New and Note­wor­thy: the dark side of sports fan­dom, and un­der­es­ti­mat­ing An­gela Merkel

THE (Times Higher Education) - - CONTENTS - Matthew Reisz

Be­com­ing Madam Chan­cel­lor: An­gela Merkel and the Berlin Repub­lic

Joyce Marie Mushaben

Cam­bridge Univer­sity Press

How has “a shy, apo­lit­i­cal pas­tor’s daugh­ter from the East” be­come “the world’s most pow­er­ful woman” and proved highly ef­fec­tive in help­ing Ger­many face up to “the chal­lenges of twenty-first-cen­tury glob­al­iza­tion”? And why has An­gela Merkel nonethe­less of­ten been so un­der­es­ti­mated? Joyce Marie Mushaben, an Amer­i­can scholar who has spent al­most 18 years liv­ing in Ger­many, puts those ques­tions at the heart of her ma­jor new study. She con­sid­ers the se­ries of “makeovers” that ac­com­pa­nied Merkel’s rise to the top; ex­am­ines her poli­cies on ev­ery­thing from re­la­tions with Is­rael and Rus­sia to cli­mate change, the euro and refugee crises; and con­cludes by re­flect­ing on “why gen­der still mat­ters”.

Dis­rupt This! MOOCs and the Prom­ises of Tech­nol­ogy

Karen J. Head

Univer­sity Press of New Eng­land

In au­tumn 2012, Karen Head at the Ge­or­gia In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy was un­ex­pect­edly asked to pro­duce a Mooc (mas­sive open on­line course) on first-year writ­ing. She was well aware of the rhetoric sur­round­ing Moocs as a form of “dis­rup­tive in­no­va­tion” that would trans­form higher ed­u­ca­tion, but could the re­al­ity live up to the hype? Al­though they “have con­trib­uted to some changes that will con­tinue to in­flu­ence teach­ing meth­ods”, her ex­pe­ri­ence con­vinced her, Moocs have “failed to be su­pe­rior to a tra­di­tional class­room ex­pe­ri­ence”. Her book chal­lenges head-on “the sim­plis­tic tech­no­log­i­cal op­ti­mism that drives much of the think­ing on the fu­ture of ed­u­ca­tion and which waves away rea­son­able ob­jec­tions as Lud­dism”.

The Cam­bridge Com­pan­ion to Re­li­gion and Ter­ror­ism

Edited by James R. Lewis

Cam­bridge Univer­sity Press

Ever since 9/11 there has been a del­uge of aca­demic writ­ing about ter­ror­ism. Yet most of it, notes James Lewis, has come from “sec­u­lar­ist crit­ics with axes to grind against re­li­gion” and po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tists who have “tended to down­play if not dis­miss the re­li­gion fac­tor al­to­gether…Voices from re­li­gious stud­ies have been rel­a­tively few.” His new col­lec­tion sets out to re­dress the bal­ance. Some con­trib­u­tors ad­dress fun­da­men­tal ques­tions such as “Does re­li­gion cause ter­ror­ism?” or an­a­lyse spe­cific cases ev­ery­where from France to Sri Lanka, from China to Kyr­gyzs­tan. Oth­ers con­sider “rad­i­cal­iza­tion”, rev­o­lu­tion and apoc­a­lypse, and whether ter­ror can be a form of “sac­ri­fi­cial rit­ual” or even a mat­ter of “ra­tio­nal choice”.

The I in Team: Sports Fan­dom and the Re­pro­duc­tion of Iden­tity

Erin C. Tarver

Chicago Univer­sity Press

Many of her “most vivid childhood sport­ing mem­o­ries”, writes Erin Tarver, fea­ture her “weav­ing with my par­ents through a sea of peo­ple all clad in the same col­ors…By the time I was a teenager, I had also learned to dis­par­age our ri­vals…” Yet for all the plea­sures of fan­dom, it also has a dis­tinctly dark side “char­ac­ter­ized by the overt polic­ing of gen­der norms and ram­pant ho­mo­pho­bia” (as well as a ten­dency for white fans to “treat black ath­letes more like mas­cots than he­roes”). Given that spec­ta­tor sports are both mas­sively pop­u­lar and a ma­jor source of iden­tity for fans, The I in Team demon­strates why we ought to take them far more se­ri­ously.

The Con­quest of Death: Vi­o­lence and the Birth of the Mod­ern English State

Matthew Lock­wood

Yale Univer­sity Press

In early mod­ern Eng­land, ac­cord­ing to Matthew Lock­wood, “few vi­o­lent deaths went un­no­ticed, un­ex­am­ined, or un­ex­plained”. And that is be­cause “the fi­nan­cial in­ter­ests of heirs, cred­i­tors, coro­ners, and crown all rested on the out­come of the coro­ner’s in­quest”. The so­ci­ol­o­gist Max We­ber pro­posed that it is cen­tral to the def­i­ni­tion of the state that it “lays claim to the mo­nop­oly of le­git­i­mate phys­i­cal vi­o­lence within a par­tic­u­lar ter­ri­tory”. The Con­quest of Death shows how it was the cre­ation of the of­fice of the coro­ner that cre­ated “a new sys­tem of sur­veil­lance” which enabled “the [English] state to ob­tain a true mo­nop­oly of vi­o­lence for the first time”.

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