Academic Spotlight
Faculty Research, Performance and Exhibitions

From Africa to Interest Groups and Beyond: Recent Bowdoin Faculty Books

Story posted April 05, 2012

Books by Bowdoin faculty members are continuing to shape disciplines and garner widespread recognition. Recent faculty books include the following titles:

Lady E. S. Drower's Scholarly Correspondence: An Intrepid English Autodidact in Iraq (Brill, 2012)
Associate Professor of Religion Jorunn J. Buckley, editor

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Jorunn Buckley

Buckley has edited a collection of the scholarly letters of Lady E. S. Drower, renowned for her novels, travel accounts, and studies in the Middle East, particularly on the Mandaeans.

Buckley’s book presents a window into the world of this self-taught scholar, who by many accounts, insisted on — and succeeded in attaining — a place among the academics. Drower kept up a lively correspondence with scholars; the letters in Buckley’s book span the years 1938 to the mid‐1960s.

"The picture that Buckley presents of the intellectual world of the 1930s to the 1960s is a fascinating one, in which a tacit battle is fought between pioneering field-workers who recognize that religion and culture are rooted in a complex web of society, material culture, language and imagery, i.e. a world of religious practise, and stuffy bigoted theologians for whom pure religious theory must remain untainted from the contemporary observations of a woman not conversant in Greek and Hebrew," wrote Matthew Morgenstern, senior lecturer in the Hebrew language department at the University of Haifa, in a review.

Leccion Errante: Mayra Santos Febres y el Caribe Contemporaneo (Isla Negra Editores, 2011)
Assistant Professor of Romance Languages Nadia V. Celis, co-editor

This is said to be the first book of critical essays on Mayra Santos-Febres, one of the Caribbean’s most versatile writers, and arguably the first Latin American Afra-Hispanic literary celebrity. The collection examines the unique poetic universe of Santos-Febres, populated by “wandering” beings such as immigrants, transvestites and sex-workers, whose fictional voices rise up against their long-standing socio-historic marginalization.

Celis comp300.jpg Nadia V. Celis

The book delves into Santos-Febres’ public persona, revealing her as an emblem of a new generation of Latin American writers who shuttle comfortably between fiction, poetry, and the scholarly essay; between printed media and virtual technologies; and between the traditionally intellectual arena and the popular culture scene.

“From the first time I read Mayra Santos-Febres, both her mastering of language and her unique representation of the contemporary Caribbean and its citizens fascinated me,” says Celis.

“Working on this volume allowed me to share such fascination, engaging in a dialogue with the author and her critics that furthered my own reflections on the Caribbean, its regional struggles and its place in global fantasies. This book is aimed at reproducing that experience. I think of this collection as an itinerary for readers willing to navigate Santos-Febres’ map of the Caribbean and its realities, within and beyond the postcard.”

Interest Groups in American Campaigns: The New Face of Electioneering (3rd ed., Oxford University Press, 2011)
Associate Professor Government Michael Franz, co-author

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Michael Franz

The book reviews the actions of interest groups in American elections, covering their relationships with candidates, parties, and voters.

"This topic is incredibly important in the context of the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission," says Franz.

"The court gave interest groups the constitutional protection to raise and spend unlimited amounts influencing elections. And we have already seen the impact of the decision in the GOP presidential primary this year. Outside groups have spent almost as much money as all of the candidates trying to impact the voting decisions of voters."

Maine: An Annotated Bibliography (Lexington Books, 2011)
DeAlva Stanwood Alexander Professor of Government Christian Potholm, author

Potholm has written an incisive and often playful review of 400 books about the total Maine experience. Through lenses that are at once historical, political and psychographic, Potholm divides the book into overarching topics such as "The Wild, Wild East," "Ethnicity Matters," "Women of Maine" and "The Bowdoin Connection." The book also has sections on various important political movements and figures such as "The Muskie Revolution," "The Marvel of Margaret" and "The Cohen Counter-Revolution."

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Christian Potholm

“You always learn so much writing a book and with this one, I found many works of fiction that provided important insights in the realities of present day Maine as well as its past,” says Potholm.

“Especially enlightening were some of the women writers of the 19th and early 20th centuries, such as Miriam Colwell, Chennie Hall, Ruth Moore, Elizabeth Ogilvy, Sarah Orne Jewett, Harriet Beecher Stowe (The Pearl of Orrs Island, not Uncle Tom’s Cabin!), Gladys Carroll, Mary Ellen Chase, Adelyn Bushnell and Sally Wood. And there are probably no better works to get the flavor of the early settling of Maine than Ben Williams Come Spring, Doris Provencher Faucher, Le Quebecois: The Virgin Forest, and Elijah Kellogg, Lion Ben of Elm Farm.” Something for everybody, I hope.”

West African Migrations: Transnational and Global Pathways in a New Century (Palgrave MacMillan, 2012)
Transnational Africa and Globalization (Palgrave MacMillan, 2012)
Geoffrey Canada Professor of Africana Studies and History Olufemi Vaughan, co-author

Vaughan collaborated with Brooklyn College Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome, a political science professor at Brooklyn College, on two books.

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Olufemi Vaughan

West African Migrations: Transnational and Global Pathways in a New Century draws on the interdisciplinary research projects of scholars from various social science and humanities disciplines. This book explores how African migration to Western countries after the neo-liberal economic reforms of the 1980s transformed West African states and their new transnational populations in Western countries. Collectively, their contributions offer an analysis of how the interplay of social, political, economic, and cultural forces have shaped the nature and form of transnationalization.

Transnational Africa and Globalization examines how the dawn of neoliberal rationality in Africa in the 1980s coincided with a massive exodus of skilled Africans to the global North. Moving beyond the “push and pull” framework that has dominated studies of this phenomenon, this collection instead looks at African transnational migrations against the backdrop of rapid and intensifying globalization. In doing so, it explores a dimension usually neglected in most accounts — the ways in which transnationalism as a whole is largely a function of the remarkable adaptability and innovation of actual migrants.

“The books emerged from a dialogue between Okome and me over the last decade. The contributors of the chapters in the volumes are friends and colleagues who creatively combined careful research with personal reflections as they engaged complex national and transnational pathways in the age of globalization,”says Vaughan, noting that at the initial stages of project, they convened a fruitful conference at the College in November 2008, which helped lay the foundation for the dialogue and the resulting books.

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