KPFA: Against the Grain [Program Feed]


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  • Communal Joy
    Happiness seems elusive in our society, despite the many industries attempting to sell it through a multitude of products and services.  What’s missing, according to feminist Lynne Segal, is the sense that our happiness is intertwined with the happiness of others.  She calls for reclaiming radical joy, through collective life and activism. Resources: Lynn Segal, Radical Happiness: Moments of Collective Joy [1] Verso, 2018 Sheila Rowbotham, Dreamers of a New Day: Women Who Invented the Twentieth Century [2] Verso, 2011   [1] https://www.versobooks.com/books/2819-radical-happiness [2] https://www.versobooks.com/books/969-dreamers-of-a-new-day
  • Migrant Control via Remote Control
    Immigration discourse in the U.S. often revolves around the advisability of “securing” the physical border, of addressing the flow of people across the U.S.-Mexico border. But, as Elliott Young [1] asserts, overseas mechanisms of screening and exclusion have been far more effective at keeping would-be immigrants out. Young discusses the history and racial dimensions of so-called remote control. Marinari, Hsu, and Garcia, eds., A Nation of Immigrants Reconsidered: U.S. Society in an Age of Restriction, 1924-1965 [2] University of Illinois Press, 2019 [1] https://college.lclark.edu/live/profiles/156-elliott-young [2] https://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/76gst8tk9780252042218.html
  • Inequality and Well-Being
    It’s self-evident that unequal societies like ours are bad for the poor. However, as epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson argues, they’re also bad for everyone else, including the affluent, not only because inequality affects schools and healthcare, but because it also makes us anxious and unhappy. Wilkinson reflects on our psychological well-being in wealthy but unequal countries. Resources: Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Well-Being [1] Penguin, 2019 [1] https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/567749/the-inner-level-by-richard-wilkinson-and-kate-pickett/9780525561224
  • Postcolonial Thought
    Nearly every society in the world is either a former colony or a former imperial power. How, then, should we regard and understand processes of imperialism and colonialism? According to Julian Go [1], a body of thought called postcolonial theory has offered many insights into the workings and legacies of empire and colonialism. Many of those legacies, Go asserts, continue to affect and haunt us today. (Encore presentation.) Julian Go, Postcolonial Thought and Social Theory [2] Oxford University Press, 2016 Benzecry, Krause, and Reed, eds., Social Theory Now [3] University of Chicago Press, 2018 [1] http://www.bu.edu/sociology/faculty-staff/faculty/julian-go/ [2] https://global.oup.com/academic/product/postcolonial-thought-and-social-theory-9780190625146?cc=us&lang=en& [3] https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/S/bo26383995.html
  • Decriminalizing Intimate Partner Violence
    In recent years, the desirability of locking up millions of Americans in prison has been seriously questioned both on the left and right. It would seem, however, that domestic violence is very different than the non-violent drug offenses highlighted by critics of mass incarceration. On the face it, shouldn’t this be where police intervention and the criminal legal system are warranted? But, as Leigh Goodmark argues, it’s a lot more complicated. Resources: Leigh Goodmark, Decriminalizing Domestic Violence: A Balanced Policy Approach to Intimate Partner Violence [1] UC Press, 2018 [1] https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520295575/decriminalizing-domestic-violence
  • War, Firearms, and the Industrial Revolution
    What drove the Industrial Revolution? According to conventional wisdom, it was individual innovation and unfettered private enterprise. According to Priya Satia [1], it was war-making, the production of firearms, and massive state intervention. The central figure in her new book [2] is a Quaker gunmaker immersed in the rapidly transforming economy of eighteenth-century England. (Encore presentation.) Priya Satia, Empire of Guns: The Violent Making of the Industrial Revolution [3] Penguin Press, 2018 Priya Satia, “We Are All Implicated in the Gun Industry” [4] The Nation [1] https://history.stanford.edu/people/priya-satia [2] https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/548047/empire-of-guns-by-priya-satia/9780735221864/ [3] https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/548047/empire-of-guns-by-priya-satia/9780735221864/ [4] https://www.thenation.com/article/we-are-all-implicated-in-the-gun-industry/
  • The Pitfalls of Race-Based Medicine
    Given the disparities between the lifespans of whites, African Americans, Native Americans and other groups, it might seem to be sensible to gear medicine along racial lines. But sociologist Leslie Hinkson argues that it represents a dangerous turn in science and healthcare. She discusses race, biology, and debt. (Encore presentation.) Resources: Nadine Ehlers and Leslie R. Hinkson (eds.), Subprime Health: Debt and Race in U.S. Medicine [1] University of Minnesota Press, 2017   [1] https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/subprime-health
  • Langston Hughes’s World
    Langston Hughes wore many hats: writer, poet, world traveler, racial justice advocate, and central figure of the Harlem Renaissance. He spoke at U.C. Berkeley about his life and ideas, and some of his letters were published in a book co-edited by MaryLouise Patterson [1]. Patterson’s leftist parents, Louise Thompson Patterson and William (“Pat”) Patterson, were friends and correspondents of Hughes. [1] https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520285347/letters-from-langston
  • From Yeltsin to Putin
    Are we facing a new Cold War with Russia? Does that country represent a serious threat to the United States? Tony Wood separates myths from facts about Russia’s domestic and foreign policy — and whether Putin represents a return to the authoritarian Soviet past. Resources: Tony Wood, Russia Without Putin: Money, Power and the Myths of the New Cold War [1] Verso, 2018 [1] https://www.versobooks.com/books/2839-russia-without-putin
  • Migration in Real Life
    In the two decades following the end of the bracero program in 1964, the number of Mexicans who migrated to the U.S. without papers rose dramatically. Who were these people, why did they cross the border, and who did they leave behind in Mexico? Did migrants tend to stay permanently in the U.S., or did what’s called circular migration take place? Ana Raquel Minian [1] conducted over 250 oral history interviews on both sides of the border. (Encore presentation.) Ana Raquel Minian, Undocumented Lives: The Untold Story of Mexican Migration [2] Harvard University Press, 2018 [1] https://history.stanford.edu/people/ana-raquel-minian [2] http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674737037
  • America’s Public Healthcare System
    What’s America’s largest public healthcare system?  It’s not Medicare, which isn’t a provider of healthcare, just a payer.  It’s the Veterans Health Administration, which looks after nine million ex-service members.  Healthcare journalist Suzanne Gordon discusses why we should care about the Veterans Health Administration – and the push to privatize it. Resources: Suzanne Gordon, Wounds of War: How the VA Delivers Health, Healing, and Hope to the Nation’s Veteran [1]s Cornell University Press, 2018 Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute [2] Suzanne Gordon & Jasper Craven, “Trump’s Under-the-Radar Push to Dismantle Veterans Health Care,” [3] The American Prospect January 15, 2019   [1] https://suzannecgordon.com/books/wounds-of-war/ [2] https://www.veteranspolicy.org/ [3] https://prospect.org/article/trumps-under-radar-push-dismantle-veterans-health-care
  • Two Talks by Dr. King
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. [1] spoke about race, segregation, poverty, militarism, and nonviolent resistance in two talks that he gave in Hollywood, in March 1968, and in London, in December 1964. Pacifica Radio Archives [2] [1] http://www.thekingcenter.org/about-dr-king [2] http://www.pacificaradioarchives.org/
  • Beauty Ideals and Feminist Thought
    In what ways do media-propagated ideals of beauty affect women and girls? Whose interests do such ideals serve? Meeta Rani Jha [1] draws from the ideas of second- and third-wave feminism in her examination of the beauty pageant phenomenon; hair-straightening and other appearance-changing practices; and antiracist challenges to the dominant white beauty standard. Also: Angela Davis on black women and the blues [2]. Meeta Rani Jha, The Global Beauty Industry: Colorism, Racism, and the National Body [3] Routledge, 2015 [1] http://womensstudies.berkeley.edu/about/department-faculty/meeta-rani-jha/ [2] https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/37351/blues-legacies-and-black-feminism-by-angela-y-davis/9780679771265/ [3] https://www.routledge.com/The-Global-Beauty-Industry-Colorism-Racism-and-the-National-Body/Jha/p/book/9781138839434
  • Slave Rebellion and Repression
    In 1805, a remarkable slave rebellion took place — not in the Atlantic, but in the Pacific, and involving an unusual ruse. And it illustrates, argues historian Greg Grandin, something fundamental about freedom and unfreedom in the New World. Grandin examines the historical event, immortalized by Herman Melville, in which insurgent slave leaders maintained a striking deception against the odds, but were ultimately repressed by an anti-slavery republican.(Encore presentation.) Resources: Greg Grandin, The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World [1] Picador, 2015     [1] http://greggrandin.com/books/
  • World War I and Worker Power
    When workers have leverage, as they did in the U.S. during World War I, their prospects for extracting concessions from employers are enhanced. Robert Ovetz [1] describes the wave of labor unrest that marked that period, as well as the Wilson administration’s efforts to pacify workers in order to keep the war economy going. He asserts that government intervention was a sort of trial run for the labor-planning mechanisms put in place during the New Deal. Robert Ovetz, When Workers Shot Back: Class Conflict from 1877 to 1921 [2] Brill, 2018 [1] https://sjsu.academia.edu/RobertOvetzPhD [2] https://brill.com/abstract/title/33974

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