Publications

    The Voice at the Back Door
    Spencer, Elizabeth. The Voice at the Back Door. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1994. eBook @ Harvard Library [Harvard Key required]Abstract

    In the mid-1950s, the town of Lacey in the Mississippi hill country is a place where the lives of blacks and whites, though seemingly separate, are in fact historically and inevitably intertwined. When Lacey's fair-haired boy, Duncan Harper, is appointed interim sheriff, he makes public his private convictions about the equality of blacks before the law, and the combined threat and promise he represents to the understood order of things in Lacey affects almost every member of the community. In the end, Harper succeeds in pointing the way for individuals, both black and white, to find a more harmonious coexistence, but at a sacrifice all must come to regret.

    In The Voice at the Back Door, Mississippi native Elizabeth Spencer gives form to the many voices that shaped her view of race relations while growing up, and at the same time discovers her own voice -- one of hope. Employing her extraordinary literary powers -- finely honed narrative techniques, insight into a rich, diverse cast of characters, and an unerring ear for dialect -- Spencer makes palpable the psychological milieu of a small southern town hobbled by tradition but lurching toward the dawn of the civil rights movement. First published in 1956, The Voice at the Back Door is Spencer's most highly praised novel yet, and her last to treat small-town life in Mississippi.

    Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America
    Oluo, Ijeoma. Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America. New York: Seal Press, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    "In her new book, rather than tear down the statues of certain white men, Ijeoma Oluo casts her eye on the long view of a nation that, as a whole, has built a dominant identity for white men. Her book challenges what we value most in America, during a tumultuous time of upheaval as we painfully strive toward a more perfect union. With her signature sharp wit, Oluo exposes how white male identity not only blatantly marks our divided culture today, from presidential politics to popular culture, but it is insidiously embedded even in the history of apparent progress, from women entering the workforce, to rising access to higher education, to the work of white civil rights advocates and male feminists. Oluo relates the glorification of White male aggression behind Western Expansion, the disdain of women workers strengthening the Great Depression, the fear of racial integration driving the Great Migration, and more examples of how White male America was forged and reinforced-at a devastating cost. Far from arguing that all white men are mediocre, Oluo instead challenges a national narrative that for generations has defined success exclusively around white men. Status for white men is granted only in relation to others, and is separated from actual achievement. This is not a benign mediocrity; it is brutal for everyone who is erased. Deeply researched, passionate, and revelatory, Oluo's Mediocre argues that if we wish to move beyond the rancorous politics where only white men are created equal, if we wish to write better stories for the next generation of Americans, we first need upend everything we thought we knew about our founding stories"–

    Assata: An Autobiography
    Shakur, Assata. Assata: An Autobiography. Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 2001. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    "On May 2, 1973, Black Panther Assata Shakur, aka JoAnne Chesimard, lay in a hospital, close to death, handcuffed to her bed, while local, state, and federal police attempted to question her about the shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike that claimed the life of a white state trooper. Long a target of J. Edgar Hoover's campaign to defame, infilitrate, and criminalize Black nationalist organizations and their leaders, Shakur was incarcerated for four years prior to her conviction on flimsy evidence in 1977 as an accomplice to murder. ... Two years after her conviction, Assata Shakur escaped from prison. She was given political asylum by Cuba, where she now resides." From the bookjacket.

    The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present
    Treuer, David. The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present. New York: Riverhead Books, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    The received idea of Native American history -- as promulgated by books like Dee Brown's 1970 mega-bestselling Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee -- has been that American Indian history essentially ended with the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee. Not only did one hundred fifty Sioux die at the hands of the U.S. Cavalry, but Native civilization did as well. Growing up Ojibwe on a reservation in Minnesota, training as an anthropologist, and researching Native life past and present for his nonfiction and novels, David Treuer has uncovered a different narrative. Because they did not disappear -- and not despite but rather because of their intense struggles to preserve their language, their traditions, their families, and their very existence -- the story of American Indians since the end of the nineteenth century to the present is one of unprecedented resourcefulness and reinvention. Treuer melds history with reportage and memoir. Tracing the tribes' distinctive cultures from first contact, he explores how the depredations of each era spawned new modes of survival. The devastating seizures of land gave rise to increasingly sophisticated legal and political maneuvering that put the lie to the myth that Indians don't know or care about property. The forced assimilation of their children at government-run boarding schools incubated a unifying Native identity. Conscription in the U.S. military and the pull of urban life brought Indians into the mainstream and modern times, even as it steered the emerging shape of self-rule and spawned a new generation of resistance. The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee is the intimate story of a resilient people in a transformative era.

    Our History Is the Future: Standing Rock versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance
    Estes, Nick. Our History Is the Future: Standing Rock versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance. London, New York: Verso, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    "In 2016, a small protest encampment at the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota, initially established to block construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, grew to be the largest Indigenous protest movement in the twenty-first century, attracting tens of thousands of Indigenous and non-Native allies from around the world. Its slogan "Mni Wiconi"–Water is Life–was about more than just a pipeline. Water Protectors knew this battle for Native sovereignty had already been fought many times before, and that, even after the encampment was gone, their anti-colonial struggle would continue. In Our History is the Future, Nick Estes traces traditions of Indigenous resistance leading to the \#NoDAPL movement from the days of the Missouri River trading forts through the Indian Wars, the Pick-Sloan dams, the American Indian Movement, and the campaign for Indigenous rights at the United Nations. While a historian by trade, Estes also draws on observations from the encampments and from growing up as a citizen of the Oceti Sakowin (the Nation of the Seven Council Fires), making Our History is the Future at once a work of history, a personal story, and a manifesto"– provided by publisher.

    Horses, Horses, In the End the Light Remains Pure: A Tale that Begins with Fukushima
    Furukawa, Hideo, Douglas Slaymaker, and Akiko Takenaka. Horses, Horses, In the End the Light Remains Pure: A Tale that Begins with Fukushima. Weatherhead books on Asia. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    "Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure is a multifaceted literary response to the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown that devastated northeast Japan on March 11, 2011. The novel is narrated by Hideo Furukawa, who travels back to his childhood home near Fukushima after 3/11 to reconnect with a place that is now doubly alien. His ruminations conjure the region's storied past, particularly its thousand-year history of horses, humans, and the struggle with a rugged terrain. Standing in the morning light, these horses also tell their stories, heightening the sense of liberation, chaos, and loss that accompanies Furukawa's rich recollections. A fusion of fiction, history, and memoir."--Syndetics.

    Out In Time: The Public Lives of Gay Men from Stonewall to the Queer Generation
    Halkitis, Perry N. Out In Time: The Public Lives of Gay Men from Stonewall to the Queer Generation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    "The civil rights of LGBTQ people have slowly yet steadily strengthened since the Stonewall Riots of June, 1969. Despite enormous opposition from some political segments and the catastrophic effects of the AIDS crisis, the last five decades have witnessed improvement in the conditions of the lives of LGBTQ individuals in the United States. As such, the realities and challenges faced by a young gay man coming of age and coming out in the 1960s is, in many profound ways, different from the experiences of a young gay man coming of age and coming out today. Out in Time explores the life experiences of three generations of gay men --the Stonewall, AIDS, and Queer generations-- arguing that while there are generational differences in the lived experiences of young gay men, each one confronts its own unique historical events, realities, and socio-political conditions, there are consistencies across time that define and unify the identity formation of gay men. Guided by the vast research literature on gay identity formation and coming out, the ideas and themes explored here are seen through the oral histories of a diverse set of fifteen gay men, five from each generation. Out in Time demonstrates how early life challenges define and shape the life courses of gay men, demarcating both the specific time-bound challenges encountered by each generation, and the universal challenges encountered by gay men coming of age across all generations and the conditions that define their lives."--Publisher's description

    An African American and LatinX History of the United States
    Ortiz, Paul. An African American and LatinX History of the United States. Boston: Beacon Press, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    Scholar and activist,Paul Ortiz, challenges the notion of westward progress as exalted by widely taught formulations such as "manifest destiny" and "Jacksonian democracy," and shows how placing African American, Latinx, and Indigenous voices unapologetically front and center transforms US history into one of the working class organizing against imperialism.

    A Black Women's History of the United States
    Berry, Daina Ramey, and Kali Nicole Gross. A Black Women's History of the United States. Boston: Beacon Press, 2020. eBook @ Harvard Library [Harvard Key required]Abstract
    A vibrant and empowering history that emphasizes the perspectives and stories of African American women to show how they are—and have always been—instrumental in shaping our countryIn centering Black women's stories, two award-winning historians seek both to empower African American women and to show their allies that Black women's unique ability to make their own communities while combatting centuries of oppression is an essential component in our continued resistance to systemic racism and sexism. Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross offer an examination and celebration of Black womanhood, beginning with the first African women who arrived in what became the United States to African American women of today.A Black Women's History of the United States reaches far beyond a single narrative to showcase Black women's lives in all their fraught complexities. Berry and Gross prioritize many voices: enslaved women, freedwomen, religious leaders, artists, queer women, activists, and women who lived outside the law. The result is a starting point for exploring Black women's history and a testament to the beauty, richness, rhythm, tragedy, heartbreak, rage, and enduring love that abounds in the spirit of Black women in communities throughout the nation. (From the publisher.)
    How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective
    Taylor, Keeanga-Yamahtta, ed. How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2017. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    The Combahee River Collective, a group of radical black feminists, was one of the most important organizations to develop out of the anti-racist and women's liberation movements of the 1960s and 70s. In this collection, founding members of the organization and contemporary activists reflect on the legacy of its contributions to black feminism and its impact on today's struggles.

    The Engagement: America's Quarter-Century Struggle Over Same-Sex Marriage
    Issenberg, Sasha. The Engagement: America's Quarter-Century Struggle Over Same-Sex Marriage. New York: Pantheon Books, 2021. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
    "On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state bans on gay marriage were unconstitutional, making same-sex unions legal across the United States. But the road to that momentous decision was much longer than many know. In this definitive account, Sasha Issenberg vividly guides us through same-sex marriage's unexpected path from the unimaginable to the inevitable. It is a story that begins in Hawaii in 1990, when a rivalry among local activists triggered a sequence of events that forced the state to justify excluding gay couples from marriage. In the White House, one president signed the Defense of Marriage Act, which elevated the matter to a national issue, and his successor tried to write it into the Constitution. Over twenty-five years, the debate played out across the country, from the first legal same-sex weddings in Massachusetts to the epic face-off over California's Proposition 8 and, finally, to the landmark Supreme Court decisions of United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges. From churches to hedge funds, no corner of American life went untouched.This richly detailed narrative follows the coast-to-coast conflict through courtrooms and war rooms, bedrooms and boardrooms, to shed light on every aspect of a political and legal controversy that divided Americans like no other. Following a cast of characters that includes those who sought their own right to wed, those who fought to protect the traditional definition of marriage, and those who changed their minds about it, The Engagement is certain to become a seminal book on the modern culture wars." - Publisher description.
    Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning
    Hong, Cathy Park. Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning. New York: One World, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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    "Asian Americans inhabit a purgatorial status: neither white enough nor black enough, unmentioned in most conversations about racial identity. In the popular imagination, Asian Americans are all high-achieving professionals. But in reality, this is the most economically divided group in the country, a tenuous alliance of people with roots from South Asia to East Asia to the Pacific Islands, from tech millionaires to service industry laborers. How do we speak honestly about the Asian American condition--if such a thing exists? Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively confronts this thorny subject, blending memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose the truth of racialized consciousness in America. Binding these essays together is Hong's theory of "minor feelings." As the daughter of Korean immigrants, Cathy Park Hong grew up steeped in shame, suspicion, and melancholy. She would later understand that these "minor feelings" occur when American optimism contradicts your own reality--when you believe the lies you're told about your own racial identity. With sly humor and a poet's searching mind, Hong uses her own story as a portal into a deeper examination of racial consciousness in America today. This intimate and devastating book traces her relationship to the English language, to shame and depression, to poetry and artmaking, and to family and female friendship. A radically honest work of art, Minor Feelings forms a portrait of one Asian American psyche--and of a writer's search to both uncover and speak the truth"-- Provided by publisher.

    A ruthlessly honest, emotionally charged, and utterly original exploration of Asian American consciousness and the struggle to be human. Hong blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose the truth of racialized consciousness in America. She believes that "minor feelings" occur when American optimism contradicts your own reality-- when you believe the lies you're told about your own racial identity. -- adapted from jacket

    The Kindness of Enemies : A Novel
    Aboulela, Leila. The Kindness of Enemies : A Novel. New York: Grove Press, 2015. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
    "It's 2010 and Natasha, a half-Russian, half-Sudanese professor of Islamic studies, is researching the life of Imam Shamil, the nineteenth-century Muslim leader who led the anti-Russian resistance in the Caucasian War. When shy, single Natasha discovers that her star student, Oz, is not only descended from the warrior but also possesses Shamil's priceless sword, the Imam's story comes vividly to life. As Natasha's relationship with Oz and his alluring actress mother intensifies, Natasha is forced to confront issues she had long tried to avoid--that of her Muslim heritage. When Oz is suddenly arrested at his home one morning, Natasha realizes that everything she values stands in jeopardy. Told with Aboulela's inimitable elegance and narrated from the point of view of both Natasha and the historical characters she is researching, The Kindness of Enemies is both an engrossing story of a provocative period in history and an important examination of what it is to be a Muslim in a post 9/11 world." - Publisher description.
    100 Days
    Bitek, Juliane Okot. 100 Days. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: The University of Alberta Press, 2016. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
    "For 100 days, Juliane Okot Bitek recorded the lingering nightmare of the Rwandan genocide in a poem–each poem recalling the senseless loss of life and of innocence. Okot Bitek draws on her own family's experience of displacement under the regime of Idi Amin, pulling in fragments of the poetic traditions she encounters along the way: the Ugandan Acholi oral tradition of her father–the poet Okot p'Bitek; Anglican hymns; the rhythms and sounds of slave songs from the Americas; and the beat of spoken word and hip-hop. 100 Days is a collection of poetry that will stop you in your tracks." - Publisher description.
    Modern Muslims: A Sudan Memoir
    Howard, W. Stephen. Modern Muslims: A Sudan Memoir. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2016. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
    "Steve Howard departed for the Sudan in the early 1980s as an American graduate student beginning a three-year journey in which he would join and live with the Republican Brotherhood, the Sufi Muslim group led by the visionary Mahmoud Mohamed Taha. Taha was a religious intellectual who participated in the early days of Sudan's anticolonial struggle, but quickly turned his movement into a religious reform effort based on his radical reading of the Qur'an. He was executed in 1985 for apostasy.

    Decades after returning to the life of an academic in the United States, Howard brings us this memoir of his time with the Republican Brotherhood, who advocated, among other things, equality for women. Modern Muslims describes Howard's path to learning not only about Islam and Sufism but also about Sudan's history and culture. When the Brotherhood was thrust into confrontation with Sudan's then-president Jaafar Nimeiry, Howard had a front-line perspective on the difficult choices communities make as they try to reform and practice their faith freely.

    As well as a story of personal transformation, the book offers an insider's perspective on a modernist nonviolent Islamic movement that thrived and was brutally suppressed. An important book for our times, Modern Muslims yields significant insights for our understanding of modern Islam, African history, and contemporary geopolitics." - Publisher description.

    Kiyo's Story: A Japanese-American Family's Quest for the American Dream
    Sato, Kiyo. Kiyo's Story: A Japanese-American Family's Quest for the American Dream. Newburyport: Soho Press, 2009. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
    "First generation Japanese-American Sato chronicles the tribulations her family endured in America through the Great Depression and WWII. Emigrating from Japan in 1911, Sato's parents built a home and cultivated a marginal plot of land into a modest but sustaining fruit farm. One of nine children, Sato recounts days on the farm playing with her siblings and lending a hand with child-care, house cleaning and grueling farm work. Her anecdotes regarding the family's devotion to one another despite their meager lifestyle (her father mending a little brother's shoe with rubber sliced from a discarded tire) gain cumulative weight, especially when hard times turn tragic: in the wake of Pearl Harbor, the Satos find themselves swept up by U.S. authorities and shuffled through multiple Japanese internment camps, ending up in a desert facility while the farm falls to ruin. Sato's memoir is a poignant, eye-opening testament to the worst impulses of a nation in fear, and the power of family to heal the most painful wounds." --Publishers Weekly
    Voices of the Nakba: A Living History of Palestine
    Allan, Diana. Voices of the Nakba: A Living History of Palestine. London: Pluto Press, 2021. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
    "During the 1948 war more than 750,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were violently expelled from their homes by Zionist militias. The legacy of the Nakba - which translates to 'disaster' or 'catastrophe' - lays bare the violence of the ongoing Palestinian plight. Voices of the Nakba collects the stories of first-generation Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, documenting a watershed moment in the history of the modern Middle East through the voices of the people who lived through it. The interviews, with commentary from leading scholars of Palestine and the Middle East, offer a vivid journey into the history, politics and culture of Palestine, defining Palestinian popular memory on its own terms in all its plurality and complexity"–Publisher