The latest books & publications from Fairfield Faculty


Women, War and Memory

Screen shot 2013-11-04 at 8.39.31 AMDr. Danke Li, Women, War and Memory: 35 Chongqing Women’s Experiences during China’s War of Resistance against Japan (The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, July 2013)

In 1937, Chongqing became the wartime capital of the Nationalist government and the political center of China. Women who lived there suddenly realized that the War had been changed from distant news to inescapable living conditions for them.  Air-raid alarms resounding over the city, crowded shelters ,soaring prices, street orphans, and the flood of refugees all became their everyday life and collective memories.

The author visited and interviewed more than fifty Chinese women who lived in Chongqing during the War.  While recording their life stories, this book is focused on ordinary women’s wartime experiences and what markers these experiences left on Chinese women and the nation.

Medieval Nubia

Dr. Giovanni R. Ruffini, Medieval Nubia: A Social and Economic History (Oxford University Press, 2012)

Medieval Nubia: A Social and Economic History is that rare thing: a truly pioneering study. Drawing on old Nubian documents from Qasr Ibrim, Professor Ruffini persuasively argues that Medieval Nubia was a Mediterranean society in Africa. It is a major contribution to the history of Medieval Africa and Islamic Egypt.” — Stanley Burstein, California State University, Los Angeles

“This book is an outstanding work of scholarship. The author takes an important but neglected body of primary sources and exhaustively analyzes them for what they can tell us about the economy and society of their times. The resulting study revolutionizes our understanding of medieval Nubia.” — T.R. Wilfong, University of Michigan.

One Family Under God

Anna M. Lawrence, One Family Under God: Love, Belonging, and Authority in Early Transatlantic Methodism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011).

Originally a sect within the Anglican church, Methodism blossomed into a dominant mainstream religion in America during the nineteenth century. At the beginning, though, Methodists constituted a dissenting religious group whose ideas about sexuality, marriage, and family were very different from those of their contemporaries.

Focusing on the Methodist notion of family that cut across biological ties, One Family Under God speaks to historical debates over the meaning of family and how the nuclear family model developed over the eighteenth century. Historian Anna M. Lawrence demonstrates that Methodists adopted flexible definitions of affection and allegiance and emphasized extended communal associations that enabled them to incorporate people outside the traditional boundaries of family. They used the language of romantic, ecstatic love to describe their religious feelings and the language of the nuclear family to describe their bonds to one another. In this way, early Methodism provides a useful lens for exploring eighteenth-century modes of family, love, and authority, as Methodists grappled with the limits of familial and social authority in their extended religious family.

Methodists also married and formed conjugal families within this larger spiritual framework. Evangelical modes of marriage called for careful, slow courtships, and often marriages happened later in life and produced fewer children. Religious views of the family offered alternatives to traditional coupling and marriage—through celibacy, spiritual service, and the idea of finding one’s true spiritual match, which both challenged the role of parental authority within marriage-making and accelerated the turn within the larger society toward romantic marriage.

By examining the language and practice of evangelical sexuality and family, One Family Under God highlights how the Methodist movement in the eighteenth century was central to the rise of romantic marriage and the formation of the modern family.

Building After Auschwitz: Jewish Architecture and the Memory of the Holocaust

Gavriel Rosenfeld, Building After Auschwitz: Jewish Architecture and the Memory of the Holocaust (Yale University Press, 2011)

Building After Auschwitz describes how in the years since the end of World War II, Jewish architects have shed their reputation as chronic underachievers and risen to unprecedented international prominence. Whether as modernists, postmodernists, or deconstructivists, architects such as Louis I. Kahn, Richard Meier, Moshe Safdie, Robert A. M. Stern, Stanley Tigerman, Peter Eisenman, Daniel Libeskind, and Frank Gehry have made pivotal contributions to postwar architecture. They have also decisively shaped Jewish architectural history, as many of their designs have been directly influenced by Jewish themes, ideas, and imagery.

In explaining the origins of this “new Jewish architecture,” Rosenfeld points to important shifts in Jewish memory and identity since the Holocaust, seeing as particular catalysts the rise of postmodernism, multiculturalism, and Holocaust consciousness. Based on extensive archival research and interviews with leading architects, this richly illustrated volume provides an important new perspective on Jewish culture in the post-Holocaust world.

Echoes of Chongqing: Women in Wartime China

Danke Li, Echoes of Chongqing: Women in Wartime China  (University of Illinois Press, 2009)

This collection of annotated oral histories records the personal stories of twenty Chinese women who lived in the wartime capital of Chongqing during China’s War of Resistance against Japan during World War II. By presenting women’s remembrances of the war, this study examines the interplay between oral history and traditional historical narrative, public discourse and private memories. The women interviewed came from differing social, economic, and educational backgrounds and experienced the war in a variety of ways, some of them active in the communist resistance and others trying to support families or pursue educations in the face of wartime upheaval. Their stories demonstrate that the War of Resistance had two faces: one presented by official propaganda and characterized by an upbeat unified front against Japan, the other a record of invisible private stories and a sobering national experience of death and suffering. The accounts of how women coped, worked, and lived during the war years in the Chongqing region recast historical understanding of the roles played by ordinary people in wartime and give women a public voice and face that, until now, have been missing from scholarship on the war.

Social Networks in Byzantine Egypt

Giovanni Ruffini, Social Networks in Byzantine Egypt (Cambridge University Press, 2008).

Social network analysis maps relationships and transactions between people and groups. This 2008 text was the first book-length application of this method to the ancient world, using the abundant documentary evidence from sixth-century Oxyrhynchos and Aphrodito in Egypt. Professor Ruffini combines a prosopographical survey of both sites with computer analyses of the topographical and social networks in their papyri. He thereby uncovers hierarchical social structures in Oxyrhynchos not present in Aphrodito, and is able for the first time to trace the formation of the famous Apion estate. He can also use quantitative techniques to locate the central players in the Aphrodito social landscape, allowing us to see past the family of Dioskoros to discover the importance of otherwise unknown figures. He argues that the apparent social differences between Oxyrhynchos and Aphrodito in fact represent different levels of geographic scale, both present within the same social model.

Liberated Territory

Yohuru Williams and Jama Lazerow, eds., Liberated Territory: Untold Perspectives on the Black Panther Party (Duke University Press, 2008).

With their collection In Search of the Black Panther Party, Yohuru Williams and Jama Lazerow provided a broad analysis of the Black Panther Party and its legacy. In Liberated Territory, they turn their attention to local manifestations of the organization, far away from the party’s Oakland headquarters. This collection’s contributors, all historians, examine how specific party chapters and offshoots emerged, developed, and waned, as well as how the local branches related to their communities and to the national party.
The histories and character of the party branches vary as widely as their locations. The Cape Verdeans of New Bedford, Massachusetts, were initially viewed as a particular challenge for the local Panthers but later became the mainstay of the Boston-area party. In the early 1970s, the Winston-Salem, North Carolina, chapter excelled at implementing the national Black Panther Party’s strategic shift from revolutionary confrontation to mainstream electoral politics. In Detroit, the Panthers were defined by a complex relationship between their above-ground activities and an underground wing dedicated to armed struggle. While the Milwaukee chapter was born out of a rising tide of black militancy, it ultimately proved more committed to promoting literacy and health care and redressing hunger than to violence. The Alabama Black Liberation Front did not have the official imprimatur of the national party, but it drew heavily on the Panthers’ ideas and organizing strategies, and its activism demonstrates the broad resonance of many of the concerns articulated by the national party: the need for jobs, for decent food and housing, for black self-determination, and for sustained opposition to police brutality against black people. Liberated Territory reveals how the Black Panther Party’s ideologies, goals, and strategies were taken up and adapted throughout the United States.

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