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Archive for February, 2011

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Do Mayors Matter? A review of “America’s Mayor” and “Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City”

Ed Koch John Lindsay

In The New Republic, Edward Glaeser, reviews three recent books on New York City that explore the city’s postwar politics, finances, and efforts at urban renewal. The books discussed include America’s Mayor: John V. Lindsay and the Reinvention of New York, edited by Sam Roberts, and Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City, by Jonathan Soffer.

While some historians and observers have credited Koch with bringing New York City back from the excesses and failed policies of the Lindsay administration, Glaeser points out that both mayors had much in common in terms of their belief in traditional liberal dreams strengths (anti-machine, reformers) and weaknesses (largely ineffective against crime, spread themselves too thin).

In summing up Lindsay’s legacy, Glaeser writes:

Lindsay tried to make New York more beautiful and more enjoyable, presciently grasping that modern cities would succeed not because of ports or railyards, but through their ability to attract people with pleasure as well as productivity. He was an innovative manager, who improved the efficiency of the Sanitation Department and introduced computers that assisted in everything from tracking capital improvements to reducing children’s exposure to lead. He was responsible for policing innovations such as the 911 Call, focusing on high-crime areas and community policing. Lindsay’s support for a “Civilian Complaints Board,” certainly made him unpopular among cops, but it was not an unreasonable response to the problem of police abuse and corruption. And while he could not stop rising crime rates, he did prevent a major riot through a combination of effective outreach and overwhelming—and usually non-violent—police presence. There is some truth to Roberts’s statement that while “the supposition that anybody ‘kept New York from burning’ seems almost quaint,” Lindsay did just that.


Friday, February 25th, 2011

Columbia University Press Online Access (CUPOLA)

  Columbia University Press Online Access       Columbia University Press Online Access      Columbia University Press Online Access

Visitors to the Columbia University Press site will notice that many of our titles in social work, business, and economics, now include a button that allows you to access the book on Columbia University Press Online Access (CUPOLA).

As a reminder CUPOLA provides quick and easy access to full-text e-books and chapters of CUP’s titles. It allows you to search the full text of books or chapters and offers free access to selected chapters, notes, references, and indexes. Various purchase options let you decide how CUPOLA will work best for you and allow you to download e-books or chapters to your computer or view them on your e-reader.

CUPOLA was recently featured on the Tizra blog (Tizra created the Web platform for CUPOLA). In describing our use of CUPOLA they write:

A reader who just wants to answer quick questions about, say, how the concept of Strategic Innovation applies to Bill Gates, could just buy a chapter and browse it immediately online. Someone with a deep interest in the topic could buy the right to download the whole book, load it into their ereader and take it with them on the road.

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Interview with Norma Lang, author of Group Work Practice to Advance Social Competence

Norma LangThe following is an interview with Norma Lang, author of Group Work Practice to Advance Social Competence: A Specialized Methodology for Social Work.

Q: To what readership is the book addressed?

Norma Lang.: The book is intended for use by social work practitioners, educators, field instructors, and students. It will be used as a textbook on social work practice with groups serving socially unskilled populations, defining a methodology particularly oriented to persons who lack social competence, and whose group life is likely to be chaotic or nonexistent unless professionally assisted. Many practitioners have been awaiting such a practice text for a very long time.

Practitioners in adjacent human service professions will find the book a useful addition—in particular, those working in the fields of education, psychology, psychiatry, medicine, nursing, speech pathology, and practitioners who work with particular populations whose prevailing condition puts them at risk for social competence. The book lends itself to professional development and to use with study groups.

The text can be expected to stimulate new writing by practitioners who have been looking for such a special methodology, and who, by using it, will add their own experiential refinements to knowledge for practice with particular socially disabled populations.


Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Martin Murphy, author of “Somalia the New Barbary,” on the Newshour

In the wake of the most recent incident of hijacking by Somali pirates, PBS’s Newshour interviewed Martin Murphy, author of Somalia, the New Barbary?: Piracy and Islam in the Horn of Africa and Small Boats, Weak States, Dirty Money: Piracy and Maritime Terrorism in the Modern World.

In the interview Murphy argues that though attention has faded from this problem, hijacking continues. There are now around 700 hostages still being held by pirates and the amount of money they now receive is greater than ever.

He argues that while improvements have been made in terms of naval vessels patrolling the area and there has been greater coordination in prosecuting hijackers, the area in which pirates now roam has grown tremendously. For the problem to improve, the United States and other nations must directly engage with North East Somalia, where many of the hijackers are based.

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

New Book Tuesday — Paul Offit and Antonio Gramsci

Paul OffitBooks now available:

Vaccines and Your Child: Separating Fact from Fiction
Paul A. Offit, MD, FAAP and Charlotte A. Moser

Prison Notebooks: Three Volume Set
Antonio Gramsci; translated by Joseph A. Buttigieg

Ottomans Into Europeans: State and Institution-Building in South Eastern Europe
Edited by Wim Van Meurs and Alina Mungiu-Pippidi

Milk and Peace, Drought and War: Somali Culture, Society, and Politics
Edited by Markus Hoehne and Virginia Luling

Under Siege: Inter-Ethnic Relations in Abkhazia
Tom Trier, Hedvig Lohm, and David Szakonyi

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Roland Barthes Concludes The Preparation of the Novel

Roland Barthes

Fittingly, our last excerpt from Barthes’s extraordinary lecture series will be his final words from his session of February 23, 1980). (For other excerpts from The Preparation of the Novel, click here, here, here, and here.)

Thus, what I’m waiting for (as I said) is a trigger, a chance event, a mutation: a new ear for things → I quote Nietz­sche (still without comparing myself to, but identifying myself with on a practical level); Nietz­sche conceived of Zarathustra in 1881 while strolling though the woods that border Lake Silvaplana; resting beside an enormous block of stone = the idea of the Eternal Return. But (and this is what interests us), premonitory sign: sudden and radical modification of his taste in music: “Rebirth of the art of hearing” → The New Work (new with respect to yourself: this is the postulation of the Work to be written) will probably only be possible, probably only get going in real terms when an old liking is transformed and a new one emerges → Perhaps what I’m waiting for, then, is for my Hearing to be transformed—­and perhaps that will happen to me, unmeta­phor­ical­ly, through music, which I’m so fond of → Then I might achieve the real dialectical becoming: “To become what I am”; Nietz­sche’s saying: “Become what you are,” and Kafka’s saying: “Destroy yourself . . . ​in order to make yourself into that which you are” → Thus, in this way, the distinction between the Old and the New would quite naturally be abolished, the path of the spiral marked out, and these words from Schönberg, who founded contemporary music and reinvigorated the music of the past, honored: it’s still possible to write music in C major. There, to bring things to a close, you have the object of my desire: to write a work in C Major.

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Olivier Roy on Egypt and the New Arab World

Olivier RoyOlivier Roy, most recently the author of Holy Ignorance: When Religion and Culture Part Ways, has written two pieces on events in the Arab world that have been widely cited and offer a counter-perspective to Western coverage.

In his piece in the New Statesman (a very similar essay was written in French, published in Le Monde), This is not an Islamic Revolution, Roy argues that the those protesting in Egypt and Tunisia are representative of a post-Islamist generation. While individually many of the protesters are religious they “do not see in Islam an ideology capable of creating a better world.” Instead their concerns and solutions are more practical and concrete, seeking democracy and dignity.

Moreover, Roy argues that Islamists have lost their “stranglehold on religious expression in the public sphere that they enjoyed in the 1980s,” as well as their political influence. Expressions of Islam are more individual now and while still very important it asserts itself in the cultural and social spheres rather than the political. Thus, groups interested in global jihad have little impact on the democracy movements. Roy writes, “jihad is completely detached from social movements and national struggles. Al-Qaeda tries to present itself as the vanguard of the global Muslim “umma” in its battle against western oppression, but without success.”

In the concluding paragraph of the piece, Roy writes,

The process of change will undoubtedly be long and chaotic, but one thing is certain: the age of Arab-Muslim exceptionalism is over. Recent events point to profound transformations in Arab societies which have been under way for some time, but which until now have been obscured by the distorting optic of western attitudes towards the Middle East. What the convulsions in Egypt and Tunisia show is that people in those countries have drawn the lessons of their own history. We have not finished with Islam, that is for sure, nor is liberal democracy the “end of history”, but we must at least learn to think of Islam in relation to an “Arabic-Muslim” culture that today is no longer closed in on itself – if it ever was.

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Roland Barthes on the Literary Hero — The Preparation of the Novel

Roland Barthes

“It’s this Figure—­or this Power—­of the literary Hero that’s dying out today”—Roland Barthes

In his lecture of February 16, 1980, Roland Barthes considers literature’s relationship to the world. In this particular excerpt he discusses the concept of literary heroism and whether it still has a place in the world. (For other excerpts from The Preparation of the Novel, click here, here, and here.)

5. Heroism

I said: disappearance of literary leaders; this is still a social idea; the leader = figure in the or­ga­ni­za­tion of Culture → But within the community of writers (the calling into question, not to say the decline of which I’m outlining now), another word imposes itself, less social, more mythical: hero. Baudelaire on Poe = “one of the greatest literary heroes” → It’s this Figure—­or this Power—­of the literary Hero that’s dying out today.


Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Roland Barthes on The Hope of Writing — The Preparation of the Novel

             Roland Barthes

In his lecture of December 1, 1979, Roland Barthes discusses “The Work as Will,” and in this excerpt he talks about the hope of Writing. (For other excerpts from The Preparation of the Novel, click here and here.)

The Hope of Writing


Especially that Time of reading and of jubilatory reading that occurs in Adolescence—­but also throughout a Writer’s Life, where nothing is given, and Desire is constantly being reborn. Writing presents itself as a Hope, the color of a Hope—­let’s remind ourselves of Balzac’s very beautiful formulation: “Hope is a memory that desires.” Every beautiful work, or even every impressive work, functions as a desired work, albeit one that’s incomplete and as it ­were lost because I didn’t write it myself; in order to recover that work, I have to rewrite it; to write is to want to rewrite: I want to actively add myself to something that’s beautiful but that I lack, that I require.

Reading and writing: they each start the other off; perhaps that’s what the Force of all Creation and even of all Procreation amounts to: in the procreated child, I add myself to the person I love → Relationship between Reading and Writing: would be nuptial → Rapprochement between Creation and Procreation: it’s been done countless times, but it’s inevitable; it’s therefore necessary to give it its anthropological meaning: to Procreate and to Create = not, strictly speaking, a Triumph over Death but a dialectic, the Dialectic of the Individual and the Species: I write, I “finish” (the work), and I die; in so doing, something lives on: the Species, literature → Which is why the threat of decline or extinction that can weigh on literature tolls like an extermination of a species, a sort of spiritual genocide.

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Avner Cohen Discusses The Worst-Kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb

The following is a recent interview with Avner Cohen, author of The Worst-Kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb on Conversations with History:

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Roland Barthes on Writing and the Vita Nova — From The Preparation of the Novel

Roland Barthes

Continuing our feature on The Preparation of the Novel, by Roland Barthes, we have posted an excerpt from the first session. The lecture series began shortly after the death of Barthes’s mother, which inspired to some extent his decision to write or prepare to write a novel:

All of a sudden, then, this self-­evident truth presents itself: on the one hand, I have no time left to try out several different lives: I have to choose my last life, my new life, Vita Nova (Dante) or Vita Nuova (Michelet). And, on the other, I have to get out of this gloomy state of mind that the wearing effects of repetitive work and mourning have disposed me to → This running aground, this slow entrenchment in the quicksand (= which isn’t quick!), this drawn-­out death of staying in the same place, this fate that makes it impossible to “enter death alive” can be diagnosed in the following way: a generalized and overwhelming accumulation of “disinvestments,” the inability to invest anew → In the Middle Ages, a word: acedy. It can immediately be clarified that, if said and conceived of in a certain way, and despite the overuse of the word, acedy (a theme we’ll encounter again) is irreplaceable: the inability to love (someone, other people, the world) → Unhappiness often translates as the impossibility of giving to others.


Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

New Book Tuesday — A New Book from Judith Butler, Jurgen Habermas, and Cornel West

The Power of Religion in the Public SphereThe Power of Religion in the Public Sphere
Judith Butler, Jurgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, Cornel West, Edited by Eduardo Mendieta, and Jonathan VanAntwerpen

Politics of Culture and the Spirit of Critique: Dialogues
Edited by Gabriel Rockhill and Alfredo Gomez-Muller; with Seyla Benhabib, Nancy Fraser, Judith Butler, Immanuel Wallerstein, Cornel West, Michael Sandel, Will Kymlicka, and Axel Honneth

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Roland Barthes — The Preparation of the Novel

Roland Barthes

This week we will be featuring the recently published The Preparation of the Novel: Lecture Courses and Seminars at the Collège de France (1978-1979 and 1979-1980). Completed just weeks before his death, the lectures in this volume mark a critical juncture in the career of Roland Barthes, in which he declared the intention, deeply felt, to write a novel

The following passage is from the Editor’s Preface to the French edition
 by Nathalie Léger. In this excerpt, Léger describes Barthes’s lecturing style and how his mother’s death and desire for a “new life” shaped the lectures:

Those who attended his lecture course recall the remarkable fluidity of his delivery, the deep and enveloping timbre of his voice, the warm phrasing that endowed his authority with infinite goodwill—­oratorical skills that are confirmed by the sound recording of the lecture course. When describing the course, many of those who attended the lectures emphasize the crowds, the fight to get a seat from the moment the doors opened, and how calmly Barthes could invent on the spot, his ability to improvise in a very consistent, sustained fashion. Very few recall him reading from a manuscript. Yet a comparison between the written version with the spoken version recorded by some members of the audience reveals scarcely any discrepancies between the two: only infrequent digressions in the spoken version and the rare last-­minute changes and cuts made to the written draft (in order to adapt it, where necessary, to the technical constraints of the lecture format) suggest that Barthes was reading, taking great care not to depart from the manuscript transcribed ­here.

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Gary Francione Interviewed in The Believer

Gary Francione“The best justification that we have for killing billions of animals every year is that they taste good. That simply cannot suffice as a moral justification.”—Gary Francione

This month’s issue of The Believer includes an excellent interview with Gary Francione, most recently the co-author of The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation? and the author of Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation.

Deb Olin Unferth, who was the interviewer, writes that Francione has developed what is “universally acknowledged as the most original and consistent theory of animal rights produced to date.” In the interview, Francione, whose absolutist position on animal rights has often put him at odds with the mainstream animal rights movement, explains his views on vegetarianism (he’s against it and in favor of veganism), humane farming (against it), and keeping pets (he’s against the breeding of animals for domestication.)

Here are some excerpts from the interview:

On Michael Vick:

We all condemn Michael Vick for sitting around a pit and watching dogs fight because he derives pleasure from doing so. The rest of us sit around the barbecue pit and roast the bodies of animals who have been tortured as badly as—if not worse than—Vick’s fighting dogs, because we enjoy the taste. That’s moral schizophrenia. We treat some animals as members of our family, and we stick forks into other animals who are no different from our nonhuman family members. That’s moral schizophrenia.


Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Columbia University Press Authors on Egypt


Yesterday on the Al Jazeera website, Larbi Sadiki, author of The Search for Arab Democracy: Discourses and Counter-Discourses, wrote an op-ed that considers the potential successors to Mubarak in Egypt. Her article is just one of many by Columbia University Press authors that have analyzed recent events in Egypt. Here is a partial list of other recent essays and op-eds:

Marc Lynch’s blog on the Foreign Policy website has had a series of posts on the situation in Egypt and Obama’s reaction. Lynch’s twitter feed @abuaardvark is also an excellent way to stay on top of events. (Lynch is the author of Voices of the New Arab Public: Iraq, al-Jazeera, and Middle East Politics Today)

Chistopher Davidson, who has written on Dubai and Abu Dhabi, contributed to Current Intelligence with a piece on how events in Egypt will affect the Gulf States. His twitter page @dr_davidson is also a great resource for news about the Arab world.

Mohammad Salama, co-editor of the forthcoming German Colonialism: Race, the Holocaust, and Postwar Germany, wrote a piece for Antiwar.com on the history of Mubarak’s rule and what it means for Egypt and the Arab world that it is now coming to an end.

In Current Intelligence, Alex Strick van Linschoten, co-editor and co-translator of My Life with the Tailban, links the situation in U.S. and Afghanistan and the United States’ resistance to bold political action.

Carrie Wickham, author of Mobilizing Islam: Religion, Activism and Political Change in Egypt asks Where does Muslim Brotherhood fit in Egypt’s moment?

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

David Kang on Asian International Relations Past and Present

David KangRecently David Kang, author of East Asia Before the West: Five Centuries of Trade and Tribute, has written about relations between Asian both as it developed from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries and the current situation between China and North Korea.

In a recent piece written for Rorotoko, Kang discusses the aims and arguments of East Asia Before the West. He describes the book as setting out to examine the seemingly simple question of how international relations functioned in East Asia before the arrival of Western imperial powers. He argues that assessments of East Asia are seen through a lens of European relations which distorts the distinct nature of relations between China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, etc. While there was violence in the region it was mostly between nations and nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes and not among each other. Kang writes:

Emphasizing formal hierarchy and yet allowing considerable informal autonomy, Korea, Vietnam, Japan, and China had considerable peace and stability in their relations with each other. By contrast, the European “balance of power” system emphasized formal equality of nation-states, but entailed endemic conflict among states.

While obviously much has changed in East Asian relations—the dissolution of the tribute system, China’s loss as the dominant cultural power— and Western institutions and ideas have been integrated, Kang suggests that it “might be worth exploring how much and how deeply East Asian states have internalized these Western notions—and whether and to what extent any of East Asia’s past history may affect their beliefs and goals in the future.”


Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Interview with Grzegorz W. Kolodko, author of Truth, Errors, and Lies: Politics and Economics in a Volatile World

Grzegorz W. KolodkoThe following is a Q&A between Grzegorz W. Kolodko, author of Truth, Errors, and Lies: Politics and Economics in a Volatile World and William R. Brand, the book’s translator.

William Brand: This is an exceptionally wide-ranging book that looks far into the past and the future, taking a global view, in the geographic and cultural sense, of economic development, where we are today and where we could be heading. What led you to confront the challenge of telling such a big story?

Grzegorz W. Kolodko: When I asked someone whose judgment I rely on about what I should write next, the reply was: "Tell people why things are as they are." At first this struck me as trivial, but then I realized it was the most difficult challenge I’d ever been given. What is the situation around us—in our family, workplace, country, and world, seen from the economic, cultural, social, and political viewpoints—really like? And why? Why has the world changed so much? Most important, how will it keep changing into the future? I’m fascinated by where the world is going, but this is impossible to explain without knowing where we are at the moment. In turn, we can’t explain the present without knowing where we come from. Therefore I regard myself as a traveler in four dimensions. I try to take my reader on a journey of the imagination deep into the past, and into the foreseeable future.

I like to say that economics and the social sciences ought to be as simple as possible, but no simpler. In this book I have tried to approach these issues in a scientific-model-shaped way that is nevertheless grounded in concrete, comprehensible realities—a complexity of issues combined with a simplicity of explanations. I point out the interaction between culture and politics, technology and the economy, the environment and business, money and happiness, the past and the future, America and China, wisdom and stupidity, strategy and chaos, Europe and Africa, religion and competitiveness. The feedback and causal relations between these events and processes are what is fascinating in our interdependent world.


Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

New Book Tuesday: Pica, Carl Schmitt, and the University

Creating Earth: Understanding PicaThe following books are now available:

Craving Earth: Understanding Pica–the Urge to Eat Clay, Starch, Ice, and Chalk
Sera Young

Political Theology: Four New Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty
Paul W. Kahn

Knowledge Matters: The Public Mission of the Research University
Edited by Diana Rhoten and Craig Calhoun

Haiku Before Haiku: From the Renga Masters to Basho
Translated and with an introduction by Steven D. Carter

Collateral Damage: Sino-Soviet Rivalry and the Termination of the Sino-Vietnamese Alliance
Nicholas Khoo

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Matthew Effects and Hypereffects — A Post by Daniel Rigney

Daniel RigneyThe following post is by Daniel Rigney, Professor Emeritus of sociology at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and currently a Complimentary Visiting Scholar in the humanities at Rice University in Houston. He is the author of The Matthew Effect: How Advantage Begets Further Advantage. He can be reached at drigney3@gmail.com. (You can also read Daniel Rigney’s previous post The Matthew Effect as Social Spiral):

Evidence from across several academic disciplines suggests that advantage tends to beget further advantage (in popular parlance, “the rich get richer”) while disadvantage tends to beget further disadvantage (“the poor get poorer”) in the social world, whether the “riches” in question are economic, political, cultural or personal. The late sociologist Robert Merton called this phenomenon the “Matthew effect,” from a passage in biblical scripture pertaining to the development of talents and spiritual understanding. My book of the same title The Matthew Effect (hereafter referred to as TME) has sought to integrate the scattered fragments of research on Matthew effects that have appeared in psychology and the social sciences since Merton first coined the term in 1968.

The process that underlies Matthew effects resembles the accumulation of compound interest. If money deposited into an account accrues a 10% annual rate of interest (optimistically and for ease of calculation), and if this interest is returned to the initial principle to gather further interest compounded annually, the principle will grow with time in a curvilinear manner. The shape of a given growth curve will depend, of course, on the size of the initial principle and the rate of interest, whether constant or variable. Thus, as I note in an example in the book (TME, p. 11), an investor who begins with a deposit of $1,000 will accumulate$2,594 over ten years, while an investor with an initial deposit of $100 will accumulate $259. The proportional or percentage increase in the two amounts remains constant over time, but the dollar gap between the two widens substantially.


Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Vote for Your Favorite Title in Asian Studies

The International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) is currently running a colleagues choice book contest from now until March 20th. They are asking people to vote for recent books in Asian Studies that they most appreciate. The winner will be announced at the Association of Asian Studies conference on April 1. Anyone can vote and there is no need to login and register.

While we don’t want to sway the voting, we do want to point out some of the Columbia titles on the list (You can read more about them by clicking on the links):

Chinese Shakespeares: Two Centuries of Cultural Exchange
Alexander Huang

How Taiwan Became Chinese: Dutch, Spanish, and Han Colonization in the Seventeenth Century
Tonio Andrade

The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online
Guobin Yang

Islamic Chinoiserie: The Art of Mongol Iran
Yuka Kadoi

Sacred Economies: Buddhist Monasticism and Territoriality in Medieval China
Michael J. Walsh

The Struggle for Sustainability in Rural China: Environmental Values and Civil Society
Bryan Tilt

Whaling in Japan: Power, Politics, and Diplomacy
Jun Morikawa

Winged Faith: Rethinking Globalization and Religious Pluralism through the Sathya Sai Movement
Tulasi Srinivas