Author Archives: UWP Publicity

University Press Week | #NextUP: Phinney Books

On this final day of University Press Week, we are delighted to showcase Phinney Books, a Seattle neighborhood bookstore known for its careful selection of titles and expertly curated subscription program. Phinney Books serves a community of wide-ranging readers and is a valued promoter of UW Press books and university presses in general. Read our Q&A with owner Tom Nissley to learn more about Phinney Books and its customers and what’s next up for the bookstore.

How do you see university presses fit into the larger publishing world?

Through the bookstore, I see the trade side of university publishing, and I love to see their qualities of authority and care for scholarship and (relative) indifference to the market turned toward publishing for general readers. In the case of UW Press (and Washington State and Oregon State), that’s often done through publishing about the Northwest, a subject of great appeal to our customers. I’m always delighted to see the new catalogs from the “national” university presses as well (and to talk about them with our wonderful sales reps) and to find out what they are publishing next with their usual rigor and imagination. Every season there are books that we know will have a significant audience but that would not otherwise find a publishing home outside a university press.

What are Phinney Books customers reading these days?

Our customers always impress me with their appetite for translated literature and meaty books on history, politics, and nature. They are trying all the books by new Nobel laureate (and store favorite) Annie Ernaux, and reading about mushrooms and Greek myths and Vikings. From UW Press, our perennial favorite is David B. Williams, our best Northwest historian, whose last three books, Too High and Too Steep, Seattle Walks, and Homewaters, have each been bestsellers for us. This season we’ve had many readers coming in asking for Megan Asaka’s new history of migrant workers in our city’s early years, Seattle from the Margins. And every once in a while, a happy customer walks out the door with one of the most beautiful books in the store, the exquisite three-volume Fishes of the Salish Sea set.

Dark-haired woman reading on a bench in front of a bookstore. Signs on the bookstore read "Phinney Books" and "BOOKS" in neon lights.

Can you recall a memorable event with a university press author?

We do very few events, almost always for neighborhood authors—many of whom are customers as well—but one of my favorites was when a sister and brother, food writer and memoirist Jess Thomson and Reed professor of history and environmental studies Joshua Howe, both had new books out from UW Press: Jess’s memoir A Year Right Here and Joshua’s documentary collection, Making Climate Change History. I loved their mutual respect for each other’s very different work, and the affection and intuitive, slightly rivalrous connection that only siblings could share. It was a special night.

Beyond events, are there other ways that you have found success when collaborating with publishers?

One of my favorite collaborations with a publisher took place behind the scenes: over the years, I got to know—almost entirely through his outreach—Andrew Berzanskis [former senior acquisitions editor at UW Press], who just moved on to become the editorial director at the University of Oklahoma Press. He was always curious to hear our frontline perspective on readers and bookselling, and I got to get a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse of the long-term process by which books are made.

When it comes to reaching readers, Phinney Books has been particularly forward thinking—from one of the best bookstore newsletters around to your subscription program, Phinney by Post. What’s on the horizon? Any new or upcoming programs you are particularly excited about?

Thanks for the kind words! For the most part we are busy enough with what we have going on already that we don’t have much chance to look beyond it, but we are delighted that this month we’re bringing back one of our favorite traditions, the Holiday Bookfest at the nearby Phinney Neighborhood Association, with two dozen authors (including David B. Williams and Oregon State University Press author Jessica Gigot) signing books on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. And we always love to keep spreading the word about Phinney by Post, one of the few subscription programs we know of that focuses on backlist books (“lost classics” that we think our subscribers don’t know about but will love). After eight years of the program, we look forward to celebrating our 100th selection next year. Past selections have included such university press books as Janet Lewis’s The Wife of Martin Guerre (Ohio), Charles Sprawson’s Haunts of the Black Masseur (Minnesota), Carolyn See’s Golden Days (California), Rita Dove’s Thomas and Beulah (Carnegie-Mellon), N. Scott Momaday’s The Names (Arizona), Maryse Condé’s I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem (Virginia), and Ella Maillart’s The Cruel Way (Chicago).


This post is part of the 2022 University Press Week blog tour hosted by the Association of University Presses. This year’s theme is #NextUP, reflecting the spirit of constant learning, adaptation, and evolution within scholarly publishing. Read more about UP Week and all of the featured books and blog posts here.

University Press Week | #NextUP: Q&A with Editors of the Abolition: Emancipation from the Carceral Series

Continuing our celebration of University Press Week, today we’re highlighting our new series, Abolition: Emancipation from the Carceral. We are thrilled to be publishing this timely series that reflects the activist orientation of abolition and highlights abolitionist creative practices that explore radical worlds beyond policing and prisons. Read our Q&A with the series editors, Michael Roy Hames García and Micol Seigel, to learn more.

What is your vision for the series?

In the wake of the movement for Black lives, and especially since 2020, academic and popular interest in abolition has flourished. As the first university press series on the subject, Abolition: Emancipation from the Carceral will respond to and, we hope, shape that interest. This series will highlight academic texts across the humanities and social sciences, bringing them together so as to make more visible the larger conversation of which they are a part. Rather than understanding abolitionism as a recipe to be followed dogmatically, we see abolition as a set of open-ended questions to be asked generously in response to the conditions of a radically unjust and unfree world.

Abolitionist visions advocate for decarceration, defunding of police and prisons, and removal of the criminal legal system from people’s lives. Abolitionism is also a creative practice that entails discovering, developing, and promoting alternatives to policing and prisons such as mutual aid associations, restorative justice processes, and nonviolent approaches to personal and community safety. What might a more free and more just world look like? How might it develop? What stands in the way of its emergence? What possible relationships might this future have to present-day criminal justice reform? Abolition: Emancipation from the Carceral will offer a forum to scholars and activists continuing to pose these generative questions and more.

Who is the series for?

This series will offer a platform for the groundswell of recent work that has explored abolition in its myriad implications, centered in interdisciplinary fields such as American studies, geography, and critical ethnic studies. Perhaps books under its auspices might take up some of the keywords in this emerging field: abolition, abolition democracy, carcerality, care, collateral consequences, communal luxury, emancipation, freedom, justice, racial capitalism, social harm, and the human.

Books will speak to audiences of scholars, students, general readers, and activists with accessible prose and urgent topics, including but not limited to local policing, campus policing, family policing (child welfare systems), e-carceration and electronic monitoring, sur- and sousveillance, crimmigration and border enforcement, race and racialization, antiblackness, settler colonialism, anticarceral feminisms, involuntary medical confinement, and organizing for abolitionist reforms.

In what ways does the series engage with past and present traditions of abolitionism?

The words abolition, abolitionism, and abolitionist are most widely associated with eighteenth- and nineteenth-century movements in Europe and the Americas to end the systems of racialized enslavement—specifically, although not exclusively, of people of African descent—that evolved in tandem with the European conquest and colonization of Africa and the Americas. Contemporary uses of abolition either translate the term from slavery to a superficially unrelated context (as in the abolition of nuclear weapons) or argue that a context is structurally related to, or even an extension of, slavery (as in prison abolition). This series emerges from the latter tradition, extending the intellectual and political vision of abolitionism in order to continue the unfinished work of emancipation in the twenty-first century.

Abolition: Emancipation from the Carceral thus understands this strain of contemporary abolitionism to be constitutively both antiracist and antiprison. Its intellectual genealogy includes the groundbreaking 1971 anthology If They Come in the Morning, edited by Angela Y. Davis with the collaboration of Bettina Aptheker (reissued by Verso Books in 2016) as well as more recent volumes on prisons by Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Joy James, Dylan Rodriguez, and the Critical Resistance Publications Collective. Such authors follow skeins of antiblackness through sequential, overlapping systems of racialized labor from African chattel slavery to black codes, convict leasing, chain gangs, Jim Crow and mass incarceration, now acquiring digital forms.

The centrality of antiracism to this tradition distinguishes it from other critiques of the prison such as Michel Foucault’s 1975 book Discipline and Punish, although such critiques have been profoundly important for many abolitionists. Observing the failures of postwar civil rights movements to advance anti-racism through state policy, abolitionist thought is skeptical of the state, even in its welfare mode, understanding the ways belonging and citizenship are made available to some at the expense of others. It therefore embraces a relational analysis, an understanding of how vectors of disadvantage intersect, and the confidence that global currents and transnational networks shape all local phenomena. Abolitionist scholarship is necessarily interdisciplinary because its object of study literally refuses to remain disciplined. It is thus among the swiftest-moving, most daring and sophisticated fields of study in the academy today.

Carceral studies stretch the abolitionist project beyond the prison to consider all forms of carceral space. How might future books in the series approach carcerality in this context?

Carcerality helps point to confinement and surveillance as mechanisms for the production and maintenance of racialized inequality in U.S. society. The United States maintains the largest prison population in the world, both as a percentage of its population and in terms of absolute numbers. The social impact of prisons, however, is augmented by law enforcement, courts, and reentry policies; supplemented by video surveillance and other forms of electronic monitoring; and supported overall by ideological investments, systems of knowledge, and institutions far outside of prison walls.

As of 2019, 6.3 million adults in the United States were on probation, on parole, in state or federal prison, or in a local jail—approximately the population of Los Angeles and Chicago, combined. This number does not include children, people in federal immigration detention centers, those confined by electronic monitors to the prisons of their homes, or those in any number of other conditions that remove personal liberty at the direction of the state.

Well beyond the prison itself, recent scholarship in critical prison studies has identified roots and branches of the carceral in a range of repressive state apparatuses. Courts, hospitals, immigration systems, the military, police agencies, private police, schools and universities, and social welfare agencies devoted to matters such as child protection, public health, housing, and unemployment are all mutually reinforcing with—if not mutually constitutive of—prisons and jails. From an abolitionist perspective, the future of such systems and structures must be put into question to the extent that they support a profoundly unequal society by depriving oppressed and exploited people of their freedom.

What should authors do if they are interested in submitting to the series?

We welcome proposals for books across disciplines, from scholarly monographs, edited collections, and compelling nonfiction works written for a more general readership. Authors may be grounded in fields such as American studies, geography, history, and critical ethnic studies. Interested authors can contact either one of us or send questions/queries to UW Press acquisitions editor, Mike Baccam, at mbaccam@uw.edu.


About the Series Editors

Michael Roy Hames-García is a professor of Mexican American and Latina/o studies at the University of Texas at Austin and author of Fugitive Thought: Prison Movements, Race, and the Meaning of Justice. He previously taught at the University of Oregon and served on the City of Eugene’s Civilian Review Board, overseeing investigations into allegations of misconduct and uses of force by the Eugene Police Department.

Micol Seigel is a professor of American studies and history at Indiana University and author of Violence Work: State Power and the Limits of Police. In addition to research and teaching, Micol is involved in the Critical Prison Studies caucus of the American Studies Association and the Tepoztlán Institute for the Transnational History of the Americas.


This post is part of the 2022 University Press Week blog tour hosted by the Association of University Presses. This year’s theme is #NextUP, reflecting the spirit of constant learning, adaptation, and evolution within scholarly publishing. Read more about UP Week and all of the featured books and blog posts here.

University Press Week | #NextUP: Jordan Biro Walters, author of Wide-Open Desert: A Queer History of New Mexico

In celebration of University Press Week, we are delighted to feature Jordan Biro Walters, associate professor of history at the College of Wooster and a first-time university press author. Her book, Wide-Open Desert: A Queer History of New Mexico, is forthcoming January 2023. Read our Q&A with Jordan to learn more about the book, her experience as a new author, and how working with a university press has benefitted her work.

Why publish with a university press?

Because Wide-Open Desert: A Queer History of New Mexico is the first comprehensive study of queer lives in the twentieth-century American Southwest, a virtually unexplored region in LGBTQ+ history, I only had a small research trail to follow when I started the project. Interest in sexuality, specifically the LGBTQ+ past in American West history, is recent. My collaboration with the University of Washington Press—well-known for works in American history, visual culture, critical ethnic studies, Native and Indigenous studies, and women, gender, and sexuality—allowed me to contextualize Wide-Open Desert for scholars in these disciplines. Additionally, I worked closely with UW Press to share the stories of Pueblo, Navajo, Nuevomexicanx, and white LGBTQ+ people with a general audience.

Covering more than seventy years of New Mexican history, the book brings together the narratives of queer mobility and cultural productions to think about their relevance to sexual politics and gay liberation activism. In anticipation of the book’s release, I’ve heard from scholars interested in purchasing the book to explore interrelated themes in their own research, such as women’s friendship and intimacy in 1940s modernist circles. Additionally, a documentarian contacted me wanting oral histories to make a film about Claude’s, a bohemian bar in Santa Fe, New Mexico known for its regular crowds of gay and lesbian artists in the early 1950s and through the 1960s. Publishing with a university press was important in giving my work visibility among these different audiences.

Tell us more about your experiences working with a university press.

It takes many hands to make a book. As a first-time author, I greatly benefited from the guidance of a team of people who assisted with developing, copy editing, designing, and marketing my book. In particular, [editorial director] Larin McLaughlin and editorial assistant Caroline Hall helped me manage copyright permissions. The queer history of New Mexico is scattered in various archives, unpublished personal narratives, private visual queer representations, and people’s memories. Part of this project was to create a composite portrait of queer lives, grounded in archival and oral research, that will serve as a starting point for others. UW Press helped me to navigate the copyright process. A few images I wanted to include in the book, especially the cover image, proved difficult to track down the necessary permissions. While securing copyright falls on the author’s shoulders, Larin and Caroline offered guidance on how to proceed when I hit a roadblock. It was important to me to start my book (the cover) with queer women who have long been overshadowed by works about men. This book begins with queer women’s voices and from there highlights people who possessed a wide range of desires, sexual subjectivities, and gender variance. A university press’s familiarity with the scholarly process enabled me to use all the materials I collected as fully as possible.

How do you see university press publishing as helpful to your work and career? What are your thoughts on the university press community as a whole?

Scholarly presses serve a public good by producing trustworthy sources of information by experts who aim to bring their intellectual expertise to expand people’s ways of thinking and solve modern injustices. They take risks in publishing cutting edge ideas. Academic theory, in conjunction with community activism, eventually seeps into mainstream culture and has a tremendous effect on the way people think and talk. As a short example, the term nonbinary, conceptualized by activists and queer theorists in the 1990s, is now used by many ordinary people to self-identify. Wide-Open Desert contributes to a body of scholarship that shows that queer, nonbinary, and trans identified folks have always been here, even though people used different terms to describe themselves. They embraced innovative ways to survive and thrive. My work argues that queer people contributed substantially to making Santa Fe the third largest art market in the United States. Creative centers, like large cities, inspired queer people to move, place-make, and unleash their creativity. Over several decades, both subtle and explicit queer cultural production opened sexual discourse, which served as a foundation for the later triumphs of the modern gay liberation movement.

Was there a particularly significant book that influenced your own?

I read Andrew J. Jolivétte’s (Atakapa-Ishak Nation of Louisiana) Indian Blood: HIV and Colonial Trauma in San Francisco’s Two-Spirit Community [published by UW Press in 2016]. The book explores the HIV epidemic among, gay, two-spirit, and transgender Native people who also identify as mixed race. Jolivette’s succinct chapters address structural risk factors, particularly the ongoing effects of settler colonialism, and the final chapter offers a solution—implementation of intergenerational healing and cultural leadership. Indian Blood influenced me to work with UW Press. It made me rethink university presses, which I conceived of as producing lengthy and dense academic works for specialists. I was impressed by the readability and short length. My own book also centers two-spirit history and interrogates colonialism. Similar to Jolivette, I show the harm of settler colonialism through the suppression of two-spirit roles. At the same time, queer Native artists pushed back through artistic and cultural survival tactics. Particularly for historically underrepresented communities who were often shut out of formalized political structures, creative expression served as an arena for activism. The geographical and cultural borderlands of the American Southwest afford scholars an opportunity to better understand both the exclusion and flourishing of racially diverse queer representations outside of gay meccas. New Mexico has a long queer history and remains a center of queer creativity.


This post is part of the 2022 University Press Week blog tour hosted by the Association of University Presses. This year’s theme is #NextUP, reflecting the spirit of constant learning, adaptation, and evolution within scholarly publishing. Read more about UP Week and all of the featured books and blog posts here.

Essential Workers and the American Labor Movement: Harvey Schwartz on Labor Under Siege

“I can’t stay home. I move the world’s cargo,” declared Rudy Moreno of Los Angeles/Long Beach ILWU longshore Local 13. His words were later memorialized in The Dispatcher, the union’s newspaper, in the January 2021 issue dedicated to Moreno and other members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union who had already lost their lives to Covid-19 because they risked staying on the job. In the first year of the pandemic, as many as 40 ILWU longshore and several warehouse workers braving the risk of disease fell to Covid; as of today, some 50 ILWU members have died.

Early in the Covid pandemic, ILWU waterfront workers greeted and docked the 1,000-bed United States Naval Ship Mercy when it came to Los Angeles to help relieve the burden of the disease on local hospitals and medical facilities. And like many other workers in “front-line” industries whose ranks have been diminished by Covid’s ravages, ILWU longshore and warehouse members have continued to show up, to persevere through grueling round-the-clock shifts, and to risk their lives and health while moving and storing critical cargo—food, medicines, cars—that America depends on. In October 2021, current ILWU President Willie Adams met with President Joe Biden to address ongoing supply chain issues brought on by the disease. Since then, ILWU leaders have met repeatedly with public officials and shipping executives to help unjam pandemic-caused backups in West Coast ports.

Over the past two-and-a-half years, many “essential” workers have been publicly celebrated for their courageous efforts to keep hospitals and basic businesses functioning and the supply chain moving despite the perils of the Covid-19 pandemic. But celebrated or not, when workers have tried to unionize, their efforts have often been fiercely opposed. Despite some surprising successes in the 2022 organizing drives by employees at Amazon, Starbucks, and Apple, workers’ gains in these industries have involved ferocious battles against entrenched company resistance.

Under its long-serving president, Robert McEllrath, the ILWU’s struggles over the past two decades, described in Labor under Siege: Big Bob McEllrath and the ILWU’s Fight for Organized Labor in an Anti-Union Era, reflect the difficulties faced by all unions in a challenging era for organized labor. Narrated in participants’ own words, this oral history will inspire workers in other industries now organizing and rejuvenating the American labor movement. With the ILWU’s long tradition of championing civil rights, social justice, equal opportunity, respect for diversity, and domestic and international labor solidarity, the union has endured numerous attacks going back to its founding in the 1930s. During the twenty-first century, the storied West Coast union has persevered despite serious threats from hostile corporations, government officials, and law enforcement agents. “As labor reasserts itself,” Laurie Mercier, professor of American history at Washington State University, recently wrote of Labor under Siege, “it can learn from those who recall the importance of effective leadership, maintaining solidarity locally and internationally, supporting social justice causes, and upholding the ILWU motto, ‘an injury to one is an injury to all.'”


Harvey Schwartz is curator of the Oral History Collection for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union library in San Francisco. He is the author of The March Inland: Origins of the ILWU Warehouse Division, 1934-1938 and, with the University of Washington Press, Solidarity Stories: An Oral History of the ILWU; Building the Golden Gate Bridge: A Workers’ Oral History; and, with Ronald E. Magden, Labor under Siege: Big Bob McEllrath and the ILWU’s Fight for Organized Labor in an Anti-Union Era.

Announcing The Outdoors: Recreation, Environment, and Culture Series

This new series will critically examine the dynamic social and political questions connected to outdoor experiences. While outdoor recreation provides a means to interact with nature and experience solitude or adventure, it also raises issues such as the dispossession of Indigenous lands, the exclusivity of recreational cultures, and the environmental impact of outdoor practices. This series aims to explore these tensions and the landscapes that have come to embody them.

Books in the series will explore how race, gender, disability, indigeneity, and class shape encounters and understandings of the outdoors and outdoor environments. Authors may also interrogate how physical environments and economic or political considerations around public land use, consumption, tourism, technology, and sport affect outdoor recreational practices and access.

Creating points of connection within multiple fields and disciplines, authors may be grounded in American studies, sports studies, environmental history/humanities, history, disability studies, geography, ethnic studies, Indigenous studies, or women’s and gender studies. The series seeks to be a catalyst in the development of a coher ent and vibrant field in its own right, where scholars of the outdoors can collectively advance our knowledge. We welcome proposals for single-authored scholarly monographs, cutting-edge edited collections, and projects with crossover appeal for general readers in bookstores and national parks.

Queries may be sent to Mike Baccam, Acquisitions Editor, at mbaccam@uw.edu.

About the Series Editors

Annie Gilbert Coleman is associate professor of American studies at the University of Notre Dame. She is the author of Ski Style: Sport and Culture in the Rockies.

Phoebe S. K. Young is professor of history at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is the author of Camping Grounds: Public Nature in American Life from the Civil War to the Occupy Movement and California Vieja: Culture and Memory in a Modern American Place.

Post-Pandemic Buddhist Tourism in Northern Thailand

Brooke Schedneck, author of Religious Tourism in Northern Thailand

Temples, like many places in Thailand, have seen reduced activity since March 2020 but are slowly filling with tourists again. As tourism returns to Thailand, with restrictions to enter the country completely lifted on July 1, 2022, how are Buddhist temple residents feeling about opening their temples again? What are the ways Buddhist monks are rethinking the role of tourism for their temples?

In my monograph, Religious Tourism in Northern Thailand: Encounters with Buddhist Monks (2021), I analyzed the ways tourism, education, and urbanization were part of the experience for student monks in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, with fieldwork conducted from 2013 to 2018. I investigated sites of what I term “cultural exchange programs.” These programs are developed by individual monks and temples in order to take advantage of tourism for activities like chatting with a monk, staying over at a temple as an individual or with an educational tour, being temporarily ordained as a novice monk, or teaching English as a volunteer in a temple school.

I visited Chiang Mai again in June and July 2022, and asked student monks about how the lack of tourism and attendant economic effects during the last two years affected their daily lives. I specifically asked,

How has Covid-19 affected life at your temple?
What have you missed about talking with tourists?
What are the benefits of having fewer tourists?

Their answers reflected the loneliness they felt during the pandemic and the benefit of cultural exchange programs, of which tourists are a necessary part.

The main issue for Buddhist communities during the pandemic was the breakdown of the merit economy, an essential part of Theravada Buddhism that connects laypeople and monastics. The offering of food and material goods to monks is an integral part of the daily practice of Buddhism in Thailand. The belief is that through the act of giving, lay Buddhists receive merit. Merit is believed to negate the effect of past evils in the giver’s present life and in the next. Lay Buddhists make merit in many ways, such as donating time, goods, and money, depending on their circumstances. Monks, for their part, are at the top of the Buddhist social hierarchy and are considered to have the most merit. Through a disciplined lifestyle and dedication to study and practice, they are considered worthy recipients of gifts and offerings.

With laypeople and monks afraid of the possibility of catching and transmitting Covid-19, the necessary relationship between these two groups was strained. Many temples closed four or five times for a month or two each time, resulting in monks having to cook for themselves. Overall, there was a lack of connection and communication with laypeople, especially in city temples with many monks and novices to feed.

Phra Boon of Wat Sompow in Chiang Mai experienced periods of up to three months when his temple was closed and he could not receive offerings on alms round. However, life was easier at small village temples outside the city with fewer monks and dedicated supporters. Phra Jor said that Covid did not affect him and his temple too much. In this village temple, which is thirty minutes outside Chiang Mai city, people in the community, for the most part, continued to give. This was due to the close connection of the three to four monks in the temple to the small village.

At Wat Phra Singh the lack of tourists created less income for the temple, which needs funding for the temple school located on the premises. In contrast,Wat Palad has the support it needs without being dependent on tourism. Without tourists visiting Wat Palad, the monks were able to develop the temple further with landscaping and building projects and had more tranquility and time to focus on their environment.

Several months ago, tourists started to return to Wat Palad as part of private tour groups. These types of tourists, Phra Thavy finds, are more peaceful because they are shown how to observe the monks’ life through their guide. But lately more individual tourists have come with a different attitude that says, “Why are there so many rules here?” They ride into the temple on their motorbikes without a guide to explain how to behave appropriately and respectfully. Tourism produces varying responses, depending on the temple and local situation. Tourism can be necessary as a source of income. It can also be distracting, offensive, or a welcome addition to the temple atmosphere depending on the levels of respect and awareness of the tourists.

Monk Chat—a program where curious tourists and monks who are college students engage in casual conversation—was closed for two years at Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Srisuphan, and Wat Suan Dok. Many of the student monks choose to attend the monastic universities in Chiang Mai because of the Monk Chat program, where they can practice English with native speakers. Covid-19 made it difficult to recruit new students and created a less than ideal learning situation, where monks lacked motivation to practice and apply English.

Phra Kyo, a teacher at Wat Suan Dok’s Monk Chat and Meditation program, loves to teach. Being forced to stop doing what he loves was hard, and he lost confidence and motivation. However, he tried to meditate on the Buddhist truth of impermanence as the ups and downs of tourism along with a global pandemic certainly provided possibilities for reflection on these deep Buddhist teachings.

This period of time without tourism was challenging in many ways, even with peace and quiet as compensation. As restrictions lifted, most monks were just happy to see people again, making merit and receiving offerings. The student monks at Chiang Mai’s monastic universities were excited to be able to talk with tourists again and explain Buddhism in English to curious listeners.

In addition to exploring tourism and urbanization, my book also looked at the effects of tourism for student monks. Through their participation in cultural exchange programs, they felt more open and understanding toward different cultural and religious groups. They also were proud to be able to spread Buddhism to new audiences. These possibilities are especially exciting for student monks currently attending monastic university, who were unable to take advantage of the urban educational possibilities of Chiang Mai for the last two years.


Brooke Schedneck is assistant professor of religious studies at Rhodes College and author of Thailand’s International Meditation Centers: Tourism and the Global Commodification of Religious Practices. Her latest book, Religious Tourism in Northern Thailand: Encounters with Buddhist Monks, is available now.

Can Everyday Body Hair Practices Have Revolutionary Implications?

Breanne Fahs on Unshaved

Though body diversity, body acceptance, and embodied revolt have long informed feminist politics, women’s body hair removal nevertheless occurs at rates I would classify as extraordinary compliance.100Between 92 and 99 percent of women in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and much of western Europe regularly remove their leg and underarm hair, while from 50 to 98 percent of women report that they removed some or all of their pubic hair. Women also remove their body hair at great cost: American women who shave spend in their lifetimes more than $10,000 and two months of their lives managing unwanted hair; that number increases to a full $23,000 for women who wax once or twice per month. Women throughout the world have seen increases in the mandate for women’s body hair removal. Chinese women have become targets of advertising campaigns that teach them to feel shame about their bodies, while Japanese women have become huge proponents of laser hair removal. Hair removal in India has become ubiquitous, with increased use of depilatories and laser hair removal for the chin, upper lip, underarms, cheeks, and bikini area. For German women, who were once averse to removal, 69 percent now remove their body hair. Given what is known about the influence of American television on body shaming and eating disorders in women throughout the world, one can surmise that norms of hairlessness are also being exported with equal intensity.  

Though I have studied the social norm of body hair removal for nearly fifteen years, I continue to find it remarkable that women have been so wholly convinced to adhere to a norm that is purely social and aesthetic, with no notable health or hygiene benefits.101 In fact, doctors have recently begun to urge women to reconsider removing body hair, especially pubic hair, due to the link between hair removal and adverse medical risks, including shaving injuries, lacerations, rashes, abscesses, and abrasions. They also caution about the risk of unnecessary and risky hospitalizations due to uncontrollable staph infections due to body hair removal. And yet, women who removed their body hair reported feeling cleaner, more hygienic, sexier, more attractive, smoother, and more “normal.” Most women remove their body hair not because someone else tells them to but because they want to. Most women argue that removing their body hair is their personal choice, that they enjoy it, and that they would feel “dirty” or “gross” by not removing it.

But, of course, that isn’t really the story. People do not typically make informed and rational choices about grooming, beauty, and aesthetics based on logical outcomes or careful personal analysis, and choices are not all equally choose-able. Body hair removal has become compulsory. Those nonconformists who choose to go against the grain often face great social penalties and find themselves in a condition of, at minimum, exerting effort just to be themselves. At times, they face even more severe forms of social punishment, including derogatory comments, discrimination, social isolation, harassment, threats, and assault. These are the conditions to which we subject women who defy social norms and expectations, who delineate the boundaries of their own bodies on their own terms rather than someone else’s. These are also the conditions within which people make routine, everyday choices about their bodies, as the expectations of rejection, disapproval, and social punishment become possibilities.

The story of women’s body hair removal connects at its core to the story of women’s oppression, to the insidious ways that women’s bodies are controlled, managed, shaped, restricted, constrained, and dictated by outside forces.  Hair is tangled up with a wide variety of powerful institutions that shape the choices women make about their bodies—cultural practices, institutions, formal organizations, families, workplaces, relationships, the beauty and fashion industries, governments, and capitalism, to name a few. Cultural stories about hair—particularly women’s body hair—have their roots in the fundamental belief in the gendering of subject/object relations, where women are told (and then internalize) the story that their bodies are fundamentally wrong in their natural state, and, in tandem with this, that they must alter their bodies in order to be seen as attractive, worthy of love, and inoffensive. 

Body hair is an emotional subject. In every interview I have done and in every piece I have written on this subject, my overwhelming impression is that body hair incites fervor. People feel strongly about their own hair choices and often react badly when women use body hair as a form of rebellion against the status quo. Body hair is also a tool, something that peels away the layers of the culture people live in, revealing its deeply held beliefs about rigid gender roles and normative body choices. Ultimately, body hair is also a place of possibility. It is the perfect site for exposing readers to the allure of social norms, the invisible workings of power, and the possibilities of resistance. Because everyone can relate to the subject of body hair—as we all negotiate the tiny daily choices around managing and grooming our body hair—this work serves as a springboard for more serious conversations about oppression, social identity, patriarchy, biopolitics, and power. Small aspects of our bodies have wide reverberations in the political and social landscape; more importantly, decisions about bodies matter not just to us as individuals but also to the wider political landscape. The workings of how gender operates, how the deep imprint of culture is felt in the individual’s experience of the body, and how cultural stories are made and remade, become visible when looking closely at the story of women’s body hair. And maybe, though this work is never complete, by seeing these stories more clearly, we can render them fragile and vulnerable, and we can see how easily they break apart and are remade anew. 


[100] Merran Toerien, Sue Wilkinson, and Precilla YL Choi, “Body Hair Removal: The ‘Mundane’ Production of Normative Femininity,” Sex Roles 52, no. 5-6 (2005): 399-406.

 “Women Spend up to $23,000 to Remove Hair,” UPI.com, June 24, 2008, https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2008/06/24/Women-spend-up-to-23000-to-remove-hair/64771214351618/?hsFormKey=6c236b2fe21f331cdf53ce23f1415097&ur3=1.

[101] Allison S. Glass, Herman S. Bagga, Gregory E. Tasian, Patrick B. Fisher et al., “Pubic Hair Grooming Injuries Presenting to U.S. Emergency Departments,” Urology 80, no. 6 (2012): 1187-1191.


Breanne Fahs is professor of women and gender studies at Arizona State University. She is the editor of Burn It Down!: Feminist Manifestos for the Revolution and author of Firebrand Feminism, Out for Blood: Essays on Menstruation and ResistanceWomen, Sex, and Madness: Notes from the Edge, and several other works. Her latest book, Unshaved: Resistance and Revolution in Women’s Body Hair Politics, is available now.

The Hauntings of Local History: Peter Boag on “Pioneering Death”

Admittedly, I see the world in terms of darkness rather than light, and in history as in life, I am drawn more to stories of human pathos than to tales of human triumph. I am bemused by “rosy retrospection”—the penchant of many to reflect on the positives of the past rather than on the negatives and to also, therefore, see the past as somehow better than the present.

Darkness, pathos, and the folly of rosy retrospection comprise the foundation of Pioneering Death. It tells the story of Loyd Montgomery, an impoverished eighteen-year-old who shot and killed his parents and a visiting neighbor on his family’s farm near the western Oregon town of Brownsville late on the fair autumn day of November 19, 1895. Little more than two months later, on a cool morning and just as the rising sun gilded the eastern sky above the Cascade Range, Loyd met his own end on gallows erected adjacent to the Linn County jail in the county seat of Albany.

I first became aware of the Montgomery murders when, back in the early 1980s, I began researching my own family’s history as connected to Brownsville, a community whose origins are rooted in the arrival there in the 1840s of its first white American settlers who came by way of wagons on the overland trails. When I began my work, local historians, the librarian, and museum docents who befriended me mentioned the murders. Given that the Montgomerys were among the most esteemed early American settlers of the area, when these local authorities spoke of that past tragedy, they did so more in hushed tones and as an aside to the official, celebratory “pioneer” history of that community. Clearly, Loyd’s grim tale haunted Brownsville long after it had happened. It took me close to four decades of intermittent research and unremitting reflection to figure out why.

My own digging, so-called, into the Montgomery murders began by accident on January 10, 1987. It was a dreary and rainy Saturday morning when I appeared at the Linn County Historical Museum in Brownsville to conduct research in its collections for my doctoral dissertation. That project later became my first book, and it focused on the environmental history of the southern Willamette Valley. (The reader will detect a clear pattern by now: my preoccupation with history—my need to make sense of its shadows—has taken me back time and again to Brownsville.) The gloominess of that January day and the relative darkness of the room in which I labored provided an atmosphere fitting for what I chanced upon—a photocopy of the special edition of the Brownsville Times for November 20, 1895. Its sole article is entitled “A TRIPPLE MURDER.” It was the first account of that crime to appear anywhere. It was also the one written closest to the event and by someone whose very eyes beheld the aftermath of the tragedy within hours of its commission. Sadly, only random issues from the 1890s of that newspaper are preserved. No issue among those, other than this fragment, comes from the period when the Montgomery murders otherwise lit up the headlines of papers in communities up and down the West Coast.

Albert Cavender, its writer, was the editor of the Brownsville paper. It took some time for word of the violent killings to make its way to his offices. By then, night had already fallen. But the resourceful newsman reached out to local boys—similar in age to the murderer—who, on horseback and with lanterns they must have grasped as tightly as anxiety gripped them, illuminated the way for the journalist as he headed up the country lane into this local heart of darkness. Cavender’s description of the landscape of death that he found there beguiled me—the bodies and the blood; desiccated hop vines in surrounding fields yet clinging to their poles long since the late summer harvest had ended; the Montgomery family’s forlorn and weathered house sitting beneath the sprawling limbs of an immense maple tree; and the canine companion of the neighbor-victim that took up vigil at his slaughtered master’s side, refusing to be lured from it. Those forbidding images and so many others in that two-page document bespoke the poverty, tragedy, darkness, and pathos not just of the victims and the boy murderer but of their community, the larger region, and even the nation.

Cavender’s story had nothing to do with my dissertation’s subject. But it so haunted me that I took a copy of it, promising myself that one day I would do something with it. For the next three decades and more, Loyd Montgomery became an unwelcome companion to me as I struggled to piece together who he was, what he did, how he and his violent actions fit into history, and how to craft a coherent story from it all. As it turned out, I needed those years—time spent at four universities, countless hours in the classroom, and intervals for producing three other books on quite different topics—to collect the research and, more, come to comprehend why Loyd haunted me as much as he did the community that he was more a part of than he was apart from.

Apart from rather than a part of community history is how local memory preferred it. The vast literature that exists on matricide and patricide, moreover, fortifies that construction. That is, psychology, criminology, and other social sciences that dominate parricide studies are by nature disciplines that, with rare exception, are disinterested in the larger, historical forces that I have come to understand contribute mightily to why children have more than occasionally killed their parents. Local tradition and the traditional approaches to explaining parricide had worked together—intentionally, defensively, or both—to bury the truth so deeply about Loyd that I simply needed the time and the education that time affords to unearth it.

As I excavated Loyd’s life, slowly peeling back the accumulated layers of historical and disciplinary sediments and sentiments, a much darker tale revealed itself than simply that of an isolated, though horribly gruesome anecdote. His story is really the underbelly of so many a local Oregon history (and local histories elsewhere in North America) that celebrate the “pioneer” foundations of community, state, and nation. Constructing these histories involved willfully burying the truth about the brutal, murderous, and even genocidal nature of them. But more, the violent expressions within Oregon “pioneer” families were in reality and are in the very wanton act of trying to forget them, an integral part of the story of American-settler violence against Indigenous people. The messy, unresolved, and troubling tension between the darkness of reality and the human need for rosy reflection in all this is just one of the many stories that Pioneering Death exhumes from our haunting past.


Peter Boag is professor and Columbia Chair in the History of the American West at Washington State University. He is author of Re-Dressing America’s Frontier PastSame-Sex Affairs: Constructing and Controlling Homosexuality in the Pacific Northwest, and Environment and Experience: Settlement Culture in Nineteenth-Century Oregon. His latest book, Pioneering Death: The Violence of Boyhood in Turn-of-the-Century Oregon is available now.

From The Street Smart Naturalist: Spring is Nigh

I am big fan of spring. I love the unpredictable weather, the reemergence of plants and beasts, the frisson of reproductive potential and have long enjoyed watching for signs of the vernal world. Recently, I have been inspired by an unlikely source: George Orwell. (I plan on writing about him in the future so won’t say much now.) In a splendid little essay titled “Some Thoughts on the Common Toad,” he wrote (in April 1946):

The point is that the pleasures of spring are available to everybody, and cost nothing. Even in the most sordid street the coming of spring will register itself by some sign or other, if it is only a brighter blue between the chimney pots or the vivid green of an elder sprouting on a blitzed site. Indeed it is remarkable how Nature goes on existing unofficially, as it were, in the very heart of London.

Orwell then asks if it’s “wicked to take pleasure in spring,” considering the challenges of the world, which were certainly epic and severe in post–World War II London, and sadly still are now. Shouldn’t people be more focused on more serious issues than whether a toad appears and pursues his or her life? He categorically rejects those who hold such a view and offers a wonderful sentiment: 

I think that by retaining one’s childhood love of such things as trees, fishes, butterflies and—to return to my first instance—toads, one makes a peaceful and decent future a little more probable, and that by preaching the doctrine that nothing is to be admired except steel and concrete, one merely makes it a little surer that human beings will have no outlet for their surplus energy except in hatred and leader worship.

Here then are a few observations reaffirming the beauty, resiliency, and healing power of spring, in my fair city of Seattle.

Varied thrush – Graham Gerdeman, Macauley Library.

Varied thrush (Ixoreus naevius) – For the past few weeks, I have been thrilling to the trilling of varied thrushes. These orange-necked, black-bibbed cousins of robins typically start calling at dawn in a haunting, monotone whistle suffused with the mysteries of a mountain forest. Summer residents of higher elevation, they migrate down to hang out with we lowland dwellers from late fall to spring. Oddly, this year is the first that I have noticed varied thrushes in spring—they typically visit our yard in autumn—so it has been an exquisite joy to hear them. The trilling notes feel not only like a rejoicing of spring but also a call to turn one’s thoughts to the mountains.

Crocus (Crocus sp.) – Found in hundreds of locations around the city, these lovely irises are one of the first to provide a nourishment of early season color. With a name derived from the Greek term for saffron, crocuses come in scores of species and originally grew from Portugal to western China. Horticulturists have cultivated about thirty varieties of which five are considered to be commercially important. The best known, saffron (Crocus sativus), comes from the three thread-like stigmas, between 5,000 and 12,500 of which produce an ounce of the fragrant spice. Cultivated by Egyptians and Romans, saffron reached China in the seventh century, and by the fourteenth, it had permeated England, France, and Germany. By the way, you can grow C. sativus in Seattle, though you will more likely encounter one of the many cultivars heralding spring in yards across the city.

Camas, Charles Knowles, Wikipedia.

Camas (Camassia quamash) – Many years ago when we bought our house, I planted a few camas bulbs. Since then, they have spread across our yard, emerging in spring like green signposts of the bounty to come. I am not the first to encourage the growth of these edible roots. For generations, Indigenous people of Puget Sound burnt the prairies south of Tacoma around Nisqually and Fort Lewis and on islands in Puget Sound to foster camas growth, which they harvested in spring. One had to be careful though. As botanist David Douglas noted in April 1825 about camas bulbs: “assuredly they produce flatulence: when in the Indian hut I was almost blown out by strength of wind.” In contrast, botanist William Fraser Tolmie of the Hudson’s Bay Company wrote of the “rich and level prairies . . . [their] surface enamelled with a profusion of blue flowered kamass.” Our camas certainly don’t compare, but I still rejoice when the flowers blossom and blue ponds of shimmering light grace our yard. 

Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) – Noisy, territorial, and garnished by vivid red epaulettes, red-winged blackbirds have been out chattering of late with their distinctive konk-la-ree callsThey are denizen of watery locales, such as Green Lake, the Center for Urban Horticulture, and Echo Lake, where males flaunt their garish shoulder patches as a sign of territoriality. Studies have shown that if the birds intend to fight and protect their turf, they will display their badge of red, but if they are merely “visiting” or “testing” a new territory, they may not display and wait to see what the present owner does. Perhaps we could take a lesson. Be patient and sport red epaulettes but only flare them when necessary. Otherwise, chill out.


David B. Williams is a naturalist, author, and educator. His many books include the award-winning Too High and Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle’s TopographySeattle Walks: Discovering History and Nature in the City, and most recently Homewaters: A Human and Natural History of Puget Sound. Subscribe to Street Smart Naturalist: Explorations of the Urban Kind.

Announcing New UW Press Book Series: Critical Filipinx Studies

Critical Filipinx Studies is a new book series from the University of Washington Press, edited by Robyn Magalit Rodriguez, founding director of the Bulosan Center for Filipinx Studies. This series lifts up the decolonizing identities and cultural productions of people who claim roots to the Philippines and illuminates how Filipinos in America and across the diaspora experience and imagine their everyday lives.

Informed by cultural studies, ethnic studies, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, this series is necessarily a feminist and queer project. Emphasizing work by scholar-activists who adopt a stance of care—ethical and political commitment—toward the people whose lives animate their work, it traces interracial solidarities, as fraught as they may be, to disrupt racial capitalism’s impulse to both homogenize and propagate
“multicultural” difference.

“I can think of no better partner than the UW Press in launching this historically significant book series in Critical Filipinx Studies. UW has published important texts in Asian American Studies and will continue to be at the cutting edge of Asian American Studies scholarship with this series,” explains Robyn Magalit Rodriguez. 

This series will publish books that engage with some of the following questions: What are the experiences of Filipinx migrants and what about these experiences sheds light on the nature of global racial capitalism? How do Filipinx people resist imperial and neocolonial structures and imagine and organize toward non-extractive, regenerative futures? How are Filipinx people represented across multiple forms of media and in what ways do they counter these representations? How do Filipinx people construct an alternative global archipelago of being and belonging?

“I’m looking for vibrant interdisciplinary projects or projects rooted in various disciplines, including critical ethnic studies, Asian/American studies, history, cultural studies, geography, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. I’m also particularly drawn to books that are theoretically rich but accessible to readers outside of academia. I’d love for these books to be on the shelves at local independent bookstores and public libraries,” adds Acquisitions Editor Mike Baccam.


Proposals for single-authored books across disciplines, from monographs to other compelling nonfiction books that appeal to a broader audience, are welcome for submission. We will also consider groundbreaking anthologies. Queries may be sent to Robyn at robyn@drrobynrodriguez.com and to Mike at mbaccam@uw.edu.