Books in Arts

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New books in 2024

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Glass Ceilings and Ivory Towers:Gender Inequality in the Canadian Academy, edited by Rachael Johnstone and Bessma Momani, UBC Press, 2024.

Even as Canadian universities suggest their gender issues have largely been resolved, many women in academia tell a different story. Systemic discrimination, the underrepresentation of women in more senior and lucrative roles, and the belief that gender-related concerns will simply self-correct with greater representation at the lower rungs of the academic ladder all add up to a serious gender problem.

Although these issues are widely acknowledged, reliable data is elusive. Glass Ceilings and Ivory Towers fills this significant research gap with a cross-disciplinary, data-driven investigation of gender inequality in Canadian academia. Contributors consider the daily grind of academic life, structural and systemic challenges, and the gendered dynamics of university leadership, all with an eye to laying the groundwork for practical and meaningful institutional change.

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What isn't being said: Culture and communication at work, by Wendi L. Adair, Nancy R. Buchan, Xiao-Ping Chen, Leigh Anne Liu, Springer Nature, 2024.

This book examines how exactly effective intercultural communication at work takes place. In order to do so, the authors take a deep dive into understanding the communication process and variation in communication patterns across cultures and individuals. They introduce a model that focuses on four sources of nonverbal communication, discuss existing research on intercultural communication in the workplace, and offer propositions for future research on the indirect, implicit, and nonverbal cues that can stymie cross-cultural communication effectiveness at work.

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Street Youth in Canada: An Ethnography of Adversity and Artifice, by Mark S. Dolson, Taylor & Francis Group, 2024.

This book provides an ethnographic examination of the everyday lives and struggles of street-involved youth in Canada. Based on fieldwork conducted throughout downtown London, Ontario, it features rich ethnographic data as well as theoretical insights informed by continental philosophy. The chapters highlight informants’ experiences of poverty, addiction and poor mental health, and reflect on their relation to the state – including participation in the provincial government’s programme of social assistance provision (Ontario Works). The author considers how social, cultural, political, economic and existential factors influence and shape human subjectivity. They explore the notion of becoming and offer a re-evaluation of individual agency and action, specifically related to the lived experience of informants who are seen as wounded bricoleurs. The study is relevant to anthropologists, sociologists, geographers and others with an interest in homelessness.

Book cover for Sounds of Advocacy featuring colourful artwork of a Black man blowing into a horn-shaped woodwind instrument

Sounds of Advocacy, Language, and Liberation: Papers in Honour of Hubert Devonish edited by Clive Forrester and Nickesha Dawkins, University of the West Indies Press, 2024.

Honouring the remarkable career of Professor Hubert Devonish, a leading scholar in linguistics, language education, and cultural studies, Sounds of Advocacy, Language and Liberation provides a representative spread of linguistics addressing critical areas of academic and social responsibility through the exploration and analysis of theoretical and sociocultural concerns. Through his tireless research Devonish illuminated the complexities of Caribbean Creole languages and championed their rightful place in academia and society.

This festschrift reveals the impact of Devonish's work on linguistic theory, spanning fascinating topics like implosives in Jamaican Creole and the mathematical constraints on allowable sentences in Guyanese Creole. The papers contain insightful analyses of the relationship between language, education, and culture, including Devonish's groundbreaking work on Creole language literacy and the importance of promoting multilingualism. Provocative discussions on the intersection of politics, law, and language, shed light on Devonish's unwavering commitment to social justice and the empowerment of marginalised communities.

Book cover with an orange background. The "O" in dogwhistle has a long, narrow whistle in the middle of it, and the "A" in figleaves is partially covered by a leave to obscure or hide something

Dogwhistles and Figleaves: How Manipulative Language Spreads Racism and Falsehood, by Jennifer Mather Saul, Oxford University Press, 2024.

It is widely accepted that political discourse in recent years has become more openly racist and more accepting of wildly implausible conspiracy theories. Dogwhistles and Figleaves explores ways in which such changes--both of which defied previously settled norms of political speech--have been brought about. Jennifer Saul shows that two linguistic devices, dogwhistles and figleaves, have played a crucial role. Some dogwhistles (such as "88", used by Nazis online to mean "Heil Hitler") serve to disguise messages that would otherwise be rejected as unacceptable, allowing them to be transmitted surreptitiously. Other dogwhistles (like the 1988 "Willie Horton" ad) work by influencing people in ways that they are not aware of, and which they would likely reject were they aware.

Figleaves (such as "just asking questions") take messages that could easily be recognized as unacceptable, and provide just enough cover that people become more willing to accept them. Saul argues that these devices are important for the spread of racist discourse. She also shows how they contribute to the transmission of norm-violating discourse more generally, focusing on the case of wildly implausible conspiracist speech. Together, these devices have both exploited and widened existing divisions in society, and normalized racist and conspiracist speech. This book is the first full-length exploration of dogwhistles and figleaves. It offers an illuminating and disturbing view of the workings of contemporary political discourse.

Book cover featuring a picture of B.M. Bower overlaid with turquoise patches of colour

The Bower Atmosphere: A Biography of B. M. Bower, by Victoria Lamont, University of Nebraska Press, 2024.

B. M. (Bertha Muzzy) Bower was the first author to make a living writing popular westerns, creating more than sixty novels and hundreds of short stories that were read by millions of Americans. Bower’s were among the first westerns adapted to film, and the exploits of her cowboys at the fictional Flying U ranch established a tradition that flourishes to this day. A Montana mother of three, she began writing short stories in 1900, desperate for money that would allow her to leave her unhappy marriage to a cowboy employed by the McNamara ranch.

Discouraged by her editors from publicizing her identity as a woman, Bower’s important contribution to American mass culture faded from cultural memory after her death in 1940. Based on extensive research in Bower’s personal archives and publishers’ records, as well as interviews with some of her descendants, The Bower Atmosphere recounts the remarkable twists and turns of Bower’s life, from her beginnings on a Montana cattle ranch to her success as a writer of serial westerns, all the while contending with the conflicting pressures of editors, husbands, children, and her own creative aspirations.

Book cover featuing a black background with text and a chair of overlapping blue and orange spheres

The Concertation Impulse in World Politics, by Andrew Cooper, Oxford University Press, 2024.

This book unravels the centrality of contestation over international institutions under the shadow of crisis. Breaking with the widely accepted image in the mainstream, US-centric literature of an advance of global governance supported by pillars of institutionalized formality, Andrew Cooper points to the retention of a habitual impulse towards concertation related to informal institutionalism. Rather than endorsing the view that world politics is moving inexorably towards a multilateral, rules-based order, he places the onus on the resilience of a hierarchical self-selected concert model that combines a stigmatized legacy with the ability to reproduce in an array of associational formats.

Relying for conceptual guidance on the recovery of a valuable component in the intellectual contribution of Hedley Bull, a compelling case is made that concertation represents a fundamental institution as a peer competitor to multilateralism. In effect, the debate over institutional design is recast away from an emphasis on utilitarian maximization towards a wider set of cardinal - and highly contested - questions: the nature of rules at the global level, the salience of institutional clubs, and the meaning and impact of (in)equality and cooperation/coordination among states across the incumbent West/non-incumbent Global South divide.

Book cover featuring pink, talon-like finger nails clawing through a pink background to suggest female aggression

Mean Girl Feminism: How White Feminists Gaslight, Gatekeep, and Girlboss, by Kim Hong Nguyen, University of Illinois Press, 2024.

Mean girl feminism encourages girls and women to be sassy, sarcastic, and ironic as feminist performance. Yet it coopts its affect, form, and content, from racialized oppression and protest while directing meanness toward people in marginalized groups.

Kim Hong Nguyen examines four types of white mean girl feminism prominent in North American popular culture: the bitch, the mean girl, the power couple, and the global mother. White feminists mime the anger, disempowerment, and resistance felt by people of color and other marginalized groups. Their performance allows them to pursue and claim a special place within established power structures, present as intellectually superior, advance their girl squads and their partners as part of a politics of solidarity and community, and position themselves as better, more enlightened masters than men. But, as Nguyen argues, the racialized meanness found across pop culture opens possibilities for building an intersectional feminist politics that rejects performative civility in favor of turning anger into liberation.