Making a Nation, Breaking a Nation: Literature and Cultural Politics in Yugoslavia (Cultural Memory in the Present)
From one of our preeminent philosophers--winner of the Berggruen Prize--a work that engages critically with important examples of the cosmopolitan ideal from ancient Greece and Rome to the present.
The cosmopolitan political tradition in Western thought begins with the Greek Cynic Diogenes, who, when asked where he came from, responded that he was a citizen of the world. Rather than declaring his lineage, city, social class, or gender, he defined himself as a human being, implicitly asserting the equal worth of all human beings.
Nussbaum pursues this "noble but flawed" vision of world citizenship as it finds expression in figures of Greco-Roman antiquity, Hugo Grotius in the seventeenth century, Adam Smith during the eighteenth century, and various contemporary thinkers. She confronts its inherent tensions: the ideal suggests that moral personality is complete, and completely beautiful, without any external aids, while reality insists that basic material needs be met if people are to realize fully their inherent dignity. Given the global prevalence of material want, the lesser social opportunities of people with physical and cognitive disabilities, the conflicting beliefs of a pluralistic society, and the challenge of mass migration and asylum seekers, what political principles should we endorse? Nussbaum brings her version of the Capabilities Approach to these problems, and she goes farther: she takes on the challenge of recognizing the moral claims of nonhuman animals and the natural world.
The insight that politics ought to treat human beings both as equal to each other and as having a worth beyond price is responsible for much that is fine in the modern Western political imagination. The Cosmopolitan Tradition extends Nussbaum's work, urging us to focus on the humanity we share rather than all that divides us.
In this spirited and irreverent critique of Darwin's long hold over our imagination, a distinguished philosopher of science makes the case that, in culture as well as nature, not only the fittest survive: the world is full of the "good enough" that persist too.
Why is the genome of a salamander forty times larger than that of a human? Why does the avocado tree produce a million flowers and only a hundred fruits? Why, in short, is there so much waste in nature? In this lively and wide-ranging meditation on the curious accidents and unexpected detours on the path of life, Daniel Milo argues that we ask these questions because we've embraced a faulty conception of how evolution--and human society--really works.
Good Enough offers a vigorous critique of the quasi-monopoly that Darwin's concept of natural selection has on our idea of the natural world. Darwinism excels in accounting for the evolution of traits, but it does not explain their excess in size and number. Many traits far exceed the optimal configuration to do the job, and yet the maintenance of this extra baggage does not prevent species from thriving for millions of years. Milo aims to give the messy side of nature its due--to stand up for the wasteful and inefficient organisms that nevertheless survive and multiply.
But he does not stop at the border between evolutionary theory and its social consequences. He argues provocatively that the theory of evolution through natural selection has acquired the trappings of an ethical system. Optimization, competitiveness, and innovation have become the watchwords of Western societies, yet their role in human lives--as in the rest of nature--is dangerously overrated. Imperfection is not just good enough: it may at times be essential to survival.
Reconstructions of Jesus occurred in Asia long before the Western search for the historical Jesus began in earnest. This enterprise sprang up in seventh-century China and seventeenth-century India, encouraged by the patronage and openness of the Chinese and Indian imperial courts. While the Western quest was largely a Protestant preoccupation, in Asia the search was marked by its diversity: participants included Hindus, Jains, Muslims, Catholics, and members of the Church of the East.
During the age of European colonialism, Jesus was first seen by many Asians as a tribal god of the farangis, or white Europeans. But as his story circulated, Asians remade Jesus, at times appreciatively and at other times critically. R. S. Sugirtharajah demonstrates how Buddhist and Taoist thought, combined with Christian insights, led to the creation of the Chinese Jesus Sutras of late antiquity, and explains the importance of a biography of Jesus composed in the sixteenth-century court of the Mughal emperor Akbar. He also brings to the fore the reconstructions of Jesus during the Chinese Taiping revolution, the Korean Minjung uprising, and the Indian and Sri Lankan anti-colonial movements.
In Jesus in Asia, Sugirtharajah situates the historical Jesus beyond the narrow confines of the West and offers an eye-opening new chapter in the story of global Christianity.
The Last Whalers: Three Years in the Far Pacific with a Courageous Tribe and a Vanishing Way of Life
In this "immersive, densely reported, and altogether remarkable first book [with] the texture and color of a first-rate novel" (New York Times), journalist Doug Bock Clark tells the epic story of the world's last subsistence whalers and the threats posed to a tribe on the brink.
"An amazing account . . . Spectacular and deeply empathetic." --Sebastian Junger, The Perfect Storm. "A monumental achievement." --Mitchell Zuckoff, 13 Hours. "A true work of art . . . Lyrically written and richly observed." --Michael Finkel, The Stranger in the Woods. "An extraordinary feat of reportage and illumination." --Leslie Jamison, The Empathy Exams. "Remarkable, gorgeously written." --Bronwen Dickey, Pit Bull.
On a volcanic island in the Savu Sea so remote that other Indonesians call it "The Land Left Behind" live the Lamalerans: a tribe of 1,500 hunter-gatherers who are the world's last subsistence whalers. They have survived for half a millennium by hunting whales with bamboo harpoons and handmade wooden boats powered by sails of woven palm fronds. But now, under assault from the rapacious forces of the modern era and a global economy, their way of life teeters on the brink of collapse.
Award-winning journalist Doug Bock Clark, one of a handful of Westerners who speak the Lamaleran language, lived with the tribe across three years, and he brings their world and their people to vivid life in this gripping story of a vanishing culture. Jon, an orphaned apprentice whaler, toils to earn his harpoon and provide for his ailing grandparents, while Ika, his indomitable younger sister, is eager to forge a life unconstrained by tradition, and to realize a star-crossed love. Frans, an aging shaman, tries to unite the tribe in order to undo a deadly curse. And Ignatius, a legendary harpooner entering retirement, labors to hand down the Ways of the Ancestors to his son, Ben, who would secretly rather become a DJ in the distant tourist mecca of Bali.
Deeply empathetic and richly reported, The Last Whalers is a riveting, powerful chronicle of the collision between one of the planet's dwindling indigenous peoples and the irresistible enticements and upheavals of a rapidly transforming world.
Believers is a scientist's answer to attacks on faith by some well-meaning scientists and philosophers. It is a firm rebuke of the "Four Horsemen"--Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens--known for writing about religion as something irrational and ultimately harmful. Anthropologist Melvin Konner, who was raised as an Orthodox Jew but has lived his adult life without such faith, explores the psychology, development, brain science, evolution, and even genetics of the varied religious impulses we experience as a species.
Conceding that faith is not for everyone, he views religious people with a sympathetic eye; his own upbringing, his apprenticeship in the trance-dance religion of the African Bushmen, and his friends and explorations in Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and other faiths have all shaped his perspective. Faith has always manifested itself in different ways--some revelatory and comforting; some kind and good; some ecumenical and cosmopolitan; some bigoted, coercive, and violent. But the future, Konner argues, will both produce more nonbelievers, and incline the religious among us--holding their own by having larger families--to increasingly reject prejudice and aggression.
A colorful weave of personal stories of religious--and irreligious--encounters, as well as new scientific research, Believers shows us that religion does much good as well as undoubted harm, and that for at least a large minority of humanity, the belief in things unseen neither can nor should go away.
High in the mountainous rainforests of Burma and India grow some of the world's last stands of mature, wild teak. For more than a thousand years, people here have worked with elephants to log these otherwise impassable forests and move people and goods (often illicitly) under cover of the forest canopy. In Giants of the Monsoon Forest, geographer Jacob Shell takes us deep into this strange elephant country to explore the lives of these extraordinarily intelligent creatures.
The relationship between elephant and rider is an intimate one that lasts for many decades. When an elephant is young, he or she is paired with a rider, who is called a mahout. The two might work together their entire lives. Though not bred to work with humans, these elephants can lift and carry logs, save people from mudslides, break logjams in raging rivers, and navigate dense mountain forests with passengers on their backs.
Visiting tiny logging villages and forest camps, Shell describes fascinating characters, both elephant and human--like a heroic elephant named Maggie who saves dozens of British and Burmese refugees during World War II, and an elephant named Pak Chan who sneaks away from the Ho Chi Minh Trail to mate with a partner in a passing herd. We encounter an eloquent colonel in a rebel army in Burma's Kachin State, whose expertise is smuggling arms and valuable jade via elephant convoy, and several particularly smart elephants, including one who discovers, all on his own, how to use a wood branch as a kind of safety lock when lifting heavy teak logs.
Giants of the Monsoon Forest offers a new perspective on animal intelligence and reveals an unexpected relationship between evolution in the natural world and political struggles in the human one. Shell examines why the complex tradition of working with elephants has endured with Asian elephants, but not with their counterparts in Africa. And he shows us how Asia's secret forest culture might offer a way to save the elephants. By performing rescues after major floods--as they did in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami--and helping sustainably log Asian forests, humans and elephants working together can help protect the fragile spaces they both need to survive.
As an increasingly polarized America fights over the legacy of racism, Susan Neiman, author of the contemporary philosophical classic Evil in Modern Thought, asks what we can learn from the Germans about confronting the evils of the past
In the wake of white nationalist attacks, the ongoing debate over reparations, and the controversy surrounding Confederate monuments and the contested memories they evoke, Susan Neiman's Learning from the Germans delivers an urgently needed perspective on how a country can come to terms with its historical wrongdoings. Neiman is a white woman who came of age in the civil rights-era South and a Jewish woman who has spent much of her adult life in Berlin. Working from this unique perspective, she combines philosophical reflection, personal stories, and interviews with both Americans and Germans who are grappling with the evils of their own national histories.
Through discussions with Germans, including Jan Philipp Reemtsma, who created the breakthrough Crimes of the Wehrmacht exhibit, and Friedrich Schorlemmer, the East German dissident preacher, Neiman tells the story of the long and difficult path Germans faced in their effort to atone for the crimes of the Holocaust. In the United States, she interviews James Meredith about his battle for equality in Mississippi and Bryan Stevenson about his monument to the victims of lynching, as well as lesser-known social justice activists in the South, to provide a compelling picture of the work contemporary Americans are doing to confront our violent history. In clear and gripping prose, Neiman urges us to consider the nuanced forms that evil can assume, so that we can recognize and avoid them in the future.
Western observers who were impressed by the bravery of the demonstrators in Tiananmen Square--and stunned at the harshness of their suppression--will learn from this book how that political movement led to changes in cultural conditions and production. Attending to all the major elements of this vast nation's high and low culture at the end of a landmark decade, Huot's discussion ranges from the cinematic works of Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, and others to emerging musical forms such as rock, punk, and rap. Other topics include television, theater, and avant-garde art, the new electronic media, and subversive trends in both literature and the visual arts.
With a comprehensive index of artists and works, as well as a glossary of Chinese words, China's New Cultural Scene will enlighten students of Chinese culture and general readers interested in contemporary Asia.
Throughout the authors encourage the reader to explore the social world at first hand, beginning with the immediate family context and then moving out into the public realm and organizational life. Examples of observational analysis are given with reference to topic areas such as family life, education, medicine, crime and deviance, and the reader is shown how to conduct their own inquiries, using methods and materials that are readily and ordinarily available.
Drawing on both original material and published studies, Francis and Hester demonstrate how observational sociology can be carried out with an attention to detail typically overlooked by more traditional ethonographic approaches.
Hugh Brody crystallizes three decades of studying, learning from, crusading for, and thinking about hunter-gatherers in this profound and provocative book. Contrary to stereotype, he says, it is the farmers and their colonizing descendants--ourselves--who are the true nomads, doomed to the geographical and spiritual restlessness embodied in the story of Genesis. By contrast, the hunters have a deep attachment to the place and ways of their ancestors that stems from an enviable sense, distinctively expressed in thought, word, and act, of being part of the fabric of the natural and spiritual worlds.
In interlocking essays, Henry muses on the ambiguities of time and place, on paying attention, on hope and prayer. His book is also a journal of life as a professor of religion, into which are woven the observations of other writers he has encountered on his metaphysical travels.
Like Kathleen Norris, Patrick Henry brings a questing intelligence, humor, and great writing to his investigation of the relevance of Christianity in the modern age. The Ironic Christian's Companion does not pretend to answer the big questions, but in lucid, engaging prose it sets out to identify what they are.
Written in Bones brings together a team of international experts to show how the careful study of bones reveals a compelling picture of the lives, cultures, and beliefs of ancient societies from around the world.
This compelling and scientifically-accessible book: Provides 38 case studies examining the discoveries at archeological sites Introduces readers to ancient peoples Includes more than 350 color photographs
Human remains tell us much about how our ancestors lived and died. In Written in Bones, significant discoveries are carefully brought together and analyzed. Readers learn how experts use modern scientific techniques to piece together the stories behind the bones. The data is used to create a picture of cultures and ritual beliefs. There are such astonishing discoveries as: Han Dynasty aristocrat preserved in an unknown red liquid Bog bodies in Europe The riddle of Tomb KV55 - where a male body was found inside a female coffin World's oldest dwarf The headless men and giant wolves of the Mesolithic cemetery in Siberia
As a young man American Hugh Beach went to live with the Saami reindeer herders of Swedish Lapland. His lyrically written and very personal story of trying to fit into the herding way of life is a rare insider's account of the Saami. In a passionate and informed Afterword to this new edition of the book, he revisits his old friends and looks at how Sweden is attempting to balance the conflicting needs of reindeer herders and environmentalists in the 21st century.