100 episodes

Interviews with Historians about their New Books

New Books in History New Books Network

    • Society & Culture
    • 3.9 • 138 Ratings

Interviews with Historians about their New Books

    Anna L. Tsing, "Feral Atlas: The More-than-human Anthropocene" (Stanford UP, 2020)

    Anna L. Tsing, "Feral Atlas: The More-than-human Anthropocene" (Stanford UP, 2020)

    Do you feel lost in the Anthropocene? Would you like a map to chart your way through our changing world? How about an atlas? Well, the Feral Atlas Collective has something that might help you out. In this episode Anna Tsing, an anthropologist from U.C. Santa Cruz, tells us about the Feral Atlas: The More-than-Human Anthropocene. 
    Feral Atlas is one of the most unusual book projects that I have seen or been a part of (it includes my “field report” about colonial era sewer rats in Hanoi). It is a digital book published by Stanford University Press in 2020 and can be accessed for free here. 
    Exploring Feral Atlas is like taking a walk on the wild side as there is no structured or required way to enter into its various conversations. Instead, you are invited to explore at your own risk. There are luminary essays by Sven Beckert, Amitav Ghosh, Gabrielle Hecht, Karen Ho, Simon L. Lewis and Mark A. Maslin, David M. Richardson, and Will Steffen; field reports by dozens of scholars from the humanities and sciences; and art ranging from video to poetry to music. Informative and thought-provoking, alternately humorous and emotionally gut wrenching, and provocative in both form and content, Feral Atlas invites you to go wild.
    Anna Tsing is a professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her numerous books include In the Realm of the Diamond Queen: Marginality in an Out-of-the-Way Place (1993) Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection (2005) and The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (2015). She has received far too many awards to list here but they include Harry J. Benda Prize in Southeast Asian Studies, the Victor Turner Award, and a Guggenheim. The Feral Atlas Collective is composed of: Jennifer Deger: a visual anthropologist, filmmaker, and research leader at James Cook University, as well as the president of the Australian Anthropological Society; Alder Keleman Saxena: an environmental anthropologist at Northern Arizona University who examines the relationships linking agricultural biodiversity to human food cultures; Feifei Zhou: an artist and architect who explores ecological and cultural preservation through architectural interventions; and my guest, Anna Tsing.
    Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford University Press, 2018). When he’s not reading or talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California.
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    • 51 min
    Kathryn Ciancia, "On Civilization's Edge: A Polish Borderland in the Interwar World" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Kathryn Ciancia, "On Civilization's Edge: A Polish Borderland in the Interwar World" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    As a resurgent Poland emerged at the end of World War I, an eclectic group of Polish border guards, state officials, military settlers, teachers, academics, urban planners, and health workers descended upon Volhynia, an eastern borderland province that was home to Ukrainians, Poles, and Jews. Its aim was not simply to shore up state power in a place where Poles constituted an ethnic minority, but also to launch an ambitious civilizing mission that would transform a poor Russian imperial backwater into a region that was at once civilized, modern, and Polish. Over the next two decades, these men and women recast imperial hierarchies of global civilization-in which Poles themselves were often viewed as uncivilized-within the borders of their supposedly anti-imperial nation-state.
    As state institutions remained fragile, long-debated questions of who should be included in the nation re-emerged with new urgency, turning Volhynia's mainly Yiddish-speaking towns and Ukrainian-speaking villages into vital testing grounds for competing Polish national visions. By the eve of World War II, with Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union growing in strength, schemes to ensure the loyalty of Jews and Ukrainians by offering them a conditional place in the nation were replaced by increasingly aggressive calls for Jewish emigration and the assimilation of non-Polish Slavs.
    Drawing on research in local and national archives across four countries and utilizing a vast range of written and visual sources that bring Volhynia to life, On Civilization's Edge: A Polish Borderland in the Interwar World (Oxford UP, 2020) offers a highly intimate story of nation-building from the ground up. We eavesdrop on peasant rumors at the Polish-Soviet border, read ethnographic descriptions of isolated marshlands, and scrutinize staged photographs of everyday life. But the book's central questions transcend the Polish case, inviting us to consider how fears of national weakness and competitions for local power affect the treatment of national minorities, how more inclusive definitions of the nation are themselves based on exclusions, and how the very distinction between empires and nation-states is not always clear-cut.
    Kathryn Ciancia is Associate Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she has taught since 2013. She holds a BA from Oxford University, an MA from University College-London, and a PhD from Stanford University. Her first book, On Civilization's Edge: A Polish Borderland in the Interwar World, has just been published by Oxford University Press. She is now at work on a new book about the role of Poland's global consular network in policing the boundaries of citizenship between the end of the First World War and the beginning of the Cold War.
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    • 1 hr
    Sara J. Brenneis and Gina Herrmann, "Spain, the Second World War, and the Holocaust: History and Representation" (U Toronto Press, 2020)

    Sara J. Brenneis and Gina Herrmann, "Spain, the Second World War, and the Holocaust: History and Representation" (U Toronto Press, 2020)

    Spain has for too long been considered peripheral to the human catastrophes of World War II and the Holocaust. This volume is the first broadly interdisciplinary, scholarly collection to situate Spain in a position of influence in the history and culture of the Second World War. Featuring essays by international experts in the fields of history, literary studies, cultural studies, political science, sociology, and film studies, this book clarifies historical issues within Spain while also demonstrating the impact of Spain's involvement in the Second World War on historical memory of the Holocaust. Many of the contributors have done extensive archival research, bringing new information and perspectives to the table, and in many cases the essays published here analyze primary and secondary material previously unavailable in English. 
    In Spain, World War Two and the Holocaust: History and Representation (University of Toronto Press, 2020), Brenneis and Hermann have performed a valuable service for scholars of the Holocaust, its memory, and of World War Two generally. In particular, their ability to nuance traditional emphases on Spain's (and Spaniard's) role as a rescuer of Jews is important and timely. The book will be required reading for graduate students and others for the foreseeable future.
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    • 1 hr 4 min
    Ian M. Miller, "Fir and Empire: The Transformation of Forests in Early Modern China" (U Washington Press, 2020)

    Ian M. Miller, "Fir and Empire: The Transformation of Forests in Early Modern China" (U Washington Press, 2020)

    Ian M. Miller’s book Fir and Empire: The Transformation of Forests in Early Modern China (University of Washington Press, 2020) offers a transformation of our understanding of China’s early modern environmental history. Using a wide range of archival materials, including tax, deed, and timber market records, Miller presents a picture of China’s forestry regime, something that, while not centralized—as in European states—was highly effective. Though China never adopted a forest bureau system, Miller shows how China managed, through fiscal policies alone, to engender a remarkably productive commerce in timber and other forest products. Revising the narrative of deforestation, this history of China’s distinct form of forest oversight is sure to be a must-read for anyone interested in the history of China, or environmental history more broadly.
    Though this is a sweeping book—beginning in China’s early empires and stretching through the Song, Yuan, and Ming to end in the nineteenth century—it is also filled with a number of much more local case studies. With chapters on forest deeds, fleet construction, and the logging of the last old-growth forests for palace construction, this book not only tells a story that will have wide impacts for the field, but manages to create an intimate look at what China’s forest management system looked like to those trying to operate and profit from it.
    Sarah Bramao-Ramos is a PhD candidate in History and East Asian Languages at Harvard. She works on Manchu language books and is interested in anything with a kesike.
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    • 1 hr 10 min
    James Pickett, "Polymaths of Islam: Power and Networks of Knowledge in Central Asia" (Cornell UP, 2020)

    James Pickett, "Polymaths of Islam: Power and Networks of Knowledge in Central Asia" (Cornell UP, 2020)

    James Pickett's new book, Polymaths of Islam: Power and Networks of Knowledge in Central Asia (Cornell University Press, 2020) analyzes the social and intellectual power of religious leaders who created a shared culture that integrated Central Asia, Iran, and India from the mid-eighteenth century through the early twentieth.
    James Pickett demonstrates that Islamic scholars were simultaneously mystics and administrators, judges and occultists, physicians and poets. This integrated understanding of the world of Islamic scholarship unlocks a different way of thinking about transregional exchange networks. Pickett reveals a Persian-language cultural sphere that transcended state boundaries and integrated a spectacularly vibrant Eurasia that is invisible from published sources alone.
    Through a high-cultural complex that he terms the "Persian cosmopolis" or "Persianate sphere," Pickett argues, an intersection of diverse disciplines shaped geographical trajectories across and between political states. In Polymaths of Islam the author paints a comprehensive, colorful, and often contradictory portrait of mosque and state in the age of empire.
    Nicholas Seay is a PhD student at Ohio State University.
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    • 1 hr 1 min
    Elisa Pulido, "The Spiritual Evolution of Margarito Bautista: Mexican Mormon Evangelizer, Polygamist Dissident, and Utopian Founder, 1878-1961" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Elisa Pulido, "The Spiritual Evolution of Margarito Bautista: Mexican Mormon Evangelizer, Polygamist Dissident, and Utopian Founder, 1878-1961" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    The Spiritual Evolution of Margarito Bautista: Mexican Mormon Evangelizer, Polygamist Dissident, and Utopian Founder, 1878-1961 (Oxford University Press, 2020) provides the first full-length biography of a celebrated Latino Mormon leader in the U.S. and Mexico in the early twentieth century. Surprisingly little is known about Bautista's remarkable life, the scope of his work, or the development of his vision. Elisa Eastwood Pulido draws on his letters, books, pamphlets, and unpublished diaries to provide a lens through which to view the convergence of the evangelization efforts of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mexican nationalism, and religious improvisation in the U.S. Mexico borderlands.
    A successful proselytizer of Mexicans for years, from 1922 onward Bautista came to view the paternalism of the Euro-American leadership of the Church as a barrier to ecclesiastical self-governance by indigenous Latter-day Saints. In 1924, he began his journey away from mainstream Mormonism. By 1946, he had established a completely Mexican-led polygamist utopia in Mexico on the slopes of the volcano Popocateptl, twenty-two kilometers southeast of Mexico City. Here, he preached an alternative Mormonism rooted in Mesoamerican history and culture. Based on his indigenous hermeneutic of Mormon scripture, Bautista proclaimed that the indigenous peoples of the Americas were a chosen race, destined to wrest both political and spiritual authority from the descendants of Euro-American colonists. This book provides an in-depth look at a man still regarded with cultural pride by those Mexican and Mexican American Mormons who remember him as an iconic and revolutionary figure.
    David-James Gonzales (DJ) is Assistant Professor of History at Brigham Young University. He is a historian of migration, urbanization, and social movements in the U.S., and specializes in Latina/o/x politics and social movements. Follow him on Twitter @djgonzoPhD.
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    • 1 hr 1 min

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5
138 Ratings

138 Ratings

Nick Naque ,

Get better interviewers

The books and authors covered in the podcast are ver interesting. But the people conducting the interviews are adequate at best and not infrequently embarrassing.

jrm36 ,

Great job by Jana Byers on Sex and Gender book

I always appreciate the work that the interviewers put into this, knowing that they’re not professionals and they’re not paid, and I don’t expect a professional level of polish. Some of them however are unusually good, confident, engaged interviewers, like this one.

Poochman! ,

SOUND QUALITY IS HORRIFIC

Trying to listen to Alan Taylor's Thomas Jefferson’s Education which sounded fascinating but gave up given the astoundingly poor audio quality. It's 2020. There's absolutely no reason New Books in History can't make the effort to ensure its podcasts are listenable. Such a waste of a great opportunity.

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