AND POLITICAL SCIENCES
Ingrid. Hair Matters: Beauty, Power, and Black Women’s
Consciousness. New York: New York Univ. Press, 2000.
210 pp. ISBN 0-8147-1336-X, $55.00 (cl); 0-8147-1337-8, $17.50
interesting work details research that illuminates the role
that hair plays in black women’s lives. In interviews with black
women ages 13 to 76, the subjects discuss such issues as why
they chose their current hairstyles, at what age they became
aware that hair was important, and what experiences they have
had where hair was an issue.
women have chosen their hairstyles for various reasons—convenience,
personal style, or as a way to stay connected to their historical
roots. A group of black women doctors believed their profession
allowed them a great deal of freedom with their hairstyles but
thought that black women in the corporate world had more restrictions
on their choices of hairstyles.
women have had such limited control over their destinies and
lives since slavery that having control over their hair is one
area they have been able to maintain. This work made me stop
and think of my own hair and remember how I have judged others
by their hairstyles. I realized that hair has had a much more
significant impact on my life than I had ever thought. In the
1960s and 1970s, I wore an Afro to defy my mother and the establishment.
In the 1980s I wore my hair relaxed because I wanted to be accepted
by the establishment—I worked at a predominantly white institution.
In the 1990s and today, I wear my hair in whatever style I choose.
itself is not the real issue in this work; the book is really
dealing with black women’s attitudes, self-esteem, power, and
having control over aspects of their lives.
State University _(Md.) Library
Circle, ed. The Politics of Human Rights. New
York: Verso, 2000. 360 pp. Introduction by Obrad Savic. ISBN
collection features articles from some of the most prominent
moral and political thinkers of the past 30 years—John Rawls,
Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, Emmanuel Levinas, and
Jon Elster. Most have also appeared in the Belgrade Circle
Journal, edited by dissident Serbian intellectual Obrad
Savic, who provides introductory and concluding remarks.
I offers exceptionally interesting and relatively new analyses
of human rights. Richard Rorty’s dismissal of philosophical
efforts to ground rights in a universal human nature retains
the controversial bite it had when it was first published in
1993. Aaron Rhodes provides an impressive rejection of Rorty’s
skepticism about rights, arguing forthrightly that it is the
responsibility of intellectuals to seek and speak the truth
about elemental rights. Charles Taylor imagines ways in which
non-Western traditions can come to accept what have been so
far very Westernized formulations of individual rights. I found
his discussion of Thailand and Theravada Buddhism to be especially
creative and fertile.
is the dearth of contributions from Serbian thinkers. There
are the short pieces by Savic, an annotated list of international
declarations, and Yugoslavian statutes on the rights of minorities
put together by a law student at the University of Belgrade.
of the ideas behind this anthology, I take it, is that political
philosophy could be brought to bear on the recent crises in
Bosnia and Kosovo and used to help enlighten and temper pan-Serbian
nationalism. In fact, there is very little about Yugoslavia
and more about Israel and the Palestinian problem. This is really
a loosely arranged and uneven compilation of articles, whose
publication is nevertheless noteworthy because it informs us
that there are sophisticated critical voices to be heard in
what remains of Yugoslavia.
Spencer. The Death of American Antisemitism. Westport,
Conn.: Greenwood/Praeger, 2000. 304 pp. ISBN 0-275-96508-2,
is a thoroughly researched, tightly organized, and lucidly written
study—of one side of the picture. American anti-Semitism is
in steep decline. Nevertheless, American Jews feel a powerful
sense of "foreboding." So far, so good. But Blakeslee also maintains
that money-centered and power-hungry Jewish advocacy groups
(American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, Anti-Defamation
League) perpetuate the myth of anti-Semitism and exaggerate
the threats to Jewish security in order to advance their organizations’
summary of the European roots of American anti-Semitism offers
a sound historic background, providing the basis for understanding
why American Jews, despite success, still worry. Blakeslee’s
research and presentation of American Jewish history are accurate
and honest. Interviews with more than 20 American Jewish leaders
add immediacy and credibility, but he talks and refers only
to the people who tell him what he wants to hear and say. Blakeslee’s
study centers on tension between blacks and Jews, neglecting
the important role of these advocacy organizations in keeping
church and state separate and monitoring organizations that
hate blacks and Jews with equal vehemence.
months ago, I was a victim of a public anti-Semitic attack in
a local newspaper. In a matter of the separation of church and
state, a columnist vilified me, using language taken from the
deicide myth, language well worn by 2,000 years of hatred of
Jews. Blakeslee challenges those who claim to be victims of
anti-Semitism to detail their "personal experience." Fortunately,
the local Jewish Community Relations Council stood behind me.
A decline in anti-Semitism does not mean it has disappeared.
And were Jewish advocacy organizations to disappear, there would
unfortunately be a need to reinvent them.
Richard H., ed. Handbook of Cross-Cultural and Multicultural
Personality Assessment. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum
Associates, 2000. 720 pp. ISBN 0-8058-2789-7, $145.00.
general, this book will make a significant contribution to the
field of psychology. There are many hands-on practical strategies,
making it an excellent text for practitioners and even researchers.
There are also many culturally sensitive definitions that will
give the practitioner a point of reference to better understand
concepts in cross-cultural issues. A major strength is the respect
accorded to alternatives to traditional assessment and the many
innovative suggestions for multicultural personality assessment.
only limitation of this book is that mental disorders could
have been addressed in more detail than through the personality
tests themselves. Therefore, suggestions for assessing individuals
with childhood disorders, pervasive developmental disorders,
mood disorders, anxiety disorders, thought disorders, personality
disorders, and so on, should have been offered under a distinctly
separate section, rather than presented in a chapter on specific
populations, such as the chapter on assessment of depression
among American Indians.
general this is a powerful asset to the mental health field.
I strongly recommend this volume for use as a supplemental or
even a major text in multiethnic studies.
Mike. Magical Urbanism: Latinos Reinvent the U.S. City.
New York: Verso, 2000. 158 pp. ISBN 1-85984-771-4, $19.00.
Davis, a faculty member at SUNY Stony Brook, makes a sincere
attempt to demonstrate how Latino immigrants, legal and illegal,
reinvented the American urban landscape, he promises more than
he can deliver. Instead, he provides us with a well-written
advocacy study of the "browning" of American cities due to current
and projected immigration of Latinos to the United States over
the next 50 years.
Davis assumes that the current patterns of Latin American immigration
will remain constant. He ignores the major changes in American
immigration policy over the last 35 years and how the policy
could just as easily change again. Also, the push factors from
Mexico or Dominican Republic could just as easily change, and
economic/political instability in eastern Europe could send
new waves of immigrants from Romania or Russia to the United
States. It is far too early to conclude that patterns of previous
immigrant groups’ "Americanization" will be fundamentally altered
by Latino immigration.
strength of Davis’s study is his nuanced account of the diversity
of immigration from Latin America and regional and local patterns
of immigration. Davis is also sensitive to indigenous immigrants
that students of immigration policy tend to ignore. Another
strong point in this study is the analysis of the cross-border
connections of La Frontera—Mexican-American border communities
like San Diego and Tijuana, and El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. Finally,
Davis gives us a thoughtful summary of the economic difficulties
faced by underskilled immigrants in the changing American economy
and the limitations on upward mobility. This work is recommended
to anyone interested in the impact of Latino immigrants on American
cities, especially Los Angeles and New York.
Junior College of Albany
Donna L. What’s Love Got to Do with It? Understanding
and Healing the Rift Between Black Men and Women. New
York: Simon & Schuster, 2000. 256 pp. ISBN 0-684-81851-5,
looks at black women’s and men’s relationships, especially at
the issue of why black men sometimes find it difficult to commit
to a relationship. She looks at many factors. Some go all the
way back to Africa. The highest honor a man could achieve in
some African cultures was to become a father and provide for
his family. When brought to America as slaves, black men were
not allowed to take care of or provide for their families; many
were sold away from their families and never even knew what
happened to them. This destroyed their self-esteem. Franklin
tries to explain how black males feel threatened by strong black
women. In some relationships where the black woman has more
education or makes more money than her black mate, it poses
a real problem. Some black males feel that in order to assert
their manhood it is necessary to be abusive to their black mates.
The appeal of the white woman was also a factor historically
as well as today, for the dominant definition of female beauty
was one that prized light skin. At one point after Reconstruction,
the author argues, black men did not find black women feminine
or appealing, so black women began to emulate white women. They
straightened their hair, wore makeup, and tried to be more like
white women to attract the black male.
concludes by discussing the healing that must take place between
black males and females in order to get back on track with real
relationships. Positive ideas came from the Million Man and
Million Woman marches, and in the "Sister, I’m Sorry" project,
groups of black men openly apologize to black women for the
mistreatment women have received from other black men.
found this to be an interesting historical account of black
life in America. However, it did not provide many answers as
to why black men are unwilling to commit, other than the scars
State University (Md.) Library
Richard. In the Shadow of the Liberator: Hugo Chávez
and the Transformation of Venezuela. New York: Verso,
2000. 246 pp. ISBN 1-85984-775-7, $23.00.
the 1990s, Hugo Chávez emerged as the dominant figure
of Venezuelan politics. The jailed leader of a failed military
putsch at the beginning of the decade, he is now the popular
president of his oil-rich country. He has vowed to redistribute
the wealth of that nation and castigates the corruption of its
oligarchs. As a populist ally of Fidel Castro, he is also emerging
on the international scene as a prickly challenger to the orthodox
interests of the United States in Latin America.
a considerable amount has appeared on Chávez in the world
press, little is known in detail of his life, career, and ideas.
This study of Chávez by a former editor of the London
Guardian and writer on Latin America begins to fill the
opens by focusing on the current policies and actions of the
Chávez government and then places these within the context
of Chávez’s life and military career and Venezuelan political
history of the past generation. He then delineates the influence
on Chávez of the ideas of the early-nineteenth-century
Venezuelan political luminaries Simón Bolívar
and Simón Rodríguez. Finally, he describes the
development within the Chávez government of its political,
electoral, and constitutional strategies and policies on national
development, the economy, oil, agriculture, and indigenous populations.
Gott is an intimate of Chávez, leaders in his government,
and numerous contemporary Venezuelan political figures. Generally
he renders a favorable judgment on the Chávez presidency
and its ambitions, and finds that "the mass of the pueblo
are with Chávez, just as . . . they have been with Perón,
with Velasco, with Torríjos, with Allende and with Fidel."
State University Libraries
Christian and Lukes, Steven, eds. Multicultural Questions.
New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2000. 270 pp. ISBN 0-19-829610-X,
collection of 10 articles by political philosophers and social
theorists is essential reading for anyone who wishes to think
clearly about multiculturalism. The editors’ introduction
sets the tone with a superb essay on the central issues taken
up in contemporary writing on multiculturalism—diversity, group
rights, and ethnic identity. What are these issues?
and foremost is the tension between group allegiance to nonliberal
traditions and individual citizenship in a liberal state committed
to freedom, equal rights, and respect. Many multiculturalists
like Will Kymlicka want to establish group rights for fragile
linguistic-ethnic-religious communities (indigenous North America
peoples, for example) within the nation state. The problem with
this, at least in its more extreme versions, is that a state’s
legally enforced recognition of the values and practices of
some traditional cultures may weaken the status of vulnerable
individuals like women and children in those cultures
and threaten their civil rights. As Ayelet Shachar points out,
the family law policies of many orthodox religious sects, for
example, have a "detrimental effect on the citizenship status
of women; for women stand at the fulcrum of a set of legal rules
and policies that control their personal status, sexuality,
and procreation, and are encoded in the group’s essential traditions."
issue is closely related to a moral-epistemological question
common in debates about multiculturalism. Many American academics
link their support of multicultural policies recognizing difference
and diversity with a skepticism about foundational values and
universal truths concerning human nature. Indeed, support for
the inherent worth of multicultural identities would appear
to demand support for the relative and variegated nature of
human values. But as various authors in this collection point
out, notably Martin Hollis in his chapter "Is Universalism Ethnocentric?,"
the recognition and support of human flourishing in the context
of group identity face self-referential inconsistencies if these
liberal values are simply seen as those of one more (Western)
cultural tribe. Multiculturalists ought to defend at least some
basic principles as having universal application and metaphysical
heft or, as Hollis puts it, "liberalism has to remain a fighting
creed with universalist pretensions."
anyone who thinks that civil discussion, rational arguments,
evidence, and respectful consideration of alternative opinions
are the only way to shed light on thorny issues like multiculturalism,
this book is a refreshing break from the belligerent heat of
recent culture wars.
Mark. Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious
Violence. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 2000.
331 pp. ISBN 0-520-22301-2, $27.50.
comparative study of contemporary religious terrorism demonstrates
that religious ideas and a sense of religious community have
been a central part of many of the cultures of violence from
which terrorism springs. In contrast to politics, religion provides
teleological moral justification and an enduring absolutism,
which generate intense commitment to transhistorical goals.
Political terrorists by definition have goals subject to negotiation
and resolution in an earthly context. The aspirations of religious
terrorists are cosmic, ultimately beyond historical spheres.
To a degree, that represents a deliberate reaction against what
religious terrorists see as the soft treacheries endemic in
modern cultures of compromise. It represents as well a reaction
to the increasing secularization of public life—which does little
to resolve the confusion endemic since the collapse of Communism
and the rise of global commercialism.
Juergensmeyer offers five possible solutions. First, the terrorists
are destroyed. Second, the terrorists are deterred by violent
reprisal. Third, the terrorists win—as, for example, by replacing
Israel with Palestine. Fourth, religion is taken out of politics
by mutual agreement, reprising Europe’s situation after the
Thirty Years’ War. Finally, religion is integrated into politics,
providing healing sacral functions in a secular world. He finds
the last outcome the most promising. That it also seems the
least likely does not detract from the scholarship and reasoning
offered in this provocative work.
Essie E. Nurturing Success: Successful Women of Color
and Their Daughters. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood/Praeger,
2000. 312 pp. ISBN 0-275-96033-1, $65.00.
successful American women of color and 19 of their daughters
were interviewed for this work. Many had to overcome adversity
to achieve success. Each segment provides historical information
regarding the women’s particular ethnic background and also
deals with customs and norms for their background. The ethnic
groups represented are African American, Haitian, Asian Indian,
Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipina, Korean, Japanese, Cuban, Dominican,
Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Native American.
themes uniting the interviews are strong family values and a
belief in a spiritual being. Many times a great deal of sacrifice
had to be made. One woman had to leave her children in the United
States and return to the Philippines to care for her sick mother
because she was the eldest daughter and this was her responsibility.
These successful women are doctors, lawyers, judges, scientists,
businesspersons, and educators. Many still hold to their cultural
traditions. For example, even though these women work outside
the home, many still feel it is the woman’s duty to take care
of the children and maintain the home. These women have been
successful in their careers while fulfilling these duties.
the daughters of these women were interviewed, they did not
always view their mothers as great role models. Many of the
daughters express a desire not to be like their mothers, yet
they all appear to love and respect their mothers.
is a solid, often inspiring book that is easy to read and understand.
It provides enough background information on the various cultures
so that readers can see how these successful women were raised.
This work also portrays a positive and nuanced image of nonwhite
cultures. Highly recommended.
State University (Md.) Library
Donaldo and Bartolomé, Lilia. Dancing with Bigotry:
Beyond the Politics of Tolerance. New York: St. Martin’s
Press, 2000. 175 pp. ISBN 0-312-21608-4, $35.00.
its title, which alludes to a general study of covert racism
in society, this book focuses almost exclusively on the field
of education. Macedo and Bartolomé argue that teachers’
emphasis on "tolerance" and respecting differences does little
to eliminate institutionalized racism in the schools. As a result,
students living in poverty, African-American students, and students
who do not speak English as a first language fare worse in the
schools both academically and socially. The authors point to
the influence of the mass media on teachers as well as the institutional
climate of the school. Interviews with noted educational theorists
Paolo Freire and Henry Giroux identify problem areas and propose
authors call for a school environment where the students’ culture
and language are not only respected but also incorporated into
the pedagogy and curriculum. The book urges teachers to become
aware of their own assumptions based on race, class, gender,
and language and to examine critically the images present in
books and the mass media.
writing is dense and the focus almost entirely theoretical,
making this work more suited to graduate students and faculty
in schools of education rather than preservice and practicing
teachers. However, teachers who are interested in critical approaches
to their profession will find much to ponder in this volume.
Vijay. The Karma of Brown Folk. Minneapolis: Univ.
of Minnesota Press, 2000. 248 pp. ISBN 0-8166-3438-6, $24.95.
presents and attempts to defend his argument that immigrants
to the United States of Asian Indian ancestry (desis)
are racists, specifically anti-black. He points out that the
U S. government, through its immigration policies, "selects"
people of this origin to immigrate to the United States. In
choosing immigration to the United States, these immigrants
accept a societal contract with inherent racist policies—socially,
structurally, and institutionally. These policies, according
to the author, expect the Asian Indian immigrants to work hard,
be models of ethnic minority success, but socialize only among
themselves. A twin argument of the main one in the book is that
in doing so, these immigrants are used by white society as weapons
against African Americans. The roots of these anti-black sentiments
are derived from white society’s supremacy, judging certain
people greater than others by white standards, according to
the author. Asian Indian immigrants are thus considered "the
perpetual solution" to what is seen as the crisis of black America.
book is well documented and biting, if not bitter, in its assessment
of a narrow aspect of the lives of a newer immigrant group to
the United States. The notes at the end of each chapter are
exhaustive. The usefulness of this book will be limited, however,
because it is poorly edited and badly written; it reads like
a convoluted diatribe of the ultra-left. The author takes the
reader into winding roads of leftist rhetoric, and the reader
then has to wend his own way back to make sense of it. It is
a very difficult read. This is regrettable; the book could have
been a useful addition to collections in the areas of social
and race relations in the United States, as well as to collections
on an immigrant group for which there is not too much information
easily available. Not recommended.
Orville. Virtual Tibet: Searching for Shangri-La from
the Himalayas to Hollywood. New York: Henry Holt, 2000.
352 pp. ISBN 0-8050-4381-0, $26.00.
captivate the mind, and when those illusions become embroidered
through the cultural and artistic machinery of Hollywood, the
mind needs to be watchful lest its dreams become its prison.
This is the basic message of Schell’s Virtual Tibet,
which describes Westerners’ fascination with Tibet. Schell
does not describe Tibet and its people so much as he describes
Hollywood and its actors, directors, public relations agents,
set designers, and costumers. Virtual Tibet is the ethereal
concoction wrought by those who use cameras instead of meditation,
and film scripts instead of Buddhist sutras, to explore
what is valuable about Tibet.
traces the origin of Hollywood’s love affair with Tibet to late-_nineteenth-
and early-twentieth-century accounts by adventurers who entered
Tibet’s borders by stealth or force. Closed to Westerners for
centuries, Tibet became known as a mysterious, spiritual place—unlike
any in the West. According to Schell, it is a relatively easy
step from these adventurers’ accounts of Tibet to Hollywood’s
more glamorous version of it.
Tibet discusses the Chinese oppression of Tibet’s people
and how the Chinese have destroyed Tibet’s Buddhist monasteries,
schools, and temples. But because the book is not about the
real Tibet, these facts receive only passing mention. Readers
who are interested in what is actually happening in Tibet or
interested in the religious values that Tibetan Buddhism has
preserved will look for other books about the country. Nonetheless,
this is a valuable book for what it seeks to do and what it
William. Deliver Us from Evil: Peacekeepers, Warlords
and a World of Endless Conflict. New York: Simon &
Schuster, 2000. 447 pp. ISBN 0-684-83233-X, $27.50.
Shawcross sees the post–_Cold War world as being one of hurt.
Mirabile dictu, little of it is the direct fault
of the United States. Instead Shawcross indicts the by-now usual
suspects: warlords, ethnic cleansers, genocidal local hostilities.
His reportage is first-rate, including both vivid pictures of
specific situations from Sarajevo to Rwanda and perceptive capsule
explanations of their causes.
principal sympathies are with a United Nations denied by its
members both the physical power and the moral standing to make
more than minimal efforts to stop the bloodshed. He scores telling
critical points against the emotional humanitarianism he perceives
as shaping Western discourse on the subject of regional conflict
outside the West. He argues that good will without power, and
power without understanding, are both near-guarantees of making
specific problems worse. He warns that comity, to say nothing
of reconciliation, is a long-term process at best and cautions
against falling prey to a desire for quick-fix miracles.
most of his counterparts on the left, Shawcross ignores the
effects of a half-century’s demonizing the West while sentimentalizing
the ideas, individuals, and cultures that, left to their own
devices, admittedly created the Third World hellholes he so
eloquently describes. But one cannot expect full insight immediately.
Deliver Us from Evil is at least a step in the right
Philip Q. Ethnic Studies: Issues and Approaches.
Albany: State Univ. of New York Press, 2000. 314 pp. ISBN 0-7914-4479-1,
$59.50 (cl); 0-7914-4480-5, $19.95 (pb).
is a timely book on a timely topic, not just because of the
census but because the projected ethnic makeup of this country
calls into question whether these are truly "united" states.
Tracing the academic concern with ethnic studies back to the
turbulent sixties, Yang accepts the broad definition of an ethnic
group as one that is "socially distinguished, by others or by
itself, on the basis of its unique culture, national origin,
or racial characteristics." This is an expansive topic, and
it is handled admirably in this volume.
a primer to the subject, Ethnic Studies provides a clear-cut
outline of the evolution of the discipline, offers concise definitions
of the parameters that scholars and researchers incorporate
in their studies, and suggests paths for further digression
and research on the topic of ethnicity in general or various
ethnic groups specifically. The book is clearly U.S.-centered
and provides insight, both historically and currently, about
the economic, social, and political development of this country
based on our ever-evolving ethnic complexity.
Studies would serve as an excellent basic text for a course
on the topic. For the uninitiated or the merely confused, Yang
presents the topic clearly and logically without being dogmatic.
An additional bonus is the excellent list of reference sources,
which includes the classics (Beyond the Melting Pot)
and the more recent (A Different Mirror). Years from
now our view of ethnic studies will no doubt have evolved into
varying theories and different approaches. As we wrap up the
first census of the twenty-first century, however, this volume
suggests a way of giving texture to mere data.