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Sep 24, 2020
Alison Games, "Inventing the English Massacre: Amboyna in History and Memory" (Oxford UP, 2020September 24, 2020
My Lai, Wounded Knee, Sandy Hook: the place names evoke grief and horror, each the site of a massacre. Massacres-the mass slaughter of people-might seem as old as time, but the word itself is not. It worked its way into the English language in the late sixteenth century, and ultimately came to signify a specific type of death, one characterized by cruelty, intimacy, and treachery. How that happened is the story of yet another place, Amboyna, an island in the Indonesian archipelago where English...
Sep 23, 2020
Annelien de Dijn, "Freedom: An Unruly History" (Harvard UP, 2020)September 23, 2020
We tend to think of freedom as something that is best protected by carefully circumscribing the boundaries of legitimate state activity. But who came up with this understanding of freedom, and for what purposes? In a reappraisal of more than two thousand years of thinking about freedom in the West, Annelien de Dijn argues in her Freedom: An Unruly History (Harvard University Press) that we owe our view of freedom not to the liberty lovers of the Age of Revolution but to the enemies of...
Sep 21, 2020
Durba Mitra, "Indian Sex Life: Sexuality and the Colonial Origins of Modern Social Thought" (Princeton UP, 2020)September 21, 2020
During the colonial period in India, European scholars, British officials, and elite Indian intellectuals—philologists, administrators, doctors, ethnologists, sociologists, and social critics—deployed ideas about sexuality to understand modern Indian society. In Indian Sex Life: Sexuality and the Colonial Origins of Modern Social Thought (Princeton UP, 2020), Durba Mitra shows how deviant female sexuality, particularly the concept of the prostitute, became foundational to this knowledge...
Sep 18, 2020
Aaron Koller, "Unbinding Isaac: The Significance of the Akedah for Modern Jewish Thought" (Jewish Publication Society, 2020)September 18, 2020
In Unbinding Isaac: The Significance of the Akedah for Modern Jewish Thought (Jewish Publication Society, 2020), Aaron Koller, professor of Near Eastern and Jewish Studies at Yeshiva University, provides a compelling contemporary perspective on one of the Bible's most famous and difficult texts, the Akedah, the Binding of Isaac. By plumbing the depths of commentaries both ancient and modern, Koller breaks new scholarly ground and reaches convincing ethical conclusions derived from a close...
Sep 18, 2020
Jonathan Robinson, "Rights at the Margins: Historical, Legal and Philosophical Perspectives" (Brill, 2020)September 18, 2020
The essays in Rights at the Margins: Historical, Legal and Philosophical Perspectives (Brill) explore the ways rights were available to those in the margins of society. By tracing pivotal judicial concepts such as ‘right of necessity’ and ‘subjective rights’ back to their medieval versions, and by situating them in unexpected contexts such as the Franciscans’ theory of poverty and colonization or today’s immigration and border control, this volume invites its readers to consider...
Sep 16, 2020
Teresa A. Goddu, "Selling Antislavery: Abolition and Mass Media in Antebellum America" (U Pennsylvania Press, 2020)September 16, 2020
Selling Antislavery: Abolition and Mass Media in Antebellum America (University of Pennsylvania Press) is a richly illustrated history of the American Anti-Slavery Society and its print, material, and visual artifacts. Beginning with its establishment in the early 1830s, the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS) recognized the need to reach and consolidate a diverse and increasingly segmented audience. To do so, it produced a wide array of print, material, and visual media: almanacs and slave...
Sep 16, 2020
Patrick Ffrench, "Roland Barthes and Film: Myth, Eroticism and Poetics" (Bloomsbury, 2019)September 16, 2020
Roland Barthes and Film: Myth, Eroticism and Poetics (Bloomsbury) is a book by Patrick Ffrench, Professor of French at Kings College. It is a comprehensively researched and finely argued book that traces Barthes engagement with questions of cinema from early research pre-dating the publication of Mythologies to his last work, Camera Lucida, along the way responding in depth to those who have explicitly commented on Barthes musings on film and those who have been inspired by them in their own...
Sep 15, 2020
Malcolm Keating, "Controversial Reasoning in Indian Philosophy: Major Texts and Arguments on Arthâpatti" (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020)September 15, 2020
How do we know what we know? The most prominent means of knowledge for Indian philosophers are direct perception (pratyakṣa), inference (anumāna) and authority (śabda). Then there is the much debated “postulation” (arthāpatti), a point of controversy among Mimamsa, Nyaya, and Buddhist philosophers. Consisting of translations of central primary texts and newly-commissioned scholarly essays, Controversial Reasoning in Indian Philosophy: Major Texts and Arguments on...
Sep 11, 2020
Pernille Røge, "Economistes and the Reinvention of Empire: France in the Americas and Africa c. 1750-1802" (Cambridge UP, 2019)September 11, 2020
In her new book, Economistes and the Reinvention of Empire: France in the Americas and Africa, c. 1750-1802 (Cambridge UP, 2020), Dr. Pernille Røge charts the confluence and reciprocal impacts of ideas and policies espoused by political economists, colonial administrators, planters, and entrepreneurs to reform the French empire in the second half of the eighteenth century. Due to this diffusion of observations and ideas, French economic philosophers who called themselves “economistes” and...
Sep 10, 2020
Hettie V. Williams, "Bury My Heart in a Free Land: Black Women Intellectuals in Modern U.S. History" (Praeger, 2018)September 10, 2020
Black women intellectuals have traditionally been overlooked in the academic study of American intellectual history. Bury My Heart in a Free Land: Black Women Intellectuals in Modern U.S. History (Praeger) highlights the important contributions of both well- and lesser-known abolitionists, civil rights activists, preachers, writers, and artists to all spheres of American life and culture, arguing that Black women and their ideas were central to some of the most important social and political...