Friday, February 20, 2009

Fear of Small Numbers or The Way Home

Fear of Small Numbers: An Essay on the Geography of Anger

Author: Arjun Appadurai

The period since 1989 has been marked by the global endorsement of open markets, the free flow of finance capital and liberal ideas of constitutional rule, and the active expansion of human rights. Why, then, in this era of intense globalization, has there been a proliferation of violence, of ethnic cleansing on the one hand and extreme forms of political violence against civilian populations on the other?

Fear of Small Numbers is Arjun Appadurai’s answer to that question. A leading theorist of globalization, Appadurai turns his attention to the complex dynamics fueling large-scale, culturally motivated violence, from the genocides that racked Eastern Europe, Rwanda, and India in the early 1990s to the contemporary “war on terror.” Providing a conceptually innovative framework for understanding sources of global violence, he describes how the nation-state has grown ambivalent about minorities at the same time that minorities, because of global communication technologies and migration flows, increasingly see themselves as parts of powerful global majorities. By exacerbating the inequalities produced by globalization, the volatile, slippery relationship between majorities and minorities foments the desire to eradicate cultural difference.

Appadurai analyzes the darker side of globalization: suicide bombings; anti-Americanism; the surplus of rage manifest in televised beheadings; the clash of global ideologies; and the difficulties that flexible, cellular organizations such as Al-Qaeda present to centralized, “vertebrate” structures such as national governments. Powerful, provocative, and timely, Fear of Small Numbers is a thoughtful invitation to rethink what violence is in an age of globalization.

What People Are Saying

Charles Taylor
"Arjun Appadurai is already known as the author of striking new formulations which have greatly illuminated contemporary global developments, notably in Modernity at Large. In this new book, he tackles the most burning and perplexing problems of collective violence which beset us today. The book is alive with new and original ideas, essential food for thought not just for scholars, but for all concerned with these issues."
author of Modern Social Imaginaries

Partha Chatterjee
"In this book, Appadurai follows up Modernity at Large with a look into the seamy side of globalization. Analysing the growing inequalities and endemic violence of the past decade, he still sees signs of hope in less noticed trends of 'globalization from below.' These are important new thoughts from an influential thinker of our times."
Director, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, and Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University, New York

Go to: Geekonomics or Murachs Visual Basic 2005

The Way Home: A German Childhood, an American Life

Author: Ernestine Bradley

In this moving and candid memoir we meet Ernestine Bradley, the wife of former senator and presidential hopeful Bill Bradley. She stood out among Senate wives: a German-born lover of languages and a transplant to America, Ernestine had a full-time career in New Jersey as a professor of comparative literature, commuted weekly to Washington, D.C., and ran two households—she was in constant motion.
As the book opens, Ernestine takes us to the small town of Passau, Germany, her childhood home, offering a vivid picture of ordinary German life during the Nazi period and just after World War II. As kids on the loose while the fathers were away at war and the mothers were working, Ernestine and her pals explored the town’s winding alleys and its three rivers, experiencing a sense of adventure and freedom (despite the privations of war) that would be a touchstone throughout her life. Ernestine vividly describes how she came to see opportunity in defeat as she watched the American troops roll through her little town; this was a primal moment that helped her to face everything that was to come. We follow her as she leaves West Germany, lands a glamorous job as an airline stewardess, and arrives in America, where she marries unhappily and divorces before finally meeting the basketball star and future senator. We watch their romance become an inspiring marriage of equals, his steadiness the perfect complement to her passionate, sometimes flaring nature, as their lives are soon crowded with family, the demands of their individual careers, politics, and, finally, Ernestine’s fight with breast cancer.
This is a wonderful, inspiring story from a woman who hastriumphed—both publicly and personally—against great odds. It is also the introduction to an exuberant voice, one that invites us to reflect on all that we have and on how far we may have to travel to find our way home.

Publishers Weekly

"Memories, to me, are like illuminated islands floating in an ocean of darkness," begins Bradley's memoir. Wife of Bill Bradley, the former senator and candidate for the 2000 presidential election, Ernestine Bradley recounts her rocky childhood in Germany during and after WWII and her move to the U.S. as an adult. Bradley's recollections of her childhood and adolescence in Germany provide an insightful portrait of a family in flux during the Nazi regime, but the flow of emotion is often interrupted by unnecessary parenthetical comments and uncertainty (e.g., "This I don't remember, but it makes sense"). Bradley's parents' intense-and at times unconventional-relationship is a focal point of the author's childhood confusion and adolescent resentment, and inspires heartfelt descriptions. Her strength is apparent as she describes her flight from the confines of her family-appropriately enough as an airline flight attendant-and her subsequent challenges as a wife, mother, academic (in the field of comparative literature) and breast cancer survivor. Her descriptions of her later life are short but accurately relay the difficulties she dealt with as a woman balancing a career and a family during the 1960s and '70s. While at times stiff and defensive, Bradley's memoir is a fine portrait of a childhood spent in wartime and an adult's search for true identity. Illus. Agent, Philippa Brophy. (Mar. 1) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Penelope Power - KLIATT

Ernestine Bradley's autobiography illustrates the value to the US of immigration. Growing up in Germany during WW II gave her a different outlook; her husband says in his autobiography that his wife "was a child of the defeat." Certainly she had a childhood that no native-born American had to experience. However, the thread throughout her book is not the German experience, but the family experience, a universal story. When she writes about mid-century German history she is clear and concise, as befits a professor of literature. When she writes about her own family, the emotional ties to her mother, father and stepfather, she is not so clear. Certainly her relationship with her mother was the most important influence in her life. The war colored her childhood, even if she did not understand the ramifications of the German defeat until she began teaching at Spellman College in Atlanta, in the early 1960s, after the collapse of her first marriage. She then began to appreciate the universal evil of racism through her growing awareness of the Holocaust: when she was growing up no mention was made of Germany's role in the murder of millions of Jews. The author has had experiences on many fronts, beginning with the care of a younger brother and sister at the end of the war. Breast cancer was diagnosed and treated in the early '90s; she has been cancer-free since. (She continues to talk about breast cancer on the lecture circuit.) She was active and involved in her husband's unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. There is much more to Ernestine Bradley's life than immigration. We do, however, appreciate the determination and contribution of immigrants like her with similarstories to tell. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2005, Random House, Anchor, 259p. illus., Ages 15 to adult.

Library Journal

From a childhood in Nazi Germany to work as an airline stewardess to a professorship in comparative literature and marriage to a basketball-playing senator. With a four-city author tour. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews

The spouse of the former senator from New Jersey speaks about her history and emotional life. In an autobiography characterized by such thoughts, Ernestine Bradley reveals that sometimes she thinks of herself as "a mangrove tree with roots hanging in the air," a conceit prompted principally by her childhood in postwar Germany. What with American soldiers, ersatz sausages, lice, and a truck that was fueled by wood, it seems to have been the worst of times for kleine Wuschi and her family in the Bavarian town of Passau. She had, it appears, two fathers. There was the loving biological one, who was a member of the Luftwaffe, and then there was the hairdresser, a member of the Nazi party, who was a temporary loving father of convenience for a while. It's little wonder that an operatic attitude dominates the first part of this before-and-after story. In the 1950s, when she was 21 (and had excellent language skills), Ernestine emigrated to the US and the excitement of New York, working as a Pan Am stewardess. Soon, she was living in Atlanta, the wife of a physician and the parent of a daughter. But that life didn't work out. Next, divorced and back in New York, she met the smart pro basketball player. She joined the academic world and settled in New Jersey, married to terrific Bill Bradley. He is, she assures us, the best of husbands, especially during her victorious bout with breast cancer. There are certain lacunae, to be sure, with virtually nothing relating to Senator Bill's career or his run for the Oval Office. Rather, here's Oprah-style self-awareness, presented with careful skill. It might not have helped a presidential campaign, anyway. With its bit of Teutonic flavor, this isn't thestory of a typical Jersey Girl-nor is it the most unusual or gripping of revelatory journeys.

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