acpa, tcr book reviews

I had a wonderful time at ACPA seeing friends, meeting new folks, and talking about my research. Matt Soldner and the planning convention team were kind enough to invite me to do a back-and-forth at the opening ceremony with this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner Harry Canon (who has been part of ACPA for 50 years!). We had fun planning it and I’m just relieved that I didn’t have to see my own face on the Jumbotron. The opening ceremony was pretty fantastic–Cory Booker spoke for over an hour and the man can tell a story (or 20)…pretty great stuff. I’ve been following his career on and off over the last decade so it was so much fun to get to hear him speak (front row seats woohoo, thank you ACPA).

It was also a little unreal to be at ACPA knowing that I’m moving to Maryland in a few months, considering that last year a highlight of the conference was eating lunch with two very distinguished Maryland folks, Marylu McEwen and Jan Arminio, after the Emerging Scholars workshop–with absolutely zero idea that I’d be signing a contract to go to Maryland by the end of the following semester.

Anyway, and now for some interesting bits from TCR’s book reviews.

Nancy Abelmann’s review of Rob Teranishi’s book, Asians in the Ivory Tower:

For those new to AAPI numbers, there may be some surprising ones in Asians in the Ivory Tower. For example: Hmong Americans have the largest number of people per household of any ethnic group in America (p. 63); the largest concentration of AAPIs in American higher education can be found in two-year public colleges (p. 106); AAPIs in the “Ivies” represent less than 1% of AAPIs in higher education (p. 105); in 2005 two-thirds of AAPIs in higher education were attending college in only 8 states and 49% were in only two states, California and New York (in 1980 that two-thirds figure was for two states, California and Hawaii) (pp. 100-104); from 1995-2005 all ethnic groups other than Whites enjoyed greater percentage increases in the numbers of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields (p. 129); and AAPI teachers are poorly represented in the K-12 sector (p. 132). Asians in the Ivory Tower is a treasure trove of these sorts of facts and numbers. AAPIs represent, Teranishi reminds us, 24 ethnic groups among which, put simply, life and educational chances are strikingly diverse.

Laura Smith’s review of Rethinking Poverty: Income, Assets, and the Catholic Social Justice Tradition by James P. Bailey:

Bailey shows that not only does asset development promise to be a more effective solution to poverty than income support strategies, it is also deeply consonant with both religious and non-religious ethical frameworks that address the relationship of societies to their most vulnerable members.

In Chapter 1, Bailey opens his argument by complicating typical definitions of poverty that emphasize consumption along with the corresponding anti-poverty policies that are aimed at supplementing the purchasing power of the poor through income transfers. These income transfers certainly do address some of the hardships of poverty; yet, as Bailey points out, “people cannot spend their way out of poverty” (p. 13). Without assets in the form of savings or property, poor families can never surmount their paycheck-to-paycheck existence, so our policies might be more effectively directed toward helping the poor to build those kinds of assets. As unfamiliar as such a policy might sound, Bailey clarifies that our government already engages in such initiatives – they just aren’t for poor people. Instead, government initiatives to promote ownership, such as tax deductions for asset-building endeavors like home ownership, are only made available to middle- and owning class people…

Along the way, Bailey supplies jaw-dropping details: at the time of the Emancipation Proclamation, Blacks owned .5 percent of the nation’s wealth, and by 1990, that figure had only risen to 1%…

Importantly, Bailey simultaneously directs readers’ attention to the social exclusion of the poor, a relational corollary of poverty that is seldom addressed specifically. Our collective willingness to relegate the poor to the margins of society, where they are outsiders to many of the experiences of mainstream social participation (and largely outside our nation’s democratic process altogether) constitutes a unique manifestation of oppression; as Bailey explains, human thriving requires full participation in society as well as the opportunity to contribute (not just be an object of charity).


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