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>  News Releases >   2003 >   October

Recent books by Dartmouth Authors

Posted 10/17/03

Nuclear North Korea: A Debate on Engagement Strategies

By Victor D. Cha and David C. Kang, Associate Professor of Government and Adjunct Associate Professor at the Tuck School of Business

Columbia University Press


Review by Matt Lewis '05

Clouded by political pundits in the "24/7" media, the debate over how the United States ought to approach nuclear North Korea has suffered from a lack of scholarly input, according to Victor Cha and David Kang, who have written on the "rogue" nation in Nuclear North Korea: A Debate on Engagement Strategies. Both see the media as oversimplifying the threat from North Korea, which in 2002 avowed that it had resumed production of radioactive material for use in nuclear weapons. Kang and Cha diverge when it comes to the threat's magnitude, and how the United States can best tailor its diplomacy to avert war on the Korean peninsula. In alternating chapters, Cha and Kang detail their opinions on North Korea and critique the other's arguments, analyzing Korean society and the opaque regime of its dictator, Kim Jong-Il. Kang advocates that the United States extend the first overture towards conciliation by committing to peaceful relations with North Korea, which will bring North Korea back to the bargaining table and into compliance with the U.N. nuclear non-proliferation treaty it renounced. Cha argues that North Korea must make the first move, or Washington could be seen as pursuing a policy of appeasement. Regardless of how the United States confronts it, North Korea faces internal problems that may bring about a change in how it approaches international diplomacy, as Kang writes in the following excerpt:

If the United States fails to address these concerns, its only options are either to wait for the regime's collapse or to add pressures in hopes that eventually the North will buckle under. Both policies are unlikely to succeed, and both policies also contain an element of real risk, because such policies could easily lead to situations that end up hurting U.S. interests in the region. In addition, I have argued that North Korea realizes which way the wind is blowing, and is cautiously - and admittedly very tentatively - taking steps to modify its economic system. External geopolitical conditions have combined with internal economic collapse to force North Korea into a situation where it must undergo economic reform and pursue a policy of accommodation with the United States.

The Bluest Hands: A Social and Economic History of Women Dyers in Abeokuta (Nigeria), 1890 - 1940

By Judith A. Byfield



Reviewed by Noah Tsika '05

Beginning with a rich description of the Yoruba culture of western Nigeria, Judith Byfield explains in The Bluest Hands that indigo has been used in the dyeing of fabric in Africa for more than 2,000 years, that no other society on the continent has so developed the art. Among the Yoruba of Nigeria, the art of dyeing "adire" cloth is by tradition reserved for women. But Byfield narrows her focus to the period of 1850 to 1939, the introduction of colonialism by the British. The Bluest Hands concerns the ways in which Nigerian women negotiated with the colonial economy, refusing to yield to the ever-changing political condition. Abeokuta, a culture of skilled dyers, was becoming an economic player on an increasingly international level, adapting to new market conditions, technological advances, and shifting consumer tastes. Byfield depicts a culture of strong-minded women not cowering in the face of colonialism but rather taking full advantage of increasingly available European technology and cloth. Colonialism undeniably disrupted established systems of production in Nigeria, and Byfield acknowledges this while showing just how the adire producers managed to both survive and thrive under these conditions:

Adire producers ... always competed in a larger cultural and aesthetic context in which a wide array of changes were being introduced and incorporated ... Adire producers lost a substantial share of their export markets. This transition entailed a dramatic decline in the overall volume of production and the loss of the industry's strategic importance in relation to other sectors of the economy, as well as a loss of income. The collapse of adire's export market coincided with its disappearance from official notice. Colonial officials were most concerned with the industry when it competed on a regional level. Dyeing for a local market was not "seen" and was not of statistical interest to colonial officials.

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