Top 6 Books of 2011

We asked our staff to name the books they enjoyed reading this year that feature sexual and reproductive health and rights in Latin America, North America, and the Caribbean. The following are their responses:

Birth Matters: A Midwife's Manifesta

Renowned for her practice's exemplary results and low intervention rates, Ina May Gaskin has gained international notoriety for promoting natural birth. She is a much-beloved leader of a movement that seeks to stop the hyper-medicalization of birth—which has lead to nearly a third of hospital births in America to be cesarean sections—and renew confidence in a woman's natural ability to birth. Upbeat and informative, Gaskin asserts that the way in which women become mothers is a women's rights issue, and it is perhaps the act that most powerfully exhibits what it is to be instinctually human. Birth Matters is a spirited manifesta showing us how to trust women, value birth, and reconcile modern life with a process as old as our species. (Source: Seven Stories)

Queering the Public Sphere in Mexico and Brazil: Sexual Rights Movements in Emerging Democracies

Rafael de la Dehesa focuses on the ways that LGBT activists have engaged with the state, particularly in alliance with political parties and through government health agencies in the wake of the AIDS crisis, and the gradual consolidation of sexual rights at the international level. His comparison highlights similarities between sexual rights movements in Mexico and Brazil, including a convergence on legislative priorities such as antidiscrimination laws and the legal recognition of same-sex couples. At the same time, de la Dehesa points to notable differences in the tactics deployed by activists, social-movement organizations, political parties, religious institutions, legislatures, and state agencies, offering a critical analysis of the possibilities opened by emerging democratic arrangements, as well as their limitations. (Source: Duke University Press)

Challenging HIV and AIDS

There are an estimated 42 million people worldwide living with HIV and AIDS. In the Caribbean, the statistics are alarming. After sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean has a higher HIV prevalence than any other area of the world. In Challenging HIV and AIDS, players at various levels in the education sector across the Caribbean weigh in on the value of education as a means to halt the spread of HIV and AIDS. The contributions are unique to the Caribbean experience and culture and address the root causes of the spread of the epidemic. (Source: UNESCO)

The Politics of Sexuality in Latin America

The city of Buenos Aires has guaranteed all couples the right to register civil unions. Mexico City approved the Cohabitation Law, which grants same-sex couples marital rights. Yet, a gay man was murdered every two days in Latin America in 2005, and Brazil recently led the world in homophobic murders. These facts illustrate the wide disparity in the treatment and rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations across the region. This is the first English-language reader on LGBT politics in Latin America, and the contributors uncover many of the obstacles LGBT activists face in establishing new laws and breaking down societal barriers. It looks to the future of LGBT activism in Latin America. (Source: B&N)

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex

Science writer Mary Roach turns her outrageous curiosity and insight on the most alluring scientific subject of all: sex. The study of sexual physiology-what happens, and why, and how to make it happen better-has been a paying career or a diverting sideline for scientists as far-ranging as Leonardo da Vinci and James Watson. The research has taken place behind the closed doors of laboratories, brothels, MRI centers, pig farms, sex-toy R&D labs, and Alfred Kinsey's attic. Mary Roach, "the funniest science writer in the country," devoted two years to stepping behind those doors. In Bonk, Roach shows us what science is doing to slowly make the bedroom a more satisfying place. (Source: W.W. Norton & Company)

Rebel Girls: Youth Activism and Social Change Across the Americas

Girls are not just passive victims or empowered consumers, but are participants and leaders in some of the most vibrant contemporary movements for global social justice. Jessica K. Taft introduces readers to a diverse and vibrant transnational community of teenage girl activists in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mexico City, Caracas, Buenos Aires, and Vancouver. Expansive in scope and full of rich details, Taft brings to life the voices of these inspiring activists who are engaged in innovative and effective organizing for global and local social justice, highlighting their important contributions to contemporary social movements and social theory. (Source: NYU Press)


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