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Animal Capital
Rendering Life in Biopolitical Times
Nicole Shukin
University of Minnesota Press, 2009

Illuminates the profound contingency of market life on animal figures and flesh

The juxtaposition of biopolitical critique and animal studies—two subjects seldom theorized together—signals the double-edged intervention of Animal Capital. Nicole Shukin pursues a resolutely materialist engagement with the “question of the animal,” challenging the philosophical idealism that has dogged the question by tracing how the politics of capital and of animal life impinge on one another in market cultures of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Shukin argues that an analysis of capital’s incarnations in animal figures and flesh is pivotal to extending the examination of biopower beyond its effects on humans. “Rendering” refers simultaneously to cultural technologies and economies of mimesis and to the carnal business of boiling down and recycling animal remains. Rendering’s accommodation of these discrepant logics, she contends, suggests a rubric for the critical task of tracking the biopolitical conditions and contradictions of animal capital across the spaces of culture and economy.From the animal capital of abattoirs and automobiles, films and mobile phones, to pandemic fear of species-leaping diseases such as avian influenza and mad cow, Shukin makes startling linkages between visceral and virtual currencies in animal life, illuminating entanglements of species, race, and labor in the conditions of capitalism. In reckoning with the violent histories and intensifying contradictions of animal rendering, Animal Capital raises provocative and pressing questions about the cultural politics of nature.
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Animals and Race
Jonathan W. Thurston-Torres
Michigan State University Press, 2023
The intersection of race and species has a long and problematic history. Western thinking specifically has demonstrated a societal need to try to conceive of race as a purely biological fact rather than a social construct. This book is an academic-activist challenge to that instinct, prioritizing anti-racism in its observation of the animal–race intersection. Too often, as Bénédicte Boisseron has indicated, this intersection typically appears in the form of animal activists instrumentalizing racial discrimination as a vehicle to approach animal rights. But why does this intersection exist, and, perhaps more importantly, how can we challenge it moving forward? This volume examines those two critical questions, taking an interdisciplinary approach in moving across subjects including art history, film studies, American history, and digital media analysis. Our interpretation of animals has, for centuries, been fundamental in the development of Western race thinking. This collection of essays looks at how this perspective contributes to the construction of racial discrimination, prioritizing ways to read the animal in our culture as a means for working to dismantle this conception.
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Apocalyptic Sheep and Goats in Matthew and 1 Enoch
Elekosi F. Lafitaga
SBL Press, 2022

An alternative understanding of apocalyptic eschatology in the Gospel of Matthew

Matthew’s eschatological imageries of judgment are often identified as apocalyptic and referred to as Matthew’s apocalyptic discourses. In this volume Elekosi F. Lafitaga reexamines Matthew’s vision of the sheep and goats in the judgment of the nations, which are often interpreted as metaphors for the saved and the condemned. Lafitaga views these images in the wider context of the rhetoric of apocalyptic communication stretching back to Matthew 3. This broader context reveals that the vision of Matthew 25 serves to exhort Israel in the here and now according to the torah, with salvation for Israel involving an indispensable responsibility to love and serve humanity. Central to Lafitaga’s analysis is the highly probable scenario that the material in Matthew is dependent on the Book of Dreams (1 Enoch 83–90).

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The Bear
History of a Fallen King
Michel Pastoureau
Harvard University Press, 2011

The oldest discovered statue, fashioned some fifteen to twenty thousand years ago, is of a bear. The lion was not always king. From antiquity to the Middle Ages, the bear’s centrality in cults and mythologies left traces in European languages, literatures, and legends from the Slavic East to Celtic Britain. Historian Michel Pastoureau considers how this once venerated creature was deposed by the advent of Christianity and continued to sink lower in the symbolic bestiary before rising again in Pyrrhic triumph as a popular toy.

The early Church was threatened by pagan legends of the bear’s power, among them a widespread belief that male bears were sexually attracted to women and would violate them, producing half-bear, half-human beings—invincible warriors who founded royal lines. Marked for death by the clergy, bears were massacred. During the Renaissance, the demonic prestige bears had been assigned in biblical allegory was lost to the goat, ass, bat, and owl, who were the devil’s new familiars, while the lion was crowned as the symbol of nobility. Once the undefeated champions of the Roman arena, prized in princely menageries, bears became entertainers in the marketplace, trained to perform humiliating tricks or muzzled and devoured by packs of dogs for the amusement of humans. By the early twentieth century, however, the bear would return from exile, making its way into the hearts of children everywhere as the teddy bear.

This compelling history reminds us that men and bears have always been inseparable, united by a kinship that gradually moved from nature to culture—a bond that continues to this day.

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Birds and Beasts of Ancient Mesoamerica
Animal Symbolism in the Postclassic Period
Susan Milbrath
University Press of Colorado, 2023
Birds and Beasts of Ancient Mesoamerica links Precolumbian animal imagery with scientific data related to animal morphology and behavior, providing in-depth studies of the symbolic importance of animals and birds in Postclassic period Mesoamerica.
 
Representations of animal deities in Mesoamerica can be traced back at least to Middle Preclassic Olmec murals, stone carvings, and portable art such as lapidary work and ceramics. Throughout the history of Mesoamerica real animals were merged with fantastical creatures, creating zoological oddities not unlike medieval European bestiaries. According to Spanish chroniclers, the Aztec emperor was known to keep exotic animals in royal aviaries and zoos. The Postclassic period was characterized by an iconography that was shared from central Mexico to the Yucatan peninsula and south to Belize. In addition to highlighting the symbolic importance of nonhuman creatures in general, the volume focuses on the importance of the calendrical and astronomical symbolism associated with animals and birds.
 
Inspired by and dedicated to the work of Mesoamerican scholar Cecelia Klein and featuring imagery from painted books, monumental sculpture, portable arts, and archaeological evidence from the field of zooarchaeology, Birds and Beasts of Ancient Mesoamerica highlights the significance of the animal world in Postclassic and early colonial Mesoamerica. It will be important to students and scholars studying Mesoamerican art history, archaeology, ethnohistory, and zoology.
 
 
 
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Blood Work
Life and Laboratories in Penang
Janet Carsten
Duke University Press, 2019
What is blood? How can we account for its enormous range of meanings and its extraordinary symbolic power? In Blood Work Janet Carsten traces the multiple meanings of blood as it moves from donors to labs, hospitals, and patients in Penang, Malaysia. She tells the stories of blood donors, their varied motivations, and the paperwork, payment, and other bureaucratic processes involved in blood donation, tracking the interpersonal relations between lab staff and revealing how their work with blood reflects the social, cultural, and political dynamics of modern Malaysia. Carsten follows hospital workers into factories and community halls on blood drives and brings readers into the operating theater as a machine circulates a bypass patient's blood. Throughout, she foregrounds blood's symbolic power, uncovering the processes that make the hospital, the blood bank, the lab, and science itself work. In this way, blood becomes a privileged lens for understanding the entanglements of modern life.
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Bodies in Contact
Rethinking Colonial Encounters in World History
Tony Ballantyne and Antoinette Burton, eds.
Duke University Press, 2005
From portrayals of African women’s bodies in early modern European travel accounts to the relation between celibacy and Indian nationalism to the fate of the Korean “comfort women” forced into prostitution by the occupying Japanese army during the Second World War, the essays collected in Bodies in Contact demonstrate how a focus on the body as a site of cultural encounter provides essential insights into world history. Together these essays reveal the “body as contact zone” as a powerful analytic rubric for interpreting the mechanisms and legacies of colonialism and illuminating how attention to gender alters understandings of world history. Rather than privileging the operations of the Foreign Office or gentlemanly capitalists, these historical studies render the home, the street, the school, the club, and the marketplace visible as sites of imperial ideologies.

Bodies in Contact brings together important scholarship on colonial gender studies gathered from journals around the world. Breaking with approaches to world history as the history of “the West and the rest,” the contributors offer a panoramic perspective. They examine aspects of imperial regimes including the Ottoman, Mughal, Soviet, British, Han, and Spanish, over a span of six hundred years—from the fifteenth century through the mid-twentieth. Discussing subjects as diverse as slavery and travel, ecclesiastical colonialism and military occupation, marriage and property, nationalism and football, immigration and temperance, Bodies in Contact puts women, gender, and sexuality at the center of the “master narratives” of imperialism and world history.

Contributors. Joseph S. Alter, Tony Ballantyne, Antoinette Burton, Elisa Camiscioli, Mary Ann Fay, Carter Vaughn Findley, Heidi Gengenbach, Shoshana Keller, Hyun Sook Kim, Mire Koikari, Siobhan Lambert-Hurley, Melani McAlister, Patrick McDevitt, Jennifer L. Morgan, Lucy Eldersveld Murphy, Rosalind O’Hanlon, Rebecca Overmyer-Velázquez, Fiona Paisley, Adele Perry, Sean Quinlan, Mrinalini Sinha, Emma Jinhua Teng, Julia C. Wells

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The Body Aesthetic
From Fine Art to Body Modification
Tobin Siebers, Editor
University of Michigan Press, 2000
The last thirty years of cultural theory have seen a vigorous analytic focus on the human body both as the subject of cultural representations and as an escape from their repressive influence. Rare is the account that focuses on the most obvious fact about the body: it is the stuff out of which human beings are made.
Generously and variously illustrated, this volume gathers together the work of literary critics and artists, classicists, art historians, and specialists on the history of the body, who survey the strangeness and variety with which the body has given human beings form. Richard Leppert traces how the representation of little girls responds directly to the cultural anxieties of modernity. René Girard plots how starvation becomes an art form, while Eric Gans surveys the contemporary phenomenon of body modification. Sander Gilman explores aesthetic surgery as a response to human unhappiness. Simon Goldhill discovers in the Roman empire the initial stirrings of institutions that focus on the spectacle of the body, and Cynthia S. Greig provides a glimpse of what the history of photography would look like if male nudes replaced female ones. Marion Jackson details how the different physical existence of the Inuit guides the way they make art. Joseph Grigely transforms aesthetics as usual by focusing on the disabled body, while Tobin Siebers describes the traumatic appeal in both fine art and the media of wounded flesh, whether human or animal.
The Body Aesthetic is a broad exercise in cultural studies and will address a variety of readers, from those interested in detailed, theoretical accounts of the body, to those interested in belles lettres, to those interested in fine art.
Tobin Siebers is Professor of English, University of Michigan.
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Body and Face in Chinese Visual Culture
Hung Wu
Harvard University Press, 2005

Traditionally the "Chinese body" was approached as a totality and explained by sweeping comparisons of the differences that distinguished Chinese examples from their Western counterparts. Recently, scholars have argued that we must look at particular examples of Chinese images of the body and explore their intrinsic conceptual complexity and historical specificity.

The twelve contributors to this volume adopt a middle position. They agree that Chinese images are conditioned by indigenous traditions and dynamics of social interaction, but they seek to explain a general Chinese body and face by charting multiple, specific bodies and faces. All of the chapters are historical case studies and investigate particular images, such as Han dynasty tomb figurines; Buddhist texts and illustrations; pictures of deprivation, illness, deformity, and ghosts; clothing; formal portraiture; and modern photographs and films. From the diversity of art forms and historical periods studied, there emerges a more complex picture of ways that the visual culture of the body and face in China has served to depict the living, memorialize the dead, and present the unrepresentable in art.

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Bodylore
Katharine Young
University of Tennessee Press, 1995
With this book, a new field of inquiry is instantiated in folklore, bodylore. Coming out of work in critical theory and cultural studies, semiology and psychology, philosophy and communication, literature and psychoanalysis, anthropology and history, Bodylore investigates the bodily discourses and practices of various cultures, including our own, in order to delineate the metaphysics in terms of which we conceive and experience ourselves and others. The body is disclosed as a cultural artifact rather than a natural object, one invented and reinvented in and by its social appearances. The term bodylore was coined for the 1989 meeting of the American Folklore Society. It brings folkloristic concerns with body language, body costumes and accoutrements, body movement, discourses and representations of the body, body rituals and taboos, and beliefs about the body to a social history of embodiment.
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Centering Animals in Latin American History
Martha Few and Zeb Tortorici, eds.
Duke University Press, 2013
Centering Animals in Latin American History writes animals back into the history of colonial and postcolonial Latin America. This collection reveals how interactions between humans and other animals have significantly shaped narratives of Latin American histories and cultures. The contributors work through the methodological implications of centering animals within historical narratives, seeking to include nonhuman animals as social actors in the histories of Mexico, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Chile, Brazil, Peru, and Argentina. The essays discuss topics ranging from canine baptisms, weddings, and funerals in Bourbon Mexico to imported monkeys used in medical experimentation in Puerto Rico. Some contributors examine the role of animals in colonization efforts. Others explore the relationship between animals, medicine, and health. Finally, essays on the postcolonial period focus on the politics of hunting, the commodification of animals and animal parts, the protection of animals and the environment, and political symbolism.

Contributors. Neel Ahuja, Lauren Derby, Regina Horta Duarte, Martha Few, Erica Fudge, León García Garagarza, Reinaldo Funes Monzote, Heather L. McCrea, John Soluri, Zeb Tortorici, Adam Warren, Neil L. Whitehead

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Clothing Matters
Dress and Identity in India
Emma Tarlo
University of Chicago Press, 1996
What do I wear today? The way we answer this question says much about how we manage and express our identities. This detailed study examines sartorial style in India from the late nineteenth century to the present, showing how trends in clothing are related to caste, level of education, urbanization, and a larger cultural debate about the nature of Indian identity.

Clothes have been used to assert power, challenge authority, and instigate social change throughout Indian society. During the struggle for independence, members of the Indian elite incorporated elements of Western style into their clothes, while Gandhi's adoption of the loincloth symbolized the rejection of European power and the contrast between Indian poverty and British wealth. Similar tensions are played out today, with urban Indians adopting "ethnic" dress as villagers seek modern fashions.

Illustrated with photographs, satirical drawings, and magazine advertisements, this book shows how individuals and groups play with history and culture as they decide what to wear.
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Enduring Roots
Encounters with Trees, History, and the American Landscape
Gayle Brandow Samuels
Rutgers University Press, 2005

Trees are the grandest and most beautiful plant creations on earth. From their shade-giving, arching branches and strikingly diverse bark to their complex root systems, trees represent shelter, stability, place, and community as few other living objects can.

Enduring Roots tells the stories of historic American trees, including the oak, the apple, the cherry, and the oldest of the world’s trees, the bristlecone pine. These stories speak of our attachment to the land, of our universal and eternal need to leave a legacy, and demonstrate that the landscape is a gift, to be both received and, sometimes, tragically, to be destroyed.

Each chapter of this book focuses on a specific tree or group of trees and its relationship to both natural and human history, while exploring themes of community, memory, time, and place. Readers learn that colonial farmers planted marker trees near their homes to commemorate auspicious events like the birth of a child, a marriage, or the building of a house. They discover that Benjamin Franklin’s Newtown Pippin apples were made into a pie aboard Captain Cook’s Endeavour while the ship was sailing between Tahiti and New Zealand. They are told the little-known story of how the Japanese flowering cherry became the official tree of our nation’s capital—a tale spanning many decades and involving an international cast of characters. Taken together, these and many other stories provide us with a new ways to interpret the American landscape.

“It is my hope,” the author writes, “that this collection will be seen for what it is, a few trees selected from a great forest, and that readers will explore both—the trees and the forest—and find pieces of their own stories in each.”

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The Epic City
Urbanism, Utopia, and the Garden in Ancient Greece and Rome
Annette L. Giesecke
Harvard University Press, 2007
As Greek and Trojan forces battled in the shadow of Troy's wall, Hephaistos created a wondrous, ornately decorated shield for Achilles. At the Shield's center lay two walled cities, one at war and one at peace, surrounded by fields and pasturelands. Viewed as Homer's blueprint for an ideal, or utopian, social order, the Shield reveals that restraining and taming Nature would be fundamental to the Hellenic urban quest. It is this ideal that Classical Athens, with her utilitarian view of Nature, exemplified. In a city lacking pleasure gardens, it was particularly worthy of note when Epicurus created his garden oasis within the dense urban fabric. The disastrous results of extreme anthropocentrism would promote an essentially nostalgic desire to break down artificial barriers between humanity and Nature. This new ideal, vividly expressed through the domestication of Nature in villas and gardens and also through primitivist and Epicurean tendencies in Latin literature, informed the urban endeavors of Rome.
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Feminism and the Biological Body
Birke, Lynda
Rutgers University Press, 2000

What is a body? What are our perceptions of our inner bodies? How are these perceptions influenced?

In recent years, thinking about the body has become highly fashionable. However, the renewed focus, while certainly welcome, seems to always end at the corporeal surface. While recent sociological and feminist theory has made important claims about the process of cultural inscription on the body, and about the cultural representation of the body, what actually appears in this new theory seems to be, ironically, disembodied. If this newly theorized form has interiority, it is one that is explained predominantly through psychoanalysis. The physiological processes remain a mystery to be explained, if at all, only in the esoteric language of biomedicine.

As a trained biologist, Lynda Birke was frustrated by the gap between feminist cultural analysis and her own scientific background. In this book, she seeks to bridge this gap using ideas in anatomy and physiology to develop the feminist view that the biological body is socially and culturally constructed. Birke rejects the assumption that bodily function is somehow fixed and unchanging, claiming that biology offers more than just a deterministic narrative of how nature works. Feminism and the Biological Body brings natural science and feminist theory together and suggests that we need a new politics that includes, rather than denies, our flesh.

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Gardens and Cultural Change
A Pan-American Perspective
Michel Conan
Harvard University Press, 2007
Gardens contain time, culture, and nature. They are powerful symbolic spaces onto which a society can project its ideals, either to conjure or contrive cultural change, rooting them in the flow of natural processes. Five authors explore the variety of relationships between garden making and cultural change in Argentina, the Caribbean, Mexico, and the United States. They show how gardens express popular cultural invention and attempts at political manipulation, as well as provide places of cultural resistance by subjugated people. Issues of identity and ideology; political coercion and resistance apply equally throughout the continent, inviting a renewed attention to gardens as places where cultural identities are forged and contested.
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Gardens and Imagination
Cultural History and Agency
Michel Conan
Harvard University Press, 2008
From mirroring the true reality of God in Sufi Persia to the enjoyment of fictitious identities in Rome or present-day Granada, the ways of imagination in gardens are infinitely varied. This book explores how gardens could be imagined, and also how they could be used to trigger the imagination by very different cultures in Japan, China, Russia, the Ottoman Empire, Italy, Spain, and Israel. This multicultural approach reveals surprising features of the process of imagining a garden: the various aspects of the world that gardens may mirror, the role of cultural changes, and the unsuspected links between garden materiality, practices, and imagination. It reveals how garden imagination is fraught with ambiguities that give a sense of freedom to garden users but may entrap their thoughts within frames specific to each culture.
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Gender and the Boundaries of Dress in Contemporary Peru
By Blenda Femenías
University of Texas Press, 2005

Set in Arequipa during Peru's recent years of crisis, this ethnography reveals how dress creates gendered bodies. It explores why people wear clothes, why people make art, and why those things matter in a war-torn land. Blenda Femenías argues that women's clothes are key symbols of gender identity and resistance to racism.

Moving between metropolitan Arequipa and rural Caylloma Province, the central characters are the Quechua- and Spanish-speaking maize farmers and alpaca herders of the Colca Valley. Their identification as Indians, whites, and mestizos emerges through locally produced garments called bordados. Because the artists who create these beautiful objects are also producers who carve an economic foothold, family workshops are vital in a nation where jobs are as scarce as peace. But ambiguity permeates all practices shaping bordados' significance. Femenías traces contemporary political and ritual applications, not only Caylloma's long-standing and violent ethnic conflicts, to the historical importance of cloth since Inca times.

This is the only book about expressive culture in an Andean nation that centers on gender. In this feminist contribution to ethnography, based on twenty years' experience with Peru, including two years of intensive fieldwork, Femenías reflects on the ways gender shapes relationships among subjects, research, and representation.

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The Human Animal in Western Art and Science
Martin Kemp
University of Chicago Press, 2007

From the lazy, fiddling grasshopper to the sneaky Big Bad Wolf, children’s stories and fables enchant us with their portrayals of animals who act like people. But the comparisons run both ways, as metaphors, stories, and images—as well as scientific theories—throughout history remind us that humans often act like animals, and that the line separating them is not as clear as we’d like to pretend.

Here Martin Kemp explores a stunning range of images and ideas to demonstrate just how deeply these underappreciated links between humans and other fauna are embedded in our culture. Tracing those interconnections among art, science, and literature, Kemp leads us on a dazzling tour of Western thought, from Aristotelian physiognomy and its influence on phrenology to the Great Chain of Being and Darwinian evolution. We learn about the racist anthropology underlying a familiar Degas sculpture, see paintings of a remarkably simian Judas, and watch Mowgli, the man-child from Kipling’s The Jungle Book, exhibit the behaviors of the beasts who raised him. Like a kaleidoscope, Kemp uses these stories to refract, reconfigure, and echo the essential truth that the way we think about animals inevitably inflects how we think about people, and vice versa.

Loaded with vivid illustrations and drawing on sources from Hesiod to La Fontaine, Leonardo to P. T. Barnum, The Human Animal in Western Art and Science is a fascinating, eye-opening reminder of our deep affinities with our fellow members of the animal kingdom.

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The Human Body in the Age of Catastrophe
Brittleness, Integration, Science, and the Great War
Stefanos Geroulanos and Todd Meyers
University of Chicago Press, 2018
The injuries suffered by soldiers during WWI were as varied as they were brutal. How could the human body suffer and often absorb such disparate traumas? Why might the same wound lead one soldier to die but allow another to recover?
 
In The Human Body in the Age of Catastrophe, Stefanos Geroulanos and Todd Meyers uncover a fascinating story of how medical scientists came to conceptualize the body as an integrated yet brittle whole. Responding to the harrowing experience of the Great War, the medical community sought conceptual frameworks to understand bodily shock, brain injury, and the vast differences in patient responses they occasioned. Geroulanos and Meyers carefully trace how this emerging constellation of ideas became essential for thinking about integration, individuality, fragility, and collapse far beyond medicine: in fields as diverse as anthropology, political economy, psychoanalysis, and cybernetics.
 
Moving effortlessly between the history of medicine and intellectual history, The Human Body in the Age of Catastrophe is an intriguing look into the conceptual underpinnings of the world the Great War ushered in. 
 
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In the Arms of Saguaros
Iconography of the Giant Cactus
William L. Bird Jr.
University of Arizona Press, 2023
An essential—and monumental—member of the Sonoran Desert ecosystem, the saguaro cactus has become the quintessential icon of the American West.

In the Arms of the Saguaros shows how, from the botanical explorers of the nineteenth century to the tourism boosters in our own time, saguaros and their images have fulfilled attention-getting needs and expectations. Through text and lavish images, this work explores the saguaro’s growth into a western icon from the early days of the American railroad to the years bracketing World War II, when Sun Belt boosterism hit its zenith and proponents of tourism succeed in moving the saguaro to the center of the promotional frame.

This book explores how the growth of tourism brought the saguaro to ever-larger audiences through the proliferation of western-themed imagery on the American roadside. The history of the saguaro’s popular and highly imaginative range points to the current moment in which the saguaro touches us as a global icon in art, fashion, and entertainment.
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In the Skin of a Beast
Sovereignty and Animality in Medieval France
Peggy McCracken
University of Chicago Press, 2017
In medieval literature, when humans and animals meet—whether as friends or foes—issues of mastery and submission are often at stake. In the Skin of a Beast shows how the concept of sovereignty comes to the fore in such narratives, reflecting larger concerns about relations of authority and dominion at play in both human-animal and human-human interactions.

Peggy McCracken discusses a range of literary texts and images from medieval France, including romances in which animal skins appear in symbolic displays of power, fictional explorations of the wolf’s desire for human domestication, and tales of women and snakes converging in a representation of territorial claims and noble status. These works reveal that the qualities traditionally used to define sovereignty—lineage and gender among them—are in fact mobile and contingent. In medieval literary texts, as McCracken demonstrates, human dominion over animals is a disputed model for sovereign relations among people: it justifies exploitation even as it mandates protection and care, and it depends on reiterations of human-animal difference that paradoxically expose the tenuous nature of human exceptionalism.
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Insignia of Rank in the Nahua World
From the Fifteenth to the Seventeenth Century
Justyna Olko
University Press of Colorado, 2014

This significant work reconstructs the repertory of insignia of rank and the contexts and symbolic meanings of their use, along with their original terminology, among the Nahuatl-speaking communities of Mesoamerica from the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries. Attributes of rank carried profound symbolic meaning, encoding subtle messages about political and social status, ethnic and gender identity, regional origin, individual and community history, and claims to privilege.

Olko engages with and builds upon extensive worldwide scholarship and skillfully illuminates this complex topic, creating a vital contribution to the fields of pre-Columbian and colonial Mexican studies. It is the first book to integrate pre- and post-contact perspectives, uniting concepts and epochs usually studied separately. A wealth of illustrations accompanies the contextual analysis and provides essential depth to this critical work. Insignia of Rank in the Nahua World substantially expands and elaborates on the themes of Olko's Turquoise Diadems and Staffs of Office, originally published in Poland and never released in North America.

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An Intimate Rebuke
Female Genital Power in Ritual and Politics in West Africa
Laura S. Grillo
Duke University Press, 2018
Throughout West African societies, at times of social crises, postmenopausal women—the Mothers—make a ritual appeal to their innate moral authority. The seat of this power is the female genitalia. Wielding branches or pestles, they strip naked and slap their genitals and bare breasts to curse and expel the forces of evil. In An Intimate Rebuke Laura S. Grillo draws on fieldwork in Côte d’Ivoire that spans three decades to illustrate how these rituals of Female Genital Power (FGP) constitute religious and political responses to abuses of power. When deployed in secret, FGP operates as spiritual warfare against witchcraft; in public, it serves as a political activism. During Côte d’Ivoire’s civil wars FGP challenged the immoral forces of both rebels and the state. Grillo shows how the ritual potency of the Mothers’ nudity and the conjuration of their sex embodies a moral power that has been foundational to West African civilization. Highlighting the remarkable continuity of the practice across centuries while foregrounding the timeliness of FGP in contemporary political resistance, Grillo shifts perspectives on West African history, ethnography, comparative religious studies, and postcolonial studies.
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Latin@s' Presence in the Food Industry
Changing How We Think about Food
Meredith E. Abarca
University of Arkansas Press, 2016
Latin@s' Presence in the Food Industry takes the holistic culinary approach of bringing together multidisciplinary criticism to explore the diverse, and not always readily apparent, ways that Latin@s relate to food and the food industry.

The networks Latin@s create, the types of identities they fashion through food, and their relationship to the US food industry are analyzed to understand Latin@s as active creators of food-based communities, as distinctive cultural representations, and as professionals. This vibrant new collection acknowledges issues of labor conditions, economic politics, and immigration laws—structural vulnerabilities that certainly cannot be ignored—and strives to understand more fully the active and conscious ways that Latina@s create spaces to maneuver global and local food systems.
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Medieval Identity Machines
Jeffrey J. Cohen
University of Minnesota Press, 2003

A provocative new approach to medieval culture

In Medieval Identity Machines, Jeffrey J. Cohen examines the messiness, permeability, and perversity of medieval bodies, arguing that human identity always exceeds the limits of the flesh. Combining critical theory with a rigorous reading of medieval texts, Cohen asks if the category “human” isn’t too small to contain the multiplicity of identities. As such, this book is the first to argue for a “posthuman” Middle Ages and to make extensive use of the philosophical writings of Gilles Deleuze to rethink the medieval.

Among the topics that Cohen covers are the passionate bond between men and horses in chivalric training; the interrelation of demons, celibacy, and colonialism in an Anglo-Saxon saint’s life; Lancelot’s masochism as envisioned by Chrétien de Troyes; the voice of thunder echoing from Margery Kempe; and the fantasies that sustained some dominant conceptions of race. This tour of identity—in all its fragility and diffusion—illustrates the centrality of the Middle Ages to theory as it enhances our understanding of self, embodiment, and temporality in the medieval world.
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The Memory of Bones
Body, Being, and Experience among the Classic Maya
By Stephen Houston, David Stuart, and Karl Taube
University of Texas Press, 2006

All of human experience flows from bodies that feel, express emotion, and think about what such experiences mean. But is it possible for us, embodied as we are in a particular time and place, to know how people of long ago thought about the body and its experiences? In this groundbreaking book, three leading experts on the Classic Maya (ca. AD 250 to 850) marshal a vast array of evidence from Maya iconography and hieroglyphic writing, as well as archaeological findings, to argue that the Classic Maya developed a coherent approach to the human body that we can recover and understand today.

The authors open with a cartography of the Maya body, its parts and their meanings, as depicted in imagery and texts. They go on to explore such issues as how the body was replicated in portraiture; how it experienced the world through ingestion, the senses, and the emotions; how the body experienced war and sacrifice and the pain and sexuality that were intimately bound up in these domains; how words, often heaven-sent, could be embodied; and how bodies could be blurred through spirit possession.

From these investigations, the authors convincingly demonstrate that the Maya conceptualized the body in varying roles, as a metaphor of time, as a gendered, sexualized being, in distinct stages of life, as an instrument of honor and dishonor, as a vehicle for communication and consumption, as an exemplification of beauty and ugliness, and as a dancer and song-maker. Their findings open a new avenue for empathetically understanding the ancient Maya as living human beings who experienced the world as we do, through the body.

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Molded in the Image of Changing Woman
Navajo Views on the Human Body and Personhood
Maureen Trudelle Schwarz
University of Arizona Press, 1997
What might result from hearing a particular song, wearing used clothing, or witnessing an accident? Ethnographic accounts of the Navajo refer repeatedly to the influences of events on health and well-being, yet until now no attempt has been made to clarify the Navajo system of rules governing association and effect.

This book focuses on the complex interweaving of the cosmological, social, and bodily realms that Navajo people navigate in an effort alternately to control, contain, or harness the power manifested in various effects. Following the Navajo life-course from conception to puberty, Maureen Trudelle Schwarz explores the complex rules defining who or what can affect what or whom in specific circumstances as a means of determining what these effects tell us about the cultural construction of the human body and personhood for the Navajo.

Schwarz shows how oral history informs Navajo conceptions of the body and personhood, showing how these conceptions are central to an ongoing Navajo identity. She treats the vivid narratives of emergence life-origins as compressed metaphorical accounts, rather than as myth, and is thus able to derive from what individual Navajos say about the past their understandings of personhood in a worldview that is actually a viable philosophical system. Working with Navajo religious practitioners, elders, and professional scholars. Schwarz has gained from her informants an unusually firm grasp of the Navajo highlighted by the foregrounding of Navajo voices through excerpts of interviews. These passages enliven the book and present Schwarz and her Navajo consultants as real, multifaceted human beings within the ethnographic context.
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Monstrous Youth
Transgressing the Boundaries of Childhood in the United States
Sara Austin
The Ohio State University Press, 2022
The monstrous has a long, complicated history within children’s popular media. In Monstrous Youth: Transgressing the Boundaries of Childhood in the United States, Sara Austin traces the evolution of monstrosity as it relates to youth culture from the 1950s to the present day to spotlight the symbiotic relationship between monstrosity and the bodies and identities of children and adolescents. Examining comics, films, picture books, novels, television, toys and other material culture—including Monsters, Inc. and works by Mercer Mayer, Maurice Sendak, R. L. Stine, and Stephanie Meyer—Austin tracks how the metaphor of monstrosity excludes, engulfs, and narrates difference within children’s culture.

Analyzing how cultural shifts have drastically changed our perceptions of both what it means to be a monster and what it means to be a child, Austin charts how the portrayal and consumption of monsters corresponds to changes in identity categories such as race, sexuality, gender, disability, and class. In demonstrating how monstrosity is leveraged in service of political and cultural movements, such as integration, abstinence-only education, and queer rights, Austin offers insight into how monster texts continue to reflect, interpret, and shape the social discourses of identity within children’s culture.

 
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Mortuary Landscapes of the Classic Maya
Rituals of Body and Soul
By Andrew K. Scherer
University of Texas Press, 2015

From the tombs of the elite to the graves of commoners, mortuary remains offer rich insights into Classic Maya society. In Mortuary Landscapes of the Classic Maya: Rituals of Body and Soul, the anthropological archaeologist and bioarchaeologist Andrew K. Scherer explores the broad range of burial practices among the Maya of the Classic period (AD 250–900), integrating information gleaned from his own fieldwork with insights from the fields of iconography, epigraphy, and ethnography to illuminate this society’s rich funerary traditions.

Scherer’s study of burials along the Usumacinta River at the Mexican-Guatemalan border and in the Central Petén region of Guatemala—areas that include Piedras Negras, El Kinel, Tecolote, El Zotz, and Yaxha—reveals commonalities and differences among royal, elite, and commoner mortuary practices. By analyzing skeletons containing dental and cranial modifications, as well as the adornments of interred bodies, Scherer probes Classic Maya conceptions of body, wellness, and the afterlife.

Scherer also moves beyond the body to look at the spatial orientation of the burials and their integration into the architecture of Maya communities. Taking a unique interdisciplinary approach, the author examines how Classic Maya deathways can expand our understanding of this society’s beliefs and traditions, making Mortuary Landscapes of the Classic Maya an important step forward in Mesoamerican archeology.

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Nature, Culture, and Big Old Trees
Live Oaks and Ceibas in the Landscapes of Louisiana and Guatemala
By Kit Anderson
University of Texas Press, 2004

Big old trees inspire our respect and even affection. The poet Walt Whitman celebrated a Louisiana live oak that was solitary "in a wide flat space, / Uttering joyous leaves all its life without a friend a lover near." Groves and alleys of live oaks remain as distinctive landscape features on Louisiana's antebellum plantations, while massive individuals still cast their shade over churches, graveyards, parks, and roads. Cajuns have adopted the "Evangeline Oak" as one of their symbols. And the attachment that Louisianians feel for live oaks is equaled by that of Guatemalans for ceibas, the national tree of Guatemala. Long before Europeans came to the Americas, the ceiba, tallest of all native species, was the Mayan world tree, the center of the universe. Today, many ceibas remain as centers of Guatemalan towns, spreading their branches over the central plaza and marketplace.

In this compelling book, Kit Anderson creates a vibrant portrait of the relationship between people and trees in Louisiana and Guatemala. Traveling in both regions, she examined and photographed many old live oaks and ceibas and collected the stories and symbolism that have grown up around them. She describes who planted the trees and why, how the trees have survived through many human generations, and the rich meanings they hold for people today. Anderson also recounts the natural history of live oaks and ceibas to show what human use of the landscape has meant for the trees. This broad perspective, blending cultural geography and natural history, adds a new dimension to our understanding of how big old trees and the places they help create become deeply meaningful, even sacred, for human beings.

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Paris Concealed
Masks in the City of Light
James H. Johnson
University of Chicago Press, 2025
A comprehensive history of masks in France from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century.
 
Masks can conceal, disguise, or protect. They can announce status, inspire delight, or spread fear. They can also betray trust through insincerity, deceit, and hypocrisy. In Paris Concealed, historian James H. Johnson offers a sweeping history of masks both visible and unseen from the time of Louis XIV to the late nineteenth century, exploring the complex roles that masking and unmasking have played in the fashioning of our social selves.
 
Drawing from memoirs, novels, plays, and paintings, Paris Concealed explores the many domains in which masks have been decisive. Beginning in the court of Versailles, Johnson charts the genesis of courtly politesse and its wide condemnation by Enlightenment philosophers and political thinkers. He narrates strategies in the French Revolution for unmasking traitors and later efforts to penetrate criminal disguises through telltale marks on the body. He portrays the disruptive power of masks in public balls and carnivals and, with the coming of modernity, evokes their unsettling presence within the unconscious. 
 
Compellingly written and beautifully illustrated, Paris Concealed lays bare the mask’s transformations, from marking one’s position in a static society to embracing imagined identities in meritocracies to impeding the elusive search for one’s true self.  To tell the history of masks, Johnson shows, is to tell the history of modern selfhood.
 
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Performance and Appropriation
Profane Rituals in Gardens and Landscapes
Michel Conan
Harvard University Press, 2007

Breaking with the idea that gardens are places of indulgence and escapism, these studies of ritualized practices reveal that gardens in Europe, Asia, the United States, and the Caribbean have in fact made significant contributions to cultural change.

This book demonstrates methods and the striking results of garden reception studies. The first section explores how cultural changes occur, and devotes chapters to public landscapes in the Netherlands, seventeenth-century Parisian gardens, Freemason gardens in Tuscany, nineteenth-century Scottish kitchen gardens, and the public parks of Edo and modern Tokyo. The second part provides striking examples of construction of self in vernacular gardens in Guadeloupe and American Japanese-style gardens in California. Finally, the third section analyzes struggles for political change in gardens of Yuan China and modern Britain.

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Picturing the Beast
Animals, Identity, and Representation
Steve Baker
University of Illinois Press, 1993
From Mickey Mouse to the teddy bear, from the Republican elephant to the use of "jackass" as an all-purpose insult, images of animals play a central role in politics, entertainment, and social interactions. In this penetrating look at how Western culture pictures the beast, Steve Baker examines how such images--sometimes affectionate, sometimes derogatory, always distorting--affect how real animals are perceived and treated.

Baker provides an animated discussion of how animals enter into the iconography of power through wartime depictions of the enemy, political cartoons, and sports symbolism. He examines a phenomenon he calls the "disnification" of animals, meaning a reduction of the animal to the trivial and stupid, and shows how books featuring talking animals underscore human superiority. He also discusses how his findings might inform the strategies of animal rights advocates seeking to call public attention to animal suffering and abuse. Until animals are extricated from the baggage of imposed images, Baker maintains, neither they nor their predicaments can be clearly seen.

For this edition, Baker provides a new introduction, specifically addressing an American audience, that touches on such topics as the Cow Parade, animal imagery in the presidential race, and animatronic animals in recent films.
 
 
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Places of Commemoration
Search for Identity and Landscape Design
Joachim Wolschke-Bulmahn
Harvard University Press, 2001

“Everyone is occupied, consciously or unconsciously, with identity—one’s origin and the question of one’s place in humankind and society of the past, present, and future. Identity and memory are not stable and objective things, but representations or constructions of reality related to a particular interest, such as class, gender, of power relations. Identity is problematic without history and without the commemoration of history, and of course such remembrance may distort historical events and facts. When dealing with gardens, a substantial part of our physical environment, there are always unspoken questions of identity.”

Places of Commemoration examines commemorative sites of different character, including gardens, landscapes, memorials, cemeteries, and sites of former Nazi concentration camps, detailing the ideas behind the creation of memorials and monuments and the struggles over the narratives they present.

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Poetics of the Hive
Insect Metaphor in Literature
Cristopher Hollingsworth
University of Iowa Press, 2001
"Cris Hollingsworth's waggle dance after scouting the rangiest field of literature--Virgil and Homer down to Milton and Swift, on to Plath and Byatt&#$151;leads you to where the nectar hides. . . . He wisely roams, extracting an anthology of poetry, prose, psychology, history&151;most of all, perception--that tops the bee's knees." --Paul West, author of The Secret Life of Words "Hollingsworth's wide-ranging exploration of the image of the hive is impressive. Poetics of the Hive and its panoply of references cannot fail to enrich university classrooms, especially those devoted to both the visual arts and literature." --Dore Ashton, author of A Fable of Modern Art "Cris Hollingsworth's Poetics of the Hive . . . is complex, even daring in argument; I'm even more impressed by [his] skill at an increasingly rare critical art, the educing of argument from careful, often brilliant analytical reading of literary texts." --Thomas R. Edwards, executive editor of Raritan: A Quarterly Review A study to delight the passionate reader, Poetics of the Hive tells the story of the evolution of the insect metaphor from antiquity to the multicultural present. An experiment in the &147;evolutionary biology&148; of artistic form, Poetics of the Hive freshly examines classic works of literature, offering a view of poetic creation that complicates our ideas of the past and its formative role in modern consciousness and world literature. In the first part of this lyrical synthesis of rhetoric, visual and postmodern theory, and cognitive science, Cristopher Hollingsworth reveals the structure behind his metaphor, redefining it as an aesthetically and philosophically potent tableau that he calls the Hive. He traces the Hive's evolution in epic poetry from Homer to Milton, which establishes antithetical but complementary images of angelic and demonic bees that Swift, Mandeville, and Keats use variously to debate classical versus emerging ideas of the individual's relationship to society. But the Hive becomes fully psychologized, Hollingsworth argues, only when its use by Conrad and Wells to explore Europe's colonial imagination of the Other is transformed by Kafka and Sartre into competing symbols of the modern self's existential condition. Cristopher Hollingsworth is an assistant professor of English at St. John's University, Staten Island.
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Precolumbian Water Management
Ideology, Ritual, and Power
Edited by Lisa J. Lucero and Barbara W. Fash
University of Arizona Press, 2006
Among ancient Mesoamerican and Southwestern peoples, water was as essential as maize for sustenance and was a driving force in the development of complex society. Control of water shaped the political, economic, and religious landscape of the ancient Americas, yet it is often overlooked in Precolumbian studies. Now one volume offers the latest thinking on water systems and their place within the ancient physical and mental language of the region.

Precolumbian Water Management examines water management from both economic and symbolic perspectives. Water management facilities, settlement patterns, shrines, and water-related imagery associated with civic-ceremonial and residential architecture provide evidence that water systems pervade all aspects of ancient society. Through analysis of such data, the contributors seek to combine an understanding of imagery and the religious aspects of water with its functional components, thereby presenting a unified perspective of how water was conceived, used, and represented in ancient greater Mesoamerica. The collection boasts broad chronological and geographical coverage—from the irrigation networks of Teotihuacan to the use of ritual water technology at Casas Grandes—that shows how procurement and storage systems were adapted to local conditions.

The articles consider the mechanisms that were used to build upon the sacredness of water to enhance political authority through time and space and show that water was not merely an essential natural resource but an important spiritual one as well, and that its manipulation was socially far more complex than might appear at first glance. As these papers reveal, an understanding of materials associated with water can contribute much to the ways that archaeologists study ancient cultural systems. Precolumbian Water Management underscores the importance of water management research and the need to include it in archaeological projects of all types.
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Presence in the Flesh
The Body in Medicine
Katharine Young
Harvard University Press, 1997

Any woman who has been examined by a gynecologist could tell Descartes a thing or two about the mind/body problem. Is her body an object? Is it the self? Is it both, and if so, how? Katharine Young takes up this problem in a book that looks at medicine's means of separating self and body--and at the body's ways of resisting.

Disembodiment--rendering the body an object and the self bodyless--is the foundational gesture of medicine. How, then, does medical practice acknowledge the presence of the person in the objectified body? Young considers in detail the "choreography" such a maneuver requires--and the different turns it takes during a routine exam, or surgery, or even an autopsy. Distinctions between public and private, inside and outside, assume new meanings as medical practice proceeds from one venue to the next--waiting room to examining table, anteroom to operating theater, from the body's exterior to its internal organs. Young inspects the management of these and other "boundaries"--as a physician adds layers of clothing and a patient removes layers, as the rules of objective and subjective discourse shift, as notions of intimacy determine the etiquette of exchanges between doctor and patient.

From embodied positions within the realm of medicine and disembodied positions outside it, Young richly conveys the complexity of presence in the flesh.

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Ready-Made Democracy
A History of Men's Dress in the American Republic, 1760-1860
Michael Zakim
University of Chicago Press, 2003
Ready-Made Democracy explores the history of men's dress in America to consider how capitalism and democracy emerged at the center of American life during the century between the Revolution and the Civil War. Michael Zakim demonstrates how clothing initially attained a significant place in the American political imagination on the eve of Independence. At a time when household production was a popular expression of civic virtue, homespun clothing was widely regarded as a reflection of America's most cherished republican values: simplicity, industriousness, frugality, and independence.

By the early nineteenth century, homespun began to disappear from the American material landscape. Exhortations of industry and modesty, however, remained a common fixture of public life. In fact, they found expression in the form of the business suit. Here, Zakim traces the evolution of homespun clothing into its ostensible opposite—the woolen coats, vests, and pantaloons that were "ready-made" for sale and wear across the country. In doing so, he demonstrates how traditional notions of work and property actually helped give birth to the modern industrial order. For Zakim, the history of men's dress in America mirrored this transformation of the nation's social and material landscape: profit-seeking in newly expanded markets, organizing a waged labor system in the city, shopping at "single-prices," and standardizing a business persona.

In illuminating the critical links between politics, economics, and fashion in antebellum America, Ready-Made Democracy will prove essential to anyone interested in the history of the United States and in the creation of modern culture in general.
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Scorpion
Louise M. Pryke
Reaktion Books, 2016
No creature has quite the sting in our mythology and folklore as the scorpion. From the dawn of human civilization they have been a dangerous figure in our imaginations—poisonous, precise, and deadly quiet—but as Louise M. Pryke shows in this book, their bad reputation has overshadowed many exceptional qualities. Scurrying across hundreds of millions of years and across every continent except Antarctica, this book gives the scorpion its due as one of nature’s longest lasting survivors.
           
Indeed scorpions are older than dinosaurs. An ancient arthropod, their form—notable for its pair of pincers and an elegant tail that holds a menacing stinger high in the air in a permanent striking position—hasn’t changed since prehistoric times, though today there are some 1700 different species. Throughout our existence scorpions have served as a powerful cultural and religious symbol—sometimes dangerous, sometimes protecting—from the Egyptian goddess Serket to Zodiac astrology to folk medicine. A fascinating tour that takes us from the art of North Africa to the American Civil War to the markets of Beijing, Scorpion is an homage to one of earth’s oldest residents. 
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Sheep
Philip Armstrong
Reaktion Books, 2016
The ancient Egyptians worshipped them, the Romans dressed them in fitted coats, and the Christians associated them with their divine savior. In Sheep, Philip Armstrong traces the natural and cultural history of both wild and domestic species of ovis, from the Old World mouflon to the corkscrew-horned flocks of the Egyptians, from the Trojan sheep of Homer’s Odyssey to the cannibal sheep of Thomas More’s Utopia, from the vast migratory mobs of Spanish merinos all the way to Dolly—the first animal we have ever cloned—and Haruki Murakami’s sheep-human hybrids.
           
As Armstrong shows, humans have treated sheep with awe, cruelty or disdain for many thousands of years. Our exploitation of them for milk, meat, and wool—but also for artistic and cultural purposes—has shaped both our history and theirs. Despite all that we owe them we have often dismissed sheep as the least witted and least interesting of mammals: to be accused of “sheepishness” or behaving “like a flock of sheep” is to be denigrated for lack of courage, individuality, or will. Yet, as this book demonstrates, sheep actually possess highly sophisticated social skills and emotional intelligence. Above all, Sheep demonstrates that sometimes the most mundane animals turn out to be the most surprising.
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Spider
Katarzyna and Sergiusz Michalski
Reaktion Books, 2010

Both fascinating and frightening, the spider has a rich symbolic presence in the imagination. At once a representative of death, due to its fangs and dangerous poison, the spider can also represent life and creation, because of its intricate web and females who carry sacs of thousands of tiny eggs. In this wide-ranging book, Katarzyna and Sergiusz Michalskiinvestigate the natural history and cultural significance of the spider.

            From ancient Greek myth to Dostoyevsky, the authors explore the appearance of spiders in literature and their depictions in art, paying particular attention to the sculptures of Louise Bourgeois. Horror stories, science fiction, folklore, and children’s tales are also investigated, as well as the affliction of arachnophobia and the procedures used to cure it. The association of the spider with women or mothers is explored alongside the role of the spider metaphor in Freudian and Jungian psychoanalysis, and the Michalskis’ in-depth account concludes with a look at the unfavorable portrayal of the sinister spider in film.

            A thorough and engaging look at the natural and cultural history of the spider, this book will appeal to anybody who admires or fears this delicate yet dangerous creature.

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Sustainability and Water Management in the Maya World and Beyond
Jean T. Larmon
University Press of Colorado, 2021
Sustainability and Water Management in the Maya World and Beyond investigates climate change and sustainability through time, exploring how political control of water sources, maintenance of sustainable systems, ideological relationships with water, and fluctuations in water availability have affected and been affected by social change. Contributors focus on and build upon earlier investigations of the global diversity of water management systems and the successes and failures of their employment, while applying a multitude of perspectives on sustainability.
 
The volume focuses primarily on the Precolumbian Maya but offers several analogous case studies outside the ancient Maya world that illustrate the pervasiveness of water’s role in sustainability, including an ethnographic study of the sustainability of small-scale, farmer-managed irrigation systems in contemporary New Mexico and the environmental consequences of Angkor’s growth into the world’s most extensive preindustrial settlement. The archaeological record offers rich data on past politics of climate change, while epigraphic and ethnographic data show how integrated the ideological, political, and environmental worlds of the Maya were.
 
While Sustainability and Water Management in the Maya World and Beyond stresses how lessons from the past offer invaluable insight into current approaches of adaptation, it also advances our understanding of those adaptations by making the inevitable discrepancies between past and present climate change less daunting and emphasizing the sustainable negotiations between humans and their surroundings that have been mediated by the changing climate for millennia. It will appeal to students and scholars interested in climate change, sustainability, and water management in the archaeological record.
 
Contributors: Mary Jane Acuña, Wendy Ashmore, Timothy Beach, Jeffrey Brewer, Christopher Carr, Adrian S. Z. Chase, Arlen F. Chase, Diane Z. Chase, Carlos R. Chiriboga, Jennifer Chmilar, Nicholas Dunning, Maurits W. Ertsen, Roland Fletcher, David Friedel, Robert Griffin, Joel D. Gunn, Armando Anaya Hernández, Christian Isendahl, David Lentz, Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, Dan Penny, Kathryn Reese-Taylor, Michelle Rich, Cynthia Robin, Sylvia Rodríguez, William Saturno, Vernon Scarborough, Payson Sheets, Liwy Grazioso Sierra, Michael Smyth, Sander van der Leeuw, Andrew Wyatt
 
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Tapping Out
Poems
Nandi Comer
Northwestern University Press, 2020
The relentless motions and blinding colors of lucha libre, the high-flying wrestling sport, are the arresting backdrop to Nandi Comer’s collection Tapping Out. Mexican freestyle wrestling becomes the poet’s lyrical motif, uncovering what is behind the intricate masks we wear in society and our search for place within our personal histories. Comer’s poetic narratives include explorations of violence, trauma, and identity. The exquisite complications of the black experience in settled and unsettled spaces propel her linear explorations, which challenge the idea of metaphor and cadence.  

The harsh realities of being migrant and immigrant, being birthright and oppressed, are as hard-pressed as the plancha move to the body. Each poem in Tapping Out is a “freestyle movement” of language and complexity put on full display, under the bright lights and roars of survival. Comer’s splendid and barbed, Detroit style of language melts the masks with searing words.
 
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Tattoo
Bodies, Art, and Exchange in the Pacific and the West
Nicholas Thomas, Anna Cole, and Bronwen Douglas, eds.
Duke University Press, 2005
The history of tattooing is shrouded in controversy. Citing the Polynesian derivation of the word “tattoo,” many scholars and tattoo enthusiasts have believed that the modern practice of tattooing originated in the Pacific, and specifically in the contacts between Captain Cook’s seamen and the Tahitians. Tattoo demonstrates that while the history of tattooing is far more complex than this, Pacific body arts have provided powerful stimuli to the West intermittently from the eighteenth century to the present day. The essays collected here document the extraordinary, intertwined histories of processes of cultural exchange and Pacific tattoo practices. Art historians, anthropologists, and scholars of Oceania provide a transcultural history of tattooing in and beyond the Pacific.

The contributors examine the contexts in which Pacific tattoos were “discovered” by Europeans, track the history of the tattooing of Europeans visiting the region, and look at how Pacific tattooing was absorbed, revalued, and often suppressed by agents of European colonization. They consider how European art has incorporated tattooing, and they explore contemporary manifestations of Pacific tattoo art, paying particular attention to the different trajectories of Samoan, Tahitian, and Maori tattooing and to the meaning of present-day appropriations of tribal tattoos. New research has uncovered a fascinating visual archive of centuries-old tattoo images, and this richly illustrated volume includes a number of those—many published here for the first time—alongside images of contemporary tattooing in Polynesia and Europe. Tattoo offers a tantalizing glimpse into the plethora of stories and cross-cultural encounters that lie between the blood on a sailor’s backside in the eighteenth century and the hammering of a Samoan tattoo tool in the twenty-first.

Contributors. Peter Brunt, Anna Cole, Anne D’Alleva, Bronwen Douglas, Elena Govor, Makiko Kuwahara, Sean Mallon, Linda Waimarie Nikora, Mohi Rua, Cyril Siorat, Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, Nicholas Thomas, Joanna White

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This Ecstatic Nation
The American Landscape and the Aesthetics of Patriotism
Terre Ryan
University of Massachusetts Press, 2011
Americans' cultural love affair with their country's landscape started in the nineteenth century, when expansionism was often promoted as divine mission, the West was still the frontier, and scenery became the backdrop of nationalist mythology. With a promise of resources ripe for development, Manifest Destiny–era aesthetics often reinforced a system of environmental degradation while preserving the wide and wild view. Although the aesthetics have evolved, contemporary media are filled with American landscape images inspired by the nineteenth century.

Terre Ryan examines this phenomenon by exploring the overlapping trails of national mythology, landscape aesthetics, patriotic discourse, and public policy. Tracing her journeys around bombing grounds in Nevada, logging sites in Oregon, and energy fields in Wyoming, she argues that business and government agencies often frame commercial projects and national myths according to nineteenth-century beliefs about landscape and bounty. Advertisements and political promotional materials following this aesthetic framework perpetuate frontier-era ideas about the environment as commodity, scenery, and cultural trashlands. Transmitted through all types of media, nineteenth-century perspectives on landscape continue to inform mainstream perceptions of the environment, environmental policies, and representations of American patriotism.

Combining personal narrative with factual reportage, political and cultural critique, and historical analysis, Ryan reframes the images we see every day and places them into a larger national narrative.
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Uncanny Creatures
Doll Thinking in Modern German Culture
Christophe Koné
University of Michigan Press, 2024
Germany held a monopoly on the manufacture and export of bisque toy dolls in Europe before WWI. Yet, dolls’ omnipresence in the material, visual, and literary culture of the modern German-speaking world has so far not been properly addressed. In demonstrating this cultural affinity for dolls, Christophe Koné draws upon a range of stories and seminal essays on dolls, as well as toys, sculptures, paintings, and photographs. He examines how E.T.A. Hoffmann’s romantic tale The Sandman (1815) has been a major source of inspiration for German-speaking doll makers because of how it centers imagination and inventiveness. Using Hoffmann’s tale as an early example of an amalgam between doll thinking and making in German culture, Koné shows how it initiated a genealogy of doll thinkers (Freud & Jentsch), writers (Rilke), painters (Kokoschka), photographers (Bellmer), and makers (Pritzel). 

Uncanny Creatures then explores how this unusual interest in human-like figures continues a long tradition of thought devoted to conceptualizing “things,” from Immanuel Kant’s theory of the thing-in-itself to Martin Heidegger’s lecture on the thing, and Eduard Mörike or Rainer Maria Rilke’s thing-poems. Because dolls occupy a liminal space—not quite things and more than mere objects—they appear as uncanny creatures which have held a fascination for writers, thinkers, and artists alike. Uncanny Creatures moves past the Freudian discourse of fetishism to propose a new reading of doll artifacts in German culture centered on their ability to evoke a feeling of uncertainty and unsettlement in the viewer.
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A View to a Death in the Morning
Hunting and Nature Through History
Matt Cartmill
Harvard University Press, 1996

What brought the ape out of the trees, and so the man out of the ape, was a taste for blood. This is how the story went, when a few fossils found in Africa in the 1920s seemed to point to hunting as the first human activity among our simian forebears—the force behind our upright posture, skill with tools, domestic arrangements, and warlike ways. Why, on such slim evidence, did the theory take hold? In this engrossing book Matt Cartmill searches out the origins, and the strange allure, of the myth of Man the Hunter. An exhilarating foray into cultural history, A View to a Death in the Morning shows us how hunting has figured in the western imagination from the myth of Artemis to the tale of Bambi—and how its evolving image has reflected our own view of ourselves.

A leading biological anthropologist, Cartmill brings remarkable wit and wisdom to his story. Beginning with the killer-ape theory in its post–World War II version, he takes us back through literature and history to other versions of the hunting hypothesis. Earlier accounts of Man the Hunter, drafted in the Renaissance, reveal a growing uneasiness with humanity’s supposed dominion over nature. By delving further into the history of hunting, from its promotion as a maker of men and builder of character to its image as an aristocratic pastime, charged with ritual and eroticism, Cartmill shows us how the hunter has always stood between the human domain and the wild, his status changing with cultural conceptions of that boundary.

Cartmill’s inquiry leads us through classical antiquity and Christian tradition, medieval history, Renaissance thought, and the Romantic movement to the most recent controversies over wilderness management and animal rights. Modern ideas about human dominion find their expression in everything from scientific theories and philosophical assertions to Disney movies and sporting magazines. Cartmill’s survey of these sources offers fascinating insight into the significance of hunting as a mythic metaphor in recent times, particularly after the savagery of the world wars reawakened grievous doubts about man’s place in nature.

A masterpiece of humanistic science, A View to a Death in the Morning is also a thoughtful meditation on what it means to be human, to stand uncertainly between the wilderness of beast and prey and the peaceable kingdom. This richly illustrated book will captivate readers on every side of the dilemma, from the most avid hunters to their most vehement opponents to those who simply wonder about the import of hunting in human nature.

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Wearing Culture
Dress and Regalia in Early Mesoamerica and Central America
Heather Orr
University Press of Colorado, 2014
Wearing Culture connects scholars of divergent geographical areas and academic fields—from archaeologists and anthropologists to art historians—to show the significance of articles of regalia and of dressing and ornamenting people and objects among the Formative period cultures of ancient Mesoamerica and Central America.

Documenting the elaborate practices of costume, adornment, and body modification in Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Oaxaca, the Soconusco region of southern Mesoamerica, the Gulf Coast Olmec region (Olman), and the Maya lowlands, this book demonstrates that adornment was used as a tool for communicating status, social relationships, power, gender, sexuality, behavior, and political, ritual, and religious identities. Despite considerable formal and technological variation in clothing and ornamentation, the early indigenous cultures of these regions shared numerous practices, attitudes, and aesthetic interests. Contributors address technological development, manufacturing materials and methods, nonfabric ornamentation, symbolic dimensions, representational strategies, and clothing as evidence of interregional sociopolitical exchange.

Focusing on an important period of cultural and artistic development through the lens of costuming and adornment, Wearing Culture will be of interest to scholars of pre-Hispanic and pre-Columbian studies.

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front cover of Weaving Identities
Weaving Identities
Construction of Dress and Self in a Highland Guatemala Town
By Carol Hendrickson
University of Texas Press, 1995

Traje, the brightly colored traditional dress of the highland Maya, is the principal visual expression of indigenous identity in Guatemala today. Whether worn in beauty pageants, made for religious celebrations, or sold in tourist markets, traje is more than "mere cloth"—it plays an active role in the construction and expression of ethnicity, gender, education, politics, wealth, and nationality for Maya and non-Maya alike.

Carol Hendrickson presents an ethnography of clothing focused on the traje—particularly women's traje—of Tecpán, Guatemala, a bi-ethnic community in the central highlands. She covers the period from 1980, when the recent round of violence began, to the early 1990s, when Maya revitalization efforts emerged.

Using a symbolic analysis informed by political concerns, Hendrickson seeks to increase the value accorded to a subject like weaving, which is sometimes disparaged as "craft" or "women's work." She examines traje in three dimensions—as part of the enduring images of the "Indian," as an indicator of change in the human life cycle and cloth production, and as a medium for innovation and creative expression.

From this study emerges a picture of highland life in which traje and the people who wear it are bound to tradition and place, yet are also actively changing and reflecting the wider world. The book will be important reading for all those interested in the contemporary Maya, the cultural analysis of material culture, and the role of women in culture preservation and change.

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front cover of Where the Sky Touched the Earth
Where the Sky Touched the Earth
The Cosmological Landscapes of the Southwest
Don Lago
University of Nevada Press, 2017
The landscapes of the American Southwest—the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, the Sedona red rocks—have long filled humans with wonder about nature. This is the home of Lowell Observatory, where astronomers first discovered evidence that the universe is expanding; Meteor Crater, where Apollo astronauts trained for the moon; and Native American tribes with their own ancient, rich ways of relating to the cosmos. With the personal, poetic style of the very best literary nature writing, Don Lago explores how these landscapes have offered humans a deeper sense of connection with the universe. While most nature writing never leaves the ground, Lago is one of the few writers who has applied it to the universe, seeking ties between humans and the astronomical forces that gave us birth.

Nowhere else in the world is the link between earth and sky so powerful. Lago witnesses a solar eclipse over the Grand Canyon, climbs primeval volcanos, and sees the universe in tree rings. Through ageless Native American ceremonies, modern telescopes, and even dreams of flying saucers, Lago, who is not only a poet but a true philosopher of science, strives to find order and meaning in the world and brings out the Southwest’s beauty and mystery.
 
 
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front cover of While Rome Burned
While Rome Burned
Fire, Leadership, and Urban Disaster in the Roman Cultural Imagination
Virginia M. Closs
University of Michigan Press, 2020
While Rome Burned attends to the intersection of fire, city, and emperor in ancient Rome, tracing the critical role that urban conflagration played as both reality and metaphor in the politics and literature of the early imperial period. Urban fires presented a consistent problem for emperors from Augustus to Hadrian, especially given the expectation that the princeps be both a protector and provider for Rome’s population. The problem manifested itself differently for each leader, and each sought to address it in distinctive ways. This history can be traced most precisely in Roman literature, as authors addressed successive moments of political crisis through dialectical engagement with prior incendiary catastrophes in Rome’s historical past and cultural repertoire.

Working in the increasingly repressive environment of the early principate, Roman authors frequently employed “figured” speech and mythopoetic narratives to address politically risky topics. In response to shifting political and social realities, the literature of the early imperial period reimagines and reanimates not just historical fires, but also archetypal and mythic representations of conflagration. Throughout, the author engages critically with the growing subfield of disaster studies, as well as with theoretical approaches to language, allusion, and cultural memory.
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front cover of The World Below
The World Below
Body and Cosmos in Otomí Indian Ritual
Jacques Galinier
University Press of Colorado, 2004
In The World Below, Jacques Galinier surveys both traditional Otomí cosmology and colonial and contemporary Catholic rituals to illustrate the complexity of continuity and change in Mesoamerican religious ideology and practice. Galinier explores the problems of historical and family memory, models of space and time, the role of the human habitation in cosmology, shamanism and healing, and much more. He elucidates the way these realities are represented in a series of arresting oppositions - both Otomí oppositions and the duality of indigenous and Catholic ritual life - between the upper and lower human body.

Drawing upon both Freud and theories of the carnivalesque, Galinier argues that the "world below" (the lower half of the body) provides the foundation for an indigenous metapsychology that is at once very close to and very far away from the Freudian conceptual apparatus.

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front cover of The World of Roman Costume
The World of Roman Costume
Edited by Judith Lynn Sebesta and Larissa Bonfante
University of Wisconsin Press, 1994


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