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Ain't No Trust

How Bosses, Boyfriends, and Bureaucrats Fail Low-Income Mothers and Why It Matters

Judith Levine

Ain’t No Trust explores issues of trust and distrust among low-income women in the U.S.—at work, around childcare, in their relationships, and with caseworkers—and presents richly detailed evidence from in-depth interviews about our welfare system and why it’s failing the very people it is designed to help.

By comparing low-income mothers’ experiences before and after welfare reform, Judith A. Levine probes women’s struggles to gain or keep jobs while they simultaneously care for their children, often as single mothers. By offering a new way to understand how structural factors impact the daily experiences of poor women, Ain’t No Trust highlights the pervasiveness of distrust in their lives, uncovering its hidden sources and documenting its most corrosive and paralyzing effects. Levine’s critique and conclusions hold powerful implications for scholars and policymakers alike.
 

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Almost Free

A Story about Family and Race in Antebellum Virginia

Eva Wolf Sheppard

In Almost Free, Eva Sheppard Wolf uses the story of Samuel Johnson, a free black man from Virginia attempting to free his family, to add detail and depth to our understanding of the lives of free blacks in the South.

There were several paths to freedom for slaves, each of them difficult. After ten years of elaborate dealings and negotiations, Johnson earned manumission in August 1812. An illiterate “mulatto” who had worked at the tavern in Warrenton as a slave, Johnson as a freeman was an anomaly, since free blacks made up only 3 percent of Virginia's population. Johnson stayed in Fauquier County and managed to buy his enslaved family, but the law of the time required that they leave Virginia if Johnson freed them. Johnson opted to stay. Because slaves' marriages had no legal standing, Johnson was not legally married to his enslaved wife, and in the event of his death his family would be sold to new owners. Johnson's story dramatically illustrates the many harsh realities and cruel ironies faced by blacks in a society hostile to their freedom.

Wolf argues that despite the many obstacles Johnson and others faced, race relations were more flexible during the early American republic than is commonly believed. It could actually be easier for a free black man to earn the favor of elite whites than it would be for blacks in general in the post-Reconstruction South. Wolf demonstrates the ways in which race was constructed by individuals in their day-to-day interactions, arguing that racial status was not simply a legal fact but a fluid and changeable condition. Almost Free looks beyond the majority experience, focusing on those at society's edges to gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of freedom in the slaveholding South.

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Amériques transculturelles - Transcultural Americas

Afef Benessaieh

La transculturalité constitue une nouvelle façon de concevoir les cultures, c’est-àdire non plus comme des îlots distincts, mais plutôt comme des réseaux interactifs de sens et de pratiques. Ces identités transculturelles qui n’entrent pas aisément dans le seul moule d’une nation ou d’une ethnie abondent particulièrement dans les Amériques, par exemple les Chicanos, les Franco-Ontariens, les Créoles et les immigrants de deuxième et de troisième génération. De Québec à l’Argentine, cet ouvrage se penche sur ces identités qui se construisent au carrefour de la similitude et de la différence. -- Transculturality is a new way of viewing culture that sees cultures not as separate islands that are easily differentiated from one another, but as connected and interacting webs of meaning and practice. The Americas in particular offer many examples of transcultural identities that do not fit easily into one national or ethnic mold: Chicanos, Franco-Ontarians, Creoles, and second and third generation immigrants. From Quebec to Argentina, this volume explores these identities which create themselves in a space between sameness and difference.

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The Amalgamation Waltz

Race, Performance, and the Ruses of Memory

Tavia Nyong’o

At a time when the idea of a postracial society has entered public discourse, The Amalgamation Waltz investigates the practices that conjoined blackness and whiteness in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Scrutinizing widely diverse texts—archival, musical, visual, and theatrical—Tavia Nyong’o traces the genealogy of racial hybridity, analyzing how key events in the nineteenth century spawned a debate about interracialism that lives on today.

Deeply interested in how discussions of racial hybridity have portrayed the hybrid as the recurring hope for a distant raceless future, Nyong’o is concerned with the ways this discourse deploys the figure of the racial hybrid as an alibi for a nationalism that reinvents the racist logics it claims to have broken with. As Nyong’o demonstrates, the rise of a pervasive image of racially anomalous bodies responded to the appearance of an independent black public sphere and organized politics of black uplift. This newfound mobility was apprehended in the political imaginary as a bodily and sexual scandal, and the resultant amalgamation discourse, he argues, must be recognized as one of the earliest and most enduring national dialogues on sex and sexuality.

Nyong’o tracks the emergence of the concept of the racial hybrid as an ideological modernization of the older concept of the mongrel and shows how this revision brought race-thinking in line with new understandings of sex and gender, providing a racial context for the shift toward modern heterosexuality, the discourse on which postracial metaphors so frequently rely. A timely rebuttal to our contemporary fascination with racial hybridity, The Amalgamation Waltz questions the vision of a national future without racial difference or conflict.

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America's Asia

Racial Form and American Literature, 1893-1945

Colleen Lye

What explains the perception of Asians both as economic exemplars and as threats? America's Asia explores a discursive tradition that affiliates the East with modern efficiency, in contrast to more familiar primitivist forms of Orientalism. Colleen Lye traces the American stereotype of Asians as a "model minority" or a "yellow peril"--two aspects of what she calls "Asiatic racial form"-- to emergent responses to globalization beginning in California in the late nineteenth century, when industrialization proceeded in tandem with the nation's neocolonial expansion beyond its continental frontier.

From Progressive efforts to regulate corporate monopoly to New Deal contentions with the crisis of the Great Depression, a particular racial mode of social redress explains why turn-of-the-century radicals and reformers united around Asian exclusion and why Japanese American internment during World War II was a liberal initiative.

In Lye's reconstructed archive of Asian American racialization, literary naturalism and its conventions of representing capitalist abstraction provide key historiographical evidence. Arguing for the profound influence of literature on policymaking, America's Asia examines the relationship between Jack London and leading Progressive George Kennan on U.S.-Japan relations, Frank Norris and AFL leader Samuel Gompers on cheap immigrant labor, Pearl S. Buck and journalist Edgar Snow on the Popular Front in China, and John Steinbeck and left intellectual Carey McWilliams on Japanese American internment. Lye's materialist approach to the construction of race succeeds in locating racialization as part of a wider ideological pattern and in distinguishing between its different, and sometimes opposing, historical effects.

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An American Dilemma Revisited

Race Relations in a Changing World

"This book must be regarded as a greatly important contribution to race relations literature. It is invaluable for the manner in which authors combine the lessons of history with insightful analyses of empirical data to demonstrate patterns of change over the past fifty years in the status of African Americans... Provocative and stimulating reading." —James E. Blackwell, University of Massachusetts, Boston

"Presents a wide-ranging reanalysis of the seminal work done by Gunnar Myrdal in 1944, examining virtually every issue that Myrdal noted as relevant to the American race question. In so doing, Clayton and his contributors have brought the matter up to date and shown how the American dilemma continues into the twenty-first century." —Stanford M. Lyman, Florida Atlantic University

Fifty years after the publication of An American Dilemma, Gunnar Myrdal's epochal study of racism and black disadvantage, An American Dilemma Revisited again confronts the pivotal issue of race in American society and explores how the status of African Americans has changed over the past half century. African Americans have made critical strides since Myrdal's time. Yet despite significant advances, strong economic and social barriers persist, and in many ways the plight of African Americans remains as acute now as it was then. Using Myrdal as a benchmark, each essay analyzes historical developments, examines current conditions, and investigates strategies for positive change within the core arenas of modern society—political, economic, educational, and judicial.

The central question posed by this volume is whether the presence of a disproportionately African American underclass has become a permanent American phenomenon. Several contributors tie the unevenness of black economic mobility to educational limitations, social isolation, and changing workplace demands. The evolution of a more suburban, service-dominated economy that places a premium on advanced academic training has severely constrained the employment prospects of many urban African Americans with limited education. An American Dilemma Revisited argues that there is hope to be found both in black educational institutions, which account for the largest proportion of advanced educational degrees among African Americans, and in the promotion of black community enterprises.

An American Dilemma Revisited asks why the election of many African American leaders has failed to translate into genuine political power or effective policy support for black issues. The rise in membership in Pentecostal and Islamic denonimations suggests that many blacks, frustrated with the political detachment of more traditional churches, continue to pursue more socially concerned activism at a local level. Three essays trace social disaffection among blacks to a legacy of police and judicial discrimination. Mistrust of the police persists, particularly in cities, and black offenders continue to experience harsher treatment at all stages of the trial process.

As Myrdal's book did fifty years ago, An American Dilemma Revisited offers an insightful look at the continuing effects of racial inequality and discrimination in American society and examines different means for removing the specter of racism in the United States.

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American Dolorologies

Pain, Sentimentalism, Biopolitics

Simon Strick

Offers a critical history of the role of pain, suffering, and compassion in democratic culture.

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American Dreams of John B. Prentis, Slave Trader

Kari J. Winter

As a young man, John B. Prentis (1788–1848) expressed outrage over slavery, but by the end of his life he had transported thousands of enslaved persons from the upper to the lower South. Kari J. Winter’s life-and-times portrayal of a slave trader illuminates the clash between two American dreams: one of wealth, the other of equality.

Prentis was born into a prominent Virginia family. His grandfather, William Prentis, emigrated from London to Williamsburg in 1715 as an indentured servant and rose to become the major shareholder in colonial Virginia’s most successful store. William’s son Joseph became a Revolutionary judge and legislator who served alongside Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and James Madison. Joseph Jr. followed his father’s legal career, whereas John was drawn to commerce. To finance his early business ventures, he began trading in slaves. In time he grew besotted with the high-stakes trade, appeasing his conscience with the populist platitudes of Jacksonian democracy, which aggressively promoted white male democracy in conjunction with white male supremacy.

Prentis’s life illuminates the intertwined politics of labor, race, class, and gender in the young American nation. Participating in a revolution in the ethics of labor that upheld Benjamin Franklin as its icon, he rejected the gentility of his upbringing to embrace solidarity with “mechanicks,” white working-class men. His capacity for admirable thoughts and actions complicates images drawn by elite slaveholders, who projected the worst aspects of slavery onto traders while imagining themselves as benign patriarchs. This is an absorbing story of a man who betrayed his innate sense of justice to pursue wealth through the most vicious forms of human exploitation.

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American Indians

The First of This Land

Native Americans are too few in number to swing presidential elections, affect national statistics, or attract consistent media attention. But their history illuminates our collective past and their current disadvantaged status reflects our problematic present. In American Indians: The First of This Land, C. Matthew Snipp provides an unrivaled chronicle of the position of American Indians and Alaskan Natives within the larger American society.

Taking advantage of recent Census Bureau efforts to collect high-quality data for these groups, Snipp details the composition and characteristics of native Indian and Alaskan populations. His analyses of housing, family structure, language use and education, socioeconomic status, migration, and mortality are based largely on unpublished material not available in any other single source. He catalogs the remarkable diversity of a population—Eskimos, Aleuts, and numerous Indian tribes—once thought doomed to extinction but now making a dramatic comeback, exceeding 1 million for the first time in 300 years. Also striking is the pervasive influence of the federal bureaucracy on the social profile of American Indians, a profile similar at times to that of Third World populations in terms of literacy, income, and living conditions.

Comparisons with black and white Americans throughout this study place its findings in perspective and confirm its stature as a benchmark volume. American Indians offers an unsurpassed overview of a minority group that is deeply embedded in American folklore, the first of this land historically but now among the last in its socioeconomic hierarchy.

A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Census Series

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American Neighborhoods and Residential Differentiation

Residential patterns are reflections of social structure; to ask, "who lives in which neighborhoods," is to explore a sorting-out process that is based largely on socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and life cycle characteristics.

This benchmark volume uses census data, with its uniquely detailed information on small geographic areas, to bring into focus the familiar yet often vague concept of neighborhood. Michael White examines nearly 6,000 census tracts (approximating neighborhoods) in twenty-one representative metropolitan areas, from Atlanta to Salt Lake City, Newark to San Diego. The availability of statistics spanning several decades and covering a wide range of demographic characteristics (including age, race, occupation, income, and housing quality) makes possible a rich analysis of the evolution and implications of differences among neighborhoods.

In this complex mosaic, White finds patterns and traces them over time—showing, for example, how racial segregation has declined modestly while socioeconomic segregation remains constant, and how population diffusion gradually affects neighborhood composition. His assessment of our urban settlement system also illuminates the social forces that shape contemporary city life and the troubling policy issues that plague it.

A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Census Series

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