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Finding Background Information
Background information can come in different formats. Books are often good because they provide in-depth information. Articles can help to provide more current updates. Careful Web searching and evaluation of Web-based sources can also provide good background information, though usually not as detailed as books.
Use the Books & Media search in the center of this page to search for books on your country or topic.
Use the Articles tab to search for background articles.
Use the OneSearch tab to search for both books and articles at the same time.
To begin with you will need to find at least two credible sources for background information which provide context for the issue addressed in your article. What is noteworthy about the main points raised in the article?
Later on your annotated bibliography will need to include at least three scholarly books.
Books in the library are organized by call number according to the Library of Congress classification system which groups items by subject, so you can often simply browse the shelves. Here are some relevant subjects and their call numbers:
Books and other background sources for countries
This is a small sampling of library books available from the CCSF library in order to give some examples of the kinds of books that might provide background information on your country and/or topic. Some are in print, and others are available online as e-books. See the info box to the right for details on how to access e-books from off campus.
The World Factbook
The World Factbook, produced by the CIA, provides facts and background information on every country, dependency, and geographic entity in the world.
Coverage includes history, people, government, economy, energy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities.
For each country, includes Country Overview, Political Overview, statistics, and country specific news wires.
The Statesman's Yearbook 2015
Call Number: JA51 .S7 2015
Publication Date: 2014-07-23
Now in its 151st edition, The Statesman's Yearbook continues to be the reference work of choice for accurate and reliable information on every country in the world. Covering political, economic, social and cultural aspects.
Call Number: HV6439.S2 W65 2017
Publication Date: 2017-01-31
In 1992, at the end of a twelve-year civil war, El Salvador was poised for a transition to democracy. Yet, after longstanding dominance by a small oligarchy that continually used violence to repress popular resistance, El Salvador's democracy has proven to be a fragile one, as social ills (poverty chief among them) have given rise to neighborhoods where gang activity now thrives. Mano Dura examines the ways in which the ruling ARENA party used gang violence to solidify political power in the hands of the elite--culminating in draconian "iron fist" antigang policies that undermine human rights while ultimately doing little to address the roots of gang membership. Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork and policy analysis, Mano Dura examines the activities of three nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that have advocated for more nuanced policies to eradicate gangs and the societal issues that are both a cause and an effect of gang proliferation. While other studies of street gangs have focused on relatively distant countries such as Colombia, Argentina, and Jamaica, Sonja Wolf's research takes us to a country closer to the United States, where forced deportation has brought with it US gang culture. Charting the limited success of NGOs in influencing El Salvador's security policies, the book brings to light key contextual aspects--including myopic media coverage and the ironic populist support for ARENA, despite the party's protection of the elite at the expense of the greater society.
The Colombia Reader
Call Number: F2258 .C677 2017
Publication Date: 2017-01-03
Containing more than 100 selections, The Colombia Reader presents a rich and multilayered account of this complex nation from the colonial era to the present. Includes journalistic reports, songs, artwork, poetry, oral histories, government documents, and scholarship to illustrate the changing ways Colombians from all walks of life have made and understood their own history. Comprehensive in scope, it covers regional differences; religion, art, and culture; the urban/rural divide; patterns of racial, economic, and gender inequalities; the history of violence; and the transnational flows that have shaped the nation. The Colombia Reader goes beyond Colombia's reputation for violence, contrasting experiences of conflict with the stability and significance of cultural, intellectual, and economic life in this nation.
China under Mao
Call Number: DS777.75 .W343 2017
Publication Date: 2017-03-20
China's Communist Party seized power in 1949 after a long period of guerrilla insurgency followed by full-scale war, but the Chinese revolution was just beginning. China Under Mao narrates the rise and fall of the Maoist revolutionary state from 1949 to 1976--an epoch of startling accomplishments and disastrous failures, steered by many forces but dominated above all by Mao Zedong. "Walder convincingly shows that the effect of Maoist inequalities still distorts China today...[It] will be a mind-opening book for many (and is a depressing reminder for others)." --Jonathan Mirsky, The Spectator "Andrew Walder's account of Mao's time in power is detailed, sophisticated and powerful...Walder takes on many pieces of conventional wisdom about Mao's China and pulls them apart...What was it that led so much of China's population to follow Mao's orders, in effect to launch a civil war against his own party? There is still much more to understand about the bond between Mao and the wider population. As we try to understand that bond, there will be few better guides than Andrew Walder's book. Sober, measured, meticulous in every deadly detail, it is an essential assessment of one of the world's most important revolutions." --Rana Mitter, Times Literary Supplement
Policy work in Canada : professional practices and analytical capacities
Call Number: JL86.P64 E-book
Publication Date: 2017
Policy Work in Canada is a study into the levels of analytical capacity found within the federal and provincial governments as well as the non-governmental sector. By focusing on the individuals who craft public policy in Canada, this collection of eighteen chapters broadens and deepens our understanding of policy development in Canada.
The contributors to this volume examine such topics as: the inherent characteristics of sophisticated policy analysis, the constraints that influence the outcome or style of analysis, the influence of policy analysis on democratic debate, and the lessons that can be learned from different jurisdictions within and outside of Canada.
Call Number: DC38 .F46 2016
Publication Date: 2016-11-08
With the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815, the next two centuries for France would be tumultuous. Critically acclaimed historian and political commentator Jonathan Fenby provides a journey through this period as he recounts and analyzes the extraordinary sequence of events of this period from the end of the First Revolution through two others, a return of Empire, three catastrophic wars with Germany, periods of stability and hope interspersed with years of uncertainty and high tensions. As her cross-channel neighbor Great Britain would equally suffer, France was to undergo the wrenching loss of colonies in the post-Second World War era as the new modern world we know today took shape. Her attempts to become the leader of the European union was a constant struggle, as was her lack of support for America in the two Gulf Wars of the past twenty years. Alongside this came huge social changes and cultural landmarks, but also fundamental questioning of what this nation, which considers itself exceptional, really stood—and stands—for. That saga and those questions permeate the France of today, now with an implacable enemy to face in the form of Islamic extremism which so bloodily announced itself this year in Paris. Fenby details every event, every struggle, and every outcome across this expanse of 200 years. A definitive guide to understanding France.
Cities, Business, and the Politics of Urban Violence in Latin America
Call Number: HN310.Z9 V5523 2016
Publication Date: 2016-01-06
This book shows how the political projects that cities launch to confront urban violence are shaped by the interaction between urban political economies and patterns of armed territorial control. It introduces business as a pivotal actor in the politics of urban violence, and argues that how business is organized within cities and its linkages to local governments impacts whether or not business supports or subverts state efforts to stem and prevent urban violence. A focus on city mayors finds that the degree to which politicians rely upon clientelism to secure and maintain power influences whether they favor responses to violence that perpetuate or weaken local political exclusion. The book builds a new typology of patterns of armed territorial control within cities, and shows that each poses unique challenges and opportunities for confronting urban violence. The study develops sub-national comparative analyses of puzzling variation in the institutional outcomes of the politics of urban violence across Colombia's three principal cities--Medellin, Cali, and Bogota--and over time within each. The book's main findings contribute to research on violence, crime, citizen security, urban development, and comparative political economy. The analysis demonstrates that the politics of urban violence is a powerful new lens on the broader question of who governs in major developing world cities.
Call Number: DS98.6 .A233 2016
Publication Date: 2015-10-26
Syria, once one of the Middle East's most stable states, is a country on its knees. Almost 200,000 people are estimated to have died in its bloody internal conflict and, as the violence intensifies, Syria's future looks bleak. Samer Abboud provides an in-depth analysis of Syria's descent into civil war. He unravels the complex and multi-layered causes of the current political and military stalemate - from rebel fragmentation to the differing roles of international actors, and the rise of competing centers of power throughout the country. Rebel in-fighting and the lack of a centralizing authority, he contends, have exacerbated Syria's fragmentation and fragility. This, in turn, has aided the survival of the Assad regime, contributed to the upsurge of sectarianism, and led to a major humanitarian crisis as nine million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes. A resolution to the Syrian conflict seems unlikely in the short-term as the major actors remains committed to a military solution. As this situation persists, the continued fighting is reshaping Syria's borders and will have repercussions on the wider Middle East for decades to come.
Mexico : The Essentials
Call Number: F1210 .B35 2016
Publication Date: 2015-10-16
Includes: 1. Diversity : more kinds of corn than one can count; more volcanoes than one can name -- 2. Politics : independence to the present -- 3. Religion -- 4. Economy : the asymmetry of wealth and resources -- 5. Family : a pillar of society -- 6. Mexico City -- 7. Popular art : the cultural optic -- 8. Drugs and crimes -- 9. Migration realities : crossing the border -- 10. Afterword : Mexicans in the global village.
The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep : Russia's road to terror and dictatorship under Yeltsin and Putin
Call Number: DK510.763 .S36 2016
Publication Date: 2016-05-24
In December 2013, David Satter became the first American journalist to be expelled from Russia since the Cold War. The Moscow Times said it was not surprising he was expelled, "it was surprising it took so long." Satter is known in Russia for having written that the apartment bombings in 1999, which were blamed on Chechens and brought Putin to power, were actually carried out by the Russian FSB security police. In this book, Satter tells the story of the apartment bombings and how Boris Yeltsin presided over the criminalization of Russia, why Vladimir Putin was chosen as his successor, and how Putin has suppressed all opposition while retaining the appearance of a pluralist state.
Call Number: HV6433.I722 G47 2016
Publication Date: 2016-04-19
The Islamic State has stunned the world with its savagery, destructiveness, and military and recruiting successes. What explains the rise of ISIS, and what does it portend for the future of the Middle East? In this book, one of the world's leading authorities on political Islam and jihadism sheds new light on these questions. Moving beyond journalistic accounts, Fawaz Gerges provides a clear and compelling explanation of the deeper conditions that fuel ISIS. This unique history shows how decades of dictatorship, poverty, and rising sectarianism in the Middle East, exacerbated by foreign intervention, led to the rise and growth of ISIS--and why addressing those problems is the only way to ensure its end. An authoritative introduction to arguably the most important conflict in the world today, this is an essential book for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the social turmoil and political violence ravaging the Arab-Islamic world.
Out in the Periphery : Latin America's gay rights revolution
Call Number: HQ76.8.L38 E53 2016
Publication Date: 2016-02-01
Latin America has emerged in recent years as the undisputed gay rights leader of the Global South. Several Latin American nations have surpassed many developed nations, including the United States, in legislating equality for the LGBT community. So how did this dramatic expansion of gay rights come about? And why are Latin American nations diverging in their embrace of gay rights, a point highlighted by the paradoxical experiences of Argentina and Brazil? Argentina, a country with a dark history of repression of homosexuality, legalized same-sex marriage in 2010, a first for a Latin American nation; and since then it has enacted laws to ensure transgender equality, to abolish "ex-gay reparative therapy," and to provide reproductive assistance to same-sex couples. By contrast, Brazil, a country famous for celebrating sexual diversity, proved incapable of legalizing same-sex marriage via the legislature, leaving the job to the courts; and Brazilian anti-gay discrimination laws are among the weakest in Latin America. In Out in the Periphery, Omar G. Encarnacion breaks away from the conventional narrative of Latin America's embrace of gay rights as a by-product of the global spread of gay rights from the developed West. Instead, Encarnacion aims to "decenter" gay rights politics. His intention is not to demonstrate how the "local" has trumped the "global" in Latin America but rather to suggest how domestic and international politics interacted to make Latin America one of the world's most receptive environments for gay rights. Economic and political modernization, constitutional and judicial reforms, and the rise of socially liberal governments have all contributed to this receptivity. But the most decisive factor was the skill of local activists in crafting highly effective gay rights campaigns. Inspired by external events and trends, but firmly grounded in local politics and realities, these campaigns succeeded in bringing radical change to the law with respect to homosexuality and, in some cases, as in Argentina, in transforming society and the culture at large.
Modern South Asian History
Call Number: DS340 .T35 2016
Publication Date: 2016-01-12
Noted historian Ian Talbot has written a new history of modern South Asia that considers the Indian Subcontinent in regional rather than in solely national terms. A leading expert on the Partition of 1947, Talbot focuses here on the combined history of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh since 1757 and specifically on the impact of external influences on the local peoples and cultures. This text explores the region's colonial and postcolonial past, and the cultural and economic Indian reaction to the years of British authority, thus viewing the transformation of modern South Asia through the lens of a wider world.
Call Number: DS777.8 .G369 2016
Publication Date: 2016-01-04
From its founding 65 years ago, the People's Republic of China has evolved from an important yet chaotic and impoverished state whose power was more latent than real into a great power on the cusp of possessing the largest economy in the world. Its path from the 1949 revolution to the present has been filled with twists and turns, including internal upheavals, a dramatic break with the Soviet Union, the 1989 revolution wave, and various wars and quasi-wars against India, the USSR, Vietnam, and South Korea. Throughout it all, international pressures have been omnipresent, forcing the regime to periodically shift course. In short, the evolution of the PROC in world politics is an epic story and one of the most important developments in modern world history. Yet to date, there has been no authoritative history of China's foreign relations.John Garver's monumental China's Quest not only addresses this gap; it will almost certainly serve as the definitive work on the topic for years to come. Garver, one of the world's leading scholars of Chinese foreign policy, covers a vast amount of ground and threads a core argument through theentirety of his account: domestic political concerns - regime survival in particular - have been the primary force driving the People's Republic's foreign policy agenda. The objective of communist regime survival, he argues, transcends the more rudimentary pursuit of national interests that realistsfocus on. Indeed, from 1949 onward, domestic politics has been integral to the PROC's foreign policy choices. Over the decades, the regime's decisions in the realm of international politics have been dictated concerns about internal stability. In the early days of the regime, Mao and other part leaders were concerned with surviving in the face of American aggression. Later, they came to see the post-Stalinist Soviet model as a threat to their revolutionary program and initiated a stunning break with Khrushchev regime. Finally, the collapse of other communist regimes in and after 1989 radically altered their relationships with capitalist powers, and again preserving regime stability in a world where communism has been largely abandoned became paramount. China's Quest, the result of over a decade of research, writing, and analysis, is both sweeping in breadth and encyclopedic in detail. Quite simply, it will be essential for any student or scholar with a strong interest in China's foreign policy.
Gangster Warlords : drug dollars, killing fields, and the new politics of Latin America
Call Number: HV6439.L29 G75 2016
Publication Date: 2016-01-19
In Brazil's biggest city, a mysterious prisoner orders hit-men to gun down forty-one police officers and prison guards in two days. In southern Mexico, a meth maker is venerated as a saint while enforcing Old Testament justice on his enemies. A new kind of criminal kingpin has arisen: part CEO, part terrorist, and part rock star, unleashing guerrilla attacks, strong-arming governments, and taking over much of the world's trade in narcotics, guns, and humans. Gangster Warlords is an account of the crime wars now wracking Central and South America and the Caribbean, regions largely abandoned by the U.S. after the Cold War. Author of the critically acclaimed El Narco, Ioan Grillo has covered Latin America since 2001 and gained access to every level of the cartel chain of command in what he calls the new battlefields of the Americas. Moving between militia-controlled ghettos and the halls of top policy-makers, Grillo provides a disturbing new understanding of a war that has spiraled out of control.
National Elections in Turkey
Call Number: JQ1809.A5 W88 2015 E-book
Publication Date: 2015-07-28
PART ONE. PREVIOUS APPROACHES AND ASSUMPTIONS. -- Left/right "ideological" positioning and the role of religion in Turkish elections -- Center/periphery and other essential social cleavages in Turkish elections -- Persistent political orientations and the electoral system in Turkey -- PART TWO. ELECTORAL PARADIGMS IN TURKEY. -- The initial paradigm, 1950-1965 -- The ideological imaging paradigm, 1965-1980 -- The "national center" paradigm, 1983-1991 -- The culture-identity paradigm, 1995-2007 -- A predominant party paradigm? : 2011-?
Derailing Democracy in Afghanistan
Call Number: JQ1769.A5 .C63 2014 E-book
Publication Date: 2014-01-07
This volume shows how Afghani elections since 2004 have threatened to derail the country's fledgling democracy. Examining presidential, parliamentary, and provincial council elections and conducting interviews with more than one hundred candidates, officials, community leaders, and voters, the text shows how international approaches to Afghani elections have misunderstood the role of local actors, who have hijacked elections in their favor, alienated communities, undermined representative processes, and fueled insurgency, fostering a dangerous disillusionment among Afghan voters.
Call Number: H61.O66 S975 2015
Publication Date: 2014-09-26
ch. 1. What should the US role be in Syria? The United States should use air strikes against Syria / Barack Obama -- Should America enter Syria's hell? / Doug Bandow -- Why the U.S. should use cyber weapons against Syria / Jason Healey -- The United States should arm Syrian rebels / Walter Russell Mead -- Don't arm Syria's rebels / Gary Kamiya -- Asking Congress to approve attacks on Syria acknowledges limits on the president's war powers / Peter M. Shane -- Obama is only making his war powers mightier / Eric Posner -- ch. 2. What is the status of the Syrian resistance? Moderate and radical groups vie for control of resistance in Syria / David Enders -- Syrian rebel groups dominated by Islamists / Ben Hubbard -- "Little doubt" Syria gassed opposition / Adam Entous, Dion Nissenbaum, and Maria Abi-Habib -- UN accuses Syrian rebels of carrying out sarin gas attacks which had been blamed on Assad's troops / Damien Gayle -- Assad will defeat the rebels / Michael Hirsh -- The rebels seem poised to defeat Assad / Bradley Klapper -- An Assad victory would be a disaster / Brian Braun -- Don't let the Syrian rebels win / Glenn E. Robinson -- ch. 3. What is the status of the Syrian refugee crisis? Analysis: The Syrian urban refugee problem in northern Iraq / Louise Redvers -- Why has Israel closed its doors to Syrian refugees? / Angela Godfrey-Goldstein -- Syrian refugees entering Turkey create dangers for the United States / Mark A. Grey -- Camps are a poor way to house Syrian refugees / Refugees International -- Refugee camps provide needed aid and services / Elizabeth Ferris -- ch. 4. What is the relationship between Syria and the world? Iran may cease aiding Assad / Ariel Ben Solomon -- The British rejection of military action will have little effect on Syria / Anshel Pfeffer -- The British rejection of military action should have a major effect on the US approach to Syria / Amy Davidson -- Russia is unlikely to abandon support for the Assad regime because of American pressure / Dimitri Simes, as told to Bernard Gwertzman -- Why Russia protects Syria's Assad / Daniel Treisman -- Using Russian diplomacy to strip Syria of chemical weapons may be the least bad option / The Economist.
Youth and Revolution in Tunisia
Call Number: DT E-book
Publication Date: 2013-01-01
The uprising in Tunisia is seen as the first true revolution of the twenty-first century, one that kick-started the Arab Spring. Alcinda Honwana goes beyond superficial accounts of what occurred to explore the defining role of the country's youth, and in particular the cyber activist. An event that has inspired the world, and its potential repercussions for the Middle East, Africa and beyond.
Contents Disconnections -- Mobilisation -- Revolution -- Transition -- Elections -- New government, new constitution -- Women's rights.
Call Number: JQ3651.A58 F375 2013eb E-book
Publication Date: 2013-01-01
In the Wake of Neoliberalism: Citizenship and Human Rights in Argentina
Call Number: JC599.A7 F38 2013 E-book
Publication Date: 2012-11-01
Understanding the various meanings given to human and citizenship rights in Argentina is an important task, particularly so given the nation's prominence in global discussions. An 'exporter' of tactics, ideas, and experts, Argentina has become a site of innovation in the field of human rights. This book investigates two prominent Buenos Aires protest organizations—Memoria Activa and the BAUEN workers' cooperative—to consider how each has framed its demands within a language of rights. Fundamentally, this book is concerned with the complex interrelationship between the discourse of human rights and the neoliberal project. In exploring the way in which 'rights talk' is used and adapted locally by various activist groups, the book looks at the mutually formative and contentious interactions between ideas of human rights, rights of citizenship, and the concrete and envisioned social relationships that form the basis for social activism in the wake of neoliberalism.
Latin American Politics and Development
Call Number: F1410 .L39 2011
Publication Date: 2010-08-03
For thirty years Latin American Politics and Development has kept instructors and students abreast of current affairs in Latin America. Now in its seventh edition, it has been updated throughout and features contributions from experts in the field, including three entirely new chapters on Bolivia, Ecuador, and Mexico. Other new material addresses the economic crisis in Argentina; Brazil's continued economic and political progress; Chile's successful--if still tentative--combination of democracy, economic growth, and social equity; the continued challenge to Colombia's political system posed by guerillas, drug traffickers, and paramilitaries; Venezuela's continued flight from liberal democracy under Hugo Chavez; and Mexico's ongoing "civil war" as criminal organizations fight each other and the Mexican state to run drug trafficking and other criminal operations. In addition to detailed country-by-country chapters, Latin American Politics and Development provides a comprehensive regional overview. Five foundational chapters by the editors cover the context of Latin American politics, the pattern of historical development, interest groups and political parties, government machinery, the role of the state and public policy, and the struggle for democracy.
Polyculturalism and Discourse
Call Number: HM1271 .P65 2007eb (Online) E-book
Publication Date: 2007-01-01
Comparative multiculturalism in Australia and Germany
Does the library have textbooks? Yes, the library has some current textbooks, but not all, on reserve.
Search CityCat by course, instructor or title. CityCat will show which library has the course material, whether it is available and also the length of time it is available for check out. Readings for POLS 2 are on electronic reserve.
Remote Access to Databases & E-books
An active RAM ID (student ID number) and RAM ID password is required for off-campus access to CCSF Library subscription resources and databases, including online articles, streaming video, and e-books. When accessing these resources from off-campus, users will be prompted to log in with RAM ID, then will be able to view resources as if they are on-campus.
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