California Studies Association

The latest news, events, and perspectives from the CSA


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William Issel on Catholic politics in San Francisco

For a great review of Bill Issel’s new book, nose on over to Chris Carlsson’s Nowtowpian blog…

San Francisco’s much touted reputation as a bastion of liberal tolerance has an unexpected foundation in of all things, the Catholic Church! It’s a complicated tale involving the emergence of a liberal cross-class majority in favor of economic growth and individual rights that has important issel book coverroots in Catholic doctrine. By the last quarter of the 20th century the same liberalism that had prevailed as a manifestation of a “vital political center” had sown the seeds of its own demise. The dominance of Catholic morality over politicians, police, business, and labor leaders began eroding under the pressure of the post-war demographic changes in San Francisco. By the time the Soviet Union finally dissolved in 1991, liberalism had already lost its defining purpose (anti-communism combined with a capitalist-friendly regime of limited labor and human rights), while in San Francisco, the liberals had long become fused with elite business interests in their pursuit of a growth economy based on white-collar finance, real estate, medicine, tourism, and technology.

William Issel does a wonderful job of revealing and analyzing this history in his 2013 book Church and State in the City: Catholics and Politics in Twentieth-Century San Francisco (Temple University Press). Rooted in the early 20th century’s labor movement, then dominated by Irish Catholics (and to a much lesser extent Italian and Latin American Catholics), “native sons” of San Francisco’s Mission District born between 1890 and 1930 played an extraordinarily influential role in the political and social development of San Francisco up to the 1970s.

Read the rest here….


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Documentary – California State of Mind

Without endorsement, I’m passing along this notice of a new film about California politics and culture. [LMC]

California State of Mind
This Emmy nominated documentary is an exciting tale of the West, an entertaining biography and a CalStateMindprovocative portrait of a man whose bi-partisan can-do optimism inspires students today.
Full information available at www.gooddocs.net

In the turbulent 1960s, an ordinary man rose to face extraordinary challenges and powerfully shaped the future of modern California. A dynamic American dream story unfolds in this new film on Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown — “the Godfather of Modern California.” Told through the eyes of Brown’s granddaughter, award winning filmmaker Sascha Rice, this film gives students an inside look at a California icon and a political family, called by some “the West Coast Kennedys.” As the filmmaker investigates her grandfather’s legacy, viewers are invited along to assess Brown’s policies, look critically at issues of government, leadership, civil rights, growth, and the clash between environment and economic development. Brown’s career intersects with such luminaries as JFK, Nixon, Reagan, Cesar Chavez, and Martin Luther King. Transporting archival footage is interwoven with revealing commentaries from former Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pete Wilson, Gray Davis and current Governor Jerry Brown as well as Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Karen Bass, and Senator Dianne Feinstein.


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UCB California Studies Dinner Seminar, Tuesday, September 16, 2014: Lincoln Cushing “Red All Over: Political and Countercultural Printshops of the San Francisco Bay Area”

The first dinner seminar of the 2014-2015 academic year will feature Lincoln Cushing, author, archivist, and activist speaking on socially conscious printshops in the Bay Area. Author of a book on social justice posters in the region, Cushing will discuss the shops that produced these powerful works of art. The session is from 7-9 p.m. at the UC Berkeley Institute for Labor Research and Education, 2521 Channing Way, just east of Telegraph Ave.
Free admission and dinner.
Contact Myra Armstrong, zulu2@berkeley.edu, 510-643-3012.


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Pop-up Talk: Lincoln Cushing on Radical Acts

Lincoln, one of our CSA steerers, gives a pop-up talk at OMCA. http://museumca.org/event/pop-talk-lincoln-cushing-radical-acts | Friday, August 15, 2014, 7–7:30 pm | Details:

radical-acts-1 Join archivist and author Lincoln Cushing for a brief talk in the newly reinstalled “Radical Acts” section within the Gallery of California Art. Cushing will discuss the postwar rise of social justice movements and related posters in the “All of Us Or None Archive,” a large set of political posters within the Museum’s collection. The Bay Area was a powerful node of production for these “paper bullets,” and Cushing will reveal the many layers of meaning in the posters on display. This in-Gallery pop-up talk takes place during Friday Nights @ OMCA, featuring half-off Gallery admission, Off the Grid food trucks, live music, and more.

Included with Museum admission. During Friday Nights @ OMCA, from 5 to 9 pm, admission is half-price for adults, free for ages 18 and under. Admission for Members is always free.

 

http://museumca.org/event/pop-talk-lincoln-cushing-radical-acts


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California Studies Dinner Seminar: Fall Schedule

Tuesday, September 16
“Red All Over: Political and Countercultural Printshops in the Bay Area”
Lincoln Cushing

Thursday, October 16
“What’s an Icon?: Political Journeys of Elizabeth (Betita) Sutherland Martinez”
Tony Platt

Wednesday, November 19
“Upton Sinclair: California Socialist, Celebrity Journalist”
Laura Coodley

The seminars are held at the UC Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2521 Channing Way (just east of Telegraph Ave), 7-9 p.m. Dinners free.

Contact: Myra Armstrong, zulu2@berkeley.edu, (510)643-3012.


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Bill Issel at the Commonwealth Club

Check out historian Bill Issel at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on Monday, August 25, giving a talk entitled, “The San Francisco LGBT Struggle for Freedom Revisited: Catholic Power and the Right to the City.”

Issel is an emeritus professor at SF State and has written numerous books on San Francisco history, politics and culture. You can read about his work here. Here’s an abstract of his talk:

issel coverThe LGBT movement of the 20th century became one of the challenges to Catholic power that Walter Lippmann called “the acids of modernity.” Bill Issel’s new book, Church and State in the City, describes how, in San Francisco, the church and laypeople worked to make it a Catholic city. They wanted to make their city a place where residents would be secure against modernity’s incursions. By the 1940s, Catholic power reached its zenith just as LGBT newcomers began demanding equal rights to the city. This story helps explain the city’s robust opposition to LGBT activists’ call for broader American freedoms in the 1950s and beyond.

Details and tickets here.


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The Death of the City? Reports of San Francisco’s Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

boom.2014.4.2.43- galleria photoBy Rachel Brahinsky

As part of the Boom California summer 2014 issue, I have a new essay on SF, looking at the tech boom and its effects in a new way. Here’s an excerpt:

You may have heard that the wave of gentrification that’s crashing through San Francisco these days has brought “the end of San Francisco.” You may have heard that the cool city of fog and freaks is over and done with, run over by Google buses filled with techies who have no sense of community or history. At the risk of being very unpopular, I’m going to tell you this isn’t quite true. The “Google bus,” which is what people in the Bay Area call the mass of private, tech commuter buses that fill the rush-hour streets, is not essentially the problem. In fact, it may be the seed of the solution.¹

The San Francisco Bay Area is undergoing a period of rapid transformation. In many ways, we’ve seen this boom before. Yet the unsettled atmosphere of the current moment—in which the middle class fears eviction alongside the most vulnerable—has refueled another familiar Bay Area process in the fight against displacement. The San Francisco you love exists because, as capitalism’s “creative destruction” tears through the urban landscape, community advocates fighting for what I call an “ethical city” try to reshape that destruction²—and sometimes they win.

This latest wave of advocacy has been centered around tech wealth and motivated by the great, white shuttle buses. Defended as a way to keep the tech industry “green,” even as it blocks public transit and weighs heavily on city streets, the Google bus has become a metaphor for life in an age of seemingly warp-speed urban change. Neither gentrification nor real estate flipping—in which investors buy and resell property for quick profit—were invented in San Francisco, and neither of them are new. See New York’s SoHo and Lower East Side in the 1980s and 1990s, and see cities around the globe, which have produced enough variants on the theme that academics have created an advanced taxonomy of gentrification.³ Even so, the rumble of urban change has been deeply jarring on many levels ….. Follow this link for the rest of my essay, available for free on JStor

Read the rest of the Summer 2014 issue of BOOM: What’s the Matter with San Francisco?

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