What Would Bertha Lutz Say? Making Sense of the United Nations Secretary-General Election

October 24 is United Nations (UN) Day. In this guest post, Sylvanna Falcón—author of Power Interrupted: Antiracist and Feminist Activism inside the United Nations—weighs in on the recent election of António Guterres to Secretary-General-Designate of the UN.

Struggles over representation, power, and voice occurred during the first United Nations (UN) conference in 1945 where delegates discussed the structure of this new multilateral institution, including the formation of the Security Council and the drafting of the UN Charter. The struggle over representation at the UN is further complicated by geopolitical dynamics in which certain countries of the world are disproportionately empowered at the UN and tend to stifle the voices of those who are less powerfully positioned. Today, these geopolitical dynamics remain reflected in the Security Council, which wielded its formidable influence regarding the recent election of the next Secretary-General—Portugal’s former prime minister, António Guterres—through secret straw polls. With its current configuration of 15 members, including only one woman (US Ambassador Samantha Power), the Security Council forwarded its recommendation to the General Assembly for a full vote that occurred within a matter of days earlier this month.

Bertha Lutz, the Brazilian delegate to the 1945 UN conference, remarked at the time, “The men like to hear themselves very much.” As one of four women to sign the UN Charter (out of 160 signatories), Lutz was a feminist associated with the Brazilian suffragist movement. She became frustrated with the men from the conference, whom she described as amicable but determined to create an international organization in which women would not play any central role. It would be fitting to ask ourselves in Lutz’s honor why “the men like to hear themselves very much” and about the evaluation criteria the Security Council referenced for their endorsement of Guterres.

The representation of women in high level positions at the UN has been too infrequent. The late Dame Margaret Anstee of Britain, who dedicated her life to the UN, reached the highest level appointment ever occupied by a woman in 1987, when she was named Under Secretary-General. Importantly, seven out of thirteen candidates for the UNSG position were women, indicating that at least the applicant pool had some gender balance to it, but it completely lacked any semblance of equity in terms of regional representation (for example, no applicant came from the African region). While that outcome is disappointing, it is not surprising given the UN has been troubled by problems of representation since its founding.

Mr. Guterres is by all accounts an established and respected diplomat. Having formerly served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, he expressed a commitment to gender equality and gender parity in his vision statement, which I believe is at least promising. He wrote, “The UN must be at the forefront of the global movement towards gender equality, an inalienable and indivisible feature of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.” Perhaps he should look closely at the work of feminist activists who understand that gender equality and parity can only be achieved with a simultaneous commitment to combating global racism.

Sylvanna M. Falcón is author of Power Interrupted and an associate professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She will be awarded the 2016 Gloria E. Anzaldúa book prize given by the National Women’s Studies Association at the 2016 NWSA annual conference in Montréal, Canada, in November.

Understanding the Redwood Wars: An Environmental History Lesson

Very few conservation battles have endured longer—from the 1970s until the first decade of the twenty-first century—or with more violence than the fight over logging on the North Coast of California, behind the Redwood Curtain. In his new book, Defending Giants: The Redwood Wars and the Transformation of American Environmental Politics, Darren F. Speece fills an important gap in American environmental politics with a long history of the Redwood Wars that focuses on the ways small groups of Americans struggled for control over both North Coast society and its forests.

The Redwood Wars pitted workers and environmental activists against the rising tide of globalization and industrial logging in a complex conflict over endangered species, sustainable forestry, and environmental politics. Activists used both direct and legal action, while the timber industry, led by Pacific Lumber, fought the lawsuits and lobbied to halt reform efforts. Ultimately, the Clinton Administration sidestepped Congress and the courts to negotiate an innovative compromise with activists and industry. In the process, the Redwood Wars transformed American environmental politics by shifting the balance of power away from Congress and into the hands of the Executive Branch.

The text excerpted below provides a brief introduction to the Redwood Wars:

The Redwood Wars were conflicts over massive, magnificent trees. That was their primary importance. Indeed, the trees initially drew me to the North Coast and interested me in the fights over logging, as they had compelled people in the past to try to protect them. Americans have tended to most value the oldest and largest redwoods, and stands of those trees garnered the most attention and sparked the critical conflicts during the Redwood Wars. But the actors in this drama had invested the trees with conflicting meanings. Timber companies prized the oldest trees because they were worth the most in the timber market. Earlier scientists revered them as specimens of evolutionary magnificence. Hikers, picnickers, and sojourners sought out the stands of the oldest trees as refuges and sanctuaries where they could escape industrial society and breathe the forest air. Modern environmentalists and ecologists valued the larger ecosystems inhabited, and in some senses constituted, by the oldest redwoods because they were rich with biodiversity and housed rare species. The various values placed on the redwoods and differing conceptions of how to best utilize the forest were central to the conflicts among North Coast residents during the twentieth century. Continue reading

Annual Conference on South Asia Preview

The 45th Annual Conference on South Asia takes place in Madison, Wisconsin, this week (October 20-23, 2016). We are thrilled to celebrate the publication of three new titles in the Global South Asia series.

Edited by Padma Kaimal, Kalyanakrishnan (Shivi) Sivaramakrishnan, and Anand A. Yang, Global South Asia draws on humanities, social sciences, and interdisciplinary approaches to examine the ways in which South Asia is and has been global and shaping the world. Learn more in the series flyer.

16-cosa-final-colorIf you are attending the meeting, we hope you will stop by booth #4 to check out our new and forthcoming titles in South Asian studies and to meet Executive Editor Lorri Hagman.

Read on for more information about our featured titles:

The Afterlife of Sai Baba: Competing Visions of a Global Saint
By Karline McLain

Karline McLain uses a wide range of sources to investigate the different ways that Sai Baba has been understood in South Asia and beyond, and the reasons behind his skyrocketing popularity among Hindus in particular for an entertaining and enlightening look at one of the world’s most popular spiritual gurus.

Sensitive Space: Fragmented Territory at the India-Bangladesh Border
By Jason Cons

Offering lessons for the study of enclaves, lines of control, restricted areas, gray spaces, and other geographic anomalies, Sensitive Space develops frameworks for understanding the persistent confusions of land, community, and belonging in the India-Bangladesh border zones.

The Gender of Caste: Representing Dalits in Print
By Charu Gupta

The Gender of Caste uses print as a critical tool to examine the depictions of Dalits by colonizers, nationalists, reformers, and Dalits themselves and shows how differentials of gender were critical in structuring patterns of domination and subordination.

Recent Award Winners in Asian Studies

Letters and Epistolary Culture in Early Medieval China
By Antje Richter

Honorable Mention for the 2016 Eugene M. Kayden Book Award

The World of a Tiny Insect: A Memoir of the Taiping Rebellion and Its Aftermath
By Zhang Daye
Translated by Xiaofei Tian

Winner of the 2016 Patrick D. Hanan Prize for Translation (China), Association for Asian Studies

Excavating the Afterlife: The Archaeology of Early Chinese Religion
By Guolong Lai

Honorable Mention in the Scholarly Category for the Society for American Archaeology Book Award

Exhibitions on View: ‘Conflicts of Interest’

We are delighted to present the catalog to accompany the exhibition, Conflicts of Interest: Art and War in Modern Japan, presented at the Saint Louis Art Museum from October 16, 2016 – January 8, 2017.

Conflicts of Interest showcases extraordinary visual material documenting Japan’s rise as a military power in East Asia, starting with the Meiji Restoration in 1868, then depicting events of the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), two wars between Japan and its imperial neighbors China and Russia, and then culminating with Pearl Harbor.

The exhibition is organized by the Saint Louis Art Museum and curated by Philip Hu, associate curator-in-charge of Asian Art, in collaboration with Rhiannon Paget, Andrew W. Mellon Fellow for Japanese Art. The corresponding book edited by Philip Hu features essays by Hu, Andreas Marks, Sonja Hotwagner, Sebastian Dobson, Rhiannon Paget, and Maki Kaneko; catalogue entries by Hu and Paget; and contributions by Sonja Hotwagner.

Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915),The Fall of Jinzhou Fortress: Private First Class Onoguchi Tokuji, 1895, published by Katada Chojiro (active late 19th-early 20th century), center panel of triptych of color woodblock prints, 121:2010b.

Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915),The Fall of Jinzhou Fortress: Private First Class Onoguchi Tokuji, 1895, published by Katada Chojiro (active late 19th-early 20th century), center panel of triptych of color woodblock prints, 121:2010b.

In presenting highlights of this collection to the public, the Museum endeavors to foster understanding of the extraordinary art and visual culture of wartime Japan and the complex causes and repercussions of these conflicts, as well as reflect on the ways in which the images communicate, sometimes with devastating consequences, narratives and ideals of nation, empire, and ethnic identity.—From the foreword by Brent R. Benjamin, The Barbara B. Taylor Director, Saint Louis Art Museum

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Western History Association Conference Preview

The 56th annual conference of the Western History Association takes place in St. Paul, Minnesota, from October 20-23, 2016. This year the four-day event theme is “Expanding Western Horizons,” with many planned programs focused on public history and on figuring out how the history of the American West fits into popular understandings of the United States and the world.

2016-wha-v3Editor in Chief Larin McLaughlin and Mellon University Press Diversity Fellow/Assistant Editor Niccole Leilanionapae’aina Coggins will be representing the press—be sure to stop by booth #10 to say hello and to check out our latest Western history offerings, especially titles in the Indigenous Confluences series, Scott and Laurie Oki Series in Asian American Studies, and Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books series.

Below please find a selection of some new and forthcoming Western history titles:

Bracero Railroaders: The Forgotten World War II Story of Mexican Workers in the U.S. West
By Erasmo Gamboa

University of Washington historian Erasmo Gamboa recounts the difficult conditions, systemic racism, and decades-long quest for justice faced by the workers of the bracero railroad program. The result is a pathbreaking examination that deepens our understanding of Mexican American, immigration, and labor histories in the twentieth-century U.S. West.

Read an excerpt about box car housing for the program. 

Read an excerpt about how women in Mexico acted on behalf of their loved ones working temporarily in the United States.

The Portland Black Panthers: Empowering Albina and Remaking a City
By Lucas N. N. Burke and Judson L. Jeffries
V Ethel Willis White Books

October 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party’s founding. Combining histories of the city and its African American community with interviews with former Portland Panthers and other key players, this long-overdue account adds complexity to our understanding of the protracted civil rights movement throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Read an excerpt

Japanese Prostitutes in the North American West, 1887-1920
By Kazuhiro Oharazeki
Emil and Kathleen Sick Series in Western History and Biography

A compelling study of a previously overlooked vice industry explores the larger structural forces that led to the growth of prostitution in Japan, the Pacific region, and the North American West at the turn of the twentieth century.

Counterpunch: The Cultural Battles over Heavyweight Prizefighting in the American West
By Meg Frisbee

A fascinating look at early American boxing, Counterpunch examines how the sport’s meteoric rise in popularity in the West ran concurrently with a growing backlash among Progressive Era social reformers who saw boxing as barbaric. It provides an entertaining way to understand both the growth of the American West and the history of this popular and controversial sport.

New from Indigenous Confluences

Native Students at Work: American Indian Labor and Sherman Institute’s Outing Program, 1900-1945
By Kevin Whalen
Foreword by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert is chairing a session on Histories of Indigenous Education including panelist Kevin Whalen on Sunday, October 23 (full details on page 35 of the conference program).

Native Students at Work tells the stories of Native people from around the American Southwest who participated in labor programs at Sherman Institute, a federal Indian boarding school in Riverside, California.

California through Native Eyes: Reclaiming History
By William J. Bauer Jr.

Using oral histories of Concow, Pomo, and Paiute workers, taken as part of a New Deal federal works project, Bauer reveals how Native peoples have experienced and interpreted the history of the land we now call California. 


Education at the Edge of Empire: Negotiating Pueblo Identity in New Mexico’s Indian Boarding Schools
By John R. Gram
Foreword by Ted Jojola

A groundbreaking examination that contributes to Native American, Western, and education histories, as well as to borderland and Southwest studies.

“[A]ccessible and interesting. . . . Education at the Edge of Empire is a wonderful addition to the literature of off-reservation boarding schools.”—Andrae Marak, Journal of American History

The Refugee Crisis in Our Backyard: Guest post by ‘Sanctuary and Asylum’ author Linda Rabben

In this guest post, Linda Rabbenhuman rights activist, anthropologist, and author of Sanctuary and Asylum: A Social and Political Historydraws from recent events in the Pacific Northwest to argue for alternatives to detaining refugees. Dr. Rabben will lecture this week about human rights, the history of sanctuary, and responses to the current refugee crisis at the University of Washington and other Seattle venues.

To many people in the United States, the international refugee crisis seems far away, in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and Asia. But in fact it’s playing out at the local immigrant detention center in Tacoma and in federal court in Seattle.

In mid-2015 a Somali boy fled his home after his father was murdered. He traveled alone through South and Central America to seek refuge in the United States. The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) placed him with a foster family in Portland. But in late 2015 federal officials decided that he was not really a minor. They based their conclusion on a discredited dental radiograph test.

Join us for these events:

October 6 at 4 p.m. // Freedom of Movement – A Human Right?, University of Washington, CMU 120 (Sponsored by Latin American and Caribbean Studies, UW Center for Human Rights, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington Press, and UW Graduate School), Seattle, WA

October 10 at 7 p.m. // Faith Justice Meeting on Immigration, St. Joseph Parish (732 18th Ave. East, Arrupe Room), Seattle, WA

October 18 at 7 p.m. // Barnes & Noble at The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC

November 2 at 7:30 p.m. // Ivy Bookshop, Baltimore, MD

Congress had passed a law in 2008 banning immigration authorities from determining age solely on the basis of dental radiographs. But ORR agents arrested the boy at his high school in Portland anyway. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) then shipped him to Northwest Detention Center, a private facility for adults in Tacoma.

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, a Seattle advocacy group, filed a habeas corpus petition on the boy’s behalf. In a May press release NWIRP legal director Matt Adams called ICE’s actions “indefensible. Instead of protecting unaccompanied children, and focusing enforcement actions on those who pose an actual threat to the community, they targeted a child, who, after escaping horrible violence, was now integrated with his foster family, his high school and community.”

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October 2016 News, Reviews, and Events


The Washington Center for the Book at The Seattle Public Library announces the finalists in eight categories for the 2016 Washington State Book Awards for outstanding books published by Washington authors in 2015. Congratulations to our finalists Ana Maria Spagna (Reclaimers; Biography/Memoir) and Ruth Kirk (Ozette; History/General Nonfiction). The winners in each category will be announced at the awards ceremony on October 8, 2016. Emcee for the evening is Frances McCue, twice a UW Press finalist for a WSBA (in 2011 for The Car That Brought You Here Still Runs and in 2015 for Mary Randlett Portraits). The awards celebration is free and open to the public.

University of Washington Press shares in the remembrance of Sarah Reichard, who died suddenly in her sleep on August 29, 2016. Dr. Reichard directed the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, was coeditor of Invasive Species of the Pacific Northwest, and advised UW Press on other projects. Read obituaries and details on the October 13th memorial celebration in the Seattle Times and Offshoots (blog of the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences).

Reviews and Interviews

Michael Upchurch reviews Looking for Betty MacDonald by Paula Becker in the Seattle Times: “The Egg and I, The Plague and I and Anybody Can Do Anything practically cavort off the page. How did [Betty MacDonald] do it? Seattle author Paula Becker has some answers in her compact, finely crafted biography.”

Lory Widmer Hess reviews the biography on her Emerald City Book Review blog: “I was delighted to explore MacDonald’s life and work through Paula Becker’s thoughtful, painstakingly researched biography, and even more thrilled to see that University of Washington Press is going to be reprinting three hard-to-find later works by the bestselling author of The Egg and I: Anybody Can Do Anything, The Plague and I, and Onions in the Stew. . . . If you’re not a MacDonald enthusiast, you will be soon. . . . We can be grateful that Becker has preserved it for us in words, and has given us valuable insights into her world, her books, her family, and the writer herself.”

Barbara McMichael reviews in the Kitsap Sun: “The pages zing with unexpected detail and nuggets of lacerating wit. . . If you’re Looking for Betty MacDonald, you need look no further.” Paula’s other book (The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition) and the MacDonald reissues (The Plague and I, Anybody Can Do Anything, and Onions in the Stew) also get mentions.

Steve Donoghue reviews the books at Open Letters Monthly: “A smart and immensely readable portrait, taking readers through MacDonald’s life. . . . Becker has combed every interview and profile, and her book veritably glows with MacDonald’s recaptured wit. . . . Thanks to Paula Becker’s exhaustive research and the compassionate, standard-setting book she’s shaped out of it, 21st century readers can meet a much fuller and more fascinating version of that complex, challenging, laughing woman. Readers of her books will still want to thank her, but thanks to Looking for Betty MacDonald, they’ll know her much better.” The Plague and I (“improbably funny. . . equally remarkable”) and Anybody Can Do Anything (“again improbably funny”) also get mentions.

Bainbridge Community Broadcasting’s “What’s Up Bainbridge” host Wendy Wallace speaks with Paula Becker about the biography and reissues.
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