Artisan Society and Struggles in the Ottoman Empire

In recent years, there has been renewed interest in the history of the lives and work of middle eastern artisans. Bread from the Lion’s Mouth: Artisans Struggling for a Livelihood in Ottoman Cities, soon to be published, uses archival documents to re-create a scene of life in the Ottoman Empire from the fifteenth through twentieth centuries. Following, editor Suraiya Faroqhi discusses the history of this project and her interest in this region.




What drew you to the study of artisans in Ottoman cities? Why do you think there is a renewed interest in this field today?


Perhaps because I am fond of my own work, as a historian I have for a long time been interested in people that work – as opposed to those that pray, govern, or fight. Moreover I like to see the things that artisans/artists have made; and we must keep in mind that the beautiful things we admire in museums did not come into being ‘just like that’ but are the product of human work, especially that of artisans and artists.

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Honoring Polish Cinema

A Polish film “Ida” directed by Paweł Pawlikowski and written by Pawlikowski and Rebecca Lenkiewicz wins Oscar Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

The drama tells a story of a young novitiate nun Anna in 1960s Poland,  who is on the verge of taking her vows when she discovers a dark family secret dating back to the years of the Nazi occupation. Read more on the plot, cast & production.


To celebrate Berghahn Books is proud to present a selection of titles on Polish Cinema:


Politics and Memory
Marek Haltof

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Identity at the Intersection of Science and Culture

Drawing on the work of medical researchers, anthropologists, historians of science, and sociologists, Identity Politics and the New Genetics: Re/Creating Categories of Difference and Belonging explores how science and culture are used to create and perpetuate ideas of race and ethnicity. The volume was published as a paperback in November. Following, David Skinner, who co-edited the volume with Katharina Schramm and Richard Rottenburg, reflects on the volume’s reception and its distinction from other volumes on genetics and social history.




As the attention devoted to science journalist Nicholas Wade’s recent book A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History illustrates, discussion of race and genetics is habitually deemed ‘difficult’ or ‘controversial’. Wade is one of a long line of writers who portray themselves as fearless truth-seekers battling the politically correct consensus that races are social not biological types.

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Seeing is Feeling: Tangible Emotion in the Work of Aronofsky

With film director Darren Aronofsky‘s recent birthday (12 February) and the 87th Academy Awards set to air 22 February, Tarja Laine’s monograph is set for a timely publication. In Bodies in Pain: The Emotion and Cinema of Darren Aronofsky, to be published this month, Laine explores the emotionally engaging nature of this prominent director’s work, which includes Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan, Pi and The Fountain. Following, the author explains how she came to write this book, as well as some emotional nuances in the director’s oeuvre.




In 2011 when I was asked by Mark Stanton, then-senior editor at Berghahn Books to write a book about emotion and film aesthetics in the cinema of Darren Aronofsky, my book entitled Feeling Cinema had just been released a month before. At that point I was not planning to start a new book project any time soon, and nor did I have a clue where the next idea for a book would come from, so his proposal almost appeared to me as a gift from the universe. Furthermore, since Aronofsky as a filmmaker was not an obvious choice for me to write about, it was an extra challenge to come up with an aesthetically meaningful starting point, without falling into the trap of cheap auteurism.

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‘Healing Roots’: Author Traces Life of Wild Plant from Farm to Pharm

The healing powers of a plant in sub-Saharan Africa, long used for indigenous medicine, are now being harnessed as a pharmaceutical to be more widely produced and sold. Author Julie Laplante follows this path of production of Artemesia Afra from a wild-growing bush to a processed, controlled substance in her soon-to-be-published monograph, Healing Roots: Anthropology in Life and Medicine. Following, Laplante shares how her own path led her from researcher to author.




The journey told in the book began in August 2006 within the Biomedicine in Africa research group at the Max Planck Institute für etnologische forshung in Halle (Saale), Germany, as we were invited to explore how biomedicine is both shaping and being shaped through its practices in Africa. My own research project entitled ‘South African Roots towards Global Knowledge’ namely intended to find out how this is done through the practices of clinical trials as they aim to ‘recognize’ indigenous medicine.

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Simulated Shelves: Browse January 2015 New Books

We are delighted to present a selection of our newly published January 2015 titles from our core subjects of Anthropology, Economics, Environmental Studies, Film Studies, History, Jewish Studies, Medical Anthropology, and Politics, along with a selection of our New in Paperback titles.


We are especially excited to announce the publication of JESUS RECLAIMED: Jewish Perspectives on the Nazarene by Walter Homolka

“This book offers a constructive contribution to the debates on the theological significance of Jewish and Christian approaches to the historical Jesus. The author’s knowledge of Jewish and Christian discourses on both sides of the Atlantic is impressive.” · Werner G. Jeanrond, University of Oxford



Jewish Perspectives on the Nazarene
Walter Homolka
Translated by Ingrid Shafer


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Social Exchange and Conceptual Query

Combining classic and contemporary theory, Thinking through Sociality: An Anthropological Interrogation of Key Concepts is an exploration of concepts from disjuncture to social space and field to sociability. In advance of the volume’s publication later this month, editor Vered Amit discusses its origins and purpose.




This volume is the outcome of a continuing series of exchanges among the contributors, which took place over several years. When I initiated the first of these exchanges in 2006, I wondered why anthropologists had often resorted uncritically to relatively few, familiar concepts of sociality—such as community—in spite of the availability of a much broader range of ideas that might be effectively applied to the varied contemporary situations they were seeking to apprehend.


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Writing for Goffman: Coincidence Drives Idea behind ‘Vehicles’

Recently published Vehicles: Cars, Canoes and other Metaphors of Moral Imagination, edited by David Lipset and Richard Handler, offers insight into the vehicle as an object that can move not only people, but also ideas. Following, Handler discusses the origination of the volume, which all came about by way of an interesting connection of coincidence.




This volume came about serendipitously.


My friend David Lipset emailed me in the summer of 2008 with the standard “what are you working on” question. I replied that I was working on a series of essays about the great American sociologist, Erving Goffman. David wrote back to tell me the rather astounding story about his first car, a late-1950s VW Beetle that his father had bought from Goffman, in Berkeley, California, where both of them taught.


The fact that Goffman was an “early adopter” (in the U.S.) of the Beetle explained, I thought, some cryptic comments in Behavior in Public Places, where Goffman described the interactional contempt that drivers of small cars endured.


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International Holocaust Remembrance Day

International Holocaust Remembrance Day, established by the United Nations General Assembly, is an international memorial day on 27 January commemorating the victims of the Holocaust. It commemorates the genocide that resulted in the death of an estimated 6 million Jews, 1 million Gypsies, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled people, and 9,000 homosexual men by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.


January 27th, 2015 also marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazis’ most notorious concentration camp, Auschwitz, also known as Auschwitz-Birkenau. Most of about 1.1 million people that passed through the gates between 1940 and 1945 never left, many of them murdered in the camp’s gas chambers. Only some 200,000 are believed to have survived that fate. No one knows how many of the survivors remain alive today, but it’s a group that is dwindling as age takes its toll. To mark the liberation’s anniversary, about 300 former Auschwitz prisoners are travelling to Oświęcim, Poland, to pay tribute on Jan. 27 at Birkenau’s Gate of Death, the unloading ramp at the camp’s rail entrance.


In honor of the UN’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, Berghahn has made several relevant journal articles freely available through a special virtual issue. You may access the issue through this link:


Berhahn Books would also like to present a selection of relevant titles on the history of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies.


New Transnational Approaches
Edited by Norman J. W. Goda

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