Living with Class

Wednesday is the pub date for a new book I’ve got an essay in, Living with Class: Philosophical Reflections on Identity and Material Culture. My essay, “Dying with Class,” is about race, class, and hospice use.

I’m delighted to be alongside these contributors!

Here’s the publisher’s page:

Here’s the amazon page:

Here’s the table of contents:

Introduction: Working Class; Ron Scapp and Brian Seitz

1. Class Dismissed: The Issue Is Accountability; bell hooks
2. Letter from a Lovelorn Pre-Radical: Looking Forward and Backward at Martin Luther King Jr.; Kevin Bruyneel,
3. In Search of a New Left, Then and Now; Dick Howard
4. The Status of Class; Stanley Aronowitz
5. ‘Fix the Tired’: Cultural Politics and the Struggle for Shorter Hours; Kristin Lawler
6. Literary and Real Life Salesmen and the Performance of Class; Jon Dietrick
7. Money Changes Everything?: African American Class-Based Attitudes toward LBGT Issues; Ravi K. Perry, Yasmiyn Irizarry, and Timothy J. Fair
8. Democracy without Class: Investigating the Political Unconscious of the United States; M. Lane Bruner
9. Re-Forming Class: Wealth, Culture, and Identity in South Africa; Lisa Nell
10. Whiteness as Currency: Rethinking the Exchange Rate; Emily M. Drew
11. Dying with Class: Race, Religion, and the Commodification of a Good Death; Ann Neumann
12. New Materialisms and Digital Culture: Productive Labor and the Software Wars; Ted Kafala
13. Feminist Theory and the Critique of Class; Robin Truth Goodman
14. Criminal Class; Eric Anthamatten
15. Consuming Class: Identity & Power through the Commodification of Bourgeois Culture, Celebrity, and Glamour; Raúl Rubio
16. When Prosperity Is Built on Poverty, There Can Be No Foundation for Peace, as Poverty and Peace Don’t Stand Hand in Hand; Pepi Leistyna
17. Solon the Athenian and the Origins of Class Struggle; Thomas Thorp
18. Memories of Class and Youth in the Age of Disposability; Henry A. Giroux

Articles Update

I have a new column, “The Patient Body,” at The Revealer, a publication of The Center for Religion and Media at New York University, where I was editor for three and a half years. When I stepped down in June, I was delighted to initiate the column which examines issues at the intersection of religion and medicine.

You can read the first installment on assisted suicide, “An Irresistable Force,” here and the second on kidney donations, “What’s a Kidney Worth” here. The fantastic Kali Handelmann is The Revealer’s new editor; I remain a contributing editor.

I’ll have an article in the New York Law Review in January 2014 that takes off from my Guernica piece earlier in the year and examines two places in the US where a patient can be fed against their will: a US prison and a Catholic hospital. The article has been a long time coming and is adapted from a talk I gave at the law school last year. I’m excited to see it in print!

My essay on race, class and hospice use will appear in Living With Class: Philosophical Reflections on Identity and Material Culture, a new book edited by Brian Seitz and Ron Scapp (Palgrave Macmillan, December 2013). You can pre-order Living with Class here.

In September I wrote about a controversy regarding stem cell research and the Vatican for Religion & Politics. The article, “The Vatican’s New Clothes: Very Small Embryonic-Like Cells and Faith in Evidence Not Seen,” examines new research the Catholic Church invested one million dollars into, VSEL cells that, if properly harnessed, could prevent the use of embryonic stem cells which the church opposes. Scientists have debunked the research, claiming that it is false and ideologically driven. I interviewed leading bioethicists as well as Catholic and non-Catholic opponents of embryonic stem cell research. The piece was picked up by the Sidney Hillman Foundation. You can read it here.

From May:

It’s been exciting to watch a recent article I wrote for Waging Nonviolence (prompted by their brilliant editor, my friend Nathan Schneider) get picked up around the web.  “Guantanamo is not an anomoly” was picked up by Common Dreams and Salon!

After writing about Bill Coleman for Guernica magazine in January, I saw the (necessary, exciting) media explosion in April highlighting treatment of Guantanamo prisoners–and wondered why an essential part of the story was missing:  force-feedings, considered torture by most of the world, are done in U.S. prisons all the time.  That’s, in part, the point of my story on Bill.

The Hunger of First Nations Chief Spence

On Saturday I was on “Viewpoints” with Todd van der Heyden on Montreal’s CJAD 800 AM talking about First Nations Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike and my new Guernica Magazine article on William Coleman, a hunger striking prisoner in Connecticut, “The Longest Hunger Strike.”

You can listen here:

Hour 1seg 3

And at the CJAD blog.

The Longest Hunger Strike

Last week Guernica Magazine published my article, “The Longest Hunger Strike,” edited by the amazing journalist Jina Moore.

I’m delighted that Longreads and The Sidney Hillman Foundation have picked up the story.

Here’s a clip:

From Europe to East Asia, hunger-striking has been used for centuries to demand rights, most often by those who have little other way, beyond sacrifice of their own body, to protest. Before Ireland became Christian, self-starvation was known as Troscadh, a non-violent way to shame wrongdoers. In India the protester traditionally sat on the front step of the person who owed them money or had offended them. A Google alert reminds me daily that active hunger strikes are occurring around the world: a First Nations chief seeking rights for the indigenous in Canada; political prisoners in Turkey; Iranian and Afghan refugees in Berlin, Germany; indigenous prisoners in Santiago, Chile.

Go read the whole thing at Guernica Magazine.

Knight Grant.

Here’s an announcement!  I’m tickled to have received a 2011 Knight Grant for Reporting on Religion in American Public Life from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.  I’ll be using the funds to report on dying and death and how it is regulated by state and federal laws.  My research will take me to four states in the US to report on: the recent legalization of Death with Dignity in Montana; religion in a prison hospice in California; denominational health care in Arizona; and court-ordered feeding of death row patients in Alabama.  Click here to read the complete list of recipients and more about the grant.  Thanks USC!

Here It Comes.

I’ve been saying for a few years now that the Catholic Church’s assault on end of life rights was coming, that it would incorporate the same strategies that were used to mobilize “pro-life” groups in the erosion of reproductive rights, that it would make use of lessons learned since Roe v Wade, that it would engage direct aid in dying laws as well as ancillary laws regarding patients’ rights, that it would take journalists a while to catch on, wary as they are of meaningful discussions about death, and that it would be a new primary issue on the “pro-life” platform.

My engaging and long conversation with Richard Doerflinger, Associate Director of the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, two nights ago confirmed that while the church issues “teaching statements” against aid in dying, elevating it to the top item on it’s Spring General Assembly agenda, a vast and well-funded network of activists across the nation will act on that statement in new and damaging ways.

In my recent piece at The Nation, I challenge journalists, left and right, to pay attention.  We’re not just talking about the legalization of aid in dying anymore.  We’re talking about an entire spectrum of end of life care, laws, and services that will be jeopardized by such activism, just as we enter a new phase in the health care crisis.

100 Years of Bishop

Let me not miss this chance to celebrate Bishop’s achievements in this her centenary year. I can think of no better way than by revisiting, and thinking for a moment about, what makes her poetry so great. There are not quite one hundred finished poems that represent her work; these seem to me more than enough to read and reread for a lifetime of instruction, heartbreak, and delight. The first poem on the first page of her first book–which can be seen by readers of the new Poems in the same appropriate place–is called “The Map.” It’s first stanza reads:

Land lies in water; it is shadowed green.
Shadows, or are they shallows, at its edges
showing the line of long sea-weeded ledges
where weeds hang to the simple blue from green.
Or does the land lean down to lift the sea from under,
drawing it unperturbed around itself?
Along the fine tan sandy shelf
is the land tugging at the sea from under?

–from April Bernard’s review of three new books, collections of Bishop’s poems, prose and letters, from The New York Book Review, March 24, 2011


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