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Themes on Waiwai Social Being
Cognitive Mappings of Contemporary Chicano/a Fiction
Chicano/a fiction is often understood as a literature of resistance to the dominant U.S. Anglo culture and society. But reducing this rich literary production to a single, binary opposition distorts it in fundamental ways. It conflates literature with life, potentially substituting a literature of protest for social activism that could provoke real changes in society. And it overlooks the complex range of responses to Anglo society that actually animates Chicano/a fiction. In this paradigm-shifting book, Patrick L. Hamilton analyzes works by Rudolfo Anaya, Ana Castillo, Denise Chávez, Rolando Hinojosa, Arturo Islas, John Rechy, Alfredo Véa, and Helena María Viramontes to expand our understandings of the cultural interactions within the United States that are communicated by Chicano/a fiction. He argues that the narrative ethics of “resistance” within the Chicano/a canon is actually complemented by ethics of “persistence” and “transformation” that imagine cultural differences within the United States as participatory and irreducible to simple oppositions. To demonstrate these alternative ethics, Hamilton adapts the methodology of cognitive mapping; that is, he treats the chosen fictional texts as mental maps that are constructed around and communicative of the narrative’s ethics. As he reads these cognitive maps, which envision Chicano/a culture as being part of U.S. society rather than as “resistant” and separate, Hamilton asserts that the authors’ conception of cultural difference speaks more usefully to current sociopolitical debates, such as those about gay marriage and immigration reform, than does the traditional “resistant” paradigm.
An Ethnohistoric Study of Inka Religious Practices
In perhaps as few as one hundred years, the Inka Empire became the largest state ever formed by a native people anywhere in the Americas, dominating the western coast of South America by the early sixteenth century. Because the Inkas had no system of writing, it was left to Spanish and semi-indigenous authors to record the details of the religious rituals that the Inkas believed were vital for consolidating their conquests. Synthesizing these arresting accounts that span three centuries, Thomas Besom presents a wealth of descriptive data on the Inka practices of human sacrifice and mountain worship, supplemented by archaeological evidence. Of Summits and Sacrifice offers insight into the symbolic connections between landscape and life that underlay Inka religious beliefs. In vivid prose, Besom links significant details, ranging from the reasons for cyclical sacrificial rites to the varieties of mountain deities, producing a uniquely powerful cultural history.
Samuel Pufendorf’s Of the Nature and Qualification of Religion (published in Latin in 1687) is a major work on the separation of politics and religion. Written in response to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes by the French king Louis XIV, Pufendorf contests the right of the sovereign to control the religion of his subjects, because state and religion pursue wholly different ends. He concludes that, when rulers transgress their bounds, subjects have a right to defend their religion, even by the force of arms.
Pufendorf’s opposition to the French king does not demonstrate political radicalism. Instead, like John Locke and others who defended the concept of toleration, Pufendorf advocates a principled, moderate defense of toleration rather than unlimited religious liberty.
Appearing at the dawn of the Enlightenment, Pufendorf’s ideas on natural law and toleration were highly influential in both Europe and the British Isles. As Simone Zurbuchen explains in the introduction, Of the Nature and Qualification of Religion is a major contribution to the history and literature of religious toleration.
Samuel Pufendorf (1632–1694) was one of the most important figures in early-modern political thought. An exact contemporary of Locke and Spinoza, he transformed the natural law theories of Grotius and Hobbes, developed striking ideas of toleration and of the relationship between church and state, and wrote extensive political histories and analyses of the constitution of the German empire.
Jodocus Crull (d. 1713/14) was a German émigré to England, a medical man, and a translator and writer.
Simone Zurbuchen is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.
Knud Haakonssen is Professor of Intellectual History at the University of Sussex, England.
Essays Inspired by John F. Marszalek
Of Times and Race contains eight essays on African American history from the Jacksonian era through the early twentieth century. Taken together, these essays, inspired by noted scholar John F. Marszalek, demonstrate the many nuances of African Americans' struggle to grasp freedom, respect, assimilation, and basic rights of American citizens.Essays include Mark R. Cheathem's look at Andrew Jackson Donelson's struggle to keep his plantations operating within the ever-growing debate over slavery in mid-nineteenth century America. Thomas D. Cockrell examines Southern Unionism during the Civil War and wrestles with the difficulty of finding hard evidence due to sparse sources. Stephen S. Michot examines issues of race in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, and finds that blacks involved themselves in both armies, curiously clouding issues of slavery and freedom. Michael B. Ballard delves into how Mississippi slaves and Union soldiers interacted during the Vicksburg campaign. Union treatment of freedmen and of U. S. colored troops demonstrated that blacks escaping slavery were not always welcomed. Horace Nash finds that sports, especially boxing, played a fascinating role in blending black and white relations in the West during the early twentieth century. Timothy Smith explores the roles of African Americans who participated in the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps during the creation of the Shiloh National Military Park. James Scott Humphreys analyzes the efforts of two twentieth-century historians who wished to debunk the old, racist views of Reconstruction known as the Dunning school of interpretation. Edna Green Medford provides a concluding essay that ties together the essays in the book and addresses the larger themes running throughout the text.
Religion and Popular Cultures in Southeast Mexico, 1800-1876
In the tumultuous decades following Mexico’s independence from Spain, religion provided a unifying force among the Mexican people, who otherwise varied greatly in ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Accordingly, religion and the popular cultures surrounding it form the lens through which Terry Rugeley focuses this cultural history of southeast Mexico from independence (1821) to the rise of the dictator Porfirio Díaz in 1876. Drawing on a wealth of previously unused archival material, Rugeley vividly reconstructs the folklore, beliefs, attitudes, and cultural practices of the Maya and Hispanic peoples of the Yucatán. In engagingly written chapters, he explores folklore and folk wisdom, urban piety, iconography, and anticlericalism. Interspersed among the chapters are detailed portraits of individual people, places, and institutions, that, with the archival evidence, offer a full and fascinating history of the outlooks, entertainments, and daily lives of the inhabitants of southeast Mexico in the nineteenth century. Rugeley also links this rich local history with larger events to show how macro changes in Mexico affected ordinary people.
Disrupting the Digital World
The digital world profoundly shapes how we work and consume and also how we play, socialize, create identities, and engage in politics and civic life. Indeed, we are so enmeshed in digital networks—from social media to cell phones—that it is hard to conceive of them from the outside or to imagine an alternative, let alone defy their seemingly inescapable power and logic. Yes, it is (sort of) possible to quit Facebook. But is it possible to disconnect from the digital network—and why might we want to?
Off the Network is a fresh and authoritative examination of how the hidden logic of the Internet, social media, and the digital network is changing users’ understanding of the world—and why that should worry us. Ulises Ali Mejias also suggests how we might begin to rethink the logic of the network and question its ascendancy. Touted as consensual, inclusive, and pleasurable, the digital network is also, Mejias says, monopolizing and threatening in its capacity to determine, commodify, and commercialize so many aspects of our lives. He shows how the network broadens participation yet also exacerbates disparity—and how it excludes more of society than it includes.
Uniquely, Mejias makes the case that it is not only necessary to challenge the privatized and commercialized modes of social and civic life offered by corporate-controlled spaces such as Facebook and Twitter, but that such confrontations can be mounted from both within and outside the network. The result is an uncompromising, sophisticated, and accessible critique of the digital world that increasingly dominates our lives.
Questioning Christian Approaches to War
In Offering Hospitality: Questioning Christian Approaches to War, Caron E. Gentry reflects on the predominant strands of American political theology—Christian realism, pacifism, and the just war tradition—and argues that Christian political theologies on war remain, for the most part, inward-looking and resistant to criticism from opposing viewpoints. In light of the new problems that require choices about the use of force—genocide, terrorism, and failed states, to name just a few—a rethinking of the conventional arguments about just war and pacifism is timely and important. Gentry’s insightful perspective marries contemporary feminist and critical thought to prevailing theories, such as Christian realism represented in the work of Reinhold Niebuhr and the pacifist tradition of Stanley Hauerwas. She draws out the connection between hospitality in postmodern literature and hospitality as derived from the Christian conception of agape, and relates the literature on hospitality to the Christian ethics of war. She contends that the practice of hospitality, incorporated into the jus ad bellum criterion of last resort, would lead to a “better peace.”