This month, Palgrave Macmillan releases “The Labour Party in Scotland: Religion, the Union, and the Irish Dimension,” by Graham Walker (Queen’s University). The publisher’s description follows:
This book makes a timely contribution to our understanding of the dramatic political changes that have recently affected Scotland and thrown into doubt the country’s future position within the United Kingdom. Its focus is on the Labour Party and the loss of its traditional electoral support base. This theme is related to religion and its relevance to Scotland’s identity politics. The author examines how Labour was able to appeal across the ethno-religious divide in Scotland for many decades, before considering the impact of the new political context of devolution in the 21st century and the greater scrutiny given to the question of sectarianism in Scottish life. Walker demonstrates the role played by the sectarianism controversy in Labour’s loss of political control and its eclipse by the Scottish National Party (SNP). This book is also the first to assess the significance of the Irish dimension in Scotland’s political development, in particular the impact of the conflict in nearby Northern Ireland. It will appeal to students and scholars of Scottish and Irish politics, political science and political/electoral history, as well as the interested wider reader.
In June, the Cornell University Press will release “Religion on the Battlefield,” by Ron E. Hassner (University of California, Berkeley). The publisher’s description follows:
How does religion shape the modern battlefield? Ron E. Hassner proposes that religion acts as a force multiplier, both enabling and constraining military operations. This is true not only for religiously radicalized fighters but also for professional soldiers. In the last century, religion has influenced modern militaries in the timing of attacks, the selection of targets for assault, the zeal with which units execute their mission, and the ability of individual soldiers to face the challenge of war. Religious ideas have not provided the reasons why conventional militaries fight, but religious practices have influenced their ability to do so effectively.
In Religion on the Battlefield, Hassner focuses on the everyday practice of religion in a military context: the prayers, rituals, fasts, and feasts of the religious practitioners who make up the bulk of the adversaries in, bystanders to, and observers of armed conflicts. To show that religious practices have influenced battlefield decision making, Hassner draws most of his examples from major wars involving Western militaries. They include British soldiers in the trenches of World War I, U.S. pilots in World War II, and U.S. Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hassner shows that even modern, rational, and bureaucratized military organizations have taken—and must take—religious practice into account in the conduct of war.
This month, Cambridge University Press releases “Japanese Confucianism: A Cultural History” by Kiri Paramore (Leiden University). The publisher’s description follows:
For more than 1500 years, Confucianism has played a major role in shaping Japan’s history – from the formation of the first Japanese states during the first millennium AD, to Japan’s modernization in the nineteenth century, to World War II and its still unresolved legacies across East Asia today. In an illuminating and provocative new study, Kiri Paramore analyses the dynamic history of Japanese Confucianism, revealing its many cultural manifestations, as religion and as a political tool, as social capital and public discourse, as well as its role in international relations and statecraft. The book demonstrates the processes through which Confucianism was historically linked to other phenomenon, such as the rise of modern science and East Asian liberalism. In doing so, it offers new perspectives on the sociology of Confucianism and its impact on society, culture and politics across East Asia, past and present.
Next month, Oxford University Press will release “Black Natural Law” by Vincent W. Lloyd (Villanova University). The publisher’s description follows:
Black Natural Law offers a new way of understanding the African American political tradition. Iconoclastically attacking left (including James Baldwin and Audre Lorde), right (including Clarence Thomas and Ben Carson), and center (Barack Obama), Vincent William Lloyd charges that many Black leaders today embrace secular, white modes of political engagement, abandoning the deep connections between religious, philosophical, and political ideas that once animated Black politics. By telling the stories of Frederick Douglass, Anna Julia Cooper, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Martin Luther King, Jr., Lloyd shows how appeals to a higher law, or God’s law, have long fueled Black political engagement. Such appeals do not seek to implement divine directives on earth; rather, they pose a challenge to the wisdom of the world, and they mobilize communities for collective action. Black natural law is deeply democratic: while charismatic leaders may provide the occasion for reflection and mobilization, all are capable of discerning the higher law using our human capacities for reason and emotion.
At a time when continuing racial injustice poses a deep moral challenge, the most powerful intellectual resources in the struggle for justice have been abandoned. Black Natural Law recovers a rich tradition, and it examines just how this tradition was forgotten. A Black intellectual class emerged that was disconnected from social movement organizing and beholden to white interests. Appeals to higher law became politically impotent: overly rational or overly sentimental. Recovering the Black natural law tradition provides a powerful resource for confronting police violence, mass incarceration, and today’s gross racial inequities.
Black Natural Law will change the way we understand natural law, a topic central to the Western ethical and political tradition. While drawing particularly on African American resources, Black Natural Law speaks to all who seek politics animated by justice.