mckinnonWomen filing gender-based asylum claims long faced skepticism and outright rejection within the U.S. immigration system. Despite erratic progress, the United States still fails to recognize gender as an established category for experiencing persecution. Gender exists in a sort of limbo segregated from other aspects of identity and experience.

Now available, the UIP release Gendered Asylum: Race and Violence in U.S. Law and Politics delves into this complex area. Sara L. McKinnon exposes racialized rhetorics of violence in politics and charts the development of gender as a category in U.S. asylum law. Starting with the late 1980s, when gender-based requests first emerged in case law, McKinnon analyzes gender- and sexuality-related cases against the backdrop of national and transnational politics. Her focus falls on cases as diverse as Guatemalan and Salvadoran women sexually abused during the Dirty Wars and transgender asylum seekers from around the world fleeing brutally violent situations. She reviews the claims, evidence, testimony, and message strategies that unfolded in these legal arguments and decisions, and illuminates how legal decisions turned gender into a political construct vulnerable to U.S. national and global interests. She also explores myriad related aspects of the process, including how subjects are racialized and the effects of that racialization, and the consequences of policies that position gender as a signifier for women via normative assumptions about sex and heterosexuality.

Wide-ranging and rich with human detail, Gendered Asylum uses feminist, immigration, and legal studies to engage one of the hotly debated issues of our time.

balloon trophyLast week, the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) named UIP author Penny Parsons Bluegrass Print/Media Person of the Year. A tireless music journalist, Parsons also published Foggy Mountain Troubadour: The Life and Music of Curly Seckler, an account of the bluegrass icon’s long career as a musician and part-time firefighter who, as part of his duties in Flatt and Scruggs’s Foggy Mountain Boys, had to put whatever flames erupted on the band’s tour bus.

As energetic on the road as she is with her prose, Penny is currently crisscrossing North Carolina and nearby regions to introduce readers, radio listeners, and bookstore patrons to Mr. Seckler’s music and life. Those of you lucky enough to be near Garner, NC can catch her at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, October 14, at Lorraine’s Coffee House and Music. The bluegrass-and-java mainstay will host Penny’s book signing and it wouldn’t be all that surprising if a little music broke out afterwards.

cubs logoTonight, the world once again courts apocalypse, as the Chicago Cubs put on their best woolens to embark on the long, untrod road to the World Series. Winners of over 100 games for the first time since the Great Depression, the Chicago nine have stoked expectations while setting up a flame-out that could only eclipse the most crashing disappointment in city sports history. The last time the Cubs made the Series, Harry Truman was listening distractedly to the wireless as he tried to figure out FDR’s terrible handwriting.

Just competing for the World Series opens the door to, in theory, winning the World Series, an event some believe must bring about the end of the world. My personal theory is that an asteroid will strike the earth just as Kris Bryant connects for a title-clinching homer in the fourteenth inning of Game Seven, a catastrophe that will scotch his chance to pose on a bearskin rug for Cosmo.

This will seem hard to believe, but Cubs postseason baseball did not always bring on a fearsome Time of Portents. Yea, in an earlier time, the Cubs won pennants so often their presence in the postseason became tiresome. Laurent Pernot, in his UIP charmer Before the Ivy: The Cubs’ Golden Age in Pre-Wrigley Chicago, even called one of his chapters “Again, Chicago is Champion” without being hooted down by Leon Durham-scarred hecklers. Of course, in true Cubs fashion, Pernot is referring to the other Chicago team.

Continue reading

Today marks National Noodle Day, an observance that simultaneously celebrates a food most beloved of preschoolers and college students while making you wonder if this national day trend has gone too far. At UIP we take no stance on the question—it’s bad for business—but we do encourage all of you to investigate a clutch of Throwback books that encourage you to use your noodle. And when it comes to noodles, no one uses that bend-me shape-me pasta item like Jewish Americans. The Chosen People have turned out kugels of varying quality since the early days of the Republic. With Rosh Hashanah just past us and the blast of the shofar fading into the ether, we present a

weiner coalfieldCoalfield Jews: An Appalachian History, by Deborah R. Weiner
Coalfield Jews explores the intersection of two simultaneous historic events: central Appalachia’s transformative coal boom (1880s-1920), and the mass migration of eastern European Jews to America. Traveling to southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and southwestern Virginia to investigate the coal boom’s opportunities, some Jewish immigrants found success as retailers and established numerous small but flourishing Jewish communities.

Deborah R. Weiner’s Coalfield Jews provides the first extended study of Jews in Appalachia, exploring where they settled, how they made their place within a surprisingly receptive dominant culture, how they competed with coal company stores, interacted with their non-Jewish neighbors, and maintained a strong Jewish identity deep in the heart of the Appalachian mountains. To tell this story, Weiner draws on a wide range of primary sources in social, cultural, religious, labor, economic, and regional history. She also includes moving personal statements, from oral histories as well as archival sources, to create a holistic portrayal of Jewish life that will challenge commonly held views of Appalachia as well as the American Jewish experience.

kugelmassJews, Sports, and the Rites of Citizenship, edited by Jack Kugelmass
To many, an association between Jews and sports seems almost oxymoronic—yet Jews have been prominent in boxing, basketball, and fencing, and some would argue that hurler Sandy Koufax is America’s greatest athlete ever. In Jews, Sports, and the Rites of Citizenship, Jack Kugelmass shows that sports–significant in constructing nations and in determining their degree of exclusivity—also figures prominently in the Jewish imaginary. This interdisciplinary collection brings together the perspectives of anthropologists and historians to provide both methodological and regional comparative frameworks for exploring the meaning of sports for a minority population.

rubinJewish Gangsters of Modern Literature, by Rachel Rubin
In this vividly written study, Rachel Rubin posits the Jewish literary gangster—a figure whose violence, transgressiveness, and ongoing internal conflict render him an important symbol of modernity—as a locus for exploring questions of artistic power in the interwar years. Focusing specifically on the Russian writer Isaac Babel and Americans Mike Gold, Samuel Ornitz, and Daniel Fuchs, but also taking in cartoons, movies, and modernist paintings, Rubin casts the Jewish gangster as a favorite figure used by left-wing Jewish writers to examine their own place in world history.

Rubin contends that these writers saw their artistic endeavors as akin to the work of their gangster doubles: outcasts and rebels “kneebreaking” their way into the literary canon while continuing to “do business” with the system. In the hands of Jewish literary communists—themselves engaged in transgressing cultural boundaries—the figure of the Jewish gangster provides an occasion to craft a virile Jewish masculinity, to consider the role of vernacular in literature, to interrogate the place of art within a political economy, and to explore the fate of Jewishness in the “new worlds” of the United States and the Soviet Union.

parsons curlyPenny Parsons’ acclaimed biography of bluegrass legend Curly Seckler keeps earning plaudits and getting attention. Recently, Penny sat down at WPAQ in Mt. Airy, North Carolina to discuss Mr. Seckler with Ivy Sheppard. Afterward, Ms. Sheppard received more requests to play Curly Seckler music than she’d ever had. Have a listen to stories of great music and a bigger-than-life musical career.

On October 7, 2004, the National Register of Historic Places added the Farnsworth House, located near Plano, to its list of significant locales.

farnsworth houseBeautiful, yet a challenge to human habitation, the Farnsworth House won immediate plaudits when Ludwig Mies van der Rohe handed it over to owner Edith Farnsworth in 1951. The house, a classic example of the International Style of architecture, took shape on an estate once owned by Robert McCormick, feisty proprietor of the Chicago Tribune. Today it still strikes the eye with its floor-to-ceiling glass and white slabs. From the inside, the windows jarringly place the house within its outdoor surroundings. The interior exists as what feels like a single giant room, with different areas subtly defined not by walls but other elements, and just two blocks interrupting the space. One block kept a wardrobe, the other the bathroom and furnace room.

Though the finished product was a thing of beauty, the final phase of construction turned ugly indeed. Farnsworth and van der Rohe fell out over the money paid for materials and other construction costs. Lawsuits flew in both directions and proxies ended up finishing the house according to van der Rohe’s plans. While the architect prevailed in the courts, the fracas damaged his reputation for a time. Farnsworth, meanwhile, used the house as a weekend getaway while rubbernecking  admirers of minimalism, Bauhaus, Modernism, and International Style visited in droves. In 2013, Lego released its plastic brick version of the Farnsworth House.

no man's landOn October 4, 1923, Charlton Heston floated down Lake Michigan in a reed basket and bumped ashore at No Man’s Land, Illinois. A proverbial land of milk and honey—well, booze and vice—No Man’s Land existed as an unincorporated sliver of territory between the now-affluent suburb of Wilmette and the unfathomably-affluent Village of Kenilworth, today one of the richest polities in America.

No Man’s Land sat to the west of Sheridan Road, then and now a lakeside traffic artery through the North Shore. Essentially lawless, it was home to illicit activities and matured into, if we may quote the poetic words of one local, “a slot machine and keno sin center where college students were being debauched with beer, hard liquor, and firecrackers.” A massive fire in 1932 struck a blow against the No Man’s Land clubs and other dens of depravity. The disaster was abetted in part by nearby fire departments that refused to assist. Wilmette took ownership of No Man’s Land in the 1940s. Stands still sold fireworks as late as the 1960s, before developers finally transformed the prime lakeside real estate into a mall and condos buildings for retirees. Charlton Heston, meanwhile, went on to Northwestern University, directed Lawrence Olivier on Broadway, and achieved celluloid immortality as one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

Today marks Rosh Hashanah of the year 5777 and if you want to be Jewish for a day, you should eat. Because you look tired. Your cheeks look sunken. Are you eating enough? Here, I have something in the fridge, no, no, it’s no trouble, it’s just a nosh—

steinbergYou know about apples and honey for a sweet year. How about sweet potatoes? Inelegant to look upon, beloved of babies but not a lot of other people, the sweet potato usually arrives in its multitudes around the time of the Jewish new year. Let’s open From the Jewish Heartland: Two Centuries of Midwest Foodways to see what authors Ellen F. Steinberg and Jack H. Prost found to add a bit of starchy goodness that we need to face the autumn chill.

The name “tzimmes,” which means something akin to “mish-mosh” in Yiddish, accurately describes this baked casserole. Tzimmes, which sometimes contains only vegetables with dried fruit, can be baked or stewed. Unlike those, this version is a mixture of vegetables, starch, and meat. Originally from Turkey and well-known throughout the world, carrots, both white and orange, grow easily in the Midwest, keep well, and are normally a fairly inexpensive vegetable to purchase in stores or farmers’ markets.

Sweet potatoes, a tender New World tuber, are commercially produced in the southern United States, where the weather is warm and frost-free during the growing season. Around the time of the Jewish New Year in September, they are plentiful, and cheap. Feder’s carrot- and sweet potato-based beef dish is, therefore, thrifty, as well as being suitable for Rosh Hashanah dinner, when sweet foods symbolize hope for a sweet new year, for celebrating Sukkot and the Sabbath. Because it can be prepared beforehand, and is essentially a one-pot dish, it is a real time-saver.

Carrot Tzimmes

8 carrots 5 sweet potatoes 1 onion 1 lb. lean beef. Season to taste, cover with water and bake in covered [pot] at 350°oven until meat is tender. Pour 1/2 cup honey over top. Heat through. Thicken with 2 tsp. potato starch in 1 cup cold water. Pour in casserole and bake. Can be prepared ahead.

green and waldingerImmigrant transnationalism reminded scholars that migrants, in leaving home for a new life abroad, inevitably tie place of origin and destination together, scholars of transnationalism have also insisted that today’s cross-border connections are unprecedented. This collection of articles by sociologically minded historians and historically minded sociologists takes aim at that contention. Looking back over the past century and more, the book highlights both the long-term persistence and the continuing instability of home country connections.

Encompassing societies of origin and destination from around the world, the new UIP title A Century of Transnationalism shows that while population movements across states recurrently produce homeland ties, those connections have varied across contexts and from one historical period to another, changing in unpredictable ways. Any number of factors shape the linkages between home and destination, including conditions in the society of immigration, policies of the state of emigration, and geopolitics worldwide.

Internationally oriented and advancing arguments likely to stir scholarly controversy, A Century of Transnationalism offers scholars and students alike leading-edge works that illustrate and complicate the important questions driving today’s study of migration.

lead minersOn September 30, 1822, the federal government gave the first lease to mine lead in the Galena region to Richard M. Johnson. They also provided armed soldiers as guards to dissuade the local Fox people from disputing Johnson’s claim.

Johnson, however, was far from the first to mine lead in the area. Native Americans had dug out surface deposits of lead for decades and did so well with it that French explorers caught wind of their industry. Pierre Charles Le Sueur, the first European to romp about Minnesota, visited the area for samples in the year 1700. Even he followed other Frenchmen. In 1780, Julien Dubuque—a man who lent his name to a city and meat products—set up mining and smelting works to ship the heavy metal down the Mississippi River.

Johnson was not Illinois’s first lead miner. The metal was taken, under dubious legal circumstances, as early as 1810. The Vinegar Hill Mine in Galena opened around 1822 via the industry of “an Irishman” and the region soon became a booming area for lead, drawing steamboats and, in 1855, the railroad. As the Mining History Association notes:

The early miners followed the surface diggings downward with conventional drilling and blasting mining methods. Ore cars were loaded by hand and either hand tramming or mules were used to transport the loaded cars to the shaft. On the surface, hand jigging was used to concentrate the galena. Initially the ore was roasted in heaps to recover the lead. Cupola furnaces were introduced in the 1820’s and Scotch Hearths around 1835. Cornish miners were instrumental in bringing much of the mining and metallurgical technology to the area.

The discovery of gold in California drew away many of the miners in the late 1840s. Lead mining fell off, though zinc mining in old galena mines revived area fortunes during World War I and World War II.