Faculty Bookshelf

RECENT ARRIVALS

Carbon Technocracy: Energy Regimes in Modern East Asia
Seow V. Carbon Technocracy: Energy Regimes in Modern East Asia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 2022 pp. 376.Abstract
A forceful reckoning with the relationship between energy and power through the history of what was once East Asia’s largest coal mine.

The coal-mining town of Fushun in China’s Northeast is home to a monstrous open pit. First excavated in the early twentieth century, this pit grew like a widening maw over the ensuing decades, as various Chinese and Japanese states endeavored to unearth Fushun’s purportedly “inexhaustible” carbon resources. Today, the depleted mine that remains is a wondrous and terrifying monument to fantasies of a fossil-fueled future and the technologies mobilized in attempts to turn those developmentalist dreams into reality.

In Carbon Technocracy, Victor Seow uses the remarkable story of the Fushun colliery to chart how the fossil fuel economy emerged in tandem with the rise of the modern technocratic state. Taking coal as an essential feedstock of national wealth and power, Chinese and Japanese bureaucrats, engineers, and industrialists deployed new technologies like open-pit mining and hydraulic stowage in pursuit of intensive energy extraction. But as much as these mine operators idealized the might of fossil fuel–driven machines, their extractive efforts nevertheless relied heavily on the human labor that those devices were expected to displace. Under the carbon energy regime, countless workers here and elsewhere would be subjected to invasive techniques of labor control, ever-escalating output targets, and the dangers of an increasingly exploited earth.

Although Fushun is no longer the coal capital it once was, the pattern of aggressive fossil-fueled development that led to its ascent endures. As we confront a planetary crisis precipitated by our extravagant consumption of carbon, it holds urgent lessons. This is a groundbreaking exploration of how the mutual production of energy and power came to define industrial modernity and the wider world that carbon made.
War and Peace in Outer Space:Law, Policy, and Ethics
Steer C, Hersch M ed. War and Peace in Outer Space:Law, Policy, and Ethics. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2021 pp. 336. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This book delves into legal and ethical concerns over the increased weaponization of outer space and the potential for space-based conflict in the very near future. Unique to this collection is the emphasis on questions of ethical conduct and legal standards applicable to military uses of outer space. No other existing publication takes this perspective, nor includes such a range of interdisciplinary expertise.

The essays included in this volume explore the moral and legal issues of space security in four sections. Part I provides a general legal framework for the law of war and peace in space. Part II tackles ethical issues. Part III looks at specific threats to space security. Part IV proposes possible legal and diplomatic solutions. With an expert author team from North American and Europe, the volume brings together academics, military lawyers, military space operators, aerospace industry representatives, diplomats, and national security and policy experts. The experience of this team provides a collection unmatched in any academic publication broaching even some of these issues and will be required reading for anyone interested in war and peace in outer space.
The Maternal Imprint: The Contested Science of Maternal-Fetal Effects
Richardson SS. The Maternal Imprint: The Contested Science of Maternal-Fetal Effects. Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 2021 pp. 376. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The idea that a woman may leave a biological trace on her gestating offspring has long been a commonplace folk intuition and a matter of scientific intrigue, but the form of that idea has changed dramatically over time. Beginning with the advent of modern genetics at the turn of the twentieth century, biomedical scientists dismissed any notion that a mother—except in cases of extreme deprivation or injury—could alter her offspring’s traits. Consensus asserted that a child’s fate was set by a combination of its genes and post-birth upbringing.  

Over the last fifty years, however, this consensus was dismantled, and today, research on the intrauterine environment and its effects on the fetus is emerging as a robust program of study in medicine, public health, psychology, evolutionary biology, and genomics. Collectively, these sciences argue that a woman’s experiences, behaviors, and physiology can have life-altering effects on offspring development. 

Tracing a genealogy of ideas about heredity and maternal-fetal effects, this book offers a critical analysis of conceptual and ethical issues—in particular, the staggering implications for maternal well-being and reproductive autonomy—provoked by the striking rise of epigenetics and fetal origins science in postgenomic biology today.
Science on a Mission: How Military Funding Shaped What We Do and Don’t Know about the Ocean
Oreskes N. Science on a Mission: How Military Funding Shaped What We Do and Don’t Know about the Ocean. Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 2020 pp. 744. Publisher's VersionAbstract
A vivid portrait of how Naval oversight shaped American oceanography, revealing what difference it makes who pays for science.

What difference does it make who pays for science?

Some might say none. If scientists seek to discover fundamental truths about the world, and they do so in an objective manner using well-established methods, then how could it matter who’s footing the bill? History, however, suggests otherwise. In science, as elsewhere, money is power. Tracing the recent history of oceanography, Naomi Oreskes discloses dramatic changes in American ocean science since the Cold War, uncovering how and why it changed. Much of it has to do with who pays.

After World War II, the US military turned to a new, uncharted theater of warfare: the deep sea. The earth sciences—particularly physical oceanography and marine geophysics—became essential to the US Navy, which poured unprecedented money and logistical support into their study. Science on a Mission brings to light how this influx of military funding was both enabling and constricting: it resulted in the creation of important domains of knowledge but also significant, lasting, and consequential domains of ignorance.

As Oreskes delves into the role of patronage in the history of science, what emerges is a vivid portrait of how naval oversight transformed what we know about the sea. It is a detailed, sweeping history that illuminates the ways funding shapes the subject, scope, and tenor of scientific work, and it raises profound questions about the purpose and character of American science. What difference does it make who pays? The short answer is: a lot.
Forbidden Knowledge
Marcus H. Forbidden Knowledge. Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 2020 pp. 360. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Forbidden Knowledge explores the censorship of medical books from their proliferation in print through the prohibitions placed on them during the Counter-Reformation. How and why did books banned in Italy in the sixteenth century end up back on library shelves in the seventeenth? Historian Hannah Marcus uncovers how early modern physicians evaluated the utility of banned books and facilitated their continued circulation in conversation with Catholic authorities.
 
Through extensive archival research, Marcus highlights how talk of scientific utility, once thought to have begun during the Scientific Revolution, in fact began earlier, emerging from ecclesiastical censorship and the desire to continue to use banned medical books. What’s more, this censorship in medicine, which preceded the Copernican debate in astronomy by sixty years, has had a lasting impact on how we talk about new and controversial developments in scientific knowledge. Beautiful illustrations accompany this masterful, timely book about the interplay between efforts at intellectual control and the utility of knowledge.