Recommended Reads: Books by ENS Faculty

Women, Power, and Dissent in the Hills of Carolina by Mary Anglin

Women, Power, and Dissent in the Hills of Carolina is a unique and impassioned exploration of gender, labor, and resistance in western North Carolina. Based on eight months of field research in a mica manufacturing plant and the surrounding rural community, as well as oral histories of women who worked in mica houses in the early twentieth century, this landmark study canvasses the history of the mica industry and the ways it came to be organized around women's labor.


Grains from Grass: aging, gender and famine in rural Africa by Dr. Lisa Cliggett

In her ethnography of the Gwembe Tonga people of rural Zambia, Lisa Cliggett explores what happens to kinship ties in times of famine. The Tonga, a matrilineal Bantu-speaking society, had long lived and farmed along the banks of the Zambezi River, but when the Kariba Dam was completed and the river valley was flooded in 1958, approximately 57,000 people were forcibly relocated. All of southern Africa has suffered from severe droughts in the last three decades, and the Gwembe Valley has proved particularly susceptible to failed harvests and sociopolitically and ecologically triggered crises. Cliggett's book tells a story about how people living in environmentally and economically dire circumstances manage their social and material worlds to the best of their ability, sometimes at the cost of maintaining kinship bonds—a finding that challenges Western notions of family among indigenous people, especially in rural Africa.


The Gender of Globalization: Women Navigating Cultural and Economic Marginalities by Ann Kingsolver

As “globalization” moves rapidly from buzzword to cliché, evaluating the claims of neoliberal capitalism to empower and enrich remains urgently important. The authors in this volume employ feminist, ethnographic methods to examine what free trade and export processing zones, economic liberalization, and currency reform mean to women in Argentina, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Ghana, the United States, India, Jamaica, and many other places. Heralded as agents of prosperity and liberation, neoliberal economic policies have all too often refigured and redoubled the burdens of gender, race, caste, class, and regional subordination that women bear. Traders, garment factory operatives, hotel managers and maids, small farmers and agricultural laborers, garbage pickers, domestic caregivers, daughters, wives, and mothers―women around the world are struggling to challenge the tendency of globalization talk to veil their marginalization.


Embattled Wilderness by Dr. Jim Krupa and Erik Reece

Robinson Forest in eastern Kentucky is one of our most important natural landscapes—and one of the most threatened. Covering fourteen thousand acres of some of the most diverse forest region in temperate North America, it is a haven of biological richness within an ever-expanding desert created by mountaintop removal mining. Written by two people with deep knowledge of Robinson Forest, The Embattled Wilderness engagingly portrays this singular place as it persuasively appeals for its protection.

The land comprising Robinson Forest was given to the University of Kentucky in 1923 after it had been clear-cut of old-growth timber. Over decades, the forest has regrown, and its remarkable ecosystem has supported both teaching and research. 

In The Embattled Wilderness, Erik Reece, an environmental writer, and James J. Krupa, a naturalist and evolutionary biologist, outlines the threats to the forest and leads us to new ways of thinking about its value. It is a readable yet rigorous, passionate yet reasoned summation of what can be found, or lost, in Robinson Forest and other irreplaceable places.


Fair Trade and Social Justice: Global Ethnographies by Sarah Lyon

By 2008, total Fair Trade purchases in the developed world reached nearly $3 billion, a five-fold increase in four years. Consumers pay a “fair price” for Fair Trade items, which are meant to generate greater earnings for family farmers, cover the costs of production, and support socially just and environmentally sound practices. Yet constrained by existing markets and the entities that dominate them, Fair Trade often delivers material improvements for producers that are much more modest than the profound social transformations the movement claims to support.

 


Dramas of Solitude: Narratives of Retreat in American Nature Writing by Randall Roorda

What do stories of nature tell us about the social or ethical purposes of solitude? And what do stories of solitude reveal of the "character" of nonhuman nature? Dramas of Solitude brings the insights of narrative theory to bear upon the genre of nature writing, to explore the social or ethical purposes of solitude in stories of retreat in nature. Through discussions of texts by Henry D. Thoreau, John C. Van Dyke, Wendell Berry, and student writers, among others, this book complicates social views of literacy with depictions of a solitude held in dynamic relation to a not-only-human community. It will inform the efforts of literary critics and writing teachers alike who hope to reintegrate English studies upon ecological terms.


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