New Books by Faculty
Born in New Delhi in 1961 in a family of civil servants and intellectuals – his father was an influential specialist of strategic studies and defence – Sanjay Subrahmanyam received his university degrees there, first teaching economics before becoming well known for his work on the history of India between the 16th and the 18th centuries. It was from an Indian point of departure that he went on to the develop, in Europe and the US, an “early modern global history” – the title of his Chair at the Collège de France – of which he remains the most brilliant representative. In this book, Subrahmanyam brings together some twenty essays written between 1995 and 2012, intended for a larger public and not merely specialists. In these popular essays, one sees the historian as an observer of political and cultural life, always concerned not to propose a “universal” approach but to produce a multipolar set of perceptions. The reader is taken from the past to the present and back, whether in a discussion of France and its regions, or Salman Rushdie, or V.S. Naipaul. Alma has already published two of Subrahmanyam’s major books: Vasco de Gama (2012) et Comment être un étranger (2013). Sanjay Subrahmanyam has just published Leçons Indiennes: Itinéraires d'un historien, Delhi, Lisbonne, Paris, Los Angeles (Paris: Alma, 2015)
Leading historian Lynn Hunt rethinks why history matters in today’s global world and how it should be written. George Orwell wrote that “history is written by the winners.” Even if that seems a bit too cut-and-dried, we can say that history is always written from a viewpoint but that viewpoints change, sometimes radically. The history of workers, women, and minorities challenged the once-unquestioned dominance of the tales of great leaders and military victories. Then, cultural studies—including feminism and queer studies—brought fresh perspectives, but those too have run their course. Lynn Hunt has just published Writing History in the Global Era. (W.W. Norton & Company, 2014)
With globalization emerging as a major economic, cultural, and political force, Lynn Hunt examines whether it can reinvigorate the telling of history. She hopes that scholars from East and West can collaborate in new ways and write wider-ranging works. At the same time, Hunt argues that we could better understand the effects of globalization in the past if we knew more about how individuals felt about the changes they were experiencing. She proposes a sweeping reevaluation of individuals’ active role and their place in society as the keys to understanding the way people and ideas interact. She also reveals how surprising new perspectives on society and the self—from environmental history, the history of human-animal interactions, and even neuroscience—offer promising new ways of thinking about the meaning and purpose of history in our time.
Sephardi Lives offer readers an intimate view of how Sephardim experienced the major regional and world events of the modern era—natural disasters, violence and wars, the transition from empire to nation-states, and the Holocaust. This collection also provides a vivid exploration of the day-to-day lives of Sephardi women, men, boys, and girls in the Judeo-Spanish heartland of the Ottoman Balkans and Middle East, as well as the émigré centers Sephardim settled throughout the twentieth century, including North and South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. The selections are of a vast range, including private letters from family collections, rabbinical writings, documents of state, memoirs and diaries, court records, selections from the popular press, and scholarship.
Peter Baldwin explains why the copyright wars have always been driven by a fundamental tension. Should copyright assure authors and rights holders lasting claims, much like conventional property rights, as in Continental Europe? Or should copyright be primarily concerned with giving consumers cheap and easy access to a shared culture, as in Britain and America? The Copyright Wars describes how the Continental approach triumphed, dramatically increasing the claims of rights holders. The book also tells the widely forgotten story of how America went from being a leading copyright opponent and pirate in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to become the world’s intellectual property policeman in the late twentieth. As it became a net cultural exporter and its content industries saw their advantage in the Continental ideology of strong authors’ rights, the United States reversed position on copyright, weakening its commitment to the ideal of universal enlightenment—a history that reveals that today’s open-access advocates are heirs of a venerable American tradition.
Drawing on materials from thirty archives across six countries, Stein tells the story of colonial imposition on a desert community that had lived and traveled in the Sahara for centuries. She paints an intriguing historical picture—of an ancient community, trans-Saharan commerce, desert labor camps during World War II, anthropologist spies, battles over oil, and the struggle for Algerian sovereignty. Writing colonialism and decolonization into Jewish history and Jews into the French Saharan one, Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria is a fascinating exploration not of Jewish exceptionalism but of colonial power and its religious and cultural differentiations, which have indelibly shaped the modern world.
Hirano uncovers a logic of politics within Edo’s cultural works that was extremely potent in exposing contradictions between the formal structure of the Tokugawa world and its rapidly changing realities. He goes on to look at the effects of this logic, examining policies enacted during the next era—the Meiji period—that mark a drastic reconfiguration of power and a new politics toward ordinary people under modernizing Japan. Deftly navigating Japan’s history and culture, The Politics of Dialogic Imagination provides a sophisticated account of a country in the process of radical transformation—and of the intensely creative culture that came out of it.
The Indian Ocean remains the least studied of the world's geographic regions. Yet there have been major cultural exchanges across its waters and around its shores from the third millennium B.C.E. to the present day. Historian Edward A. Alpers explores the complex issues involved in cultural exchange in the Indian Ocean Rim region over the course of this long period of time by combining a historical approach with the insights of anthropology, art history, ethnomusicology, and geography.
The Indian Ocean witnessed several significant diasporas during the past two millennia, including migrations of traders, indentured laborers, civil servants, sailors, and slaves throughout the entire basin. Persians and Arabs from the Gulf came to eastern Africa and Madagascar as traders and settlers, while Hadramis dispersed from south Yemen as traders and Muslim teachers to the Comoro Islands, Zanzibar, South India, and Indonesia. Southeast Asians migrated to Madagascar, and Chinese dispersed from Southeast Asia to the Mascarene Islands to South Africa.
Alpers also explores the cultural exchanges that diasporas cause, telling stories of identity and cultural transformation through language, popular religion, music, dance, art and architecture, and social organization. For example, architectural and decorative styles in eastern Africa, the Red Sea, the Hadramaut, the Persian Gulf, and western India reflect cultural interchanges in multiple directions. Similarly, the popular musical form of taarab in Zanzibar and coastal East Africa incorporates elements of Arab, Indian, and African musical traditions, while the characteristic frame drum (ravanne) of séga, the widespread Afro-Creole dance of the Mascarene and Seychelles Islands, probably owes its ultimate origins to Arabia by way of Mozambique.
The Indian Ocean in World History also discusses issues of trade and production that show the long history of exchange throughout the Indian Ocean world; politics and empire-building by both regional and European powers; and the role of religion and religious conversion, focusing mainly on Islam, but also mentioning Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity. Using a broad geographic perspective, the book includes references to connections between the Indian Ocean world and the Americas. Moving into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Alpers looks at issues including the new configuration of colonial territorial boundaries after World War I, and the search for oil reserves.
An engrossing history of the voyages of exploration that ignited curiosity about nature and gave birth to modern science.
When Columbus first returned to Spain from the Caribbean, he dazzled King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella with exotic parrots, tropical flowers, and bits of gold. Inspired by the promise of riches, countless seafarers poured out of the Iberian Peninsula and wider Europe in search of spices, treasure, and land. Many returned with strange tales of the New World.
Curiosity began to percolate through Europe as the New World’s people, animals, and plants ruptured prior assumptions about the biblical description of creation. The Church, long fearful of challenges to its authority, could no longer suppress the mantra “Dare to know!”
Noblemen began collecting cabinets of curiosities; soon others went from collecting to examining natural objects with fresh eyes. Observation led to experiments; competing conclusions triggered debates. The foundations for the natural sciences were laid as questions became more multifaceted and answers became more complex. Carl Linneaus developed a classification system and sent students around the globe looking for specimens. Museums, botanical gardens, and philosophical societies turned their attention to nature. National governments undertook explorations of the Pacific.
Historian Joyce Appleby vividly recounts the explorers’ triumphs and mishaps, including Magellan’s violent death in the Philippines; the miserable trek of the “new Argonauts” across the Andes on their mission to determine the true shape of the earth; and how two brilliant scientists, Alexander Humboldt and Charles Darwin, traveled to the Americas for evidence to confirm their hypotheses about the earth and its inhabitants. Drawing on detailed eyewitness accounts, Appleby also tells of the turmoil created in the all societies touched by the explorations.
This sweeping, global story imbues the Age of Discovery with fresh meaning, elegantly charting its stimulation of the natural sciences, which ultimately propelled Western Europe toward modernity.
In old Russia, patron/client relations, "clan" politics, and a variety of other informal practices spanned the centuries. Government was understood to be patrimonial and personal rather than legal, and office holding was far less important than proximity to patrons. Working from heretofore unused documents from the Communist archives, J. Arch Getty shows how these political practices and traditions from old Russia have persisted throughout the twentieth-century Soviet Union and down to the present day.
Getty examines a number of case studies of political practices in the Stalin era and after. These include cults of personality, the transformation of Old Bolsheviks into noble grandees, the Communist Party's personnel selection system, and the rise of political clans ("family circles") after the 1917 Revolutions. Stalin's conflicts with these clans, and his eventual destruction of them, were key elements of the Great Purges of the 1930s. But although Stalin could destroy the competing clans, he could not destroy the historically embedded patron-client relationship, as a final chapter on political practice under Putin shows.
The city of modern India is a web of identities, interests, and institutions. Perhaps the city everywhere gives the impression of being unfinished, as people come and go, talking of this and that, but in India the sense of a place on the make is overwhelming. Our colonial cities—Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras—helped redefine our very understanding of Indian culture; the villagers trooping into the city have further reshaped it in their image.
For all the beauty a city may hold, its character flows more from its street life and the intricate patterning of social networks. Some people claim the city as their own, and live as if they own it; some disown the city, and yet others are disowned by it. Violence appears to be present at every corner, and yet the city is the nexus of art, culture, and conviviality. The city is always full of surprises, having multiple selves, varying by day and by night. Together with its companion volume, The City in its Plenitude, this anthology— a collection of writings from across the genres of poetry, short stories, essays, and social commentaries drawn from English as well as the rich literature in Indian languages—is a tribute to the modern Indian city.
Banaras, Bangalore, Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, Lucknow . . . cities all, sharing certain characteristics, and yet so unlike each other. Cities are like the people they hold—loved and unloved, likely to attract some and repel others. Each has a character of its own: some are laidback, others more vibrant; a few have witnessed and endured a lot, others appear to have had a relatively mundane existence.
The city has a long history in India—from the urban civilization of the Indus Valley in 2500 bce to the megalopolis found in contemporary India. Taking the reader through an alluring maze of streets, lanes, memories, and much more, the writings in this volume allow her to gaze at the mosaic and imaginary of the city, look back at the city in colonial India, and reflect on the city and its streets as a work of architecture. Together with its companion volume, Making and Unmaking the City: Politics, Culture, and Life Forms, this collection pays tribute to the modern Indian city.
Helicopters thwopped low over the city, filming blocks of burning cars and buildings, mobs breaking into storefronts, and the vicious beating of truck driver Reginald Denny. For a week in April 1992, Los Angeles transformed into a cityscape of rage, purportedly due to the exoneration of four policemen who had beaten Rodney King. It should be no surprise that such intense anger erupted from something deeper than a single incident.
In The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins, Brenda Stevenson tells the dramatic story of an earlier trial, a turning point on the road to the 1992 riot. On March 16, 1991, fifteen-year-old Latasha Harlins, an African American who lived locally, entered the Empire Liquor Market at 9172 South Figueroa Street in South Central Los Angeles. Behind the counter was a Korean woman named Soon Ja Du. Latasha walked to the refrigerator cases in the back, took a bottle of orange juice, put it in her backpack, and approached the cash register with two dollar bills in her hand-the price of the juice. Moments later she was face-down on the floor with a bullet hole in the back of her head, shot dead by Du. Joyce Karlin, a Jewish Superior Court judge appointed by Republican Governor Pete Wilson, presided over the resulting manslaughter trial. A jury convicted Du, but Karlin sentenced her only to probation, community service, and a $500 fine. The author meticulously reconstructs these events and their aftermath, showing how they set the stage for the explosion in 1992.
An accomplished historian at UCLA, Stevenson explores the lives of each of these three women-Harlins, Du, and Karlin-and their very different worlds in rich detail. Through the three women, she not only reveals the human reality and social repercussions of this triangular collision, she also provides a deep history of immigration, ethnicity, and gender in modern America. Massively researched, deftly written, The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins will reshape our understanding of race, ethnicity, gender, and-above all-justice in modern America.
Published by Oxford University Press: http://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-contested-murder-of-latasha-harlins-9780199944576
Professor Saul Friedlander’s stimulating book investigates some of the sources of Franz Kafka’s personal anguish and its complex reflections in his imaginary world. In his query, Saul Friedländer probes major aspects of Kafka’s life (family, Judaism, love and sex, writing, illness, and despair) that until now have been skewed by posthumous censorship. Contrary to Kafka’s dying request that all his papers be burned, Max Brod, Kafka’s closest friend and literary executor, edited and published the author’s novels and other works soon after his death in 1924. Friedländer shows that, when reinserted in Kafka’s letters and diaries, deleted segments lift the mask of “sainthood” frequently attached to the writer and thus restore previously hidden aspects of his individuality.
Published by Yale University press: http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=9780300136616
Sanjay Subrahmanyam has just published Is Indian Civilization a Myth: Fictions and Histories? (Ranikhet: Permanent Black, 2013).
In the title essay of this enthralling collection, Sanjay Subrahmanyam sets a provocative ball rolling: At the heart of the matter , he says, is the notion that at some distant point in the past, say about AD 500, the concept of Indian civilization had already been perfected. Everything of any importance was in place: social structure, philosophy, the major literary works ... The central idea here is of India-as-civilization, and it very soon becomes the same as a notion of closed India. Demolishing some of the myths which sustain the notion of the wonder that was India , he shows us a region that was always more a crossroads, a rendezvous for concepts, cultures, and worldviews. Subrahmanyam s book is itself a meeting point for a dazzling variety of ideas. It provides the cosmopolitan perspective of a multilingual world scholar who, having begun life in New Delhi, has gone on to live in several thought-provoking cities, including Paris, Lisbon, and Oxford. He is witty, debunking, iconoclastic, and polemically entertaining in all that he anatomizes here Indian history and fiction, South Asian cultural forms, imperialism and imperialists, secularism and Hindu nationalism, travel writing, and the central conceits in Hemingway, Rushdie, Naipaul, and Marquez.
William Marotti has just published Money, Trains, and Guillotines: Art and Revolution in 1960s Japan (Duke University Press, 2013)
During the 1960s a group of young artists in Japan challenged official forms of politics and daily life through interventionist art practices. William Marotti situates this phenomenon in the historical and political contexts of Japan after the Second World War and the international activism of the 1960s. The Japanese government renewed its Cold War partnership with the United States in 1960, defeating protests against a new security treaty through parliamentary action and the use of riot police. Afterward, the government promoted a depoliticized everyday world of high growth and consumption, creating a sanitized national image to present in the Tokyo Olympics of 1964. Artists were first to challenge this new political mythology. Marotti examines their political art, and the state's aggressive response to it. He reveals the challenge mounted in projects such as Akasegawa Genpei's 1,000-yen prints, a group performance on the busy Yamanote train line, and a plan for a giant guillotine in the Imperial Plaza. Focusing on the annual Yomiuri Indépendant exhibition, he demonstrates how artists came together in a playful but powerful critical art, triggering judicial and police response. Money, Trains, and Guillotines expands our understanding of the role of art in the international 1960s, and of the dynamics of art and policing in Japan.
Ivan Berend has just published An Economic History of Nineteenth-Century Europe (Cambridge, 2013)
Why did some countries and regions of Europe reach high levels of economic advancement in the nineteenth century, while others were left behind? This new transnational survey of the continent's economic development highlights the role of regional differences in shaping each country's economic path and outcome. Presenting a clear and cogent explanation of the historical causes of advancement and backwardness, Ivan Berend integrates social, political, institutional and cultural factors as well as engaging in debates about the relative roles of knowledge, the state and institutions. Featuring boxed essays on key personalities including Adam Smith, Friedrich List, Gustave Eiffel and the Krupp family, as well as brief histories of innovations such as the steam engine, vaccinations and the co-operative system, the book helps to explain the theories and macro-economic trends that dominated the century and their impact on the subsequent development of the European economy right up to the present day.