Thursday, October 20, 2011

New in the Chronicle of Higher Education: Publishing Advice, William Stuntz's Latest, Derrick Bell, and Occupy Wall Street

Find useful advice on writing book proposals in a Chronicle of Higher Education article by Patrick H. Alexander, "The Less-Obvious Elements of an Effective Book Proposal, accessible online here. Here's a snippet.

Publication of a scholarly book ultimately depends on the peer-review process, but that step occurs only if the proposal accomplishes its single mission: to get you a hearing. Too often, however, scholars misunderstand the job of the proposal in the overall process.
The Collapse of American Criminal Justice (Harvard, 2011) by the late William J. Stuntz is reviewed by Peter Monaghan in the Chronicle Review.  The book marshalls historical evidence in support of its claim that "[a]mong the great untold stories of our time is this one: the last half of the twentieth century saw America's criminal justice system unravel."  Monaghan concludes: "When a renowned scholar of criminal law and procedure says the criminal-justice system is in ruin, the indictment should stick."  Subscribers can access the review, "The Rule of Law is Broken," here.

Lani Guinier and Gerald Torres remember the late Derrick Bell in the Chronicle Review.  The remembrance can be viewed online by subscribers. Here's an excerpt:

The legal academy lost an intellectual force of nature with the passing of Derrick Bell on October 5. He worked in so many ways: a mentor to many of today's leading academics, a master teacher whose commitment to his law students was unquestioned and unmatched, and a provocative scholar and critic. He was a celebrated maverick before that word lost its luster.
The roots of the ongoing Wall Street protests lie in the "ethnography of Madagascar." So says Dan Berrett in an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Here's an excerpt from his article, which is accessible online here

Occupy Wall Street's most defining characteristics—its decentralized nature and its intensive process of participatory, consensus-based decision-making—are rooted in ... the scholarship of anarchism and, specifically, in an ethnography of central Madagascar. It was on this island nation off the coast of Africa that David Graeber, one of the movement's early organizers, who has been called one of its main intellectual sources, spent 20 months between 1989 and 1991. He studied the people of Betafo, a community of descendants of nobles and of slaves, for his 2007 book, Lost People. In Betafo he observed what he called "consensus decision-making," where residents made choices in a direct, decentralized way, not through the apparatus of the state. "Basically, people were managing their own affairs autonomously," he says. The process is what scholars of anarchism call "direct action."