Author Archives: uwpressblog

Join UW Press and UW Alumni Association for Reading the Pacific Northwest

On Thursday, October 5, UW Press and the UW Alumni Association will present “Reading the Pacific Northwest: An Evening with UW Press Authors.” UW Press authors Paula Becker, Jourdan Keith, Lynda V. Mapes, and David B. Williams will be in conversation with Crosscut’s Florangela Davila about how books and writing can help us understand—and change—our region and our world. How does place affect the writing process? How do local stories inform the larger world’s understanding of the Pacific Northwest? Whose stories get to be told (and why do some go untold for far too long)? We’ll dive into those questions and more.

The event is free, and appetizers and refreshments will be served. A book signing and conversation with the presenters will follow the program. We hope you will join us for this special evening!

Read more on the blog:

Behind the Covers: Looking for Betty MacDonald and Three New Editions

Photo Essay: Hidden Treasures and Surprising Views from Seattle Walks

Q&A with Too High and Too Steep Author David B. Williams

Bertha Blues in a Sinking City: A Brief History of Seattle’s Shifting Landscapes

Other UW Press titles of interest:

Nicole Mitchell Assumes Presidency of University Presses’ Association

Credit: Hayley Young

The University of Washington Press Director Begins Term as 2017–2018 President

NEW YORK (August 17, 2017) — The Director of the University of Washington Press, Nicole Mitchell, began her one-year term as President of the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) on June 11, 2017. Mitchell assumed the role at AAUP 2017, the Association’s annual meeting in Austin, Texas. She is preceded by Darrin Pratt, Director of the University Press of Colorado.

As President, Mitchell looks forward to working with the Executive Director and Board of Directors on a number of organizational goals.  In Austin, she announced that she wanted to focus on three major areas during the coming year:  establishing a Diversity Task Force; forming a working group of non-US members to better understand the needs of international members; and, working with the Research Task Force to strengthen the case for the unique value and impact of university presses.

Nicole Mitchell has served as Director of the University of Washington Press since 2012.

Over the past five years, among other milestones, she has restructured the press, raised the press’s profile on the University of Washington campus and in the Seattle community, refreshed the press’s editorial program, and secured new funding for East Asian studies and work by Pacific Northwest writers.

“I am particularly proud of UW Press’s leadership role in establishing the Mellon-funded University Press Diversity Fellowship Program in partnership with Duke, Georgia, MIT, and the Association.  I am also excited to be collaborating with the University of British Columbia Press and First Nations communities on a new multimedia digital publishing initiative, also recently funded by the Mellon Foundation,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell has previously served the Association on the Professional Development Committee (including a term as chair in 2009-2010), the Task Force on University Relations, the Nominating Committee, and through a previous term of service on the Association’s Board of Directors.

Mitchell started her career in scholarly publishing in 1983 as a Graduate Trainee at Cambridge University Press and soon became the press’s first Children’s Book Editor, helping to create and launch the imprint Cambridge Books for Children.  Moving to the United States, she became the first full-time acquisitions editor at the University of Alabama Press (UAP). Seven years later, Mitchell was tapped to lead the press. During her tenure as director, she expanded Alabama’s publishing program, increasing sales by 50% and moving UAP from an AAUP Group 1 to Group 2 tier press.

In 2001, Mitchell was appointed Director of University of Georgia Press. During her ten years at Georgia, Mitchell led a staff of twenty-six, guiding the press’s editorial program as Editor in Chief, increasing sales, and establishing the press’s fundraising program by recruiting an influential Advisory Council.  Mitchell also served on executive committee of the New Georgia Encyclopedia, a pioneering state-focused, online-only encyclopedia.

Mitchell holds a joint honors degree in Art History and French from the University of Bristol and a certificate in Management from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University.

“It is a great honor for me to be serving this Association as President. I have spent my entire career in university press publishing and look forward to giving back and advocating for an association that supports and nurtures high-quality scholarly publishing around the globe,” said Mitchell.

About the Association of American University Presses: The Association of American University Presses is an organization of over 140 international nonprofit scholarly publishers. Since 1937, AAUP advances the essential role of a global community of publishers whose mission is to ensure academic excellence and cultivate knowledge. The Association holds integrity, diversity, stewardship, and intellectual freedom as core values. AAUP members are active across many scholarly disciplines, including the humanities, arts, and sciences, publish significant regional and literary work, and are innovators in the world of digital publishing.

About the University of Washington Press: Established in 1920, the University of Washington Press supports the research, education, and outreach missions of the University of Washington by publishing peer-reviewed scholarship for an international community of students, scholars, and intellectually curious readers. The press is known for groundbreaking lists in critical ethnic studies; Native American and Indigenous studies; Asian American studies; Asian studies; anthropology; art history and visual culture; environmental studies; women’s, gender, and sexuality studies; and U.S. history, among other fields.

Q&A with ‘Risky Bodies and Techno-Intimacy’ author Geeta Patel

Risky Bodies & Techno-Intimacy traverses disparate and uncommon routes to explore how people grapple with the radical uncertainties of their lives. In this edgy, evocative journey through myriad interleaved engagements–including the political economies of cinema; the emergent shapes taken by insurance, debt, and mortgages; gender and sexuality; and domesticity and nationalism–author Geeta Patel demonstrates how science and technology ground our everyday intimacies. The result is a deeply poetic and philosophical exploration of the intricacies of techno-intimacy, revealing a complicated and absorbing narrative that challenges assumptions underlying our daily living.

Today we talk to the author about her book, publishing soon in our Feminist Technosciences series. 

What inspired you to get into your field?

Geeta Patel: I don’t have a field in any strict sense, although most of my friends now would think of me as a literary ‘type.’ I, however, don’t think of myself that way. I compose in visual metaphors, and the way I look at things askance, as though they were transparent and opaque at the same time, is as a scientist who loves poetry.

I grew up in a family full of women doctors, which along with the push toward science if you grew up in South Asia and had even a vestige of a brain, meant I ended up being saddled with science, specializing in the sciences from when I was eleven years old. But I loved all the sciences, particularly ‘the natural sciences’ with the kind of curiosity of many eighteenth-century scientists. In that period ‘scientific’ curiosity leaked out into more than what we would now call science. It embraced poetry, literary prose, questions of politics, the ways in which money and goods moved, finance, drawings, maps, and instruments. A sort of porous curiosity, rather than directed curiosity along blinkered pathways. Eighteenth-century journals, as well as the South Asian magazines of my childhood, had tidbits on science, poetry, politics, fiction, oddities from the ambit of the political, and off-kilter instruments of measurement. This is what I grew up reading and it is was as though they all belonged in the same place and together made sense.

So when I think of what my ‘field’ consists of, it lives at the cusp of all these things. Where more than one intellectual formation or terrain fades into each other, informs each other, pushes at each other, and inflects each other. And a field formation gets taken up in such a way that it makes an assumption in another field discomfiting. One such place I approach/broach that in Risky Bodies & Techno-Intimacy is the technology of time.

What would you have been if not an academic?

GP: Probably a health practitioner, a healer.

Why did you want to write this book?

GP: I wanted to sit with, ponder, think about, and ruminate on the places, moments, pauses, and sudden jolts where I stopped thinking. Where my capacity to envision something else failed me, felt as though it had faded from my grasp. Many intellectuals imagine this as the horizon towards which one ambles, gallops, or comes up against in some putative future. When I was writing my previous book on the Urdu poet Miraji, I came to see it as he had, and how the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein had, as that which is inside what we think, visualize, do. The bedrock of belief lives where we come to a grinding halt, and we find ourselves in a double bind—facing what we must let go of, but can’t. How could we, following on Michel Foucault and Marcel Mauss, understand these as technologies that make us who we are, which are the armature of our very ordinary, everyday habits?

I also wanted to mess with what had come to be conventional ways of bringing intellectual fields together. I wanted to make that broaching or bridging awkward—and this is what I practice in Risky Bodies & Techno-Intimacy. What would chemistry do to transgender possibilities in South Asia? What would it mean to transmute the aesthetics of linear time to lay out the gatherings that took on the resistance to a film on sexuality? How would the historical congruencies between these events and the fights over insurance in the Indian parliament give us insights? Allow us to delve into the modes through which financing loss became the conduit to grapple with the political desires that undergird nationalism? In the process how would science emerge in writing about events that might, in some simple way, not be said to be scientific (in the ways we now see science)?

Who do you see as the audience for this book?

GP: Everyone, feminists, science studies aficionados, cultural studies scholars, media studies scholars, finance practitioners, political theorists, literary theorists. In India I have found the audience to include artists, film-makers, fiction writers, poets, and non-academics.

What is your next project?

GP: I have many ongoing projects. One is a book on Ismat Chughtai, in particular on two of her short stories. That book interrogates the lineages of historical realism in South Asia. It brings quantum and relativity as conduits through which I can grapple with the desires that readers ferry along with them as they read fiction and mine it for information. One is a book on 1950s and ‘60s billboards in Mumbai, and I look at what they reveal about advertising, fiscal fantasies, national sentiment, and nationalist aesthetics in post-colonial states. Another is about the long history of pensions and insurance in South Asia. One of the first of its chapters rethinks the eighteenth-century history of capitalism through colonial pensions.


Geeta Patel is associate professor of both Middle Eastern and South Asian languages and cultures and of women, gender, and sexuality at the University of Virginia. She is author of Lyrical Movements, Historical Hauntings: Gender, Colonialism, and Desire in Miraji’s Urdu Poetry.

August 2017 News, Reviews, and Events

News

UW Press publishes two (out of three) titles on the shortlist for the European Association for Southeast Asian Studies (EuroSEAS) Social Science Book Prize 2017 (Humanizing the Sacred by Azza Basarudin and Forests Are Gold by Pamela D. McElwee). Winners will be announced at the organization’s annual meeting in England from August 16-18, 2017. Congratulations to and fingers crossed for the finalists, editors, and all involved!

Monthly Giveaways

Reviews and Interviews

The Seattle Times features Waterway by David B. Williams, Jennifer Ott, and staff of HistoryLink (dist. for HistoryLink) and mentions Native Seattle by Coll Thrush in an article about the 100th anniversary celebrations for the Locks on July 4. The Wedgewood in Seattle History blog also features Waterway.


The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette features an op-ed by Bike Battles author James Longhurst.


The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reviews The Tao of Raven by Ernestine Hayes: “Artistic and honest and moving in a way few memoirs ever dare to match. . . . A seminal work in the making, and one that all Alaskans should make a point not to miss.”—Addley Fannin


General Aviation News reviews The Propeller under the Bed by Eileen A. Bjorkman: “Any aviation enthusiast will appreciate all 200 pages of this work, but those of us who find our fathers and mothers staring up at a cloudless sky when the sound of a propeller breaks the silence will recognize both its timeless appeal and historic significance.”—Mark Jones Jr.


The Seattle Times features The Hope of Another Spring by Barbara Johns in the Lit Life column: “A powerful new book. . . . The book is a beautiful display of Fujii’s work, and it’s proof of the power of art and artists to witness events many would rather leave in the dark.”—Mary Ann Gwinn

8Asians also reviews: “The gem of the book is the reproduction of Fujii’s diary. . . . The Hope of Another Spring offers an Issei artist’s perspective to our understanding of Japanese American’s wartime incarceration, while also bringing a valuable study of Fujii and his artistic journey and long career.”—Lily Wong


The Pacific Northwest Inlander features A Year Right Here by Jess Thomson: “The book is filled with evocative food descriptions and enviable trips, but also encompasses the uncontrollable stuff of everyday life and explores the limits of physical ability. . . . Thomson’s book encourages readers to be curious about their natural habitats in a new way. . . . An invitation to adventure anyone can embrace.”—Cara Strickland


Greg in San Diego blog reviews Birds of the Pacific Northwest by Tom Aversa, Richard Cannings, and Hal Opperman: “I believe this is the most useful regional field guide to the birds in the northwest corner of the contiguous United States.”—Greg Gillson


Western Birds, the journal of Western Field Ornithologists, also reviews the birding guide: “For the majority of serious birders in the West who tend to limit their explorations to one or another state or province, this guide should expand their horizons and encourage more cross-border birding. . . . This guide is an essential reference for birders west of the continental divide, particularly for intermediate and advanced observers.”—Eugene Hunn


TrailBlazerGirl.com reviews Seattle Walks by David B. Williams: “Not your typical tourist guide book. . . . Seattle Walks is an excellent guide to help you experience Seattle in a new way.”


KCTS 9 Borders & Heritage mentions Signs of Home by Barbara Johns in a segment and article about the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066.


UW Today features news from the College of Arts & Sciences that the family of video art pioneer Doris Chase have donated 59 of her works to the Henry. We published a book about the artist, Doris Chase, Artist in Motion by Patricia Failing, in 1992.


TrailblazerGirl.com reviews Hiking Washington’s History and Walking Washington’s History by Judy Bentley: “Enhance your exploration of the Evergreen State with Judy Bentley’s books.”


Plant Science Bulletin reviews Timber Trees of Suriname by Chequita R. Bhikhi (dist. for LM Publishers): “Timber Trees of Suriname will be very useful for foresters and, as a first introduction to the rich tree flora of Suriname, for all botanists, ecologists, and amateurs interested in flora of the Guiana Shield.”—Marcel Rejmánek


The HOME — So Different, So Appealing exhibit is on view at LACMA through October 15, 2017. We will distribute the accompanying catalogue—edited by curators Chon A. Noriega, Mari Carmen Ramirez, and Pilar Tompkins Rivas—for UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Press. The exhibit gets mentions at ARTnews and Cuban Art News, and a review in the New Yorker: “’Home – So Different, So Appealing’ is a big, keen show. . . . It tells many stories and is a story in itself.”—Peter Schjeldahl

The exhibit also gets a review in the Los Angeles Times: “If ‘Home’ is a harbinger of what to expect for the rest of the series, it has set the bar high.”—Carolina A. Miranda


KEXP’s KEXPlorer posts an audio recording of an April 2017 panel discussion at the Wing Luke Museum on “Feminism and war in the Asia Pacific” program with Cindy Domingo (coeditor of A Time to Rise; October 2017).


KEXP’s Mind Over Matters Sustainability Segment interviews Unlikely Alliances author Zoltán Grossman. WORT’s A Public Affair (Madison, WI) will also interview the author live on August 11, 2017.


Greg Robinson of Nichi Bei mentions No-No Boy by John Okada in his latest weekly column.


The Now & Then column of Pacific NW Magazine features Frederick L. Brown and The City Is More Than Human. Paul Dorpat’s blog features an expanded version of the column.


TrailblazerGirl.com reviews Haida Gwaii by Dennis Horwood:”For a comprehensive guide to one of National Geographic’s 20 Best Trips, check out Haida Gwaii.”


DCist features Carlos Bulosan and America Is in the Heart in an article about this weekend’s Smithsonian Asian American Literature Festival, as well as their weekend events round-up. The Festival features a two-day reading of Bulosan’s book and Troubling Borders editor Isabelle Thuy Pelaud will also be participating.


The Science magazine podcast features an interview with Smell Detectives author Melanie Kiechle. The American Scholar’s Smarty Pants podcast also interviews the author.


Not Another Sports Show podcast (#NASSRadio) interviews Playing While White author David J. Leonard.

New Books

Razor Clams: Buried Treasure of the Pacific Northwest
By David Berger

In this lively history and celebration of the Pacific razor clam, David Berger shares with us his love affair with the glossy, gold-colored Siliqua patula and gets into the nitty-gritty of how to dig, clean, and cook them using his favorite recipes. In the course of his investigation, Berger brings to light the long history of razor clamming as a subsistence, commercial, and recreational activity, and shows the ways it has helped shape both the identity and the psyche of the Pacific Northwest.

Waterway: The Story of Seattle’s Locks and Ship Canal
By David B. Williams, Jennifer Ott, and Staff of HistoryLink
Distributed for HistoryLink

Why does a city surrounded by water need another waterway? Find out what drove Seattle’s civic leaders to pursue the dream of a Lake Washington Ship Canal for more than sixty years and what role it has played in the region’s development over the past century. Historians Jennifer Ott and David B. Williams, author of Too High and Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle’s Topography, explore how industry, transportation, and the very character of the city and surrounding region developed in response to the economic and environmental changes brought by Seattle’s canal and locks.


Picturing India: People, Places, and the World of the East India Company
By John McAleer
Published with British Library

Few historians have considered the visual sources that survive from the British engagement with India and what they tell us about the link between images and empire, pictures and power. This book draws on the unrivaled riches of the British Library — both visual and textual — to tell that history. It weaves together the story of individual images, their creators, and the people and events they depict. And, in doing so, it presents a detailed picture of the Company and its complex relationship with India, its people and cultures.

Events

AUGUST

August 4 at 7 p.m., Ernestine Hayes, The Tao of Raven, Alaska State Library, Summer Lecture Series at the APK, Juneau, AK

August 5 at 11 a.m., Jess Thomson, A Year Right Here, Bear Pond Books, Stowe, VT

August 7 at 7 p.m., David B. Williams, Seattle Walks, King County Library Services – Renton Highlands, Renton, WA

August 11 at 7 p.m., Zoltán Grossman, Unlikely Alliances, A Room of One’s Own, Madison, WI

August 15 at 7 p.m., Judy Bentley, Walking Washington’s History, King County Library System – Lake Forest Park, Lake Forest Park, WA

August 15 at 7 p.m., David B. Williams, Seattle Walks, Co-presented with Capitol Hill Historical Society and Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA

August 30 at 7 p.m., Kathleen Alcalá, The Deepest Roots, Third Place Book Club hosted by Seattle7Writers (Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff), Seattle, WA

August 31 at 7 p.m., David B. Williams, Seattle Walks, with Kevin O’Brien, Third Place Books, Seward Park, Seattle, WA

SEPTEMBER

September 7 at 7 p.m., David Berger, Razor Clams, University Book Store, Seattle, WA

September 7 at 7:30 p.m., David Leonard, Playing While White, BookPeople, Moscow, ID

September 9 from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Multi-author signing from 1 – 2 p.m.), Readerfest with Kathleen Alcalá, The Deepest Roots, The Brig & Ampitheater at Magnuson Park, Seattle, WA

September 12 at 6 p.m., Paula Becker, Looking for Betty MacDonald, Sno-Isle Libraries, Mountlake Terrace Library, Mountlake Terrace, WA

September 13 at 7 p.m., Barbara Johns, The Hope of Another Spring, in conversation with Tom Ikeda, Seattle Public Library – Central Library with Elliott Bay Book Company and Denshō, Seattle, WA

September 13 at 7:30 p.m., David Berger, Razor Clams, Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau, Olympia Timberland Library, Olympia, WA

September 16 at 2 p.m., Paula Becker, Looking for Betty MacDonald, Humanities Washington, Sno-Isle Libraries, Stanwood Library, Stanwood, WA

September 16 at 2 p.m., William Wei, Asians in Colorado, Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, Colorado Springs, CO

September 19 at 7 p.m., David Berger, Razor Clams, Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau, Wheelock Library, Tacoma, WA

September 20 at 6:30 p.m., David B. Williams, Jennifer Ott, and staff of HistoryLink, Waterway, MOHAI, History Café, Seattle, WA

September 20 at 7 p.m., Barbara Johns, The Hope of Another Spring, Friends of Mukai at the Vashon Land Trust building, Vashon Island, WA

September 21 at 7 p.m., David Berger, Razor Clams, Eagle Harbor Books, Bainbridge Island, WA

September 23 at 11 a.m., David B. Williams, Jennifer Ott, and staff of HistoryLink, Waterway, King County Library System – Newcastle, Newcastle, WA

September 23 at 11 a.m., David Berger, Razor Clams, Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau, Aberdeen Timberland Library, Aberdeen, WA

September 23 at 2 p.m., David Berger, Razor Clams, Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau, Westport Timberland Library, Westport, WA

September 23 at 7 p.m., David Leonard, Playing While White, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA

September 29 at 7 p.m., David Leonard, Playing While White, Elliott Bay Books, Seattle, WA

September 30 at 2 p.m., Judy Bentley, Walking Washington’s History, Timberland Regional Library – Olympia, Olympia, WA

September 30 at 2 p.m., David Berger, Razor Clams, Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau, Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, Ilwaco, WA

Save

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Our city, our pets: Guest post from ‘The City Is More Than Human’ author Frederick L. Brown

Today we are featuring an illustrated guest post on the history of our favorite furry and feathered friends by The City Is More Than Human: An Animal History of Seattle author Frederick L. Brown. Brown was recently awarded the 2017 Virginia Marie Folkins Award from AKCHO (Association of King County Historical Organizations) for his book, published last fall, and also delivered the 2017 Denny Lecture at MOHAI.

Read on to learn more about the role pets have played in Seattle’s urban history!

Credit: Christy Avery

Dogs are rarely seen reading urban history – the bright-eyed fellow pictured above notwithstanding – but dogs have played a vital role in urban history. Over the last century, their numbers have increased dramatically. One rough estimate is that their population has increased from five thousand in 1905 to 150,000 today. The working dog is not absent from the city today: from guide dogs, to guard dogs, to dogs in police K9 units. Yet, the role of pure companion, with no expectation of work, predominates. Many of us couldn’t imagine urban life without our furry friends.

Credit: MOHAI, SHS12890

A century ago, dogs were friends to be sure, but also as guard-dogs, hunting dogs, ratters, and workers at other tasks. Often, the role of work and play blended. For instance, the dogs in the front row of this 1898 image of McVay Mill, in Ballard, may have blended roles as mascots, pets, and watchdogs. One newspaper ad from 1921 captured the mixing of roles: “Police Dog puppies. The most intelligent and faithful companion, excellent as watchdog and ideal as pet for children.”

Credit: MOHAI, 1974.5923.46; photo by McBride Anderson

Other dogs had a role as pure companions a century ago. Here for example, Priscilla Grace Treat cuddles her dog, around 1920. Seattleites had deep connections of love and friendship with their dogs. For instance, one family wrote of their German shepherd in 1935, “He is treated as a member of the family and with a laugh takes the rocking chair, when he feels like sitting in it.”

Credit: Frederick L. Brown

Cats generally have better things to do than read urban history, making this curious girl from the Central District hard to explain. But they too have been woven into the city’s history, since its founding. Cats’ urban role has perhaps undergone an even greater transformation than that of dogs. Before the widespread use of cat litter in the 1940s, it was considered unsanitary for them to spend much time indoors.

Credit: University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, Hester 10587; photograph by Wilhelm Hester

A century ago, most cats had a working role killing mice and rats, in private homes and in businesses. They had an important role in any business storing, selling, or transporting food that might attract mice and rats. They hunted rodents on docks and ships and, many believed, afforded sailors good luck, making them honored members of ships’ crews, as their presence in numerous crew portraits attests. Here, the crew of the British vessel Penthesilea sits on the deck in a Puget Sound port in 1904. A crew member in the back row holds a cat.

Credit: University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, Warner 3107 (detail)

Although cats typically had working roles in the early twentieth century, people also enjoyed them for other reasons. At the Warner residence in Seattle around 1900, a man and woman smile and watch a kitten.

Credit: Frederick L. Brown

Backyard chickens have become popular in recent years. Some refer to the pleasures of seeing chicken curiosity and their lively exploration of backyards (and even the occasional historical monograph) as “Chicken Television.” In the late 1990s, the Tilth Alliance found soaring interest in its backyard chicken classes. For some city-dwellers, these increasingly popular creatures are “pets with benefits” – the benefits being eggs.

Credit: University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, KHL195; photo by Ambrose Kiehl

A century ago, backyard chickens were not primarily pets. They were a vital source of eggs, and also meat, to urban dwellers. Yet the daily act of feeding chickens allowed human connection, and children  especially, often saw them as pets. Here Miriam Kiehl holds a chicken for a portrait at Fort Lawton in 1899.

Credit: MOHAI, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Photograph Collection, 1986.5.4202.3

Yet, as The City Is More Than Human explores, chickens illustrate the paradoxes of urban pet-keeping. Backyard chickens have remained in the city, and yet increasing numbers of chickens live in large-scale operations far from the city. This battery for laying hens in Woodinville in 1935 was one step along that journey to greater and greater industrialization.

For every one backyard urban chicken today, there are thousands of chickens in faraway industrial-scale farms that provide meat and eggs to Seattleites. Some of the chickens, indeed, provide the meat that feeds urban cats and dogs. That moment of great connection and caring, when we feed our cats and dogs, is also a moment where we generally are ignorant of the lives of those faraway creatures. So, as we think about the wonderful place of urban pets in our lives, let’s also remember those faraway animals that are integral to urban life and urban pet-keeping.

___

Frederick L. Brown holds a PhD in history from the University of Washington and works on a contract basis as a historian for the National Park Service.

Q&A with ‘Tracing Autism’ author Des Fitzgerald

In Tracing Autism, Des Fitzgerald offers an up-close account of the search for a neurological explanation of autism. As autism has gained cultural prominence with more diagnoses and more controversy, its biological causes remain elusive.

Through in-depth interviews with neuroscientists, psychologists, and psychiatrists, Fitzgerald examines what it means to do scientific research in the ambiguous terrain of autism research, a field marked by shifting horizons of uncertainty and ambivalence. He draws out how autism scientists talk and feel their way through their research, demonstrating its profoundly affective character, and expanding our understanding of what is at stake in the new brain sciences.

Today we speak with the author about his book, published this summer.

What inspired you to get into your field?

Des Fitzgerald: I’ve always been pretty comfortable describing myself as a sociologist. I actually entered university (in Cork, Ireland, where I’m from) to study literature, but fairly quickly realized that I had zero interest in spending my life as a literary scholar. I dropped out for a few years and came back to study sociology—and have been pretty happy ever since. It’s a cliché, but I like that we are empirical, and actually in-touch with things in the world and the issues of the day, but we’re also literary and philosophical too. I like that in sociology departments (in Britain at least) you’ll still find people who are basically continental philosophers, as well as people who are super-positivist big-data number crunchers. I think our field often suffers in policy and public debate for being neither one thing nor the other—not having the cultural weight of the humanities on the one hand, or the perceived instrumental value of the natural sciences on the other—but this neither-one-thing-nor-the-otherness is what I like most about sociology. Some days it’s the only thing I like about sociology. Within the discipline, I’ve always been interested in how sociology grapples with the material world: I wrote my undergrad thesis about architecture, and was actually barely an inch away from becoming a museums studies person as a master’s student. Thinking about how the body gets torqued in the contemporary life sciences, and especially in the neurosciences, has been really fruitful for me on this score. I can imagine myself working on other things, but I’m going to mine this seam for another couple of years yet, I think.

Describe the process of writing the book.

DF: Honestly, it might annoy some people, but my memories of writing this book are all highly pleasurable. I don’t at all mean to diminish anyone’s struggles, and I know lots of people find writing hard and painful in various ways, but I also feel that sometimes too much of the discourse around academic writing, and especially PhD writing, is about the alleviation of pain and anxiety. Maybe we don’t talk enough about the savoring of pleasure, and about how lovely it can be, actually, to spend time writing a thesis or a book (again, I acknowledge: that pleasure is of course entangled in the multiple kinds of privilege that I embody, but it’s pleasure all the same). The year or so in which I wrote the first draft of this book were probably the happiest twelve months of my life – if I could whistle (which I can’t), I would have whistled going into the office every morning. The rewrite, much of which took place over one winter at Cardiff Central Library, was also pretty good. In terms of process, I essentially collected data over a twelve-month period, and then really sat down and wrote the book, fairly methodically, chapter by chapter, over the course of another year. The actual core argument—centered on the image of tracing—emerged halfway through, and appeared only fitfully in the first version. It was only when I went back to rewrite the manuscript some years later, having done a lot of other things in-between that I was really able to articulate what I wanted to say about neuroscience, and how badly it had been construed in and by the social sciences. The gap between dissertation and book was important, I think—I needed a few years to make sense of what the dissertation had been trying to say.

Who do you see as the audience for this book?

DF: Anyone who’s interested in understanding what contemporary neurosciences are actually like, how they work, and want to  hear the voices of some of the people who make them up. I’m not shy about saying that there is a serious attempt to make a contribution to some strands of contemporary social and cultural theory—studies of affect, of course, but also wider attentions to materiality, especially as that materiality gets crystallized in the objects of the life sciences—but I’ve worked hard to write it in a fairly approachable and easygoing style, and to cleave pretty closely to what the people in the interviews are actually saying.

What would you have been if not an academic?

DF: I actually asked some colleagues this a couple of years ago, and it turns out that many academics nurture surprisingly well elaborated alternative-career fantasies. My own is artisanal café and bicycle-repair shop owner—which is a fantasy that I like to maintain despite not knowing very much about coffee, or anything at all about bicycle repair. More seriously, I would say that I have never been the kind of person who can only imagine a fulfilling intellectual life in and through the university, or while being acknowledged as that still fairly recent historical figure, “an academic.”  Not to be po-faced about it, but I think the question of how to craft intellectual and scholarly futures in the absence of the university is going to be a big question in the coming years: “what might you yet be” is probably a better way to put this question than “what would you have been?” And of course many people at the sharp end of the academic job market have already started to craft responses to this issue. I definitely don’t invest all of my intellectual hope in academia.

What are you reading right now?

DF: The truthful answer to this, of course, is “lots of Twitter with special attention to the quality and frequency of my own mentions.” But I do manage to read other stuff too.  I’m currently coauthoring a new book on urban neuroscience and am trying to think about the ways in which the study of the city and the study of the body might have gotten into one another historically—so I’ve been reading a lot of late-nineteenth-century urban studies literature. My favorites so far are W. E. B. Du Bois’s brilliant and pioneering study, The Philadelphia Negro (I’ve also enjoyed Aldon Morris’s excellent recent reclaiming of Du Bois’s legacy for sociology, The Scholar Denied, which all sociologists should read) and Seebohm Rowntrees’s surprisingly, and deeply, weird monograph from 1901, Poverty: A Study of Town Life. Charles Booth’s more famous Life and Labour volumes turn out to be more of a drag than I anticipated, and Booth himself not especially pleasant company as an author or editor (although obviously I still like the maps). For vaguely work-related pleasure-reading, I’ve been reading Ann Cvetkovich’s Depression and McKenzie Wark’s General Intellects. For other kinds of pleasure, someone recently recommended Octavia Butler to me at a conference and I am getting really into her Dawn series at the moment.

What do you think is the book’s most important contribution?

DF: I think what I have been trying to say, with various coauthors in the last couple of years (in particular, with Felicity Callard in the book and papers we wrote together on collaboration, and with Nikolas Rose and Ilina Singh in the papers we wrote on urban sociology) is that we have not at all understood the life sciences in general, and the neurosciences in particular, in sociology, medical anthropology, and science and technology studies. Too many of my colleagues still think neuroscience is either a crudely reductive would-be science of everything, or, even worse, some kind of running-dog of neoliberalism working hard to individualize and cerebralize social life. But it seems to me, and Tracing Autism is where I think I make this case most forcefully, that actually, when you get outside the journals, and the press releases, and the media pronouncements, neuroscience is a much more modest, ambiguous, complex,  interesting, emotional, and (in the best sense of this word) weird practice than we have really understood. Recognizing the complex ways in which social, political, and neurological lives are caught up in one another, and how much of social life is lived in and through the body and brain, and vice versa, there are loads of ways in which social scientists, STS scholars, and life scientists, can work together to get some more compelling analytical and methodological grip on the present. I’ve said versions of that—with colleagues—elsewhere, but I think the central contribution of Tracing Autism is to show, in detail, and with lots of good data, just what kind of practice cognitive neuroscience is, and can be, when it encounters a human phenomenon as complex and fraught as the autism spectrum.

What is the biggest misunderstanding people have about your field and what you do?

DF: I think a lot of people, looking at the sociology (or anthropology) of science and medicine, or at science and technology studies, from the outside, still see them as working through some kind of 1990s-style social-constructionist culture war, or at least as practices for bringing the natural sciences down to size in some way. I will say that is not always a misconception—and frankly I despair a bit when I see colleagues, in sociology especially, rehashing fairly tired tropes about big bad biology. But by and large this is not where things are at: it’s true that some people are never going to leave the twentieth century, and good luck to them, but the most creative and interesting working happening in these fields, right now, is work that is trying to inhabit, make sense of, and create new paths through, the multiple intersections of these two domains. I’m not sure that’s always as visible to people on the outside as maybe it should be.


Des Fitzgerald is lecturer in sociology at Cardiff University. He is the coauthor of Rethinking Interdisciplinarity across the Social Sciences and Neurosciences.

Read an excerpt of one of the books that inspired the documentary film “Promised Land” — Join us for a free screening in Seattle

In Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place, Second Edition (published Spring 2017 in the Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books series), Coll Thrush brings the Indigenous story to the present day and puts the movement of recognizing Seattle’s Native past into a broader context.

Native Seattle and several other UW Press titles (including Chinookan Peoples of the Lower Columbia edited by Robert T. Boyd, Kenneth M. Ames, and Tony A. Johnson, and the forthcoming Chinook Resilience by Jon D. Daehnke) helped form the framework for the documentary Promised Land,” about the Duwamish Tribe and Chinook Nation fight for federal recognition. “Promised Land” filmmaker Sarah Samudre Salcedo says:

“The book not only informed our film’s research for the Duwamish, but so well described the tribe’s modern day struggle for recognition that it inspired our focus to the broader federal policies that eventually drew our attention to the Chinook story, and stories like it across the nation. Those histories and struggles are so well-documented in these books and our film wouldn’t have made sense without them and the appearance of the authors within the documentary.”

We are thrilled that Seattle Theatre Group (STG) is hosting a free screening of “Promised Land” at the Neptune Theatre on July 6 and bringing the Duwamish Tribe and Chinook Nation’s struggle to the people of Seattle. Both tribes will be on hand before and after the show at tables in the lobby, and at a post-film panel discussion, to talk to the community. University Book Store will also have a table at the event to sell our books. Doors open at 7 p.m., the Duwamish and Chinook start drumming at 7:30 p.m., and the film starts at 8 p.m. We hope you can join us!

In celebration of the screening event later this week, we feature the following excerpt from the new preface to the second edition of Native Seattle:

Please join us for this special event:

STG & Tall Firs Cinema present
Promised Land
Special Guests: Duwamish Tribe, Chinook Nation, and the Filmmakers

Thursday, July 6, 2017
Doors at 7 p.m.
Event at 8 p.m.

Come early at 7:30 p.m. for preshow songs and drumming with the Chinook Indian Nation and Duwamish Tribe.

Post-film Q&A with Chinook Nation, Duwamish Tribe, and Tall Firs Chinemas.

Free and open to the public. All ages / bar with ID. GA seating – first come, first seated.

RSVP on the STG site

RSVP on Facebook

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SaveBeyond the federally recognized tribes, Seattle’s urban Indigenous community has also become increasingly visible in the decade since Native Seattle was first published. Performers like Red Eagle Soaring, a dance and theatre ensemble made up of Indigenous youth of many backgrounds, took stages across the city. Artists such as Seminole-Choctaw filmmaker Tracy Rector, whose “You Are On Indigenous Land” photography installation, made up of intimate portraits of members of her community taken by her and her colleagues, received praise from the local press. And in 2015, Blackfeet legal advocate and jurist Debora Juarez successfully campaigned for the city council, representing the city’s northernmost district. A far cry from the place of Indigenous people in the city’s consciousness in earlier eras—symbols of a vanishing race or threats to urban order—Indigenous women and men have become important players in the city’s cultural and political landscape.

Indigenous institutions are also on the rise. Daybreak Star cultural center, located in Discovery Park and founded by the activists who took over Fort Lawton in 1970, remains a crucial resource for many people in Seattle’s Indigenous community, including hosting the annual Seafair Days powwow. At the University of Washington, meanwhile, wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ (Intellectual House) opened in 2015, after years of organizing by activists both within and outside the UW community. It serves as a center for Indigenous concerns on campus and is already a much sought-after venue for academic and other events. But wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ’s place-story goes deeper than that. According to Tseshaht Nuu-chah-nulth professor Charlotte Coté, “when you walk into Intellectual House, you really do feel the spirits of their ancestors. This is not just a building.” Designed by Cherokee-Choctaw architect Johnpaul Jones in a style reminiscent of the longhouses that once graced the nearby Duwamish community of Little Canoe Channel, wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ was described by organizing committee member Denny Hurtado of the Skokomish Tribe as “a home where we can share our culture with the non-natives, and build bridges amongst us.” And down at the Pike Place Market, Nooksack artist and entrepreneur Louie Gong has opened the famed market’s first Indigenous-owned business, Eighth Generation. Together, all of these new additions to Seattle’s Indigenous landscape speak to the ongoing work of the city’s Indigenous community to be seen, to create, and to flourish.

Seattle’s Indian-inflected self-image has also continued to grow and change. In 2008, for example, the city unveiled a new trail circling Lake Union that was named after Cheshiahud, the Duwamish man who had once lived on the lake’s shoreline. Nearby, at the Museum of History and Industry’s new location, the 1950s diorama of the Denny Party no longer serves as the starting point of the city’s history; instead, a gallery curated under the guidance of local tribal members reminds visitors that they, as was Denny, are on Indigenous land. In 2014, meanwhile, the city council ruled unanimously to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day, making Seattle one of the first cities to reorient itself in relation to a long-honored and much-excoriated commemoration of colonialism’s ultimate bête noir. That same year, the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl, and even that victory was framed in part through Indigenous imagery: the Burke Museum displayed a Kwakwaka’wakw eagle transformation mask thought to the be the inspiration for the football team’s logo, while during the team’s victory parade, running back Marshawn Lynch received a drum from Lummi tribal member John Scott. Lynch’s beating of the drum received worldwide attention and once again highlighted Indigenous presence in the city. Finally, in the years to come, the city’s much-debated redevelopment of the waterfront will feature the work of Puyallup artist Qwalsius (Shaun Peterson), whose Coast Salish–style works will push back against the North Coast imagery so associated with Seattle’s public image.

In the midst of all this, with the deepest place-story of all, the Duwamish remain. Despite being denied federal recognition yet again in 2015—a decision the Department of the Interior described as “final”—the tribe’s members continue to fight for legal and cultural recognition. In the wake of the 2015 ruling, more than fifty Duwamish people and allies protested at the West Seattle home of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, and in one newspaper account of the decision, tribal chairwoman Cecile Hansen stated firmly, “we’re not invisible.” This is true. As they had during the 2001 sesquicentennial of the Denny Party’s landing at Alki Beach, the Duwamish continue to make their presence known in very public ways while attending to their own cultural revival. Former tribal councilmember James Rasmussen, for example, is one of the leaders of the Duwamish Cleanup Coalition, whose goal is to continue the work of remediating the Superfund site that is Seattle’s only river, while the tribe’s dance group T’ilibshudub (Dancing Feet) often performs around the city and elsewhere. Most notably, the Duwamish opened their long-planned longhouse and cultural center in 2009, just across West Marginal Way from the site of their ancient town of Crying Face. The tribe has also been involved in documenting its own history, perhaps most importantly through the work of University of Victoria graduate student and Duwamish descendant Julia Allain who collected stories of many of the tribe’s leading families. These activities and others show that federal recognition, as a colonial legal framework, does not necessarily determine Indigeneity: as Indigenous people around the world have asserted, they can exist regardless of someone else’s rules.

None of the events described above have happened without significant Indigenous activism, as has been always been the case throughout Seattle’s history, in which Native people have had to struggle to claim a place in the city and to combat the stereotypical images of the doomed, vanished Indian. In doing, so, they have exhibited what Ojibwe journalist and scholar Gerald Vizenor has called “survivance.” Survivance, a neologism that connotes both survival and resistance, speaks to something beyond simple persistence:

Theories of survivance are elusive, obscure, and imprecise by definition . . . but survivance is invariably true in native practice and company. The nature of survivance is unmistakable in native stories . . . and is clearly visible in narrative resistance and personal attributes, such as the native humanistic tease, vital irony, spirit, cast of mind, and moral courage.

The character of survivance creates a sense of native presence over absence, nihility, and victimry. Survivance is a continuation of stories, not a mere reaction . . . survivance is greater than the right of a survivable name.

Nothing captures this notion of survivance more than the 2015 protests against oil giant Shell, whose enormous drilling rig was anchored for a time in Elliott Bay. Hundreds of “kayaktivists” took to the water to speak out against drilling and block aquatic access to the rig, but this was more than the usual Seattle environmentalist action. There, among the brightly colored plastic watercraft, were tribal canoes, leading the charge in defense of the earth. Such is survivance; such is the truth that Seattle’s Indigenous history is far from over.

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