Side Project: Diverse Study Group

divstgr

Ugh I wanted to post last night but migraine struck again. I didn’t want to post without an image though, so today is the day! Maybe it’s my migraine hangover brain, but while rereading the rows of text confused even me, thus have some random keywords emphasized for (hopefully) readability.

The What & The How

So during the holidays I mentioned on twitter that I wanted to read up on current mostly academic nonfiction and asked if anyone wanted to join in. Loved that so many of you were interested, and hope you still are at the end of this post! 😀

I graduated last year, but have continued reading articles and nonfiction regularly, however I miss the exchange and discussion part of uni that generates understanding and new ideas. So that’s why I want to make this a regular thing and also involve you folks. Knowledge production happens in fiction and on social media, especially twitter, as well, so reading scholarly works would just be another, perhaps complimentary,  approach. I realize that these works might not be accessible to all, but perhaps the format of an informal study group encourages people who wouldn’t pick up these works by themselves. Disclosure: I’ve done grad school twice, but I had to work for it, my brain is super slow. I hope to have discussions that have space for non-academic folks and a context that is not competitive. As for actually getting our hands on these books, I can ILL many UP books (which takes 2-3 weeks) here and probably share 1-2 chapters as pdfs. We might also decide to read articles and I still have access to some databases. Perhaps between all of us, we’ll manage with most works, I’m hopeful.

Which brings me to another thing: This project would basically be a study group not a book club in that we would be reading chapters from books (and /or articles), perhaps several different books to get at several ways of approaching a topic. We could always later decide if we want to continue with a specific book all the way through, but the wonderful Social Justice Book Club does this and I want to join their reading whenever a book interests me 🙂 Let me know what you think! I know we all have lots of other books to read.

Also, I was thinking of reading and discussing 1-3 chapters a month, using a hashtag (#DivStGr for example). Or we could use a shared google document perhaps. We’ll need to see how the time-zones work out, but perhaps weekends with not quite live-tweeting would work.

Also, you’ll notice that this is a book list that is broad in topics and  lot of books are left out. That is because I finally have to luxury to read widely rather than in-depth to become an expert in one particular topic. However, my focus is clearly on ethnic studies, feminism and social justice and at the moment I’m mostly focusing on the these experiences in a Western context. So there’s several fields I want to explore, and that’s how I grouped books. Of course several books would fit more than one category, but this is easier for overview, I hope.

And finally, tons of books are missing from this list. I forced myself to post only a handful of books I want to read to start with, my initial list was embarrassingly long! But I’m sure you have suggestions, too, and when we decide on a fist topic we should do additional research as well. While my goal is to read newish research, I found that it might benefit discussion and understanding to go back more so that foundational and key texts can be added too. So the older works could be read if some of you are new to a concept or topic, or for comparisons and to find changes in directions of where the field is headed.

Fields of interest/ books to read from:

Intersectional Feminism, Solidarity, Disability

are-all-the-womem-white

Are All The Women Still White?: Rethinking Race, Expanding Feminisms  (Janell Hobson)

intersectionality

Intersectionality (Patricia Hill Collins, Sirma Bilge)

feminist-quer-crip

Feminist, Queer, Crip (Alison Kafer)

#BlackLivesMatter

policing-the-planet

Policing the Planet (Jordan T. Camp, Christina Heatherton, eds.)

blacklib

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation (Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor)

The Prison Industrial Complex

global-lockdown

Global Lockdown: Race, Gender, and the Prison-Industrial Complex (Julia Sudbury, ed.)

captive-genders

Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex (Eric A. Stanley, Nat Smith, eds.)

are-prisons-obsolete

Are Prisons Obsolete? (Angela Y. Davis)

Sound Studies

sonic-color-line

The Sonic Color Line: Race and the Cultural Politics of Listening (Jennifer Lynn Stoever)

dissonant-divas

Dissonant Divas in Chicana Music: The Limits of La Onda (Deborah R. Vargas)

Indigineity, Settler-Colonialism, Sovereignty

decolonizing

Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (Linda Tuhiwai Smith)

asian-settler-colonialism

Asian Settler Colonialism: From Local Governance to the Habits of Everyday Life in Hawai’i (Candace Fujikane, Jonathan Y. Okamura, eds.)

Queer Studies

queer-activism

Queer Activism in India: A Story in the Anthropology of Ethics (Naisargi Dave)

black-queer-studies

Black Queer Studies: A Critical Anthology (E. Patrick Johnson, Mae G. Henderson, eds.)

Critical Ethnic Studies

critical-ethnic-studies

Critical Ethnic Studies: A Reader (Critical Ethnic Studies Editorial Collective)

Biopolitics

bioinsecurities

Bioinsecurities: Disease Interventions, Empire, and the Government of Species (Neel Ahuja)

habeas

Habeas Viscus: Racializing Assemblages, Biopolitics, and Black Feminist Theories of the Human (Alexander G. Weheliye)

Health, Medicine

medicating-race

Medicating Race: Heart Disease and Durable Preoccupations with Difference (Anne Pollock)

blood-sugar

Blood Sugar: Racial Pharmacology and Food Justice in Black America (Anthony Ryan Hatch)

So, what do you think? Are you in? Let me know your thoughts on the project, books on your radar and directions you want to explore!

P.S.: I’m totally taking ideas on the name!

Diversity & Nonfiction: Writers of Color as Experts

poc nonfic blog pic

So here’s something I’ve been mulling over recently:

Where are the writers of color in non-fiction?

Sure, you might argue that there’s a lot of nonfiction available written by people of color, just look at Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me and Between the World and Me or Just Mercy. These works are – very deservedly getting attention and accolades. However, they are narrative non-fiction and memoirs or works about race and racial justice. And because there is always someone: I love such works and I do not want to take away from these achievements at all, I am simply trying to make different point. Suffice it to say, that ‘the personal is political’ applies to people of color, too, and what is more, other less rigid genres and non-Western formats might work better for the things we want to say.

Thinking about the non-fiction I tend to read, two things stand out: One, I focus on social justice works written by women and people of color, and two, when I read other non-fiction (bees, Monsanto, dinosaurs) the authors are almost exclusively white. So let me  rephrase my earlier question: What is the place of writers of color in non-fiction?

People of color have claimed the right to be experts on our own experiences and the fight has been long and is not over by a long shot. In literary fiction, this right is being re-claimed again and again under the hashtag #ownvoices. In non-fiction (including  academic texts), there is excellent work being done in nearly all disciplines, demonstrating the intersection of for example food justice and racial justice or architecture and racism. But we can also see plenty of cases like white scholars putting together research groups on Blackness without any Black people or white ethnologists producing the narrative on Black urban communities.

There are plenty of reasons for people of color to write about issues of race, we want to tell our own stories and we need to be there and fill these roles of authority. Looking at the work being done in non-fiction by and about people of color is such a joy! But another aspect is, are we allowed to be experts on anything else? Will we ever be allowed to be experts on the human condition? On ballet or on the planetary system?

We have had this debate about women writers (and it keeps popping up), and all campaigns to shove white men off the expert throne are very welcome, but stopping at this point reproduces the same tired old power relations that work to keep marginalized voices out of positions of authority. And non-fiction is about authority, oftentimes taking on the mantle of logic, rationality and facts that present us with the ‘master’ narrative. We cannot leave this up to those ensuring our oppression! So what would hopefully be the benefits of diversifying by having nonfiction writers of color writing not on issues of race: Sharing in the building of archives of knowledge, demonstration of our humanity and complexity – we contain multitudes, prevention of for example biologically essentialist science (at least as the truth).

I’ve put together a list of six titles by writers of color writing about space, pandemics nd business. It’s an attempt at finding diverse authors in nonfiction by focusing on mostly US (and not generally Chinese, or Indian authors, because PoC is not the same as non-white) scholars and scientists of color, but of course we need to highlight other voices as well. Sometimes, it’s a bit more difficult to find out how authors identify, but hopefully I will find time soon to do this, or perhaps one of you will give it a try?

Tyson-death by black hole

Death by Black Hole (Neil deGrasse Tyson)

shah_pandemic

Pandemic (Sonia Shah)

(recommended by Jenny)

The Gene

The Gene (Siddhartha Mukherjee)

Liquidated-Ho

Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street (Karen Ho)

Khan- next pandemic

The Next Pandemic: On the Front Lines Against Humankind’s Gravest Dangers (Ali S. Khan)

Khan-Adapt

Adapt: How Humans are Tapping into Nature’s Secrets to Design and Build a Better Future (Amina Khan) – Will be out April 2017 from St Martin’s Press

chu songbird

Songbird Journeys: Four Seasons in the Lives of Migratory Birds (Miyoko Chu)

(recommended by Debi)

cosmopolites

The Cosmopolites: The Coming of the Global Citizen (Atossa Araxia Abrahamian)

(recommended by Sharlene)

michio kaku future of the mind

The Future of the Mind (Michio Kaku)

(recommended by Naz and Vishy)

connectome

Connectome: How the Brain’s Wiring Makes us Who We Are (Sebastian Seung)

emerging mind

The Emerging Mind (Vilayanur Ramachandran)

gathering moss

Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Moss ( Robin Wall Kimmerer)

(recommended by Stefanie)

What are your thoughts on writers of color in non-fiction? Do you have any titles to add?