Academic Spotlight
Faculty Research, Performance and Exhibitions

Recent Faculty Books Span Disciplines

Story posted November 12, 2008

Several Bowdoin faculty have recently published books on subjects ranging from ancient Samurai fighting techniques to modern-day coastal tourism.

Chiang book

Connie Y. Chiang, Bowdoin Assistant Professor of History and Environmental Studies, recently published Shaping the Shoreline: Fisheries and Tourism on the Monterey Coast (University of Washington Press, 2008). The book documents the struggles and contests over this magnificent coastal region as it develops from a seaside resort into a working-class fishing town, and back into a tourist attraction again—with the addition of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Chiang integrates topics such as race, ethnicity and class, as she explores the reciprocal relationship between social and environmental change. Shaping the Shoreline, observed one reviewer, explores "how the curiously intermingled worlds of commercial fishing and elite tourism created one of the most celebrated and sought-after communities on the coast of California."


Thomas D. Conlan, Associate Professor of History and Asian Studies, recently published Weapons & Fighting Techniques of the Samurai Warrior, 1200-1877 AD (Amber Books, UK, 2008). The book traces the history and development of the Samurai over seven centuries, from a small band of horse-riders to a distinct warrior order, highly skilled with bows, swords, guns and canons. Conlan's detailed scholarship on their weapons, armor, equipment, fighting techniques and siege tactics is accompanied by over 300 detailed line-drawings, color photographs and maps. "This was a wonderful opportunity to make my research more accessible to a popular audience," noted Conlan. "There are so many myths around the Samurai. People think of a 700-year warrior class and tend to see a stasis, when in fact the modes of warfare were changing very quickly. I aimed to show the flexibility of the warrior culture both materially and culturally. The Samurai were very pragmatic. They found ways to survive and prosper in an era of great turmoil."

Van Vleet book

Krista E. Van Vleet, Associate Professor of Anthropology, published Performing Kinship: Narrative, Gender and the Intimacies of Power in the Andes (University of Texas Press, 2008), a vibrant ethnography of women living in the highland region of Sullk'ata, located in the rural Bolivian Andes. Van Vleet examines ways in which habitual activities such as sharing food, work, and stories create a sense of relatedness among people and help individuals negotiate the affective bonds and hierarchies of their kinship relationships. Stories such as that of the young woman who migrates to the city to do domestic work and later returns to the highlands voicing a deep ambivalence about the traditional authority of her in-laws, provide enlightening examples of the ways in which storytelling enables residents of Sullk'ata to make sense of events and link themselves to one another in a variety of relationships.

Holt book

Sri Padma Holt, Lecturer in Asian Studies, recently co-edited Buddhism in the Krishna River Valley of Andhra (SUNY Press, 2008), with A. W. Barber. The book offers a multidisciplinary inquiry into the various forms of Buddhism that thrived during the early centuries of the common era in the Krishna River Valley areas of what is now the modern state of Andhra Pradesh in India. The distinguished group of scholars explore not only the factors that led to the rise of Buddhist communities, but also the significance of these early Buddhist communities in the unfolding of the greater history of Buddhism throughout the Asian world. Contributors include A. W. Barber, Bart Dessein, Jacob N. Kinnard, Karen Lang, Sree Padma, and Jonathan S. Walters, and Bowdoin Professor of Religion John Clifford Holt.

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