Wed 1.12.11| The Supermax Phenomenon

Keramet Reiter calls supermax prisons "the black hole" in this nation's system of incarceration: So little is known about them, and yet inmates in those facilities endure the most extreme form of punishment short of the death penalty. Reiter has investigated the rise of supermaxes, the conditions and terms of confinement, and the impact of such confinement on prisoners and society.

Tues 1.11.11| Beyond the Commodity

Under capitalism objects are created, bought, and sold as myriad commodities. But if we were to think about life after capitalism, what might our relationship to things be? Art historian Christina Kiaer discusses the innovations of Russian Constructivist artists in the early years of the Soviet Union and their attempts to reconfigure art, everyday objects, and human desire in a new society.

Mon 1.10.11| Nationalist Politics, Racial Projects

Román & Flores, eds., The Afro-Latin@ Reader: History and Culture in the United States Duke U. Press, 2010

Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof, A Tale of Two Cities: Santo Domingo and New York after 1950 Princeton U. Press, 2008

Arturo Alfonso Schomburg was a Black Puerto Rican born in 1874. After he moved to New York City in 1891, Schomburg was active in Cuban and Puerto Rican independence struggles; he later launched an effort to unite people of African descent across national boundaries. Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof has written about this celebrated activist, historian, and collector.

Wed 1.05.11| Profits First, or Health?

There's plenty of talk, given the changing political environment, about the fate of healthcare reform. But Wendell Potter, a former insurance executive, would have you consider something more: the way health insurance companies in this country distort facts, spread fear, and put profits before healthcare.

Tues 1.04.11| Globalization, Development, Resistance

The story often goes something like this: Capitalist globalization penetrates poorer nations as a hegemonic, homogenizing force. Sometimes rural communities, heroic defenders of traditional practices, rise up in stark opposition to the mainstream development agenda. Kiran Asher argues against what she sees as misleading and simplistic notions that ignore on-the-ground complexities; her case study focuses on a resource-rich region of Colombia.

Mon 1.03.11| The Perils of "Genohype"

Do genes determine race? Are some races innately more intelligent than others? And what about Charles Darwin -- is his name safe from those who would push a racist or misogynist agenda? Jonathan Marks points out political leanings and racial ideas still at play in some scientific disciplines, including genetics.
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