Not That There’s Anything Wrong with That…

whiskey postNPR ran a story the other day based on a Daily Beast article about the disappointing reality that a lot of popular craft whiskeys that cater to the discerning consumer with an appreciation for the finer things are actually not produced in artisanal small batches at all but instead hail from the large Midwest Grain Products (MGP) factory in Indiana. How to tell you’re getting the “real thing”…? Check whether the product is “distilled by” or “bottled/produced by” the company—a big difference when looking for the origins of the whiskey you’re consuming. Continue reading

Unspoken Nationalism

lossy-page1-763px-Patriotic_old_women_make_flags._Born_in_Hungary,_Galicia,_Russia,_Germany,_Rumania._Their_flag-making_instructor,_Rose_R_-_NARA_-_533657.tifMultiple cases of the shooting deaths of unarmed men (who often are African-American) in the streets of the United States at the hands of people who are supposedly working to protect others from violence (and who typically are not African-American) have generated important discussions about institutional racism, hatred, and the militarization of police. In “What White People Can Do About the Killing of Black Men in America,” an editor at the Huffington Post writes,

White Americans like me have to stop channel surfing all the outrageously bad news from around the world and focus on the death that is happening in our own cities to our fellow Americans.

Continue reading

Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Cultural Symbol

Engagement Ring

When I got engaged twenty years ago, my then-boyfriend purchased me an engagement ring that looked very much like the one above. While both of us were from working-to-middle class families, it was a well-known custom in our corner of the world (as it remains in many places) for men to save up months and months of their salary – even perhaps selling things of considerable value – to procure a ring deemed suitably large, beautiful, unique, etc. for their brides-to-be. Despite the fact that I might do things differently now, at the time it never occurred to me to question this process. Continue reading

“New Books on the Edge” with K. Merinda Simmons

Simmons-Changing

New Books on the Edge” is an ongoing blog series, which engages forthcoming manuscripts by Edge collective members.

Changing the Subject: Writing Women Across the African Diaspora

From diaspora to class, gender, subjectivity, migration, labor and much more – take us behind the scenes of Changing the Subject — how it came to be, what sorts of questions are raised in this project, and what data is being engaged?

My disciplinary training is in literary theory, and I have long been puzzled by a tendencyI see working in that domain of scholarship. Namely, while so much of the field has been influenced by what many—myself included—see as important poststructuralist intellectual moves, I nonetheless keep coming across analyses by prominent scholars that focus on “authenticity” in one manner or other. This seems an especially noticeable phenomenon within scholarship on texts deemed marginalized—and, as my data set when I began the work that would ultimately become this book was comprised of narratives by women of various African diasporas, I decided to delve into how and why the emphasis on something called authenticity appears in the criticism surrounding these texts. Continue reading

Filters, Filters Everywhere

Indigo_Bunting_maleMy family is a family of identifiers. Whether it is a bird, tree, or salamander, we are often dissatisfied until we know which species it is. Thus we have binoculars and a whole shelf of Field Guides for identifying much of the flora and fauna. While others can certainly dissect the psychological interests behind the desire to know these names, the process of observation intrigues me. Continue reading

The Monetized Self

Picture 2Given what Culture on the Edge is all about, I was thinking, the other day, about this now common notion of “identity theft” — and the way in which it signifies a rather dramatic narrowing of how, at least in this one setting, we use that word, “identity.” Continue reading

Creative Accounting

canada-pennyI was in Canada over the summer and had forgotten that they’d done away with the penny — until, that is, I was trying to figure out why I got short-changed in a store, which blithely rounded up the cost of my purchase and cheated me out of a few cents.

But then I remembered…

Coz what do you do when it costs more to make a penny than the value that’s ascribed to it? (Phasing them out is estimated to save the Canadian taxpayers $11 million per year!) Continue reading

I’m Just Here for the T-Shirt

National LampoonsPhoto credit: http://traduzioniclick.it

As I write this, I am returning from Germany, where I’ve had the pleasure of teaching a short course at the University of Hannover. When I wasn’t teaching this past week, I spent some time doing what most tourists do: wandering the city looking for trinkets to bring back to my family. When I asked my students where I should look for some gifts, most did the equivalent of rolling their eyes while telling me there was nowhere cool in Hannover to go (one student, in particular, humorously – and yet repeatedly – directed me to Berlin).  But despite the fact that I was armed with a good map, a subway ticket, and directions to the shopping district, my task ended up much harder than I thought it would be. Continue reading

Your Turn: Delicious Ideologies

chickensaladI like their chicken salad. A lot. But every time I go into either of the two local stores it not only seems like I’m the only guy in there but, also, that everyone else seated eating or in line ordering is either a member of a sorority or wishes they were — it’s like there’s a code and I didn’t get the memo about the breezy little sundress. Continue reading