KPFA: Against the Grain [Program Feed]

  • Beauty Ideals and Feminist Thought
    In what ways do media-propagated ideals of beauty affect women and girls? Whose interests do such ideals serve? Meeta Rani Jha [1] draws from the ideas of second- and third-wave feminism in her examination of the beauty pageant phenomenon; hair-straightening and other appearance-changing practices; and antiracist challenges to the dominant white beauty standard. Also: Angela Davis on black women and the blues [2]. Meeta Rani Jha, The Global Beauty Industry: Colorism, Racism, and the National Body [3] Routledge, 2015 [1] [2] [3]
  • Slave Rebellion and Repression
    In 1805, a remarkable slave rebellion took place — not in the Atlantic, but in the Pacific, and involving an unusual ruse. And it illustrates, argues historian Greg Grandin, something fundamental about freedom and unfreedom in the New World. Grandin examines the historical event, immortalized by Herman Melville, in which insurgent slave leaders maintained a striking deception against the odds, but were ultimately repressed by an anti-slavery republican.(Encore presentation.) Resources: Greg Grandin, The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World [1] Picador, 2015     [1]
  • World War I and Worker Power
    When workers have leverage, as they did in the U.S. during World War I, their prospects for extracting concessions from employers are enhanced. Robert Ovetz [1] describes the wave of labor unrest that marked that period, as well as the Wilson administration’s efforts to pacify workers in order to keep the war economy going. He asserts that government intervention was a sort of trial run for the labor-planning mechanisms put in place during the New Deal. Robert Ovetz, When Workers Shot Back: Class Conflict from 1877 to 1921 [2] Brill, 2018 [1] [2]
  • Reclaiming Popular Rule
    In the 2000s, various left-leaning governments swept to power in Latin America, known as the Pink Tide, raising the hopes of many around the world. But their successes were limited, and in places like Brazil, center-left governments have now been replaced by the hard right.  Gianpaolo Baiocchi reflects on the crisis of the left in Latin America, Europe, and North America — and what could be done to re-imagine a radical left project. Resources: Gianpaolo Baiocchi, We, the Sovereign [1] Polity Press, 2018   [1]
  • Gandhi on Truth and Freedom
    Manu Samnotra [1] discusses the ideas of Mohandas Gandhi and, in particular, what Gandhi thought about truth and how to attain it; self-discipline and how to practice it; political independence and how to achieve it; and modern civilization and how to act in relation to it. Samnotra defines, and describes the interconnections among, satyagraha (civil disobedience), ahimsa (nonviolence), and swaraj (self-rule). Bernd Reiter, ed., Constructing the Pluriverse: The Geopolitics of Knowledge [2] Duke University Press, 2018 [1] [2]
  • Copspeak
    We’re told that the police are imperfect, but if we make the right reforms, the bad apples will be weeded out and aggressive behavior no longer tolerated. But, as David Correia argues, what if the police are not reformable? (Encore presentation.) Resources: David Correia and Tyler Wall, Police: A Field Guide [1] Verso, 2018 [1]
  • A Look Back
    Highlights of some of the best commentary presented on Against the Grain in 2018, featuring Vijay Prashad [1] on investment strikes; Priya Satia [2] on the Industrial Revolution; Michael Hardt [3] and Paul Christopher Gray [4] on social-change strategies; Raka Ray [5] on colonialism and gender; Victor Wallis [6] on energy consumption; and Osagie Obasogie [7] on race-specific medicine.     [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]
  • Struggles Across Borders
    From at least the Haitian Revolution to the present, black and brown people in the Western Hemisphere have linked arms in solidarity with each other. Historian Paul Ortiz discusses how we can’t understand the United States and its past without looking beyond its borders. (Encore presentation.) Resources: Paul Ortiz, An African American and Latinx History of the United States [1] Beacon Press, 2018 [1]
  • Gay Rights and Mass Opinion
    Beginning in the late 1980s, mass attitudes in the U.S. shifted dramatically toward greater tolerance of LGBTQ people and greater support of gay rights. What accounts for this rapid and sustained shift? Jeremiah Garretson examines a number of factors, including the AIDS crisis, grassroots activism, news coverage, fictional portrayals of gays and lesbians on TV, and interpersonal contact. (Encore presentation.) Jeremiah Garretson, The Path to Gay Rights: How Activism and Coming Out Changed Public Opinion [1] NYU Press, 2018 [1]
  • Consulting the Masses
    Consumer capitalism and the focus group appear to go hand in hand. But Liza Featherstone argues that the focus group has radical origins and, in convoluted ways, points to the potential for collective input in an egalitarian society. She discusses the history of focus groups for consumer goods and electoral politics. (Encore presentation.) Resources: Liza Featherstone, Divining Desire: Focus Groups and the Culture of Consultation [1] OR Books, 2018 [1]
  • Imagining Life After Capitalism
    What can Star Trek tell us about life after capitalism? Peter Frase discusses four possible futures in a world where workers are increasingly being replaced by machines — ranging from communist and socialist societies to ones in which workers are literally disposable. (Encore presentation.) Resources: Peter Frase, Four Futures: Life After Capitalism Verso, 2014
  • Sex, Gender, and the Asian/“Oriental”
    How Chinese and Japanese people were depicted and treated in San Francisco had a lot to do with the creation of the American “Oriental,” argues Amy Sueyoshi [1] in a new book. She links stereotypical portrayals of Asians to the process by which white San Franciscans viewed and addressed changes to their own sexual norms and gender roles. (Encore presentation.) Amy Sueyoshi, Discriminating Sex: White Leisure and the Making of the American “Oriental” [2] University of Illinois Press, 2018 [1] [2]
  • The Play’s the Thing
    Conversations about theater, life, and politics with the playwright and solo performer Nilaja Sun; Tom Ross, artistic director of Aurora Theatre Company [1]; actors Emily Jeanne Brown [2] and Jackie Chung; San Francisco Mime Troupe [3] veteran Michael Gene Sullivan; theatre arts professor and director Darryl V. Jones [4]; Gregory Dawson, artistic director of dawsondancesf [5]; and L. Peter Callender, artistic director of African-American Shakespeare Company [6]. KPFA’s Bay Area Theater podcast [7] [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]
  • Does Marching Matter?
    Do protest marches work? It’s a tactic the left returns to again and again, since the iconic March on Washington in 1963. Grassroots organizer L.A. Kauffman argues that they do have a positive impact, but not in the ways we usually expect. Resources: L.A. Kauffman, How to Read a Protest: The Art of Organizing and Resistance [1] University of California Press, 2018 [1]
  • Food Activism and Farmworkers
    If the goal is a socially just food system, is it enough for consumers to vote with their forks, or for food activism to focus on urban areas and concerns? Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern [1] says we need to shift the focus from consumer-led food initiatives to movements led by farmworkers and supported by consumers. She finds the activities of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers [2] particularly instructive and inspiring. Alkon and Guthman, eds., The New Food Activism: Opposition, Cooperation, and Collective Action [3] University of California Press, 2017   [1],_Laura-Anne/ [2] [3]

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