What We Are Reading Today: Prototype Nation by Silvia M. Lindtner

What We Are Reading Today: Prototype Nation by Silvia M. Lindtner
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Updated 16 September 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Prototype Nation by Silvia M. Lindtner

What We Are Reading Today: Prototype Nation by Silvia M. Lindtner

How did China’s mass manufacturing and “copycat” production become transformed, in the global tech imagination, from something holding the nation back to one of its key assets? Prototype Nation offers a rich transnational analysis of how the promise of democratized innovation and entrepreneurial life has shaped China’s governance and global image. With historical precision and ethnographic detail, Silvia Lindtner reveals how a growing distrust in Western models of progress and development, including Silicon Valley and the tech industry after the financial crisis of 2007–8, shaped the rise of the global maker movement and the vision of China as a “new frontier” of innovation.

Lindtner’s investigations draw on more than a decade of research in experimental work spaces—makerspaces, coworking spaces, innovation hubs, hackathons, and startup weekends—in China, the US, Africa, Europe, Taiwan, and Singapore, as well as in key sites of technology investment and industrial production—tech incubators, corporate offices, and factories. She examines how the ideals of the maker movement, to intervene in social and economic structures, served the technopolitical project of prototyping a “new” optimistic, assertive, and global China. In doing so, Lindtner demonstrates that entrepreneurial living influences governance, education, policy, investment, and urban redesign in ways that normalize the persistence of sexism, racism, colonialism, and labor exploitation.

Prototype Nation shows that by attending to the bodies and sites that nurture entrepreneurial life, technology can be extricated from the seemingly endless cycle of promise and violence.


What We Are Reading Today: Theory and Credibility

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Updated 24 July 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Theory and Credibility

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  • This authoritative book covers the conceptual foundations and practicalities of both model building and research design, providing a new framework to link theory and empirics

Authors: Scott Ashworth, Christopher R.Berry and Ethan Bueno de Mesquita

The credibility revolution, with its emphasis on empirical methods for causal inference, has led to concerns among scholars that the canonical questions about politics and society are being neglected because they are no longer deemed answerable. Theory and Credibility stakes out an opposing view—presenting a new vision of how, working together, the credibility revolution and formal theory can advance social scientific inquiry.
This authoritative book covers the conceptual foundations and practicalities of both model building and research design, providing a new framework to link theory and empirics. Drawing on diverse examples from political science, it presents a typology of the rich set of interactions that are possible between theory and empirics. This typology opens up new ways for scholars to make progress on substantive questions, and enables researchers from disparate traditions to gain a deeper appreciation for each other’s work and why it matters.


What We Are Reading Today: The Joy of Sweat

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Updated 23 July 2021

What We Are Reading Today: The Joy of Sweat

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  • Everts’s entertaining investigation takes readers around the world — from Moscow to New Jersey

Author: Sarah Everts

Sweating may be one of our weirdest biological functions, but it’s also one of our most vital and least understood. In The Joy of Sweat, Sarah Everts delves into its role in the body — and in human history.
Deeply researched and written with great zest, The Joy of Sweat is a fresh take on a gross but engrossing fact of human life.
Everts’s entertaining investigation takes readers around the world — from Moscow to New Jersey.
Everts “is a crisp and lively writer,” Jennifer Szalai said in a review for The New York Times.
Everts “has a master’s degree in chemistry, along with an ability to put abstruse scientific processes into accessible term,” said the review.
It added that Everts “tethers her scientific interludes to scenes in which she was doing some unlikely things around the world.”
She “dispels some persistent perspiration myths, including the one that equates sweating with detoxification,” said the review.
The biggest crisis looming over the subject, which Everts explicitly acknowledges at several points, is global warming.


What We Are Reading Today: The Howe Dynasty

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Updated 22 July 2021

What We Are Reading Today: The Howe Dynasty

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  • It said Britain’s desperate battles to guard its most vaunted colonial possession “are here told in tandem with London parlor-room intrigues”

Author: Julie Flavell

The Howe Dynasty tells the story of relatives of King George III in England.
Their grandmother was the illegitimate sister of King George I.
The story spans from the arrival of King George I’s sister in England until the participation of her grandchildren in The American Revolution.
The Howe Dynasty provides “a groundbreaking reinterpretation of one of England’s most famous military families across four wars,” said a review on goodreads.com.
“A riveting narrative and long overdue reassessment of the entire family, The Howe Dynasty forces us to reimagine the Revolutionary War in ways that would have been previously inconceivable,” said the review.
It said Britain’s desperate battles to guard its most vaunted colonial possession “are here told in tandem with London parlor-room intrigues.”
In December 1774, Benjamin Franklin met Caroline Howe, the sister of British General Sir William Howe and Richard Admiral Lord Howe, in a London drawing room for “half a dozen Games of Chess.”
But as historian Julie Flavell reveals, these meetings were about much more than board games: They were cover for a last-ditch attempt to forestall the outbreak of the American War of Independence.


What We Are Reading Today: Afterparties

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Updated 21 July 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Afterparties

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Author: Anthony Veasna So

Afterparties is an expertly written book about the experiences of Cambodian Americans living in California.
With nuanced emotional precision, gritty humor, and compassionate insight into the intimacy of immigrant communities, the stories in Afterparties deliver an explosive introduction to the work of Anthony Veasna So.
“Seamlessly transitioning between the absurd and the tenderhearted, balancing acerbic humor with sharp emotional depth, Afterparties offers an expansive portrait of the lives of Cambodian-Americans.
As the children of refugees carve out radical new paths for themselves in California, they shoulder the inherited weight of the Khmer Rouge genocide and grapple with the complexities of race, friendship and family,” said a review on goodreads.com.
The stories “are slice of life vignettes that intermix the joy and trauma experienced by the characters and community. The characters were so clearly written and individualistic, completely believable as real people,” the review added.
It said that each story “displays how trauma has affected an entire community.”


What We Are Reading Today: How the Word is Passed

What We Are Reading Today: How the Word is Passed
Updated 20 July 2021

What We Are Reading Today: How the Word is Passed

What We Are Reading Today: How the Word is Passed

Author: Clint Smith

How the Word is Passed is a book that deserves a place in today’s high school and college curriculum as well as personal reading libraries, says a review on goodreads.com.
“It is truly extraordinary,” said the review.
In How the Word Is Passed, Clint Smith seeks to examine how America memorializes, and reckons, with the legacy of slavery.
Smith is staff writer at The Atlantic. He is the author of Counting Descent, which won the 2017 Literary Award for Best Poetry Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.
Smith is also a poet, and he weaves his narrative with the prose of a poet in such a lyrical and impactful way.
According to the review, Smith “travels to different plantations, memorials, cemeteries, museums, prisons, etc. and examines how each of these locations reckon with slavery and if they are being honest and truthful, or being dishonest and avoiding the past.”
“This is not a contemporary anti-racist book. It goes far behind history. How the Word Is Passed is about the experience of place, memory, and legacy,” said the review.