The New Imperialism is the title of an annual seminar which I offer at Concordia University to advanced undergraduates. It is an unusual course, and given the content of past student evaluations, one that is extremely popular with participants who unanimously rated it as excellent on all levels. Part of the reason might be that there are no lectures, no tests, and no exams–and the other part is that the course is deeply engaging, dealing with central issues in world politics and international affairs and matters of critical public debate, about which anthropologists and sociologists ought to be fully familiar since they cannot and do not remain unaffected. What is required is participation in seminar discussions (which easily took us over our allotted time on several occasions), writing three short Op-Ed articles on issues related to the course content, and then one large research paper which participants work on for the duration of the semester, going through different stages of review and reconstruction. Having seen, from early on, that I would be receiving a batch of excellent papers, I asked the seminar participants if they would not want to put their output on the record, to publish their work. One option was to have all the papers online, on the seminar website. The other was to publish it like my Department also publishes an annual volume of student research, Stories from Montreal. They opted for the latter and I got busy creating something I had never planned to establish: a publishing entity, Alert Press (amazingly, the name was not taken). That was just the start–then came getting an ISBN, arranging for the National Library of Canada to do Cataloguing-in-Publication, getting a copyright certificate, and formally registering the Press. The printing would be done on demand, which is where the services of Lulu come in. Then there was the index–no proper book can go without one. That is, as some know, a particularly large expense which had to be out of pocket. Each of the papers had to be revised, edited, proof read, and re-corrected, references checked, formatting done for the book, providing images that are free under a Creative Commons License (up to the front and back covers of the book), and then indexed. Only the very best papers were included, which in this case means that only 14 of the initial 25 papers made the final cut. One or two opted out of the publication idea from the start–it is entirely voluntary, and not a course requirement. But it will be an annual feature. The work went months beyond the actual end date of the seminar. The result is what you see here, our first installment: The New Imperialism, Volume I: Militarism, Humanism, and Occupation.
I am extremely proud of all of the seminar participants, the great work they did, and the fantastic semester that they made, and I look forward to the next group coming in January. I am very happy to say that the majority of students I have worked with at Concordia are a delight: very committed, engaged, and bright.
About Volume 1:
Describing and theorizing “the new imperialism” in international relations, this volume presents anthropological and sociological viewpoints on the topics of militarism and militarization; humanitarian interventionism; the responsibility to protect; Canada’s role in the occupation of Afghanistan, and the establishment of what is effectively a protectorate in Haiti; the role of NGOs in the formation and management of a new global imperium; and, soft power. Specific case studies are also devoted to the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System; the U.S. Army’s Africa Command (AFRICOM); torture and international law; Coca Cola in Colombia; the NATO war in Kosovo; cultural militarization and “militainment;” and, the rising militarism in Canadian public discourse.
The geographic scope of the volume includes Algeria, Afghanistan, Canada, Colombia, Ethiopia, Somalia, Iran, Kosovo, Kuwait, and the United States.
The work as a whole covers global events since the end of the Cold War.
The contributors to the volume, drawn from the research participants in the inaugural seminar on the New Imperialism at Concordia University in 2010, are: Corey Anhorn, Ricky Curotte, Justin De Genova, Zoe Dominiak, Cameron Fenton, Lesley Foster, Thomas Prince, Kate Roland, Mark Shapiro, Nageen Siddiqui, Miles Smart, Katelyn Spidle, Rosalia Stillitano, and Elizabeth Vezina.
More about the Book and How to Order:
The book comprises 242 pages, including 34 illustrations, a Preface and Introduction plus 14 chapters, and an Index.
The front cover, table of contents, preface, introduction, and index can be downloaded as one file (PDF, 5mb).
The paperback version can be purchased for $10.11 (US), not including shipping and handling (circa $6.99 US).
You can also obtain a free eBook version, if you prefer reading on a computer, and if you prefer free and immediate.
For libraries, a hardcover version is also available for $18.82 (US), not including shipping and handling.
The next volume will be out in less than a year’s time.
11 thoughts on “Just Released: The New Imperialism, Vol. 1: Militarism, Humanism, and Occupation”
Congratulations on the book! Will read it immediately!
Thanks Ben, I hope you like it.
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Bravo Max and seminar participants! Just ordered a copy and very much looking forward to reading it.
Thanks very much Carole!
Though I love free, I’m not a big fan of E Book induced squinting and headaches … I’ll opt for the paperback!
Fantastic idea Max (I miss anthropology at Concordia, so I’ll get my fix here !) … looking forward to the read!
Me too Joel, I can read very little online anymore, just as I thought I had become more accustomed to it than reading paper. You would have loved that course, too bad I did not offer it earlier or it would have been a real pleasure to have you there.
I have absolutely no doubt about that Max! I’ve also noticed that there seem to be many new advance topic courses available now … I take that as good news for current undergrads!
To wander off subject … and since I’m here already, I was thinking earlier this week about a topic you brought up in Visual Anthropology … (I don’t know how much time you have for class discussions from four years ago, but I thought I’d pick your brain anyways).
I’m sure you’ll remember in the ongoing debate you brought up about what constitutes ethnography, and how some anthropologists consider any film, regardless of its intention to be ethnographic since in inherently reflects some facet of culture (regardless of how abstract or vague that may be) … but I was thinking about that, and by that logic wouldn’t any sort of ritual, oral history, book, music, painting etc etc be equally ethnographic?
It seems to me that sort of definition is too broad to be useful and we can (in my opinion) alternatively define ethnography as being “something” that is actively trying to educate on a given aspect of culture (I realize of course that this includes any non-“anthropology” based work ie: cultural documentaries, travel logs and *gasp*, National Geographic). Otherwise it seems like any tangible characteristic of culture can be “ethnography” and that doesn’t make much sense to me (I acknowledge that I may be missing something here)… anyways I was curious about your thought regarding that.
PS: this thought came to me after my girlfriend was watching a documentary called Babies where the child rearing of babies in four different cultures is depicted without any dialogue … anyways it made me think of Forest of Bliss and then back to this topic (just so this seems a bit less random a conversation haha)
No, those would not be “ethnographic” in the ways that most anthropologists define the concept, which often reduces to a set of research strategies. They are trying to express something different, using the constraining terms we inherit, which is always difficult to do. In addition, people such as MacDougall are trying to be innovative but continue to make reference to the past and what was received from it, which in my view is a bit of a schizophrenic approach. I think that what they are trying to say is to look for the “ethnographic-ness” in multiple genres, to find truth in fiction, to examine what they reveal–I would have said, to see how others, non-academics and non-anthropologists, also have an anthropological eye, either by reflecting on “the human condition” (surely not the exclusive domain of academic anthropologists, and not even one they have a right to claim as their special interest), or by unwittingly revealing something important about the human condition, or a select aspect of it.
So it is a broad definition, you’re right, but it is also useful, for getting us to broaden our horizons and open our minds beyond the strict confines of a “discipline.”
I don’t think that is a final “answer,” but I am glad that you raised it, and I am always happy to talk about these issues.
(Thanks for your indulgence on this Max!)
I think I understand what MacDougall and others are trying to say, and I certainly respect the idea… particularly analyzing how other “non-anthropologists” use an anthropological eye as you mentioned…that to me is completely valid, and I also fully agree that fictional works reveal certain insights into the state of a culture and the human condition.
My point here is that I feel those revelations (especially more latent meanings) are only discovered via some sort of analysis of what it is we are looking at … and so in that way, to me, the film or painting or book etc is not the ethnography in and of itself, but rather becomes part of ethnography through a breakdown of what it all means in the grander scheme of things. The medium is of course useful and necessary for ethnography because of what it reveals to us.
I didn’t mean to imply that these things are not useful for the anthropologist, whoever that may be, or that academic anthropologists own the rights to anthropology at all (in fact I think quite the opposite… I’m all in for broadening the discipline ;)). I only really meant that to define any film as ethnographic doesn’t really fit for me… I’m strictly arguing semantics here. As usual I appreciate your take!
I liked this in particular: “the film or painting or book etc is not the ethnography in and of itself, but rather becomes part of ethnography through a breakdown of what it all means in the grander scheme of things.” I think that anthropologists have been doing that, perhaps unselfconsciously (?), trying to take in as much of a society as they can, and in the process reading newspapers, watching local films and television, learning about local music, eating and trying to cook local food, etc., etc., and it all works its way into the final product we call an ethnography (explicitly or not).
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