Bookbeat: August 2007

Sites of the Uncanny: Paul Celan, Specularity and the Visual ArtsTime and Memory in Indigenous Amazonia: Anthropological Perspectives

edited by Carlos Fausto and Michael Heckenberger, Department of Anthropology
(University of Florida Press, 2007)
Available through the University of Florida Press

These groundbreaking essays by internationally renowned anthropologists advance a simple argument--that native Amazonian societies are highly dynamic. Change and transformation define the indigenous history of the Amazon from before European conquest to the present.

Based on recent ethnographic fieldwork and firsthand analysis of indigenous history, this collection examines the concepts of time and change as they played out in areas ranging from religion, cosmology, and mortuary practices to attitudes toward ethnic difference and the treatment of animals. Without imposing traditionally Western notions of what "time" and "change" mean, the collection looks at how native Amazonians experienced forms of cultural memory and at how their narratives of the past helped construct their sense of the present and, inevitably, their own identity.

The volume offers some of the most interesting and nuanced discussions to date on Amazonian conceptualizations of temporality and change .

- Publisher


"Brings together an international collection of leading Amazonia specialists to rethink some of the most fundamental categories through which anthropologists have traditionally conceptualized history and change. The result is a sophisticated interrogation of the ways we normally think about indigenous Amazonian cultures and a productive challenge to anthropology as a whole."

- Donald Pollock, State University of New York, Buffalo

Sites of the Uncanny: Paul Celan, Specularity and the Visual ArtsSites of the Uncanny: Paul Celan, Specularity and the Visual Arts

by Eric Kligerman, Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies
(Walter De Gruyter Inc, 2007)
Available through Amazon

Sites of the Uncanny: Paul Celan, Specularity and the Visual Arts is the first book-length study that examines Celan’s impact on visual culture. Exploring poetry’s relation to film, painting and architecture, this study tracks the transformation of Celan in postwar German culture and shows the extent to which his poetics accompany the country’s memory politics after the Holocaust. The book posits a new theoretical model of the Holocaustal uncanny – evolving out of a crossing between Celan, Freud, Heidegger and Levinas – that provides a map for entering other modes of Holocaust representations. After probing Celan’s critique of the uncanny in Heidegger, this study shifts to the translation of Celan’s uncanny poetics in Resnais’ film Night and Fog, Kiefer’s art and Libeskind’s architecture.

- Publisher

Builders of Empire: Freemasonry and British ImperialismBuilders of Empire: Freemasonry and British Imperialism

Jessica Harland-Jacobs, Department of History
(UNC Press, 2007)
Available through the UNC Press

They built some of the first communal structures on the empire’s frontiers. The empire's most powerful proconsuls sought entrance into their lodges. Their public rituals drew dense crowds from Montreal to Madras. The Ancient Free and Accepted Masons were quintessential builders of empire, argues Jessica Harland-Jacobs. In this first study of the relationship between Freemasonry and British imperialism, Harland-Jacobs takes readers on a journey across two centuries and five continents, demonstrating that from the moment it left Britain’s shores, Freemasonry proved central to the building and cohesion of the British Empire.

The organization formally emerged in 1717 as a fraternity identified with the ideals of Enlightenment cosmopolitanism, such as universal brotherhood, sociability, tolerance, and benevolence. As Freemasonry spread to Europe, the Americas, Asia, Australasia, and Africa, the group’s claims of cosmopolitan brotherhood were put to the test. Harland-Jacobs examines the brotherhood’s role in diverse colonial settings and the impact of the empire on the brotherhood; in the process, she addresses issues of globalization, supranational identities, imperial power, fraternalism, and masculinity. By tracking an important, identifiable institution across the wide chronological and geographical expanse of the British Empire, Builders of Empire makes a significant contribution to transnational history as well as the history of the Freemasons and imperial Britain.

- Publisher

Comics and Childhood ImageTexT: Interdisciplinary Comics StudiesComics and Childhood
ImageTexT: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies

edited and published by the Department of English
Available online

This issue of ImageTexT showcases work presented at the 5th Annual Comics Conference on Comics and Childhood, as well as other scholarly contributions.

Forthcoming special topic issues will be devoted to the graphic novels of Neil Gaiman, Disney illustrator Carl Barks, the visual culture of British Romanticism, and the narrative and aesthetic principles of picture books.

Edited and published online by the University of Florida Department of English, ImageTexT is the only peer-reviewed, English language scholarly journal in comics and image-text studies. The ImageTexT Editorial Board is comprised of twenty-two internationally-ranked scholars in comics, art and art history, media, and literacy studies. Our managing and production staff is primarily made up of UF graduate students in English specializing in comics and media studies. The journal is produced with the generous support of the Department of English, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the Office of Research. To learn more about the journal and its research and publishing projects, please visit

—Donald D. Ault and Terry Harpold
Editor and Associate Editor

Hard Times in the Lands of Plenty: Oil Politics in Iran and IndonesiaHard Times in the Lands of Plenty: Oil Politics in Iran and Indonesia

by Benjamin Smith,
Department of Political Science
(Cornell University Press, 2007)
Available through Cornell University Press

That natural resources can be a curse as well as a blessing is almost a truism in political analysis. In many late-developing countries, the “resource curse” theory predicts, the exploitation of valuable resources will not result in stable, prosperous states but rather in their opposite. Petroleum deposits, for example, may generate so much income that rulers will have little need to establish efficient, tax-extracting bureaucracies, leading to shallow, poorly functioning administrations that remain at the mercy of the world market for oil. Alternatively, resources may be geographically concentrated, thereby intensifying regional, ethnic, or other divisive tensions.

In Hard Times in the Lands of Plenty, Benjamin Smith deciphers the paradox of the resource curse and questions its inevitability through an innovative comparison of the experiences of Iran and Indonesia. These two populous, oil-rich countries saw profoundly different changes in their fortunes in the period 1960–1980. Focusing on the roles of state actors and organized opposition in using oil revenues, Smith finds that the effects of oil wealth on politics and on regime durability vary according to the circumstances under which oil exports became a major part of a country's economy. The presence of natural resources is, he argues, a political opportunity rather than simply a structural variable. Drawing on extensive primary research in Iran and Indonesia and quantitative research on nineteen other oil-rich developing countries, Smith challenges us to reconsider resource wealth in late-developing countries, not as a simple curse or blessing, but instead as a tremendously flexible source of both political resources and potential complications.

- Editor


"Benjamin Smith has raised the costs for anyone hoping to tell us something new and significant about the role of oil in political development. With Hard Times in the Lands of Plenty he has all but cornered the market."—Robert Vitalis, University of Pennsylvania, author of America's Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier

"Hard Times in the Lands of Plenty is thoughtful, provocative, and innovative. It is a richly textured exploration of political development in oil-exporting Iran and Indonesia. Employing a methodology that is both multilayered and eclectic, Ben Smith challenges the commonplace notion—and implicit suggestion of the 'rentier state' literature—that oil states are intrinsically unstable and prone to breakdown. He demonstrates that political outcomes are determined 'not by oil, but when oil' and highlights the challenges presented by different institutional landscapes at the inception of oil-based development. This book makes important contributions to several literatures: among them, the rentier state and resource curse, historical-institutionalism, transitions, the breakdown of authoritarian regimes, and comparative methodology."—Miriam R. Lowi, The College of New Jersey

"The fascinating Hard Times in the Lands of Plenty is characterized by bold ambition and real insight; Benjamin Smith admirably weaves together a variety of methods to produce a book that is truly comparative in scope. Smith highlights a key insight for those interested in the politics of oil, namely that timing matters."—Eva Bellin, Hunter College.

From Yellow Dog Democrats to Red State Republicans: Florida and Its Politics Since 1940From Yellow Dog Democrats to Red State Republicans: Florida and Its Politics Since 1940

by David Colburn,
Department of History
(University of Florida , 2007)
Available through University of Florida Press

Likely to raise hackles among Democrats and Republicans alike, this dynamic history of modern Florida argues that the Sunshine State has become the political and demographic future of the nation. David Colburn reveals how Florida gradually abandoned the traditions of race and personality that linked it to the Democratic Party. The book focuses particularly on the population growth and chaotic gubernatorial politics that altered the state from 1940, when it was a sleepy impoverished southern outpost, to the present and the emergence of a dominant Republican Party.

In the twenty-first century, Colburn says, Florida is a dynamic, highly partisan, largely conservative state at the cultural, social, and economic intersection of the Western Hemisphere. But the transition hasn't been entirely felicitous. Allegations abound that the state is a "banana republic" favoring the wealthy, a piece of paradise that embraces "immigrants, natives, seniors, rednecks, evangelicals, and yes, flim-flam artists and mobile home salesmen. All of whom came to the state looking for ways to improve their lot in life."

Colburn depicts the state's colorful governors at the center of every postwar development from Cracker to Sun Belt politics, from segregation to integration, from boosterism and modernization to economic and environmental crises. As the story of one of the most influential states in the nation, the book redefines Florida politics.

- Publisher


"In this sweeping overview of modern Florida politics, Colburn challenges the country's preconceived notions of the Sunshine State's political leanings.From Yellow Dog Democrats to Red State Republicans is the result of a lifetime of observing and analyzing a once small and rural state that has transformed itself, in less than fifty years, into a political powerhouse and national weathervane."--Reubin O’D. Askew, Governor of Florida, 1971-1979

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