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8 March

Eclipsing May 13

Ooi Kee Beng, Johan Saravanamuttu and Lee Hock Guan

For a whole generation of Malaysians, no proper closure to the traumas of the racial riots of May 13, 1969 has been possible. But then came March 8, 2008 The surprising results of the General Election on that special day have started eclipsing the fears linked for so long to that spectral night forty years ago. All the three researchers from ISEAS who each authored separate chapters for this book were in different parts of Malaysia monitoring its 12th General Election during the thirteen days of campaigning. Their analyses provide new insights into the phenomenon that Malaysians now simply refer to as “March 8”. Ooi Kee Beng scrutinizes in detail the electoral campaign in the state of Penang, Johan Saravanamuttu studies the case of Kelantan state and the elections in general, while Lee Hock Guan examines changes in the voting pattern in the Klang Valley.

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The 9/11 Terror Cases

Constitutional Challenges in the War against Al Qaeda

Examines the four decisions of the Supreme Court from 2004 – 2008 on the Bush Administration’s policies for Guantanamo detainees, and the response of Congress to those rulings, with emphasis on the separation of powers enshrined in the United States Constitution.

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A. Philip Randolph and the Struggle for Civil Rights

Cornelius L. Bynum

A. Philip Randolph's career as a trade unionist and civil rights activist fundamentally shaped the course of black protest in the mid-twentieth century. Standing alongside W. E. B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, and others at the center of the cultural renaissance and political radicalism that shaped communities such as Harlem in the 1920s and into the 1930s, Randolph fashioned an understanding of social justice that reflected a deep awareness of how race complicated class concerns, especially among black laborers. Examining Randolph's work in lobbying for the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, threatening to lead a march on Washington in 1941, and establishing the Fair Employment Practice Committee, Cornelius L. Bynum shows that Randolph's push for African American equality took place within a broader progressive program of industrial reform. Bynum interweaves biographical information with details on how Randolph gradually shifted his thinking about race and class, full citizenship rights, industrial organization, trade unionism, and civil rights protest throughout his activist career.

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Abiding by Sri Lanka

On Peace, Place, and Postcoloniality

Qadri Ismail

The lack of peace in Sri Lanka is commonly portrayed as a consequence of a violent, ethnonationalist conflict between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority. Viewed in this light, resolution could be attained through conflict management. But, as Qadri Ismail reveals, this is too simplistic an understanding and cannot produce lasting peace. 

Abiding by Sri Lanka examines how the disciplines of anthropology, history, and literature treat the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict. Anthropology, Ismail contends, approaches Sri Lanka as an object from an “outside” and western point of view. History, addressing the conflict from the “inside,” abides by the place and so promotes change that is nationalist and exclusive. Neither of these fields imagines an inclusive community. Literature, Ismail argues, can. 

With close readings of texts that “abide” by Sri Lanka, texts that have a commitment to it, Ismail demonstrates that the problems in Sri Lanka raise fundamental concerns for us all regarding the relationship between democracies and minorities. Recognizing the structural as well as political tendencies of representative democracies to suppress minorities, Ismail rethinks democracy by redefining the concept of the minority perspective, not as a subject-position of numerical insignificance, but as a conceptual space that opens up the possibility for distinction without domination and, ultimately, peace. 

Qadri Ismail is associate professor of English at the University of Minnesota. He has also been a journalist in Sri Lanka.

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Abolition Of White Democracy

Joel Olson

Racial discrimination embodies inequality, exclusion, and injustice and as such has no place in a democratic society. And yet racial matters pervade nearly every aspect of American life, influencing where we live, what schools we attend, the friends we make, the votes we cast, the opportunities we enjoy, and even the television shows we watch.

Joel Olson contends that, given the history of slavery and segregation in the United States, American citizenship is a form of racial privilege in which whites are equal to each other but superior to everyone else. In Olson’s analysis we see how the tension in this equation produces a passive form of democracy that discourages extensive participation in politics because it treats citizenship as an identity to possess rather than as a source of empowerment. Olson traces this tension and its disenfranchising effects from the colonial era to our own, demonstrating how, after the civil rights movement, whiteness has become less a form of standing and more a norm that cements white advantages in the ordinary operations of modern society.

To break this pattern, Olson suggests an “abolitionist-democratic” political theory that makes the fight against racial discrimination a prerequisite for expanding democratic participation.
     

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Abolition’s Public Sphere

Robert Fanuzzi

Echoes of Thomas Paine and Enlightenment thought resonate throughout the abolitionist movement and in the efforts of its leaders to create an antislavery reading public. In Abolition’s Public Sphere Robert Fanuzzi critically examines the writings of William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Henry David Thoreau, and Sarah and Angelina Grimke, and their massive abolition publicity campaign—pamphlets, newspapers, petitions, and public gatherings—geared to an audience of white male citizens, free black noncitizens, women, and the enslaved. Including provocative readings of Thoreau’s Walden and of the symbolic space of Boston’s Faneuil Hall, Abolition’s Public Sphere demonstrates how abolitionist public discourse sought to reenact eighteenth-century scenarios of revolution and democracy in the antebellum era.

Fanuzzi illustrates how the dissemination of abolitionist tracts served to create an “imaginary public” that promoted and provoked the discussion of slavery. However, by embracing Enlightenment abstractions of liberty, reason, and progress, Fanuzzi argues, abolitionist strategy introduced aesthetic concerns that challenged political institutions of the public sphere and prevailing notions of citizenship. Insightful and thought-provoking, Abolition’s Public Sphere questions standard versions of abolitionist history and, in the process, our understanding of democracy itself.

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Aboriginal Canada Revisited

edited by Kerstin Knopf

Exploring a variety of topics—including health, politics, education, art, literature, media, and film—Aboriginal Canada Revisited draws a portrait of the current political and cultural position of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples. While lauding improvements made in the past decades, the contributors draw attention to the systemic problems that continue to marginalize Aboriginal people within Canadian society. From the Introduction: “[This collection helps] to highlight areas where the colonial legacy still takes its toll, to acknowledge the manifold ways of Aboriginal cultural expression, and to demonstrate where Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people are starting to find common ground.” Contributors include Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal scholars from Europe and Canada, including Marlene Atleo, University of Manitoba; Mansell Griffin, Nisga’a Village of Gitwinksihlkw, British Columbia; Robert Harding, University College of the Fraser Valley; Tricia Logan, University of Manitoba; Steffi Retzlaff, McMaster University; Siobhán Smith, University of British Columbia; Barbara Walberg, Confederation College.

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Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective

Cases and Controversies

Edited by Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna N. Erdman, and Bernard M. Dickens

It is increasingly implausible to speak of a purely domestic abortion law, as the legal debates around the world draw on precedents and influences of different national and regional contexts. While the United States and Western Europe may have been the vanguard of abortion law reform in the latter half of the twentieth century, Central and South America are proving to be laboratories of thought and innovation in the twenty-first century, as are particular countries in Africa and Asia. Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective offers a fresh look at significant transnational legal developments in recent years, examining key judicial decisions, constitutional texts, and regulatory reforms of abortion law in order to envision ways ahead.

The chapters investigate issues of access, rights, and justice, as well as social constructions of women, sexuality, and pregnancy, through different legal procedures and regimes. They address the promises and risks of using legal procedure to achieve reproductive justice from different national, regional, and international vantage points; how public and courtroom debates are framed within medical, religious, and human rights arguments; the meaning of different narratives that recur in abortion litigation and language; and how respect for women and prenatal life is expressed in various legal regimes. By exploring how legal actors advocate, regulate, and adjudicate the issue of abortion, this timely volume seeks to build on existing developments to bring about change of a larger order.

Contributors: Luis Roberto Barroso, Paola Bergallo, Rebecca J. Cook, Bernard M. Dickens, Joanna N. Erdman, Lisa M. Kelly, Adriana Lamačková, Julieta Lemaitre, Alejandro Madrazo, Charles G. Ngwena, Rachel Rebouché, Ruth Rubio-Marín, Sally Sheldon, Reva B. Siegel, Verónica Undurraga, Melissa Upreti.

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Abraham and Mary Lincoln

Kenneth J. Winkle

For decades Abraham and Mary Lincoln’s marriage has been characterized as discordant and tumultuous. In Abraham and Mary Lincoln, author Kenneth J. Winkle goes beyond the common image of the couple, illustrating that although the waters of the Lincoln household were far from calm, the Lincolns were above all a house united. Calling upon their own words and the reminiscences of family members and acquaintances, Winkle traces the Lincolns from their starkly contrasting childhoods, through their courtship and rise to power, to their years in the White House during the Civil War, ultimately revealing a dynamic love story set against the backdrop of the greatest peril the nation has ever seen. 

When the awkward but ambitious Lincoln landed Mary Todd, people were surprised by their seeming incompatibility. Lincoln, lacking in formal education and social graces, came from the world of hardscrabble farmers on the American frontier. Mary, by contrast, received years of schooling and came from an established, wealthy, slave-owning family. Yet despite the social gulf between them, these two formidable personalities forged a bond that proved unshakable during the years to come. Mary provided Lincoln with the perfect partner in ambition—one with connections, political instincts, and polish. For Mary, Lincoln was her “diamond in the rough,” a man whose ungainly appearance and background belied a political acumen to match her own. 

While each played their role in the marriage perfectly— Lincoln doggedly pursuing success and Mary hosting lavish political soirées—their partnership was not without contention. Mary—once described as “the wildcat of her age”—frequently expressed frustration with the limitations placed on her by Victorian social strictures, exhibiting behavior that sometimes led to public friction between the couple. Abraham’s work would at times keep him away from home for weeks, leaving Mary alone in Springfield. 

The true test of the Lincolns’ dedication to each other began in the White House, as personal tragedy struck their family and civil war erupted on American soil. The couple faced controversy and heartbreak as the death of their young son left Mary grief-stricken and dependent upon séances and spiritualists; as charges of disloyalty hounded the couple regarding Mary’s young sister, a Confederate widow; and as public demands grew strenuous that their son Robert join the war. The loss of all privacy and the constant threat of kidnapping and assassination took its toll on the entire family. Yet until a fateful night in the Ford Theatre in 1865, Abraham and Mary Lincoln stood firmly together—he as commander-in-chief during America’s gravest military crisis, and she as First Lady of a divided country that needed the White House to emerge as a respected symbol of national unity and power. 

Despite the challenges they faced, the Lincolns’ life together fully embodied the maxim engraved on their wedding bands: love is eternal. Abraham and Mary Lincoln is a testament to the power of a stormy union that held steady through the roughest of seas.

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Abraham Lincoln

A Biography

Benjamin P. Thomas. Foreword by Michael Burlingame

Long considered a classic, Benjamin P. Thomas's Abraham Lincoln: A Biography takes an incisive look at one of American history's greatest figures. Originally published in 1952 to wide acclaim, this eloquent account rises above previously romanticized depictions of the sixteenth president to reveal the real Lincoln: a complex, shrewd, and dynamic individual whose exceptional life has long intrigued the public.

Thomas traces the president from his hardscrabble beginnings and early political career, through his years as an Illinois lawyer and his presidency during the Civil War. Although Lincoln is appropriately placed against the backdrop of the dramatic times in which he lived, the author's true focus is on Lincoln the man and his intricate personality. While Thomas pays tribute to Lincoln's many virtues and accomplishments, he is careful not to dramatize a persona already larger than life in the American imagination. Instead he presents a candid and balanced representation that provides compelling insight into Lincoln's true character and the elements that forged him into an extraordinary leader. Thomas portrays Lincoln as a man whose conviction, resourcefulness, and inner strength enabled him to lead the nation through the most violent crossroads in its history.

Thomas's direct, readable narrative is concise while losing none of the crucial details of Lincoln's remarkable life. The volume's clarity of style makes it accessible to beginners, but it is complex and nuanced enough to interest longtime Lincoln scholars. After more than half a century, Abraham Lincoln: A Biography is still an essential source for anyone interested in learning more about the many facets of the sixteenth president, and it remains the definitive single-volume work on the life of an American legend.

 

 

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