The Truth About Marijuana

January 16, 2018

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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

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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

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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)

New Book Examines Hollywood’s Hawaii

April 3, 2017

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Delia Malia Caparoso Konzett has published the first full-length study of the American film industry’s fascination with the Pacific in “Hollywood’s Hawaii: Race, Nation, and War.” The book is part of the War Culture Series from Rutgers University Press.

“Hollywood’s Hawaii” presents a history of cinema from 1898 to present that examines Hawaii and the Pacific and its representation in film in the context of colonialism, war, Orientalism, occupation, military buildup and entertainment.

“My family is from Hawaii and I’ve grown up in Hawaii partially,” says Konzett. “For my family, the representation of Hawaii in Hollywood always appeared at odds with the reality of our experiences. This discrepancy stirred my curiosity about Hollywood films set in the Pacific. My father, who also served in the military, steered my interest towards Pacific war films and I began to see two identities that Hollywood attached to Hawaii, namely a leisure paradise and a geopolitical site of military interest. My book tries to explore this complex relation between two seemingly contradictory identities and its relevance for the national imagination and its representation in Hollywood film.”

In “Hollywood’s Hawaii,” Konzett highlights films that mirror the cultural and political climate of the country — from the era of U.S. imperialism through Jim Crow racial segregation, the attack on Pearl Harbor and WWII, the civil rights movement, the contemporary articulation of consumer and leisure culture, as well as the buildup of the modern military industrial complex.

Gary Y. Okihiro, author of “Island World: Hawai`i and the United States,” writes of Konzett’s book:A marvelously comprehensive gaze at cinematic representations of Hawaii, this insightful study shows how those fictions constitute and are constituted by U.S. imperialism, Christian capitalism and white nationalism. Moreover, the imagined South Pacific is not a distant, fleeting pleasure but an imminent, durable presence.”

Konzett is associate professor of English, cinema and women’s studies at UNH. She is the author of “Ethnic Modernisms: Anzia Yezierska, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Rhys, and the Aesthetics of Location” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2002).

“Hollywood’s Hawaii” is available from the publisher and major online retailers.


The Significance of Listening

March 7, 2017

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Paula M. Salvio, UNH professor of education, and co-authors Bronwen E. Low and Chloe Brushwood Rose, have published a new book titled “Community-based Media Pedagogies: Relational Practices of Listening in the Commons” (Routledge).

“Funded by the Canadian Social Science Humanities Research Council, this comparative study of community media projects began with an interest in the kinds of stories people were telling in community programs through participatory, multimedia forms,” explains Salvio. “What might these stories tell us about the complexities of experiences of migration, marginalization, mobility and identity for their participants?”

Salvio and her colleagues worked with three groups: recently immigrated women in a leadership program in Toronto working with digital storytelling, youth with refugee experience in Montreal who were part of the mappingmemories.ca project, and youth at the Centre for Urban Pedagogy in New York City who use digital media, art and design to make educational tools that demystify complex policy and planning issues in their communities.

“Following our observations, interviews and reflection, we realized that we needed to complement our attention to the experience of storytelling with an examination of listening,” says Salvio. “In the group processes in these and other programs, including ‘story circles,’ one spends far more time listening than speaking. We realized that part of the power of these projects lay in their cultivation of listening relations, which supported participants in taking social and emotional risks. And so we began exploring the pedagogical and social significance of listening, and the role it might play in building a democratic, educational ‘commons,’ by developing a theory of intersubjective listening. This theory moves beyond dialogue to take into consideration the fundamental interdependence of speaker and listener, as well as the political and ethical complexities of such a listening.”

Salvio’s research focuses on the cultural and historical foundations of education with a specialization in psychoanalysis, life-writing and the impact that marginalization, trauma and war have on women, children and youth in formal and informal educational settings.

“Community-based Media Pedagogies: Relational Practices of Listening in the Commons” is now available online and in print.


New Book Examines Border Conflicts in North America

February 7, 2017

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Laurence Armand French, senior researcher and affiliate professor of justice studies, has published a new book, co–written with Magdaleno Manzanarez, professor of political science at Western New Mexico University, titled “North American Border Conflicts: Race, Politics, and Ethics” (CRC Press, 2016).

“North American Border Conflicts” examines border conflicts from their beginnings at European settlement and aboriginal tribe contact to the ensuing colonial border battles, the emerging United States and its expansionist mandate, and the neocolonial conflicts of the 20th century. The book explores 21st century border issues such as post-9/11 policies that impact North American and Canadian border Indian tribes and the drug and human trafficking  concerns at the Mexico-U.S. border. “North American Border Conflicts” adds to the current discussion on class, race, ethnic and sectarian divides, not only within the United States but throughout the Americas in general. In an increasingly global world, the text offers insight into issues among and between neighboring nations.

The history and geopolitics explored by “North American Border Conflicts” are particularly pertinent at this moment in United States history as federal government concern over border security has increased.

“North American border issues are complex,” says French. “They cannot be easily dismissed by inflammatory rhetoric claiming simple solutions that will supposedly immediately change the landscape of interactions that extend to the beginning of U.S. independence.

“‘Nationalism’ is often associated with sectarian/ethnic elitism and is a dangerous foreign policy construct — look at the recent Balkan wars,” adds French. “Everyone who lives in this hemisphere is ‘American’ and if preference and consideration is given to any group, it should be the ‘indigenous’ Americans.”

French and Manzanarez have researched collaboratively for the past 20 years in the areas of international relations, social justice, and minority issues with a particular focus on indigenous Indian groups. In 2004, they co-authored “NAFTA and Neocolonialism: Comparative Criminal, Human, and Social Justice” (University Press of America).

“North American Border Conflicts: Race, Politics, and Ethics” is available from CRC Press and major online retailers.


UNH Political Scientist Publishes Two Books on United Nations

November 22, 2016

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Alynna Lyon, associate professor of political science, has written a book that explores the United States’ relationship to the United Nations. In “US Politics and the United Nations: A Tale of Dysfunctional Dynamics” (Lynne Rienner Publishers), Lyon examines the waxing and waning of U.S. support for the U.N., tracing events, actions and decisions from the end of World War I to the present.

U.S. Politics and the United Nations is available from the publisher and major online retailers.

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A second book, “The United Nations in the 21st Century” (5th edition, Westview Press), which Lyon co-authored with Karen A. Mingst and Margaret P. Karns, provides an introduction to the United Nations, exploring the historical, institutional and theoretical foundations of the U.N. This newest edition focuses on major trends since 2012, including changing power dynamics, increasing threats to peace and security, and the challenges of climate change.

“The United Nations in the 21st Century” is available from the publisher and major online retailers.


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