Exploring the emergence and evolution of theories of nationhood that continue to be evoked in present-day Japan, Susan L. Burns provides a close examination of the late-eighteenth-century intellectual movement kokugaku, which means "the study of our country.” Departing from earlier studies of kokugaku that focused on intellectuals whose work has been valorized by modern scholars, Burns seeks to recover the multiple ways "Japan" as social and cultural identity began to be imagined before modernity.
Central to Burns's analysis is Motoori Norinaga’s Kojikiden, arguably the most important intellectual work of Japan's early modern period. Burns situates the Kojikiden as one in a series of attempts to analyze and interpret the mythohistories dating from the early eighth century, the Kojiki and Nihon shoki. Norinaga saw these texts as keys to an original, authentic, and idyllic Japan that existed before being tainted by "flawed" foreign influences, notably Confucianism and Buddhism. Hailed in the nineteenth century as the begetter of a new national consciousness, Norinaga's Kojikiden was later condemned by some as a source of Japan's twentieth-century descent into militarism, war, and defeat. Burns looks in depth at three kokugaku writers—Ueda Akinari, Fujitani Mitsue, and Tachibana Moribe—who contested Norinaga's interpretations and produced competing readings of the mythohistories that offered new theories of community as the basis for Japanese social and cultural identity. Though relegated to the footnotes by a later generation of scholars, these writers were quite influential in their day, and by recovering their arguments, Burns reveals kokugaku as a complex debate—involving history, language, and subjectivity—with repercussions extending well into the modern era.
Presenting a nuanced story of women, migration, community, industry, and civic life at the turn of the twentieth century, Carol Lynn McKibben's Beyond Cannery Row analyzes the processes of migration and settlement of Sicilian fishers from three villages in Western Sicily to Monterey, California--and sometimes back again.
McKibben's analysis of gender and gender roles shows that it was the women in this community who had the insight, the power, and the purpose to respond and even prosper amid changing economic conditions. Vividly evoking the immigrants' everyday experiences through first-person accounts and detailed description, McKibben demonstrates that the cannery work done by Sicilian immigrant women was crucial in terms of the identity formation and community development. These changes allowed their families to survive the challenges of political conflicts over citizenship in World War II and intermarriage with outsiders throughout the migration experience. The women formed voluntary associations and celebrated festas that effectively linked them with each other and with their home villages in Sicily. Continuous migration created a strong sense of transnationalism among Sicilians in Monterey, which has enabled them to continue as a viable ethnic community today.
Through extensive neighborhood interviews and a compelling assessment of the problems of unraveling communities in urban America, Harold McDougall reveals how, in sections of Baltimore, a "New Community" is developing. Relying more on vernacular culture, personal networking, and mutual support than on private wealth or public subsidy, the communities of black Baltimore provide an example of self-help and civic action that could and should be occurring in other inner-city areas. In this political history of Old West Baltimore, McDougall describes how "base communities"—small peer groups that share similar views, circumstances, and objectives—have helped neighborhoods respond to the failure of both government and the market to create conditions for a decent quality of life for all.
Arguing for the primacy of church leadership within the black community, the author describes how these small, flexible groups are creating the foundation of what he calls a New Community, where community-spirited organizers, clergy, public interest advocates, business people, and government workers interact and build relationships through which Baltimore's urban agenda is being developed.
With faculty and alumni that included John Cage, Robert Creeley, Merce Cunningham, Buckminster Fuller, Charles Olson, Josef and Anni Albers, Paul Goodman, and Robert Rauschenberg, Black Mountain College ranked among the most important artistic and intellectual communities of the twentieth century. In his groundbreaking history, Martin Duberman uses interviews, anecdotes, and research to depict the relationships that made Black Mountain College what it was. Black Mountain documents the college’s twenty-three-year tenure, from its most brilliant moments of self-reinvention to its lowest moments of petty infighting. It records the financial difficulties that beleaguered the community throughout its existence and the determination it took to keep the college in operation. Duberman creates a nuanced portrait of this community so essential to the development of American arts and counterculture.
Americans conceive of the process of political representation as operating like a "transmission belt." Elections convey citizens' preferences unchanged into the legislative assembly and thereby allow them to participate, through their representatives, in the political affairs of the nation. This conception stands firmly in the tradition of liberal thought, as does much theory about political representation. In that tradition, government is defined primarily in terms of power, and elections are little more than the means by which that power is transferred from the people to their representatives.
In The Blue Guitar (the title alludes to a poem by Wallace Stevens), Nancy L. Schwartz offers a radically new understanding of representation. As she sees it, representatives should be—and, in the past, have been—more than mere delegates or trustees of individual desires and interests and the process of representation more than the appropriation of power and control. Ideally, representation should transform both representative and citizen. Representatives should be caretakers of the community, not the watchdogs of special interest groups or individuals. Citizens in turn should feel increased personal responsibility for the whole that membership in the community entails. Moreover, representatives should serve as founders of their constituencies, constituting communities whose members value citizenship as an end in itself.
In her analysis, Schwartz canvasses the political experience of ancient, medieval, and Renaissance city-states to discover the communitarian meaning of citizenship, and she draws on classical political theory from Plato to Rousseau and Hegel, on the political sociology of Marx and Weber, and on such contemporary theorists as Arendt and Pitkin. Schwartz also enters the controversy over whether local, state, and national legislators should be selected by district or at-large elections. After examining a set of key Supreme Court cases on voting rights and district elections, she proposes that representatives come from single-member geographic districts.
From neighborhoods as large as Chelsea or the Castro, to locales limited to a single club, like The Shamrock in Madison or Sidewinders in Albuquerque, gay areas are becoming normal. Straight people flood in. Gay people flee out. Scholars call this transformation assimilation, and some argue that we—gay and straight alike—are becoming “post-gay.” Jason Orne argues that rather than post-gay, America is becoming “post-queer,” losing the radical lessons of sex.
In Boystown, Orne takes readers on a detailed, lively journey through Chicago’s Boystown, which serves as a model for gayborhoods around the country. The neighborhood, he argues, has become an entertainment district—a gay Disneyland—where people get lost in the magic of the night and where straight white women can “go on safari.” In their original form, though, gayborhoods like this one don’t celebrate differences; they create them. By fostering a space outside the mainstream, gay spaces allow people to develop an alternative culture—a queer culture that celebrates sex.
Orne spent three years doing fieldwork in Boystown, searching for ways to ask new questions about the connective power of sex and about what it means to be not just gay, but queer. The result is the striking Boystown, illustrated throughout with street photography by Dylan Stuckey. In the dark backrooms of raunchy clubs where bachelorettes wouldn’t dare tread, people are hooking up and forging “naked intimacy.” Orne is your tour guide to the real Boystown, then, where sex functions as a vital center and an antidote to assimilation.