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New faculty books: From friendship to Lucy's legacy

May 18, 2011

How did the city of Phoenix beat the odds of a hot climate and remoteness to become the fifth largest city in the United States?

How do military chaplains deal with the issues of war such as forgiveness, mercy, retributive punishment and just war theory?

Why does grammar seem to go through cycles, and do all languages experience cycles?

Such questions and topics are among those discussed in newly published books by faculty at Arizona State University. Following is a list of some of the recent books, both fiction and nonfiction.

“Java, Indonesia and Islam” by Mark R. Woodward, associate professor of religious studies:

Woodward's book “Islam in Java: Normative Piety and Mysticism in the Sultanate of Yogyakarta” (1989) was one of the most important works on Indonesian Islam of the era. This new volume builds on the earlier study, but also goes beyond it in important ways. Written on the basis of Woodward’s 30 years of research on Javanese Islam in a Yogyakarta (south-central Java) setting, the book presents a much-needed collection of essays concerning Javanese Islamic texts, ritual, sacred space, situated in Javanese and Indonesian political contexts.

“Desert Visions and the Making of Phoenix, 1860 to 2009,” by Phil VanderMeer, associate professor of history:

Whether touted for its burgeoning economy, affordable housing, and pleasant living style, or criticized for being less like a city than a sprawling suburb, Phoenix, by all environmental logic, should not exist. Yet despite its extremely hot and dry climate and its remoteness, Phoenix has grown into a massive metropolitan area.

To understand how such unusual growth occurred in such an improbable location, VanderMeer explores five major themes: the natural environment, urban infrastructure, economic development, social and cultural values, and public leadership. Through investigating Phoenix’s struggle to become a major American metropolis, his study also offers a unique view of what it means to be a desert city.

“Icons of Black America: Cross Boundaries and Breaking Barriers,” Volumes 1-3, edited by Matthew Whitaker, associate professor of history:

This collection of essays illuminates the lives and legacies of the most famous and powerful individuals, groups, and institutions in African American history, such as Muhammad Ali, Jay-Z, Toni Morrison, Barack Obama, Rosa Parks and Lena Horne. Each has become an icon recognized as outstanding in his or her chosen field. There are many more like them – both people and institutions – that have made their mark on American culture. These are their stories.

“The Maya World of Communicating Objects: Quadripartite Crosses, Trees, and Stones,” by Miguel Aguilera, associate professor of religious studies:

Although anthropologists have been observing and analyzing the religious practices of Mayan people for about 100 years, this perceptive study suggests that anthropological interpretation of those practices and of Maya cosmology has never escaped the epistemological influence of Christianity.

Whereas sacred objects used in Christian rituals are treated with deifying awe, objects such as Mayan crosses can be recycled, bartered with, communicated with, manipulated, disregarded, or destroyed—the apparent equivalent of extorting or defacing a holy image of Christ or the Virgin Mary. Aguilera holds that we cannot fully understand these indigenous practices by fitting them to our European Cartesian mindset but must instead recognize and try to understand native Mayan epistemology.

“Liberalism and Prostitution,” by Peter de Marneffe, professor of philosophy:

Civil libertarians characterize prostitution as a "victimless crime," and argue that it ought to be legalized. Feminist critics counter that prostitution is not victimless, since it harms the people who do it. Civil libertarians respond that most women freely choose to do this work, and that it is paternalistic for the government to limit a person's liberty for her own good. In this book Peter de Marneffe argues that although most prostitution is voluntary, paternalistic prostitution laws in some form are nonetheless morally justifiable. If prostitution is commonly harmful in the way that feminist critics maintain, then this argument for prostitution laws is not objectionably moralistic and some prostitution laws violate no one's rights. Paternalistic prostitution laws in some form are therefore consistent with the fundamental principles of contemporary liberalism.

“Bystander Perspectives on Zhu Xi Studies: Essays on Song and Modern Economics, Education, Culture and Philosophy,” by Hoyt Tillman, professor of history (book is in Chinese, with Tillman's name listed as Tian Hao.

“A Civil Society Deferred: The Tertiary Grip of Violence in the Sudan,” by Abdullahi Gallab, assistant professor with joint appointments in religious studies and African and African American studies:

“A Civil Society Deferred” chronicles the socio-political history and development of violence in the Sudan and explores how it has crippled the state, retarded the development of a national identity, and ravaged the social and material life of its citizens. It offers the first detailed case studies of the development of both a colonial and postcolonial Sudanese state and grounds the violence that grips the country within the conflict between imperial rule and a resisting civil society.

Gallab establishes his discussion around three forms of violence: decentralized (individual actors using targets as a means to express a particular grievance); centralized (violence enacted illegitimately by state actors); and "home-brewed" (violence among local actors toward other local actors).

“To Know Our Many Selves: From the Study of Canada to Canadian Studies,” by Dirk Hoerder, professor emeritus of history:

“To Know Our Many Selves” profiles the history of Canadian Studies, which began as early as the 1840s with the “Study of Canada.” Hoerder discusses this comprehensive examination of culture by highlighting its unique interdisciplinary approach, which included both sociological and political angles. Years later, as the study of other ethnicities was added to the cultural story of Canada, a solid foundation was formed for the nation’s master narrative.

“Ghosts of Revolution: Rekindled Memories of Imprisonment in Iran,” by Shahla Talebi, assistant professor of religious studies:

In this haunting book, Talebi remembers her years as a political prisoner in Iran. Talebi, along with her husband, was imprisoned for nearly a decade and tortured, first under the Shah and later by the Islamic Republic. Writing about her own suffering and survival and sharing the stories of her fellow inmates, she details the painful reality of prison life and offers an intimate look at a critical period of social and political transformation in Iran.

“Modern Buddhist Conjunctures in Myanmar: Cultural Narratives, Colonial Legacies, and Civil Society,” by Juliane Schober, professor of religious studies:

Arguing against Max Weber’s characterization of Buddhism as other-worldly and divorced from politics, Schober’s study shows that Buddhist practice necessitates public validation within an economy of merit in which moral action earns future rewards. The intervention of colonial modernity in traditional Burmese Buddhist worldviews has created conjunctures at which public concerns critical to the nation’s future are reinterpreted in light of a Buddhist paradigm of power.

“Comparative Secularisms in a Global Age,” edited by Linell E. Cady, professor of religious studies and director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, with Elizabeth Shakman Hurd:

This book explores the history and politics of secularism and the public role of religion in France, India, Turkey, and the United States. It interprets the varieties of secularism as a series of evolving and contested processes of defining and remaking religion, rather than a static solution to the challenges posed by religious and political difference. It features essays from leading scholars from across disciplines, secular and religious traditions, and regional expertise. The volume illustrates a new approach to the hotly contested relation between political authority and religious tradition.

“War and Moral Dissonance,” by Peter French, professor of philosophy and director of the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics:

This collection of essays, inspired by the author's experience teaching ethics to Marine and Navy chaplains during the Iraq War, examines the moral and psychological dilemmas posed by war. The first section deals directly with the specific challenges posed by teaching applied and theoretical ethics to men and women wrestling with the immediate and personal moral conflicts occasioned by the dissonance of their duties as military officers with their religious convictions.

The following chapters grew out of philosophical discussions with these chaplains regarding specific ethical issues surrounding the Iraq War, including the nature of moral evil, forgiveness, mercy, retributive punishment, honor, torture, responsibility and just war theory.

“Spirit Seizures,” by Melissa Pritchard, professor of English:

Winner of the Flannery O’Connor  Award for Short Fiction. In these stories by Pritchard, the past brushes up against the present, the voices of both the sane and the obsessed are heard, and the spirits speaking unbidden through the mouths of some spurn others who desire them most. The title story tells of  a psychic women, pregnant with her second child, who welcomes over her farmer husband’s objections the visits of an older couple desiring a séance with the spirit of their dead daughter.

“The Odditorium,” by Melissa Pritchard, professor of English:

In each of these eight genre-bending tales, Pritchard overturns the conventions of mysteries, westerns, gothic horror, and historical fiction to capture surprising and often shocking aspects of her characters’ lives. In one story, Pritchard creates a pastiche of historical facts, songs, and tall tales, contrasting the  famed figures of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, including Annie Oakley and Sitting Bull, with the real, genocidal history of the American West.

“The Linguistic Cycle: Language Change and the Language Faculty,” by Elly van Gelderen, Regents’ Professor of English:

Van Gelderen provides examples of linguistic cycles from a number of languages and language families, along with an account of the linguistic cycle in terms of minimalist economy principles. A cycle involves grammaticalization from lexical to functional category followed by renewal. Some well-known cycles involve negatives, where full negative phrases are reanalyzed as words and affixes and are then renewed by full phrases again. Verbal agreement is another example: full pronouns are reanalyzed as agreement markers and are renewed again.

Each chapter provides data on a separate cycle from a myriad of languages. Van Gelderen argues that the cross-linguistic similarities can be seen as Economy Principles present in the initial cognitive system or Universal Grammar.

“Transforming Borders: Chicana/o Popular Culture and Pedogogy,” by Alejandra Elenes, associate professor, Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies New College:

“Transforming Borders” is a significant contribution to transformative pedagogies scholarship, adding the voices of Chicanas feminist teachings, epistemologies and ontologies to the debate. The author looks at the significance of historical events, such as the creation of the U.S.-Mexico border, to understand the experiences of people of Mexican descent in the United States.

Elenes, who has served as a board member of the Arizona Association for Chicanos in Higher Education since 2004, admits the book plays to an academic audience, but also believes it contains lessons for all. “Any person who is interested in popular culture, especially narratives and stories of the people of Mexican descent, will be interested in the book and the histories of La Llorona (the Weeping Woman), the Virgin of Guadalupe and Malintzijn/Malinche,” she said.

“Enduring Violence: Ladina Women’s Lives in Guatemala,” by Cecilia Menjivar, Cowden Distinguished Professor of social and family dynamics:

Drawing on revealing, in-depth interviews, Menjívar investigates the role that violence plays in the lives of Ladina women in eastern Guatemala, a little-visited and little-studied region. While much has been written on the subject of political violence in Guatemala, Menjívar turns to a different form of suffering—the violence embedded in institutions and in everyday life so familiar and routine that it is often not recognized as such.

Rather than painting Guatemala (or even Latin America) as having a cultural propensity for normalizing and accepting violence, Menjívar aims to develop an approach to examining structures of violence—profound inequality, exploitation and poverty, and gender ideologies that position women in vulnerable situations— grounded in women’s experiences. In this way, her study provides a glimpse into the root causes of the increasing wave of feminicide in Guatemala, as well as in other Latin American countries, and offers observations relevant for understanding violence against women around the world today.

“Friendship: Development, Ecology and Evolution of a Relationship,” by Dan Hruschka, assistant professor of biocultural anthropology:

Friends are generous and cooperative with each other in ways that appear to defy standard evolutionary expectations, frequently sacrificing for one another without concern for past behaviors or future consequences. In this multidisciplinary study, Hruschka synthesizes an array of cross-cultural, experimental, and ethnographic data to understand the broad meaning of friendship, how it develops, how it interfaces with kinship and romantic relationships, and how it differs from place to place. Hruschka argues that friendship is a special form of reciprocal altruism based not on tit-for-tat accounting or forward-looking rationality, but rather on mutual goodwill that is built up along the way in human relationships.

“Lucy’s Legacy: The Quest for Human Origins,” by Donald Johanson, professor of physical anthropology and founding director, Institute of Human Origins, with Kate Wong:

Johanson, the paleoanthropologist who in 1974 discovered the famed 3.2-million-year-old hominid named Lucy, and Scientific American editor Wong delve deeply into the significance of Lucy, her probable ancestors and her probable successors, including modern humans. The authors capture the curiosity, passion and excitement that Johanson and his colleagues bring to their research, as well as the mundane, backbreaking aspects of fieldwork.

Wong and Johanson are also expert at framing the science that informs judgments about what defines a hominid species, such as brain size, the ability to walk upright and facial structure. They probe the equally important question of what drove human evolution, examining three major approaches: a social model, a dietary model and an environmental model.

“Obesity: Cultural and Biocultural Perspectives,” by Alexandra Brewis, professor of biological: anthropology and executive director, School of Human Evolution and Social Change

Grounded in a holistic anthropological approach and using a range of ethnographic and ecological case studies, “Obesity” shows that the human tendency to become and stay fat makes perfect sense in terms of evolved human inclinations and the physical and social realities of modern life. Drawing on her own fieldwork in the rural United States, Mexico and the Pacific Islands over the last two decades, Brewis addresses such critical questions as why obesity is defined as a problem and why some groups are so much more at risk than others. She suggests innovative ways that anthropology and other social sciences can use community-based research to address the serious public health and social justice concerns provoked by the global spread of obesity.

“Bioarchaeology of Ethnogenesis in the Colonial Southeast,” by Christopher Stojanowski, associate professor of bioarchaeology:

In this book, which won the James Mooney Prize, Stojanowski seeks to understand changes in social identities among Christianized Native Americans living within Franciscan missions during the Spanish colonial period. He attempts to reconstruct identity transformation through skeletal analysis within a microevolutionary framework.

“The Evolution of Exudativory in Primates,” edited by Leanne Nash, Leanne Nash, professor of physical anthropology, and Anne M. Burrows:

This volume covers aspects of primate exudativory, one of the least common dietary niches among primates. While all primates are generally omnivorous animals, most species, depending on body size, acquire the majority of their energy from fruit, leaves or insects and the majority of their protein from insects or leaves. However, some specialize their caloric intake around the acquisition, processing, and break-down of exudates, the saps and gums produced by trees in response to mechanical or insect damage.

Compared to leaves, insects or fruits, these compounds have a unique combination of challenges to the dentition for acquisition and processing and to the gut for digestion.

“Mimbres Lives and Landscapes,” edited by Margaret C. Nelson, professor of archaeology, and Michelle Hegmon, professor of archaeology:

The essays in this book offer the latest archaeological research to explain what we know and what questions still remain about the ancient people of southwestern New Mexico. Beginning with an overview of the abrupt change in lifestyle that launched the distinctive Mimbres culture, the book explores the lives of men and women, their sustenance, the changing nature of leadership, and the possible meanings of their dramatic pottery designs.

“Making Feminist Politics: Transnational Alliances between Women and Labor,” by Mary Margaret Fonow, director of the School of Social Transformation and professor of women and gender studies, with Suzanne Franzway, director of the Research Center for Women’s Studies and professor of sociology and gender studies at the University of South Australia:

This book examines the intersections of feminism, labor politics, and global studies to reveal how women are transforming labor unions. Situating specific case studies within broad feminist topics, the authors demonstrate how unions around the world are expanding their emphasis on contractual details to empowerment and family and feminist issues.

By connecting the diversity of women's experiences around the world – both inside and outside the home – and highlighting the innovative ways women workers attain their common goals, “Making Feminist Politics” lays the groundwork for recognition of the total individual in the future of feminist politics within global union movements.

“Limiting Resources: Market-Led Reform and the Transformation of Public Goods,” by LaDawn Haglund, associate professor of justice and social inquiry:

Haglund critiques the narrow conception of public goods used in economics and proposes an expanded conception drawing from multiple disciplines that incorporates issues of justice, inclusion, and sustainability. She uses case studies of electricity and water provision in Central America to illuminate the conditions for success and the causes of failure in constructing adequate mechanisms for the supply of public goods. The book concludes with suggestions for applying this reformulated conception of public goods to promote justice, sustainability, and economic and social rights in developing countries.

“Perspectives on Justice,” edited by Doris Marie Provine, professor of justice and social inquiry , with graduate students Reshawna Chapple, Kishonna Gray, Ophir Sefiha, and Michael F. Walker:

Co-edited with justice studies graduate students and with chapter contributions by several justice and social inquiry faculty members, the new textbook reflects the thinking of ASU justice and social inquiry faculty about what undergraduate justice studies students should know and be exposed to. Readings introduce classic and contemporary concepts of justice, such as equality of opportunity, fairness, and human rights, and encourage critical thinking, analysis and debate about how to implement these ideals.

“Ethnopolitics and Power Sharing in Guyana: History and Discourse,” by David Hinds, associate professor of African and African American Studies:

From 1950 to the present, Guyana has experienced the worst of ethnically divided societies: ethnic violence, authoritarian rule, democratic exclusion and the general politics of revenge. However, it has also experienced moments of ethnic solidarity – the ore, a 1955 nationalist movement that managed to hold ethnic groups under one electoral party, and the 1974-1992 anti-dictatorial movement whose success was premised primarily on ethnic solidarity. This book is a guide for understanding the problem of governance, democracy and society in multi-ethnic countries and creating a framework for solutions.

“A Political Analysis of Deviance,” (third edition), edited by Pat Lauderdale, professor of justice and social inquiry:

Is the leader of a loose-knit band of hit-and-run killers of British soldiers a terrorist? Or is he a revolutionary hero or freedom fighter? What is your view of George Washington? or Nat Turner, who executed Virginia slave owners and their families? Is the Jewish “terrorist” in Palestine significantly different from the Palestinian “terrorist” in Israel? How do we proceed to answer such questions? With an updated introduction, this third edition of Lauderdale’s classic study of deviance and diversity as politics challenges scholars to resist treating “deviants” as “objects captured in a zoo,” and instead to examine the political processes and practices that maintain, create, and change the definitions “terrorism” as an act of deviance, social control, moral entrepreneurship, politics, or coercion, or understand it in a particular time and place as a social problem.

“Theory and Methodology of World Development: The Writings of Andre Gunder Frank,” co-edited by Pat Lauderdale, professor of justice and social inquiry:

This book brings together incisive writings (published and unpublished) of the late Andre Gunder Frank on world development and world history. The selections trace this economic historian and sociologist’s conceptual thinking on development, from the national liberation struggles of the 1950s -1960s to his views on world history, world development and globalization in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

“Ethnography and Language Policy,” by Teresa McCarty, the Alice Wiley Snell Professor of Education Policy Studies and professor of applied linguistics:

Using case studies and reflective commentaries by leading scholars in the field, this book addresses the impacts of globalization, diaspora, and transmigration on language practices and policies; language endangerment, revitalization, and maintenance; instructional policies; literacy and biliteracy; language and ethnic/national identity; and the ethical tensions in conducting critical ethnographic language policy research.

Recognizing that language policy is not about language per se, but rather about power relations that structure social-linguistic hierarchies, the authors seek to expand policy discourses in ways that foster social justice for all.

“Research in Urban Educational Settings: Lessons Learned and Implications for Future Practice,” co-edited by Kimberly A. Scott, associate professor of women and gender studies:

What are the critically important issues a researcher should consider when working with urban schools? What should be a researcher's commitment to the urban communities in which they do research? How can a researcher develop a trusting, collaborative relationship – with urban educators, administrators, students, parents, and community members – in an environment justifiably distrustful of outsiders?

In this collection authors share lessons learned about power, privilege, and their meanings as they pertain to conducting research in and with urban settings, providing practical accounts of what has and has not worked in conducting both short-term and longitudinal research in urban educational institutions and communities.