Throwback Thursday #TBT: Erwin Goodenough’s Jewish Symbols in the Greco-Roman Period (1992)


Throwback Thursday: Week 3


Goodenough, Jewish Symbols in the Greco-Roman Period

It’s Thursday again, folks, and you know what that means: time for a Throwback (#TBT)! This week’s #TBT honors Erwin Goodenough’s Jewish Symbols in the Greco-Roman Period (1992), another fundamental text found in the Princeton Legacy Library. Here’s a little bit of information on your favorite relic – both a literal and figurative designation, in this case:

This volume presents the most important portions of Erwin Goodenough’s classic thirteen-volume work, a magisterial attempt to encompass human spiritual history in general through the study of Jewish symbols in particular. Revealing that the Jewish religion of the period was much more varied and complex than the extant Talmudic literature would lead us to believe, Goodenough offered evidence for the existence of a Hellenistic-Jewish mystic mythology far closer to the Qabbalah than to rabbinical Judaism.

David M. Hay of Studia Philonia Annual 1 praises the volume, saying that, “[s]ince [Jacob Neusner's one-volume abridgement] presents the fruits of Goodenough’s decades-long study of ancient Jewish art, climaxed by his study of the third-century synagogue at Dura-Europas, it is probably the best introduction to Goodenough’s mature thought. Neusner contributes a twenty-nine-page foreword that explains the enduring importance of the entire thirteen-volume work.”

And if we’ve peaked your interest with this book, you can find similar materials over in Mythos: The Princeton/Bollingen Series in World Mythology. We hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Throwback Thursday (#TBT), and we’ll see you next week!

News of the World — August 11, 2014

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Each week we post a round-up of some of our most exciting national and international PUP book coverage. Reviews, interviews, events, articles–this is the spot for coverage of all things “PUP books” that took place in the last week. Enjoy!


now 8.11

 40 YEARS OF EVOLUTION

What if you could witness evolution in real time? Researchers Peter and Rosemary Grant, who have spent time on the Galápagos Island named Daphne Major each year since 1973, have found that changes are happening–right now. The Grants are featured in a recent New York Times piece that details their years of research and the incredible discoveries that they have made. Jonathan Weiner writes:

Charles Darwin spent only five weeks on the Galápagos Islands, and at first, the British biologists Peter and Rosemary Grant didn’t plan to stay very long either — a few years at most.

They landed in 1973 on the tiny uninhabited island of Daphne Major, the cinder cone of an extinct volcano. (Darwin himself never set foot there.) Daphne is as steep as a roof, with cliffs running all around the base, and just one small spot on the outer slope flat enough to pitch a tent.

Their goal, as they relate in their new book, “40 Years of Evolution,” was to study finches in the genus Geospiza — the birds that gave Darwin some of his first inklings of evolution by natural selection — and to try to reconstruct part of their evolutionary history. Instead, they made an amazing discovery.

After several years of meticulous measurements, the Grants and their students realized that the finches’ dimensions were changing before their eyes. Their beaks and bodies were evolving and adapting from year to year, sometimes slowly, sometimes strikingly, generation after generation. The researchers were watching evolution in real time, evolution in the flesh.

Check out the full article, entitled “In Darwin’s Footsteps” in the New York Times.

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In the richly illustrated 40 YEARS OF EVOLUTION: Darwin’s Finches on Daphne Major Island, the authors explore evolution taking place on a contemporary scale. By continuously tracking finch populations over a period of four decades, they uncover the causes and consequences of significant events leading to evolutionary changes in species.

The authors used a vast and unparalleled range of ecological, behavioral, and genetic data–including song recordings, DNA analyses, and feeding and breeding behavior–to measure changes in finch populations on the small island of Daphne Major in the Galápagos archipelago. They find that natural selection happens repeatedly, that finches hybridize and exchange genes rarely, and that they compete for scarce food in times of drought, with the remarkable result that the finch populations today differ significantly in average beak size and shape from those of forty years ago.

The authors’ most spectacular discovery is the initiation and establishment of a new lineage that now behaves as a new species, differing from others in size, song, and other characteristics. The authors emphasize the immeasurable value of continuous long-term studies of natural populations and of critical opportunities for detecting and understanding rare but significant events. By following the fates of finches for several generations, 40 YEARS OF EVOLUTION offers unparalleled insights into ecological and evolutionary changes in natural environments.

View Chapter One of 40 YEARS OF EVOLUTION for yourself.

 THE BANKERS’ NEW CLOTHES

For PUP author Anat Admati, American banks are doing it all wrong — and the status quo needs to change.

Admati, who was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People for 2014, argues that banks are as fragile as they are not because they must be, but because they want to be–and they get away with it. Whereas this situation benefits bankers, it distorts the economy and exposes the public to unnecessary risks. Weak regulation and ineffective enforcement allowed the buildup of risks that ushered in the financial crisis of 2007-2009. Much can be done to create a better system and prevent crises. Yet the lessons from the crisis have not been learned.

These arguments and her recent progress are highlighted in a recent NYT feature entitled “When She Talks, Banks Shudder.” The article begins by discussing Admati’s tenacity:

Bankers are nearly unanimous on the subject of Anat R. Admati, the Stanford finance professor and persistent industry gadfly: Her ideas are wildly impractical, bad for the American economy and not to be taken seriously.

But after years of quixotic advocacy, Ms. Admati is reaching some very prominent ears. Last month, President Obama invited her and five other economists to a private lunch to discuss their ideas. She left him with a copy of “The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong With Banking and What to Do About It,” a 2013 book she co-authored. A few weeks later, she testified for the first time before the Senate Banking Committee. And, in a recent speech, Stanley Fischer, vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, praised her “vigorous campaign.”

Dennis Kelleher, chief executive of Better Markets, a nonprofit that advocates stronger financial regulation, said Ms. Admati has emerged as one of the most effective advocates of the view that regulatory changes since the 2008 crisis remain insufficient. “She has been, as one must be,” Mr. Kelleher said, “dogged from the West Coast to the East Coast to Europe and back again and over again.”

Read the full article in the New York Times.

The past few years have shown that risks in banking can impose significant costs on the economy. Many claim, however, that a safer banking system would require sacrificing lending and economic growth. THE BANKERS’ NEW CLOTHES — now available in paperback — examines this claim and the narratives used by bankers, politicians, and regulators to rationalize the lack of reform, exposing them as invalid.

Admati and co-author Martin Hellwig argue that we can have a safer and healthier banking system without sacrificing any of its benefits, and at essentially no cost to society. They seek to engage the broader public in the debate by cutting through the jargon of banking, clearing the fog of confusion, and presenting the issues in simple and accessible terms.

Check out the new preface from the paperback edition of THE BANKERS’ NEW CLOTHES. And for more, watch Admati’s TED talk from earlier this year:

THE YOGA SUTRA OF PATANJALI

Yoga practitioners — is what you think you know about ancient yoga philosophy actually incorrect? PUP author David Gordon White brings us an exhaustively researched book that demonstrates why the yoga of India’s past bears little resemblance to the yoga practiced today.

Consisting of fewer than two hundred verses written in an obscure if not impenetrable language and style, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is today extolled by the yoga establishment as a perennial classic and guide to yoga practice. As David Gordon White demonstrates in this groundbreaking study, both of these assumptions are incorrect. Virtually forgotten in India for hundreds of years and maligned when it was first discovered in the West, the Yoga Sutra has been elevated to its present iconic status—and translated into more than forty languages—only in the course of the past forty years.

THE YOGA SUTRA OF PATANJALI: A Biography received great attention recently in three different publications. The book was reviewed in both Tricycle Magazine as well as in Shambhala Sun, which describes the book:

A lively account of this sutra’s unlikely history and how it has variously been interpreted, reinterpreted, ignored, and hailed. The colorful characters on these pages include Vivekananda and Krishnamacharya, two giants in modern yoga, as well as literary figures such as T.S. Eliot. There is also Alberuni, a Muslim scientist and scholar who translated a commentary on the Yoga Sutra a thousand years ago, and the outrageous Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, who fused the principles of the Yoga Sutra with Western ideas of the occult.

Check out this author Q&A with David Gordon White for more on why he chose his area of study, and view Chapter One of THE YOGA SUTRA OF PATANJALI.

Foreign Editions of John Quiggin’s “Zombie Economics”

While you’re waiting for Timothy Verstynen and Bradley Voytek’s Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep? A Neuroscientific View of the Zombie Brain and Colin Adams’s Zombies and Calculus to come out this fall, be sure to check out these foreign editions of John Quiggin’s Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk among Us.

Quiggin’s book examines the fallout of the recent financial crisis, and suggests how we might avoid another one. Though the recession apparently invalidated many of the assumptions behind market liberalism, and demonstrated the instability of speculative investments, Quiggin shows how these ideas still live in the minds of politicians, economists, and the public. He argues that the only way to avoid the dangers of these “zombie economics” is to find an adequate replacement for the market liberalism that has dominated popular economic thought for decades. Zombie Economics was also co-winner of Axiom Business’s 2012 Gold Medal Book Award in Economics.

Photos courtesy of John Quiggin.

USA:

AmericanZombie

China:

ChineseZombie ChineseZombie2

Japan:

JapaneseZombie

Korea:

KoreanZombie

Finland:

FinnishZombie

Italy:

ItalianZombie

France:

FrenchZombie

Other undead enthusiasts may enjoy Daniel W. Drezner’s Theories of International Politics and Zombies. Drezner’s 2011 book imagines the responses of the world’s governments to a global zombie pandemic, imaginatively using the supernatural to examine real-world political concerns. The book earned an honorable mention for the Association of American Publishers’ 2011 PROSE Award in Government and Politics. A new “Revived Edition” will be out this October, featuring a heavily updated text and a new epilogue examining the cultural significance of zombies in the public sphere.

Recommended Reading:

 cover_zombieeconomics Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk among Us by John Quiggin
 4-10 Drezner_TheoriesZombies_cvr Theories of International Politics and Zombies by Daniel W. Drezner
 DoZombiesDreamOfUndeadSheep Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep? A Neuroscientific View of the Zombie Brain by Timothy Verstynen and Bradley Voytek
7-18 Zombies Zombies and Calculus by Colin Adams

 

New sociology catalog!

Be among the first to browse and download our new sociology catalog!

Of particular interest is Mikołaj Piskorski’s A Social Strategy: How We Profit from Social Media. Groundbreaking and important, this book provides not only a story- and data-driven explanation for the explosion of social media but also an invaluable, concrete road map for any company that wants to tap the marketing potential of this remarkable phenomenon.

Also be sure to note Nigel Dodd’s The Social Life of Money. Questions about the nature of money have gained a new urgency in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Even as many people have less of it, there are more forms and systems of money, from local currencies and social lending to mobile money and Bitcoin. Yet our understanding of what money is—and what it might be—hasn’t kept pace. In The Social Life of Money, Dodd, one of today’s leading sociologists of money, reformulates the theory of the subject for a postcrisis world in which new kinds of money are proliferating.

And don’t miss out on Amin Ghaziani’s There Goes the Gayborhood? Gay neighborhoods, like the legendary Castro District in San Francisco and New York’s Greenwich Village, have long provided sexual minorities with safe havens in an often unsafe world. But as our society increasingly accepts gays and lesbians into the mainstream, are “gayborhoods” destined to disappear? Ghaziani provides an incisive look at the origins of these unique cultural enclaves, the reasons why they are changing today, and their prospects for the future.

More of our leading titles in sociology can be found in the catalog. You may also sign up with ease to be notified of forthcoming titles at http://press.princeton.edu/subscribe/. (Your e-mail address will remain confidential!)

If you’re heading to the American Sociological Association annual meeting in San Francisco, CA August 16th-19th, come visit us at booth 412. Mikołaj Piskorski will be signing A Social Strategy: How We Profit from Social Media at 3:00 p.m. Monday, August 18th. Please also join Amin Ghaziani for a discussion of There Goes the Gayborhood? at the Green Arcade bookstore Sunday, August 17th at 6:00 p.m.

See you in San Francisco!

In the News: Ghaziani Goes Global with ‘There Goes the Gayborhood?’

8-6 AminGayborhoods. Rising Rents. De-Gaying. ‘Straightening.’

What does it all mean?

Princeton University Press author and associate professor of Sociology Amin Ghaziani has dedicated his life’s work to defining these terms and to bringing the study of sexuality to the forefront of sociology. Naturally, the intent of his latest book, There Goes the Gayborhood? is no different.

In many respects, the book is an ode to the enclaves which have historically acted as havens of support, providing community and allowing those with common sociopolitical goals to coalesce in their quest for equality, meanwhile striking rich friendships and developing culturally vibrant and economically robust neighborhoods.

Throughout the book, Ghaziani analyzes deep demographic data looking for trends of same-sex and straight households moving in and out of traditionally gay neighborhoods like San Francisco’s Castro district, Chicago’s Boystown, and New York’s Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen neighborhoods. His findings show that gay neighborhoods are becoming decidedly less “gay”—the number of gay men who live in gay neighborhoods has declined eight per cent while the number of lesbians has dropped 13 per cent in the last 10 years. He also found that other areas of the country are becoming more diverse with same-sex reported households in 93% of the counties in America.

The amount of media attention to Ghaziani’s book, and particularly to his unique sociological diagnosis of this issue, has been nearly as overwhelming as his findings. Mainstream media outlets like Time Magazine,  Yahoo! News, Chicago NPR’s “Morning Shift,” Huffington Post’s “Gay Voices” and Huffington Post: Live, and the Chicago Tribune, among others, have responded accordingly to the radical realization of “straightening.” Salon has also paid due diligence to the dilemma, asking, “[A]s demographics shift, is it a sign of acceptance of a community – or the dilution of it? Is it possible, as the New York Times so damningly put it, that “gay neighborhoods face the prospect of becoming passe?””


“Gay neighborhoods have been crucial to the struggle for freedom, and have produced globally important contributions, from politics to poetry to music and fashion,” Ghaziani says. “[I]t is critical that we continue to find meaningful ways to preserve these culturally important spaces.”


Fortunately, Ghaziani’s own commentary in the Advocate rejects the claim that ‘gayborhoods’ are growing increasingly obsolete, no longer a necessary comfort to the gay community. He says that, “[t]here is a fine line between acceptance and the closet, just as there is between integration into the mainstream and the cultural loss of what makes gay people unique.” Although LGBT individuals have become “incorporated into the societal mainstream,” there’s no reason to dismiss such an integral and distinctive feature of the gay community.

And that’s not all the coverage. Not even close. The book has received recognition from French and German news outlets as well, in addition to an array of exclusively gay media sites like Pink News (Europe’s largest gay news service), Towleroad, and Joe.My.God, and we’re sure that the buck won’t stop there.

Even with this blitz of interest, though, it’s important to bear in mind the essence of Ghaziani’s argument: he is fundamentally fighting for these communities and seeking ways to preserve them without naively denying the realities of urban change. All neighborhoods change, of course, and gayborhoods are no exception. But they are evolving in unique ways as the long arc of the moral universe bends toward justice.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Amin Ghaziani is the author of:

TGTG There Goes the Gayborhood? by Amin Ghaziani
Hardcover | 2014 | $35.00 / £24.95 | ISBN: 9780691158792 | 360 pp. | 6 x 9 | 5 halftones. 2 line illus. 15 tables. 6 maps.| eBook | ISBN: 9781400850174 | Reviews Table of Contents  Introduction[PDF]

Quick Questions for Adrienne Mayor, author of The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World

Adrienne Mayor is a research scholar in classics and the history of science at Stanford University. Her work searches for precursors to modern science in mythologies and folk traditions of peoples around the world. Mayor’s previous books include The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times (2000) and Fossil Legends of the First Americans (2007), which examine pre-Darwinian cultural awareness of prehistoric life in antiquity and Native America, linking legends of monsters to the discovery of fossils. Her biography The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy was a finalist for 2009 National Book Award in Nonfiction and won the 2010 Gold Medal in Biography at the Independent Publisher Book Awards.amayor

Mayor’s upcoming book, The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World, explores the familiar Greek myth of warrior women from a global perspective. Citing stories from China, India, Egypt, Persia, and Central Asia, as well as new archaeological discoveries, Mayor unearths the roots of Amazon legends and reveals some surprising insights on gender in the ancient world.

Now, on to the questions!

What would you have been if not an historian?

If I had not become so obsessed with uncovering germs of historical and scientific realities in ancient mythology and legends, I would still be a full-time freelance copyeditor for about a dozen trade publishers and university presses (including Princeton University Press). That was my career until I published my first book (The First Fossil Hunters for PUP, 2000). Before I began concentrating on writing, in my free time I was an artist, making and selling etchings illustrating stories based on my readings in classical literature.


“I find writing a book a slow, intricate process, a kind of obstacle course punctuated with great rewards.”


What was the most influential book you’ve read?

Two influential books: The Histories of Herodotus, the world’s first “anthropologist,” an insatiably curious Greek historian who reported on barbarian cultures based on his research, travels, and interviews in the fifth century BC. I was also influenced by Mott T. Greene’s Natural Knowledge in Preclassical Antiquity (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992).

Describe your writing process. How long did it take you to finish your book? Where do you write? 

I had been gathering material about ancient women warriors for decades. But I began the serious research for The Amazons in 2009 and started the actual writing in 2012. I find writing a book a slow, intricate process, a kind of obstacle course punctuated with great rewards. But research is always thrilling and I tend to incorporate newfound material up to the very last minute. I write in two very different places: my desk in Palo Alto, California is piled high with myriad jumbled books and papers whose stratigraphy is a challenge. Summers in Bozeman, Montana, I write in a spare space, surrounded by interesting rocks and fossils instead of books, on an old oak table with nothing but my laptop.

What was the most interesting thing you learned from writing this book? 

Thanks to modern DNA testing, we now know that a significant number of battle-scarred skeletons buried with weapons in ancient steppe nomad graves belonged to women, the real-life models for Greek myths about Amazons. So Amazons were not just a figment of the Greek imagination, brought to life in exciting myths only to be killed off by Greek heroes. But even more surprising, it turns out that the Greeks were not the only people of antiquity to spin tales about heroic warrior women. And the non-Greek stories of warlike women differ radically from the dark mythic script demanding death for all Amazons. Instead, legendary heroes of Persia, Egypt, and Asia were so impressed with the valor of their female foes that they desired the women as companions in love and war. We are used to thinking of Amazon myths in terms of violence against uppity women, but the ancient evidence also reveals a vision of gender equality.

How did you come up with the title and jacket?

7-18 AmazonsMy working title was “Amazons in Love and War” because there are as many romances as battle stories about warrior women. The final title embraces both mythology and history and conveys the geographic scope of the book far beyond the ancient Mediterranean world. I wanted to find a unique picture for the cover, something arresting and unexpected, a departure from the standard classical Greek vase or Roman statue. I was struck by the strong image and narrative quality of a postage stamp issued by the Kyrgyz Republic. It shows the horsewoman-archer Saikal, heroine of the most famous Central Asian epic poem Manas. The black and white illustration is by Teodor Gercen, a German artist who worked in Kyrgyzstan.

What are you reading right now?

I am enjoying a well-researched adventure novel translated from Danish, The Lost Sisterhood (Random House, 2014) by Anne Fortier (Ph.D. Aarhus University, History of Ideas). The story follows an Oxford professor on a quest in North Africa and Troy to discover a legendary “Amazon treasure,” following clues left by her eccentric grandmother who claimed an Amazon queen as her ancestor.


Adrienne Mayor is the author of:

7-18 Amazons The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World by Adrienne Mayor
Hardcover | September 2014 | $29.95 / £19.95 | ISBN: 9780691147208
536 pp. | 6 x 9 | 10 maps | Reviews

Princeton University Press will be at #ASA14…

sociology

Photo credit Eric Schwartz

And these are just a few of the awesome books you might see at our booth. Stop by and say hi to our sociology editor Eric Schwartz!

Also, during the meeting, there will be a bookstore signing at Green Arcade Books for Amin Ghaziani’s book There Goes the Gayborhood? We hope yo will make some time to support a local bookstore and support one of your colleagues in one fell swoop. The event starts August 17th at 6 PM. Details here: http://www.thegreenarcade.com/assets/index/GayborhoodPoster.pdf

Throwback Thursday #TBT: Gladys Reichard’s Navaho Religion: A Study of Symbolism (1963)


Throwback Thursday: Week 1


Reichard, Navaho Religion
Welcome, one and all, to our first-ever installment of Throwback Thursday – or #TBT, as the kids say. This week’s #TBT goes to Gladys Reichard’s Mythos Series classic, Navaho Religion: A Study of Symbolism (1963).

In this in-depth exploration of the symbols found in Navaho legend and ritual, Gladys Reichard discusses the attitude of the tribe members toward their place in the universe, their obligation toward humankind and their gods, and their conception of the supernatural, as well as how the Navaho achieve a harmony within their world through symbolic ceremonial practice. We’re happy to see this popular text revived through the Princeton Legacy Library, and we hope you are, too. And now, for a little shameless self-promotion:

“This book has been a classic in its field since it was first issued in 1950, and it still stands as uniquely authoritative and intriguingly instructive. . . . [It is] a monument of revelation and insight bridging anthropology, religion, sociology, and history.”–Publishers Weekly

Until next Thursday!

And the REAL World Cup Winner is…

IPHWell, surely everybody knows by now – the 2014 World Cup is over, and Germany went home with the trophy.

But there’s another “winner” worth mentioning: Princeton University Press author and London School of Economics professor Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, whose latest book, Beautiful Game Theory: How Soccer Can Help Economics, garnered some wonderful press over the course of the tournament. Mr. Palacios-Heurta not only received a mention in the Science section of the New York Times and was the subject of a full-length article in strategy+business; he also penned an op-ed for the New York Times’s Sunday Review and was featured in stories in both the Financial Times and Worldcrunch.

Sure, he can’t rally like Ronaldo or kick it like Klose; but this fùtbol fanatic’s research presents advantages that extend far beyond the pitch.

Palacios-Huerta is unique in that he utilizes soccer data to test economic theories. In his op-ed in the Times, Palacios-Huerta lays out the basics of this experiment by explaining its origins in the Nash Equilibrium, which analyzes how people should behave in “strategic situations” and stresses that, in order to “win,” they shouldn’t repeat their choices. He says that, “according to Mr. Nash’s theory, in a zero-sum game (i.e., where a win for one player entails a corresponding loss for the other) the best approach is to vary your moves unpredictably and in such proportions that your probability of winning is the same for each move.”

He chooses penalty kicks to demonstrate this theory because they’re zero-sum games, wherein it’s ill-advised to use a strategy repeatedly. The explanation for this is relatively simple: a player’s shots become predictable if he always kicks to the same side of the net, making them easier to block. A lot of legwork (pun somewhat-intended) has gone into proving this idea: Palacios-Huerta analyzed 9,017 penalty kicks between 1995 and 2012, to find that successful players typically distributed their shots unpredictably and in just the right proportions. We won’t get into the numbers here, but they’re abundant in both the book and the op-ed.


Other research by me and others has shown that data from soccer can shed light on the economics of discrimination, fear, corruption and the dark side of incentives in organizations. In other words, aspects of the beautiful game that are less than beautiful from a fan’s perspective can still be illuminating for economists.”


And penalty kicks are just one handy example. Data from soccer can also illuminate one of the most prominent theories of the stock market: the efficient-market hypothesis, which essentially posits that the market processes economic data so quickly that any news relating to a stock is incorporated into its price before anyone can even act on it, diminishing the risk of insider trading.

We’re excited to see more of what these soccer stats can do to advance economic theory, and more importantly, how Palacios-Huerta can translate something so complicated, using something so, well…beautiful.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ignacio Palacios-Huerta is the author of:

BGT Beautiful Game Theory: How Soccer Can Help Economics by Ignacio Palacios-Huerta
Hardcover | 2014 | $35.00 / £24.95 | ISBN: 9780691144023
224 pp. | 6 x 9 | 30 line illus. | eBook | ISBN: 9781400850310 | Reviews Table of Contents   Introduction[PDF] 

Quick Questions for Amin Ghaziani, author of There Goes the Gayborhood?

Amin Ghaziani is an associate professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia. His areas of study include sexualities, culture, urban life, and social movements. He is the author of The Dividends of Dissent: How Conflict and Culture Work in Lesbian and Gay Marches on Washington, which was a 2009 finalist for the Lambda Literary Award’s Best Book in LGBT Studies in 2009. In 2010, he was awarded the Sage Prize for Innovation and Excellence by the British Sociological Association.

Amin Ghaziani

Dr. Ghaziani received his B.A. from the University of Michigan and his M.S. and Ph.D. at Northwestern University. His new book, There Goes the Gayborhood? examines the future of gay neighborhoods in major American cities. Gayborhoods, from New York City’s Greenwich Village to Chicago’s Boystown, have provided gay and lesbians with safe places to live for decades, but could they become a thing of the past in today’s “post-gay” world of shifting cultural attitudes and civil rights milestones? Dr. Ghaziani takes up the question in large measure, drawing on census data, newspaper articles, opinion polls, and over a hundred interviews conducted with Chicago residents and argues that these urban communities will survive, even in the wake of radical social change.

Now, on to the questions!

What inspired you to become a sociologist?

The summer after my junior year in college, I signed up for a “San Francisco Field Studies” program at Northwestern. This was an internship-based practicum that taught undergraduate students how to conduct ethnographic research of an organization, and then connect their findings with a theoretically informed policy directive. I was placed at Positive Resource Center (PRC), which, at the time, was the first organization in the country dedicated to helping people living with HIV/AIDS return to work after having left on AIDS disability. Although many people once were getting sick, leaving work, and preparing themselves to die, medical advances in highly active antiretroviral therapies in the mid- to late-1990s gave them a chance to renew their lease on life. Many of these people wanted to go back to work, but they encountered numerous challenges along the way.

That summer changed my life. I was rabble rouser during my undergraduate days, deeply committed to issues of social justice. I learned that sociological research offered unique opportunities to create change. I often cite that course, that summer, and those poignant experiences in San Francisco as the reasons why I found my way to graduate school.

What was the best piece of advice you ever received?

I have benefited from so much sage advice over the years that I simply cannot offer just one piece. Here we go:

  • For those who are finishing grad school: “The best dissertation is a done dissertation.” And besides, why limit what we can learn?
  • For those who fear submitting their manuscripts for peer review: “It’s not the best draft, it’s the last draft.”
  • For those who venture into the precarious realm of public sociology: “Don’t read the comments!”
  • If you decide to risk it anyway, then let me console you with some words from Winston Churchill: “Criticism is easy; achievement is difficult.” Keep your chin up!
  • And finally, for those who choose to pursue a life of scholarship: Love what you do. The world appears and feels so much more effervescent when passion and pleasure accompany the pursuit of your craft.

Why did you write this book?

Sociologists have for a long time been captivated by questions of residential choice (where we choose to live) and urban forms (why neighborhoods look and feel the way they do). Although we know much about these matters in general, we still know surprisingly little about the everyday lives, social interactions, and spaces in which LGBTQ people live. This oversight, as far as I’m concerned, is part of a heterosexist project—one that sees the city through a myopic lens that erases the experiences of gender and sexual minorities. This book represents one of the ways in which I am trying to correct this scholarly bias.


“There are now more places in cities, suburbs, and rural areas that have distinct associations with same-sex sexuality than ever before.”


I also think that queer spatial patterns are worthy of study in their own right, rather than for what they can teach us about other groups and enclaves, such racial/ethnic areas or class-based stratification in the city. Sexuality scholars are accustomed to translating their findings for “broader” audiences as a way to convince them that they, too, should in fact care. I try hard in this book to invert the power dynamics. Let us think about gayborhoods on their own terms—and unapologetically—rather than see them as supporting characters, districts whose intellectual value lies principally in what they can teach us about other kinds of urban spaces.

What was the most interesting thing you learned from writing this book?

There are two sets of surprising findings. Each is startling on its own—but even more so when we position one next to the other.

First, demographers express the extent to which groups of people like gays and straights are segregated in the city through what they call an “index of dissimilarity.” This is a statistic that represents the proportion of a minority group within a census tract that would need to be replaced by a member of the majority in order to reflect the composition of the city overall in terms of sexual orientation.

When we run the numbers, we see that zip codes associated with traditional gay neighborhoods are “de-concentrating.” When we compare the one hundred most populous places in the US during the 2000 census with how those same places looked in the 2010 collection, we realize that average segregation scores for male same-sex partner households decreased by 8.1 percent and a whopping 13.6 percent for female same-sex partners. If we zoom out even further, we see that same-sex partner households in general reside in 93 percent of all counties in the country.

If we just look at the most visible gayborhoods, places like the Castro in San Francisco or West Hollywood or Boystown in Chicago, then we might be tempted to conclude that these areas are diluting and de-gaying. But I also found evidence that new settlements are emerging. To see them, we have to ask follow-up questions: where are they going next and why?


“…it’s a mistake to see the urban landscape as a binary between gayborhoods and all other, undifferentiated straight spaces.”


The answers point to something quite counter-intuitive. Gayborhoods are not passé and thus disappearing—on the contrary, queer spaces are becoming more diverse and thus plural. There are now more places in cities, suburbs, and rural areas that have distinct associations with same-sex sexuality than ever before.

For me, the bottom line is that it’s a mistake to see the urban landscape as a binary between gayborhoods and all other, undifferentiated straight spaces. Or to reduce the spatial expressions of sexuality to those most visible gay districts that capture our popular imagination.

How did you come up with the book jacket?

Ghaziani_ThereGoestheGayborhoodI had a vision for the cover that, unfortunately, did not materialize. Some years ago, the RedEye, a free daily paper in Chicago, ran a cover story about changes in the local gayborhood. The image on the cover of the paper haunts me to this day: it was an artistic rendering of one of the rainbow-colored pylons that adorn North Halsted Street and mark it as the city’s main queer artery. The colors, however, were bleeding off the pylon. I thought it was the perfect visual representation for a book about the de-gaying of gayborhoods.

Although I was not able to obtain copyright clearance to reproduce the image, what the design team at Princeton came up with is no less brilliant. I love the concept. Notice two aspects of it. First, the title resembles spray paint, and the colors of the paint are bleeding. This design aesthetic, with its gorgeous urban motif, is consistent with what drew me to the RedEye. You might also notice that there are no images or photographs. The cover of my book plays off negative space. From an artistic perspective, we can imagine that the title and my name embody the generative potential of negative space. This is unexpected—and that surprise itself animates the themes of the book. Fears about the negating of queer space interact in subtle and sometimes surprising ways with new areas that are emerging.

What is your next project?

I began this book at Princeton University during my days as a postdoctoral fellow in the Society of Fellows, and I completed it during my assistant professor years at the University of British Columbia. This major move in my life inspired new types of questions. How do gay neighborhoods in the United States compare with those in Canada? More generally, how does national context affect the spatial expressions of sexuality? I would like to move my work to a cross-national, comparative perspective.

In the meantime, however, I am writing my first textbook. This short volume (200 printed and bound pages) will review research on sexualities from a uniquely cultural perspective.

Never a dull moment!

 

Amin Ghaziani is the author of:

Ghaziani_ThereGoestheGayborhood There Goes the Gayborhood? by Amin Ghaziani
Hardcover | August 2014 | $35.00 / £24.95 | ISBN: 9780691158792
360 pp. | 6 x 9 | 2 line illus. | eBook | ISBN: 9781400850174 |   Reviews Table of Contents Introduction (PDF)

Gregory Clark, Author of The Son Also Rises, on PBS: “Birth is Fate”

7-18 Gregory ClarkGregory Clark, professor of Economics at UC Davis and author of The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility can see into your future.

Well, maybe not in the conventional sense – but, based on the research featured in his latest book, Clark thinks it’s much easier to predict the trajectory of one’s life based on the social status of his or her parents. Social mobility is a far more stalwart characteristic than we thought, an issue that Clark discusses at great length in this recent op-ed for PBS Newshour. In a country that’s founded on the ideal of the “American Dream” and the possibility of rising in society, these revelations take on enormous importance and are subject to influence future public policy decisions.


“We can predict the majority of status variation among people at birth just from their lineage,” Clark writes. In other words, our society’s divergence of fortunes — which as Clark points out, isn’t just about income, but also social status – is relatively fixed. That’s something no one ever wants to talk about.”


Clark says that, “underlying social status is inherited from parents as strongly and mechanically as height,” and explains that rates of social mobility are reflected by the degree of similarity between children’s social outcomes and those of their parents – a melange of earnings, education, wealth, and health.  A family whose generations possess a weaker correlation between these factors thus places less emphasis on lineage, race, and ethnicity for the next generation, when children become free to produce a fresh set of social outcomes. Alternately, a family in which children and their parents possess greater similarities is more capable of predicting the social status of its progeny. 

Clark’s essential point lingers on the incredibly slow nature of social mobility. Fortunately, though, he’s able to leave off with some encouraging news: there is “considerable evidence that the biological inheritance of talent and drive is what underlies most of the correlation between the social status of parents and children,” and that “whatever the social system — Communist China or Republican Texas — families of greater social competence will navigate themselves to the better social positions.” Change is uniquely possible for those with the tools and motivation to enact it. 

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Gregory Clark is the author of:

7-18 SonAlsoRises The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility by Gregory Clark
Hardcover | 2014 | $29.95 / £19.95 | ISBN: 9780691162546
384 pp. | 6 x 9 | 15 halftones. 111 line illus. 50 tables. 7 maps. | eBook | ISBN: 9781400851096 | Reviews Table of Contents Introduction[PDF]

Why Government Fails So Often: Or, the Skeptics Are Winning

7-17 SchuckAccording to The New York Times‘s David Leonhardt, the United States federal government gets an honorable mention when it comes to reform, innovation, and protection – but it’s not quite enough. In a recent op-ed for “The Upshot,” the paper’s politics and policy blog, Leonhardt pays due diligence to the large-scale achievements of the United States: dismantling totalitarian governments, putting men on the moon, and the invention of the Internet among them. And yet, despite our big picture success stories, we continue to stumble in the day-to-day.

Leonhardt references Yale Law professor and Princeton University Press author Peter Schuck’s latest book, Why Government Fails So Often: And How It Can Do Better in evaluating the current role of the federal government and the extent to which its activity is productive and beneficial, particularly when it comes to the siphoning of federal funds.


“When the federal government is good, it’s very, very good. When it’s bad (or at least deeply inefficient), it’s the norm.”


Soon, however, we might start to see some returns on our investments. The growing popularity of programs that are funded based on their initial success suggests a growing demand for tangible results, to see where our money is going and to ensure that we’re not wasting it.  These programs “span child care, job training and juvenile recidivism,” and are sometimes known as “pay for success,” wherein controlled trials are set up to determine the effect of such projects. And really, that’s the only way to know if something works. Professor Schuck is right to re-evaluate the cost-effectiveness of these initiatives, and with any luck, the government will start to fail just a little less.

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Peter H. Schuck is the author of:

7-17 Government Why Government Fails So Often: And How It Can Do Better by Peter H. Schuck
Hardcover | 2014 | $27.95 / £19.95 | ISBN: 9780691161624
488 pp. | 6 x 9 | eBook | ISBN: 9781400850044 | Reviews  Table of Contents   Chapter 1[PDF]