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Why Columbus Sailed South to the Indies

Everyone knows that in 1492 Christopher Columbus sailed west across the Atlantic, seeking a new route to the East. Few note, however, that Columbus's intention was also to sail south, to the tropics. In The Tropics of Empire, Nicolás Wey Gómez rewrites the geographical history of the discovery of the Americas, casting it as part of Europe's reawakening to the natural and human resources of the South.

The Body and Violence in Mesopotamia

Rituals of War is an investigation into the earliest historical records of violence and biopolitics. In Mesopotamia, ancient (ca. 3000-500 BCE) Iraqi rituals of war and images of violence constituted part of the magical technologies of warfare that formed the underlying irrational processes of war. In Rituals of War, Zainab Bahrani weaves together three lines of inquiry into one historical domain of violence: war, the body, and representation.

Technology and the Western Millennium

Why does technology change over time, how does it change, and what difference does it make? In this sweeping, ambitious look at a thousand years of Western experience, Robert Friedel argues that technological change comes largely through the pursuit of improvement--the deep-rooted belief that things could be done in a better way.

A Cultural History of Arousal

In Praise of the Whip: A Cultural History of Arousal is a new history of voluntary flagellation in Europe, from its invention in medieval religious devotion to its use in the modern pornographic imagination. Working with a wide range of religious, literary, and medical texts and images, Niklaus Largier explores the emotional and sensual, religious and erotic excitement of the whip, a crucial instrument of stimulation in devotional and sexual practices.

Identification, Deception, and Surveillance in Early Modern Europe

Who are you? And how can you prove it? How were individuals described and identified in the centuries before photography and fingerprinting, in a world without centralized administrations, where names and addresses were constantly changing? In Who are You?, Valentin Groebner traces the early modern European history of identification practices and identity papers. The documents, seals, stamps, and signatures were—and are—powerful tools that created the double of a person in writ and bore the indelible signs of bureaucratic authenticity.

The Birth of Naval Architecture in the Scientific Revolution, 1600-1800

"Naval architecture was born in the mountains of Peru, in the mind of a French astronomer named Pierre Bouguer who never built a ship in his life." So writes Larrie Ferreiro at the beginning of this pioneering work on the science of naval architecture. Bouguer's monumental book Traité du navire (Treatise of the Ship) founded a discipline that defined not the rules for building a ship but the theories and tools to predict a ship's characteristics and performance before it was built.

This startlingly original (and sure to be controversial) account of the evolution of Christianity shows that the economics of religion has little to do with counting the money in the collection basket and much to do with understanding the background of today's religious and political divisions. Since religion is a set of organized beliefs, and a church is an organized body of worshippers, it's natural to use a science that seeks to explain the behavior of organizations--economics--to understand the development of organized religion.

At its founding, Boston was a small peninsula; over the last 375 years the city has doubled in size by filling in the surrounding tidal flats—areas covered with water at high tide and exposed at low. In Walking Tours of Boston's Made Land, historian Nancy Seasholes outlines twelve walks that trace where and why Boston's man-made land was created, and, along the way, uncovers fascinating and little-known pieces of Boston history.

Histories of Civil Society and Nature

In Frontiers, Michael Redclift examines the relationship between nature and society in frontier areas—contested zones in which rival versions of civil society vie with one another, often over the definition and management of nature itself.

Needs and Opportunities for Study
Edited by Bruce Sinclair

Race and technology are two of the most powerful motifs in American history, but until recently they have not often been considered in relation to each other. This collection of essays examines the intersection of the two in a variety of social and technological contexts, pointing out, as the subtitle (borrowed from Brooke Hindle's classic 1966 work Early American Technology) puts it, the "needs and opportunities for study."

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