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Dr. Wendy Gonaver discusses her book, The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry, 1840-1880 (University of North Carolina Press, 2019), the Eastern Lunatic Asylum in Virginia, and the roles that race, the institution of slavery, and slave labor played in the development of psychiatric diagnosis and care through the nineteenth cent…
 
Retail Inequality: Reframing the Food Desert Debate (U California Press, 2021) examines the failure of recent efforts to improve Americans' diets by increasing access to healthy food. Based on exhaustive research, this book by Kenneth H. Kolb documents the struggles of two Black neighborhoods in Greenville, South Carolina. For decades, outsiders ig…
 
As the 1974 school year began, Wayne Woodward was a beloved high school teacher in a rural Texas town. By the following spring, he was embroiled in a local political firestorm that would ultimately cost him his job. Woodward's sin was, in his own words, naively trying to found a chapter of the ACLU in his Hereford, Texas community. In You Will Neve…
 
Any song as old and as familiar as “My Old Kentucky Home” is bound to have accrued many different meanings and an interesting history. Emily Bingham’s book, My Old Kentucky Home: The Astonishing Life and Reckoning of an Iconic American Song (Knopf, 2022) delivers on the promise of its title. In this book Bingham uses the reception of “My Old Kentuc…
 
Shrimp is easily America’s favorite seafood, but its very popularity is the wellspring of problems that threaten the shrimp industry’s existence. Asian-Cajun Fusion: Shrimp from the Bay to the Bayou (University of Mississippi Press, 2022) by Carl A. Brasseaux and Donald W. Davis provides insightful analysis of this paradox and a detailed, thorough …
 
Remembering Enslavement: Reassembling the Southern Plantation Museum (U Georgia Press, 2022) explores plantation museums as sites for contesting and reforming public interpretations of slavery in the American South. Emerging out of a three-year National Science Foundation grant (2014-17), the book turns a critical eye toward the growing inclusion o…
 
When residents and tourists visit sites of slavery, whose stories are told? All too often the lives of slaveowners are centered, obscuring the lives of enslaved people. Behind the Big House: Reconciling Slavery, Race, and Heritage in the U.S. South (U Iowa Press, 2022) gives readers a candid, behind-the-scenes look at what it really takes to interp…
 
Davida Breier talks about her debut novel Sinkhole (University of New Orleans Press, 2022). Humidity, lovebugs, and murder. Lies from the past and a dangerous present collide when, after fifteen years in exile, Michelle Miller returns to her tiny hometown of Lorida, Florida. With her mother in the hospital, she's forced to reckon with the broken re…
 
It was only two decades ago, but, for the women of country music, 1999 seems like an entirely different universe. With Shania Twain, country's biggest award winner and star, and The Chicks topping every chart, country music was a woman's world: specifically, country radio and Nashville's Music Row. Cut to 2021, when women are only played on country…
 
Today's episode of "New Books in African American Studies" is special. Why, you might ask? Because today's episode marks my 100th episode on the NBN! To celebrate, I am chopping it up with my good brother, Dr. Marcus Nevius, Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies at the University of Rhode Island. In today's convo, Brotha Dr. Nevius an…
 
The forceful music that rolled out of Muscle Shoals in the 1960s and 1970s shaped hits by everyone from Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin to the Rolling Stones and Paul Simon. Christopher M. Reali's in-depth look at the fabled musical hotbed examines the events and factors that gave the Muscle Shoals sound such a potent cultural power. Many artist…
 
Following the Drums: African American Fife and Drum Music in Tennessee (University Press of Mississippi, 2022) is an epic history of a little-known African American instrumental music form. Carefully documenting the music's early uses for commercial advertising and sports promotion, John M. Shaw follows the strands of the music through the nadir of…
 
Welcome to New Books in African American Studies, a podcast channel on the New Books Network. I am your host, Adam Xavier McNeil. Today’s podcast is special, not because this is the 99th episode of my New Books career, but because I get the chance to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Peter H. Wood completing the dissertation version of Black Majori…
 
If you tuned in to our “ideas in strange places” themed programming last week, you would have heard an episode of Darts and Letters’ predecessor: Cited. (If you didn’t, check it out - there’s everything from science fiction to prison activism back there!) Today, as we continue exploring the politics of education, we’re bringing you another episode …
 
M. K. Beauchamp's Instruments of Empire: Colonial Elites and U.S. Governance in Early National Louisiana, 1803–1815 (LSU Press, 2021) examines the challenges that resulted from U.S. territorial expansion through the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. With the acquisition of this vast region, the United States gained a colonial European population whose bi…
 
A unique and engaging account of local urban decision-making within the globalizing world High Point, North Carolina, is known as the “Furniture Capital of the World.” Once a manufacturing stronghold, most of its furniture factories have closed over the past forty years, with production shipped off to low-wage countries. Yet as manufacturing left, …
 
In The Emancipation Circuit: Black Activism Forging a Culture of Freedom (Duke UP, 2022) Thulani Davis provides a sweeping rethinking of Reconstruction by tracing how the four million people newly freed from bondage created political organizations and connections that mobilized communities across the South. Drawing on the practices of community the…
 
As a way to comment on a person’s style or taste, the word “tacky” has distinctly southern origins, with its roots tracing back to the so-called “tackies” who tacked horses on South Carolina farms prior to the Civil War. The Tacky South (LSU Press, 2022) presents eighteen fun, insightful essays that examine connections between tackiness and the Ame…
 
Understanding and explaining societal rules surrounding food and foodways have been the foci of anthropological studies since the early days of the discipline. Baking, Bourbon, and Black Drink: Foodways Archaeology in the American Southeast (U Alabama Press, 2018), however, is the first collection devoted exclusively to southeastern foodways analyz…
 
They worked Virginia's tobacco fields, South Carolina's rice marshes, and the Black Belt's cotton plantations. Wherever they lived, enslaved people found their lives indelibly shaped by the Southern environment. By day, they plucked worms and insects from the crops, trod barefoot in the mud as they hoed rice fields, and endured the sun and humidity…
 
Over the course of more than three centuries, the diverse communities of Louisiana have engaged in creative living practices to forge a vibrant, multifaceted, and fully developed Creole culture. Against the backdrop of ongoing anti-Blackness and Indigenous erasure that has sought to undermine this rich culture, Louisiana Creoles have found transfor…
 
Taking its inspiration from Great Expectations, Furnace Creek (Eyewear Publishing, 2021) teases us with the question of what Pip might have been like had he grown up in the American South of the 1960s and 1970s and faced the explosive social issues--racial injustice, a war abroad, women's and gay rights, class struggle--that galvanized the world in…
 
Queer Carnival: Festivals and Mardi Gras in the South (NYU Press, 2022) reveals the importance of citywide celebrations like Mardi Gras and Fiesta for LGBTQIA+ communities in the US South. Drawing on five years of research, and over a hundred days at LGBTQ events in cities such as San Antonio, Santa Fe, Baton Rouge, and Mobile, Stone gives readers …
 
Stephen Deusner's Where the Devil Don't Stay: Traveling the South with the Drive-By Truckers (U Texas Press, 2021) is the book-length study Drive-By Truckers fans have been waiting for. A group biography in the form of a road trip saga, Deusner's book takes you to the Athens scene that has supported the band, the sweltering hot Birmingham studio wh…
 
How did Africans become 'blacks' in the Americas? Becoming Free, Becoming Black: Race, Freedom, and Law in Cuba, Virginia, and Louisiana (Cambridge UP, 2020) tells the story of enslaved and free people of color who used the law to claim freedom and citizenship for themselves and their loved ones. Their communities challenged slaveholders' efforts t…
 
In this groundbreaking work, Professor Brandon T. Jett unearths how police departments evolved with the urbanization of the Jim Crow South, to target African Americans through a variety of mechanisms of control and violence, such as violent interactions, unjust arrests, and the enforcement of segregation laws and customs. Race, Crime, and Policing …
 
Today I spoke to Anjanette Delgado, a Puerto Rican writer and journalist based in Miami who has compiled emblematic stories and essays by writers from many countries who congregate in the city of Miami and the state of Florida. The stories are about those who have been touched by the Florida and Miami experience, and who have made the state their h…
 
In Romare Bearden in the Homeland of His Imagination: An Artist's Reckoning with the South (UNC Press, 2022), Glenda Gilmore meticulously documents and interprets the artistic life of Romare Bearden. Gilmore details four generations of the Bearden family and grounds the reader in places formative to Bearden like North Carolina, New York, and Pennsy…
 
What are the rights and wrongs of toppling statues? Sometimes everyone agrees it’s a good idea. After the second world war, for example, the defeat of fascism meant that all over Europe Hitler statues were toppled and destroyed. After the collapse of communism some statues of Stalin actually survived. Just a couple of years ago Black Lives Matter p…
 
In 1719, a ship named La Mutine (the mutinous woman), sailed from the French port of Le Havre, bound for the Mississippi. It was loaded with urgently needed goods for the fledgling French colony, but its principal commodity was a new kind of export: women. Falsely accused of sex crimes, these women were prisoners, shackled in the ship's hold. Of th…
 
João B. Chaves analyzes the first hundred years of Southern Baptist missionary activity in Brazil to reveal how the racialized practices of Southern Baptist Convention missionaries in the largest Latin America country shaped aspects of Latin American evangelicalism in general and the Brazilian Baptist Convention in particular. Partially because the…
 
Medicine and slavery went hand-in-hand. But what was the nature of this vile partnership? In Medicalizing Blackness: Making Racial Difference in the Atlantic World, 1780-1840 (UNC Press, 2017), Rana Hogarth shows that familiar histories, though excellent, fail to explain how and why medicine and slavery became fused in the first place. No doubt, de…
 
The first in a new LSU Press series exploring facets of Louisiana’s iconic culture, Mardi Gras Beads (2022) delves into the history of this celebrated New Orleans artifact, explaining how Mardi Gras beads came to be in the first place and how they grew to have such an outsize presence in New Orleans celebrations. It explores their origins before Wo…
 
How the Color Line Bends: The Geography of White Prejudice in Modern America (Oxford UP, 2022) explores the connection between prejudice and place in modern America. Existing scholarship suggests that living near Black Americans presents a "threat" to White Americans, which in turn influences White opinions on policies related to race. This book re…
 
Donald Trump shocked the nation in 2016 by winning the presidency through an ultraconservative, anti-immigrant platform, but, despite the electoral surprise, Trump's far-right views were not an aberration, nor even a recent phenomenon. In Far-Right Vanguard: The Radical Roots of Modern Conservatism (U Pennsylvania Press, 2021), John Huntington show…
 
Praying with Our Feet: Pursuing Justice and Healing on the Streets (Brazos Press, 2021), written by Lindsey Krinks was published by Baker Publishing Group in 2021. In this personal, and pastoral, account of working alongside Nashville’s homeless population, Lindsey teaches us about God’s heart for the poor and how to work toward collective liberati…
 
She was born the 20th child in a family that had lived in the Mississippi Delta for generations, first as enslaved people and then as sharecroppers. She left school at 12 to pick cotton, as those before her had done, in a world in which white supremacy was an unassailable citadel. She was subjected without her consent to an operation that deprived …
 
Time and again, antebellum Americans justified slavery and white supremacy by linking blackness to disability, defectiveness, and dependency. In The Mark of Slavery: Disability, Race, and Gender in Antebellum America (University of Illinois Press, 2021), historian Jenifer L. Barclay examines the ubiquitous narratives that depicted black people with…
 
In Desegregating Dixie: The Catholic Church in the South and Desegregation, 1945-1992 (UP of Mississippi, 2018), Mark Newman draws on a vast range of archives and many interviews to uncover for the first time the complex response of African American and white Catholics across the South to desegregation. In the late nineteenth and first half of the …
 
In the United States, the national debate over public monuments often frames the removal of statutes as a revision of history. But Dr. Thompson suggests that we need to interrogate both the creation and removal of monuments to understand the essential role they play in creating national narratives and determining who is seen as an American. Using a…
 
In Chained to History: Slavery and US Foreign Relations to 1865 (Cornell University Press, 2022), Dr. Steven J. Brady places slavery at the centre of the story of America's place in the world in the years prior to the calamitous Civil War. Beginning with the immediate aftermath of the War of the American Revolution, Brady follows the military, econ…
 
Priscilla Joyner was born into the world of slavery in 1858 North Carolina and came of age at the dawn of emancipation. Raised by a white slaveholding woman, Joyner never knew the truth about her parentage. She grew up isolated and unsure of who she was and where she belonged--feelings that no emancipation proclamation could assuage. Her life story…
 
For a brief moment in the summer of 1900, Robert Charles was arguably the most infamous black man in the United States. After an altercation with police on a New Orleans street, Charles killed two police officers and fled. During a manhunt that extended for days, violent white mobs roamed the city, assaulting African Americans and killing at least …
 
William Faulkner, one of America's most iconic writers, is an author who defies easy interpretation. Born in 1897 in Mississippi, Faulkner wrote such classic novels as Absolom, Absolom! and The Sound and The Fury, creating in Yoknapatawpha county one of the most memorable gallery of characters ever assembled in American literature. Yet, as acclaime…
 
In this episode of Queer Voices of the South I talk to Dr. Sherry Scott about her new book Playhouses: Sexuality and Fundamentalism, released in February 2022 by Black Rose Writing. Three cousins fiercely defended their roles within the sanctity of their playhouses. But a six-year stint in a fundamentalist religious organization thwarted Scott's de…
 
Pundits, politicians, and scholars often use words like "liberalism" and "populism" uncritically. Dr. Gregg Cantrell, professor of history at Texas Christian University, argues that not only do these terms have specifically, historically contingent meanings, but also that one can draw a direct link from one to the other. In The People's Revolt: Tex…
 
In late May 1918 in Valdosta, Georgia, ten Black men and one Black woman—Mary Turner, eight months pregnant at the time—were lynched and tortured by mobs of white citizens. Through hauntingly detailed full-color artwork and collage, Elegy for Mary Turner names those who were killed, identifies the killers, and evokes a landscape in which the NAACP …
 
Max Krochmal and Todd Moye’s Civil Rights in Black and Brown: Histories of Resistance and Struggle in Texas (University of Texas Press, 2021) is a critical contribution that uncovers histories of activism in the lone state. From El Paso, Dallas, and to the Rio Grande Valley, social justice initiatives were critical for fighting Jim Crow and Juan Cr…
 
In the context of slavery, science is usually associated with slaveholders' scientific justifications of racism. But abolitionists were equally adept at using scientific ideas to discredit slaveholders. Looking beyond the science of race, The Science of Abolition: How Slaveholders Became the Enemies of Progress (Yale UP, 2021) shows how Black and w…
 
Queer history is a living practice. Talk to any group of LGBTQ people today, and they will not agree on what story should be told. Many people desire to celebrate the past by erecting plaques and painting rainbow crosswalks, but queer and trans people in the twenty-first century need more than just symbols—they need access to power, justice for mar…
 
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