UW Press statement of solidarity

The University of Wisconsin Press unequivocally states that Black Lives Matter. We stand in solidarity with Black, Indigenous, and all people of color, and join our voices in condemning the violent deaths of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony Robinson, and countless others at the hands of the police or vigilantes.

BIPOC leaders are again shining a bright light on the injustices of our state and our institutions. The violence against and murder of Black people occurs within the context of centuries-long racism, and more recently, amid a pandemic that is killing a disproportionate number of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people.

We recognize that our own history includes many of the racist and white supremacist behaviors we reject. In academic publishing generally, and at UW Press, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) are underrepresented in all areas: leadership, staff, authors, peer reviewers, and editors. As an organization, we acknowledge this and will seek to address it in all our processes and procedures. We are committed to using our platform to engage and amplify more BIPOC voices. True dedication to the Wisconsin Idea means embodying the principle that scholarship produced at the university should be available to and reflect the needs of everyone in the state.

Individually and collectively, we commit to listening and acting. We continue to educate ourselves on the cultural pervasiveness of white supremacy and our own internalized racism. We take responsibility for and are working to dismantle structures of inequality and replace them with sustained systems of support for BIPOC within ourselves, our communities, and our workplace.

To our BIPOC authors, vendors, colleagues, family, and neighbors: We see you and we hear you. We acknowledge your grief and righteous anger.

We can and will do better.

African Economic History Welcomes New Editors

Following the retirement of longtime editor Paul E. Lovejoy, African Economic History has appointed two new editors. Earlier this year, George Bob-Milliar and Chétima Melchisedek joined the existing editorial team of Mariana Candido, Toyin Falola, and Toby Green. Together, the editors recently launched a social media presence for African Economic History, posting about current events related to African economies as well as important research in the field. You can follow AEH on Facebook and Twitter. Read on to learn more about the journal’s new editors.


George M. Bob-Milliar is a senior lecturer in the Department of History and Political Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, one of the most prestigious public universities in Ghana. He joined the faculty of KNUST in August 2013 and has been involved in research, teaching, and mentoring of students at all levels. He is currently serving as the director of KNUST’s Centre for Cultural and African Studies (CeCASt). In 2012, Bob-Milliar received his PhD from the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana, the oldest center for African Studies on the continent. Trained as an interdisciplinary scholar, his research lies at the intersection of history, political ethnography, and development studies. He has published in the preeminent journals in his field of specialization. Bob-Milliar has been a visiting fellow at the University of Cambridge, Uganda’s Makerere University, and the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), as well as a guest lecturer at the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany. In 2010, he received the inaugural African Author Prize for the best article published in African Affairs by an author based at an African institution, and in 2012 he was awarded a prize for his contribution to research on African policy issues from the Centre for International Governance Innovation. He sits on the editorial boards of African Affairs, African Review of Economics & Finance, and the Journal of Political Economy and Development.

Chétima Melchisedek is a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at York University. Before coming to York, Melchisedek was a senior lecturer at the University of Maroua; a fellow at the Nantes Institute for Advanced Studies; the Gordon Henderson Fellow at the Human Rights Research and Education Centre, University of Ottawa; and a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for African Studies at the University of Basel. He earned a PhD in history from the Université Laval and a master’s degree from the University of Ngaoundéré in Cameroon. Melchisedek is a member of the editorial advisory board of the Canadian Journal of African Studies. His articles have appeared in the Historical Journal, African Studies Review, Canadian Journal of African Studies, Journal of Asian and African Studies, Cambridge Archaeological Journal, and Afrique Contemporaine, among others. His article in Cahiers d’Études Africaines (2015) was awarded the Prize for the Best Paper on Central Africa by the Central Africa Studies Association, while his paper in Africa Spectrum (2018) won the UFS/AS Young African Scholar Award. Melchisedek guest edited a special issue of the Canadian Journal of African Studies on “Boko Haram beyond the Media” (Volume 54 Number 2, 2020) and is currently co-editing, with Paul Lovejoy, a volume on Boko Haram and Political Distancing (Trenton: Africa World Press, 2021). Chétima is an affiliate member of the African Academy of Sciences and a founding member of the Cameroon Academy for Young Scientists.

Submissions open for the Brittingham & Felix Pollak Prizes, Judged by Carmen Giménez Smith

Carmen Giménez Smith standing in front of brick wall

The University of Wisconsin Press and the UW-Madison Program in Creative Writing are excited to announce that National Book Award Finalist Carmen Giménez Smith will judge this year’s Brittingham & Felix Pollak Prizes in Poetry. Any poet with an original, full-length, yet-to-be-published collection is eligible. Each manuscript will be considered for both $1,000 prizes. The winners and up to three finalists will have their books published as part of the University of Wisconsin Press’s Wisconsin Poetry Series. Submissions are open, and this year’s deadline is Tuesday, September 15.

Before visiting our Submittable page, please assemble a single pdf including a title page, a table of contents, your poems, and (optionally) an acknowledgments page listing any magazines or journals where the submitted poems may have first appeared. Your name and contact info should not appear anywhere in the document, or in the pdf file name. Manuscripts should be fifty to ninety pages in length on 8.5″ x 11″ pdf pages.

Simultaneous submissions are permitted, as long as the author agrees to withdraw the manuscript via the submissions manager if it is accepted elsewhere. If you have any questions, please first consult our FAQ. If you don’t find your answer, query Series Editors Sean Bishop and Ron Wallace at poetryseries@english.wisc.edu.

Recent titles in the Wisconsin Poetry Series

  • Cover image for Ganbatte
  • Cover image for If the House
  • Cover image of Gloss
  • Cover image of Dear Terror, Dear Splendor
  • Cover image for House of Sparrows

About This Year’s Judge
Carmen Giménez Smith is a former Guggenheim Fellow and the author of a memoir and six poetry collections, including Milk and Filth, a finalist for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry and Be Recorder, a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN Open Book Award. She was awarded an American Book Award for Bring Down the Little Birds and the Juniper Prize for Poetry for her collection Goodbye, Flicker. She is the publisher of Noemi Press. With Steph Burt, she is the poetry editor of The Nation.

UW Press Colophon

About the University of Wisconsin Press
The University of Wisconsin Press is a not-for-profit publisher of books and journals. With nearly 1,500 titles and over 8,000 peer-reviewed articles in print, its mission embodies the Wisconsin Idea by publishing work of distinction that serves the people of Wisconsin and the world.

For more information on the Wisconsin Poetry Prizes, please visit https://uwpress.wisc.edu/series/wi-poetry.html

30th Annual Midwest Book Award win for Dairylandia

We are thrilled to announce a Midwest Book Award winner from the University of Wisconsin Press! These awards from the Midwest Independent Publishing Association (MIPA) recognize quality in independent publishing in the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin).

Book cover showing Mona Lisa in Wisconsin Rose Bowl shirt painted on side of barn with cows in front.

Dairylandia: Dispatches from a State of Mind by Steve Hannah won the travel category. This book recounts Hannah’s love for his adopted state through his long-lived column, “State of Mind.” He profiles the lives of the seemingly ordinary yet quite (and quietly) extraordinary folks he met and befriended as he traveled the main streets and back roads of Wisconsin. From Norwegian farmers to a CIA-trained Laotian fighter to a woman who kept her favorite dead bird in the freezer, Hannah was charmed and fascinated by the kind and authentic folks he met. These captivating vignettes are by turns humorous, touching, and inspiring.

Congratulations again to the author and all involved! 

What Changes Us

This month marks the publication of The Change: My Great American, Postindustrial, Midlife Crisis Tour by Lori Soderlind. In this week’s guest post, Lori reflects on journeys, crisis, and connection.

My mission for the road trip that became my book The Change was to visit the most depressing, god-forsaken, ruined little places I could find on a loop through this country and try to get to know them. It couldn’t get hard enough for me: guns, drug addiction, unemployment, mean dogs, religious zealotry, isolation, family tragedy, untreated mental illness, fouled drinking water, industrial waste, unresolved race wars, labor wars, civil war, merciless tornados, abandonment, crop failure, deindustrialization: bring it.

Cover showing a grey building with a blue sign and yellow letters next to a red building with a sign reading Croatia Club with a blue sky full of clouds

All of it.

I wanted to look it in the face and take it in.

Everywhere on the map, there it was: cities large and small and innumerable towns that had lost the energy they’d grown up from, and that now presented an inventory of pain in a country that had changed and did not understand why, and was suffering for these changes. I lived in New York City, where the view of the other 320 million people in this country can be very narrow, sadly. But I have traveled through the country with curiosity all my life and I loved exploring it, and I had become aware in the past decade of a real gloom out where I’d always wandered carelessly, and I wanted to know what had changed. Much of the visible evidence of the change was its ruins. All the old factories that cities grew up around, gutted; all the downtowns that had given places their identities now swallowed by sprawl or just plain abandoned. I wondered why all that could have happened and how it felt to see that pain, if you lived there, every day.

Much of the change had to do with a huge shift out of the American industrial age, and the loss of manufacturing. One example: Gloversville, New York, had been a great, bustling place back when it made gloves for the world; now, go there and you’ll find all the social ills you can name without encountering a single scrap of leather or a sewing machine. Change has come to American places through countless other evolutions: the rise of the interstate highway system, the decline of family farms, the advent of malls, the new cyber economy. What the changed places had in common was the grief they felt for what they’d lost. Once, each place existed for some reason that was an established reality, just like, once, newspapers were an established reality or train travel was an established reality or my cousin’s first marriage was an established reality. Change had come and so much established reality had been upended and people and places were grieving what was lost, as if it were all meant to last.   

The Change has been released, now, in the midst of the global Covid-19 pandemic that has us aghast at how helpless we humans are, truly. We like reality to be a manageable and predictable thing, but we are reminded always—and now profoundly—that the living world is not so easily tamed. We of the country long regarded as exceptional, who felt all through the past century so breezily powerful: we hit full stop and faced daily the feeling of powerlessness. Nine weeks of quarantine as I write this, and we are, many of us, on our knees in a new posture that feels permanent, though this too will change. My city—New York City—has been hit worst of all, and is suffering. Our fear is much deeper than a fear of getting sick, of death by virus. We fear the collapse of systems we are utterly dependent on. We fear, in the midst of this unparalleled helplessness, that nothing of what we once knew and counted on will ever be the same. We see how vulnerable these structures we have built may truly be, and we are grieving before our house is even gone—because we are shocked to believe that all we have built really could fall down around us. That is how shaken we are, in New York City, in May of the year of Covid-19.

As I write this, a storm has taken the power out and I am alone in the dark in my house; lately, any respite from this sense of plunging into darkness is brief. We are shaken, but only as shaken as others in our country have been for a long, long time now. We are as shaken as a small steel-making town south of Pittsburgh where none of the kids pass standardized tests, and all of the storefronts are empty. We are as shaken as a broken mining town, or a rural desert. We know the country is divided, but to really know the sides is to measure their pain: Some have not worked in years, some lost their homes long ago, and then, too, some are simply Black in America. Others, meanwhile, have felt oddly invulnerable, and believed their fortune to be the norm. From where I sit today, it seems we are all, at once, saying foxhole prayers and hoping simply to survive.  

It could be really good for us. It’s good to know this fear deeply, and to understand that our longing to survive is what, at core, connects us. It is basic, and human. If we can know that connection to each other, and see all of ourselves as beings trying to survive, we will have changed.

Not all of us, but enough of us will change. We’ll know what it is to watch the promises we’d built our lives on collapse, or to fear that they will and to hate this fear. We will know that really, such promises don’t exist. We have only ourselves, which is to say, each other. The same. The one thing we should learn to count on.

Photo of Lori Soderlind

Lori Soderlind is an award-winning essayist and journalist, and author of the memoir Chasing Montana: A Love Story.

Be Careful What You Write About

This week, we celebrate the publication of Half! Author Sharon Harrigan shares how life can imitate art.

One of the joys of publishing a novel—unlike my first book, a memoir—is that I can tell anyone who sees herself in one of my characters: It’s not you! I made the whole thing up. What a relief to hide under the cover of fiction. But the truth is, like many novelists, I drew inspiration from my life to write Half. The intimacy between the identical twin sisters is based on the close bond I had with my brother, a year and a half older than me. And the girls’ larger-than-life, part hero/part monster father has a passing resemblance to my own.

Orange book cover with twin faces partially shown.

Here’s the surprising thing: recently my life seems to draw inspiration from my book, not the other way around. I can’t tell whether this turn of events is delightfully magical or just plain creepy. Maybe both.

In my novel, two siblings are so close they speak in one voice, until they can’t. They discover a secret that breaks their collective voice in half.

At the end of 2019, the advance readers’ copies had just gone out. My brother was visiting for Christmas, and we were walking my dog to the playground when he said, “I have something to tell you.” His voice hushed, even though no one but my cockapoo was anywhere near enough to overhear us. My brother is a professor, used to giving lectures and speeches, and usually words flow easily from him. But on that night, they came slowly. One. At. A. Time. He told me about a terrible event he hadn’t shared with anyone. I could hear, in his hesitation, how much it hurt.

I felt his pain. People use that phrase all the time, but they don’t usually mean a physical sensation. I do. Stress gives some people headaches; in others, it causes tight shoulders or a churning stomach. For me, stress stabs me in the throat. I developed a flu that resulted in a damaged nerve, paralyzing one of my two vocal cords. I posted the diagnosis on Facebook. “So funny,” my friends said. “You wrote a book about a voice breaking in half and then it happened to you!”

“I know,” I responded. “Be careful what you write about.”

Half ends in 2030, when climate change has resulted in a world that didn’t seem possible in the Before Times. It snows endlessly for months, the sky a white out.

In real life 2020, we muse wistfully about the pre-pandemic universe, a place we know will never exist in quite the same way again. It might as well be blizzarding for months, because we act as if we’re snowed in, barely ever leaving our houses.

In my fictional near future, “a fault line from Portland to Seattle caused the biggest earthquake in recent history. Sea levels rose and coastal houses, once worth millions, couldn’t be sold for scraps.” Will something like this happen in ten years? No one knows what the future will hold.

At least I don’t know. But my book—in its own magical or creepy or artfully mysterious way—just might.

author in black shirt with green background

Sharon Harrigan teaches at WriterHouse, a nonprofit literary center in Charlottesville, Virginia. She is the author of Playing with Dynamite: A Memoir. Her work has appeared in the New York Times (Modern Love), NarrativeVirginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere.

Raising the Minimum Retirement Age: How Do Workers Respond?

As populations are aging, governments around the world are looking for ways to stretch pension programs to accommodate large numbers of retirees. One option is to raise the minimum retirement age, as Germany did in 1999, upping the retirement age for women from 60 to 63. Economists Johannes Geyer and Clara Welteke analyze the impacts of this policy shift in a Journal of Human Resources preprint article. They wanted to know whether women over 60 changed their labor market status as a result of the reform. Did employed women stay in their jobs longer or use unemployment or disability benefits as a way to exit the labor market? Geyer and Welteke joined us to discuss their findings.


Why did you decide to pursue this topic?

Population aging is an enormous challenge for the financial sustainability of public pension systems of many OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. Germany is facing a rapid increase in the old-age dependency ratio in the coming years. Already every second person in Germany is over 45 years old and every fifth person is over 66 years old. One way to increase the financial sustainability of the pay-as-you-go pension system is to increase the legal retirement age, thereby extending contribution periods whilst simultaneously decreasing pension expenditures. However, legal retirement age increases often have undesired distributional effects. Furthermore, workers may not be able or willing to work longer and may choose other exit routes from employment. Thus, it is of great importance to gain empirical evidence on the effects of pension reforms that increase retirement age thresholds. Our goal is to gain insights into the effects of this important question and inform policy makers.

What is one takeaway from this research that you’d like to communicate to policy makers?

The increase in the early retirement age for women in Germany resulted in a large employment increase in the affected age group (60- to 63-year-olds). One could conclude that the reform was a success and recommend similar measures for other countries and groups. However, the reform was successful in increasing employment because the labor market was in a good state and women were able to continue their employment. We also find that inactive and unemployed women remain longer in their respective status due to the reform. Another factor was the early announcement of the reform, which gave enough time to adjust career plans.

As a main takeaway, we recommend early retirement age increases as an effective tool to increase employment of the affected group, if labor market perspectives and the health of workers enable such an extension of their working life. Retirement age increases should be announced well in advance and those who are not able to work longer should be offered appropriate support, such as disability pension schemes.

What’s one question that emerged from your research that you’d like to follow up on, or that you hope someone else will explore in the future?

One of our results was that non-working women affected by the pension reform did not return to the labor market while employed women stayed in employment. In a follow-up project, we look at the distributional effects of the pension reform at the household level. More specifically, we wanted to know if the pension led to increased income inequality. Our results suggest that the distribution of available household income is not affected by the reform. One reason for this result is program substitution. The study is forthcoming in Labor Economics. In a current project, we look at health effects of the reform. We use administrative data from German health insurance that contain detailed information about individual diagnoses from medical practitioners’ records. Preliminary results suggest that the reform led to an increase of psychological symptoms.

What are some of the ways in which raising the retirement age could theoretically backfire on governments? Did you find any evidence that this is happening in the case of Germany?

The reform can be considered a success in retrospect. It did not lead to an increase in unemployment or large increases in disability pensions. However, the positive employment effect is strongly related to the good labor market performance at the time. Our results also show that women at this pre-retirement age do not react very flexibly to changing conditions. The results would have been different if Germany had experienced a large recession. Interestingly, this result is also found in other countries, like Australia and Austria. Therefore, governments should also invest more in labor market opportunities for older workers and develop better strategies to bring the older unemployed back to work.


Johannes Geyer is deputy head of the department of public economics at DIW Berlin. He earned his PhD in Economics in 2012. Between 2012 and 2016 he was a visiting professor at Humboldt-Universität Berlin, in addition to his work at the DIW Berlin. His research focuses on issues of social protection and demographic change. For this he uses empirical methods of microeconometrics and microsimulation.

Clara Welteke is an economist at the German Federal Ministry of Finance since April 2019. Her work focuses on pension provision and the sustainability of public finances. Previously, Clara was a researcher at the Public Economics Department and the Gender Economics Research Group at the DIW Berlin. Clara received her PhD from the Free University Berlin and the DIW Graduate Center in 2017. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy & Economics from the University of Bayreuth and a Master’s degree in Econometrics and Mathematical Economics from the University of Amsterdam. After completing her Master’s degree, Clara worked as a consultant for the World Bank. During her doctoral studies, she worked for the OECD in Paris and the European Commission in Brussels.

Reimagining Ecosystems through Science Fiction

Science fiction readers may be familiar with the giant sandworms of Frank Herbert’s Dune, or the pequeninos, small pig-like aliens from Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card. These species and their surrounding ecosystems puzzle the human explorers that encounter them. In the article “Islands in the Aether Ocean: Speculative Ecosystems in Science Fiction” from Contemporary Literature, Elizabeth Callaway examines these two novels and their strange species, arguing that the authors propose a different way of relating to biodiversity. In this interview, Callaway explains how science fiction can help us question the conceptual frameworks that define our understanding of biodiversity on Earth.


How did you end up looking at science fiction through the lens of biodiversity?

Actually, the interest in biodiversity came first! I’m writing a book about representations of biodiversity, and a version of the article we’re discussing now appears as a chapter. When I was initially thinking about assembling a group of texts that tackle the challenge of representing species in their multitudes, science fiction seemed like a particularly fertile place to start. Within the genre are novels that describe entire planets of living variety. While other types of books mention hundreds of species (memoirs of competitive birders or the nonfiction of E. O. Wilson, for example) SF is really excellent at portraying entire planets of surprising and lively creatures. In addition, these planets can sometime feature what I call “speculative ecosystems,” or sets of interactions among living creatures that do not function the way Earth’s ecosystems do. They’re built on different, imaginative systems, and because they’re so unusual they model alternative stances toward biodiversity.

When it comes to depicting biodiversity, what makes these two novels different from other works of science fiction?

Their “speculative ecosystems” are a key part of what sets them apart. Unlike many worlds that are simple Earth analogues where the environment doesn’t make much of a difference to the story, and unlike novels which feature a planet seeded with Earth organisms (like Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy), these are not systems that are analogous to Earth ecosystems or based on Earth species. They’re totally alien (if imagined) worlds. There are other examples that I would include as speculative ecosystems. The most well-known might be James Cameron’s Avatar. That world features ecosystems that work in ways that are very different from those on Earth. Animals can connect to each other with exposed nerve-type organs, there is a central tree that connects the entire planet in a type of neural net, and there’s abundant terrestrial bioluminescence. That said, Dune and Speaker for the Dead, unlike Avatar, do not make the speculative ecosystem into an object of worship or offer any old-school environmental readings having to do with rootedness, sense of place, or living on the land. Rather they explore the speculative variety of organisms on their planet in new ways.

You say that, while we are used to thinking about science fiction as a genre that shows us possible futures for our own planet, science fiction also works “by imagining things that could never be.” How can the “counterfactual” nature of science fiction help us to think about our own environmental challenges?

On one hand it seems like the science fiction texts that imagine Earth futures might be more useful for thinking through current environmental challenges. You think of stories that include biodiversity decline like Phillip K. Dick’s Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep or Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, and it’s clear how they’re interested in what animals mean to individual people and also to different human societies. They explore how these meanings might change as species decline. What is particularly interesting to me about science fiction that doesn’t imagine future Earths of declined species, however, is that they experiment with alternative ways to relate to biodiversity. In particular, I think it’s useful that Dune and Speaker for the Dead present a puzzled stance toward biodiversity where one is continually surprised by the way diverse nonhuman organisms interact with each other. I think the mechanics of science fiction itself—the way it explains how the fictional world works by casually throwing out hints rather than presenting sections of exposition—are fantastic for modeling a puzzled engagement that holds space open for recognizing the agency of nonhumans. In science fiction we’re always ready for that clue that changes what we had assumed to be true about the world, and this is especially true for the impossibly strange ecosystems of counterfactual worlds. If we’re curious about how the world works while aware that we can be surprised, then I think that can cultivate an attitude that more easily recognizes the liveliness of the material world including (but not limited to) nonhuman living creatures.

What are you reading right now? (For fun or for serious.)

Emily Dickinson has become my home quarantine inspiration. Whenever my socially-distanced world feels tiny and diminished, she makes me realize that my back yard is only as small as my mind. (Dickinson and I share the good fortune of having a yard.) After reading a few of her poems I see the details of the world as strange and new. In one of her more famous quotations she describes poetry as writing which makes her “feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off.” This is such a fabulously weird way of defining poetry, and it is how her poems make me feel except it is also as if my entire word has had a lid removed, and there’s more room to experience everything. I’m also reading How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu, which is beautiful, lonely, and a playful mashup of science fiction and narrative theory.

If you had to pick a favorite species from Arrakis or Lusitania, what would it be?

Given our current pandemic, I am more and more fascinated by the descolada virus that “unglues” DNA and wreaks havoc on the human community of Lusitania in Speaker for the Dead. While I wouldn’t want to characterize the descolada as my “favorite,” it has captured my attention anew. This is the virus that sculpted life on Lusitania, initially creating the plant/animal paired species while driving the vast majority of life extinct. Its world-remaking capabilities certainly feel especially real right now as my own world is being remade in different but comparable ways. Also, the way the descolada simplifies the planet (to put it mildly) is more and more striking to me. I now look at my article’s visualization of the stark ecosystem of Lusitania and imagine a similarly simple social network made of my interactions during social distancing. The story of a virus reshaping a world certainly feels increasingly relevant.


Elizabeth Callaway is an assistant professor in the Department of English at the University of Utah and affiliated faculty with the Environmental Humanities Graduate Program. She researches and teaches at the intersections of contemporary literature, environmental humanities, and digital humanities. Some of her most recent publications focus on climate change in Zadie Smith’s NW, diversity and inclusion in definitions digital humanities, and the speculative ecosystems of science fiction. Her current book project, titled Eden’s Endemics: Narratives of Biodiversity on Earth and Beyond, is forthcoming at the University of Virginia Press.

Ghana Studies Welcomes New Editors

Ghana Studies journal is proud to welcome two new editors, Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai and Jeffrey Ahlman. Abdulai and Ahlman take over for outgoing editors Carina Ray and Kofi Baku. The UW Press would like to thank Ray and Baku for all their hard work on behalf of the journal over the course of their three-year term. The following is a brief introduction to the new editors.


Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai holds an MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge (UK), and a PhD in Development Policy and Management from the University of Manchester, UK. He is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS), and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester. His research centers on the intersection between politics and development, with particular focus on public sector reforms, natural resource governance, spatial inequalities, social policy and social protection, and democratization. He is the co-author of Governing Extractive Industries: Politics, Histories, Ideas (Oxford University Press, 2018). His published work has also appeared in African Affairs, Politics & Policy, New Political Economy, Democratization, Development Policy Review, European Journal of Development Research, Journal of International Development, and Labour, Capital & Society. He won the prestigious Gerti Hesseling Prize (2017), awarded for the best journal article by an African scholar, and was also recipient of a runner-up position for African Affairs’ African Author Prize for best paper published in 2016/2017. In his new role as co-editor of Ghana Studies, he looks forward to deepening the visibility and multidisciplinary outlook of the Journal.

Jeffrey Ahlman is an Associate Professor of History and the Director of the African Studies Program at Smith College, where he specializes in African political, social, and intellectual history. His research reflects on issues of decolonization, political and social sovereignty, citizenship, and the Cold War in mid-twentieth-century Africa. His book, Living with Nkrumahism: Nation, State, and Pan-Africanism in Ghana, was published by Ohio University Press in 2017. He is currently completing two books. The first is a biography of Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, which is under contract with Ohio University Press. The second—under contract with I.B. Tauris—is a history of Ghana since approximately the mid-nineteenth century. His other published work has appeared in the Journal of African History, the International Journal of African Historical Studies, Africa Today, Ghana Studies, and Kronos: Southern African Histories. He looks forward to his new role as co-editor of Ghana Studies, where he strives to further promote the journal as the premier site for the interdisciplinary study of Ghana.


Call for Papers

The editors welcome submissions of original research about Ghana for potential publication in Ghana Studies. Submissions from all disciplines will be considered. Manuscripts of interest could explore, but are not limited to, topics such as:

  • Ghana’s 2020 elections
  • Ghana’s recent financial crisis
  • The political economy of oil in Ghana
  • Questions of inequality
  • Challenges of structural transformation
  • Ghanaian-Diasporic Relations

For full guidelines, please visit http://bit.ly/gssubmissions.

PLOT LINES AND ADAPTATIONS: MARKETING BOOK CLUB (APRIL)

For National Poetry Month, we read Gloss by Rebecca Hazelton, part of the Wisconsin Poetry Series. Our book club consists of Alexis Paperman, publicity assistant and grad student studying library information science; Morgan Reardon, marketing assistant studying English literature and American Indian studies; and Julia Knecht, exhibits and data manager.

Hand holding a book with a pink cover, background is sandy beach and waves crashing behind.

Morgan’s favorite poem was “Recast, Again,” in the first section of the book, “Adaptations.” The poem beautifully captured the feeling of a child’s helplessness and how we can be observers in our own lives. She interpreted this poem to be describing the speaker’s childhood of witnessing a failing parental relationship and how the speaker wants to shield their own child from its effects. The imagery really brought the reader in, as though they too were lying on the ground watching the rest of the world float by: “I spent most of my childhood watching / the clouds / revolve while I stayed still.” The way the poem is structured, in short stanzas spread across the page, evokes the drifting of the clouds. This poem also explores how our memories can shift and trick us into believing in things that never happened, but the point is that it doesn’t matter. The speaker is looking toward the future, toward the person listening to these words.

Julia especially enjoyed the poems “Group Text” and “Why I Don’t Believe.” “Group Text” is a nuanced portrayal of modern friendship in a digital age, detailing a group text exchange between friends that bounces seamlessly between philosophical queries and poop emojis. It explores how a digital medium influences our social exchanges, such as how the speaker is “just three dots, shimmering.” She is a witness, always on the cusp of contribution. “Why I Don’t Believe” takes a painful look at the fading relationship between mother and young son, best summarized by the line “I am in an unequal relationship / with a toddler.” The poem is a startling portrayal of motherhood that strays from the straightforward narrative of limitless motherly love to consider socialized conflict that arises as children age.

Alexis wanted to say the whole collection was her favorite, however, when pressed, she decided on “Recast” and “Largest Hands.” The idea of “Recast” is not exactly new. It is the description which Rebecca Hazelton utilizes that illuminates roles of women: “the glaring lights of a delivery room after she’s moved the story along.” Indeed, there are times when that line has resonated with Alexis—that what she is doing is simply moving the story or plot of someone else’s life forward. She thinks that many of the moments presented in Hazelton’s collection will resonate with women. Strong imagery is one of the things that appeals to Alexis in poems. Hazelton’s poem “Largest Hands” is filled with such imagery as it describes the functioning of the dollhouse. Underneath the first layer of “Largest Hands” is again the questioning of what forces in life create a fragile ideal that leaves the soul wanting. It is hard to properly do justice to the poem in a simple excerpt; however, here is the line that drew Alexis in: “Where are the children? They were too expensive.” It is the fourth line in, and, without the context of the poem as a whole, may not mean much. Still, Alexis hopes you take the time to read both poems as well as the rest of Rebecca Hazelton’s collection.

Overall, we thought this book was an enjoyable and thought-provoking read. The way Hazelton plays with structure really adds to the depth of her poems. She weaves the concept of people portraying themselves in different ways to themselves and others throughout each piece. She comments on this using the metaphor of Hollywood, describing people as actors who perform on and off set. Along with discussing the sense of self, these poems also examine sexuality, relationships, and power. The cover image, lipstick smudged off of a pair of slightly agape lips, feeds into the idea that we cultivate an image for ourselves in the public eye, but that the way we cover and disguise our inner selves cannot be easily taken off. These poems fit well together, and though some of them stood out for us personally, it felt like they were a part of a cohesive collection. A reader with any level of experience reading poetry will be able to connect with Hazelton’s words.