Book Briefs: New University of Nebraska Press Books at the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse

The Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse receives documents every month from all Nebraska state agencies, including the University of Nebraska Press (UNP).  Each month we will be showcasing the UNP books that the Clearinghouse has received.

UNP books, as well as all Nebraska state documents, are available for checkout by libraries and librarians for their patrons.

Here are the UNP books the Clearinghouse received in September and October, 2022:

An Evolving Vision : The James Collection, 1997-2022, by Carolyn Ducey, Marin F. Hanson, and Penny McMorris.

In 2022 the International Quilt Museum (IQM) at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln celebrates a quarter century of studying, preserving, and exhibiting the Ardis and Robert James Collection. The Jameses’ donation of their unparalleled one-thousand-piece collection in 1997 established the IQM and formed the solid base from which the museum has steadily grown. Today, the museum’s collection includes more than six thousand quilts from five different centuries and over fifty countries, an expansion that has been encouraged by the James family, who continue to support the museum’s efforts to represent global quiltmaking.

This companion publication to the exhibition An Evolving Vision, 1997–2022 highlights important pieces from various segments of the collection: Classics—stunning antique American quilts; From the Studio—early and innovative art pieces; and New Horizons—quilt traditions from around the world. This book also includes a comprehensive catalog of the James Collection, comprising the quilts from the original 1997 gift as well as important groups given to the IQM in 2006 and 2009. An Evolving Vision documents the significance of the James Collection and underscores the broad vision its collectors developed not only for themselves but for the museum they so vitally helped shape.

The Enlightened Patrolman : Early Law Enforcement in Mexico City, by Nicole von Germeten; Series: Confluencias

When late eighteenth-century New Spanish viceregal administrators installed public lamps in the streets of central Mexico City, they illuminated the bodies of Indigenous, Afro-descended, and plebeian Spanish urbanites. The urban patrolmen, known as guarda faroleros, or “lantern guards,” maintained the streetlamps and attempted to clear the streets of plebeian sexuality, embodiment, and sociability, all while enforcing late colonial racial policies amid frequent violent resistance from the populace.

In The Enlightened Patrolman Nicole von Germeten guides readers through Mexico City’s efforts to envision and impose modern values as viewed through the lens of early law enforcement, an accelerated process of racialization of urban populations, and burgeoning ideas of modern masculinity. Germeten unfolds a tale of the losing struggle for elite control of the city streets. As surveillance increased and the populace resisted violently, a pause in the march toward modernity ensued. The Enlightened Patrolman presents an innovative study on the history of this very early law enforcement corps, providing new insight into the history of masculinity and race in Mexico, as well as the eighteenth-century origins of policing in the Americas.

Imperial Zions : Religion, Race, and Family in the American West and the Pacific, by Amanda Hendrix-Komoto; Series: Studies in Pacific Worlds

In the nineteenth century, white Americans contrasted the perceived purity of white, middle-class women with the perceived eroticism of women of color and the working classes. The Latter-day Saint practice of polygamy challenged this separation, encouraging white women to participate in an institution that many people associated with the streets of Calcutta or Turkish palaces. At the same time, Latter-day Saints participated in American settler colonialism. After their expulsion from Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois, Latter-day Saints dispossessed Ute and Shoshone communities in an attempt to build their American Zion. Their missionary work abroad also helped to solidify American influence in the Pacific Islands as the church became a participant in American expansion.

Imperial Zions explores the importance of the body in Latter-day Saint theology with the faith’s attempts to spread its gospel as a “civilizing” force in the American West and the Pacific. By highlighting the intertwining of Latter-day Saint theology and American ideas about race, sexuality, and the nature of colonialism, Imperial Zions argues that Latter-day Saints created their understandings of polygamy at the same time they tried to change the domestic practices of Native Americans and other Indigenous peoples. Amanda Hendrix-Komoto tracks the work of missionaries as they moved through different imperial spaces to analyze the experiences of the American Indians and Native Hawaiians who became a part of white Latter-day Saint families. Imperial Zions is a foundational contribution that places Latter-day Saint discourses about race and peoplehood in the context of its ideas about sexuality, gender, and the family.

Living Room, by Laura Bylenok; Series: The Backwaters Prize in Poetry 

Deeply phenomenological and ecological, Laura Bylenok’s poems in Living Room imagine the lived reality of other organisms and kinds of life, including animals, plants, bacteria, buildings, and rocks. They explore the permeability of human and nonhuman experience, intelligence, language, and subjectivity. In particular, the poems consider so-called model organisms—nonhuman species studied to understand specific and often human biological processes, diseases, and phenomena—as well as an experience of self and world that cannot be objectively quantified. The impulse of these poems is to slow down, to see and feel, and to listen closely. Language becomes solid, palpable as fruit. Long lines propel breath and push past the lung’s capacity.

Life at a cellular level, synthesis and symbiosis, is revealed through forests, fairy tales, and vines that grow over abandoned houses and hospital rooms. A living room is considered as a room that is lived in and also a room that is alive. Cells are living rooms. A self is a room that shares walls with others. Interconnection and interplay are thematic, and the network of poems becomes a linguistic rendering of a heterogeneous and nonhierarchical ecosystem, using the language of biology, genetics, and neurochemistry alongside fairy tale and dream to explore the interior spaces of grief, motherhood, mortality, and self.

Might Kindred, by Monica Gomery; Series: The Raz/Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry

The poems of Might Kindred wonder aloud: can we belong to one another, and “can a people belong to a dreaming machine?” Conjuring mountains and bodies of water, queer and immigrant poetics, beloveds both human and animal, Mónica Gomery explores the intimately personal and the possibility of a collective voice. Here anthems are sung and fall apart midsong. The speaker exchanges letters with her ancestors, is visited by a shadow sister, and interrogates what it means to make a home as a first-generation American.

Winner of the Raz/Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry, the poems in Might Kindred are rooted in the body and its cousins, seeking the possibility of kinship, “in case we might kindness, might ardor together.” Belonging and unbelonging are claimed as part of the same complicated whole, and Gomery’s intersections reach for something divine at the center.

Nez Perce Summer, 1877 : The U.S. Army and the Nee-Me-Poo Crisis, by Jerome A. Greene

Nez Perce Summer, 1877 tells the story of a people’s epic struggle to survive spiritually, culturally, and physically in the face of unrelenting military force. Written by one of the foremost experts in frontier military history, Jerome A. Greene, and reviewed by members of the Nez Perce tribe, this definitive treatment of the Nez Perce War is the first to incorporate research from all known accounts of Nez Perce and U.S. military participants.

Enhanced by sixteen detailed maps and forty-nine historic photographs, Greene’s gripping narrative takes readers on a three-and-one-half month 1,700-mile journey across the wilds of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana territories. All of the skirmishes and battles of the war receive detailed treatment, which benefits from Greene’s astute analysis of the strategies and decision making on both sides.

Between 100 and 150 of the more than 800 Nez Perce men, women, and children who began the trek were killed during the war. Almost as many died in the months following the surrender, after they were exiled to malaria-ridden northeastern Oklahoma. Army deaths numbered 113. The casualties on both sides were an extraordinary price for a war that nobody wanted but whose history has since fascinated generations of Americans.

The North American West in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Brenden W. Rensink

In 1893 Frederick Jackson Turner famously argued that the generational process of meeting and conquering the supposedly uncivilized western frontier is what forged American identity. In the late twentieth century, “new western” historians dissected the mythologized western histories that Turner and others had long used to embody American triumph and progress. While Turner’s frontier is no more, the West continues to present America with challenging processes to wrestle, navigate, and overcome.

The North American West in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Brenden W. Rensink, takes stories of the late twentieth-century “modern West” and carefully pulls them toward the present—explicitly tracing continuity with or unexpected divergence from trajectories established in the 1980s and 1990s. Considering a broad range of topics, including environment, Indigenous peoples, geography, migration, and politics, these essays straddle multiple modern frontiers, not least of which is the temporal frontier between our unsettled past and uncertain future. These forays into the twenty-first-century West will inspire more scholars to pull histories to the present and by doing so reinsert scholarly findings into contemporary public awareness.

The Old Iron Road : An Epic of Rails, Roads, and the Urge to Go West, by David Haward Bain

In the summer of 2000 David Haward Bain and his family left their home in Vermont and headed west in search of America’s past. Spiritually, their journey began on a Kansas trail where the author’s grandmother was born in a covered wagon in 1889. Between the Missouri River and the Golden Gate, they retraced the entire route of the first transcontinental railroad and large stretches of the Oregon and California trails, and the equally colorful old Lincoln Highway. Following vanished iron rails and wagon wheel ruts, bumping down backroads and main streets, they discovered the deep, restless, uniquely American spirit of adventure that connects our past to our present.

A superb writer and an exacting researcher, Bain conjures up a marvelous sense of coming unstuck in time as he lingers in the ghost towns and battlegrounds, prairies and river ports, trainyards, museums, deserts, and diners that line his cruise west to California. Bain encounters a fascinating cast of characters, both historic and contemporary, as well as memories of his grandparents and the journeys that shaped his own heritage.

Writing in the tradition of William Least Heat-Moon and Ian Frazier, and with an engaging warmth and a deep grasp of history all his own, Bain has fashioned a quintessentially American journey.

Outback & Out West : The Settler-Colonial Environmental Imaginery, by Tom Lynch.

Outback and Out West examines the ecological consequences of a settler-colonial imaginary by comparing expressions of settler colonialism in the literature of the American West and Australian Outback. Tom Lynch traces exogenous domination in both regions, which resulted in many similar means of settlement, including pastoralism, homestead acts, afforestation efforts, and bioregional efforts at “belonging.” Lynch pairs the two nations’ texts to show how an analysis at the intersection of ecocriticism and settler colonialism requires a new canon that is responsive to the social, cultural, and ecological difficulties created by settlement in the West and Outback.

Outback and Out West draws out the regional Anthropocene dimensions of settler colonialism, considering such pressing environmental problems as habitat loss, groundwater depletion, and mass extinctions. Lynch studies the implications of our settlement heritage on history, art, and the environment through the cross-national comparison of spaces. He asserts that bringing an ecocritical awareness to settler-colonial theory is essential for reconciliation with dispossessed Indigenous populations as well as reparations for ecological damages as we work to decolonize engagement with and literature about these places.

Paternalism to Partnership : The Administration of Indian Affairs, 1786-2021, by David H. DeJong

Paternalism to Partnership examines the administration of Indian affairs from 1786, when the first federal administrator was appointed, through 2021. David H. DeJong examines each administrator through a biographical sketch and excerpts of policy statements defining the administrator’s political philosophy, drawn from official reports or the administrator’s own writings.

The Indian Office, as an executive agency under the secretary of war (1789 to 1849) and secretary of the interior (1849 to present), was directed by the president of the United States. The superintendents, chief clerks, commissioners, and assistant secretaries for Indian affairs administered policy as prescribed by Congress and the president. Each was also given a level of discretion in administering this policy. For most of the federal-Indian relationship, administrators were limited in influencing policy. This paternalism continued well into the twentieth century. Beginning in the 1960s Congress and the president ameliorated their views on the federal-Indian relationship and moved away from paternalism. Since 1966 every administrator of the Bureau of Indian Affairs has been Native American, and each has exercised increasing authority in shaping policy. This has given rise to a federal-Indian partnership that has witnessed tribal nations again exercising their inherent rights of self-government.

In this documentary history David H. DeJong follows the progression of federal Indian policy over more than two hundred years, providing firsthand accounts of how the federal-Indian relationship has changed over the centuries.

The Settler Sea : California’s Salton Sea and the Consequences of Colonialism, by Traci Brynne Voyles

2022 WHA Caughey Western History Prize for the most distinguished book on the American West

Can a sea be a settler? What if it is a sea that exists only in the form of incongruous, head-scratching contradictions: a wetland in a desert, a wildlife refuge that poisons birds, a body of water in which fish suffocate? Traci Brynne Voyles’s history of the Salton Sea examines how settler colonialism restructures physical environments in ways that further Indigenous dispossession, racial capitalism, and degradation of the natural world. In other words, The Settler Sea asks how settler colonialism entraps nature to do settlers’ work for them.

The Salton Sea, Southern California’s largest inland body of water, occupies the space between the lush agricultural farmland of the Imperial Valley and the austere desert called “America’s Sahara.” The sea sits near the boundary between the United States and Mexico and lies at the often-contested intersections of the sovereign lands of the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla and the state of California. Created in 1905, when overflow from the Colorado River combined with a poorly constructed irrigation system to cause the whole river to flow into the desert, this human-maintained body of water has been considered a looming environmental disaster.

The Salton Sea’s very precariousness—the way it sits uncomfortably between worlds, existing always in the interstices of human and natural influences, between desert and wetland, between the skyward pull of the sun and the constant inflow of polluted water—is both a symptom and symbol of the larger precariousness of settler relationships to the environment, in the West and beyond. Voyles provides an innovative exploration of the Salton Sea, looking to the ways the sea, its origins, and its role in human life have been vital to the people who call this region home.

Standing Bear’s Quest for Freedom : The First Civil Rights Victory for Native Americans, by Lawrence A. Dwyer

Chief Standing Bear of the Ponca Nation faced arrest for leaving the U.S. government’s reservation, without its permission, for the love of his son and his people. Standing Bear fought for his freedom not through armed resistance but with bold action, strong testimony, and heartfelt eloquence. He knew he and his people had suffered a great injustice.

Standing Bear wanted the right to live and die with his family on the beloved land of his Ponca ancestors, located within the Great Plains of Nebraska. In telling his story, Standing Bear’s Quest for Freedom relates an unprecedented civil rights victory for Native Americans: for the first time, in 1879, a federal court declared a Native American to be a “person”—a human being with the right to file an action for a redress of grievances in a federal court, like every other person in the United States.

Standing Bear’s victory in Standing Bear v. Crook began a national movement of reforming Native American rights—albeit a slow one. Because of the courage and leadership of Chief Standing Bear, the pervasive spirit of indifference of most Americans toward Native Americans was disrupted by this historic decision. America would never be the same.

Strength From the Waters : A History of Indigenous Mobilization in Northwest Mexico, by James V. Mestaz

Strength from the Waters is an environmental and social history that frames economic development, environmental concerns, and Indigenous mobilization within the context of a timeless issue: access to water. Between 1927 and 1970 the Mayo people—an Indigenous group in northwestern Mexico—confronted changing access to the largest freshwater source in the region, the Fuerte River.

In Strength from the Waters James V. Mestaz demonstrates how the Mayo people used newly available opportunities such as irrigation laws, land reform, and cooperatives to maintain their connection to their river system and protect their Indigenous identity. By using irrigation technologies to increase crop production and protect lands from outsiders trying to claim it as fallow, the Mayo of northern Sinaloa simultaneously preserved their identity by continuing to conduct traditional religious rituals that paid homage to the Fuerte River. This shift in approach to both new technologies and natural resources promoted their physical and cultural survival and ensured a reciprocal connection to the Fuerte River, which bound them together as Mayo.

Mestaz examines this changing link between hydraulic technology and Mayo tradition to reconsider the importance of water in relation to the state’s control of the river and the ways the natural landscape transformed relations between individuals and the state, altering the social, political, ecological, and ethnic dynamics within several Indigenous villages. Strength from the Waters significantly contributes to contemporary Mexicanist scholarship by using an environmental and ethnohistorical approach to water access, Indigenous identity, and natural resource management to interrogate Mexican modernity in the twentieth century.

There Where It’s So Bright in Me, by Tanella Boni; Series: African Poetry Book

There Where It’s So Bright in Me pries at the complexities of difference—race, religion, gender, nationality—that shape twenty-first-century geopolitical conditions. With work spanning more than thirty-five years and as one of the most prominent figures in contemporary African literature, Tanella Boni is uniquely positioned to test the distinctions of self, other, and belonging. Two twenty-first-century civil wars have made her West African home country of Côte d’Ivoire unstable. Abroad in the United States, Boni confronts the racialized violence that accompanies the idea of Blackness; in France, a second home since her university days, Boni encounters the nationalism roiling much of Europe as the consequences of (neo)colonialism shift the continent’s ethnic and racial profile.

What would it mean for the borders that segregate—for these social, political, cultural, personal, and historicizing forces that enshroud us—to lose their dominion? In a body under constant threat, how does the human spirit stay afloat? Boni’s poetry is characterized by a hard-earned buoyancy, given her subject matter. Her empathy, insight, and plainspoken address are crucial contributions to the many difficult contemporary conversations we must engage.

**Pictures and Synopses courtesy of University of Nebraska Press.

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