We are pleased to announce that Judith Bennett’s article, “Death and the Maiden,” published last spring in the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies,
has won the Berkshire Conference Article Prize. The prize is awarded to
the “best article in the fields of women, gender, and sexual history
published in 2012 and written by a woman normally residing in North
America.” Read the prize-winning article here: http://ow.ly/mfZUG.
For more on Medieval studies from Duke University Press, take a look at the recent special issue of Pedagogy, “Teaching Medieval Literature off the Grid:” http://ow.ly/mg00c.
We were sad to learn of the death of scholar Martin Bernal this weekend. We were proud to publish Black Athena Writes Backin 2001. Bernal's three-volume Black Athena trilogy produced such debate and rancor that Bernal felt the need to write another book responding to his critics. The book provides additional documentation to back up Bernal's thesis, as well as offering persuasive explanations of why traditional scholarship on the subject remains inaccurate and why specific arguments lobbed against his theories are themselves faulty.
Bernal's editor at Duke University Press was J. Reynolds Smith, who offers these
comments about the book : "Although Black Athena rankled more than a few conservative scholars, at it roots it was for me simply a fuller reading of history that ultimately reflected plain common sense. It also challenged many of the same demons exposed by postcolonial scholarship on other areas of the world and in other disciplines. Martin's views on the colonization of academic thought by western biases had many champions, not the least of whom were a whole new generation of Latin Americanists. Black Athena Writes Back was his patient response to many of the slings and arrows that threatened to distract us from the fundamental justice in his positions."
On Bernal himself, Smith says, "For someone who so inflamed his critics, as a person Martin was always the epitome of the gentleman. Sometimes laconic but never spiteful, and always extremely amusing, he was a completely delightful, wonderful human being."
NPR has been running a series of stories this week and last about violence in Latin America. Their reporters have been to Venezuela, Colombia, and Brazil, reporting on extortion, kidnapping, and police violence. If you'd like to learn more about violence in the region, its roots and causes, we recommend the following books.
In her painful but important new book Cruel Modernity, Jean Franco examines the conditions under which extreme cruelty became the instrument of armies, governments, rebels, and rogue groups in Latin America. She seeks to understand how extreme cruelty came to be practiced in many parts of the continent over the last eighty years and how its causes differ from the conditions that brought about the Holocaust, which is generally the atrocity against which the horror of others is measured.
Violent Democracies in Latin America is a collection edited by Enrique Desmond
Arias and Daniel M. Goldstein. Contributors explore why violence persists in the region despite the establishment of democratic governments. From vigilantism, to human rights violations, to police corruption, violence persists. It is perpetrated by state-sanctioned armies, guerillas, gangs, drug traffickers, and local community groups seeking self-protection. The everyday presence of violence contrasts starkly with governmental efforts to extend civil, political, and legal rights to all citizens, and it is invoked as evidence of the failure of Latin American countries to achieve true democracy. The contributors to this collection take the more nuanced view that violence is not a social aberration or the result of institutional failure; instead, it is intimately linked to the institutions and policies of economic liberalization and democratization.
We have several books about violence in Guatemala. In Adiós Niño: The Gangs of
Guatemala City and the Politics of Death, Deborah T. Levenson examines how the Guatemalan gangs that emerged from the country's strong populist movement in the 1980s had become perpetrators of nihilist violence by the early 2000s. In Reckoning: The Ends of War in Guatemala, Diane M. Nelson looks at how Guatemalans are reckoning with the aftermath of a civil war that left fundamental assumptions about selves and others in tatters when it officially ended in 1996. And in her forthcoming book Paper Cadavers: The Archives of Dictatorship in Guatemala, Kristen Weld uses poignant, intimate oral history interviews and on-the-ground participant observation to take readers inside the complex process by which “terror archives” are found, grappled with, and put to use.
We have several other titles that, like Paper Cadavers, deal with the aftermath of violence in Latin America: how people remember and memorialize genocide and other state violence. Accounting for Violence:Marketing Memory in Latin America, offers bold new perspectives on the politics of memory in Latin America. Scholars from across the humanities and social sciences provide in-depth analyses of the political economy of memory in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay. It is edited by Ksenija Bilbija and Leigh A. Payne. In Unsettling Accounts: Neither Truth nor Reconciliation in Confessions of State Violence Leigh A. Payne argues that rather than reconcile past violence, truth commissions actually catalyze contentious debate. She argues that this debate—and the public confessions that trigger it—are healthy for democratic processes of political participation, freedom of expression, and the contestation of political ideas. Steve J. Stern looks at memory and reconcilation in Chile in his book Reckoning with Pinochet: The Memory Question in Democratic Chile, 1989–2006. Stern’s analysis integrates policymaking by elites, grassroots efforts by human rights victims and activists, and inside accounts of the truth commissions and courts where top-down and bottom-up initiatives met.