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Shock City of Twentieth-Century India

Howard Spodek

In the 20th century, Ahmedabad was India's "shock city." It was the place where many of the nation's most important developments occurred first and with the greatest intensity -- from Gandhi's political and labor organizing, through the growth of textile, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries, to globalization and the sectarian violence that marked the turn of the new century. Events that happened there resonated throughout the country, for better and for worse. Howard Spodek describes the movements that swept the city, telling their story through the careers of the men and women who led them.

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Airport Urbanism

Infrastructure and Mobility in Asia

Max Hirsh

Thirty years ago, few residents of Asian cities had ever been on a plane, much less outside their home countries. Today, flying, and flying abroad, is commonplace. How has this leap in cross-border mobility affected the design and use of such cities? And how is it accelerating broader socioeconomic and political changes in Asian societies?

In Airport Urbanism, Max Hirsh undertakes an unprecedented study of airport infrastructure in five Asian cities—Bangkok, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore. Through this lens he examines the exponential increase in international air traffic and its implications for the planning and design of the contemporary city. By investigating the low-cost, informal, and transborder transport systems used by new members of the flying public—such as migrant workers, retirees, and Asia’s emerging middle class—he uncovers an architecture of incipient global mobility that has been inconspicuously inserted into places not typically associated with the infrastructure of international air travel.

Drawing on material gathered in restricted zones of airports and border control facilities, Hirsh provides a fascinating, up-close view of the mechanics of cross-border mobility. Moreover, his personal experience of growing up and living on three continents inflects his analyses with unique insight into the practicalities of international migration and into the mindset of people on the move.

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The Akron Story Circle Project

Rethinking Race in Classroom and Community

by Carolyn Behrman, Bill Lyons, Patricia Hill, James Slowiak, Donna Webb, and Amy Shriver Dreussi

The Akron Story Circle Project documents an eight-year interdisciplinary effort to use story circles, developed by John O’Neal, as a pedagogical tool to engage faculty, students, and community members in thoughtful and serious conversations about race and racial conflict. In the process we all learned about the incredible transformative power of storytelling in the classroom, on the stage, to spark artwork, and to deepen our understanding of the world we live in. In addition to being a unique collaboration among professors in art, anthropology, theater, communication, and political science, the book itself—with extensive author comments in the margins of each chapter—is organized as an ongoing conversation that models curiosity and open-mindedness, rigorous analysis and the transformative value of our stories and of listening to others.

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Alandra's Lilacs

The Story of a Mother and Her Deaf Daughter

Tressa Bowers

When, in 1968, 19-year-old Tressa Bowers took her baby daughter to an expert on deaf children, he pronounced that Alandra was “stone deaf,” she most likely would never be able to talk, and she probably would not get much of an education because of her communication limitations. Tressa refused to accept this stark assessment of Alandra’s prospects. Instead, she began the arduous process of starting her daughter’s education. Economic need forced Tressa to move several times, and as a result, she and Alandra experienced a variety of learning environments: a pure oralist approach, which discouraged signing; Total Communication, in which the teachers spoke and signed simultaneously; a residential school for deaf children, where Signed English was employed; and a mainstream public school that relied upon interpreters. Changes at home added more demands, from Tressa’s divorce to her remarriage, her long work hours, and the ongoing challenge of complete communication within their family. Through it all, Tressa and Alandra never lost sight of their love for each other, and their affection rippled through the entire family. Today, Tressa can triumphantly point to her confident, educated daughter and also speak with pride of her wonderful relationship with her deaf grandchildren. Alandra’s Lilacs is a marvelous story about the resiliency and achievements of determined, loving people no matter what their circumstances might be.

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Alien Nation

Chinese Migration in the Americas from the Coolie Era through World War II

Elliott Young

In this sweeping work, Elliott Young traces the pivotal century of Chinese migration to the Americas, beginning with the 1840s at the start of the "coolie" trade and ending during World War II. The Chinese came as laborers, streaming across borders legally and illegally and working jobs few others wanted, from constructing railroads in California to harvesting sugar cane in Cuba. Though nations were built in part from their labor, Young argues that they were the first group of migrants to bear the stigma of being "alien." Being neither black nor white and existing outside of the nineteenth century Western norms of sexuality and gender, the Chinese were viewed as permanent outsiders, culturally and legally. It was their presence that hastened the creation of immigration bureaucracies charged with capture, imprisonment, and deportation.

This book is the first transnational history of Chinese migration to the Americas. By focusing on the fluidity and complexity of border crossings throughout the Western Hemisphere, Young shows us how Chinese migrants constructed alternative communities and identities through these transnational pathways.

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All American Yemeni Girls

Being Muslim in a Public School

By Loukia K. Sarroub

Based on more than two years of fieldwork conducted in a Yemeni community in southeastern Michigan, this unique study examines Yemeni American girls' attempts to construct and make sense of their identities as Yemenis, Muslims, Americans, daughters of immigrants, teenagers, and high school students. All American Yemeni Girls contributes substantially to our understanding of the impact of religion on students attending public schools and the intersecting roles school and religion play in the lives of Yemeni students and their families. Providing a valuable background on the history of Yemen and the migration of Yemeni people to the United States, this is an eye-opening account of a group of people we hear about every day but about whom we know very little.

Through a series of intensive interviews and field observations, Loukia K. Sarroub discovered that the young Muslim women shared moments of optimism and desperation and struggled to reconcile the America they experienced at school with the Yemeni lives they knew at home. Most significant, Sarroub found that they often perceived themselves as failing at being both American and Yemeni. Offering a distinctive analysis of the ways ethnicity, culture, gender, and socioeconomic status complicate lives, Sarroub examines how these students view their roles within American and Yemeni societies, between institutions such as the school and the family, between ethnic and Islamic visions of success in the United States. Sarroub argues that public schools serve as a site of liberation and reservoir of contested hope for students and teachers questioning competing religious and cultural pressures. The final chapter offers a rich and important discussion of how conditions in the United States encourage the rise of extremism and allow it to flourish, raising pressing questions about the role of public education in the post-September 11 world.

All American Yemeni Girls offers a fine-grained and compelling portrait of these young Muslim women and their endeavors to succeed in American society, and it brings us closer to understanding an oft-cited but little researched population.

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An Alliance Of Women

Immigration And The Politics Of Race

Heather Merrill

In the 1980s, Italy transformed from a country of emigration to one of immigration. Italians are now faced daily with the presence of migrants from all over Africa, parts of South and Central America, the Middle East, Asia, and Eastern Europe. While much attention has been paid to the impact on Italians, few studies have focused on the agency of migrants themselves. In An Alliance of Women, Heather Merrill investigates how migrants and Italians struggle over meanings and negotiate social and cultural identities.

Taking as a starting point the Italian crisis over immigration in the early 1990s, Merrill examines grassroots interethnic spatial politics among female migrants and Turin feminists in Northern Italy. Using rich ethnographic material, she traces the emergence of Alma Mater—an anti-racist organization formed to address problems encountered by migrant women. Through this analysis, Merrill reveals the dynamics of an alliance consisting of women from many countries of origin and religious and class backgrounds.

Highlighting an interdisciplinary approach to migration and the instability of group identities in contemporary Italy, An Alliance of Women presents migrants grappling with spatialized boundaries amid growing nativist and anti-immigrant sentiment in Western Europe.

Heather Merrill is assistant professor of geography and anthropology at Dickinson College.

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Almost Home

A Brazilian American's Reflections on Faith, Culture, and Immigration

H. B. Cavalcanti

In Almost Home, H. B. Cavalcanti, a Brazilian-born scholar who has spent three decades working and living in the United States, reflects on his life as an immigrant and places his story within the context of the larger history of immigration.
    Due to both his family background and the prevalence of U.S. media in Latin America, Cavalcanti already felt immersed in U.S. culture before arriving in Kentucky in 1981 to complete graduate studies. At that time, opportunities for advancement in the United States exceeded those in Brazil, and in an era of military dictatorships throughout much of Latin America, Cavalcanti sought in the United States a nation of laws. In this memoir, he reflects on the dynamics of acculturation, immigrant parenting, interactions with native-born U.S. citizens, and the costs involved in rejecting his country of birth for an adopted nation. He also touches on many of the factors that contribute to migration in both the “sending” and “receiving” countries and explores the contemporary phenomenon of accelerated immigration.
    With its blend of personal anecdotes and scholarly information, Almost Home addresses both individual and policy-related issues to provide a moving portrait of the impact of migration on those who, like Cavalcanti, confront both the wonder and the disorientation inherent in the immigrant experience.

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Always Something Else

Urban Asia and Africa as Experiment

AbdouMaliq Simone

The most extensive urban demographic transitions ahead will take place in Africa and Asia. These transitions occur in regions where the majority of inhabitants remain trapped in vulnerable employment, which limits the capacities to plan, save, invest, and afford critical amenities, as well as limits the horizons of what is considered possible. Yet, the aspirations for mobility, security, consumption, and attainment are enormous. How can different rationalities and practices of everyday sociality be more effectively connected to the prevailing concepts informing formal political and policymaking projects? How can incommensurable facets of urban life be folded into each other as a matter of an enlarged political practice? There is no pre-existent map that tells us how to link these equally important dimensions of urban life. Thus, any effort to consider the relationship between them is by necessity an experiment.

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The Ambiguities of Experience

by James G. March

"The first component of intelligence involves effective adaptation to an environment. In order to adapt effectively, organizations require resources, capabilities at using them, knowledge about the worlds in which they exist, good fortune, and good decisions. They typically face competition for resources and uncertainties about the future. Many, but possibly not all, of the factors determining their fates are outside their control. Populations of organizations and individual organizations survive, in part, presumably because they possess adaptive intelligence; but survival is by no means assured. The second component of intelligence involves the elegance of interpretations of the experiences of life. Such interpretations encompass both theories of history and philosophies of meaning, but they go beyond such things to comprehend the grubby details of daily existence. Interpretations decorate human existence. They make a claim to significance that is independent of their contribution to effective action. Such intelligence glories in the contemplation, comprehension, and appreciation of life, not just the control of it."—from The Ambiguities of Experience

In The Ambiguities of Experience, James G. March asks a deceptively simple question: What is, or should be, the role of experience in creating intelligence, particularly in organizations? Folk wisdom both trumpets the significance of experience and warns of its inadequacies. On one hand, experience is described as the best teacher. On the other hand, experience is described as the teacher of fools, of those unable or unwilling to learn from accumulated knowledge or the teaching of experts. The disagreement between those folk aphorisms reflects profound questions about the human pursuit of intelligence through learning from experience that have long confronted philosophers and social scientists. This book considers the unexpected problems organizations (and the individuals in them) face when they rely on experience to adapt, improve, and survive.

While acknowledging the power of learning from experience and the extensive use of experience as a basis for adaptation and for constructing stories and models of history, this book examines the problems with such learning. March argues that although individuals and organizations are eager to derive intelligence from experience, the inferences stemming from that eagerness are often misguided. The problems lie partly in errors in how people think, but even more so in properties of experience that confound learning from it. "Experience," March concludes, "may possibly be the best teacher, but it is not a particularly good teacher."

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