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Celebrating 9 Years of the Berghahn Blog

The Berghahn Blog turns nine this June!

Celebrate with us by reading our nine most popular articles since our inception in 2012!

9. A ‘Privileged’ Prisoner is Still a Prisoner by Adam Brown

The evolution of my book, Judging “Privileged” Jews: Holocaust Ethics, Representation and the “Grey Zone,” was – like most books no doubt – somewhat long and complex. To take the long-term view, the project began when I heard the moving personal stories spoken by survivor guides on a high school trip to the Jewish Holocaust Centre in 1999. As a non-Jewish teenager with next to no background knowledge of the event, the visit to the JHC inspired a lasting curiosity and sense of obligation to find out more. Read more.

8. Remembering Forgetting: A Monument to Erasure at The University Of North Carolina by Timothy J. McMillan

In 2001, I began teaching a first-year seminar titled “Defining Blackness.” My journey with that class and its descendants is intertwined with my relationship with the memorial landscape, concrete and virtual, of the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In its initial year, the class decided to take as its focus the idea of how blackness, specifically American blackness, might mediate and alter how people experience the physical campus. In class discussions we surmised that there is a segregation of knowledge and of perception that might become manifest by examining the memorial landscape and that there are aspects of the campus that might be invisible to some but highly charged to others. Read more.

7. Celebrating 10 Years of Girlhood Studies by Claudia Mitchell

GHS 10th

In 2007, I, along with colleagues Jackie Kirk and Jacqueline Reid-Walsh, proposed to Berghahn Books that we edit a journal devoted to the study of girlhood. After seeing the enthusiastic response of scholars and communities participating in several international girlhood conferences, including one convened at the University of London in 2001 and another at Concordia University in Montreal in 2003, we knew that such a journal was needed. We drew on all our networks to come up with a wonderful editorial board, commissioned articles by leading scholars writing about girlhood, and by early in 2008 we were well on the way to producing the first issue of the journal. I wish I could just say that the rest is history but of course anyone who knows about the early days of the journal will know that as the articles for the first issue were going to press in August 2008, Jackie Kirk was killed in Afghanistan as she was carrying out a mission on girls’ education with the International Rescue Committee. Read more.

6. Time and Midwifery Practice by Trudy Stevens

Time is often thought to be a universal concept, one of the few immutable truths that help provide stability in an increasingly complex world. Nevertheless, many writers have shown this assumption to be fundamentally incorrect (Thompson 1967; Whitrow 1989; Priestley 1964; Hall 1959). Diverse notions about time have been identified, and the ways it is constructed, used and interpreted may hold widely differing connotations, both between and within societies (Griffiths 1999). The ways in which time is conceptualized and used can communicate powerful messages. In English, time has been externalized, made tangible, a commodity that can be ‘bought’ and ‘sold’, ‘saved’, ‘measured’, ‘wasted’, or ‘lost’. It is compartmentalized, allocated for work, leisure and sleep, and it is used sequentially; it is valued objectively and personally, carefully guarded, and individuals becoming angry if ‘their’ time is unnecessarily wasted (Hall 1959, 1976), ideas that, it will be seen, are interwoven within hospital work. An understanding of how time was conceived within the hospital and within caseload practice reveals underlying notions that influence the nature of the services provided. However, as both were situated within the durée (Giddens 1987) of daily life, this must first be addressed. Read more.

5. “Bureaucrats are the Evil Sisters of Ethnographers”: Discussing a New Anthropology of Bureaucracy, an interview with David Graeber, Laura Bear and Nayanika Mathur

What can the post-office tell us about bureaucracy? How do postal services and the bureaucrats that serve in them embody particular public goods and their inequalities? It is important to focus on the history of the politics of race and class in postal services across the world. For instance, in the United States the post office was once seen as the realisation of solid public service and middle class respectability. With the systematic dismantling of the welfare state, however, it becomes a space of racialized violence expressed in the phrase “going postal.” In Germany there is a distinct history with different break points. It began as a public good drawing on military codes, to become (as shown in Stefan Zweig’s The Post Office Girl) a site of social ressentiment and Freudian angst associated with the rise of new right and left wing politics in the 1920s-30s. In the UK its recent progressive privatisation tracks a different trajectory of aspiration and inequality defined by shareholder politics. Read more.

4. Why Remember Margaret Mead? by Mary Catherine Bateson

Photo from Blackberry Winter: My Earlier Years with the caption "In Vaitogi: in Samoan dress, with Fa'amotu."

Margaret Mead was the most famous anthropologist in the United States in her lifetime and arguably remains the best-known anthropologist ever. She was born on December 16 in 1901 and died in 1978, but many of her writings were reissued with new introductions at the time of her centennial in 2001, including the series published by Berghahn. She was committed to speaking to the general reader, avoiding jargon, writing a column for Redbook, and appearing on talk shows, which produced both envy and scorn in some colleagues. Her interest in addressing the general public was rooted in the conviction that our knowledge of the customs and beliefs of other peoples adds to our sense of human possibility and therefore to our freedom. Unlike other species, human beings survive almost entirely by learning, rather than by instincts. By the time we become adults we have come to regard much of our most basic learning as self-evident and “natural.” Yet, the more we understand about human diversity, the greater the possibility that we can make the choices necessary for wellbeing and survival. Read more.

3. Nelson Mandela’s Mission by Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni

On his release from prison on 11 February 1990, Mandela greeted his supporters in a particularly revealing way, capturing the core aspects of decolonial humanism: “I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all! I stand before you as a humble servant of you, the people.” This statement encapsulated what the philosopher Enrique Dussel termed exercising ‘obedential power’ – command by obeying – founded on principles of politics as ‘vocation’ and an expression of the ‘will to live’ rather than the ‘will to power’. When Mandela presented himself as ‘a humble servant of the people’ he was announcing a new conception of politics in which the exercise of power is not for the self but rather on behalf of the people. Read more.

2. How Eurocentrism & Coloniality Shaped Africa by Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni

I am interested in understanding how the world works.

My research into modernity, empire, colonialism, coloniality and African subjectivity is an attempt to understand how the world system and its international orders have been politically constituted.

As an African scholar, my preoccupation has been to understand particularly the idea and invention of Africa and why its history has been imprisoned in the paradigm of difference since the time of colonial encounters.
Read more.

1. Durkheim, the ‘Founding Father’ of Sociology by Berghahn Books

Social man…is the masterpiece of existence.”
― Émile Durkheim (April 15, 1858 – November 15, 1917)

David Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist, social psychologist and philosopher. Along with Karl Marx and Max Weber, he formally established the academic discipline and and is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology. Read more.

Thank you for reading the Berghahn Blog, the online editorial platform for the Berghahn Books press. Here’s to nine more years of scholarly articles, new book announcements, excerpts, special offers, and more!

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