October 7th, 2014
The Evolution of the Global Terrorist Threat: From 9/11 to Osama bin Laden’s Death
Edited by Bruce Hoffman and Fernando Reinares
Social Work: Value-Guided Practice for a Global Society
The Evolution of the Global Terrorist Threat: From 9/11 to Osama bin Laden’s Death
Edited by Bruce Hoffman and Fernando Reinares
Social Work: Value-Guided Practice for a Global Society
October brings a great lineup of author events and this week is no exception. Here’s a look:
Monday, October 6:
Tuesday, October 7:
Wednesday, October 8:
Nancy Foner, editor of One Out of Three: Immigrant New York in the Twenty-First Century, joins others to discuss contemporary immigration in New York City at the Tenement Museum in New York City.
A book release party for Vital Conversations: Improving Communication Between Doctors and Patients, by Dennis Rosen at Newtonville Books.
In the following video, Jeremi Szaniawski talks with Dominique Nasta (ULB) about his book The Cinema of Alexander Sokurov: Figures of Paradox:
We conclude our week-long feature on Vital Conversations: Improving Communication Between Doctors and Patients, with an excerpt from the book in which Dennis Rosen explores how socioeconomic disparities affect communication between doctor and patient:
Even when socioeconomic disparities between physician and patient are not glaringly obvious, they can and often do heavily influence the quality of physician-patient communication during the visit as well as its outcomes. Researchers have found that patients from lower socioeconomic backgrounds tend to participate less in medical decision making, which … results in lower adherence and higher overall health-care costs. These patients are also generally provided with less information and socioemotional support by their physicians. In contrast, patients from higher socioeconomic backgrounds tend to be much more involved in the management of their own care. There are many possible explanations for this, including societal boundaries that limit the scope of communication between people of different social stations and differences in education levels that can impede the ability of physician and patient to find a common language. Whatever the reasons, however, the fact remains that some patients are consistently less engaged by physicians than others, with consequent effects upon their participation in defining the parameters of their care and, ultimately, their adherence with the treatment.
Disparities in socioeconomic status can also have profound effects on how disease is contextualized and understood. In some cases, these can lead to active resistance on the part of patients to public-health disease prevention and treatment efforts. Marilyn Nations of Harvard and Cristina Monte of the Federal University of Ceara Medical School, Brazil, interviewed the indigent residents of two favelas (shantytowns) that were hit hard by the 1993 cholera epidemic. Their aim was to understand more fully why there had been such a high degree of resistance by the favelados to governmental efforts to control the outbreak, such as water purification and the use of prophylactic antibiotics. Nations and Monte confirmed that in many instances the favelados’ refusal to cooperate with the campaign was a response to a longstanding sense of marginalization and stigmatization, which was potentiated by the use of certain metaphors in the prevention campaign that seemed to blame them for becoming sick in the first place. By rejecting the government-sponsored prevention efforts, the favelados were also rejecting the stigma of being made responsible for the epidemic.
“Deeply held beliefs .. need not only to be recognized and respected, but also integrated into the therapeutic approach in order for treatment to succeed. It is a lesson that has served me well, and which has helped me to serve so many others over the years.”—Dennis Rosen, MD
In a recent New York Times op-ed entitled A Doctor, a Rabbi and a Chicken, Dennis Rosen, the author of Vital Conversations: Improving Communication Between Doctors and Patients, explores an odd yet pivotal moment in his medical career.
While working in a hospital in Israel, Rosen explained to the son of 75-year-old stroke victim what lay ahead for his father in terms of rehabilitation. The son then asked if a rabbi could enter his father’s hospital room. While such a request might not have been strange, what was different was that when the rabbi walked in the room he was carrying a live chicken and then proceeded to wave it above the patient’s head.
Rosen learned that it was a custom of the local Persian-Jewish community to help heal the sick. In describing the experience, Rosen writes:
I was very impressed by how deftly the son was able to maneuver between two very different belief systems explaining his father’s disease and paths towards possible recovery: biomedical and religious. As evidenced from our repeated discussions about tests and treatment plans for his father, he clearly understood — and valued — what modern medicine could offer. And yet, his belief in Divine mercy and intercession was unshakeable….
The 2015 edition of Dalkey Archive Press’s popular Best European Fiction is now available. The following is an interview with Adda Djorup, who wrote the story “Birds” as the Danish contribution to the volume:
Question: You have lived in a number of countries, including Spain and Italy. Have those experiences affected your writing? Do you feel that there is a “European Fiction”, or do you notice differences in each literary community?
Adda Djorup: Living outside of my own country has certainly affected my writing. Naturally all writing begins with observing and reflecting. When I place myself out side of my usual geographic and cultural context, I feel that it sharpens my observations, not only of the things that are culturally different than what I am used to, but also of the things that are universal. I feel that there is both a ’European’ fiction and differences in each literary community. Or to put it differently: I feel that any book simultaneously belong to several communities. That’s the beauty of literary fiction – it belongs to individual readers, nations and languages, and it also transcends borders between individuals, nations and languages.
Q: How important is it to you to be translated into English?
AD: I am very happy to be translated into English. I love the process of writing itself, but I’d also really like for my texts to be read – if they weren’t it would feel like talking into a void. And I’m always happy when people care to tell me how they read my work. Besides I have a lot of friends who speak English but not Danish. Now I will be able to show them some more of my work in a qualified translation.
The following post is by Dennis Rosen, author of Vital Conversations: Improving Communication Between Doctors and Patients
Hopefully, all of you will live long and healthy lives that will end peacefully in your sleep sometime after seeing your youngest great-grandchild head off to college. Unfortunately, it will be a lot less rosy for most of us. Disease and illness are natural parts of our lives, and as science and technology advance people now live longer—and with more coexisting medical conditions—than ever before. As we get older we tend to consume more medications, and the likelihood of being hospitalized because of an acute health crises increases.
Unfortunately, the high cost of health care has resulted in growing pressure to shorten the length of stays in hospital as much as possible. And while there are many good reasons for doing this—reduced expense, lower likelihood of picking up a secondary infection or experiencing a medical error)—there can be significant downsides as well. Among these are the risks patients face when sent home from the hospital before they are well enough to care for themselves or before they understand how it is, exactly, that they are supposed to do so.
Almost one in five Medicare patients discharged from the hospital will be readmitted within the next thirty days. Interestingly, this also corresponds to the percentage of patients who experience an adverse medical event or complication, two thirds of which involve the medications they are taking. This suggests that better pre-discharge patient education needs to take place. And yet, one study of adult patients being discharged from a large academic hospital in New York found that only 28 percent could name all their discharge meds (on average, fewer than four), and that almost two thirds did not understand why they had been prescribed the medications in the first place.
Although this information is supposed to be included in a printed discharge summary, it is often not as clear as it should be, or even that easy to find among the many pages of small-font verbiage. Let’s not forget as well, that many patients are too anxious, in pain, or simply hazy from the meds they’re on to make sense of the discharge summary as carefully as they should. When you add in the fact that more than one third of Medicare patients possess marginal or insufficient health literacy skills, it’s surprising that the rate of adverse medical events following discharge is as low as it is.
From global inequality and global warming to the elements of cooking and male sex work, we’ve got a great lineup of author events in October.
It all begins tonight when Bruce Greenwald and Joseph Stiglitz discuss Creating a Learning Society: A New Approach to Growth, Development, and Social Progress at Columbia University’s Heyman Center for the Humanities.
Other highlights include the return of Hervé This to talk about his new book Note-by-Note Cooking: The Future of Food; Robert Sitton visits the Museum of Modern Art and other locales to talk about Iris Barry and his new book Lady in the Dark: Iris Barry and the Art of Film; Blood author Gil Anidjar visits Bookculture; Mary Helen Washington discusses the intersection of leftist politics and culture in African American history and her new book The Other Blacklist; and much more.
Columbia University Press is proud to announce the launch of To the Point an exciting new e-book series that extends the scholarship of our authors for a growing global and digital audience. We present standalone chapters from the press’s forthcoming fall season books, with original short-format works to come to the series in the future.
These works serve to introduce our authors’ provocative ideas to new readers in accessible, affordable formats. Featuring works by Bruce Hoffman, Julia Kristeva, Evan Thompson, and others in disciplines ranging from politics and philosophy to food science and social work.
To the Point titles are available for only $1.99 from your favorite e-book vendor.
The first five e-book shorts to be released for sale in the To the Point series are:
* The 7/7 London Underground Bombing: Not So Homegrown, by Bruce Hoffman
A selection from The Evolution of the Global Terrorist Threat: From 9/11 to Osama bin Laden’s Death
* Understanding Through Fiction, by Julia Kristeva
A selection from Teresa, My Love: An Imagined Life of the Saint of Avila
* AIDS as an International Political Issue, by Peter Piot
A selection from AIDS Between Science and Politics
* Informing the Global Citizen, by Joel Simon
A Selection from The New Censorship: Inside the Global Battle for Media Freedom
* Dying: What Happens When We Die?, by Evan Thompson
A Selection from Waking, Dreaming, Being: Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy
The following is an interview with Dennis Rosen, author of Vital Conversations: Improving Communication Between Doctors and Patients:
Question: So what is Vital Conversations about?
Dennis Rosen: Vital Conversations is about why good communication between doctors and patients is so important to achieving better—and less expensive—health outcomes. It explores many of the reasons that this communication becomes compromised, such as cultural and socioeconomic differences; stigma and bias; and external meddling in the actual content of the medical visit that takes away from the direct face time between doctors and patients. Vital Conversations concludes with clear suggestions—for both patients and doctors—about ways each can improve the quality of their interactions in order to get more out of them. It also provides suggestions for how the health-care system can prioritize this issue in ways that will serve us all.
Q: I notice you spend a lot of time in Vital Conversations discussing how cultural differences between patient and physician influence the quality of their communication. What made you decide to focus on this?
DR: I’ve spent most of my own life moving among different cultures. I was born in the US, lived in Canada until I was 15, then in Israel for the next 19 years, and have been living in Boston since 2001. I completed my medical education and pediatric residency in Israel, and did additional training as a resident and fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital before becoming an attending physician eight years ago. I have also worked in Haiti and Guatemala several times over the last five years. All of these experiences have given me deep insight into how the ways we perceive and understand what happens to and around us influence our ability to explain it to others, and to understand their explanations in turn. When the underlying concepts are different, this can become very difficult.
Although magnified when working with people from different cultures—and let’s not forget that one quarter of American physicians were trained abroad—it is also true even when both doctor and patient are of the same culture. One issue that I explore in Vital Conversations is the differences between the objective disease, subjective illness as experienced by the patient, and sickness as defined by society. A person with a broken finger has obvious disease, and the illness process she is suffering as a result is likely to be straightforward to the physician. By virtue of this shared understanding, the doctor’s treatment recommendations are likely to be easily understood and carried out by the patient. However, a person who comes to the doctor’s office and is found to have high blood pressure may feel absolutely fine, i.e. have disease without illness. Unless the doctor is able to convince him of the need to take medications to keep the hypertension from leading to heart disease or stroke, he may be inclined to stop taking the medicine at the first sign of side effects, leading to progression of disease.
All throughout the book I’ve included numerous personal stories and vignettes from my career as a physician that illustrate these and other points I make. Even though I wish I could claim otherwise I still don’t always get it right, despite my best attempts to, as the stories make clear. As fascinating and entertaining as the stories themselves are, I think that they really drive home the central message of the book, which is that good communication between doctors and patients is vital for medical care to be effective.
Berkshire Beyond Buffett: The Enduring Value of Values
Lawrence A. Cunningham
The Columbia Anthology of Japanese Essays: Zuihitsu from the Tenth to the Twenty-First Century
Edited and translated by Steven D. Carter
The Secret Financial Life of Food: From Commodities Markets to Supermarkets (Now available in paper)
Best European Fiction 2015
Edited by West Camel
Learning Cyrillic: Stories
Dialogue and Translation: Grafton Architects
Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara
How much do YOU know about flying dinosaurs? John Pickrell, author of Flying Dinosaurs: How Fearsome Reptiles Became Birds, has created a challenge which will help you gauge your current knowledge and will teach you some fascinating facts about the deep connections between dinosaurs and modern birds. Take the challenge below, and let us know how you did in the comment section!
This week our featured book is Vital Conversations: Improving Communication Between Doctors and Patients by Dennis Rosen, MD.
We are also offering a FREE copy of Vital Conversations to a lucky winner. To enter the contest please e-mail email@example.com and include your name and address. The winner will be selected Friday, October 3 at 1:00 pm.
The health-care system in the United States is by far the most expensive in the world, yet its outcomes are decidedly mediocre in comparison with those of other countries. Poor communication between doctors and patients, Dennis Rosen argues, is at the heart of this disparity, a pervasive problem that damages the well-being of the patient and the integrity of the health-care system and society.
Drawing upon research in biomedicine, sociology, and anthropology and integrating personal stories from his medical practice in three different countries (and as a patient), Rosen shows how important good communication between physicians and patients is to high-quality—and less-expensive—care.
Read an excerpt from the first chapter “Better Outcomes, Lower Costs”:
“Long before I came to study film academically, these visits [to my mother's film studios] had opened my eyes to the utterly fragmentary making of the artwork in the age of technical reproducibility.”—Rey Chow
We conclude our week-long feature on Not Like a Native Speaker: On Languaging as a Postcolonial Experience with another excerpt from the book’s final chapter “The Sounds and Scripts of a Hong Kong Childhood”. In the following passage she explores the influence of her mother’s film career on her own writing and intellectual development:
Because of my mother’s involvement with film, I had opportunities to visit film studios during the time when some of her scripts were being shot. Long before I came to study film academically, these visits had opened my eyes to the utterly fragmentary making of the artwork in the age of technical reproducibility. If, say, a particular corner of a living room was the focus, the rest of the room could be left in chaos, filled with makeshift equipment, unused props, and other messes as long as they did not intrude into the frame to be captured on camera. In a face-to-face dialogue between a female character and a male character that was shot from the waist up, an actress who was somewhat short could be made to stand on a phonebook so that her height in relation to the actor would appear aesthetically proportionate on screen. On yet another occasion, I was captivated by the skilled martial arts movements performed by a well-known actress (Chan Bo-jue/Chen Baozhu) playing an assassin. Those movements were shot while a whole group of us bystanders were in the movie studio, but when the scene was shown in the movie theater, the cinematographic illusionism had been rendered so complete by the editing process that the actress’s stunts appeared as though they had happened all by themselves in another world, miraculously devoid of us, the witnesses.
Inspired by these films, I wrote, at the age of about ten, the synopsis of a film featuring a modern-day female knight errant called White Rose. My mother showed my penciled draft to one of her director friends, Mok Hong-see/Mo Kangshi, who reportedly said it was an interesting story. Needless to say, I was very disappointed that he did not proceed directly to filming my script!
In “The Sounds and Scripts of a Hong Kong Childhood,” the final chapter of Not Like a Native Speaker: On Languaging as a Postcolonial Experience, Rey Chow explores elements of her own upbringing in colonial Hong Kong. In the following passage, she discusses her mother’s career as a popular radio broadcaster and performer:
So, how does the story end? What happens to that woman character? And her frail cousin, the one who is secretly in love with her husband? “Please tell us!” According to my mother, such were the questions with which she was besieged in the maternity ward when she was about to give birth to her first child, me. As the labor pains became advanced and she was rolled into the hospital’s delivery room, the nurses on duty were still far more preoccupied with the plot developments of the dramas they had heard her narrate on the radio. This family legend of fandom gone amok at the scene of my birth offers a unique glimpse into the way people could be mesmerized by stories in the form of sound broadcast in the days before television became the predominant mass medium. What was it like then, when it was an ordinary matter to be hooked into a fictional world purely through sound?
A few years later, when I reached the age of five or six, I experienced firsthand something of my mother’s aura as a popular broadcaster. I was sitting in a movie theater with some older friends, who had taken me to see a film adapted from one of her radio plays, Yun hoi sheung chor/ Renhai shuang chu (Two young children in the human world). That much was what I consciously knew. To my great surprise—and in a luminous image that has remained vivid in my mind to this day—my mother appeared on the screen as the film began. As though I had been transported to an unfamiliar locale in a dream, everyone around me started clapping. “This is Mama,” I remember thinking matter-of-factly, sitting in the dark, mystified. “Why are people applauding her?” But the crowd’s enthusiasm quickly took me over. Without understanding what was happening, I joined in and started clapping as well.
My mother had been filmed as the narrator, offering an introduction (jui sut/xu shu) to the story that was to unfold within the next couple of hours. She was, if my memory is correct, seated at a desk, addressing the audience directly. In the broadcasting world of Hong Kong in the 1950s and 1960s, she was a widely recognized name, known for her many successful radio plays, some of which were adapted for film. Her personal appearance in Yun hoi sheung chor was, I suppose, part of the film company’s strategy of promotion.
I was of course unaware that epochal changes had been taking place in the mass media even as I gleefully participated in the audience’s celebration of my mother’s image on the screen. The happenings of a middle-class upbringing, the little wonders, mysteries, expectations, and sorrows that constituted my daily life as a precocious schoolchild in a British Crown colony in the Far East were, in retrospect, happenings of historical import—but only in retrospect, when I have acquired a certain perspective and vocabulary in which to talk about them in a more impersonal manner.
“My books are humorous. You can hear the laughter that accompanies every tragic moment!” — Hadrien Laroche
Earlier this year, we published an interview with Hadrien Laroche, author of Orphans. Now that the book is available for sale, we are reposting the interview and for more on the book and Laroche, read a recent article from The Irish Times:
Q: Henry né Berg, one of the characters in Orphans, seems to be inspired by a distant relative of yours, the banker Edouard Stern. Can we assume that Hannah née Bloch and Hélianthe née Bouttetruie are also real people?
Hadrien Laroche: That’s true. The day they announced Edouard Stern’s death, I called my editor, thunderstruck, and told him “Henry né Berg has been killed!” He was equally stunned. But one needs to be careful: in spite of what I myself thought at the time, in shock, Edouard Stern really was killed, not Henry né Berg. Orphans is a work of fiction, a fabrication. Henry né Berg incarnates the willing, philosophical orphan. He is one element of my portrait of Man orphaned of his humanity. The concept and experience of the orphan is the subject of all my work. My orphans belong to no one: to no name, no country, not even a language. And obviously, to no family. Milan Kundera said, “what an author creates [. . .] belongs to no one but himself.” I’m going further than that. To be the descendant of one’s work means something else: the work doesn’t belong to the author in the least, no more than a child belongs to its father, or a mother belongs to her child. So it’s not a roman à clef, nor is it autofiction. It’s rather an aesthetic project that starts from life experience. Read the rest of this entry »
In her new book Not Like a Native Speaker: On Languaging as a Postcolonial Experience, Rey Chow examines misgivings about the inequality of the encounters between European and non-European languages in the postcolonial world.
In the following passage, Chow considers Jacques Derrida’s complicated with the French language as a result of his upbringing in colonial Algeria:
Among the details Derrida narrates, those about his intimate relations to things French—French history, French literature, the French language, and other French speakers’ accents—are the most captivating, in large part because of his mildly exhibitionistic and often self-flagellating sense of candor. The study of French literature, for instance, is an injunction of segregation as much as it is an experience of cultural assimilation. Not only does such study reinforce the haughtiness of the literary mode of reference and meaning making from nonliterary culture, but it also effectuates, he writes, “a brutal severance . . . fostering a more acute partition: the one that separates French literature—its history, its works, its models, its cult of the dead, its modes of transmission and celebration, its ‘posh districts,’ its names of authors and editors—from the culture ‘proper’ to ‘French Algerians’ ” Derrida’s description here is resolutely unsentimental, conveying a fi rm sense of the traumatizing cuts and cut-offs that constitute colonialism’s governing routines.
To the important analyses of literature as an ideological form—such as those advanced in the 1970s by Renée Balibar, Étienne Balibar, Pierre Macherey, and others in their studies of language practices within the French national education system—Derrida has articulated the crucial dimension of colonialist racialization. His account, it may be said, supplements the socialist logic pursued by these other thinkers by illuminating how the “reality effects,” so to speak, of the elite forms of the French language (français littéraire or français fictif ) are outcomes of carefully implemented racial as well as class segregation. Indeed, from the perspective of the colonized, as Derrida suggests, it is impossible to experience the one without experiencing the other.
The following is a post by Natalie Berkowitz, author of The Winemaker’s Hand: Conversations on Talent, Technique, and Terroir
Obsessed individuals with deep pockets bitten by the collecting bug willingly spend a fortune on rare treasures to display their affluence. Insatiable acquisitiveness and eagerness to flaunt their trophies are a subtle form of “look at me.” Stratospheric prices confer immense cachet on the object and to its owner, but it takes an unfortunate negative turn. Con artists can smell a mark and will engage in their tricks of the trade: fraud, forgery, misrepresentation, and counterfeiting.
Even though wine fraud plays second fiddle to more sensational examples of art fraud, scams involving wine have been known to run into the millions of dollars. Beginning in the early 2000s, demand and prices for the rarest wines shot up rapidly, as did the potential payoff from selling fakes. The idea of owning a prestigious historical bottle created a frenzy among potential collectors. Covetous wine lovers, some who are connoisseurs and others who collect rare bottles for prestige, compete to buy cult wines, rare vintages, and famous labels. Wine collectors who covet particular vintages and notable producers suspend credulity, seduced into believing they achieved their heart’s delight when in many cases they paid outrageous sums for fraudulent wine.
Wine deception abounds. It can start on the most basic level at a winery when a harvest goes awry and fails to produce high quality grapes. Some less-than-honest vintners adulterate a poor vintage, adding wine from a previous crop or from different wine regions. Coloring agents or wines with stronger color are used to deepen pallid wines. Some wines are adjusted for the tastes of certain markets.
“My book asks: can there be other ways of coming to terms with loss? Can loss be perceived, however painfully, as an alternative beginning to something different?”—Rey Chow
The following is an interview with Rey Chow, author of Not Like a Native Speaker: On Languaging as a Postcolonial Experience:
Q: How does the issue of language or “languaging” provide new ways of thinking about the colonial and postcolonial experience?
Rey Chow: The issue of language is, of course, a longstanding one in colonial and postcolonial experience, and anyone working in the field of postcolonial studies of the past several hundred years needs to come to terms with it in one way of another. The confrontation between languages and cultures in the classic colonial situation, in which some languages and cultures are considered superior while others, typically the native ones, are deemed inferior, has created psychic, cross-cultural, institutional, and geopolitical effects that are still very much with us today. These effects inform not only worldwide communications in public settings but also some of our most intimate contacts on a daily basis (e.g. How to talk to friends or loved ones who have no awareness of such effects?) Paying attention to language—in the larger sense of cumulated habits, conventions, gestures, and tendencies that I designate by the term “languaging”—is thus a logical, perhaps indispensable, way of understanding the colonial and postcolonial experience. Indeed, as my subtitle indicates, to languaging itself is a form of postcolonial experience.
In French and Francophone postcolonial studies, extensive philosophical reflections on language as experience are quite common, but it is not the case in Anglophone postcolonial studies. One of the aims of this book is to address this disparity by highlighting questions of languaging in Anglophone postcolonial debates. In addition, the book introduces a third language and cultural area—Chinese, as used in Hong Kong under the fraught conditions of British colonialism and Chinese nationalism—whose contributions to postcolonial studies can be uniquely fascinating.
Q: You suggest that the colonized’s encounter with the colonizer’s language is usually depicted in negative terms. How does your book challenge this characterization?
RC: The negative terms I am referring to have to do with the predominant feeling of loss that pervades many postcolonial scholarly undertakings. This overpowering sense of loss is a logical outcome of what I call the confrontation between languages and cultures on unequal terms, which is registered by the colonized and their descendants as violation and injury, followed by profound melancholy. My book asks: can there be other ways of coming to terms with loss? Can loss be perceived, however painfully, as an alternative beginning to something different? Thus, in the various chapters, I read a number of authors—e.g. Chinua Achebe, Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Paul Ricoeur, Derek Walcott, Leung Ping-kwan, Ma Kwok-ming, among many others—as striving for an alternative kind of response to loss as inscribed in various types of encounters with language, tradition, community, and creativity. It’s a collective undertaking, clearly unfinished, but I think it is important to engage with it because of its dissonance from the more pervasive trends of melancholic longing often found in postcolonial studies.
Our weekly list of new books now available:
Note-by-Note Cooking: The Future of Food
Melancholy II: A Novel
Eastern Fortress: A Military History of Hong Kong, 1840-1970
Kwong Chi Man and Tsoi Yiu Lun
Academic English: Skills for Success
Miranda Legg, Kevin Pat, Steve Roberts, Rebecca Welland, Letty Chan, Louisa Chan, and Wai Lan Tsang