Author Archives: UWP Publicity

While Making Other Plans: Ellen Waterston on “Walking the High Desert”

 

In 2012 the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) pieced together a 750-mile trail that starts at the Oregon Badlands Wilderness outside of Bend and continues to the southeastern Oregon canyonlands that flank the Owyhee River. I moved from New England to the high desert of central Oregon four decades ago. Though I now live in Bend, my love of this hardscrabble outback still informs me every day. So it’s no surprise that this new trail spoke to me, lured me back into the desert. No longer actively ranching, I decided I’d walk sections of the trail to bring attention to the ONDA’s Oregon Desert Trail especially as it underscored public and private land use issues. I would make a point of evenly and fairly presenting the conflicting points of view about repurposing open areas of public land. I prided myself that in so many ways I already knew the players: ranchers; Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, and Fish and Wildlife employees; schoolteachers in rural schoolhouses; merchants in remote outposts; American Indians on reservations in the high desert; law enforcement officials who, some years back, were kind enough to wave me on, despite my excessive speed, as I made my way along desolate Highway 20 back to the ranch with a station wagon full of fussy infants and sacks of groceries.

In 2015, I began researching and writing this A to Z examination of land use issues in the high desert. But the January 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters by an armed group of far-right extremists changed all that. Life and writing projects are what happen while you are busy making other plans. The occupation was an invitation I couldn’t refuse to broaden the scope of the book, to examine how each section of the trail, in its own unique way, underscored issues that weren’t only regional but also national, if not international, seen through the optic of the high desert—issues such as water resources, climate change, protection of environmental habitat, recreational demands on open spaces, the rural-urban divide, economic inequities, and racism in the rural West.

Writing this book has led me to love the desert even more and to deeply apprehend how fragile it is socially and environmentally. With so many new people moving into this high and dry region, just as I did before them—there needs to be a commensurate commitment to care for it. I hope this book inspires people to engage in important conversations not only about the high desert but also about how these broader and seemingly unresolvable issues manifest where each of us live. As I encountered those issues, I confess I didn’t see any chance for resolution, but by the end of the book… well, I won’t be a spoiler.

 


Ellen Waterston is author of Where the Crooked Desert Rises: A High Desert Home, a memoir, four poetry collections, and four poetry collections including a verse novel. She is the founder and president of the Waterston Desert Writing Prize and the founder of the Writing Ranch in Bend, Oregon.

Announcing the 2020-2021 Mellon University Press Diversity Fellows

The University of Washington Press, the MIT Press, Cornell University Press, the Ohio State University Press, University of Chicago Press, Northwestern University Press, and the Association of University Presses (AUPresses) today announce the recipients of the 2020-2021 Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowships.

These fellowships are generously funded by a four-year, $1,205,000 grant awarded to the University of Washington Press from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the continued development and expansion of the pipeline program designed to diversify academic publishing by offering apprenticeships in acquisitions departments. This second grant builds on the success of the initial 2016 grant from the Mellon Foundation, which funded the first cross-press initiative of its kind in the United States to address the marked lack of diversity in the academic publishing industry.

Please join us in welcoming the 2020-2021 Mellon University Press Diversity Fellows:

Jason Alley joins the University of Washington Press after having served as a visiting assistant professor at Beloit College. Originally from greater Los Angeles, he received his BA in film from the University of California, Berkeley and his MA and PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He brings several years of nonprofit work experience to the table, including stints at Project Inform, a HIV treatment education and advocacy organization, and the Pacific Film Archive, a cinematheque and research center based at the University of California, Berkeley. A fervent believer in good writing across a range of nonfiction genres, Jason’s scholarly interests include anthropology, American studies, visual culture, and feminist and queer studies.

Erika Barrios joins the MIT Press from Northwestern University, where she just completed her BA in English literature. At Northwestern, she worked as a research assistant to digitize the journal Mandorla: Nueva Escritura de las Américas for Open Door Archive. She graduates as an alumna of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, having written her honors thesis on the use of language technology in contemporary US Latinx poetry. Her research interests include twentieth- and twenty-first-century poetry and poetics, digital humanities, hemispheric American literature, and literary responses to neoliberalism.

Rebecca Brutus joins the University of Chicago Press after graduating in May from Ithaca College, where she majored in writing and minored in theater studies and women’s and gender studies. At Ithaca she served as senior nonfiction editor of the literary magazine Stillwater and as a tutor in the Writing Center. She worked for the Ithaca College Library and as a writing and social media intern at Buffalo Street Books. She was also involved with ZAP, a student-run volunteer program that organized panels to educate the campus community about diversity-related issues. Her enthusiasm for university press publishing was cemented during an internship in the marketing department at Cornell University Press.

Joe Fitzgibbon joins the Ohio State University Press with a professional background in academic copyediting and proofreading of both books and journals. He received his BA from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and MA from the College of William & Mary, where he wrote a thesis on the federalization of US immigration policy in the antebellum period. He currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin, and spends his free time reading and managing the Wisconsin Sting sled hockey team.

Allegra Martschenko joins Cornell University Press after working as a sales intern at Princeton University Press. She has also worked in the world of children’s book publishing, managing social media for a small press. She is a recent graduate of Princeton University’s School of Architecture, with minors in urban studies and creative writing. Her interests include speculative fiction (especially the work of Laini Taylor), video games, and painting.

Iván Pérez-Zayas joins Northwestern University Press after working as a college professor and journalist. He received his BA in public communications and MA in English literature from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. He has published book and film reviews and co-edited a book of short stories and poems by young Puerto Rican writers, including some of his own work. In 2018, Editorial Disonante published his first poetry chapbook, Para restarse. He is currently writing a dissertation on twentieth- and twenty-first-century Latin American comics, especially those that depict the everyday lives of their characters and explore issues of race, gender and sexuality, to complete his PhD in Spanish and Portuguese at Northwestern University.

 

Walking Nearby History: Judy Bentley on “Walking Washington’s History”

Staying home and walking more in your neighborhood? There’s more underfoot than you may realize. Cities are rich in layers of history, some visible, some not.

Heading out my side door, I find a clothesline pole still standing between my house and the condo building next door, trailing vines instead of drying sheets. A half-mile away is a monument marking the landing of the Denny-Low-Terry party at Alki in 1851. Those are the obvious finds.

Less obvious is the median sloping downhill in front of our house, separating two narrow one-way streets. When we moved here 16 years ago, the hillside was overgrown with weeds. One lone plum tree drooped with fruit each fall. In the early 1900s children walked to the neighborhood school along a one-lane dirt road paralleling a meadow. “We frequently preferred the trail along Chilberg Avenue,” recalled one resident, “to enjoy some of the most beautiful wildflowers in the open fields and leading up into ‘the woods,’ the hillside forest.” Pleasant memories for troubled times.

Troubled times are nothing new. As I researched Walking Washington’s History: Ten Cities, I often found conflict. I had read about the Everett Massacre of 1914 when striking millworkers in the city were supported by Wobblies who arrived on boats from Seattle. The Wobblies were met with gunfire. The dock where the clash occurred is long gone, but as I walked the waterfront in 2017, I found wreaths made out of dried cedar hung on a wire fence, each commemorating one of the 12 men killed.

WA History 1

At the Chinese Reconciliation Park in Tacoma, the haunting figures of Chinese workers expelled from the city in 1885 are painted on stone, an attempt to remember and acknowledge.

WA History 2

There were moments of pleasure, too, when I found the cool bubbling spring behind the Bigelow House in Olympia, which supplied drinking water to the early residents. Vancouver has not just one but three statues of women: a pioneer mother, a Native American woman, and a World War II welder.

WA History 3

Where history is less visible, interpretive art recalls the work of ordinary people. A sculpted fruit-picker’s bag sits on a square in Yakima.

WA History 4

To find history underfoot, look closely as you walk, and ask why. Then visit the local historical society when it opens again; you may find an oral history or memories that recall experiences like a walk to school.

Today, the meadow along that old dirt road has been reclaimed by community volunteers with plantings of more fruit trees, native shrubs, and wildflowers. Some of the forest above remains, on a hillside too steep for development. Walkers passing the wildflowers on this relatively quiet street are in good historic company.


Judy Bentley is the author of fourteen nonfiction books for young adults and three books published by the University of Washington Press, including Walking Washington’s History: Ten Cities, Hiking Washington’s History, and Free Boy: A True Story of Slave and Master. She taught composition, literature, and Pacific Northwest history for more than 20 years at South Seattle College.

Association of University Presses Releases Equity and Anti-Racism Statement

Below is a statement released on June 2, 2020 from the Association of University Presses.

The Association of University Presses (AUPresses) holds among our core values diversity and inclusion. As an organization and as a community, we mourn the lost lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others, stolen by the systemic racism at work in the US. We condemn police brutality and other forms of socially sanctioned racist violence. And we stand in solidarity with all who continue to seek justice, to imagine equity, and to enact a different world.

Many of our member presses put the values of diversity and inclusion into the world in a tangible way, playing major roles over the last few decades in amplifying the voices of scholars who originated African American Studies, Native Studies, and LGBTQ studies, among other groundbreaking fields. These works are readily available to provide insights and are frequently cited as resources in response to police brutality or white supremacist violence.

But we have only to look to evidence such as that found in the Lee & Low Diversity Baseline Survey, indicating in 2019 that our ranks are 76% white, to know that holding a value is not sufficient. Every day our professional community—just as our personal communities—must work towards equity, towards inclusion, and towards justice.

Today we issue the AUPresses Statement on Equity and Anti-Racism, declaring that upholding these core values requires “introspection, honesty, and reform of our current practices, the interests they serve, and the people and perspectives they exclude.” Drafted by our Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, taken through a rigorous review process by our Equity, Justice, and Inclusion (EJI) Committee, and approved by the AUPresses Board of Directors, this statement points a way forward:

“Only with systems of accountability in place to protect and lift up those who have been historically harmed and silenced by our collective inaction will we succeed in dismantling the white supremacist structure upon which so many of our presses and parent institutions were built. How to support these efforts sustainably across the industry must be considered a priority for the Association, its members, and its executive board as well as the main focus of the Equity, Justice, and Inclusion Committee.”

We acknowledge with gratitude the volunteer efforts of our EJI Committee, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, and Gender, Equity, and Cultures of Respect Task Force in calling us to this work. Download a PDF of the Statement on Equity and Anti-Racism.

Our inaugural EJI Community Read is another piece of this witness and work, and many member presses are organizing their staffs to read these essential selections: White Fragility by Robin D’Angelo (Beacon, 2018) and Invisible People by Alex Tizon (Temple, 2019). Our community’s full list of nominations for the Community Read project provides a wider lens through which to understand current events across the US as people protest and seek to right the wrongs of systematic racism and the long injustices of white supremacy.

As a community of publishers we are called to discuss and absorb what these authors have to say and to act on our colleagues’ specific recommendations—such as explicitly anti-racist training for managers, amelioration of the no- and low-wage entry points to our industry, and new recruitment and promotion strategies—with a goal of making equity a lived experience.

George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Michael Brown. The devastating list goes on and on. Yes, say their names. Yes, do the reading. But we must also live and work as though we have listened.


Here is a link to the statement, originally published on the Association of University Presses website. Here also is a link to the AUPresses Statement on Equity and Anti-Racism.

Take a Virtual Tour of Seattle’s Built Environment With These UWP Books

We were sorry to miss seeing everyone here in Seattle for this year’s annual meeting of the Society of Architectural Historians. As a follow up, we would like to share some of the press’s recent publications that explore and celebrate Seattle’s rich architectural heritage and planned urban landscapes.

All the titles featured below, as well as all UW Press books on our website, are currently on sale at a discount of 40% off including free shipping through June 30th. For more information and to order, visit our website and enter WASH20 at checkout.

9780295741284Seattle Walks: Discovering History and Nature in the City
by David B. Williams

“I could go on and on—every stop in the book seems to have an embedded mystery. . . . Chances are good that your neighborhood is in this book. Find and explore your own.”     Seattle Times

“Williams encourages readers to slow down and look at the city through a pedestrian’s eyes. It’s a worthy cause. . . . Williams actually gets you out onto the streets, where the history happened, and that makes everything seem closer and more relevant. . . . Seattle Walks is all about that feeling, of seeing familiar streets through new eyes. All it takes is a good guide, a slowing-down of your pace, and a willingness to stop and look up every once in a while.”Seattle Review of Books

9780295741345

Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place
Second Edition
by Coll Thrush

“Native Seattle offers a dynamic new model for writing urban and Indian histories together. Thrush successfully challenges narratives of progress in U.S. history that imply that modernity is predicated on the decline of Native people. . . . By demonstrating how white place-stories involving disappearing Indians have shaped our accounts, he successfully works to restore both the deeper history of urban places as well as the influence of Native people in the subsequent development of cities.”Journal of American History

“Coll Thrush’s book has importance far beyond the history of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest . . . revolutionary in his approach to the broad nature of Seattle’s indigenous history. . . . This book will endure.”Pacific Northwest Quarterly

9780295744087

Art in Seattle’s Public Spaces: From SoDo to South Lake Union
by James M. Rupp

“The perfect guide for those wanting to discover the evolution of the city’s public realm through the ideas and works of artists and collectors.”―Cath Brunner, Director, Public Art 4Culture

“Through the story of Seattle’s embrace of iconic artists and their space-changing work Jim Rupp illuminates how public art transforms public spaces.”―Karen J. Hanan, Executive Director, Washington State Arts Commission

9780295745619 (1)Sculpture on a Grand Scale: Jack Christiansen’s Thin Shell Modernism
by Tyler Sprague

“Jack Christiansen pioneered new possibilities in structural engineering and architecture for decades, yet his work is largely unknown due in part to his intentional lack of self-promotion. Tyler Sprague’s definitive book follows the arc of Christiansen’s extraordinary career and gleans lessons for designers, builders, and historians alike.”―John Ochsendorf, professor of engineering and architecture, MIT

“When Christiansen built the largest freestanding concrete dome on earth, he established himself as the structural artist of the Pacific Northwest. This book is a must-read for aficionados interested in the intersection of engineering and the arts. To contemporary shell designers I say, “Read this book and learn from this giant!””―Sigrid M. Adriaenssens, Co-author of Shell Structures for Architecture: Form Finding and Optimisation

9780295746449

Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects, 2nd Edition
Edited by Jeffrey Karl Ochsner
Paperback edition forthcoming August 2020

“Shaping Seattle Architecture reminds us of the responsibility we bear for future generations. Well illustrated and accessibly written, the book is a fundamental work for anyone seeking to understand Seattle.”―Sally J. Clark, Seattle City Council Member and Chair of the Council’s Housing Affordability, Human Services, and Economic Resiliency Committee

“Shaping Seattle Architecture is the single indispensable guide to understanding the built environment of the Pacific Northwest’s largest city and the men and women who designed it. Based on meticulous research and enlivened by fresh insights and new discoveries, the book is both an essential resource for students of architecture and history and a fascinating guide for anyone who cares about the city we live in now.”―Leonard Garfield, executive director, Museum of History & Industry

9780295746463

The Landscape Architecture of Richard Haag: From Modern Space to Urban Ecological Design
by Thaïsa Way

“Way’s research has prepared her well as an interpreter of Haag’s residential design, public work, and very importantly, post-industrial landscape remediation. She documents the evolution of his design practice and theory, his influences and influence, and very interestingly, the history of the founding department of landscape architecture at the University of Washington.”―Therese O’Malley, associate dean, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art

“Thaisa Way has filled a conspicuous gap in the history of landscape architecture in the United States. Her well-researched combination of insightful biographical narrative and perceptive case studies illuminates the core values informing the brilliant and enduring accomplishments of Richard Haag as designer, educator, and political activist.”―Reuben Rainey, University of Virginia

9780295748078

Building Reuse: Sustainability, Preservation, and the Value of Design
by Kathryn Rogers Merlino
Paperback edition forthcoming August 2020

“Whether you are new to sustainability as a counterpart to historic preservation or a seasoned professional who knows LEED backward and forward, there is much inspiration to be found in Building Reuse.”

–Washington Trust for Historic Preservation

“A welcome addition to the growing dialogue on stewardship of the built environment. The detailed case studies provide meaningful insights to an underappreciated and often overlooked sustainability strategy.”Robert Young, author of Stewardship of the Built Environment: Sustainability, Preservation, and Reuse

9781933245560

Olmsted in Seattle: Creating a Park System for a Modern City
by Jennifer Ott and the staff of HistoryLink

9781933245584

Seattle at 150: Stories of the City through 150 Objects from the Seattle Municipal Archives
by the staff of HistoryLink

Spring Dawn at Su Causeway: Xiaolin Duan on “The Rise of West Lake”

I never expected that 2020 would be shadowed by COVID-19 in both my home country and the one I am currently living in. Like many of my friends and colleagues, I have been spending more time online, joining Zoom meetings, sending messages, and reading every piece of information about this unfolding crisis.

Two news articles grabbed my attention as they mentioned the cultural site I wrote about in the book The Rise of West Lake: A Cultural Landmark in the Song Dynasty. On March 13, when the situation had somewhat stabilized in China, China Daily published an article “Hangzhou’s West Lake an idyllic spring destination.” Photos in this article show not only the willow trees that start sprouting but also sightseers strolling along the lake, all maintaining social distance measures and wearing masks (which is considered a necessary form of protection).

March has always been one of the best seasons for an outing to West Lake and long been extolled by poets and rendered by painters with emotionally charged brushes. The scenery is not much different from past years—not even from almost a thousand years ago. The willow and peach trees were planted along the causeway by the local governor Su Shi after an eleventh-century dredging project, and the Leifeng Pagoda in one photo has guarded the south end of the lake since the tenth century (the current one was rebuilt in 2002). Such scenery, however, becomes particularly precious this year. Hangzhou, like other cities in China, experienced a “stay-at-home” quarantine for the entire month of February, and major scenic sites were all closed to the public. It is not surprising that this article uses West Lake in the spring to symbolically convey the message that this is a long-awaited stabilized time; the masks in the image reveal just how much people miss the fresh air after four-weeks of self-quarantine. The lake indicates that it is now safe to go outdoors to embrace nature and represents the hope of going back to normal life. The emotion conveyed by springtime also enhances such hope. Literature and images about the lake love to portray the theme “Spring Dawn at Su Causeway,” one of the Ten Views that formed in the thirteenth century. At this moment, there is no better term than “spring dawn” to describe what people have desired during their long struggle in the dark.

Another article is about a bus that passed along the street next to West Lake that was painted with the three colors of Italy’s national flag, offering moral support for Hangzhou’s sister city, Verona. The bus exterior features both the painting of the Colosseum and the image of “Three Stupas and the Reflecting Moon,” another one of the Ten Views. The three pagodas in the middle of the lake were built by Su Shi to mark the boundary allowed for diked paddies. The practical function of these pagodas later disappeared while the scenic beauty they added to the lake became a popular theme for artistic creation. This scene also appears on the back of the one-yuan bill. Using this scenic site side-by-side with the Colosseum offers reassurance that the lake and its cultural sites are still considered as symbols for the city and Chinese culture.

Hangzhou and West Lake have long served as icons of Chinese landscape appreciation, literary and artistic expression, and tourism. During this difficult time, when people are living in fear, uncertainly, and isolation, the lake had become especially attractive and idealized. The fact that the lake welcomes visitors eases feelings of insecurity, and the iconic landscape symbolizes rapprochement with people in another country. The natural beauty of West Lake, as it has done many times throughout history, again has functioned as something comforting. Over time, writings on West Lake constructed it as a prominent landscape, consisting of stable elements such as the willow trees that always turn green in the spring and pagodas that silently yet firmly stand on the lakeshore. The “eternal” cultural tradition it conveys allows the lake to function as an anchor for identity, through which visitors and commentators have expressed their affection and a sense of hope for the country during such a scary and unknown time.

West Lake has dried up several times in history, and at times its beauty was shadowed by war and disasters. However, it could always resume its prosperity thanks to the endeavor, courage, and emotional attachment of people. Just as the lake has revived, I hope we can soon return to a time when people—in China, in the United States, and all other places—can enjoy and celebrate the natural scenery together with families and friends without worrying about social distancing.


Xiaolin Duan is assistant professor of history at North Carolina State University. The Rise of West Lake: A Cultural Landmark in the Song Dynasty is available now.

Navigating India’s Complex Legal Landscape: Jeffrey A. Redding on “A Secular Need”

Just three months ago, the novel coronavirus was a distant issue for many in India. Instead, independent India’s perennial problem of communal violence was front and center. Indeed, in late February, members of India’s ruling political party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), again engaged in communally-charged politicking, bringing their taunts and threats to the streets of India’s capital. Unsurprisingly, Muslims were the targets of these actors’ brazen bigotry, and Muslim neighborhoods and citizens were marked for death and destruction over the course of the next several days; at last count, over 50 people ended up dying in this Delhi mayhem at the beginning of 2020.

Scenes like these provide an unfortunate backdrop for my new book, A Secular Need: Islamic Law and State Governance in Contemporary India, concerning the complex and multi-sited operations of a network of non-state Muslim “courts” that has functioned in India for almost 100 years now. I put the term “courts” in scare quotes here because—as with so much concerning Muslims and Islamic legal life in contemporary India—there is a politics to this terminology. And, indeed, this is not just a book about a longstanding network of non-state Islamic legal institutions and the upstart secular state with which they interact—and sometimes supersede—but also a book about the politics of this fraught and often terrifying legal landscape. Ultimately, as I argue in my book, one has to understand the anti-Muslim discussions occurring nearly daily in India’s formal legal institutions to be on a continuum with the anti-Muslim mayhem recently witnessed on the streets of Delhi, as well as the devastating state-sponsored Muslim poverty that has been a longstanding feature of secular life in independent India.

More than an indictment, however, my book offers a sobering diagnosis of the anti-Muslim malady that consumes contemporary India. Indeed, what is often overlooked about anti-Muslim sentiment in India is that this feeling—and there is so much feeling here—is not simply about “otherizing” Muslims, but is also about “absorbing” Muslims, too. Indeed, Hindu nationalist-cum-secular thinking has, for some time now, seen Muslims as both outsiders to the Indian project, but also part of the larger “super-tolerant” Hindu fold. For example, the recent targeting of the uniquely Muslim-majority state of Kashmir by the central BJP government did not result in the expulsion of Kashmir but, rather, its radical absorption and transmutation from being a relatively autonomous State to being a centrally-administered Union territory. Here, and in many other instances too, India’s secular state has not just targeted Muslims for adverse treatment, but also drawn them in—albeit in peculiar and radical ways.

As I explain in my book, then, Indian secularism is not just a “hate project,” but is also a “love project,” and we need to bring complex tools of analysis to bear on this kind of affect-laden governance. Moreover, we have to account for how the secular state’s hate and love of—or, in other words, efforts to radically exclude and radically include—Muslims manage to simultaneously manifest. My book suggests that “secular need” is what underlies the coexistence of these discordant emotions and that, in effect, Indian secularism is in a complicated relationship of hate, love, and need with Indian Islam. Put another way, that it is the secular state’s dependence in India on non-state Islamic actors that generates this same state’s hate and love of Islam.

Across my book’s several chapters, I use a number of case studies to demonstrate the different kinds of dependencies that Indian secularism has on non-state Islamic legal actors. These various dependencies are both ideological and material in nature. To quickly preview them, they include Indian secularism’s need for non-state Islamic law and legal institutions because of a fear that this secularism may otherwise not be genuine in its tolerance. Second, Indian secularism needs non-state Islamic legal providers because of its ambivalent attachment to feminism. Put succinctly, for reasons of both internal and external legitimacy, Indian secularism needs women (and perhaps especially Muslim women) to have robust divorce options, yet Indian state courts are themselves unwilling to provide these divorce options. The “Muslim court” network focused on in my book can and does perform divorces for Muslim women. Third, Indian secularism needs non-state Islamic legal actors and institutions to intervene with disputing parties where the Indian state cannot because of the state’s alien secular qualities and, simultaneously, its fundamental anxieties about the state’s popular (il)legitimacy. Finally, the secular state needs Islamic legal actors and institutions to provide legal services because of how the Indian state is already consumed by overwhelming caseloads; these non-state legal actors help disperse dispute resolution across a broader range of capable legal actors.

This is both an exciting and perilous time to be writing on Indian secularism, and my hope is that A Secular Need can help both sustain and enrich important debates across scholars, social actors, and borders about secularism and its multiple effects, affects, and antecedents.


Jeffrey A. Redding is senior research fellow at Melbourne Law School and a New Generation Network scholar at the University of Melbourne’s Australia India Institute. A Secular Need: Islamic Law and State Governance in Contemporary India is available now.

Support Indie Bookstores: A Resource Guide

We are grateful to be based in a region that loves literature and supports a thriving literary ecosystem. Local independent bookstores are an integral part of this community. As many have been forced to temporarily close brick and mortar stores and move their operations online, we want to remind you how important it is to shop local right now. Buying a book or gift card during this unprecedented global crisis is a way to contribute to the longevity of our bookstore community.

If you are looking for a new book to read in the coming weeks, we encourage you to check with your favorite local bookstore to see if they are still open for business. If you live in the greater Seattle area, we have compiled the latest information on how to order from many of the local bookstores in our region. The below stores all have online, email, or phone ordering available.

 

Here are a few other ways to connect with and support local independent bookstores:

  • IndieBound: Online platform IndieBound is a longtime supporter of independent bookstores. Users can type in their address or zip code to final local stores in their area.
  • Bookshop: Many of your favorite indie bookstores are working with the new online platform Bookshop, which bills itself as an “online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.” Bookstores that work with Bookshop earn 25% commission on sales and enjoy the accessibility of online bookselling.

Finally, keep in mind that though bookstores cannot currently host guests in-person for book launch events, panels, and readings, many are finding innovative ways to allow these gatherings to continue online. We are partnering with many of the independent bookstores in the greater Seattle area to facilitate these types of gatherings. As logistics are finalized, we will feature the event details and instructions to join on our events calendar. Additionally, we recommend you check the websites of your favorite indie bookstores or subscribe to their e-newsletters, in order to stay informed about upcoming virtual events.

We hope this list will help you remain connected to your local literary community. Happy reading from all of us at University of Washington Press.

 

On Stories to Which the Ending Is Already Known: Eric Wagner on “After the Blast”

In 2018, I published a book about some penguins in Argentina that are near and dear to my heart, and as a result I did a number of book talks hither and yon. Once people had run out of questions about the penguins during the Q&As, someone would often ask what else I was working on.

“I’m writing a book about Mount St. Helens,” I would say.

“Oh, interesting,” the person would say, and then they would pause. “So what are you going to say about it that’s new?”

“Umm…” I would say. At that point I was two years into my research for the book that ultimately became After the Blast: The Ecological Recovery of Mount St. Helens. I was driving out to Mount St. Helens as often as I could, talking to the hordes of scientists who either worked there or had worked there in the past, reading dozens of their books and papers about the ways life around the mountain had responded to the 1980 eruption. All the information was new, at least to me, and I was struggling to wrap my head around it. As such, it was all I could do not to shoot a dirty look at the questioner and say something tart.

But I also understood where they were coming from. Truth be told, I had asked the same question myself. I grew up in Oregon a few hours from Mount St. Helens, and was familiar with the standard tale of the eruption, which went something like: Mount St. Helens erupted and left a moonscape behind, but then life came back more quickly than anyone expected. All of this had made me a little hesitant at first to pursue the project. I wondered whether I had anything new to say about a space already so well known.

Once I started reading and talking to folks, though, it was soon clear to me just how mistaken I had been to assume everything worth knowing about Mount St. Helens was known. Yes, life had come back more quickly than anyone expected. But just how it came back was fascinating, and full of fun, quirky details—of spiders ballooning into the blast area within hours of the eruption, of toads and fish that survived because they were drifting in icebound lakes, of a deep snowpack that was a savior for plants in one area but a killer in another, of flowers that showed up in the middle of desolate plains, giving them color. I loved learning all those little stories embedded within the one larger tale.

Exploring the relationship between people and Mount St. Helens was eye-opening as well; for notice how people are kind of left out of that standard tale. But our fingerprints are all over the landscape. Within weeks of the eruption, people were clamoring to replant large swaths of the landscape with thousands of fir seedlings. In other places, people scattered tons of flower and grass seed from helicopters in an effort to prevent erosion. (It didn’t really work, for what it’s worth.) Everyone was doing what they thought was best—some trying to reassert the human hand over the land, others arguing to let life find its own way. All those actions would help shape the biological community that thousands of visitors see when they go to the mountain. The blast area today is a reflection of those competing desires: to intervene and sculpt, to step back and watch.

Overall, the main thing I learned while writing this book was the degree to which the landscape at Mount St. Helens is still very much alive. I feel lucky to have been able to spend so much time on the mountain, hiking all over it with scientists who could reveal its beauty to me and explain it. They could not stop talking about how dynamic the environment was. Even now, forty years after the 1980 eruption—as I am writing these words—the landscape is continuing to change in unexpected ways. So what’s new at Mount St. Helens? Read the book and find out just how much!


Eric Wagner earned a PhD in biology from the University of Washington, writes regularly about animals and the environment, and is author of Penguins in the Desert and coauthor of Once and Future River: Reclaiming the Duwamish. He climbs Mount St. Helens annually. After the Blast: The Ecological Recovery of Mount St. Helens is available now. Now through May 15th, all University of Washington Press titles are 40% off on our website.

The Controversial Origin of Asian American Studies

The front and back cover of the original edition of Aiiieeeee! in black, white, and yellow with a photo of the four editors on the back cover

The 1974 edition of ‘Aiiieeeee!’ Photo: Nancy Wong (CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)).

by Tara Fickle

Adapted from Tara Fickle’s foreword to Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian American Writers, Third Edition, edited by Frank Chin, Jeffery Paul Chan, Lawson Fusao Inada, and Shawn Wong, published by University of Washington Press.

I initially encountered Aiiieeeee! in the winter of 2003, during my first Asian American literature course at Wesleyan University. My professor deftly outlined the major critiques that had been leveled against the anthology over the years—the narrowness of its definition of Asian America, its overtly masculine tone and underrepresentation of women, its American-born, monolingual perspective—and with each contention, I grew more indignant. The magnitude of my indignation was perhaps out of proportion with the size of its source, based as it was on my thin reading of a thin selection: no more than the twelve pages that made up the original 1974 preface. We did not read the introduction that followed, nor the selections that constituted the bulk of the anthology (although we did read two of the excerpted novels, America Is in the Heart and No-No Boy, in their entirety). I am ashamed to admit that not until recently did I actually read the entire anthology, cover to cover. Yet I would venture that this oversight is not uncommon among Asian Americanists of my generation. Indeed, if what defined Asian Americans for the editors of Aiiieeeee! was that they “got their China and Japan off the radio, off the silver screen, from television, out of comic books,” then for years perhaps what defined me as an Asian Americanist was where I didn’t get my Asian America: which is to say, from Aiiieeeee!

In short, students of Asian American literature have often been far more familiar with what is wrong with Aiiieeeee! than with Aiiieeeee! itself. From the earliest days of its publication, many Asian Americans did not hear themselves in the scream of Aiiieeeee!, did not see themselves in the “our” of its “fifty years of our whole voice.” They chafed against what they saw as the editorial limiting of “authentic” Asian Americanness to “Filipino, Chinese, and Japanese Americans, American born and raised.” This act of border drawing, by excluding Pacific Islander, Korean, and South Asian Americans (among others), further contributed to critics’ rejection of Aiiieeeee!’s brand of Asian American cultural nationalism as more divisive than unifying.

Add to that the damning charge of gender bias. Many, including the editors themselves, have interpreted this critique to mean that women writers were underrepresented in, even actively excluded from, the anthology. In truth, writing by women made up nearly 30 percent of the literary selections. But the real criticism wasn’t so much about the statistical representation of female bodies in the literature of Asian America gathered here; it was about the perceived erasure of female voices in the theory of Asian American writing that Aiiieeeee! delineated in its original preface and introduction. In an aggressive and largely denigrating way, the editors invoked—but did not anthologize—Asian American women writers like Jade Snow Wong, Monica Sone, Sui Sin Far, Betty Lee Sung, and Virginia Lee. Not that women were the only ones to suffer the editors’ wrath—the Chinese American author Pardee Lowe, in particular, was alternately razed and raised up as a straw man pandering to white American readers’ appetite for “actively inoffensive” stories of exotic Orientalia. But it was, statistically speaking, mostly women who were criticized for their presumed assimilationist ideals.

The reason for omitting the gendered targeting of this critique, according to the editors themselves, was simply numerical fact: there were at the time far more published female Asian American writers than male. The problem with the imbalance, however, went beyond numerical representation. Feminist critics lambasted Aiiieeeee! for its conceptual phallocentrism: the way it took the “sensibility” of the Asian American man as a metonym for Asian Americanness as a whole. The editors, in other words, too quickly subsumed the experience of Asian American women under a default ethnic humanity. In the same problematic way that the word man has historically been used in English as a synonym for all human beings, the editors declared that “a man in any culture speaks for himself. Without a language of his own, he no longer is a man” and that “the white stereotype of the acceptable and unacceptable Asian is utterly without manhood … contemptible because he is womanly, effeminate.” Attempting to spring the trap of “racist love” (Frank Chin and Jeffery Paul Chan’s term for white America’s embrace of Asians as a model minority), the editors risked falling into the trap of misogyny. As King-Kok Cheung noted, “In taking whites to task for demeaning Asians, [the editors] seem nevertheless to be buttressing patriarchy by invoking gender stereotypes, by disparaging domestic efficiency as ‘feminine,’ and by slotting desirable traits such as originality, daring, physical courage, and creativity under the rubric of masculinity.”

. . . READ THE FULL PIECE at the Paris Review.

 

Tara Fickle is an assistant professor of English at the University of Oregon and affiliated faculty in the department of ethnic studies, the New Media and Culture Certificate program, and the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies. She is author of The Race Card: From Gaming Technologies to Model Minorities. More information can be found on her website.

From Tara Fickle’s foreword to Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian American Writers, Third Edition, edited by Frank Chin, Jeffery Paul Chan, Lawson Fusao Inada, and Shawn Wong, published by University of Washington Press.