Friday, May 31, 2019

Alec D. Walen's "The Mechanics of Claims and Permissible Killing in War"

Alec D. Walen is a professor at Rutgers University, with a joint appointment in Law, Philosophy, and Criminal Justice. He has published numerous articles on topics in moral philosophy, criminal law, constitutional law, national security law, and just war theory. The central focus of his current work is articulating a view of rights that reflects a fundamental moral commitment to autonomy, equality, and the value of human welfare.

Walen applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Mechanics of Claims and Permissible Killing in War, and reported the following:
This text based off of page100; page 99 is the last page of Chapter 3 and has few lines, so anyone turning there to get a sense of the book would likely include the following page:
This chapter [4] covers two basic themes. First, I argue that the mechanics of claims is substantively preferable to the infringement model. I do that in two ways. First, I consider the main reason to adopt the infringement model: its account of the duty to compensate those who are “rightfully wronged.” I argue that this model is inferior to the account of compensation that one can find in the mechanics of claims. Second, I review four other problems that I think are particularly telling against the infringement model. Then I turn to the second theme, acknowledging the limits of the mechanics of claims and the need for some notion of threshold deontology. But I also explain how threshold deontology can complement the mechanics of claims.

1. A Fresh Approach to Compensation

I believe that the main reason the infringement model has captured the imagination of most moral philosophers is that it is taken to provide a good account of the fact that sometimes it seems permissible for A to do X, but it also seems that P’s right that A not do X is still in play in the sense that it leaves a “moral residue,” including but not limited to a right to compensation if A does X. In this section, I argue, first, that the infringement model does not have an advantage over the mechanics of claims in terms…
This text reflects the core of my book, which is an argument for a different way of thinking about rights. As I say in the text quoted above, I think most people who take rights seriously do so reflexively using what I call “the infringement model.” This is a model according to which if P has a right against A, a right that A do X, then there are three ways A can respond to P’s right.

To see how, let’s make it more concrete by suppose that X is “not kill P.”

A can respect the right by not killing P. Or she can either infringe or violate the right by killing P. If she has a good enough reason to kill P, so that killing P is morally justified despite P’s right that A not kill him, then A infringes P’s right. If she is not morally justified, all things considered, in killing P, then by killing him she violates his right.

According to the infringement model, both infringing P’s right and violating his right wrong P; they both leave P with a complaint against A. P’s complaint if A merely infringed his right is a complaint that grounds a right of compensation (presumably owed to next of kin) and perhaps other responses such as apology (also owed to next of kin). What more could P’s complaint be if A violated his right? Maybe more compensation or a better apology. But in truth, the only difference accepted by the infringement model is that A not only wronged P, but acted wrongly all things considered. The difference has nothing to do with P’s right.

I think that’s odd. I think we should say that P can complain about being wronged only if A acted wrongly and P’s right explains why.

To explain that and many other features of rights, I develop a different account of rights, that I call “the mechanics of claims.” This makes rights the output of a balance, but not a balance of utilities or interests. Rather, rights result from a balance of normative things already operate in the “space of rights”: claims.
Learn more about The Mechanics of Claims and Permissible Killing in War at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Cathryn J. Prince's "Queen of the Mountaineers"

Cathryn J. Prince is the author of American Daredevil, Death in the Baltic, and Shot from the Sky. She has worked as a correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor in Switzerland and in New York, where she reported on the United Nations, and is a frequent contributor to The Times of Israel.

Prince applied the “Page 99 Test” to her latest book, Queen of the Mountaineers: The Trailblazing Life of Fanny Bullock Workman, and reported the following:
From page 99:
He said the Workmans were the first of any employers to be dissatisfied with him. Workman denied ever saying anything of the sort. Nonetheless, she also reminded him that if he wouldn’t meet the terms of service she “should not hesitate to speak of it in print.” Zurbriggen let loose. The world would believe him, not her, he sputtered, and furthermore, he wasn’t getting enough to eat. “He ended his food tirade by saying ‘he would…help himself before he would starve’ which was of course the grosses insult.”…

Workman was discovering, just as her rival Annie Peck had learned, that the greatest challenge for women explorers lay not in the terrain, nor the climate, nor the quantity of provisions. No, the greatest challenge lay in overcoming the doubt and disapproval of a society that preferred women simply stay home.
In this scene Workman and one of her most trusted guides get into a fight about food. But it’s more than that; it’s about Workman asserting her leadership role and shows what it was like to be not only the lone female on the mountain, but also in charge of a large expedition. In that page 99 of Queen of the Mountaineers: The Trailblazing Life of Fanny Bullock Workman is rather representative of the book.

Workman’s life was one of perseverance, independence, and women’s rights. She explored some of the most savage terrain on the planet, from the jungles of Indonesia to Himalayan glaciers and mountains. She beat one world record after another, often her own. She was one of the first professional female climbers who triumphed in the high stakes, male-dominated world of mountaineering and contributed to our greater understanding of the Himalayas and glacial science. Instrumental in breaking the British stranglehold on Himalayan mountain climbing, this American woman climbed more peaks than any of her peers, became the first woman to map the far reaches of the Himalayas. Indeed she held the women’s altitude record of nearly 23,000 feet for more than thirty years.

On the mountain she believed she was every bit as capable as a man when it came to leading an expedition. When guides and porters balked at her leadership she ignored the sexism and turned her attention to the tasks at hand, proving them wrong. So many of the issues Workman faced are issues we wrestle with today: including the way strong, ambitious women are judged differently than men, whether a woman decides to have children and, if she does, how that fits into her pursuit of a career.

Workman’s achievements are undoubtedly impressive, yet, I think the real message underpinning her story is how she navigated and bucked tradition, living a life with purpose and determination.
Learn more about the book and author at Cathryn J. Prince's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Cathryn J. Prince & Hershey and Juno.

The Page 99 Test: Death in the Baltic.

The Page 99 Test: American Daredevil.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Daniel Okrent's "The Guarded Gate"

Daniel Okrent is the prize-winning author of six books. Before The Guarded Gate: Bigotry, Eugenics and the Law That Kept Two Generations of Jews, Italians, and Other European Immigrants Out of America, he published Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition (2011), which was cited by the American Historical Association as the year’s best book on American history. Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in history. Among his many jobs in publishing, he was corporate editor-at-large at Time Inc., and was the first public editor of the New York Times.

Okrent applied the “Page 99 Test” to The Guarded Gate and reported the following:
My page 99 reveals the following (among other things): that in 1906, the Washington Post editorial page said "90 percent of the Italians coming to the United States were 'the degenerate spawn of the Asiatic hordes which, long centuries ago, overran the shores of the Mediterranean' "; that a retired Supreme Court Justice "called for a complete ban on immigration from Sicily and Calabria"; and that as the social status of the widely disliked eastern European Jews began to rise, "some of them sought to consign other lower rungs of the ladder.... 'The Americans may be right,' said the Russian-born physician, economist, and social reformer I.M. Rubinow. Poles, Italians, Irish, and other groups, he insisted 'are culturally inferior'."

This certainly gives a hint of one of the book's two primary themes -- that discrimination against and distaste for eastern and southern European immigrants in the early 20th century was both widespread and intense. The only possible misimpression it would leave with the reader is any sense that discrimination against eastern European Jews was somehow less virulent than it was against other groups, when in fact, for a variety of reasons, the book pays much more attention to their circumstances than to that of the Italians or other groups. What's missing from page 99 is the other main theme: that in the late 1910s and into the '20s, the discrimination against all the suspect eastern and southern Europeans was justified by the junk science of racial eugenics. And what's really missing is the rich cast of characters, many of them well-known (Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, Margaret Sanger, etc.), whom I attempt to portray with both comprehension and, when appropriate, wit.

The story The Guarded Gate tells -- how the merger of xenophobia and eugenic "science" led to the severe, long-lasting, and openly discriminatory Immigration Act of 1924 -- is a grim one, but it's also a necessary one. If I've done my job, the combination of narrative, character, and what Jeffrey Toobin of CNN describes as prose "that any novelist would envy" will not just inform the reader, but please him or her as well.
Learn more about the book and author at Daniel Okrent's website.

The Page 99 Test: Last Call.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Chris S. Duvall's "The African Roots of Marijuana"

Chris S. Duvall is Associate Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of New Mexico and author of Cannabis.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The African Roots of Marijuana, and reported the following:
Page 99 is part of a textbox about the cultural history of cannabis in Morocco. Page 99 specifically discusses a group of Islamic mystics (the Ḥeddawa) who smoked psychoactive cannabis (or kif) as part of their spiritual practices. From page 99:
The brethren smoked enormous amounts of kif and influenced people outside the order to try the drug. Consequently, they shaped Moroccan agriculture. Cannabis became an acceptable crop as Ḥeddi and other marabouts made it an acceptable drug. The Ḥeddawa preferred cannabis from Ketama, a small town in the Rif Mountains. ‘Our brothers in Ketama are intelligent people,’ they said. ‘They clear the forest to plant kif and tobacco for [us] devotees.’ As consumption increased nationwide over the 1800s—due mostly to secular use—the Ḥeddawa’s Rif homeland became the preeminent kif-farming area. In the late 1800s, Rifian towns supported the Ḥeddawa by donating several hundred kilograms of kif to the monastery annually, even though it sold for high prices in cities. The patron saint of kif growers, Sidi Moḥamed Jamhoun, is celebrated near Ketama.

Moroccan Muslims more commonly discouraged cannabis use or condemned it outright. Kif’s place in religious life was fraught: cannabis was sold in markets not with medicinal herbs or spices, but with the checkered substances brandy, wine, tobacco, coffee, tea, and sugar. Sultan Hassan I (r. 1873–94) was particularly concerned about kif, although his government profited from its monopoly control of the market. In 1888, he narrowed kif’s legality by allowing farming only in the Rif, which helped him build political support there. Subsequent elites accepted kif grudgingly, for convenience. In the 1920s, the French resident-general expanded the farming privilege only to prevent a religious order—the Ouazzanie brotherhood—from joining an anticolonial rebellion in the Rif. In the following decades, kif farmers continued to defend the crop as authorities tried to prohibit it, which finally happened in 1954. The conflict of opinions about kif pushed the Rif into Morocco’s political-economic periphery, a status expressed and accentuated by the postcolonial government’s violent repression of revolt there in 1958–59.
Would a browser get a good idea of the book from page 99? Partly no, partly yes.

No, because Morocco and Islam are peripheral topics. I take a continent-scale view of cannabis history, yet I look at North Africa really just to understand the broad context of events in Central Africa, where the people-plant relationship we call ‘marijuana’ originated. Since the literature on cannabis history is pretty bad—there are exceptions—I had to research many places that were peripheral to my focus on how the plant crossed Africa and the Atlantic. Islam has a very minor role. I mostly write about it to tear apart myths that hashish was somehow special to Muslims. There’s been a lot of bigoted nonsense written about people and cannabis.

Indeed, in this respect page 99 provides a good sample of the book’s content, which includes a lot of myth-busting. The body of nonsense I challenge centers on race, not religion. I wrote about the Ḥeddawa because they deeply shaped cannabis culture in Morocco. Yet cannabis histories make no mention of them. Ponder this: prior to my book, the Ḥeddawa had not been documented in English, either in historical sources or recent histories. I write about other similarly forgotten episodes. The general neglect of Africa in cannabis histories has enabled racist nonsense to persist about who uses cannabis, and why.
* * *
You have to be a stoner to read or write about cannabis, right?

I wrote the book for thoughtful people, whether or not they care about marijuana.

I wrote the book because I wanted to know why Africa is neglected in cannabis histories, and what consequences that omission has had. Most histories of cannabis have been written by people who wanted to advance a political agenda about cannabis in current societies. I want to build knowledge. Like it or not, cannabis is exiting prohibition. Better knowledge of its past is needed to manage it more fairly, safely, and effectively than under prohibition.
Learn more about The African Roots of Marijuana at the Duke University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 24, 2019

Candy Gunther Brown's "Debating Yoga and Mindfulness in Public Schools"

Candy Gunther Brown is Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University and author or editor of six books, including Testing Prayer: Science and Healing and The Healing Gods: Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Christian America.

Brown applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Debating Yoga and Mindfulness in Public Schools: Reforming Secular Education or Reestablishing Religion?, and reported the following:
Page 99 lands half-way into chapter five of fourteen, one-third of the way into the text’s 305 pages. It is a close reading of the May 2013 yoga curriculum from the Encinitas Union School District (EUSD).

I testified in a lawsuit against EUSD, Sedlock v. Baird, that its yoga program meets legal criteria of religion. Funded by $533,720 ($4 million over five years) from the Jois Foundation in 2012, EUSD taught Ashtanga yoga, developed by Indian Hindu Shri Krishna Pattabhi Jois (1915–2009) for the purpose of becoming “one with God.” Ashtanga always opens with Sūrya Namaskāra (Sun Salutations), a physical act of “prayer to the sun god.” According to Jois, “the postures of yoga have each a presiding deity, and there are 72,000 such deities in total. Before paying homage to the deities individually, a student of yoga must first begin with salutations to Surya who, according to belief, contains the rest of the pantheon.” Ashtanga always ends with Padmāsana (Lotus) and Savāsana (“taking rest” in Corpse) to facilitate “dhyana [meditation] ... puja [worship],” and “Samadhi, or enlightenment.” Teaching Ashtanga is “99 percent practice and 1 percent philosophy,” because “for anyone who practices yoga correctly, the love of God will develop ... whether they want it or not.”

EUSD piloted Ashtanga in 2011–12, published curriculum in November 2012, and produced revised curriculum on the eve of trial in May 2013. As parents complained that Ashtanga is religious, EUSD stripped religious language.

From page 99:
The May curriculum added secular-sounding language, without fully replacing the previous version’s allusions to Ashtanga. It references “Social and Emotional Learning Standards” and introduces “Character Connections” with famous quotations, for instance encouraging “perseverance” by citing Babe Ruth: “Every strike brings me closer to my next home run.” . . . Lessons still always open with Sun Salutations and close with Lotus and Rest. For example, Session 3, “Learning to Flow,” for grades 4–6 teaches “Opening Sequences A & B” and a “Closing Sequence” of “Sleeping Lotus,” “Sunbathing Lotus,” “Lotus,” “Floating Lotus,” and “Rest.” Photographs taken as late as 2015 capture posters of Sun Salutations and Lotus (fig. 5.2).

At trial, the District claimed that EUSD taught poses “without religious context.”115 This confuses religious context with religious terminology. In Ashtanga, religious context is provided by opening and closing with embodied prayers. At the time of trial, EUSD yoga still always opened and closed the same way as traditional Ashtanga yoga. To this structuring framework, teachers gleaned from other traditions poses deemed more developmentally appropriate for children. In Ashtanga, “one always begins practice with Surya Namaskar, concludes with Padmasana and rest, and the various asanas gradually fill the space between these two poles.” This structure describes “EUSD yoga” up through at least 2016.

EUSD supplemented its presentation of the May 2013 curriculum with videos of EUSD yoga filmed March 2013.... The videos open with a caption introducing spokesperson for EUSD yoga “Eddie Stern, Health and Wellness Project Manager—New York,” wearing a sweater and button-down shirt. Stern explains that “the position that we hold our body in affects our mind.” Speaking as someone intimately involved in developing EUSD yoga, Stern continues, “We have taken this idea and we have modeled our health and wellness program on this.” Stern appears in several other video segments, which provide no additional information about him. The videos do not inform the viewer that Stern was certified by Pattabhi Jois to teach Ashtanga...
Page 100 elaborates that Stern translated and published Jois’s books, directed Ashtanga Yoga New York and the Broome Street Ganesha Temple (inside his yoga shala), and was on Jois Foundation’s payroll as head of curriculum development. In October 2013, Stern appeared in a YouTube video dressed in Indian robes, performing a pūjā, saying he enjoys “worshipping Ganesh and all the gods.”

The judge concluded that “yoga is religious,” but permitted “EUSD yoga,” reasoning that EUSD subtracted enough religious language that children would not perceive yoga practices as promoting religion.

The book uses analysis of Sedlock and three other legal challenges in which I served as an expert to develop a theory of how religious practices can affect beliefs. I contend that public-school yoga and mindfulness may facilitate the reestablishment of religion in America. I advance legal and ethical arguments for transparency, voluntarism, respect for cultural and religious diversity, and an “opt-in” model of informed consent.
Learn more about Debating Yoga and Mindfulness at the University of North Carolina Press website. Follow Candy Gunther Brown on Facebook and Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: The Healing Gods.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Carolyn J. Dean's "The Moral Witness"

Carolyn J. Dean is Charles J. Stille Professor of History and French at Yale University. She is the author of several books, including The Fragility of Empathy after the Holocaust, Aversion and Erasure: The Fate of the Victim after the Holocaust, and The Frail Social Body: Pornography, Homosexuality, and Other Fantasies in Interwar France.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, The Moral Witness: Trials and Testimony after Genocide, and reported the following:
Page 99 of The Moral Witness marks a central moment in the book’s narrative arc. The subtitle of a section that begins on that page, “Styles of Dying,” captures dramatically how Western perceptions of mass murders and their victims have changed over the course of the twentieth and twenty first centuries. “Styles of dying” refers to gas chambers, diseases, and senseless tortures that ended the lives of Jewish victims of Nazism. Because they could rarely fight back, victims’ deaths were sources of pity and even shame. The book asks how Western publics came to value the voices of anonymous victims of mass murder targeted for no reason other their race, religion, or ethnicity. It traces the symbol of the “moral witness” that emerged in court trials about the Armenian genocide in 1921, Jewish pogroms in 1927, the Soviet Gulag in 1951, the Holocaust of European Jewry in 1961, up to current discussions of the International Criminal Court in the Hague. It shows how the moral witness represented the meaning mass of murder and gave rise to new definitions of victimhood and survival. The legal definition of genocide, a word coined by the Polish-Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin in 1942, owes its moral and cultural power to the new role accorded to survivors of physical and psychological traumas. We now imagine those victims as a source of an inconceivable experience from whom we should learn. They speak as moral witnesses, even if some victims’ voices are valued more than others.

How did this “moral witness” emerge, and how did its image change over time? How do we imagine victims of genocide now? Why was the murder of European Jewry recognized as a genocide before the colonial crimes that we now call by that name, in Namibia and elsewhere? The Moral Witness asks these historical questions about how “the witness to genocide” and “bearing witness” became important cultural tropes.
Learn more about The Moral Witness at the Cornell University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Andrew Yeo's "Asia's Regional Architecture"

Andrew Yeo is Associate Professor of Politics at The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Asia's Regional Architecture: Alliances and Institutions in the Pacific Century, and reported the following:
From page 99:
When first articulated, officials assumed that the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) would naturally evolve into the East Asia Summit. The East Asia Summit would merely adopt the APT framework and subsume all its work programs…However, different opinions existed as to how the East Asia Summit would actually be realized. Thus at the time of its emergence in the mid-2000s, the East Asia Summit became ‘neither a substitute for the APT nor a distinctly separate mechanism in its own right.’
Very few regional organizations existed in Asia during the Cold War. There was no Asian version of NATO. Nor was there any process equivalent to the European integration experience. Fast forward to today, however, and Asia’s institutional landscape looks like an alphabet soup of institutions. A few examples include the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the East Asia Summit (EAS).

My book, Asia’s Regional Architecture: Alliances and Institutions in the Pacific Century, examines how a region once sparse in institutions evolved to include dozens of overlapping bilateral, trilateral, mini-lateral, and multilateral institutions in the post-Cold War period. The book pays particular attention to the juxtaposition of U.S. bilateral alliances with multilateral institutions in Asia.

Page 99 of the book brings us to the thick of Asia’s transforming regional architecture in the early 2000s. The ASEAN Plus Three (APT) emerged in response to the Asian financial crisis in 1997-1998, and in reaction to the failure of the IMF (and the West), to adequately addressing the crisis. The APT’s creation helped spur a larger conversation about the development of an East Asian community. The East Asia Summit represented the institutional embodiment of this community. Or at least that was the early intent.

Unfortunately, Asian leaders themselves were conflicted in their vision for Asia’s future. Those wanting a more exclusive East Asian community (i.e. excluding Western nations such as Australia, New Zealand, or the United States) preferred the existing membership and structure of the APT. Other countries such as Japan were looking to use the East Asia Summit to develop a more inclusive understanding of East Asia which encompassed the greater Asia-Pacific region. The East Asia Summit ultimately represented the latter vision. It also signaled the contentious and somewhat haphazard process of institution-building in Asia. Rather than replace or enhance pre-existing institutions, Asian policymakers continued to layer new, mostly informal institutions on top of existing ones. Multiple iterations of this process since the end of the Cold War have resulted in today’s complex patchwork of Asian institutions.
Learn more about Asia's Regional Architecture at the Stanford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 20, 2019

Bruce Beehler's "Natural Encounters"

Bruce Beehler is a research associate in the Division of Birds at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Natural Encounters: Biking, Hiking, and Birding Through the Seasons, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Encounters is, indeed, typical of the book, offering up a handsome text illustration of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker perched on a tree trunk as well as a short bit of text singing the praises of this unusual migratory woodpecker. A snippet of text from page 99 is indicative:
...the herky-jerky staccato drumming produced by the territorial male is both memorable and amusing—it sounds as if the bird is sending a signal in some kind of drunken Morse Code...
This in-the-field description captures the intent of the book, which is to take the reader on a twelve-month-long walk through the woods—down to the river, over the hill, and then back home, taking note of the seasonal ebb and flow of the lives of plants and animals from month to month. The narrative, in places, lets the creatures do the talking, and attempts to situate the reader in amongst it all—summer, fall, winter, spring, in all their natural glory.

Moreover, the narrative leads the reader not only to green spaces near the Nation’s Capital, but also takes the reader to special places up and down the East Coast where nature rules. The point of the discussion of nature near and far is that the smart nature lovers among us use nature as a guiding principle for their recreational movements, a weekend here, and summer jaunt of ten days there. Always to some place offering the best that nature has to offer. And that is the seasonal plan—to be there when the wild things are in full celebration. Be along the Potomac for the runs of shad and herring. Be on the sands of the Outer Banks for the passage of the Atlantic Gannets in their great numbers. Camp among the Balsam Firs and spruces in northern New England when the wood warblers are singing their hearts’ out. These are the things that make for a life well lived in the bosom of nature.
Visit Bruce Beehler's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Richard M. Gamble's "A Fiery Gospel"

Richard M. Gamble is the Anna Margaret Ross Alexander Chair of History and Politics at Hillsdale College. He is author of In Search of the City on a Hill and The War for Righteousness.

Gamble applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, A Fiery Gospel: The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the Road to Righteous War, and reported the following:
Page 99 of A Fiery Gospel recounts the way Senator John M. Thurston used "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" on the Senate floor in March of 1898 to justify U.S. intervention in Cuba. The Nebraska Republican tied the impending war against Spain as the latest chapter in the centuries-long crusade for human emancipation from tyranny. Thurston connected the dots from the Magna Carta to the Declaration of Independence, from the French Revolution to the Emancipation Proclamation and to the major Union victories of the Civil War. Force had been justified at every step of this historical progress, he assured the Senate; and force was necessary in the next advance for liberty, this time against the decrepit , "medieval" Spanish Empire. As if by instinct, Thurston quoted the fifth stanza of Julia Ward Howe's celebrated "Battle Hymn"--"As He [Christ] died to make men holy, let us die to make men free." He was not the first or the last public figure to quote these lines for the sake of new crusades.

While this episode on the eve of the Spanish-American War does not reveal "the quality of the whole" of my book, it certainly does highlight one of my main arguments: Howe's "Battle Hymn" endured after 1865 as a way for Americans to justify every major war over the next 150 years and more broadly as a way for interventionists to give poetic expression to their nation's mission in history. Even other nations--especially England--got into the habit of extolling America's destiny with the words of Howe's poem. The title of the chapter from which this episode comes is "Righteous War and Holy Peace." That phrase was used by another poet in 1900 to encapsulate Howe's achievement as the "priestess" of this civil religion. Many Americans urged their fellow citizens to embrace Howe's Civil War anthem as an international battle hymn its truer and truer meaning in each war for human emancipation. Howe herself called on America to turn from securing mere liberty for itself to liberty for the world, from its "Old Testament" task of building a nation to its "New Testament" spreading the gospel of freedom.
Learn more about A Fiery Gospel at the Cornell University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 17, 2019

Andrew Franta's "Systems Failure"

Andrew Franta is an associate professor of English at the University of Utah. He is the author of Romanticism and the Rise of the Mass Public.

Franta applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Systems Failure: The Uses of Disorder in English Literature, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Systems Failure: The Uses of Disorder in English Literature tells a story about romance, enlightenment, and gothic possession. The chapter in which the page appears argues that, in his 1794 novel Things as They Are; or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams, William Godwin makes a case against both sides of the English debate about the French Revolution. Through the story of a curious and intelligent servant unjustly accused and persecuted by his aristocratic employer, Godwin demonstrates the shortcomings of the conservative response to the Revolution and the radical defense. He does so, moreover, by depicting a series of failed handshakes—socially significant gestures that, in the story he tells, never bring about the agreements they are intended to effect. On page 99, I argue that the failed handshake between Caleb’s master, Falkland, and his antagonist, Tyrrel, sets the pattern for the novel and determines Caleb’s fate. Caleb is curious about the secrets that lie in his master’s past; he is determined to discover the truth, but the truth does not set him free. Instead, it binds him to Falkland and destroys them both.

I argue that the handshake is a powerful gesture for Godwin because it shows both how people are connected and how they are torn apart. Caleb and the others characters in the novel can’t live up to their promises, but, at the same time, they can’t avoid making them. In his 1793 political treatise Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, Godwin maintained that “we ought to be able to do without one another”; Caleb Williams, by contrast, dramatizes “the ‘invincible attachment’ that inescapably and involuntarily binds one individual to another.” Godwin’s philosophical anarchism attempts to rationalize social relations by doing away with them; his novel makes it clear that this effort must fail. This failure links page 99 of Systems Failure to the book’s larger argument about how a range of prominent writers from Samuel Johnson and Laurence Sterne to Jane Austen and Thomas De Quincey take up civil and cultural institutions designed to rationalize society only to reveal the weaknesses that undermine their explanatory power. This obsession with the failure of systems is the source of some of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century English literature’s most penetrating insights about the structure of social life.
Learn more about Systems Failure at the Johns Hopkins University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Walter R. Borneman's "Brothers Down"

Walter R. Borneman's works of nonfiction include MacArthur At War, The Admirals, Polk, and The French and Indian War. He holds both a master’s degree in history and a law degree.

Borneman applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Brothers Down: Pearl Harbor and the Fate of the Many Brothers Aboard the USS Arizona, and reported the following:
From page 99:
Kimmel claimed that the Japanese would not attack the United States in the Pacific and chance a two-front war with it and Russia. “The Japanese are too intelligent to run the risk of a two-front war unnecessarily,” Kimmel explained. “They will want to wait until they are sure that the Russians have been defeated.” The admiral’s public relations officer, Lieutenant Commander Waldo Drake, remembered the admiral’s conclusion a little more pointedly: “I don’t think they’d be such damned fools."

Seaman, Second Class, Oree Weller, just six months out of boot camp, applied a special dose of spit and polish to the navigator’s station on the Arizona’s bridge in anticipation of the captain’s scrutiny. Suddenly, Weller heard a racket overhead and looked up to see a drill bit boring through the ceiling. It was quickly withdrawn, but no sooner had it been than a steady drip, drip, drip of red-lead primer paint fell from the hole and splattered onto the navigator’s desk below.
Page 99 of Brothers Down offers a glimpse into its key theme—the stories of individual sailors, including thirty-eight sets of brothers, assigned to the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor—in the context of the secondary theme of America’s preparedness for World War II. Through the lives of these brothers, the book offers a snapshot of what life was like in the United States that December morning in 1941. While page 99 does not include any stories of these brothers, it does show that the book relies heavily on the experiences of the rank and file at Pearl Harbor.

Through the eyes of brothers serving together, Brothers Down casts the Pearl Harbor tragedy in very personal terms. I was surprised by how emotional their relatives still are—sometimes two and three generations removed—about their loss and their sacrifice for our country. These families shared letters, photographs, and personal reminiscences—many of which have never been published. The equally poignant part after the horrific loss of life was how these families learned of the death of loved ones—sometimes multiple deaths when two sons were lost—and how that loss affected them their entire lives. Surviving brothers in particular carried a tragic sense of survivor’s guilt to their graves. In one family, Francis and Norman Morse were the only children of Clara Morse, a widow. She wrote them regularly, including immediately on December 7 upon learning of the attack. Her letters from that day were returned three weeks later marked “unclaimed.” Both boys died. Clara joined the Red Cross as a volunteer and lived a lonely life by herself for another forty years.
Visit Walter R. Borneman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 13, 2019

Patrick Bergemann's "Judge Thy Neighbor"

Patrick Bergemann is an Assistant Professor of Organizations and Strategy at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Judge Thy Neighbor: Denunciations in the Spanish Inquisition, Romanov Russia, and Nazi Germany, and reported the following:
This book seeks to understand why individuals turn each other in to the authorities for wrongdoing. Such behavior goes by many different names—snitching, ratting, tattling, denouncing—but the practice is fundamentally the same. In this book, I look at three settings—Spain in the early years of the Spanish Inquisition, Russia at the beginning of the Romanov dynasty, and Nazi Germany—where such behavior was particularly prevalent. Across all three, I explore what led individuals to turn in their neighbors and whether or not there are general patterns of behavior that are consistent across settings.

Page 99 of the book includes a description of the second setting: Romanov Russia in the 1600s. At the top of the page is a histogram showing the years (ranging from 1605 to 1649) in which the 453 denunciations I analyze occurred. This figure is representative of my overall approach; in order to understand why people turned each other in, I need to get as close to the people involved as possible. By analyzing texts of the crimes as reported to the authorities, along with the ensuing investigations, I find that these denunciations were neither made in service of the state nor to protect the local community. Instead, they were most frequently reported for very personal reasons: either in an attempt to gain benefits from the authorities or to resolve private disputes.

Throughout the chapter, I include a variety of examples of the offenses for which people were denounced. One man allegedly declared, “You will find on me the same beard as on the Sovereign,” while another announced, “I sit in darkness and poverty now, but when I get out of jail I will be tsar over all you common men.” Perhaps the most colorful example comes from page 103:
Two Cossacks named Ivashko Vezema and Ortem Zharenyi had an argument…in August 1626. Vezema told Zharenyi that he was sick of Zharenyi’s boasting and had made reports about his behavior to the sovereign in the past. Zharenyi responded by saying, “I wipe myself with your reports.” For this Vezema denounced him, as the reports would have contained the sovereign’s name and wiping oneself with the tsar’s name could have been considered a punishable offense. An investigation ensued and Zharenyi was questioned. He explained that, although he had indeed made the statement, he was only referring to Vezema’s oral reports, which could not have properly contained the sovereign’s name. The authorities concluded that Vezema had misrepresented Zharenyi’s words and ordered Vezema beaten with cudgels.
Although the particulars of this example are unique, similar denunciations were prevalent across all the settings I examined. Individuals largely did not care about preventing crimes, but instead sought to co-opt the authorities for the resolution of personal conflicts.
Visit Patrick Bergemann's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Andrew Hui's "A Theory of the Aphorism"

Andrew Hui is associate professor of humanities at Yale-NUS College, Singapore. He is the author of The Poetics of Ruins in Renaissance Literature.

Hui applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, A Theory of the Aphorism: From Confucius to Twitter, and reported the following:
Page 99 of A Theory of the Aphorism from Confucius to Twitter is half-a-page of text and half-a-page image of the famous emblem of Aldus Manutius, a dolphin twisted around an anchor, with the words Festina lente, or make haste slowly. The famed Venetian printer was basically the mid-wife of Renaissance humanism, since he printed so many of the recovered texts of classical antiquity.

Does it pass Ford Madox Ford’s test that it is representative of my book? Maybe. When writing the book, I certainly followed the injunction of Festina Lente, since it was written in a blaze of white-heat—from my wife’s pregnancy of our daughter to Julia’s first birthday—which by academic book standards is pretty fast. In Singapore, we don’t have great glorious libraries with rare books and manuscripts, so I had to make do with what I had. It’s what the French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss calls the bricolage method—being resourceful and improvisational with whatever is available. I would have still been buried under an avalanche of bibliography had this been researched in North America or Europe.

As it is, page 99 is just a summary of an entry from Erasmus’ Adages, a huge compendium of ancient sayings, followed by the humanist’s commentary. There’s nothing original here. I’m talking about the entry “Sileni Alcibiadis.” It is an image from Plato’s Symposium, when the young, strikingly handsome and charismatic Alcibiades drunkenly interrupts the elegant dinner party. He says Socrates is like Silenus figure, beautiful on the inside but ugly on the outside:
Look at him! Isn’t he just like a statue of Silenus? You know the kind of statue I mean; you’ll find them in any shop in town. It’s a Silenus sitting, his flute or his pipes in his hands, and it’s hollow. It’s split right down the middle, and inside it’s full of tiny statues of the gods. Now look at him again! Isn’t he also just like the satyr Marsyas? (215b1-4)
So perhaps page 99 is a Sileni figure for my own book?
Learn more about A Theory of the Aphorism at the Princeton University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 10, 2019

Emma Maggie Solberg's "Virgin Whore"

Emma Maggie Solberg is an Assistant Professor of Medieval Literature and Culture in the English department at Bowdoin College.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Virgin Whore, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Virgin Whore (an academic study of the late-medieval celebration of the Madonna not only for her chastity but also for her sexual promiscuity) lands us at the end of the third chapter, which expands upon the cultural history of God the Father’s adoration of the Virgin Mary, the first two chapters having taken us through the long list of her many other admirers: Joseph, the Holy Spirit, Jesus, the archangel Gabriel, Adam, Eve, and humankind more broadly. The chapter begins with a close reading of the apocryphal legend of the Miracle of the Cherry Tree, in which Mary—the Second Eve—reenacts the scene of her foremother’s fall from grace, but with a twist. Like Eve, Mary craves forbidden fruit. On the way to Bethlehem, she demands that her husband Joseph fetch her fruit from the unreachable branches of a barren cherry tree. When impotent old Joseph fails to satisfy Mary’s desire, God grants her wish, and blooms the fruit and bends the branches to her feet so that she can eat her fill. Medieval exegetes studying this legend wondered why God rewarded Mary where he had punished Eve, and concluded that only infatuation could explain his change of heart. This chapter then goes on to elaborate on two intertwined allegories that represent Mary’s seduction of God the Father in greater detail (the allegory of the Mystic Hunt of the Unicorn and the allegory of the Parliament of Heaven) and concludes with Geoffrey Chaucer’s Merchant’s Tale from The Canterbury Tales, which reimagines these sacred allegories as a dirty joke—an easier translation than you might expect. Page 99 ramps up to the punchline: Chaucer slyly compares the doctrine of the virgin birth to a cliché from the medieval genre of the fabliaux (comic and obscene narratives about the battle of the sexes)—the often-repeated claim that wives caught in the very act of adultery spontaneously come up with such ingenious excuses for their bad behavior that their husbands believe women’s lies over the proof of their own eyes. Chaucer phrases this kind of con as a Christian miracle, like the virgin birth. At first glance, Mary’s miraculous pregnancy looked rather suspicious, but God’s grace turned a potential domestic tragedy into a divine comedy. As the scholar F.M Salter aptly put it in 1955, ‘In the Middle Ages, God himself had a sense of humor’ (Medieval Drama in Chester, 103–4).
Learn more about Virgin Whore at the Cornell University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Daniel Kennefick's "No Shadow of a Doubt"

Daniel Kennefick is associate professor of physics at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He is the author of Traveling at the Speed of Thought: Einstein and the Quest for Gravitational Waves and a coauthor of An Einstein Encyclopedia.

Kennefick applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, No Shadow of a Doubt: The 1919 Eclipse That Confirmed Einstein's Theory of Relativity, and reported the following:
The page 99 test works well on my book. It contains the book’s central argument, a subtle one which could easily be overlooked amidst the excitement and adventure of eclipse expeditions mounted to tropical locales by two English expeditions trying to test Albert Einstein’s then new theory of General Relativity. The test involved Einstein’s prediction that light is deflected from its path by the gravitational field of the Sun. The expeditions succeeded in overthrowing Newton’s theory and establishing Einstein’s theory on the world’s scientific stage. But the expeditions’ best known protagonist, Arthur Stanley Eddington, has been repeatedly accused of bias in favoring Einstein’s theory even before he set out to test it. But few experts ask, why would Eddington have been biased against such a well-established theory as Newton’s? The answer, I believe, is that Newton’s theory had been rendered inconsistent with the new world of relativity physics which emerged in the early 20th century, chiefly through the work of Einstein. Indeed, even while preparing for the eclipse, Eddington would have been uncomfortably aware that it was not cut and dried to state what the prediction of Newton’s theory actually was. In the end he took an earlier prediction of Einstein’s, made before the development of the complete theory of General Relativity, and labelled it the “Newtonian” result. Ironically he has been criticized for this too, when I argue that he was giving his old Cambridge college-mate Newton his best possible shot at redemption. But I think he must have been relieved that the experimental verdict went in favor of Einstein’s more precise new theory, which permitted calculations of this type to be done much less ambiguously.
Learn more about No Shadow of a Doubt at the Princeton University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: No Shadow of a Doubt.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 6, 2019

Sarah Knott's "Mother Is A Verb"

Sarah Knott is Associate Professor of History at Indiana University and a Research Fellow of the Kinsey Institute. Her writings have appeared in a variety of venues, from the American Historical Review and William and Mary Quarterly to the Guardian and LitHub.

Knott applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Mother Is a Verb: An Unconventional History, and reported the following:
A paragraph-long anecdote sits in the middle of page 99:
8th March 1980. Londoner Jean Radford becomes an adoptive mother on this day, at the end of a decade of women’s liberation. She brings home a baby girl through transracial adoption: “Not much hair, toothless, a fat bald child in a scratchy pink dress. It is love at first sight. The cliché resounds in my head and I can hardly see straight.” Radford imagines that for a birth mother, the arrival of a child is a scene of separation, the end of a process not just a beginning. But for adoptive mothers, “the arrival of the child is a scene of different significance. The desire for the child is ‘inside’, but the adoptive child comes from ‘outside’. Bringing the two together is more of a union than a separation and for me is accompanied by an almost manic joy.”
This anecdote is one among many - some forty, I just counted - that comprise a chapter about past experiences of the arrival of a child. Other similar scenes, fragments from the past really, that appear just before and just after page 99 raise a series of themes: the shifted rhythm of time with an infant on hand, the quality of feeling interrupted, the use of maternal tools like flannel binders of plastic bottles, the sleeping… or the not sleeping.

In writing Mother Is A Verb, I had come to find that anecdote - not narrative - was the best means by which to explore the many pasts of mothering in Britain and North America. (For mothering, read pregnancy, birth and the encounter with an infant.) As contemporary theorist Lisa Baraitser puts it: “Motherhood lends itself to anecdote” because of “the constant attack on narrative that the child performs.” A small child is always breaking a line of thought, continually interrupts any narrative flow. What is left for the historian to find in the archives is piecemeal and fragmentary. So, too, was what I felt able to write with one child and then another on hand. The chapter closes: “Even to write a paragraph requires long preparation.”

And this particular anecdote from forty years ago serves, also, to make a different point: that mother is best approached as a verb, as a set of activities undertaken among other activities, more than as an identity or a noun. Mothering does not belong only to birth-givers. Jean Radford reminds us that the “who” of mothering is capacious: not just birth-mothers, but adoptive mothers, in her case a white women’s liberationist newly arrived home with an adopted black baby.
Learn more about Mother Is a Verb.

See Sarah Knott's five best books about motherhood.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 4, 2019

John Owen Havard's "Disaffected Parties"

John Owen Havard is Assistant Professor at Binghamton University and received his PhD from the University of Chicago.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Disaffected Parties: Political Estrangement and the Making of English Literature, 1760-1830, and reported the following:
Disaffected Parties looks at authors at an unsettled remove from the political arena, neither actively engaged nor entirely withdrawn. Chapter 2 examines Laurence Sterne’s involvement in scabrous partisan journalism, writing and copying articles for his uncle (and facing ad hominem attacks from political opponents). The year 1742 saw William Pulteney take power from Robert Walpole before backtracking on a ‘Patriot’ platform. This seeming defection helped to crystallize cynical attitudes towards politics, while initiating a retraction of interest in the political press. As I argue on page 99, these events
marked a crucial tipping point, in which attitudes towards a specific party and grouping of politicians coincided with a growing disdain towards politics as such. The response to Pulteney was not simply a localized controversy. This particularly well-publicized and widely vilified instance of ‘apostacy’ became a lasting emblem of perhaps the final possibilities for a viable opposition movement. This event coincided with the onset of a newly critical, if not altogether dismissive, attitude towards politics and political discussion that would reverberate for a long time to come, in what was, arguably, the first widespread popular expression of cynicism towards the political establishment.

Critics and biographers have been inclined to view Sterne’s turn away from politics as a personal decision. Yet his departure from the political arena was inextricable from this larger national realization. Sterne underlined the connection in his final contribution to the political press. In July 1742, he announced his retirement from political journalism in the York Courant. Noting ‘by some late Preferments, that it may be not improper to change Sides’—in a letter itself published, tellingly, in the rival newspaper—he begged pardon for his ‘abusive’ writings. While he may also have been alluding to local disputes, Sterne, in pointing more obviously to the promotion of Pulteney to the peerage just two weeks previously, implied that his withdrawal from political activity was of a piece with a larger national realization.
Several months later, a poem appeared in the York Courant purporting to give ‘L—Y’s Reasons for writing no more Gazetteers’ and describing the author ‘scribbl[ing]’ to ‘baffle Common Sense’, taking ‘Pains by Logick Rules / To prove myself an Ass’. The poem concludes:
But now my Pen I’ve splinter’d quite,
And thrown away my Ink,
For ’till I see which Side will win,
I’ll neither write nor think
This squib was the latest in a series of anonymous poems lambasting Sterne for his political opportunism. Yet these lines show surprising levels of insight into his situation, even sympathy for the events that had made an ‘Ass’ of their putative author. The poem looks ahead to his exculpatory letter on ‘chang[ing] side’ in the same rival newspaper (and also uncannily anticipates his remarks about being ‘tired of employing [his] brains for other people’s advantage’). I conjecture that Sterne wrote this poem himself, exploiting the circuits of anonymous journalism, in a muted act of revenge on both parties, through a proto-Shandean form of self-critique. Regardless of whether the poem was written by Sterne or dictated by his example, he unquestionably internalized its message. Sterne’s involvement in political journalism had degenerated into serving as an amanuensis for his uncle or Bartleby-like abstention. Combining a beleaguered stance of retreat with suggestions of rejection and refusal, the poem stages a volatile and incomplete disengagement, its author left spent, ‘splinter’d,’ but not completely brain-dead.

As the chapter goes on to show, Sterne remained animated by these events in his comic masterpiece The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, where his sentimental side contended with these disaffected impulses—a conflict emblematized in my book’s cover image. Kenneth Burke’s account of literary form, as a “strategy” or “attitude” forged in a recognizable situation, applies to this episode, in ways that connect with the book’s concluding discussion of Byron’s “cynicism.” The poet, Burke wrote, “will tend to write about that which most deeply engrosses him—and nothing more deeply engrosses a man than his burdens.” The poem on Sterne’s “splinter’d” pen offers a means of sharing political burdens. In Tristram Shandy, he suggested ways to dispense with them altogether
Learn more about Disaffected Parties at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Anja Shortland's "Kidnap: Inside the Ransom Business"

Anja Shortland is a Reader in Political Economy at King's College London. She has worked as an academic economist at Leicester and Brunel Universities, rising to fame for her work on the economics of Somali piracy. She now studies private governance in the world's trickiest markets: hostages, fine art, and antiquities- and how people live, trade, and invest in complex and hostile territories.

Shortland applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Kidnap: Inside the Ransom Business, and reported the following:
The fundamental question in Kidnap: Inside the Ransom Business is: “How do you successfully trade with people you cannot trust and when the state cannot help you if they cheat?”

Ransoming hostages from foreign criminal, rebel, or terrorist organisations is one such tricky trade. What compels kidnappers to release hostages (i.e. potential future witnesses) after receiving the ransom? The answer is that there are robust procedures to ensure it is in the kidnappers’ self-interest to keep their promise. The book focuses on the role of special risk insurers at Lloyd’s of London. These have created and maintain a system to resolve hostage crises by negotiation that underpins much of global trade and foreign direct investment.

However, both for kidnap insurers and their customers, prevention is better than cure. If you know who poses the threat, can you avoid kidnapping by paying protection money? Chapter 5 analyses how firms operating in lawless or rebel territory buy security services from extra-legal organisations. How does a legal enterprise keep its powerful, violent “protector” from turning poacher? You must design a contract that ensures it’s in the gang’s own best interest to provide the promised service – but without upsetting your shareholders by making “corrupt” deals.

One option is to hire a private military security company (PMSC) to make and enforce the contract with problematic local powerbrokers. Page 99 explains why. The PMSC uses a mixture of local guards (hired from the gang controlling the territory) and foreign mercenaries. Effectively, the local guards become the hostages of the PMSC: assuring the foreign firm of the local gang’s good intentions:
Willingness to volunteer a hostage is a classic economic signal to help the receiver of a message distinguish the honest from a dishonest sender. If a compound guarded by both foreign and local private security guards is attacked, it is inevitable that the local guards will suffer heavy losses. They can get shot by either side. This implicit threat may suffice to make the relational contract self-enforcing, especially if the protector volunteers a close relative to command the guards.” Moreover, outsourcing the management of relationships with the local mafia or rebel outfit insulates the company from criticism: “If the press picks up a problem, the company is not at fault. PMSCs can be replaced when their reputation becomes toxic.
Page 99 therefore provides an excellent illustration of a successful contracting strategy in the economic underworld. Thanks to clever contract design most kidnaps are prevented. The remainder of the book is devoted to hostage crisis resolutions; explaining the amazing statistic that 97.5% of insured hostages come home. So, expect many more examples of ingenious contract design ensuring that there is honor among thieves (kidnappers) after all!
Learn more about Kidnap: Inside the Ransom Business at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Lindsey N. Kingston's "Fully Human"

Lindsey N. Kingston is Associate Professor of International Human Rights at Webster University in Saint Louis, Missouri, where she also directs the Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies.

Kingston applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Fully Human: Personhood, Citizenship, and Rights, and reported the following:
Fully Human: Personhood, Citizenship, and Rights focuses on how the international community determines who is worthy of fundamental rights. Human rights are supposedly universal and inalienable – meaning everyone has them by virtue of being human, and nothing justifies canceling them out – but some people are better positioned to enjoy essential protections. These rights-based inequalities illustrate the “hierarchies of personhood” that are built into our state-centric international system. From this perspective, some people “count” more than others; some are recognized as more “fully human,” in a sense.

Page 99 centers on the issue of forced displacement, and in particular highlights the pitfalls of the modern refugee rights regime. At the start of the page, I write that this regime “clings to universal norms and centers its work on the notion of the state as the duty-bearer of human rights.” For instance, the UN Refugee Convention requires refugees to cross state borders as they flee persecution. Yet this narrow definition of “refugee” fails to acknowledge the broader harms caused by the absence of state protection. The classification of many migrants as “illegal” immigrants – even as they try to escape pervasive rights abuses back home – demonstrates how many displaced persons lack any government duty-bearer to appeal to. (This lack of a meaningful, beneficial relationship to a state constitutes a lack of what I term “functioning citizenship”.)

Much like approaches to other human rights issues discussed throughout the book, the refugee rights regime relies on a false understanding of the broader international system. “[C]urrent approaches to forced displacement are also guilty of relying on the fiction that functioning citizenship is a usual state of being,” I argue. “Displacement is approached as a temporary problem – a rift in the relationship between citizen and state that can, for a limited duration, be addressed by stopgap protections…” In reality, however, forced displacement is an enduring feature of the world system. Indeed, so are the widespread rights abuses and lack of recognition outlined throughout Fully Human.
Learn more about Fully Human at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue