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Interviews with Scholars of America about their New Books
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    • Society & Culture

Interviews with Scholars of America about their New Books
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    Bernadette Barton, "The Pornification of America: How Raunch Culture Is Ruining Our Society" (NYU Press, 2021)

    Bernadette Barton, "The Pornification of America: How Raunch Culture Is Ruining Our Society" (NYU Press, 2021)

    Bernadette Barton, Ph.D. exposes the double standard we attach to women’s sexuality in The Pornification of America: How Raunch Culture is Ruining Our Society (NYU Press, 2021) Pictures of half-naked girls and women can easily be found on screens, billboards, and advertisement across the United States of America. There are pole-dancing courses that can be purchased by women who desire to stay fit. Men share dick pics to nonconsensual passengers on planes and trains. The last American President has also bragged about grabbing women “by their p***y.”
    This pornification of society is what Barton calls “raunch culture.” In this book, she explores what raunch culture is, why it matters, and how it is ruining America. She exposes how what is shown on the internet has a driving force in what is displayed on the programs, advertisement, and social media we watch. These images then make their way to content that is displayed on our cellphones, available for us to purchase in the fashion industry, and fantasies/desires we have when engaging in sexual intercourse. From twerking and breast implants, to fake nails and push-up bras, Barton explores just how much we encounter raunch culture on a daily basis – porn has become normalized.
    Drawing on interviews, television shows, movies, and social media, Barton argues that raunch culture matters not because it is sexy, but because it is sexist. She shows how young women are encouraged to be sexy like porn stars, and to be grateful for getting cat-called or receiving unsolicited dick pics. In male politicians vote to restrict women’s access to birth control and abortion.
    Michael O. Johnston, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at William Penn University. His most recent research, “The Queen and Her Royal Court: A Content Analysis of Doing Gender at a Tulip Queen Pageant“, was published in Gender Issues Journal. He researches culture, social identity, and collective representation as it is presented in everyday social interactions. He is currently studying the social interactions that people engage in at two annual festivals that take place during the summer months along the banks of the Mississippi River. You can learn more about him on his website, Google Scholar, follow him on Twitter @ProfessorJohnst, or email him at johnstonmo@wmpenn.edu.
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    • 41 min
    James Doucet-Battle, "Sweetness in the Blood: Race, Risk, and Type 2 Diabetes" (U Minnesota Press, 2021)

    James Doucet-Battle, "Sweetness in the Blood: Race, Risk, and Type 2 Diabetes" (U Minnesota Press, 2021)

    Decades of data cannot be ignored: African American adults are far more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than white adults. But has science gone so far in racializing diabetes as to undermine the search for solutions? In a rousing indictment of the idea that notions of biological race should drive scientific inquiry, Sweetness in the Blood: Race, Risk, and Type 2 Diabetes (University of Minnesota Press, 2021) provides an ethnographic picture of biotechnology’s framings of Type 2 diabetes risk and race and, importantly, offers a critical examination of the assumptions behind the recruitment of African American and African-descent populations for Type 2 diabetes research.
    James Doucet-Battle begins with a historical overview of how diabetes has been researched and framed racially over the past century, chronicling one company’s efforts to recruit African Americans to test their new diabetes risk-score algorithm with the aim of increasing the clinical and market value of the firm’s technology. He considers African American reticence about participation in biomedical research and examines race and health disparities in light of advances in genomic sequencing technology. Doucet-Battle concludes by emphasizing that genomic research into sub-Saharan ancestry in fact underlines the importance of analyzing gender before attempting to understand the notion of race. No disease reveals this more than Type 2 diabetes.
    Sweetness in the Blood challenges the notion that the best approach to understanding, managing, and curing Type 2 diabetes is through the lens of race. It also transforms how we think about sugar, filling a neglected gap between the sugar- and molasses-sweetened past of the enslaved African laborer and the high-fructose corn syrup- and corporate-fed body of the contemporary consumer-laborer.
    Rachel Pagones is chair of the doctoral program in acupuncture and Chinese medicine at Pacific College of Health and Science in San Diego and a licensed acupuncturist. Her book about acupuncture as a tool of medical, social, and political revolution in the United States is under contract with University of Michigan Press.
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    • 1 hr
    Douglas M. O'Reagan, "Taking Nazi Technology: Allied Exploitation of German Science after the Second World War" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2021)

    Douglas M. O'Reagan, "Taking Nazi Technology: Allied Exploitation of German Science after the Second World War" (Johns Hopkins UP, 2021)

    In his new book Taking Nazi Technology: Allied Exploitation of German Science After the Second World War (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019), Douglas O’Reagan describes how the Western Allies gathered teams of experts to scour defeated Germany, seeking industrial secrets and the technical personnel who could explain them. Swarms of investigators invaded Germany's factories and research institutions, seizing or copying all kinds of documents, from patent applications to factory production data to science journals. They questioned, hired, and sometimes even kidnapped hundreds of scientists, engineers, and other technical personnel. They studied technologies from aeronautics to audiotapes, toy making to machine tools, chemicals to carpentry equipment. They took over academic libraries, jealously competed over chemists, and schemed to deny the fruits of German invention to any other land—including that of other Allied nations.
    Drawing on declassified records, O'Reagan looks at which techniques worked for these very different nations, as well as which failed—and why. Most importantly, he shows why securing this technology, how the Allies did it, and when still matters today. He also argues that these programs did far more than spread German industrial science: they forced businessmen and policymakers around the world to rethink how science and technology fit into diplomacy, business, and society itself.
    Douglas M. O'Reagan is a historian of technology, industry, and national security. He earned his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.
    Craig Sorvillo is a PhD candidate in modern European history at the University of Florida. He specializes in Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust. He can be reached at craig.sorvillo@gmail.com or on twitter @craig_sorvillo.
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    • 50 min
    Fatima Shaik, "Economy Hall: The Hidden History of a Free Black Brotherhood" (HNOC, 2021)

    Fatima Shaik, "Economy Hall: The Hidden History of a Free Black Brotherhood" (HNOC, 2021)

    Fatima Shaik's book Economy Hall: The Hidden History of a Free Black Brotherhood (Historic New Orleans Collections, 2021) tells the story of the Sociâetâe d'Economie et d'Assistance Mutuelle, a New Orleans mutual aid society founded by free men of color in 1836. The group was one of the most important multiethnic, intellectual communities in the US South: educators, world-traveling merchants, soldiers, tradesmen, and poets who rejected racism and colorism to fight for suffrage and education rights for all. The author drew on the meeting minutes of the Sociâetâe d'Economie as well as census and civil records, newspapers, and numerous archival sources to write a narrative stretching from the Haitian Revolution through the early jazz age.
    Adam McNeil is a third year Ph.D. in History student at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
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    • 53 min
    Steven Capsuto, "Alternate Channels: Queer Images on 20th-Century TV" (2020)

    Steven Capsuto, "Alternate Channels: Queer Images on 20th-Century TV" (2020)

    Steven Capsuto's book Alternate Channels: Queer Images on 20th-Century TV (2020) explores the fight for lesbian and gay visibility on 20th-century American television, as gay activists faced off with powerful, often vicious "traditional values" crusaders, with TV executives caught in the crossfire.
    It documents countless programs, characters, and political skirmishes, examining lesbian and gay portrayals and the few pioneering depictions of bisexual and trans people.
    The first edition was a semifinalist for what is now the Stonewall Book Award and has been widely used in universities. This revised edition, fact-checked from scratch, reinstates material that the original publisher cut and adds about 100 photos of TV shows from the early days to the year 2000.
    The author built this account of events from archival materials, a thousand broadcast recordings, and his interviews with showrunners, network and studio executives, and early activists.
    Steven Capsuto began researching sexual-minority images on television in 1987 while volunteering with a lesbian and gay crisis hotline. Since 1990, he has given video-illustrated lectures in dozens of cities about televised LGBTQ portrayals. The first edition of his book, Alternate Channels, was a semifinalist for what is now the Stonewall Book Award. From the 1980's to 2000's oversaw the GLBT Library/Archives of Philadelphia (first the library and later the archives). He has served as a historical consultant or researcher on documentaries such as After Stonewall, TV Revolution, and The Question of Equality, and for the 2020 documentary series Visible: Out on Television. 
    John Marszalek III is author of Coming Out of the Magnolia Closet: Same-Sex Couples in Mississippi (2020, University Press of Mississippi). He is clinical faculty of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at Southern New Hampshire University.
    Morris Ardoin is author of Stone Motel: Memoirs of a Cajun Boy. He earned a bachelor’s in journalism from Louisiana State University and a master’s in communication from the University of Louisiana. A public relations practitioner, his work has appeared in regional, national, and international media. He divides his time between New York City and Cornwallville, New York, where he does most of his writing. His blog, Parenthetically Speaking, can be found at www.morrisardoin.com.
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    • 57 min
    Caleb Iyer Elfenbein, "Fear in Our Hearts: What Islamophobia Tells Us about America" (NYU Press, 2021)

    Caleb Iyer Elfenbein, "Fear in Our Hearts: What Islamophobia Tells Us about America" (NYU Press, 2021)

    In Fear In Our Hearts: What Islamophobia Tells Us about America (NYU Press, 2021), Caleb Iyer Elfenbein, Associate Professor at Grinnell College, examines Islamophobia in the United States, positing that rather than simply being an outcome of the 9/11 attacks, anti-Muslim activity grows out of a fear of difference that has always characterized US public life. Elfenbein examines the effects of this fear on American Muslims, as well as describing how it works to shape and distort American society. Drawing on over 1,800 news reports documenting anti-Muslim activity, Elfenbein pinpoints trends, draws connections to the broader histories of immigration, identity, belonging, and citizenship in the US, and examines how Muslim communities have responded. In our conversation we discuss the Mapping Islamophobia digital humanities project, the role of storytelling in synthesizing a large amounts of data, anti-Muslim political rhetoric and activity, the effects of “public hate,” Muslim participation in public life, the role of legislation, hate crimes, Muslim public outreach and engagement, and Muslim politicians.
    Kristian Petersen is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at kpeterse@odu.edu.
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    • 1 hr 3 min

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