A semester-long series of events addressing many urgent issues we face today
— including the threat of political insurrection, racist violence, economic inequity, and social strife — and the prospect of emerging a better nation from adversity.
Events will be posted here and our YouTube channel. Stay tuned for more information on dates.
We support local, independent booksellers. See links below to purchase books from the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza.
Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own
In conversation with Derik Jalal Smith
Premieres 11 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23
“Broken though it may be, America is ours, and together we can make this place anew, if we are finally honest with ourselves about the ugliness that has the country by the throat again.” – Eddie Glaude, Time magazine, January 11, 2021.
Eddie Glaude is a leading public intellectual, Time magazine columnist, and author of numerous books including Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul, and In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America.
The James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton, he graduated from Morehouse College where he served as Student Government President. His newest book is Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own, a New York Times bestseller that was named one of the “Ten Best Books of the Year” by the Chicago Tribune, and one of the “Best Books of the Year” by the Washington Post.
“Begin Again is . . . filled with the type of passion, lyricism, and fire that James Baldwin commands and deserves…. This phenomenal work [is] a timeless and spellbinding conversation between two brilliant writers.”—Edwidge Danticat
“[For] Americans seeking to understand our past, our present, and the possible futures before us, Begin Again challenges, illuminates, and points us toward, if not a more perfect union, at least a more just one.”—Jon Meacham
In conversation with Derik Jalal Smith, Associate Professor of Literature at Claremont McKenna College and former Assistant Professor in the UAlbany English Department. He received the 2019 College Language Association Book Award for Robert Hayden In Verse: New Histories of African American Poetry and the Black Arts Era.
This virtual event is cosponsored by Intercollegiate Department of Africana Studies at the Claremont Colleges and the Claremont McKenna College Literature Department.
Oath Keepers: Patriotism and the Edge of Violence in a Right-Wing Antigovernment Group
A conversation with author and UAlbany Homeland Security professor Sam Jackson
Premieres 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 25
“The defining feature of the far right is a desire to change some fundamental features of a political system to restore a lost Golden Age in the past…. The racist far right wants to restore an alleged lost Golden Age when white people (and particularly men) had more power and there were fewer alleged threats posed by other racial groups.”— Sam Jackson
Sam Jackson is an Assistant Professor in the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity at the University at Albany. His new book is Oath Keepers: Patriotism and the Edge of Violence in a Right-Wing Antigovernment Group (2020), the first book-length investigation of America’s most prominent antigovernment group, one that advocates for a “second American Revolution.”
Formed in 2009, Oath Keepers gained notoriety for its involvement in the Bundy Ranch standoff of 2014 and the Malheur Refuge occupation of 2016, and gives voice to the American far right’s distrust of government and endorsement of violence. Jackson’s work has recently received coverage in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Economist and Voice of America.
“A groundbreaking study of how antigovernment extremism is reaching new audiences with fear-based stories that call supporters to vigilante action. Oath Keepers is a must-read for anyone concerned with this growing threat to the foundations of democratic governance.” — Kathleen Blee, author of Understanding Racist Activism: Theory, Methods and Research
The Front Lines of Hate
A Conversation with Kathleen Belew
and Seyward Darby
Premieres 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 2
“[T]he white power movement reveals a startling and unexpected origin: the aftermath of the Vietnam War.” –Kathleen Belew
“[W]hite women are more likely than white men to ‘hold exclusionary views about what it means to be an American’…” –Seyward Darby, acknowledging the work of Ashley Jardina, White Identity Politics
Kathleen Belew is the author of Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America (2018). The New York Times reviewer called it, “[A] gripping study of white power… The book’s explosive thesis: that the white power movement… emerged as a radical reaction to the [Vietnam] war…is a breathtaking argument.”
Assistant Professor of History at the University of Chicago, Belew and her work are featured in the PBS Frontline documentary “Documenting Hate: New American Nazis.”
Seyward Darby is the author of Sisters in Hate: American Women on the Front Lines of White Nationalism (2020), a book based on in-depth profiles of women who have participated in white nationalist movements. The book was named an NPR “Best Book of the Year” and a New York Times “Editor's Choice Pick.”
Ibram X. Kendi called it, “eye-opening and unforgettable,” and Nell Irvin Painter called it, “masterfully reported and incisive.”
Buy the books:
The Psychology of Terrorists
In conversation with psychologist John Horgan
Premieres 11 a.m. Thursday, March 4
"Horgan reminds us that although there is no pathology that explains all terrorists or their crimes, nonetheless, individual choice matters. This book provides an important contribution to our understanding of the political psychology of terrorism. Essential reading for both students and terrorism professionals, from one of world’s best informed and wisest analysts of terror."
-- Jessica Stern, Harvard University, USA
John Horgan is a Distinguished University Professor at Georgia State University’s Department of Psychology where he also directs the Violent Extremism Research Group. He is a native of County Kerry, Ireland, and received his Ph.D. in applied psychology from University College Cork. Professor Horgan is one of the world’s leading experts on terrorist psychology.
His books include The Psychology of Terrorism, which has been published in more than a dozen languages around the world, Walking Away from Terrorism, Divided We Stand, Leaving Terrorism Behind, and Terrorism Studies: A Reader. He is an Editor of the journal Terrorism and Political Violence. He is also a member of the Research Working Group of the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime. He is the author of a forthcoming book, Terrorist Minds, scheduled to be published by Columbia University Press in 2022. http://www.terroristbehavior.com/
Is White Nationalism Becoming Mainstream?
A Conversation with Alexandra Minna Stern
and Cas Mudde
Premieres 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 9
“[N]o western democracy is naturally immune to the far-right.
— Cas Mudde, The Globe-Post, September 18, 2018
“To a good extent, this is old wine in new bottles, and some of those new bottles are social media platforms and different types of networking.”
—Alexandra Minna Stern on The Majority Report with Sam Seder, August 8, 2019
Alexandra Stern, a recognized authority on the history of eugenics, is the author of Proud Boys and the White Ethnostate: How the Alt-Right Is Warping the American Imagination (2019), an examination of the alt-right’s alarming successes in selling fantasies of white supremacy to the American mainstream. “[T]he definitive guide to alt-right ideas today. Stern brilliantly documents how a younger generation of activists are repackaging the Far Right, [and] waging a battle for cultural dominance.” –sociologist Arlene Stein
Cas Mudde, Dutch expert on the rise of far-right political movements around the globe, is the author of The Far Right Today (2019), a concise overview of far-right politics in the U.S., India, Brazil and across the European continent. Elif Shafak called it, “Powerful, timely, important. A much-needed analysis.”
The Washington Post reviewer said, “Cas Mudde is one of the most clear-eyed, trenchant analysts of politics in the West.” Interesting to note, Mudde’s brother is the former far-right political leader and “fascist rock” musician Tim Mudde of the Netherlands.
The Past and Future of Criminal Justice
A Conversation with Maurice Chammah, author of Let the Lord Sort Them: The Rise and Fall of the Death Penalty
Premieres 11 a.m. Thursday, March 11
“I was trying to get readers to see how much power they have as voters when it comes to the criminal justice system…. I want people to feel a sense of responsibility and culpability for this system we have—and for the work to produce a new one.”
— Maurice Chammah, Guernica, Jan. 21, 2021
Maurice Chammah, journalist and staff writer for The Marshall Project, has reported on the criminal justice system for the New Yorker, New York Times, Atlantic, Esquire, and Mother Jones. His new book is Let the Lord Sort Them: The Rise and Fall of the Death Penalty. Pulitzer-winning author Gilbert King (Devil in the Grove) said “Superbly reported and beautifully written, Let the Lord Sort Them shines a bright light in the darkest corners of the criminal justice system. It is a masterwork of nonfiction that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading.”
Heather Ann Thompson, Pulitzer winner for Blood in the Water, called it, “an extraordinarily hopeful glimpse of a future in which we are finally beginning to imagine a very different version of justice—one in which the immediate and generational fallout is not so devastating.”
Cosponsored by the University Libraries and School of Criminal Justice at UAlbany.
Socialism in the Age of AOC and Bernie Sanders
A Conversation with Bhaskar Sunkara and Kristen Ghodsee
Premieres 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 16
“Socialism was made to be an ideology of radical democracy, of working-class self-emancipation, not a tool for state-managed development.”
— Bhaskar Sunkara
“When women enjoy their own sources of income, and the state guarantees social security in old age, illness, and disability, women have no economic reason to stay in abusive, unfulfilling, or otherwise unhealthy relationships.”
— Kristen Ghodsee
Bhaskar Sunkara is the author of The Socialist Manifesto: The Case for Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality (paperback 2020), a history of the economic idea and a realistic vision for its future. Naomi Klein said, “Accessible, irreverent and entertaining, Bhaskar Sunkara has delivered a razor-sharp guide to socialism's history, transformative promise, and path to power.” Sunkara is the founder and editor of Jacobin, a socialist quarterly for a new generation. Noam Chomsky called Jacobin, "a bright light in dark times."
Kristen Ghodsee is the author of Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence (paperback, 2020), an irreverent primer on the benefits of socialism for women. The reviewer for Oprah’s O. Magazine said, “With acumen and wit, [Ghodsee] lays bare the inequities women face under capitalism and the desirability of decoupling ‘love and intimacy from economic considerations.’” An expert on the post-socialist upheavals of contemporary Eastern Europe, Ghodsee is a Professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
Why We Need a Revolution in the Food Industry
A Conversation with Mark Bittman
Premieres 11 a.m. Thursday, March 18
“The world of food and agriculture symbolizes most of what’s gone wrong in the United States. But because food is plentiful for most people, and the damage that conventional agriculture does isn’t readily evident to everyone, it’s important that we look deeper, beyond food, to the structure that underlies most decisions: the political economy.”
— Mark Bittman, New York Times Op-Ed Page, Feb. 11, 2015
Mark Bittman, author of 30 bestselling books, is one of America’s most influential food writers. His newest book is Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal (2021)— an examination of food production systems from the inventions of fire and farming, to the agribusiness monopolies and chemical cuisines of the 21st century. The book explains not only how we can improve the health of our bodies, but also that of our climate and our society, by reforming the ways we grow, process and distribute food.
Bittman wrote about food for the New York Times for more than 30 years, serving as food columnist, lead food writer for the Magazine, and the nation’s first food-focused Op-Ed columnist for a major news publication. Bittman is currently Special Advisor on Food Policy at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, where he teaches and hosts a lecture series called Food, Public Health, and Social Justice. He is also the editor-in-chief of Heated.
“A must read for policymakers, activists, and concerned citizens looking to better understand our food system, and how we can fix it.”—Vice President Al Gore on Animal, Vegetable, Junk
“Bittman leaves no stone unturned in the quest to understand how Big Food expropriated our land, water, and sustenance. Everyone who eats needs to read this book. The future of our species and our planet depends on it.”—Leah Penniman, founder of the Capital Region’s Soul Fire Farm and author of Farming While Black
Buy the book
"Against All Odds: The Fight for a Black Middle Class"
A discussion with eminent American journalist Bob Herbert
Premieres 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 23
“I think that what African Americans have done in this country has actually been heroic— that they have overcome these obstacles. And millions upon millions of Blacks have done just that.”
— Bob Herbert
"Against All Odds: The Fight for a Black Middle Class" (2017, U.S., 75 min.) is a documentary about the extraordinary difficulties that African Americans have faced in their efforts to establish and maintain a middle class standard of living. Veteran journalist Bob Herbert presents the rarely-told history of Black families as they pursue the American dream in the face of unrelenting barriers.
Bob Herbert, journalist and columnist, championed the working poor and middle class on the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times for 18 years. Marian Wright Edelman has said, “Bob Herbert's strong, brilliant voice consistently reminds America of where we still fall short of the ideals of the nation we want to be and can become.” He currently serves as Distinguished Senior Fellow for the progressive think tank, Demos. His books include Promises Betrayed: Waking Up from the American Dream (2007) and Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America (2014), which Oprah’s O. Magazine called a “masterwork of reporting.”
Cosponsored by the UAlbany Documentary Studies Program and History Department in association with History 220, “Public Policy in Modern America,” taught by Professor Lauren Kozakiewicz
Watch the film on PBS.org (free): https://www.pbs.org/wnet/chasing-the-dream/stories/odds-full-film/
The Undocumented Americans
Karla Cornejo Villavicencio in conversation with UAlbany Ph.D. student Eric Macias
“I don’t want all of the images of our people during this period to be of us on our knees or in cages or begging for soap. I want this book to also exist as a snapshot of this period in time, where there are people who are different, who are imperfect, who are weird, who are hardworking, who are just people.
― Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, The New York Times, Oct. 21, 2020
“Karla’s book sheds light on people’s personal experiences and allows their stories to be told and their voices to be heard.”— Selena Gomez
Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, an immigrant from Ecuador and one of the first undocumented students at Harvard, is the author of The Undocumented Americans, a 2020 National Book Award finalist for Nonfiction. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in American Studies at Yale. The book explores the varied experiences and rich personalities of undocumented people throughout the nation— the love, magic, heartbreak, insanity, and vulgarity that infuse their day-to-day lives. The Undocumented Americans was named a “Best Book of the Year” by the New York Times Book Review, TIME, NPR, Library Journal, Vulture and the New York Public Library.
“For all the political debate that surrounds them, it remains rare for undocumented Americans to share their own stories in full. In this nearly decade-long feat of reporting, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio’s book… shows the complex nature of undocumented immigrants’ lives.”—TIME.
Eric Macias is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Latin American, Caribbean, and Latina/o Studies Department at UAlbany, and a Fellow of the Immigration Initiative at Harvard University. His dissertation research focuses on undocumented youth who are pushed out of school, and their negotiation of belonging and inclusion.
The Multicultural Foundations of American Society, and the Implications for Our Multicultural Future
Sharada Balachandran Orihuela and Christopher Pastore
“I had just grown up in this family with all its complexities and its diasporas…. It’s only as an adult that I realize how wild it is.”
— Sharada Balachandran Orihuela, on memories of her first cousin, Vice President Kamala Harris, and her extended family in Maryland Today, Feb. 3, 2021.
Sharada Balachandran Orihuela is the author of Fugitives, Smugglers, and Thieves: Piracy and Personhood in American Literature (2018), a book that investigates the multiracial and multicultural world of pirates, escaped slaves, counterfeiters, illegal migrants and black market traders as they are portrayed in 18th and 19th century American writings. A first cousin to Kamala Harris, and a member of a large multiracial family, Balachandran Orihuela was born in Mexico to a Mexican mother and Indian father, and spent her childhood moving frequently between Mexico, India and the U.S. She currently serves as Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Maryland.
Christopher Pastore, Undergraduate Director of the UAlbany History Department, is a social and cultural historian of early America and the Atlantic world, and the author of Between Land and Sea: The Atlantic Coast and the Transformation of New England (2014).
Cosponsored by the UAlbany History Department
Why Didn't We Riot? A Black Man in Trumpland
A Conversation with Issac Bailey
“In Issac J. Bailey’s book, James Baldwin meets James Bond—that is, Bailey performs a kind of racial spy mission, bringing back intelligence from deep in Trumpland about the kind of thinking that continues to have disastrous consequences for our country. Why Didn’t We Riot? is a very important book.”
-- Author Clifford Thompson
Issac Bailey, award-winning journalist and author of the new book of essays, Why Didn't We Riot?: A Black Man in Trumpland.
A former columnist and senior writer for the Sun News in Myrtle Beach SC and a former Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard, Bailey provides an unflinching and personal examination of matters of race in the American South. The book addresses police brutality and profiling, battles over Confederate flags and monuments, overt and covert support for white supremacy and Donald Trump, and many other subjects. A former member of a mostly white Evangelical Christian church for 18 years, Bailey provides an intimate inside view of Southern race relations.
Kirkus Reviews called it, “A powerful lesson in history and truth…Through a combination of poignant memoir and social and cultural analysis, Bailey tackles a range of hot topics as well as his own prior complacency. A masterful storyteller…Bailey pulls no punches…Brilliant, searing, and surprisingly vulnerable.”
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The Birth and Future of Data Mining and Voter Manipulation, and Their Impact on American Democracy
In conversation with historian Jill Lepore
“[The Simulmatics Corporation] failed, but not before its scientists built a very early version of the machine in which humanity would in the early 21st century find itself trapped, a machine that applies the science of psychological warfare to the affairs of ordinary life, a machine that manipulates opinion, exploits attention, commodifies information, divides voters, fractures communities, alienates individuals and undermines democracy.”
– Jill Lepore
Jill Lepore, one of the great American historians of her generation, is the author of the new book, If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future (2020), a revelatory account of the Cold War origins of the data-mad, algorithmic twenty-first century. Launched in 1959, the Simulmatics Corporation mined data, targeted voters, manipulated consumers, destabilized politics, and disordered knowledge― decades before Facebook, Google, and Cambridge Analytica.
In advance praise, novelist George Saunders said, “A person can’t help but feel inspired by the riveting intelligence and joyful curiosity of Jill Lepore. Knowing that there is a mind like hers in the world is a hope-inducing thing.” Longlisted for the National Book Award, If Then was named a “Best Book of 2020” by the Financial Times and Oprah’s O. Magazine, and a “Most Anticipated Book” by Time magazine.
A staff writer for The New Yorker, and Professor of American History at Harvard, Lepore received the Pulitzer Prize for New York Burning (2005), the history of a little-known slave revolt in colonial Manhattan, Other bestsellers include These Truths: A History of the United States (2018) and This America: The Case for the Nation (2019).
Buy the books
If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future
These Truths: A History of the United States
This America: The Case for the Nation
We the Women: Breaking Barriers
A Conversation with Julie C. Suk and Martha S. Jones
““We talk as if only men make constitutions. Julie Suk changes this. She introduces us to the diverse cast of women constitution makers who supported, and opposed, the Equal Rights Amendment over the last century... Essential reading for those interested in the future of gender justice.”
—Reva Siegel, Yale Law School
"In her inspiring new book,Vanguard, renowned historian Martha S. Jones gives us a sweeping narrative for our times, grounded in the multi-generational struggle of black women for a freedom and equality that would not only fulfill their rights but galvanize a broader, redemptive movement for human rights everywhere. At a moment when that very democracy is under assault, Vanguard reminds us to look for hope in those most denied it."
— Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Julie C. Suk is a a professor of sociology, political science, and liberal studies at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), where she also serves as the academic dean overseeing the Graduate Center’s interdisciplinary master’s programs. She is also the Florence Rogatz Visiting Professor of Law at Yale Law School. She has lectured widely in the United States and Europe and has been a visiting fellow at the European University Institute in Florence and LUISS-Guido Carli in Rome. She has a J.D. from Yale Law School, where she studied on a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans and a D.Phil. in Politics from Oxford University, where she held a Marshall Scholarship.
Suk is a frequent commentator in the media on legal issues affecting women, including, most recently, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, PBS, CBS, and other media outlets. She is the author of numerous scholarly articles about women and the law.
Martha S. Jones is the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and professor of history at Johns Hopkins University. She is president of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, the oldest and largest association of women historians in the United States, and she sits on the executive board of the Organization of American Historians.
In Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All, Jones offers a new history of African American women's political lives in America. She recounts how they defied both racism and sexism to fight for the ballot, and how they wielded political power to secure the equality and dignity of all persons.
Reimagining the American Economy
A Conversation with Mike Konczal and Sarah Jaffe
“Mike Konczal [is] one of our most powerful advocates of financial reform‚ [a] heroic critic of austerity‚ and a huge resource for progressives.”
— Paul Krugman
“By pulling apart the myth that work is love, Sarah Jaffe shows us that we can reimagine futures built on care, rather than exploitation.”
— Naomi Klein
Mike Konczal is noted by the New York Times for his “cult following among progressives.” Together with Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, Konczal coauthored Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy (2015). His new book is Freedom From the Market: America’s Fight to Liberate Itself from the Grip of the Invisible Hand (2021), which addresses the failures of an unregulated free market to address problems posed by health coverage affordability, student loan debt, retirement security, child care, work-life balance, and access to home ownership.
“An economic manifesto on behalf of the 99% poorly served by the present economy.”—Kirkus Reviews
Sarah Jaffe is a leading labor journalist and author of Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt (2016), which historian Robin D.G. Kelley called, “The most compelling social and political portrait of our age.” Her new book is Work Won't Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone (2021), a deeply-reported examination of why “doing what you love” is a recipe for exploitation, creating a new tyranny of work in which we cheerily acquiesce to doing jobs that take over our lives. The New Republic called it, “Illuminating and inspiring,” and said, “Jaffe is clear-eyed about all the ways employers exploit workers’ goodwill.”
Buy the books
Freedom From the Market: America’s Fight to Liberate Itself from the Grip of the Invisible Hand
Work Won't Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone
Progressive Change and Revolutionary Love
A Conversation with Valarie Kaur
““In a world stricken with fear and turmoil, Valarie Kaur shows us how to summon our deepest wisdom.”
— Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love
“Valarie Kaur is a revolutionary for justice who shows us how to labor for the world we dream. In my darkest moments, I remember my Sikh sister’s call to ‘breathe and push!’ Her wisdom inspires us to build movements and seek the change that love demands.”
— Rev. William J. Barber, II, president of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival
Valarie Kaur is a seasoned civil rights activist and celebrated prophetic voice “at the forefront of progressive change” (Center for American Progress). Valarie burst into American consciousness in the wake of the 2016 election when her Watch Night Service address went viral with 30+ million views worldwide. Her question “Is this the darkness of the tomb – or the darkness of the womb?” reframed the political moment and became a mantra for people fighting for change. Valarie now leads the Revolutionary Love Project to reclaim love as a force for justice in America. As a lawyer, filmmaker, and innovator, she has won policy change on multiple fronts – hate crimes, racial profiling, immigration detention, solitary confinement, Internet freedom, and more.
She founded Groundswell Movement, Faithful Internet, and the Yale Visual Law Project to inspire and equip new generations of advocates. Valarie has been a regular TV commentator on MSNBC and contributor to CNN, NPR, PBS, the Hill, Huffington Post, and the Washington Post. A daughter of Sikh farmers in California’s heartland, Valarie earned degrees at Stanford University, Harvard Divinity School, and Yale Law School.
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