University of Washington political scientist Megan Ming Francis says there is a dearth of academic book series being published on topics of race, ethnicity and politics. Now, she will start to change that.
Megan Ming Francis
An associate professor of political science, Francis will be the editor of a new series of books from Cambridge University Press called Cambridge Elements in Race, Ethnicity and Politics.
Francis, on leave and at Harvard for the 2019-2020 school year, answered a few questions about the new book series. The study of race and ethnicity, she said, will be “the unifying characteristic” of all manuscripts in the series.
“I am especially interested in highlighting research that has real-world implications and speaks to the political moment,” she said. “A central focus of this series will be to connect this type of research that happens in the academy to public discussions.”
Despite confusion now reigning in United States politics, she said, it’s clear that scholars, students and the public want “rigorous and accessible manuscripts that combine an analysis of the political system with a focus on racial politics.”
Francis studies American politics, race, the development of constitutional law, black politics and the post-Civil War South, and wrote the award-winning 2014 book Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State.
Will this series truly stand alone as the only one dedicated to those themes?
“Yes. Currently, there is not a single book series centered on the diverse subfield of race and ethnicity in political science from a major university press. There are series on ‘social movements’ and ‘political behavior’ and ‘migration,’ as well as many on ‘American politics,’ where most of the scholarship of race and politics is subsumed.
“The absence is stunning and represents a great opportunity, especially in an era when mainstream journalists and well-established political scientists have called for analyses to rethink the role of race and ethnicity.”
That said, Francis mentioned “one notable exception” – the Oxford University Press series “Transgressing Boundaries,” focusing on black politics. But even in 2019, she said, the discipline of political science has no series focusing more broadly on race and ethnicity.
The rise of Donald Trump to the presidency, she said, “and the increasing power of authoritarian regimes abroad (Brazil, Italy, Venezuela)” have in fact increased the need for scholarship that investigates the role of race and equity in politics.”
When will readers begin seeing titles? And what will the process be for you?
“Readers should expect to see titles during fall of 2020 but it will be an incremental rollout with about two to three titles next year and about four to five titles the subsequent three years.
“With my curation of the series, I want to make sure that all of the manuscripts are diverse in terms of what groups they focus on and their methodologies. The goal of this Elements series is focused on publishing important original research on race and ethnicity that will be of wide interest to students, scholars and the larger public.”
The series aims to “shed light on previously understudied topics and groups.” What are examples?
Francis cites understudied topics such as political disinformation between and about racial groups; problems of race and measurement; racial capitalism; ethnicity and national security; religion and race; black women voters; surveillance; racial regimes in Western democracies; and settler colonialism.
You mention seeking work that speaks to the current political moment. How can academic books react more nimbly to current events?
The most frequent complaint she hears from colleagues about academic publishing, Francis said, is how long it can take from submission to publication of articles and books. Amid a broader discussion on institutional norms, she said, many publishers have committed to a shorter peer review process.
“The Elements series presents a revolutionary approach to an academic book, publishing with its projected 12-week production process after final acceptance. This swift timeline will ensure that important work does not languish and instead will make certain important scholarship is quickly disseminated to colleagues, students and the public.
“The shorter publication timeline opens up many opportunities for scholars of race and politics. Reignited old issues such as white supremacists marching and new topics, including the border wall and the historic number of women of color in Congress, have highlighted the pressing need for scholarship to speak to the quickly changing landscape of race and ethnicity in the United States and abroad.”
The election of Trump, Francis said, underscores how central race and ethnicity are to any analyses of the political system.
“Scholarship will not match the speed of Trump’s tweets,” Francis said, “but the accelerated timeline for review and publication will allow audiences to better understand the quickly shifting political climate.”
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Other book notes:
“Afterlife of Reproductive Slavery” honored: The latest book by Alys Eve Weinbaum, UW professor of English, has received one award and an honorable mention for another from the National Women’s Studies Association.
Weinbaum’s “The Afterlife of Reproductive Slavery: Biocapitalism and Black Feminism’s Philosophy of History,” has been awarded the Sarah A. Whaley Prize, given to a monograph that addresses women and labor issues from intersectional perspectives. There is a $2,000 cash award. The book, published in March by Duke University Press, also received an honorable mention for the association’s Gloria E. Anzaldúa prize, for feminist contributions to women of color/transnational scholarship.
“American Sabor” shares best history award: “American Sabor: Latinos and Latinas in U.S. Popular Music / Latinos y latinas en la musica popular estadounidense” by Marisol Berríos-Miranda, Shannon Dudley and Michelle Habell-Pallán, has tied for the honor of best historical research in recorded rock and popular music for 2019 from the Association for Recorded Sound Collections. Sharing the history award with “American Sabor” is “Bing Crosby: Swinging on a Star: The War Years, 1940-1946,” a second biography of the famous actor and crooner, by Gary Giddins.
Berríos-Miranda is an affiliate assistant professor and Dudley a professor, both of ethnomusicology, in the School of Music. Habell-Pallán is a professor of gender, women and sexuality studies, and adjunct professor of music. Before it became a book, “American Sabor” was an exhibit at the Experience Music Project, now the Museum of Pop Culture, in 2007.
Robin Stacey history book honored twice: UW history professor Robin Chapman Stacey has received two honors for her book on Welsh history, “Law and the Imagination in Medieval Wales,” which was published in 2018 by University of Pennsylvania Press.
The University of Wales has awarded Stacey its annual Vernam Hull Memorial Prize. One of three annual awards from the university, it is named for and funded by a bequest from Hull, who taught at Harvard University. And Jesus College, part of the University of Oxford, has named Stacey recipient of its annual Francis Jones Prize in Welsh history, named for a renowned historian and archivist.
“My thanks to everyone involved,” Stacey said, “including the specialists at the University of Pennsylvania Press who did such a good job with its production.”