The Rhetoric of Heroic Expectations: Establishing the Obama Presidency

Posted in Anthologies, Barack Obama, Books, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2013-12-18 19:57Z by Steven

The Rhetoric of Heroic Expectations: Establishing the Obama Presidency

Texas A&M University Press
2014-01-15
266 pages
6 x 9
7 b&w photos. 4 figs. 4 tables. Bib. Index.
Unjacketed Cloth ISBN: 978-1-62349-042-3
Paper ISBN: 978-1-62349-043-0

Edited by:

Justin S. Vaughn, Assistant Professor of Political Science
Boise State University

Jennifer R. Mercieca, Associate Professor
Department of Communication
Texas A&M University

Campaign rhetoric helps candidates to get elected, but its effects last well beyond the counting of the ballots; this was perhaps never truer than in Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. Did Obama create such high expectations that they actually hindered his ability to enact his agenda? Should we judge his performance by the scale of the expectations his rhetoric generated, or against some other standard? The Rhetoric of Heroic Expectations: Establishing the Obama Presidency grapples with these and other important questions.

Barack Obama’s election seemed to many to fulfill Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of the “long arc of the moral universe . . . bending toward justice.” And after the terrorism, war, and economic downturn of the previous decade, candidate Obama’s rhetoric cast broad visions of a change in the direction of American life. In these and other ways, the election of 2008 presented an especially strong example of creating expectations that would shape the public’s views of the incoming administration.  The public’s high expectations, in turn, become a part of any president’s burden upon assuming office.

The interdisciplinary scholars who have contributed to this volume focus their analysis upon three kinds of presidential burdens: institutional burdens (specific to the office of the presidency); contextual burdens (specific to the historical moment within which the president assumes office); and personal burdens (specific to the individual who becomes president).

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Race? Debunking a Scientific Myth

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Monographs on 2012-06-03 17:47Z by Steven

Race? Debunking a Scientific Myth

Texas A&M University Press
2011-09-01
256 pages
6 x 9
Photo. 9 line art. 6 tables. Index.
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-60344-425-5

Ian Tattersall, Curator Emeritus
American Museum of Natural History

Rob DeSalle, Curator of Entomology
American Museum of Natural History in the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics

Race has provided the rationale and excuse for some of the worst atrocities in human history. Yet, according to many biologists, physical anthropologists, and geneticists, there is no valid scientific justification for the concept of race.

To be more precise, although there is clearly some physical basis for the variations that underlie perceptions of race, clear boundaries among “races” remain highly elusive from a purely biological standpoint. Differences among human populations that people intuitively view as “racial” are not only superficial but are also of astonishingly recent origin.

In this intriguing and highly accessible book, physical anthropologist Ian Tattersall and geneticist Rob DeSalle, both senior scholars from the American Museum of Natural History, explain what human races actually are—and are not—and place them within the wider perspective of natural diversity. They explain that the relative isolation of local populations of the newly evolved human species during the last Ice Age—when Homo sapiens was spreading across the world from an African point of origin—has now begun to reverse itself, as differentiated human populations come back into contact and interbreed. Indeed, the authors suggest that all of the variety seen outside of Africa seems to have both accumulated and started reintegrating within only the last 50,000 or 60,000 years—the blink of an eye, from an evolutionary perspective.

The overarching message of Race? Debunking a Scientific Myth is that scientifically speaking, there is nothing special about racial variation within the human species. These distinctions result from the working of entirely mundane evolutionary processes, such as those encountered in other organisms.

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Assumed Identities: The Meanings of Race in the Atlantic World

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Religion, Slavery, United States on 2011-11-04 21:36Z by Steven

Assumed Identities: The Meanings of Race in the Atlantic World

Texas A&M University Press
2010-07-12
168 pages
6 x 9, Illus.
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-60344-192-6

Edited by:

John D. Garrigus, Associate Professor of History
University of Texas, Austin

Christopher Morris, Associate Professor of History
University of Texas, Austin

With the recent election of the nation’s first African American president—an individual of blended Kenyan and American heritage who spent his formative years in Hawaii and Indonesia—the topic of transnational identity is reaching the forefront of the national consciousness in an unprecedented way. As our society becomes increasingly diverse and intermingled, it is increasingly imperative to understand how race and heritage impact our perceptions of and interactions with each other. Assumed Identities constitutes an important step in this direction.

However, “identity is a slippery concept,” say the editors of this instructive volume. This is nowhere more true than in the melting pot of the early trans-Atlantic cultures formed in the colonial New World during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. As the studies in this volume show, during this period in the trans-Atlantic world individuals and groups fashioned their identities but also had identities ascribed to them by surrounding societies. The historians who have contributed to this volume investigate these processes of multiple identity formation, as well as contemporary understandings of them.

Originating in the 2007 Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures presented at the University of Texas at Arlington, Assumed Identities: The Meanings of Race in the Atlantic World examines, among other topics, perceptions of racial identity in the Chesapeake community, in Brazil, and in Saint-Domingue (colonial-era Haiti). As the contributors demonstrate, the cultures in which these studies are sited helped define the subjects’ self-perceptions and the ways others related to them.

Table of Contents

  • Preface and Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Race and Identity in the New World; Franklin W. Knight
  • “Thy Coming Fame, OgĂ©! Is Sure”: New Evidence on OgĂ©’s 1790 Revolt and the Beginnings of the Haitian Revolution; John D. Garrigus
  • “The Child Should Be Made a Christian”: Baptism, Race, and Identity in the Seventeenth-century Chesapeake; Rebecca Goetz
  • West Indian Identity in the Eighteenth Century; Trevor Burnard
  • Illegal Enslavement and the Precariousness of Freedom in Nineteenth-century Brazil; Sidney Chalhoub
  • Rosalie of the Poulard Nation: Freedom, Law, and Dignity in the Era of the Haitian Revolution; Rebecca J. Scott and Jean M. HĂ©brard
  • In Memoriam, Evan Anders
  • About the Contributors
  • Index
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A Southern Family in White and Black: The Cuneys of Texas

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, Slavery, Texas, United States on 2009-12-06 01:46Z by Steven

A Southern Family in White and Black: The Cuneys of Texas

Texas A&M University Press
2002-12-06
192 pages
6.125 x 9.25
4 b&w photos.
ISBN 13: 978-1-58544-200-3

Douglas Hales, Professor of History
Temple College, Temple, Texas

The complex issues of race and politics in nineteenth-century Texas may be nowhere more dramatically embodied than in three generations of the family of Norris Wright Cuney, mulatto labor and political leader. Douglas Hales explores the birthright Cuney received from his white plantation-owner father, Philip Cuney, and the way his heritage played out in the life of his daughter Maud Cuney-Hare. This intergenerational study casts light on the experience of race in the South before Emancipation, after Reconstruction, and in the diaspora that eventually led cultural leaders of African American heritage into the cities of the North.

Most Texas history books name Norris Wright Cuney as one of the most influential African American politicians in nineteenth-century Texas, but they tell little about him beyond his elected positions. In The Cuneys, Douglas Hales not only fills in the details of Cuney’s life and contributions but places him in the context of his family’s generations.

A politically active plantation owner and slaveholder in Austin County, Philip Cuney participated in the annexation of Texas to the United States and supported the role of slavery and cotton in the developing economy of the new state. Wealthy and powerful, he fathered eight slave children whom he later freed and saw educated. Hales explores how and why Cuney differed from other planters of his time and place.

He then turns to the better-known Norris Wright Cuney to study how the black elite worked for political and economic opportunity in the reactionary period that followed Reconstruction in the South. Cuney led the Texas Republican Party in those turbulent years and, through his position as collection of customs at Galveston, distributed federal patronage to both white and black Texans. As the most powerful African American in Texas, and arguably in the entire South, Cuney became the focal point of white hostility, from both Democrats and members of the “Lily White” faction of his own party. His effective leadership won not only continued office for him but also a position of power within the Republican Party for Texas blacks at a time when the party of Lincoln repudiated African Americans in many other Southern states. From his position on the Galveston City Council, Cuney worked tirelessly for African American education and challenged the domination of white labor within the growing unions.

Norris Wright Cuney’s daughter, Maud, who was graced with a prestigious education, pursued a successful career in the arts as a concert pianist, musicologist, and playwright. A friend of W. E. B. Du Bois, she became actively involved in the racial uplift movement of the early twentieth century. Hales illuminates her role in the intellectual and political “awakening” of black America that culminated in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. He adroitly explores her decision against “passing” as white and her commitment to uplift.

Through these three members of a single mixed-race family, Douglas Hales gives insight into the issues, challenges, and strengths of individuals. His work adds an important chapter to the history of Texas and of African Americans more broadly.

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Mestizo Democracy: The Politics of Crossing Borders

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2009-11-02 16:45Z by Steven

Mestizo Democracy: The Politics of Crossing Borders

Texas A&M University Press
2003
320 pages
6.125 x 9.25
Paper ISBN: 978-1-58544-346-8

John Francis Burke, Professor of Political Science and Chair
University of St. Thomas, Houston

Foreword by Virgilio Elizondo

It can come as no surprise that the ethnic makeup of the American population is rapidly changing. That there are political repercussions from these changes is also self-evident. How the changes can, must, and should alter our very understanding of democracy, though, may not be obvious. Political theorist John Burke addresses these issues by offering a “mestizo” theory of democracy and tracing its implications for public policy.

The challenge before the United States in the coming century, Burke posits, will be to articulate a politics that neither renders cultures utterly autonomous from each other nor culminates in their homogeneous assimilation. Fortuitously or ironically, the way to do this comes from the very culture that is now necessitating the change.

Mestizo is a term from the Mexican socio-political experience. It means “mixture” and implies a particular kind of mixture that has resulted in a blend of indigenous, African, and Spanish genes and cultures in Latin America. This mixture is not a “melting pot” experience, where all eventually become assimilated; rather, it is a mixture in which the influences of the different cultures remain identifiable but not static. They all evolve through interaction with the others, and the resulting larger culture also evolves as the parts do. Mestizaje (the collective noun form) is thus process more than condition.

John Burke analyzes both American democratic theory and multiculturalism within political theology to develop a model for cultivating a democratic political community that can deal constructively with its cultural diversity. He applies this new model to a number of important policy issues: official language(s), voting and participation, equal employment opportunity, housing, and free trade. He then presents an intensive case study, based on a parish “multicultural committee” and choir in which he has been a participant, to show how the “engaged dialogue” of mestizaje might work and what pitfalls await it.

Burke concludes that in the United States we are becoming mestizo whether we know it or not and whether we like it or not. By embracing the communitarian but non-assimilationist stance of intentional mestizaje, we can forge a future together that will be not only greater than the sum of its parts but also freer and more just than its past.

John Francis Burke is a professor of political science and chair of the department at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. He is an active lay minister in a Houston Catholic parish characterized by diversity. With a Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame, he brings strong training in western political philosophy and religious studies to his study of mestizo culture in the United States.

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