Challenged by Coeducation details the responses of women's colleges to this latest wave of coeducation. Case studies written expressly for this volume include many types of women's colleges-Catholic and secular; Seven Sisters and less prestigious; private and state; liberal arts and more applied; northern, southern, and western; urban and rural; independent and coordinated with a coeducational institution. They demonstrate the principal ways women's colleges have adapted to the new coeducational era: some have been taken over or closed, but most have changed by admitting men and thereby becoming coeducational, or by offering new programs to different populations. Some women's colleges, mostly those that are in cities, connected to other colleges, and prestigious with a high endowment, still enjoy success.
Despite their dramatic drop in numbers, from 250 to fewer than 60 today, women's colleges are still important, editors Miller-Bernal and Poulson argue. With their commitment to enhancing women's lives, women's colleges and formerly women's colleges can serve as models of egalitarian coeducation.
Why the World's Largest Public Health Initiative May Fail
The number of global polio cases has fallen dramatically and eradication is within sight, but despite extraordinary efforts, polio retains its grip in a few areas. Anthropologist Svea Closser follows the trajectory of the polio eradication effort in Pakistan, one of the last four countries in the world with endemic polio. Journeying from vaccination campaigns in rural Pakistan to the center of global health decision making at the World Health Organization in Geneva, the author explores the historical and cultural underpinnings of eradication as a public health strategy, and reveals the culture of optimism that characterizes--and sometimes cripples--global health institutions. With a keen ethnographic eye, Closser describes the complex power negotiations that underlie the eradication effort at every level, tracking techniques of resistance employed by district health workers and state governments alike. This book offers an analysis of local politics, social relations, and global political economy in the implementation of a worldwide public health effort, with broad implications for understanding what is possible in global health, now and for the future. This book is the recipient of the annual Norman L. and Roselea J. Goldberg Prize for the best project in the area of medicine.
Fictions of the Past in U.S. Classrooms
For more than three decades, the same children’s historical novels have been taught across the United States. Honored for their literary quality and appreciated for their alignment with social studies curricula, the books have flourished as schools moved from whole-language to phonics and from student-centered learning to standardized testing. Books like Johnny Tremain, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and Roll of Thunder, Hear Me Cry stimulate children’s imagination, transporting them into the American past and projecting them into an American future. As works of historical interpretation, however, many are startlingly out of step with current historiography and social sensibilities, especially with regard to race. Unlike textbooks, which are replaced on regular cycles and subjected to public tugs-of-war between the left and right, historical novels have simply—and quietly—endured. Taken individually, many present troubling interpretations of the American past. But embraced collectively, this classroom canon provides a rare pedagogical opportunity: it captures a range of interpretive voices across time and place, a kind of “people’s history” far removed from today’s state-sanctioned textbooks. Teachers who employ historical novels in the classroom can help students recognize and interpret historical narrative as the product of research, analytical perspective, and the politics of the time. In doing so, they sensitize students to the ways in which the past is put to moral and ideological uses in the present. Featuring separate chapters on American Indians, war, and slavery, Child-Sized History tracks the changes in how young readers are taught to conceptualize history and the American nation.
The Evolution of a Landmark Epidemiological Study
In 1983 two doctors, one from each side of the world, decided to form a partnership, and so began a scientific adventure that would improve the odds that babies could be born healthy and whole. Neural tube defects that severely disabled or killed babies were epidemic in China (where the folk term was guai tai--roughly "monster baby"--for an infant whose embryonic neural tube doesn't completely close and whose head and neck may be misshapen or spine may protrude) and a significant problem in the United States, leading teams of researchers from the United States and China to combine forces to recruit more than 285,000 Chinese women and to follow nearly 250,000 pregnancies in an epidemiological study.
Sixteen thousand staff were involved in running the massive project, which encountered massive bureaucratic obstacles as well as cultural differences, politicking for study designs and funding, the crisis of Tiananmen Square, and testy debates over research ethics. Nevertheless, the researchers persevered in a collaboration that lasted more than three decades and led to landmark findings on the role of folic acid in preventing spina bifida. Fortifying cereal grain products with folic acid became routine in the United States and a growing number of nations around the world: that intervention was named one of the ten great public health achievements of the last decade.
A Guide for the Critical Reader
Noam Chomsky is a pioneering scholar in the field of linguistics, but he is better known as a public intellectual: an iconoclastic, radical critic of US politics and foreign policy. Chomsky's Challenge examines most of the major subjects Chomsky has dealt with in his nearly half century of intellectual activism--the Vietnam War, America's broader international role (especially its interventions in the Third World), the structure of power in American politics, the role of the media and of intellectuals in forming public opinion, and American foreign policy in the post-Cold War world.
Chomsky is as controversial as he is influential. Admirers see him as a courageous teller of unpleasant truths about political power and those who wield it in the United States. Critics view him as a propagandist and ideologue who sees only black and white where there are multiple shades of gray. While Chomsky's fans tend to view him uncritically, his critics often don't take him seriously. Unlike any previous work, this book takes Chomsky seriously while treating him critically. The author gives Chomsky credit for valuable contributions to our understanding of the contemporary political world, but spares no criticism of the serious deficiencies he sees in Chomsky's political analyses.
The essays commissioned for this book analyze the impact of city living on health, focusing primarily on conditions in the United States. With 16 chapters by 24 internationally recognized experts, the book introduces an ecological approach to the study of the health of urban populations. This book assesses the primary determinants of well-being in cities, including the social and physical environments, diet, and health care and social services. The book includes chapters on the history of public health in cities, the impact of urban sprawl and urban renewal on health, and the challenges facing cities in the developing world. It also examines conditions such as infectious diseases, violence and disasters, and mental illness.
The Constitution, Congress, and War Powers
"The Clinton Wars is a timely and significant examination of the war powers issue. I know of no other work that treats the major uses of force in the Clinton administration so thoroughly from the vantage point of legislative-executive interaction. Moreover, because there is a growing body of literature on congressional assertiveness of late, this book makes an important contribution to this debate." --James M. Scott, author of Deciding to Intervene: The Reagan Doctrine and American Foreign Policy Today the United States is fighting a "war" against terrorism, a military action whose definition will be a matter of controversy, particularly, if history is any guide, between Congress and the president. Throughout its history, the United States has grappled with the constitutional tension built into the conduct of its foreign affairs and the interpretation of the power to make war and use force abroad. Since the Cold War's end, the United States has had to navigate through a period of strategic ambiguity, where American national security interests are much less certain. Ryan Hendrickson examines the behavior of the Clinton administration and Congress in dealing with the range of American military operations that occurred during the Clinton presidency. He uses a case-study approach, laying out the foreign background and domestic political controversies in separate chapters on Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Iraq. Of special interest after the World Trade Center attacks is the chapter "Terrorism: Usama Bin Laden." The author analyzes a number of factors that influence the domestic decision-making process. We see the president relying on congressional consultation and approval during periods of political or personal weakness, and, conversely, in better times we see a president with a freer hand. Also influential is the ability of the public to comprehend and support the reasons for a particular action, with troops in Bosnia requiring more explanation than cruise missiles over Baghdad. Consideration is given to the relevance and effectiveness of the War Powers Resolution of 1973, a Watergate-era attempt by Congress to restore what it perceived to be its legitimate constitutional role in the decision to use force abroad.
From postcolonial, interdisciplinary, and transnational perspectives, this collection of original essays looks at the experience of Spain's empire in the Atlantic and the Pacific and its cultural production.
Hispanic Issues Series
Nicholas Spadaccini, Editor-in-Chief
Hispanic Issues Online