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reed magazine logoWinter 2008

Lewis and Clark, Torture, and Tibet Covered in New Faculty Books

The Natural World of Lewis and Clark

David A. Dalton, professor of biology, has released The Natural World of Lewis and Clark (University of Missouri Press, 2008). Dalton interprets the expedition’s findings from a modern perspective to show how advances such as DNA research, modern understanding of proteins, and recent laboratory methods allow us to draw a fuller picture of the world at the time of the expedition. Making use of techniques such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR), Dalton analyzes the diet of the extinct giant ground sloth, and explains the biological advantages that Native Americans provided their horses by feeding them cottonwood bark during winter months. Dalton delves deeply into the source material while keeping the writing accessible for non-biologists.

The Violence of Liberation: Gender and Tibetan Buddhist Revival in Most-Mao China

Charlene E. Makley, associate professor of anthropology, has published The Violence of Liberation: Gender And Tibetan Buddhist Revival in Post-Mao China (University of California Press, 2007). Makley’s 13 years of archival research and fieldwork offer a look at the Tibetan Buddhist region of Labrang after the Chinese Communist revolution in 1949 and through the capitalist market reforms of the 1980s and 1990s. Synthesizing social theory drawn from anthropology, political economy, gender studies, and linguistic anthropology, Makley finds that Tibetan incorporation into the People’s Republic of China had very different effects for Tibetan men and women. She also looks at the role of gendered inequities in structuring the revitalization of the famous Tibetan Buddhist monastery of Labrang Tashi Khyil during the post-Mao reforms.

Torture and Democracy

Darius Rejali, professor of political science, has released Torture and Democracy (Princeton University Press, 2007), a seminal examination of the use of torture by democracies in the 20th century. Rejali traces the ways in which “clean” torture techniques that leave no evidentiary scars—such as the use of drugs, stress positions, and waterboarding—blossomed after World War II, alongside democracy, human rights, and the free press. Taking a comprehensive look at the historical use of torture to force false confessions, extract information, and keep prisoners compliant, Rejali questions its efficacy in gaining reliable intelligence and looks at the residual effects that torture creates for those societies that use it.

reed magazine logoWinter 2008