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The $650 Billion Bargain

The Case for Modest Growth in America's Defense Budget

Michael E. O'Hanlon

U.S. defense spending isn’t excessive and, in fact, should continue to grow because it’s both affordable and necessary in today's challenging world. The United States spends a lot of money on defense—$607 billion in the current fiscal year. But Brookings national security scholar Michael O'Hanlon argues that is roughly the right amount given the overall size of the national economy and continuing U.S. responsibilities around the world. If anything, he says spending should increase modestly under the next president, remaining near 3 percent of gross domestic product. Recommendations in this book differ from the president's budget plan in two key ways. First, the author sees a mismatch in the Pentagon’s current plans between ends and means. The country needs to spend enough money to carry out its military missions and commitments. Second, O'Hanlon recommends dropping a plan to cut the size of the Army from the current 475,000 active-duty soldiers to 450,000. The U.S. national defense budget is entirely affordable—relative to the size of the economy, relative to past levels of effort by this country in the national security domain, and relative, especially, to the costs of failing to uphold a stable international order. Even at a modestly higher price, it will be the best $650 billion bargain going, and a worthy investment in this country’s security and its long-term national power.

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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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9/11 and the Visual Culture of Disaster

Thomas Stubblefield

The day the towers fell, indelible images of plummeting rubble, fire, and falling bodies were imprinted in the memories of people around the world. Images that were caught in the media loop after the disaster and coverage of the attack, its aftermath, and the wars that followed reflected a pervasive tendency to treat these tragic events as spectacle. Though the collapse of the World Trade Center was "the most photographed disaster in history," it failed to yield a single noteworthy image of carnage. Thomas Stubblefield argues that the absence within these spectacular images is the paradox of 9/11 visual culture, which foregrounds the visual experience as it obscures the event in absence, erasure, and invisibility. From the spectral presence of the Tribute in Light to Art Spiegelman's nearly blank New Yorker cover, and from the elimination of the Twin Towers from television shows and films to the monumental cavities of Michael Arad's 9/11 memorial, the void became the visual shorthand for the incident. By examining configurations of invisibility and erasure across the media of photography, film, monuments, graphic novels, and digital representation, Stubblefield interprets the post-9/11 presence of absence as the reaffirmation of national identity that implicitly laid the groundwork for the impending invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

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The 9/11 Generation

Youth, Rights, and Solidarity in the War on Terror

Sunaina Marr Maira

Since the attacks of 9/11, the banner of national security has led to intense monitoring of the politics of Muslim and Arab Americans. Young people from these communities have come of age in a time when the question of political engagement is both urgent and fraught.

In The 9/11 Generation, Sunaina Marr Maira uses extensive ethnography to understand the meaning of political subjecthood and mobilization for Arab, South Asian, and Afghan American youth. Maira explores how young people from communities targeted in the War on Terror engage with the “political,” forging coalitions based on new racial and ethnic categories, even while they are under constant scrutiny and surveillance, and organizing around notions of civil rights and human rights. The 9/11 Generation explores the possibilities and pitfalls of rights-based organizing at a moment when the vocabulary of rights and democracy has been used to justify imperial interventions, such as the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Maira further reconsiders political solidarity in cross-racial and interfaith alliances at a time when U.S. nationalism is understood as not just multicultural but also post-racial. Throughout, she weaves stories of post-9/11 youth activism through key debates about neoliberal democracy, the “radicalization” of Muslim youth, gender, and humanitarianism.

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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 Bold and Hardy Race of Men"

The Lives and Literature of American Whalemen

Jennifer Schell

In his novel Miriam Coffin, or The Whale-Fishermen (1834), Joseph C. Hart proclaimed that his characters were “a bold and hardy race of men,” who deserved the “expressive title of American Whale-Fishermen.” Hart was not the only American author to applaud these physical laborers as the embodiment of national manhood. Heroic portraits of whalers first appeared in American literature during the 1780s, and they proliferated across time. Writers as various as Lydia Howard Huntley Sigourney, Frederick Douglass, and Walt Whitman celebrated the talents of the seafarers who transformed the New England whale fishery into a globally dominant industry. But these images did not go unchallenged. Alternative visions—some of which undermined the iconic status of the trade and its workers—began to proliferate. Even so, these depictions did very little to dismantle the notion that whaling men were prime exemplars of a proud American work ethic. To explain why this industry had such a widespread and enduring impact on American literature, Jennifer Schell juxtaposes and analyzes a wide array of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century whaling narratives. Drawing on various studies of masculinity, labor history, and transnationalism, Schell shows how this particular type of maritime work, and the traits and values associated with it, helped to shape the American literary, cultural, and historical imagination. In the process, she reveals the diverse, flexible, and often contradictory meanings of gender, class, and nation in nineteenth-century America.

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A  Holocene Prehistoric Sequence in the Egyptian Red Sea Area: The Tree Shelter

Pierre M. Vermeersch (ed.)

The prehistory of the Eastern Desert of Egypt is not well understood. A Holocene Prehistoric Sequence in the Egyptian Red Sea Area: The Tree Shelter is an important contribution to our knowledge of the Epi-Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Predynastic occupation of the area. It presents the results of an excavation of a small rock shelter near Quseir, Egypt, which is one of the rare stratified sites in the Eastern Egyptian desert. The stratigraphic sequence starts around 8000 bp and continues until about 5000 bp. The archaeological material attests clear connections with the Nile Valley and the Western Desert during the wet Holocene period. Topics covered in the book include the site’s lithics and ceramics, microwear analysis of the lithic artefacts, and the woody vegetation of the Neolithic period.

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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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A-Train

Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman

A-Train is the story of one of the black Americans who, during World War II, graduated from Tuskegee (AL) Flying School and served as a pilot in the Army Air Corps’ 99th Pursuit Squadron. Charles W. Dryden presents a fast-paced, balanced, and personal account of what it was like to prepare for a career traditionally closed to African Americans, how he coped with the frustrations and dangers of combat, and how he, along with many fellow black pilots, navigators, bombardiers, and crewmen, emerged with a magnificent war record.

Under the command of Colonel Benjamin O. Davis Jr., the Tuskegee airmen fought over North Africa, Sicily, and Europe, escorting American bomber crews who respected their "no-losses" record. Some were shot down, many of them were killed or captured by the enemy, and several won medals of valor and honor. But the airmen still faced great barriers of racial prejudice in the armed forces and at home. As a member of that elite group of young pilots who fought for their country overseas while being denied civil liberties at home, Dryden presents an eloquent story that will touch each and every reader.




 

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Aaron Henry of Mississippi

Inside Agitator

When Aaron Henry returned home to Mississippi from World War II service in 1946, he was part of wave of black servicemen who challenged the racial status quo. He became a pharmacist through the GI Bill, and as a prominent citizen, he organized a hometown chapter of the NAACP and relatively quickly became leader of the state chapter.

From that launching pad he joined and helped lead an ensemble of activists who fundamentally challenged the system of segregation and the almost total exclusion of African Americans from the political structure. These efforts were most clearly evident in his leadership of the integrated Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party delegation, which, after an unsuccessful effort to unseat the lily-white Democratic delegation at the Democratic National Convention in 1964, won recognition from the national party in 1968.

The man who the New York Times described as being “at the forefront of every significant boycott, sit-in, protest march, rally, voter registration drive and court case” eventually became a rare example of a social-movement leader who successfully moved into political office. Aaron Henry of Mississippi covers the life of this remarkable leader, from his humble beginnings in a sharecropping family to his election to the Mississippi house of representatives in 1979, all the while maintaining the social-change ideology that prompted him to improve his native state, and thereby the nation.

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