Monthly Archives: November 2016

From the Desk of Tom Helleberg: The Charleston Conference

2016_charleston-conferenceThe first week of November, I was fortunate enough to travel across the southeast visiting with printers in Tennessee and representing the University of Washington Press at the 36th annual Charleston Conference in South Carolina.

The Charleston Conference is billed as an “informal gathering of librarians, publishers, consultants, and vendors to discuss issues of importance to them all.” While the conference may have humble origins, with a scant twenty participants in early meetings, 2016 featured over 1,600 attendees spread across a dozen hotels and venues with a program as thick as a phone book and as many as twenty concurrent sessions at any given time. This was a big to-do, even in comparison to the annual meeting of the Association of American University Presses.

Since 2014, there has been an increasing publisher presence at Charleston, with many attendees from the AAUP as well as academic publishers. This has been driven by publisher-focused pre-sessions; by an increase in publisher panels and presentations (such as the “What’s the Big Idea” talk by the directors of Michigan, Mississippi, and National Academies); and by the growing realization that university presses and libraries not only share a mission, but are often approaching the same challenges from different directions. Continue reading

Q&A with ‘Ice Bear’ author Michael Engelhard

The following interview originally appeared in the Smithsonian magazine newsletter and is adapted and used with permission. The product of meticulous research, Ice Bear: The Cultural History of an Arctic Icon by Michael Engelhard traces and illuminates over 8,000 years of history between polar bears and humans. With more than 160 color illustrations, Engelhard brings into focus the powerful and elusive White Bear—and explains how and why it endures as a source of wonder, terror, and fascination.

What new angle does your book bring out about polar bears?

I am proud to say that Ice Bear is the only book available in any language that focuses entirely on the cultural aspects of polar bears—on 8,000 years of history shared between them and us.

Why have polar bears captured the human imagination?

For a number of reasons: From their physique to their behavior, they resemble us in many ways. They are big, charismatic top predators living in one of Earth’s most unforgiving environments. They are symbolic of the Arctic, one of the last frontiers of the human imagination. Lastly, we’ve long associated whiteness in animals with certain qualities: the rare, the pure, or the sacred.

What’s the biggest misconception people have about the polar bears?

That they’re ruthless “man killers.” I think they are just getting a bad rap, often getting in trouble for what only amounts to curiosity—a trait that, ironically, makes them survivors in a sparse environment. The statistics show that brown bears kill and maul more people per year than polar bears do. Of course their smaller numbers and remoteness also play a role there. Like most creatures, polar bears just want to eat, to keep living, and to protect their young.

"The bear gripped them both." Art by Adrien Marie and Barbant from "Le Docteur Ox" by Jules Verne (1874).

“The bear gripped them both.” Art by Adrien Marie and Barbant from “Le Docteur Ox” by Jules Verne (1874).

Which individual story or fact were you most surprised to uncover?

It’s hard to choose. But I enjoyed learning about a scheme to train polar bears to pull Amundsen’s sleds to the pole. It involved the German circus entrepreneur and animal trader Carl Hagenbeck, who also revolutionized zoo design. Also, the early medieval commerce in Greenlandic polar bear cubs, which Norse settlers traded to European royalty, for their menageries.

How has writing the book changed the way you see polar bears?

I only now realize the degree to which they have been instrumentalized, how we always have molded them to fit our agendas. With all the symbolic ballast and history, it is hard, perhaps even impossible, to see them objectively. That’s because hardly any other animal has been burdened more with our projections. It’s as if their whiteness and remoteness invited that.


Photo by Melissa Guy.

Michael Engelhard works as a wilderness guide in Arctic Alaska and holds an MA in cultural anthropology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His books include Where the Rain Children Sleep: A Sacred Geography of the Colorado Plateau, the anthology Wild Moments: Adventures with Animals of the North, and a recent essay collection, American Wild: Explorations from the Grand Canyon to the Arctic Ocean. His writing has also appeared in Sierra, Outside, Audubon, National Wildlife, National Parks, High Country News, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

UP Staff Spotlight: Niccole Leilanionapae‘āina Coggins on community and food sovereignty

Today is UP Staff Spotlight day on the 2016 University Press Week blog tour. The fifth annual University Press Week of the American Association of University Presses (AAUP) continues all week (November 14 – 19, 2016) with the theme Community. Today’s blog tour posts feature staffers making good and doing interesting things in their local communities. Please share this and today’s other posts on social media with the #ReadUP and #UPWeek hashtags:

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University of Wisconsin Press

Our UP Staff Spotlight contribution to the #UPWeek blog tour offers a guest post from 2016-2017 Mellon University Press Diversity Fellow and assistant editor, Niccole Leilanionapae’aina Coggins.

Niccole Coggins staff news photoOn October 26, I attended a talk entitled, “hishuk’ish tsawalk—Everything Is One:  Revitalizing Nuu-chah-nulth Foodways and Ecological Knowledge,” by Dr. Charlotte Coté, Associate Professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington. Professor Coté’s lecture was about her community, the Nuu-chah-nulth-aht, and their history of colonialism and imperialism, as well as their resistance and revival. One way that communities, and indigenous communities in particular, resist colonialism and imperialism is through food sovereignty. The Nyéléni Declaration (2007) defines food sovereignty as, “the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustained methods, and their right to define their own food and agricultural systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.”

Coté spoke of her mother teaching her to explore and try various wild plants—minus mushrooms—like qaalh qawi (wild blackberry), may’ii (salmonberry shoots), and quilhtsuup (wild celery), even t’uts’up (sea urchin) from the ocean. Coté shared stories of her aunt going blackberry picking; the family women fishing, in the traditional way, with a net for the first time, and the buckets of salmon they caught, and the hours it took to smoke (and how good salmon jerky is). Coté also talked about her community reclaiming traditional ways of fishing and preparing salmon, kuch’as (salmon cooked over an open pit fire); and reviving the tradition of a whale hunt and the environmentalists that protested.

As Coté talked I started thinking about other communities, especially those in “food deserts,” where it’s hard to access affordable, healthy, quality food, in particular fruits and vegetables. My cousin worked at the Kaiser Permanente Center in Watts where, with the leadership of the community, a weekly farmer’s market occurs. Other KP centers adopted similar programs to access locally grown produce.

I thought about my family and the blackberry bush behind gramma’s house. My aunts and uncles gathering to eat from the bounty of the ocean:  fish, ‘opihi (Hawaiian limpet), limu (seaweed), and wana (sea urchin).

I thought about the colonialism that changed Native Hawaiians’ relationship with food and language. Food was sacred before the missionaries arrived and made food secular. Since then words associated with food do not carry the same weight of sacredness as before. The literal translation of the word hānai (foster child) is “to feed.” When food is sacred, the relationship you have with that person is sacred and carries weight. It circles back to Coté’s talk about food sovereignty, and responsibility and relationships.



National Women’s Studies Association Conference Preview

We are thrilled to attend the 2016 National Women’s Studies Association annual conference in Montréal, Québec, Canada, from November 10 -13, 2016.

If you will be attending the conference, we hope you will join us for a few book signings at booth #102. On Friday, we mark the publication of Figuring the Population Bomb: Gender and Demography in the Mid-Twentieth Century with author Carole R. McCann—the first book in the Feminist Technosciences series. On Saturday, we celebrate author Sylvanna M. Falcón and her 2016 NWSA Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize winner, Power Interrupted: Antiracist and Feminist Activism inside the United Nations.

Edited by Rebecca Herzig and Banu Subramaniam, the Feminist Technosciences series seeks to publish emerging, intersectional, cutting-edge feminist work in science and technology studies. As science and technology move to center stage in contemporary culture and politics, the need for new and multifaceted analyses becomes even more pressing. Interdisciplinary feminist science studies continues to seek ways to improve science and technology, including addressing the persistent underrepresentation of women and people of color in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. The series will foreground insights from queer studies, critical race studies, disability studies, animal studies, postcolonial theory, and other critical approaches that reframe and reignite longstanding questions in feminist science and technology studies. Learn more in the series brochure.

UW Press Editor in Chief Larin McLaughlin and Direct Marketing, Exhibits, and Advertising Manager Katherine Tacke will be representing the Press at booth #102. Please come by to learn more about our new and forthcoming titles in women’s and gender studies. Use the #ReadUP and #NWSA2016 hashtags to follow along with the conference on social media.

Check out more information about the scheduled book signings and select featured titles below.


Friday, November 11 at 4:00 p.m., Booth #102

Figuring the Population Bomb: Gender and Demography in the Mid-Twentieth Century
By Carole R. McCann

The debut title in the Feminist Technosciences series traces the history of demography as a discipline and the twentieth-century “facts” that created a panic about a looming population explosion. McCann reveals the gendered geopolitical grounds of demographic theories and measurement practices, popularized in the 1970s in Paul Erlich’s best-selling book, “The Population Bomb,” that continue to influence how governments and scholars talk about and influence women’s reproductive lives.


Saturday, November 12 at 10:30 a.m., Booth #102

Power Interrupted: Antiracist and Feminist Activism inside the United Nations
By Sylvanna M. Falcón

Winner of the 2016 NWSA Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize

In Power Interrupted, Sylvanna M. Falcón redirects the conversation about UN-based feminist activism toward UN forums on racism. Her analysis of UN antiracism spaces, in particular the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, considers how a race and gender intersectionality approach broadened opportunities for feminist organizing at the global level. The Durban conference gave feminist activists a pivotal opportunity to expand the debate about the ongoing challenges of global racism, which had largely privileged men’s experiences with racial injustice. When including the activist engagements and experiential knowledge of these antiracist feminist communities, the political significance of human rights becomes evident. Using a combination of interviews, participant observation, and extensive archival data, Sylvanna M. Falcón situates contemporary antiracist feminist organizing from the Americas—specifically the activism of feminists of color from the United States and Canada, and feminists from Mexico and Peru—alongside a critical historical reading of the UN and its agenda against racism.

Read a Q&A with the author

Read a guest post from the author on the United Nations Secretary-General election


Queering Contemporary Asian American Art
Edited by Laura Kina and Jan Christian Bernabe
Foreword by Susette Min
MAY 2017

Queering Contemporary Asian American Art takes Asian American differences as its point of departure, and brings together artists and scholars to challenge normative assumptions, essentialisms, and methodologies within Asian American art and visual culture. Taken together, these nine original artist interviews, cutting-edge visual artworks, and seven critical essays explore contemporary currents and experiences within Asian American art, including the multiple axes of race and identity; queer bodies and forms; kinship and affect; and digital identities and performances.

Using the verb and critical lens of “queering” to capture transgressive cultural, social, and political engagement and practice, the contributions to this volume explore the connection points in Asian American experience and cultural production of surveillance states, decolonization and diaspora, transnational adoption, and transgender bodies and forms, as well as heteronormative respectability, the military, and war. The interdisciplinary and theoretically informed frameworks in the volume engage readers to understand global and historical processes through contemporary Asian American artistic production.


Holiday Books from UW Press

If your family is anything like mine, the season of giving is a non-stop search for just the right book for everyone in our lives—Mom loves history! Dad loves art! Siblings love local food! Luckily University of Washington Press has you covered with a range of books that will surely appeal to everyone on your list.


We are delighted to extend a 50% discount to our University of Washington Press community. Please use the code WHOL16 when ordering via our website or when calling customer service at 1-800-537-5487. (Please contact Rachael Levay with any questions at remann [at] uw [dot] edu.)

Feeling lucky? Enter our Holiday Book Bundle giveaway using the form at the bottom of this post for a chance to win free copies of some of our favorite holiday picks, including the ones featured here.

For the animal lover or the art lover:

Ice Bear: The Cultural History of an Arctic Icon by Michael Engelhard combines amazing art and illustrations with a fascinating history of the polar bear. With over 170 color illustrations, Engelhard shows us the full scope of the polar bear’s appeal and ensures you’ll never think of the polar bear the same way.

For the lover of memoir or the literary type:

The Tao of Raven: An Alaska Native Memoir by Ernestine Hayes tells the poignant and lyrical story of Hayes’s return to Juneau and to her Tlingit home after many years away. Interweaving her personal history with the story of the Raven and the Box of Daylight, Hayes illuminates her frustration and anger at what still faces Alaska Natives in their own land while examining her own evolution as a writer.

For the history buff or the outdoorsman/woman:

Defending Giants: The Redwood Wars and the Transformation of American Environmental Politics by Darren Speece tells the riveting history of how the giant redwoods emerged as an icon of the struggle over environment and industry. Bill McKibben says Defending Giants “brings back to life the story of some of the most committed and capable environmentalists I’ve ever known, people who worked on a scale as epic as the forests they fought for.”

For everyone else in the Pacific Northwest:

Birds of the Pacific Northwest: A Photographic Guide by Tom Aversa, Richard Cannings, and Hal Opperman has over 900 illustrations and shows off the birds that live in our coastal rainforest, North America’s northernmost deserts, and the northern/mid-Rockies to the east.