What We Are Reading Today: ‘Puerto Rico: A National History’

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Updated 13 April 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Puerto Rico: A National History’

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Author: JORELL MELENDEZ-BADILLO

Puerto Rico is a Spanish-speaking territory of the United States with a history shaped by conquest and resistance. For centuries, Puerto Ricans have crafted and negotiated complex ideas about nationhood.

Jorell Meléndez-Badillo provides a new history of Puerto Rico that gives voice to the archipelago’s people while offering a lens through which to understand the political, economic, and social challenges confronting them today.

 


What We Are Reading Today: Capitalism: The Story behind the Word

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Updated 21 June 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: Capitalism: The Story behind the Word

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Author: Michael Sonenscher

What exactly is capitalism? How has the meaning of capitalism changed over time? And what’s at stake in our understanding or misunderstanding of it? In “Capitalism,” Michael Sonenscher examines the history behind the concept and pieces together the range of subjects bound up with the word. Sonenscher shows that many of our received ideas fail to pick up the work that the idea of capitalism is doing for us, without us even realizing it.
“Capitalism” was first coined in France in the early 19th century. It began as a fusion of two distinct sets of ideas. The first involved thinking about public debt and war finance.
The second involved thinking about the division of labor. Sonenscher shows that thinking about the first has changed radically over time.
Funding welfare has been added to funding warfare, bringing many new questions in its wake. Thinking about the second set of ideas has offered far less room for maneuver. The division of labor is still the division of labor and the debates and discussions that it once generated have now been largely forgotten. By exploring what lay behind the earlier distinction before it collapsed and was eroded by the passage of time, Sonenscher shows why the present range of received ideas limits our political options and the types of reform we might wish for.

 


What We Are Reading: ‘One Step Sideways, Three Steps Forward’

What We Are Reading: ‘One Step Sideways, Three Steps Forward’
Updated 21 June 2024
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What We Are Reading: ‘One Step Sideways, Three Steps Forward’

What We Are Reading: ‘One Step Sideways, Three Steps Forward’

Author: B. Rosemary Grant

Scientist Rosemary Grant’s journey in life has involved detours and sidesteps—not the shortest or the straightest of paths, but one that has led her to the top of evolutionary biology.

Grant’s unorthodox career is one woman’s solution to the problem of combining professional life as a field biologist with raising a family.


What We Are Reading: Slow Burn by Robert Jisung Park

What We Are Reading: Slow Burn by Robert Jisung Park
Updated 19 June 2024
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What We Are Reading: Slow Burn by Robert Jisung Park

What We Are Reading: Slow Burn by Robert Jisung Park

It’s hard not to feel anxious about the problem of climate change, especially if we think of it as an impending planetary catastrophe.

In “Slow Burn,” R. Jisung Park encourages us to view climate change through a different lens: one that focuses less on the possibility of mass climate extinction in a theoretical future, and more on the everyday implications of climate change here and now. 

Park shows how climate change headlines often miss some of the most important costs. 


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Love in the Time of Self-Publishing’

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Updated 18 June 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Love in the Time of Self-Publishing’

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Author: CHRISTINE M. LARSON

As writers, musicians, online content creators, and other independent workers fight for better labor terms, romance authors offer a powerful example—and a cautionary tale—about self-organization and mutual aid in the digital economy.

In “Love in the Time of Self-Publishing,” Christine Larson traces the 40-year history of Romancelandia, a sprawling network of romance authors, readers, editors, and others, who formed a unique community based on openness and collective support.

 


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Africa’s Struggle for Its Art’ by Benedicte Savoy

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Africa’s Struggle for Its Art’ by Benedicte Savoy
Updated 17 June 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Africa’s Struggle for Its Art’ by Benedicte Savoy

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Africa’s Struggle for Its Art’ by Benedicte Savoy

For decades, African nations have fought for the return of countless works of art stolen during the colonial era and placed in Western museums. In “Africa’s Struggle for Its Art,” Benedicte Savoy brings to light this largely unknown but deeply important history. One of the world’s foremost experts on restitution and cultural heritage, Savoy investigates extensive, previously unpublished sources to reveal that the roots of the struggle.