Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged culture

The Skin Quilt Project

Without the preservation of historical text, artifact, and art, history can slowly fade from memory. Stories of survival can easily become short-lived memories as they are passed from one generation to the next before they are forgotten. For Black African American women, their history has been and continues to be woven together in quilting. The Skin Quilt Project is a documentary featuring various quilters, artists, academics, and historians discussing the necessity, purpose, benefits, and impact of Black African American women quilters and what their artistry does for their families and communities.

The Girls’ History and Culture Reader: The Nineteenth Century

In 1982 Harvard professor Carol Gilligan published In a Different Voice, a revolutionary body of research articulating the unique psychological experience of being female in America. Responding to research that drew conclusions from studying boys, Gilligan’s exploration of the female experience was one of the first to focus on girlhood as an independent site for research rather than as a sub-category of Women’s Studies.

The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World is Still the Least Valued

Like many of my generation, I am a child of divorce. I watched as my newly single mother struggled to work, find and pay for childcare, and afford lawyers that could compete with my father’s during endless days of court. I watched as we plummeted into poverty while my wealthy father’s lifestyle barely changed. I am the daughter of a woman who chose to sacrifice her career to raise me, and who was subsequently penalized by a system that encouraged her to do precisely that.

First Person Plural

Imagine having three different names and three different birth dates. Deann Borshay Liem asks the viewers of her documentary film First Person Plural to do just that as she tells the story of her adoption in 1966 from Korea by American parents living in California. The film traces her childhood in America and desperate drive to assimilate perfectly into American culture, which—to all who looked at her—would say she accomplished quite successfully.

Sex, Power and Consent: Youth Culture and the Unwritten Rules

I have been always interested in the problems, points of view, and so much more in the lives of young people; I also decided at the ripe age of twenty that at some point in my life I was going to be a lecturer! Despite educating teenagers (and being taught by them) for the last twenty years and more, I have not lost my enthusiasm for knowing and guiding them from the perspective of what youngsters of eighteen to twenty consider an ‘old’ wise woman! How do young people live their lives these days? Do they have the same problems that I had when I was eighteen?

The Two Horses of Genghis Khan

When actor Urna Chahar-Tugchi was growing up, her grandmother showed her the hand-carved neck of an ancient violin—all that was left of a precious family heirloom. On it were a few words from a once-popular song called "The Two Horses of Genghis Khan." "No other song touches the soul of the Mongolian people like this one," Chahar-Tugchi says in Davaa Byambasuren’s powerful documentary, a tribute to cultural legacies called The Two Horses of Genghis Khan.

Love Like Hate

Having left the history of the Vietnam War in the classrooms of my London secondary school six years ago, I delighted in reading the new novel by Vietnamese American author Linh Dinh. Predominantly set in post-war Vietnam, Love Like Hate weaves fact with fiction, giving an historical background to character development.

Mother Pious Lady: Making Sense of Everyday India

The great Indian middle class is that layer of society that no one bothered about until couple of decades ago. People in this layer did not fall into the category of "have nots," and hence did not attract any sympathy. At the same time they did not have the luxury of "haves," so it did not make any economic sense for the others to target them. They lived in their own world where they had enough for their basic needs, but nothing for their desires.

Son Preference: Sex Selection, Gender and Culture in South Asia

Son Preference is one of the most compelling insights into the issue of sex selection I have read. Written through a scholarly yet personal lens, the author takes reader through the narrative and complexities of culture and gender in South Asia.

Entangling Alliances: Foreign War Brides and American Soldiers in the Twentieth Century

When men are shipped out to foreign locations to engage in wartime activities, it seems inevitable that they will become romantically and sexually involved with foreign women. In Entangling Alliances, Susan Zeiger explores this phenomenon, examining governmental, military, and societal responses to American soldiers’ desires for sex, companionship, and marriage while engaged in combat overseas.

Stance: Ideas about Emotion, Style, and Meaning for the Study of Expressive Culture

My critical theory class from university seemed far away when I started reading Harris M. Berger’s study, Stance. In that course, Reception Theory was probably the most difficult one to grasp, with the most theoretically abstract readings, readings for the most part founded in philosophy. Realistically, the world does not know enough about the brain or perception, and cultural context varies considerably from person to person.

Becoming Indian: The Unfinished Revolution of Culture and Identity

Pavan K. Varma’s most recent book, Becoming Indian, argues that cultural freedom has eluded formerly colonized nations, specifically India. He sees a need for a cultural revolution in India. Although it reads at times like an extended opinion piece, Varma makes convincing arguments highlighting the importance of reclaiming language, architecture, and art in a way that empowers indigenous knowledge rather than oppressing it.


I just got back from seeing the documentary Babies. I have to say that it was great! Director Thomas Balmès followed four babies from four countries for a little over a year each. The movie is mostly without dialogue, except for the little bit of the parents' talking. It is mostly shot from the baby's level, and is organized by the developmental stages of babies' lives.

Healing Pandora: The Restoration of Hope and Abundance

The mythic Pandora has long been misunderstood as one who brought evil into the world. She was thought to be the first mortal woman created and sent to Earth by the gods. Her infamous box, once opened, leads to the escape of diseases and other ills, resulting in a lasting curse upon humankind. But this is not Pandora’s original story; in fact, the modern retelling of this myth is vastly different from Pandora’s true nature.

A Tortilla Is Like Life: Food and Culture in the San Luis Valley of Colorado

From the time Laura Esquivel’s well known novel Like Water for Chocolate was made into a film, food and meals have been presented as a means of communication that extends beyond the dinner table.

Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes

While the memoir fad is nothing new, Elizabeth Bard’s new book confirms the emergence of a memoir subgenre to contend with: the memoir with recipes. In May 2009, the New York Times proclaimed these books as the brainchild of the “money-making imagination of the publishing industry.” Certainly, a spate of globe-spanning titles have followed, many born from blogs. However, the story of the American in Paris has long been a favored literary subject. It has sparked writers’ imaginations from Henry James to Anais Nin to Elaine Dundy to David Sedaris.


If Salt ‘N Peppa had written lyrics with the phrase, “Let’s talk about sexuality, baby,” instead of, “Let’s talk about sex, baby,” I wonder if it would still have its legendary pop status. After all, it is easier to talk about sex than it is to talk, or rap, about sexuality. It’s much easier to talk about sex acts than the decision to express one’s sexual development or process of maturity. If talking about sex is socially taboo, save a handful of pop culture, then talking, or rapping, about sexuality is unthinkable.

Chocolate, Please: My Adventures in Food, Fat and Freaks

What is not to love about a comedian who combines the raunch of Margaret Cho with the political incorrectness of a Don Rickles, and the acerbic wit of a Dorothy Parker? Lisa Lampinelli deftly employs all of these qualities to describe a hard-fought but nonetheless victorious perspective on her own decisions and accomplishments.

Next of Kin: The Family in Chicano/a Cultural Politics

Anyone can tell you that family is important to Mexican and Chicano culture, and we can all venture guesses as to why. However, where exactly this family unit seems to be headed and how it has evolved in U.S. popular culture over the past 25-30 years is what Richard Rodríguez chooses to scrutinize in his study—and he does so with unexpected wit. Rodríguez's Next of Kin is structured into four chapters framed by an introduction and an afterword.

Magical Things: Spring 2008 at the American Academy in Rome

Brooklyn, New York artist Meridith McNeal continually wandered the streets of Rome during her Spring 2008 residency as a Visiting Artist at the American Academy. As she ambled into every nook and cranny of the city, from winding alleys to bustling streets, she took dozens of spectacular photos—of buildings and people, as well as of flowers, trees, plants, statues, monuments, chandeliers, light fixtures, and scrumptious looking food.

The Madwoman of Bethlehem

Before I started to read The Madwoman of Bethlehem, a story about a woman’s struggle against her patriarchal culture, I wondered whether it would be depressing. It wasn’t.

Selenidad: Selena, Latinos and the Performance of Memory

“This is not a book about Selena, but about what it means to remember her,” explains the author in the opening statement of her book. Remembering Selena is a remedy that releases the emotions of her grieving family, her fans, and those who became engaged in her music only after discovering the impact that she had on Latino communities. Selena, a pop diva from Corpus Christi Texas, was murdered by her fan club president, Yolanda Saldívar on March 31, 1995. Instantly, Selena became a posthumous icon—a symbol—the object of adoration by many.

Questioning the Veil: Open Letters to Muslim Women

_We are not [wo] men for whom it is a question of either-or. For us, the problem is not to make a utopian and sterile attempt to repeat the past, but go beyond it.

The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday: Unexpected Encounters in the Changing Middle East

The brash leather-clad sex columnist who hosts her own television show, The Biography of Love, is: a) a Parisian whose show airs in France b) an American whose show airs in the U.S. c) a Kuwaiti whose show is broadcast throughout the Middle East The surprising answer is C.

Red Lights: The Lives of Sex Workers in Postsocialist China

On one occasion, gangsters walked into the bar, grabbed me by the arm, and started dragging me up the stairs toward a private room intended for hostesses’ sexual encounters with clients. The women were also sometimes raped there by gangsters. I quickly realized what was going on—that I was in real danger... Whereas safety was a major issue, hygiene was another. Living in a filthy karaoke bar room without bathing facilities, I had lice in my hair and over my whole body.

Statistical Panic: Cultural Politics and the Poetics of Emotions

When I finished Statistical Panic I was left mulling over the ideas presented in the book for the next few days. A deeply theoretical exploration of the emotional landscape, Kathleen Woodward frames her book in American culture over the past fifty years, revealing the political, social, and cultural power that emotions have in our lives.

Women Writing Africa: The Northern Region

Women Writing Africa: The Northern Region is the fourth in a series of volumes, following The Southern Region, The Eastern Region, and _[West Africa and the Sahel](http://www.amazon.com/gp/pro

Secret Son

Having read Laila Lalami’s short fiction collection Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, I was thrilled to find out she was working on her first novel, Secret Son.

Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design

I don’t usually have high hopes for books based on films. Luckily, Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design, which is based on the documentary by the same name, rises above what one would typically expect from this genre. Chock full of large color photos and interviews with crafters from fifteen cities around the country, this book provides a window into the modern craft movement in America.

Queer Youth Cultures

Queer youth are often absent from discussions about adolescents, popular culture, and even the queer community. Susan Driver, an advocate and expert on LGBTQ youth, puts together a thoughtful and diverse collection of work that gives voice to queer youth without pathologizing them.