Research Brief: Books, books and more books

This week’s research brief highlights several new (and new-ish) books for your scholarly reading list.

Research in the Dictionary

 

 

Morris, Scholar Denied, book cover

Description: In this groundbreaking book, Aldon D. Morris’s ambition is truly monumental: to help rewrite the history of sociology and to acknowledge the primacy of W. E. B. Du Bois’s work in the founding of the discipline. Taking on the prevailing narrative of how sociology developed, Morris, a major scholar of African American social movements, probes the way in which the history of the discipline has been written, giving credit to Robert E. Park at the University of Chicago, who worked with the conservative black leader Booker T. Washington to render Du Bois invisible. Uncovering the seminal theoretical work of Du Bois in developing a “scientific” sociology through a variety of methodologies, Morris examines how the leading scholars of the day disparaged and ignored Du Bois’s work. The Scholar Denied is based on extensive, rigorous primary source research; the book is the result of a decade of research, writing, and revision. In uncovering the economic and political factors that marginalized the contributions of Du Bois, enabling Park to be recognized as the “father” of the discipline, Morris delivers a wholly new narrative of American intellectual and social history that places one of America’s key intellectuals, W. E. B. Du Bois, at its center. The Scholar Denied is a must-read for everyone interested in American history, racial inequality, and the academy. In challenging our understanding of the past, the book promises to engender debate and discussion.  The first chapter is available open access here.

Moraga Anzaldua Book cover

 

Description: Originally released in 1981, This Bridge Called My Back is a testimony to women of color feminism as it emerged in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Through personal essays, criticism, interviews, testimonials, poetry, and visual art, the collection explores, as coeditor Cherríe Moraga writes, “the complex confluence of identities—race, class, gender, and sexuality—systemic to women of color oppression and liberation.” Reissued here, nearly thirty-five years after its inception, the fourth edition contains an extensive new introduction by Moraga, along with a previously unpublished statement by Gloria Anzaldúa. The new edition also includes visual artists whose work was produced during the same period as Bridge, including Betye Saar, Ana Mendieta, and Yolanda López, as well as current contributor biographies. Bridge continues to reflect an evolving definition of feminism, one that can effectively adapt to, and help inform an understanding of the changing economic and social conditions of women of color in the United States and throughout the world.

Lentin_Titley_Bookcover

Description: Across the West, something called multiculturalism is in crisis. Regarded as the failed experiment of liberal elites, commentators and politicians compete to denounce its corrosive legacies; parallel communities threatening social cohesion, enemies within cultivated by irresponsible cultural relativism, mediaeval practices subverting national ‘ways of life’ and universal values. This important new book challenges this familiar narrative of the rise and fall of multiculturalism by challenging the existence of a coherent era of ‘multiculturalism’ in the first place. The authors argue that what we are witnessing is not so much a rejection of multiculturalism as a projection of neoliberal anxieties onto the social realities of lived multiculture. Nested in an established post-racial consensus, new forms of racism draw powerfully on liberalism and questions of ‘values’, and unsettle received ideas about racism and the ‘far right’ in Europe. In combining theory with a reading of recent controversies concerning headscarves, cartoons, minarets and burkas, Lentin and Titley trace a transnational crisis that travels and is made to travel, and where rejecting multiculturalism is central to laundering increasingly acceptable forms of racism.

Mulder_Bookcover

 

Description: Since World War II, historians have analyzed a phenomenon of “white flight” plaguing the urban areas of the northern United States. One of the most interesting cases of “white flight” occurred in the Chicago neighborhoods of Englewood and Roseland, where seven entire church congregations from one denomination, the Christian Reformed Church, left the city in the 1960s and 1970s and relocated their churches to nearby suburbs. In Shades of White Flight, sociologist Mark T. Mulder investigates the migration of these Chicago church members, revealing how these churches not only failed to inhibit white flight, but actually facilitated the congregations’ departure. Using a wealth of both archival and interview data, Mulder sheds light on the forces that shaped these midwestern neighborhoods and shows that, surprisingly, evangelical religion fostered both segregation as well as the decline of urban stability. Indeed, the Roseland and Englewood stories show how religion—often used to foster community and social connectedness—can sometimes help to disintegrate neighborhoods. Mulder describes how the Dutch CRC formed an insular social circle that focused on the local church and Christian school—instead of the local park or square or market—as the center point of the community. Rather than embrace the larger community, the CRC subculture sheltered themselves and their families within these two places. Thus it became relatively easy—when black families moved into the neighborhood—to sell the church and school and relocate in the suburbs. This is especially true because, in these congregations, authority rested at the local church level and in fact they owned the buildings themselves. Revealing how a dominant form of evangelical church polity—congregationalism—functioned within the larger phenomenon of white flight, Shades of White Flight lends new insights into the role of religion and how it can affect social change, not always for the better.

Happy reading!

Want to see your favorite sociology book here (including your own)? Drop us a note using the contact form and we’ll include it in an upcoming research brief. 

Book Event Quarterly

We’re beginning a new quarterly feature here, “Book Event Quarterly.”  The idea is that once each quarter (about every three months), we’ll spend some time in a post to highlight new, important and promising books that deal with the topics of race and racism.   The emphasis in this series will be on scholarly books that are based on empirical evidence.   Of course, there are often books written by journalists (Jonathan Kozol’s work comes to mind) that may get included as well.   For now, here are a few titles to consider for your summer reading list (in more or less random order):

  • Black Feminist Politics from Kennedy to Clinton, by Duchess Harris,(PhD, Associate Professor of American Studies at Macalester College). New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. 208 pages. Harris offers an analysis of Black women’s involvement in American political life, focusing on what they did to gain political power between 1961 and 2001, and why, in many cases, they did not succeed. Harris demonstrates that Black women have tried to gain centrality through their participation in Presidential Commissions, Black feminist organizations, theatrical productions, film adaptations of literature, beauty pageants, electoral politics, and Presidential appointments. Harris contends that ‘success’ in this area means that the feminist-identified Black women in the Congressional Black Caucus who voted against Clarence Thomas’s appointment would have spoken on behalf of Anita Hill; Senator Carol Moseley Braun would have won re-election; Lani Gunier would have had a hearing; Dr. Joycelyn Elders would have maintained her post; and Congresswoman Barbara Lee wouldn’t have stood alone in her opposition to the Iraq war resolution.  Her book was just released yesterday, and Prof. Harris has a post about it at her blog, SisterScholar.
  • Between Barack and a Hard Place: White Denial and Racism in the Age of Obama, by Tim Wise (antiracist writer and educator).  San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2009.  120 pages.  According to Wise, for many white people, Obama’s rise signifies the end of racism as a pervasive social force; they point to Obama not only as a validation of the American ideology that anyone can make it if they work hard, but also as an example of how institutional barriers against people of color have all but vanished. But is this true? And does a reinforced white belief in color-blind meritocracy potentially make it harder to address ongoing institutional racism? After all, in housing, employment, the justice system, and education, the evidence is clear: white privilege and discrimination against people of color are still operative and actively thwarting opportunities, despite the success of individuals like Obama.
  • The White Racial Frame: Centuries of Racial-Framing and Counter-Framing by Joe R. Feagin. New York: Routledge, 2009. 264 pages.  Here, Feagin explores the ‘white racial frame, now four centuries-old, which encompasses not only the stereotyping, bigotry, and racist ideology accented in other theories of “race,” but also the visual images, array of emotions, sounds of language, interlinking interpretations, and inclinations to discriminate that are still central to the frame’s everyday operation and remain deeply imbedded in American minds and institutions.
  • Doing Business with Beauty: Black Women, Hair Salons, and the Racial Enclave Economy ‎by Adia Harvey Wingfield, 2008.  Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. 155 pages.      Using in-depth interviews with hair salon owners, Doing Business with Beauty explores several facets of the business of owning a hair salon, including the process of becoming an owner, the dynamics of the owner-employee relationship, and the factors that steer black women to work in the hair industry. Harvey Wingfield examines the black female business owner’s struggle for autonomy and success in entrepreneurship.
  • Fade to Black and White: Interracial Images in Popular Culture by Erica Chito Childs, 2009.   232 pages.  Childs considers the context of social messages, conveyed by the media, that inform how we think about love across the color line. Examining a range of media–from movies to music to the web–this book offers an informative and provocative account of how the perception of interracial sexuality as deviant has been transformed in the course of the 20th century and how race relations are understood today.
  • Black Bodies, White Gazes: The Continuing Significance of Race, by George Yancy. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlfield, 2008. 265 pages.  Explores Black embodiment within white hegemony and the context of a racist, anti-Black world. Yancy demonstrates that the Black body is a historically lived text on which whites have inscribed their projections which speak equally forcefully to whites’ own self-conceptualizations.
  • Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet, by Lisa Nakamura.  Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008. 248 pages.  I’ve made mention of my new book, Cyber Racism here before, so I won’t belabor the point.  I did want to mention Lisa Nakamura’s book as sort of the “other side” of the race and Internet question for those who might be interested in the ways that people of color are using web technologies.  In this book, Nakamura uses case studies of popular yet rarely examined uses of the Internet such as pregnancy Web sites, instant messaging, and online petitions and quizzes to look at the emergence of race-, ethnic-, and gender-identified visual cultures.  This leading scholar of race and the Internet is at her best when discussing the experiences of Asian Americans.  This is a must-read for anyone interested in both ‘race’ and new media.

Happy reading! 🙂