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NYU Research Digest—Bookshelf

December 11, 2013

Song of the Babaylan: Living Voices, Medicines, Spiritualities of
Philippine Ritualist-Oralist-Healers

By Grace Nono

Institute of Spirituality in Asia, 2013

The babaylan, or priestess, held a prominent role in the pre-colonial Philippines. But the influence of these healers—mostly women—was thought to have waned during the colonial period.

Not so, writes Grace Nono, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Music’s ethnomusicology program. In Song of the Babaylan, Nono asserts that the babaylan still thrive, as evidenced by their ritual healings and songs that continue to be performed and sung.

The work is based on more than eight years of empirical research with babaylan and their communities, detailing the lives and practices of more than 10 babaylan from the Pacific archipelago. It presents ritual ethnographies, babaylan stories and conversations, oral chant recordings, and interdisciplinary discussions relevant to issues in indigenous studies, religious studies, gender studies, ethnomusicology, and anthropology.

 

Partisan Priorities: How Issue Ownership Drives and Distorts American Politics

By Patrick Egan

Cambridge University Press, 2013

In Partisan Priorities, Patrick Egan, an assistant professor in the Wilf Family Department of Politics, notes that Americans consistently name Republicans as the party better at handling issues like national security and crime, while they trust Democrats on issues like education and the environment—a long-standing phenomenon called “issue ownership.”

Egan investigates the origins of issue ownership, revealing something unexpected: the parties deliver neither superior performance nor popular policies on the issues they “own.” Rather, he finds that Republicans and Democrats simply prioritize their owned issues with lawmaking and government spending when they are in power.

But this is problematic, Egan posits. Since the parties tend to be ideologically rigid on the issues they own, politicians tend to ignore citizens’ preferences when crafting policy, distorting the relationship between these preferences and public policies. Also, issue ownership becomes synonymous with perceived effectiveness, which diminishes lawmakers’ accountability.

“The fact that there is no detectable relationship between parties’ control of government and improvement on the issues the public says they are best able to ‘handle’ leaves few reasons for optimism about accountability,” Egan concludes. “When deciding which party is better able to handle a given issue, Americans appear to equate effort with results.”

 

Shaping Immigration News: A French-American Comparison

By Rodney Benson

Cambridge University Press, 2013

Immigration has long been a hot-button issue in the U.S., with Americans of all political stripes calling for some type of overhaul of existing law. Undoubtedly, these contrasting viewpoints are shaped, to a certain extent, by the news we receive about it. The topic is no less pressing in France, where the country’s anti-immigrant Front National Party seems to be enjoying newfound political advantage by focusing on the issue.

In Shaping Immigration News, Rodney Benson, an associate professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at the Steinhardt School, offers a portrait of French and American journalists in action as they grapple with how to report and comment on one of the most important issues of our era—and finds enduring French-American differences related to the distinctive societal positions, professional logics, and internal structures of their journalistic fields.

Drawing on interviews with leading journalists and analyses of an extensive sample of newspaper and television coverage since the early 1970s, Benson shows how the immigration debate has become increasingly focused on the dramatic, emotion-laden frames of humanitarianism and public order—and considers the potential policy implications of this dynamic.

 

Reinforced Polymer Matrix Syntactic Foams: Effect of Nano and Micro-Scale Reinforcement

By Nikhil Gupta, Dinesh Pinisetty, and Vasanth Chakravarthy Shunmugasamy

Springer, 2013

Reinforced Polymer Matrix Syntactic Foams examines the fabrication processes, mechanism of reinforcement, and structure-property correlations of reinforced syntactic foams. The authors present the state of the art in this field and compare the properties of various types of syntactic foam systems comprising different matrix, hollow particle, and reinforcement materials. The book further identifies theories useful in predicting the properties of reinforced syntactic foams and conducting parametric studies to understand the possibility for tailoring their properties.

Nikhil Gupta, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at NYU-Poly, is the recent recipient of the ASM International Silver Medal, which recognizes a career of distinguished contributions in the field of materials science and engineering and service to the profession. His work focuses on lightweight materials with high damage tolerance for helmets, body armor, and vehicle structures. Dinesh Pinisetty is an adjunct professor in NYU-Poly’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Vasanth Chakravarthy Shunmugasamy is a doctoral candidate at NYU-Poly.

 

Scheherazade’s Children: Global Encounters With the Arabian Nights

Edited by Philip Kennedy and Marina Warner

NYU Press, 2013

Scheherazade’s Children, edited by Philip Kennedy and Marina Warner, continues to examine the aftereffects of the tales of the Arabian Nights across a wide cultural landscape. The contributors come from different disciplines and join forces to extend their explorations of the book’s evolving story on stage and screen as well as in literature. They take us from India to Japan, from Sanskrit mythology to British pantomime, from Baroque to puppet shows.

Their research provides an understanding of the intricate history of the book through startling contexts and sheds light on the little-known revelations of the Nights.

Kennedy is an associate professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic studies and comparative literature at NYU and general editor of the Library of Arabic Literature series at NYU Press. Warner is a professor of literature, film, and theatre studies at the University of Essex and fellow of the British Academy.

 

Trademark Surveys, Volume 1: Designing, Implementing, and Evaluating Surveys

By Jacob Jacoby

American Bar Association, 2013

Written by Jacob Jacoby at the invitation of the American Bar Association, Trademark Surveys integrates relevant intellectual property case law with scientific research practice. The audiences for this comprehensive reference work are academic and applied researchers called upon to design and conduct survey research for the purpose of being proffered as evidence in litigated disputes; practicing attorneys who need to understand the research process so that they can better evaluate the research they commission as well as critique the research commissioned by their adversaries; and trial judges who must evaluate and then write informed opinions regarding such research. Jacoby is a professor of marketing and the Merchants’ Council Professor in Retail Management and Consumer Behavior at the Leonard N. Stern School of Business.

 

Hearts and Minds:
A People’s History of Counterinsurgency

Edited by Hannah Gurman

The New Press, 2013

The term “hearts and minds” has long been associated with the Vietnam War, in which armed conflict was defined not only by military power, but also by winning the backing of civilians. But such counterinsurgency measures have been undertaken by U.S. forces to suppress “Native American rebellions in the 19th century” and stretch into the 21st with “post-9/11 attempts to crush anti-American insurgencies as part of the Global War on Terror,” writes Hannah Gurman in Hearts and Minds.

Gurman, a clinical assistant professor at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, highlights examples from Malaya, the Philippines, El Salvador, Iraq, and Afghanistan to focus on the civilians enmeshed in these conflicts.

“These stories clarify why it is so difficult for any counterinsurgent military to appear as a benevolent force,” writes Foreign Affairs in its review of the book. “The conclusion may be less that it is hard to win over hearts and minds and more that it is easy to lose them, owing to the insensitivity of foreigners, the careless use of firepower, counterinsurgents’ readiness to reduce risks to themselves at the expense of endangering host populations, and an inability to grasp foreign cultures and political currents.” n

 

Eat Drink Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Food Politics

By Marion Nestle

Rodale Books, 2013

Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor in Steinhardt’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, teams up with the Cartoonist Group to present more than 250 of her favorite cartoons and comics on issues ranging from dietary advice to genetic engineering to childhood obesity.

Nestle has always used cartoons in her public presentations to communicate how politics—shaped by government, corporate marketing, economics, and geography—influences food choice, but here she does so in a new format. Recognizing that cartoons cut to the core of complicated concepts and powerfully convey what might otherwise take pages to explain, she uses illustrations to encourage readers to vote with their forks for healthier diets—and urge readers to vote with their ballots in order to make better and more sustainable food choices available, accessible, and affordable.

Nestle is the author of several award-winning books, including Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health; Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety; and What to Eat.

 

Data Science for Business: What You
Need to Know About Data Mining and
Data-Analytic Thinking

By Foster Provost and
Tom Fawcett

O’Reilly Media, 2013

In their new book, Foster Provost, professor of information systems and NEC faculty fellow at Stern, and Tom Fawcett present a set of fundamental principles for extracting useful knowledge from data. These fundamental principles are the foundation for many algorithms and techniques for data mining, but also underlie the processes and methods for approaching business problems data-analytically, evaluating particular data science solutions and evaluating general data science plans.

The book is intended for those who need to understand data science and/or data mining and for those who want to develop their data-analytic thinking skills. Data Science for Business is already being used as a textbook by more than 20 universities in nine countries.

 

Alexander Vvedensky: An Invitation for Me to Think

Edited and translated by Eugene Ostashevsky

NYRB Poets, 2013

Poet Alexander Vvedensky (1904–1941) was born into Czarist Russia and perished under Stalin’s purges less than four decades later. A major figure in the short-lived underground avant-garde group OBERIU (“the union for real art”) after the Bolsheviks seized power, Vvedensky was sentenced to internal exile in the early 1930s and, during a second detainment, died on a prison train.

Eugene Ostashevsky, who teaches in NYU’s Global Liberal Studies Program, revives Vvedensky’s verses with An Invitation for Me to Think. Translated by Ostashevsky and Matvei Yankelevich, the work marks the first English-language collection of Vvedensky’s poems.

In the book’s introduction, Ostashevsky quotes Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot: “The highbrow and refined pursuits of the OBERIU poets were realized at the cost of their lives, carried away by the meaningless and entirely inexplicable Great Terror.”

Ostashevsky is the author of the poetry collections The Life and Opinions of DJ Spinoza and Iterature, and the editor of OBERIU: An Anthology of Russian Absurdism.

 

Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the
Danger to America’s Public Schools

By Diane Ravitch

Knopf, 2013

Educational policy tends to inspire complex debates, and the efficacy of charter schools in particular is an issue that many Americans—regardless of political leaning—can’t quite settle on. Do they hold unlimited promise for the future of education, or do they cause more harm than good?

Diane Ravitch, a professor in the Steinhardt School’s Department of Humanities and Social Sciences in the Professions, has made up her mind. In her new book, Reign of Error, she points squarely at two culprits for the crisis in public schools: racial segregation and poverty. In fact, she says that charters only add to this inequality, further driving communities apart and drawing unnatural lines of exclusion within neighborhoods.

Former U.S. assistant secretary of education, Ravitch goes a step beyond criticizing charters, calling for them to be banned, and for the programs No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top to rid themselves of the high-stakes testing that puts unfair expectations on many high-crime, low-income school districts. Ravitch offers an unflinching, untethered argument based on research she conducted at Steinhardt. “Public education is not broken,” she writes. “The diagnosis is wrong, and the solutions of the corporate reformers are wrong.”

 

Financing Medicaid:
Federalism and the Growth of America’s Health Care Safety Net

By Shanna Rose

University of Michigan Press, 2013

Medicaid has grown from a small “welfare medicine” program into the nation’s largest health insurer, enrolling one in five Americans. Medicaid’s generous, open-ended federal matching grants have given governors a powerful incentive to mobilize on behalf of its maintenance and expansion over the past 50 years. Perceiving federal retrenchment efforts as a threat to states’ finances, governors have repeatedly worked together in bipartisan fashion to defend the program against cutbacks.

Financing Medicaid, written by Shanna Rose, associate professor at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, intertwines theory, historical narrative, and case studies, drawing on archival materials from the National Governors Association and gubernatorial and presidential libraries. Despite controversies about the cost of Medicaid for state budgets—most recently seen in relation to the Affordable Care Act—the history of bipartisan state efforts to protect and expand federal funding for the program, as described by Rose, suggests that Medicaid is likely to endure.

 

Graphene: A New Paradigm in Condensed Matter and Device Physics

By Edward L. Wolf

Oxford University Press, 2014

Graphene: A New Paradigm in Condensed Matter and Device Physics is an introduction to the science and possible applications of Graphene, the first one-atom-thick crystalline form of matter. The book describes the unusual physics of the material, which offers linear rather than parabolic energy bands.

Graphene reviews theoretical predictions of excessive atomic vibrational motion, as well as potential applications within existing electronics, to include interconnected wires, flash-memory elements, and high frequency field effect transistors. The chance to supplant the dominant CMOS family of silicon logic devices is assessed.

Edward Wolf is a professor in NYU-Poly’s Department of Applied Physics.

 

The Bordeaux-Dublin Letters, 1757: Correspondence of an Irish Community Abroad

Edited by Louis Cullen, John Shovlin, and Thomas Truxes

Oxford University Press, 2014

The Bordeaux-Dublin Letters, 1757 presents 125 letters that were carried aboard an Irish trading vessel, the Two Sisters of Dublin, captured at sea in the midst of the Seven Years’ War. Most of the letters, printed in their entirety here, lay unopened for 250 years until they were rediscovered in the British National Archives in 2011 by Thomas Truxes, clinical associate professor of Irish studies and history at NYU.

The book, which Truxes co-edited with John Shovlin, associate professor of history at NYU, and Trinity College Dublin professor emeritus Louis Cullen, offers a fascinating glimpse of a cross-section of society in wartime. The collection of letters—penned by sailors, merchants, servants, prisoners of war, priests, clerks, and many women who made up a diaspora community—illustrates social and economic structures familiar to historians of early modern trade and the expatriate communities of the Atlantic world.

 

New From NYU Press, 2013

Eating Asian America: A Food Studies Reader

Edited by Robert Ji-Song Ku, Martin F. Manalansan IV, and Anita Mannur

The associations Asians in the United States have with food have become ingrained in the American popular imagination—so much so that contentious notions of ethnic authenticity and authority are marked by and argued around images and ideas of food.

Eating Asian America examines this dynamic holistically by considering the proliferation of Cambodian doughnut shops in Los Angeles, the politics of school lunch in Hawaii, the history of Kikkoman soy sauce, the rise of the Asian American food trucks, and more. The contributors to this anthology address the forces of class, racial, ethnic, sexual, and gender inequalities pervasive in the production of Asian American culinary and alimentary practices, ideas, and images.

The work is the first collection to consider Asian American immigrant histories in relation to how they are inscribed in the production and dissemination of ideas about Asian American foodways.

 


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