The Truth About Marijuana

January 16, 2018

book cover

A dangerous gateway drug? A harmless recreational substance? Something in between? In their new book “Marijuana: Examining the Facts,” Karen T. Van Gundy and Michael S. Staunton look at the data that can help provide answers to these questions and more.

“It’s the sort of book I thought I would want to write, and it was time for us to have a book like this,” explains Van Gundy, associate professor of sociology, core faculty in justice studies and faculty fellow at UNH’s Carsey School of Public Policy. “But we didn’t realize how timely it would be with the current state and national debates.”

ABC-CLIO, a publisher of reference and professional development resources, contacted Van Gundy about writing the book as a go-to source for information on the positive and negative impacts of marijuana. Van Gundy invited Staunton, a doctoral candidate in sociology who has also worked as a graduate research assistant at the Carsey School, to collaborate on the book with her.

“I like to collaborate with graduate students,” she says, adding. “I would not have been able to write this book without Michael.”

“And I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do this without Karen,” Staunton echoes.

Over many months, Van Gundy and Staunton pored over research from fields including medicine, criminology, psychology and sociology to examine claims made about marijuana. “We came at the topic with no agenda,” Van Gundy explains. “Our goal was to do the research into the medical and legal implications.”

The book focuses on key topics — patterns and trends, risks and benefits and policy considerations — and examines data on marijuana use and misuse trends in the country. “We organized the book around questions such as whether marijuana use is more widespread than ever before,” Van Gundy says, adding she and Staunton evaluated claims about medical risks, examined the history of marijuana legislation and looked at potential causes and consequences of marijuana use. “We came up with questions that could be taught in classes,” says Van Gundy, who is in the process of developing a course around the book. “It really gets at that critical thinking.”

“We wanted it to be readable without falling into the trap of oversimplifying. This was the challenge,” Staunton adds. “We did a fair bit of delving into the methods used to get specific statistics.”

And there were many discoveries in their research. For example, the patterns and trends they examined indicate marijuana use among adults has increased in the past decade, but marijuana misuse has not. “No matter what the laws are, we generally don’t see misuse fluctuate that much,” Van Gundy says, “and youth are using and misusing at lower rates.” For the purposes of the research, “use” refers to any self-reported use of marijuana during a period of time while “misuse” refers to self-reported symptoms that qualify respondents for marijuana use disorder, such as abuse or dependence.

“The myths, realities and perceptions have changed dramatically over time,” Staunton adds, but he notes there have always been misconceptions, ranging from the marijuana-makes-murderers theme of cult classic Reefer Madness in the 1930s to the perception that marijuana use brings a complete lack of motivation that was pervasive in the 1960s.

Van Gundy and Staunton’s research also indicates medical marijuana laws have not contributed to increases in the use of other psychoactive substances or opioid overdose rates, while a large number of studies show the therapeutic utility of the drug for certain kinds of conditions. As for the perception that marijuana is a gateway drug, Van Gundy notes the research does not support the idea that marijuana use causes misuse of more dangerous substances, with the indication that drug abuse typically has more to do with toxic environments.

With so many Americans having personal experience with marijuana either by trying it themselves or knowing people who have, “research means challenging personal assumptions,” Staunton says.

“It’s not about what you think. It’s about what the science says,” Van Gundy adds. “You can’t take just one story and say it is the end-all be-all.”

Learn more about “Marijuana: Examining the Facts.”

post source: article written by Jennifer Saunders in UNH Today


The Story-Takers

January 8, 2018

book cover

In Italy, shrines stand as testament to those who have been murdered by the mafia, and the trauma of those left behind has inspired a movement by educators, activists, artists and journalists striving for justice.

That movement has inspired Paula M. Salvio’s latest book, “The Story-Takers: Public Pedagogy, Transitional Justice, and Italy’s Non-Violent Protest Against the Mafia.”

Salvio, professor and chair in COLA’s education department and affiliate faculty in classics, humanities and Italian studies, shares the story behind her book and the discoveries she has made in her research and writing process.

UNH: What was the inspiration for this book?

Paula Salvio: Italy has a long history of non-violent protest against the mafia. In fact, while the mafia has generated enormous public attention, the antimafia has kept a very low profile. When I began this study in 2008, I wanted to understand the ways in which non-violent practices used by community organizers, educators, photo-journalists and artists were used to educate their communities about mafia violence in an age of neoliberalism. The source of inspiration for this work emerged from the ingenuity, sense of solidarity and courage of antimafia activists working in Sicily. Their work is particularly timely, given that the global and financial ambitions of today’s mafia are difficult to distinguish from that of global corporations.

UNH: Could you describe the research process involved in preparing to write this work?

Salvio: My research process is firmly grounded in archival research, which includes Facebook, blogs, spontaneous shrines and Tweets, and post-colonial narrative inquiry. It’s been said that the modern allure of the archive has much to do with a Freudian romance of finding all the lost things and names, whatever they might be: Things gone astray, lost, squandered, wasted. Jules Michelet described the archive as a site where the scholar breathes in the dust of the dead, communes with them and makes them live again. While this description remains open to serious critique, I admit that it calls out to me and influences my research process.

In the archive, I look not only for what is there but for what is absent or disappeared. This is evident in my chapter on antimafia activist Francesca Morvillo’s Facebook site. While the site was established to keep Morvillo’s memory alive, within weeks it was flooded with images and memories of her husband, antimafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone. Her absence calls attention to the ways in which subjects left unprotected by the state and marginalized by society and culture can be cast into the oblivion of history, thus depriving future generations of the value of their memories and legacies. This is far too often the case when remembering female antimafia activists.

My approach to narrative research places a high value on the collaborative process of building narratives with the community members I write about. This process raises serious questions about who has the right to speak, the right to tell the story and the ethics of representation. The book’s title, “The Story-Takers,” takes its cue from the joint project of story-making between the one who listens and the one who tells a story that is vulnerable to being forgotten. Given the prevalence of omerta — the law of silence — where communities live under mafia rule, stories of resistance are far too easily lost.

UNH: Did you make any particularly unexpected discoveries in the process?

Salvio: Yes, I made several unexpected discoveries, but here, I’ll limit them to three.

First, I did not expect that the work of antimafia activists would challenge the pedagogical impulse of transitional justice in such a profound way. Too often, transitional justice narratives focus on experiences of victimhood rather than including narratives of non-violent resistance. The history and contemporary practices of the antimafia movements in Italy recognize and learn from those who took action, who engaged in dissent and who resisted and continue to resist state sanctioned violence.

Second, while I began this project with an understanding of the strong masculine presence in mafia and antimafia studies, I did not set out to write a feminist perspective on antimafia literature, but in many ways, that’s what I did. As the study unfolded, I found myself more and more focused on the ways in which women’s perspectives were absent from mainstream antimafia studies. I also began to understand the extent to which antimafia movements, like the mafia, have a masculine face that silences the unspectacular, but meaningful, cultural practices of fighting for legality in daily living.

Third, citizen and open-source journalism play major roles in antimafia education, particularly in an era when global media is becoming increasingly privatized.

While significant questions remain about the extent to which social media can impact social change, the citizen journalists working in Italy present compelling challenges to claims made by skeptics of citizen journalism that new media practices, such as blogging, posting, tweeting, function to neglect organization and revolt. In my research, I found that citizen journalists provide well-researched, in-depth exposés posted online, and in doing so, they insert themselves into the current news production process as curators of collective memory formation.

Of course, the mafia is expert at using the internet as well. Mafia violence knows no limit as it circulates on the ground and through communication channels on the net. They do track people down. Recently, one antimafia group, Libera, found their site hacked. The mafia left a skull and a cascade of death threats. Yet Libera carries on. They recognize — and here I paraphrase Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ta-Nehisi Coates — that you have to find peace within the chaos; you have to find some sort of mission in the chaos; you have to devote yourself to the struggle within the chaos, with no assurance that you will see any victory within your lifetime.

post source: UNH Today story written by Jennifer Saunders


2017 in Books

December 22, 2017

3 book covers

Faculty members in the College of Liberal Arts published a range of books this year, shedding light on Hollywood’s fascination with Hawaii, the history of credit bureaus such as Equifax, and the intersection of public health and democracy, among other topics. Here’s the roundup.

book coverLGBTQ Politics: A Critical Reader
edited by Marla Brettschneider, Susan Burgess and Christine Keating
NYU Press; Critical edition (September 19, 2017)
book coverQueer, Latinx, and Bilingual: Narrative Resources in the Negotiation of Identities
by Holly R. Cashman
Routledge Critical Studies in Multilingualism Series
Routledge (November 15, 2017)
book coverHealth and Freedom in the Balance: Exploring the Tensions among Public Health, Individual Liberty, and Governmental Authority
edited by M. Girard Dorsey and Rosemary M. Caron
Public Health in the 21st Century Series
Nova Science Publishers, Inc. (July 2017)
book coverA Dictionary of Literary Symbols, Third Edition
by Michael Ferber
Cambridge University Press; 3 edition (May 27, 2017)
book coverHollywood’s Hawaii: Race, Nation, and War
by Delia Malia Caparoso Konzett
War Culture Series
Rutgers University Press (March 1, 2017)
book coverCarl Wilhelm Frölich’s “On Man and his Circumstances:” A Translation of “Über den Menschen und seine Verhältnisse”
translated, with introduction, by Edward T. Larkin
Peter Lang (May 29, 2017)
book coverCreditworthy: A History of Consumer Surveillance and Financial Identity in America
by Josh Lauer
Columbia Studies in the History of U.S. Capitalism Series
Columbia University Press (July 25, 2017)
book coverMinimum Contract Justice: A Capabilities Perspective on Sweatshops and Consumer Contracts
by Lyn K. L. Tjon Soei Len
Hart Publishing (May 4, 2017)
book coverWriting across Culture and Language: Inclusive Strategies for Working with ELL Writers in the ELA Classroom
by Christina Ortmeier-Hooper
National Council of Teachers of English (November 6, 2017)
book coverLinguistically Diverse Immigrant and Resident Writers: Transitions from High School to College
edited by Christina Ortmeier-Hooper and Todd Ruecker
ESL & Applied Linguistics Professional Series
Routledge (2017)
book coverThe Story-Takers: Public Pedagogy, Transitional Justice, and Italy’s Non-Violent Protest against the Mafia
by Paula M. Salvio
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division (November 6, 2017)
book coverMarijuana: Examining the Facts
by Karen T. Van Gundy and Michael S. Staunton
Contemporary Debates Series
ABC-CLIO (August 2, 2017)

UNH Civil War class to air on C-SPAN

December 6, 2017

photo of J. William Harris

A lecture by J. William Harris on the Civil War will air on C-SPAN 3 on Saturday, December 9 at 8 p.m. and midnight ET.

A C-SPAN crew filmed the class meeting at UNH earlier this semester. Harris, a professor of history, lectured on Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War Battle of Antietam and the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862. The lecture was part of Harris’ Civil War Era course.

The program will be available online for viewing on the C-SPAN website immediately after airing.  A podcast will be available starting on December 12.

The lecture appears as part of the Lectures in History series on C-SPAN’s American History TV, which airs for 48 hours each weekend on C-SPAN 3 from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday ET. American History TV programming also airs in the evenings on C-SPAN 3 when the U.S. Congress is out of session. The Lectures in History series airs every Saturday at 8 p.m. and midnight ET.

The series allows viewers to take a peek inside college classrooms around the country on a weekly basis to hear lectures on a variety of American history topics. Viewers have responded positively to the series, says producer Russell Logan, and the Lectures in History page at the American History TV website is the most visited.

Logan says that C-SPAN invited Harris to be part of the series because he is a former Pulitzer Prize nominee and a noted professor, adding “…everyone we tape for Lectures in History is recommended in some way, be it by a fellow professor, or by a C-SPAN producer who saw the person at another event we covered, or because they are particularly distinguished in some way like Professor Harris.”

Harris specializes in the history of the American South, the Civil War and African American history. He is the author of “The Hanging of Thomas Jeremiah: A Free Black Man’s Encounter with Liberty,” “The Making of the American South: A Short History, 1500-1877,” and “Deep Souths: Delta, Piedmont, and Sea Island Society in the Age of Segregation,” which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History, co-winner of the Organization of American Historians’ James A. Rawley Prize, and winner of the Agricultural History Society’s Theodore Saloutos Memorial Book Prize.

This is the second UNH classroom lecture that has been covered by C-SPAN. Political science professor Andrew Smith’s lecture on the History of the New Hampshire Primaries aired in September 2011.


Public Humanities

November 9, 2017

photo of six panelists at table

Six College of Liberal Arts faculty members presented on UNH’s innovative public humanities fellows program at the National Humanities Conference, held Nov. 2-5, 2017, in Boston, Mass.

The UNH Center for the Humanities annually awards up to three fellowships of $5000 each for publicly engaged humanities projects. The awards enable individual humanities scholars or teams to undertake collaborative projects, partnering with community or other public organizations, bringing humanities scholarship to bear in the context of advancing democracy, civic life and the public good.

Learn about the projects funded by the public humanities fellows program.

The faculty presenting at the Conference, pictured above, left to right, were Eleanor Harrison-Buck (anthropology), Christina Ortmeier-Hooper (English), Alecia Magnifico (English), Burt Feintuch (English and the Center for the Humanities), Nick Smith (philosophy) and Svetlana Peshkova (anthropology).

The conference, co-hosted with the Federation of State Humanities Councils, was the second in a series of three joint national meetings that bring the humanities community together as whole to consider how, by leveraging strengths, they can achieve broader public impact and showcase the fundamental role the humanities play in addressing both local and global challenges.

Nick Smith presenting

Professor Nick Smith

Svetlana Peshkova presenting

Professor Svetlana Peshkova


Lecture to Address Crimes Against Humanity at IG Farben Auschwitz, Nov. 14

November 6, 2017

drawing of production site at Auchwitz

Martin Rumscheidt will speak about his experience as the son of a man complicit in Nazi crimes as part of the Heilbronner Lecture series on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 at 5 p.m. in 115 Murkland Hall. The lecture, titled “White Collar Crimes Against Humanity: IG Farben Auschwitz, My Father’s Company,” is free and open to the public.

Rumscheidt is an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada and retired professor of historical theology at the University of Windsor, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Charles University, Prague. He is the translator of “Act and Being” (1996) in Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, English edition, and cotranslator with the late Barbara Rumscheidt of Soelle’s “Against the Wind” (1999) and “The Silent Cry” (2001).

Rumscheidt’s father was an employee of IG Farben, the chemical company and second largest producer in Hitler’s military-industrial complex. The senior Rumscheidt’s colleague and close friend Walter Dürrfeld was in charge of constructing and administering IG Farber Auschwitz-Monowitz, a production site that drew the majority of its workforce from the Birkenau concentration camp. Dürrfeld was sentenced to 8 years in prison by the Nuremberg court for his crimes, though he was released early. Rumscheidt’s father never addressed the implications of his work for IG Farben and its participation in the “extermination through labor” program the company implemented at Monowitz.

The Hans Heilbronner lecture series honors the memory of Hans Heilbronner, professor of history, who served the University of New Hampshire with distinction from 1954 until 1991. This event is sponsored by the Endowed Fund for Holocaust Education.

More information can be found at: https://cola.unh.edu/heilbronner2017


Caves of Dunhuang

November 2, 2017

men praying

The University of New Hampshire will host an exhibition of the caves at Mogao, a top United Nations World Heritage Site located in Dunhuang, China, Nov. 13-17, 2017, in Huddleston Hall. The site is famous for its caves featuring statues and wall paintings spanning 1,000 years of Buddhist art.

The exhibit is free and open to the public Nov. 13 from 4:40-8 p.m.; Nov. 14-16 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Nov. 17 from 10 a.m.-noon.

Dunhuang was at the crossroads of trade, cultures, ethnicities and religions along the ancient Silk Road from 300 BCE to about 1400 CE. Approximately 700 caves were hollowed out along a mile-long stretch that housed thousands of square feet of ancient murals and colored Buddhist statues, as well as tens of thousands of ancient scrolls, paintings, religious texts/sutra and government documents. The caves offer a rare glimpse into the lives of the diverse people who traveled along the ancient Silk Road.

The exhibition at UNH includes photos, multimedia, and original-scale replicas of dozens of murals and the entirety of Cave 285, a painstakingly recreated work of art in its own right. The cave contains images of Chinese and Indian deities and a visualization of a tale of Buddhist redemption known as the “500 Robbers.” The replicas are the work of artists and scholars from the Dunhuang Research Academy, the institution responsible for the conservation, management and research of the World Heritage Site.

Two lectures will accompany the exhibition:

“The Art of Dunhuang” by Huaqing Luo, deputy director of Dunhuang Research Academy, will take place Nov. 13, 2017, from 2-3 p.m. in the Memorial Union Building Theatre II.

“The Murals of Dunhuang” by Yige Wang, co-director of the Confucius Institute at UNH; Brian Chu, UNH professor of art; and Julee Holcombe, UNH associate professor of art; will take place Nov. 16, 2017, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Building’s Granite State Room.

The exhibition is sponsored by the Confucius Institute at UNH and made possible by Hanban (Confucius Institute Headquarters), Dunhuang Research Academy, the UNH College of Liberal Arts, Bryant University and Chengdu University.

Photo: Worshipping Bodhisattva, mural, Cave 285, Wei Dynasty (535-556 A.D.)


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