University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best articles from the blogs of academic publishers! As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments.

On OUPblog, author Mark Lawrence Schrad contextualizes and expounds upon the precedence for alcohol (especially vodka) in Russian and post-Soviet state politics and revolution. In one riveting and colorful sweep, Schrad here takes readers through the function and treatment of alcohol in Tsarist autocracy, for which vodka was used to “debauch society at the expense of the state,” as well as its Soviet successor, present-day Russia, and, most pertinently, Ukraine. Using Russian revolutionary history as the backdrop for Ukraine’s current political drama and tensions, Schrad equates the nation’s Russian-speaking east to a “tinder box soaked in vodka.”

Speaking of revolution, as part of a two-part post titled “Why We Celebrate Cinco de Mayo,” the University of Texas Press blog invites Chef David Sterling, author of Yucatán: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition, to take a look at some of the historical inaccuracies surrounding popular national holidays such as Bastille Day, the Fourth of July, and per this week’s earlier revelry, Cinco de Mayo. What follows is a culinary dialogue focused on the fascinating juxtaposition of the foods consumed on these patriotic holidays with their political origins, as well as some rather enticing recipes for Mexican cuisine. Spoiler alert: Cinco de Mayo, more fervently touted and celebrated in the U.S. than in Mexico, has more to do with a Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 than it does Mexican independence.

And in the second part of UT Press’s “Why We Celebrate Cinco de Mayo,” building on the premise that the holiday is a celebration of Mexican pride rather than correlating to a specific event (except, of course, in Puebla itself, which saw the emergence of May 5th’s sanctity in Mexican culture), Sterling examines the rise of Tex-Mex and its sociopolitical implications following both the Mexican-American War, highlighting also the tensions that exist between Yucatán and the rest of Mexico, between which a cultural and, by extension, culinary boundary exists. Most helpfully, Sterling wraps up his post with a detailed chart chronicling the history of foods and culinary traditions in Mexico and the southwestern U.S., as well as the possible occurrences and trends that guided its evolution.

With Mother’s Day rapidly approaching (!), NYU Press’s From the Square turns their attention to grandmother’s in particular, who are often still juggling work and family life. Sociologist and author Madonna Harrington Meyer engages us in a telling and sincere Q&A in which she describes her research on grandmothers as well as the motives, outcomes, and takeaways from her book, Grandmothers at Work.

And lastly, Princeton University Press blog anticipates this Sunday’s Mother’s Day with a few “cheeky eCards” provided by author Daphne Fairbairn as a nod to her forthcoming book, Odd Couples: Extraordinary Differences between the Sexes in the Animal Kingdom. Some revolve around the appreciably nefarious mating habits of some species (“I’m thankful dad didn’t die spontaneously while you two made me”), while others, at least to us, seem rooted in the zoologically obscure. Either way, enjoy, and happy Mother’s Day!

Thanks again for reading this week’s roundup! Have a great weekend, and leave any thoughts in the comments!

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