The New York Timesfeatures Marvin Sterling's new book Babylon East: Performing Dancehall, Roots Reggae, and Rastafari in Japantoday. Reporter Jonathan L. Fischer notes that, "The Japanese have been making reggae almost as long as Jamaicans have
been exporting it," but that finally artists are singing in Japanese. "Japanese dancehall is becoming more and more Japanese," says Sterling, a professor of anthropology at Indiana University. Dancehall predominates in the Japanese reggae club scene, but, says Sterling, "within reason, anything
This terrific LA Weekly article asks, why are we "sold books the same way we are sold cell phones, as if the latest models
deserve the most attention"? Reviews, interviews, publicity hype is all reserved only for the lastest books. And says, Nathan Ihara, "the book they are hyping probably is not the book you ought to read, not
even the book you would most enjoy reading. That book lies
hidden in the back of the bookstore, or perhaps not even there. It is
10-, 20-, 35-years-old." At Duke Press, our backlist supports us. We always hope each new book is one that will still be selling in a decade. In praise of our backlist, might we suggest three older titles that are currently on our in-house bestsellers list? First is Carla Freeman's High Tech and High Heels: Women, Work, and Pink-Collar Identities in the Caribbean(1999). This ethnography of women working in the informatics industry in Barbados
is a perennial bestseller for us, used in courses all around the country. Our editors often cite it to new authors as a way to write important scholarship that is also engaging to students. Another book currently selling well is The Cuba Reader (2003). Our Latin America and World Readers series offer the student or traveler a way to get an overview of a country's history, politics, and culture through primary documents like songs, paintings, photographs, poems, short stories, speeches, cartoons, government reports, and reportage. All the titles in the two series are
steady backlist seller for us. The third backlist title we offer you today is Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensationby Brian Massumi (2002). Massumi's book was an early title in a the now burgeoning field of affect studies and is a good example of how many of our bestselling books will never see a non-academic review or spend much time on a Barnes and Noble shelf. Instead we are known for cutting-edge theory that may be difficult, but that academics in many fields need to confront. Take some time to browse our other backlist on our website. Unlike a cell phone, a truly excellent book will not become obsolete in just a year or two.
This spring Los Angeles residents may have noticed a number of beautiful and mysterious billboards appearing all around their city. The MAK Center for Art and Architecture sponsored the public art exhibit, called How Many Billboards, which features 21 newly commissioned works by leading contemporary artists. Last month the catalog of the exhbiti was published in book
form. Artists featured in the installation include Yvonne
Rainer, Allan Sekula, and Kenneth Anger and a Duke Press author, Ken Gonzales-Day, who wrote Lynching in the West: 1850–1935 (2006). Gonzales-Day's billboard, featuring the busts of a black man and a white man gazing at each other, is located on Olympic Boulevard, west of Gramercy Place. The MAK Center's website features a video of Gonzales-Day talking about his photography, some of which is included in his first book. Gonzales-Day hopes that his art will help us look at the physical legacies of difficult histories or racism. He sees his billboard as an advertisement for racial equality.
The Chronicle of Higher Educationinterviews Roberto Abadie, author of The Professional Guinea Pig: Big Pharma and the Risky World of Human Subjects. After doing his ethnographic research among people in Philadelphia who participate in Phase I human trials for a living, Abadie has come to some conclusions about our current system for human testing of drugs. He "would like to see Phase 1 volunteers be recognized legally as workers,
bringing them under the umbrella of labor law," writes Chronicle reporter David Glenn. One of Abadie's informants had participated in over 80 drug trials, so "Abadie would also like to see the creation of a national registry of
Phase 1-trial participants. A central database, he says, would prevent
people from participating in too many trials, and might also help
researchers identify long-term adverse effects associated with certain
Artist Pedro Lasch has an exhibit at Goldsmiths College in London this week. Lasch shows paintings inspired by the ten year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, featuring the Twin Towers rebuilt identically in ten sites around the world. The installation is called "Phantom Limbs" and will be on view from today through Monday, July 12.
This fall Duke University Press will be publishing Black Mirror/Espejo Negro, the culmination of a three-part project by Lasch that encompasses a museum installation at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, photographs of the installation, and
this bilingual book. For the installation, Lasch placed black rectangular mirrors on the walls, each with an image of a Spanish Renaissance painting behind it. Pre-Columbian stone and ceramic figures, chosen by Lasch from the museum’s permanent collection of Meso-American art, stood on pedestals facing toward each mirror and away from visitors entering the room. Viewers were drawn into a meditation on colonialism and spectatorship when, on looking into the black mirrors, they saw the pre-Columbian figures, seventeenth and eighteenth-century Spanish priests and conquistadores, themselves, and the contemporary gallery environment.
Wesley Clark pens a rave review of Judith Armatta's Twilight of Impunity: The War Crimes Trial of Slobodan Milosevic in the new issue of The Washington Monthly. Clark, who was Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO during the Kosovo War, calls the book "wonderful and important." He says Armatta "brings a boots-on-the-ground understanding of the Balkans from previous work
in Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. In her observations, she proves
to be an acute student of law, character, strategy, and history." Clark focuses his review on the lasting importance of the trial, which he says "may have been one of the most important international events of a new
century." Both Clark and Armatta believe that if we absorb the lessons of the Milosevic trial, "we will have decisively shattered the notions of sovereign impunity,
even in the ambiguous and deliberately obscure machinations of internal
conflict." Clark concludes, "Every practitioner and student of international relations should read
Miriam Jiménez Román and Juan Flores, co-editors of the new book, The Afro-Latin@
Reader: History and Culture in the United States, were interviewed on WBAI 99.5 FM's "The Jordan Journal" last Friday. The show aired at 5pm on Friday, July 2nd, and a clip from the show can be found here. According to the announcement on The Jordan Journal website, the book "is a must-read for those seeking to understand the dynamics of race and culture in the Americas."
Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist at New York University and the author of the books Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago and Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America’s Media, has been appointed as the new academic editor of our journal Public Culture. Klinenberg will serve a five-year term, ending in June 2015. Public Culture's editorial office will move from Columbia University to the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University in mid-July.