Nedilsky, “Converts to Civil Society: Christianity and Political Culture in Contemporary Hong Kong”

Next month, Baylor University will publish Converts to Civil 5561Society: Christianity and Political Culture in Contemporary Hong Kong, by Lida V. Nedilsky (North Park University). The publisher’s description follows.

Lida V. Nedilsky captures the public ramifications of a personal, Christian faith at the time of Hong Kong’s pivotal political turmoil. From 1997 to 2008, in the much-anticipated reintegration of Hong Kong into Chinese sovereignty, she conducted detailed interviews of more than fifty Hong Kong people and then followed their daily lives, documenting their involvement at the intersection of church and state.

Citizens of Hong Kong enjoy abundant membership options, both social and religious, under Hong Kong’s free market culture. Whether identifying as Catholic or Protestant, or growing up in religious or secular households, Nedilsky’s interviewees share an important characteristic: a story of choosing faith. Across the spheres of family and church, as well as civic organizations and workplaces, Nedilsky shows how individuals break and forge bonds, enter and exit commitments, and transform the public ends of choice itself. From this intimate, firsthand vantage point, Converts to Civil Society reveals that people’s independent movements not only invigorate and shape religious community but also enliven a wider public life.

Mecham & Hwang (eds.), “Islamist Parties and Political Normalization in the Muslim World”

This month, the University of Pennsylvania publishes Islamist Parties and Political 15245Normalization in the Muslim World, edited by Quinn Mecham (Brigham Young University) and Julie Chernov Hwang (Goucher College). The publisher’s description follows.

Since 2000, more than twenty countries around the world have held elections in which parties that espouse a political agenda based on an Islamic worldview have competed for legislative seats. Islamist Parties and Political Normalization in the Muslim World examines the impact these parties have had on the political process in two different areas of the world with large Muslim populations: the Middle East and Asia. The book’s contributors examine major cases of Islamist party evolution and participation in democratic and semidemocratic systems in Turkey, Morocco, Yemen, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Bangladesh. Collectively they articulate a theoretical framework to understand the strategic behavior of Islamist parties, including the characteristics that distinguish them from other types of political parties, how they relate to other parties as potential competitors or collaborators, how ties to broader Islamist movements may affect party behavior in elections, and how participation in an electoral system can affect the behavior and ideology of an Islamist party over time.

Through this framework, the contributors observe a general tendency in Islamist politics. Although Islamist parties represent diverse interests and behaviors that are tied to their particular domestic contexts, through repeated elections they often come to operate less as antiestablishment parties and more in line with the political norms of the regimes in which they compete. While a few parties have deliberately chosen to remain on the fringes of their political system, most have found significant political rewards in changing their messages and behavior to attract more centrist voters. As the impact of the Arab Spring continues to be felt, Islamist Parties and Political Normalization in the Muslim World offers a nuanced and timely perspective of Islamist politics in broader global context.

Bregoli, “Mediterranean Enlightenment: Livornese Jews, Tuscan Culture, and Eighteenth-Century Reform”

Next month, Stanford University Press will publish Mediterranean Enlightenment: 080478650XLivornese Jews, Tuscan Culture, and Eighteenth-Century Reform, by Francesca Bregoli (CUNY Queens). The publisher’s description follows.

The Mediterranean port of Livorno was home to one of the most prominent and privileged Jewish enclaves of early modern Europe. Focusing on Livornese Jewry, this book offers an alternative perspective on Jewish acculturation during the eighteenth century, and reassesses common assumptions about the interactions of Jews with outside culture and the impact of state reforms on the corporate Jewish community. Working from a vast array of previously untapped archival and literary sources, Francesca Bregoli combines cultural analysis with a study of institutional developments to investigate Jewish responses to Enlightenment thought and politics, as well as non-Jewish perceptions of Jews, through an exploration of Jewish-Christian cultural exchange, sites of sociability, and reformist policies. Mediterranean Enlightenment shows that Livornese Jewish scholars engaged with Enlightenment ideals and aspired to contribute to society at large without weakening the boundaries of traditional Jewish life. By arguing that the privileged status of Livorno Jewry had conservative rather than liberalizing effects, it also challenges the notion that economic utility facilitates Jewish integration, nuancing received wisdom about processes of emancipation in Europe.

Mishal & Goldberg, “Understanding Shiite Leadership: The Art of the Middle Ground in Iran and Lebanon”

Next month, Cambridge University Press will publish Understanding Shiite Leadership: 9781107046382The Art of the Middle Ground in Iran and Lebanon, by Shaul Mishal (Tel-Aviv University) and Ori Goldberg (Tel-Aviv University). The publisher’s description follows.

In this book, Shaul Mishal and Ori Goldberg explore the ways in which Shiite leaderships in Iran and Lebanon approach themselves and their world. Contrary to the violent and radical image of religious leaderships in the Islamic Republic of Iran and Lebanese Hizballah, the political vision and practice of these leaderships view the world as a middle ground, shying away from absolutist and extremist tendencies. The political leadership assumed by Shiite religious scholars in Iran and Lebanon has transformed Shiite Islam from a marginalized minority to a highly politicized avant garde of Muslim presence, revitalized the practice and causes of political Islam in its struggle for legitimacy and authority, and reshaped the politics of the Middle East and the globe in its image. Utilizing approaches from social theory, history, theology, and literary criticism, the book presents these leaderships as pragmatic, interpretative entities with the potential to form fruitful relationships between Shiite leadership and the non-Shiite world.

Keister & Sherkat (eds.), “Religion and Inequality in America: Research and Theory on Religion’s Role in Stratification”

Next month, Cambridge University Press will publish Religion and Inequality in 9781107657113America: Research and Theory on Religion’s Role in Stratification, edited by Lisa A. Keister (Duke University) and Darren E. Sherkat (Southern Illinois University). The publisher’s description follows.

Religion is one of the strongest and most persistent correlates of social and economic inequalities. Theoretical progress in the study of stratification and inequality has provided the foundation for asking relevant questions, and modern data and analytic methods enable researchers to test their ideas in ways that eluded their predecessors. A rapidly growing body of research provides strong evidence that religious affiliation and beliefs affect many components of well-being, such as education, income, and wealth. Despite the growing quantity and quality of research connecting religion to inequality, no single volume to date brings together key figures to discuss various components of this process. This volume aims to fill this gap with contributions from top scholars in the fields of religion and sociology. The essays in this volume provide important new details about how and why religion and inequality are related by focusing on new indicators of inequality and well-being, combining and studying mediating factors in new and informative ways, focusing on critical and often understudied groups, and exploring the changing relationship between religion and inequality over time.

Stein, “Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria”

Next month, the University of Chicago Press will publish Saharan Jews and the9780226123745 Fate of French Algeria, by Sarah Abrevaya Stein (University of California, Los Angeles). The publisher’s description follows.

The history of Algerian Jews has thus far been viewed from the perspective of communities on the northern coast, who became, to some extent, beneficiaries of colonialism.  But to the south, in the Sahara, Jews faced a harsher colonial treatment. In Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria, Sarah Abrevaya Stein asks why the Jews of Algeria’s south were marginalized by French authorities, how they negotiated the sometimes brutal results, and what the reverberations have been in the postcolonial era.

Drawing on materials from thirty archives across six countries, Stein tells the story of colonial imposition on a desert community that had lived and traveled in the Sahara for centuries. She paints an intriguing historical picture—of an ancient community, trans-Saharan commerce, desert labor camps during World War II, anthropologist spies, battles over oil, and the struggle for Algerian sovereignty. Writing colonialism and decolonization into Jewish history and Jews into the French Saharan one, Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria is a fascinating exploration not of Jewish exceptionalism but of colonial power and its religious and cultural differentiations, which have indelibly shaped the modern world. 

Johnson, “Monastic Women and Religious Orders in Late Medieval Bologna”

Next month, Cambridge will publish Monastic Women and 9781107060852Religious Orders in Late Medieval Bologna, by Sherri Franks Johnson (University of California, Riverside). The publisher’s description follows.

Sherri Franks Johnson explores the roles of religious women in the changing ecclesiastical and civic structure of late medieval Bologna, demonstrating how convents negotiated a place in their urban context and in the church at large. During this period Bologna was the most important city in the Papal States after Rome. Using archival records from nunneries in the city, Johnson argues that communities of religious women varied in the extent to which they sought official recognition from the male authorities of religious orders. While some nunneries felt that it was important to their religious life to gain recognition from monks and friars, others were content to remain local and autonomous. In a period often described as an era of decline and the marginalization of religious women, Johnson shows instead that they saw themselves as active participants in their religious orders, in the wider church and in their local communities.

Schroeder, “Deborah’s Daughters: Gender Politics and Biblical Interpretation”

Next month, Oxford will publish Deborah’s Daughters: Gender Politics9780199991044_140 and Biblical Interpretation, by Joy A. Schroeder (Capital University and Trinity Lutheran Seminary). The publisher’s description follows.

Joy A. Schroeder offers the first in-depth exploration of the biblical story of Deborah, an authoritative judge, prophet, and war leader. For centuries, Deborah’s story has challenged readers’ traditional assumptions about the place of women in society. 

Schroeder shows how Deborah’s story has fueled gender debates throughout history. An examination of the prophetess’s journey through nearly two thousand years of Jewish and Christian interpretation shows how the biblical account of Deborah was deployed against women, for women, and by women who aspired to leadership roles in church and society. Numerous women—and men who supported women’s aspirations to leadership—used Deborah’s narrative to justify female claims to political and religious authority. Opponents to women’s public leadership endeavored to define Deborah’s role as ”private” or argued that she was a divinely authorized exception, not to be emulated by future generations of women.

Deborah’s Daughters provides crucial new insight into the the history of women in Judaism and Christianity, and into women’s past and present roles in the church, synagogue, and society.

Carey & Plank (eds.), “Quakers and Abolition”

Next month, the University of Illinois Press will publish Quakers and 9780252038266Abolition, edited by Brycchan Carey (Kingston University, London) and Geoffrey Plank (University of East Anglia). The collection provides a wide-ranging exploration of Quakers’ views on slavery, from advocating for benevolent slaveholding to abolition. The publisher’s description follows.

This collection of fifteen insightful essays examines the complexity and diversity of Quaker antislavery attitudes across three centuries, from 1658 to 1890. Contributors from a range of disciplines, nations, and faith backgrounds show how Quakers often disagreed with one another and the larger antislavery movement about slavery itself and the best path to emancipation. Far from having monolithic beliefs, Quakers embraced such diverse approaches as benevolent slaveholding, both gradual and comprehensive abolition, and consumer boycotts of slave-produced products.

These evolving and uneven conceptions of slavery and emancipation were similar to the varied views Quakers had on racial integration. Offering a nuanced interpretation of these controversial topics–one that often diverges from existing scholarship–contributors discuss how Quakers attempted to live out their faith’s antislavery imperative. Essays address Quaker missions in Barbados; the interplay between African-American and Quaker communities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey; transatlantic correspondence between a colonialist Quaker and a freed slave who “returned-to-Africa” as a Liberian colonist; and the impact of Quaker-authored frontier literature.

Not surprisingly, this complicated and evolving antislavery sensibility left behind an equally complicated legacy. Focusing on Great Britain, France, and the United States, contributors show how Quaker antislavery actions and writings influenced revolutions and antislavery in those countries. Yet the Quaker contribution is also a hidden one because it so rarely receives substantive attention in modern classrooms and scholarship. This volume faithfully seeks to correct that oversight, offering accessible and provocative new insights on this key chapter of religious, political, and cultural history.

Kalbian, “Sex, Violence, and Justice: Contraception and the Catholic Church”

Next month, Georgetown University Press will publish Sex, Violence, and Justice: Kalbian_RGB_72dpiContraception and the Catholic Church, by Aline H. Kalbian (Florida State University). The publisher’s description follows.

In 1968, Pope Paul VI published Humanae vitae, the encyclical that reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s continued opposition to the use of any form of artificial contraception. In Sex, Violence, and Justice: Contraception and the Catholic Church, Aline Kalbian outlines the Church’s position against artificial contraception as principally rooted in three biblical commandments. In addition, Kalbian shows how discourses about sexuality, both in the Church and in culture, are often tied to discourses of violence, harm and social injustice. These ties reveal that sexual ethics is never just about sex; it is about the vulnerability of the human body and the challenges humans face in trying to maintain just and loving relationships. 

As Kalbian explores and contrasts the Catholic Church’s stance toward condoms and HIV/AIDS, emergency contraception in cases of rape, and contraception and population control, she underscores how contraception is not just a private decision, but a deeply social, cultural, and political one, with profound global implications. Kalbian concludes that even the most tradition-bound communities rely on justificatory schemes that are fluid and diverse. Taking this diversity seriously helps us to understand how religious traditions change and develop.

Sex, Violence, and Justice will be of interest to students and scholars of Catholic moral theology, sexual ethics, religion and society, gender and religion, as well as to specialists and practitioners in public health.

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