ARB Recommends: From the Alaska, Alberta, Arkansas, and Athabasca UP Fall 2020 Catalogs

ARB Recommends is a regular column of ARB that covers seasonal catalogs from indie, trade, and academic publishers, highlighting the kinds of books our editors, contributors, and readers want to read. As a publication devoted to radical critical engagement with the world—and devoted to reviewing books and media that do this—it only makes sense for ARB to support publishers by showcasing the work they and their authors do.

AB Recommends also serves as a “what to review” guide for those interested in contributing to ARB. Like what you see here? Reach out to us to review it!

This entry of ARB Recommends takes a look at the Fall 2020 catalogs for several smaller university presses: University of Alaska Press, University of Alberta Press, University of Arkansas Press, and Athabasca University Press. Though small, each is a leader in different fields, especially in regional histories, regional trade, and Indigenous studies. Many of these and other smaller UPs also publish a great deal of diverse fiction and poetry.

Full fall 2020 catalogs for these presses can be downloaded at the following links:

The books below emphasize race, ethnicity, and cultural studies, environmental studies, and small press fiction and poetry. Click the book images below for links to buy.

Fiction and Poetry

Grieving for Pigeons: Twelve Stories of Lahore

Zubair Ahmad, translated by Anne Murphy
Athabasca University Press
October 2020 / $22.99 / 128 pp.

In this poignant and meditative collection of short stories, Zubair Ahmad captures the lives and experiences of the people of the Punjab, a region divided between India and Pakistan. In an intimate narrative style, Ahmad writes a world that hovers between memory and imagination, home and abroad. The narrator follows the pull of his subconscious, shifting between past and present, recalling different eras of Lahore’s neighbourhoods and the communities that define them.

These stories evoke the complex realities of post-colonial Pakistani Punjab. The contradictions and betrayals of this region’s history reverberate through the stories, evident in the characters, their circumstances, and sometimes their erasure. Skillfully translated from Punjabi by Anne Murphy, this collection is an essential contribution to the wider recognition of the Punjabi language and its literature.

Kurdish Women’s Stories

Houzan Mahmoud, editor
University of Alberta Press
January 2021 / $29.99 CAN / 224 pp.

From all four parts of Kurdistan and across the diaspora, Kurdish women from different geographical, political, and educational backgrounds pick up a pen, reflect, and remember.

Going beyond exoticising stereotypes and patriarchal representations, Kurdish Women’s Stories gives 25 women authorial freedom to write about their own lived experiences. With contributors ranging from 20 to 70 years of age, we hear stories of imprisonment, exile, disappearances of loved ones, gender-based violence, uprisings, feminist activism, and armed resistance, including first-hand accounts of political moments from the 1960s to today.

Conceived as part of Culture Project’s self- writing program, this book is essential reading for anyone who wants to better understand the struggle of Kurdish women through their own words.

Migratory Sound: Poems

Sara Lupita Olivares
University of Arkansas Press
October 2020 / $16.95 / 94 pp.

Winner, 2020 CantoMundo Poetry Prize

Sara Lupita Olivares’s Migratory Sound, winner of the 2020 CantoMundo Poetry Prize, looks back to generational narratives of Mexican American migration, examining linguistic and geographic boundaries as it journeys north along routes of seasonal fieldwork and factory labor. “Whether enacting a bird migration, or the uprooting of people relocating north, or the private movement from sleep to alert vigilance,” series editors Carolina Ebeid and Carmen Giménez Smith observe, “Olivares’s stark poetry concerns the precarious idea of place and its underlying ‘unplace.’ She makes evident how every place bears a relationship with an elsewhere, an over there sometimes situated underneath.”


Alaska Native Games and How to Play Them

Tricia Nuyaqik Brown and Joni Kitmiiq Spiess
University of Alaska Press
Aug. 2020 / $19.95 / 100 pp.

The athletes of the Alaska Native games aren’t just returning to their roots. They’ve never left them. In this beautifully illustrated book, readers learn the history of twenty-five Native games that have been handed down through generations, how each one relates to the subsistence lifestyle, and how you can try them yourself, regardless of where you live.

As Tricia Nuyaqik Brown shows, even though today’s competitions are a big media event in Alaska, the games themselves are really no different from those of long ago. Ancestral communities once pitted their strongest, their most agile, their fastest men and women against those from neighboring villages or tribal groups. Those games never died, but rather than gathering in a sod meeting place, competitions are now held in gyms and arenas.

Each game today can be linked to some aspect of surviving in a harsh environment, of drawing sustenance from the land and sea. From the Seal Hop to the Bench Reach to the Four-Man Carry, these ancient games still require athletes to be in top physical condition and possess sharp mental focus. They hold dear the traditional Native values of honoring the elders, responsibility to tribe, sportsmanship, humor, patience, and hunter success. This book offers an engaging introduction to these games and their history, inviting people to jump in and try them for themselves!

Blood in their Eyes: The ElainE Massacre of 1919
Revised Edition

Grif Stockley, Brian K. Mitchell, and Guy Lancaster
University of Arkansas Press
May 2020 / $27.95 / 370 pp.

On September 30, 1919, local law enforcement in rural Phillips County, Arkansas, attacked black sharecroppers at a meeting of the Progressive Farmers and Household Union of America. The next day, hundreds of white men from the Delta, along with US Army troops, converged on the area “with blood in their eyes.” What happened next was one of the deadliest incidents of racial violence in the history of the United States, leaving a legacy of trauma and silence that has persisted for more than a century. In the wake of the massacre, the NAACP and Little Rock lawyer Scipio Jones spearheaded legal action that revolutionized due process in America.

The first edition of Grif Stockley’s Blood in Their Eyes, published in 2001, brought renewed attention to the Elaine Massacre and sparked valuable new studies on racial violence and exploitation in Arkansas and beyond. With contributions from fellow historians Brian K. Mitchell and Guy Lancaster, this revised edition draws from recently uncovered source material and explores in greater detail the actions of the mob, the lives of those who survived the massacre, and the regime of fear and terror that prevailed under Jim Crow.

This project was funded in part by a grant from the Black History Commission of Arkansas.

Memory and Landscape: Indigenous Responses to a Changing North

Kenneth L. Pratt and Scott A. Heyes, editors
Athabasca University Press
March 2021 / $44.99 / 448 pp.

The North is changing at an unprecedented rate as industrial development and the climate crisis disrupt not only the environment but also long-standing relationships to the land and traditional means of livelihood. Memory and Landscape: Indigenous Responses to a Changing North explores the ways in which Indigenous peoples in the Arctic have adapted to challenging circumstances, including past cultural and environmental changes. In this beautifully illustrated volume, contributors document how Indigenous communities in Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland, and Siberia are seeking ways to maintain and strengthen their cultural identity while also embracing forces of disruption.

Indigenous and non-Indigenous contributors bring together oral history and scholarly research from disciplines such as linguistics, archaeology, and ethnohistory. With an emphasis on Indigenous place names, this volume illuminates how the land—and the memories that are inextricably tied to it—continue to define Indigenous identity. The perspectives presented here also serve to underscore the value of Indigenous knowledge and its essential place in future studies of the Arctic.

Our Whole Gwich’in Way of Life Has Changed / Gwich’in K’yuu Gwiidandài’ Tthak Ejuk Gòonlih: Stories from the People of the Land

Leslie McCartney and Gwich’in Tribal Council
University of Alberta Press
December 2020 / $99.99 / 800 pp.

A project originally conceived to document the biographies of Elders by the Gwich’in Social and Cultural Institute, Our Whole Gwich’in Way of Life Has Changed / Gwich’in K’yuu Gwiidandài’ Tthak Ejuk Gòonlih is an invaluable compilation of historical and cultural information.

The stories of twenty-three Gwich’in Elders from the Northwest Territories communities of Fort McPherson, Tsiigehtshik, Inuvik, and Aklavik talk about the pleasures of living and travelling on the land. Their distinctive voices speak to their values, world views, and cultural assumptions, while McCartney assists by providing context and background on the lives of the narrators and their communities.

Scholars, students, and all those interested in Canadian/Northern history, anthropology, Indigenous Studies, oral history, or cultural geography will benefit from this critical resource.

World Bolshevism

Iulii Martov, translated by Paul Kellogg and Mariya Melentyeva
Athabasca University Press
December 2020 / $27.99 / 192 pp.

In 1903, at the close of the Second Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, the socialist party had split into two factions, those that would follow Lenin’s proposed revolutionary path and those that would follow Iulii Martov—a group that would call themselves the Mensheviks. A Jewish Marxist, Martov was known among fellow party members as an intellectual, an anti-war internationalist, and a successful organizer. He wrote prolifically for a number of important revolutionary outlets inside and outside Russia including Iskra and ZaryaNashe Slovo, and Golos.

Despite his significant contributions to the Russian Revolution, Martov’s only book, World Bolshevism, has seen very little circulation since its first publication in Berlin in 1919. Parts of that first edition, a Russian-language edition, appeared for the first time in Russia in 2000, when it was deemed safe enough to circulate his work once again. In English, his work has reached the public in fragments, often as a part of pamphlets. In this edition, ably translated by Paul Kellogg and Mariya Melentyeva, Martov’s work is available in English in its complete form for the first time in a hundred years.

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