Keywords: migrants, fear, wages. A quote from John Steinbeck

A couple of weeks ago I read John Steinbeck‘s The grapes of wrath. In the very same days I was engrossed in the American writer’s masterpiece while at home, I gave several library instructions at work: one of the issues we addressed during the workshops was the importance of words when searching for literature on a given topic, and how several different words might describe the very same idea or key concept, yet from different points of view (of an individual researcher, a whole academic discipline, or a cultural background). “What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of populism?” was the question students were asked to answer in order to consider (once again) words’ variety and the way subject specific terminology, and scholarly databases when available, can help in setting up an effective search strategy.

Which brings me to the way ‘populism’ (which I had intentionally chosen, counting on students’ critical approach to one of the major political issues of our time) and Steinbeck sort of ‘short-circuited’, leading to the idea of this post and the populism-related ‘keywords’ of its title. Here follows Steinbeck’s quote (from chapter 21; several editions of the book are available at the UvA Library), in all its powerful and somehow disturbing topicality (despite being the place and time described the United States of the Great Depression, and ‘Okies’ the derogatory term used in California to describe people from Oklahoma):

«They were migrants. And the hostility changed them, welded them, united them—hostility that made the little towns group and arm as though to repel an invader, squads with pick handles, clerks and storekeepers with shotguns, guarding the world against their own people.
In the West there was panic when the migrants multiplied on the highways. Men of property were terrified for their property. Men who had never been hungry saw the eyes of the hungry. Men who had never wanted anything very much saw the flare of want in the eyes of the migrants. And the men of the towns and of the soft suburban country gathered to defend themselves; and they reassured themselves that they were good and the invaders bad, as a man must do before he fights. They said, These goddamned Okies are dirty and ignorant. They’re degenerate, sexual maniacs. Those goddamned Okies are thieves. They’ll steal anything. They’ve got no sense of property rights.
And the latter was true, for how can a man without property know the ache of ownership? And the defending people said, They bring disease, they’re filthy. We can’t have them in the schools. They’re strangers. How’d you like to have your sister go out with one of ’em?
The local people whipped themselves into a mold of cruelty. Then they formed units, squads, and armed them—armed them with clubs, with gas, with guns. We own the country. We can’t let these Okies get out of hand. And the men who were armed did not own the land, but they thought they did. And the clerks who drilled at night owned nothing, and the little storekeepers possessed only a drawerful of debts. But even a debt is something, even a job is something. The clerk thought, I get fifteen dollars a week. S’pose a goddamn Okie would work for twelve? And the little storekeeper thought, How could I compete with a debtless man?
And the migrants streamed in on the highways and their hunger was in their eyes, and their need was in their eyes. They had no argument, no system, nothing but their numbers and their needs. When there was work for a man, ten men fought for it— fought with a low wage. If that fella’ll work for thirty cents, I’ll work for twenty-five. If he’ll take twenty-five, I’ll do it for twenty. No, me, I’m hungry. I’ll work for fifteen. I’ll work for food. The kids. You ought to see them. Little boils, like, comin’ out, an’ they can’t run aroun’. Give ’em some windfall fruit, an’ they bloated up. Me, I’ll work for a little piece of meat.
And this was good, for wages went down and prices stayed up. The great owners were glad and they sent out more handbills to bring more people in. And wages went down and prices stayed up. And pretty soon now we’ll have serfs again».

Pictures, from John Ford’s film (1940), inspired by the novel, found here.

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World Press Trends database accessible via the UvA Library

At the request of several members of the Department of Communication, the Library has purchased a subscription to the World Press Trends database: published by WAN-IFRA, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, the database is a major source on the newspaper industry worldwide.

World Press Trends gives access to a wide range of data and figures (from 2006), such as circulation, readership, revenue, advertising expenditure, digital usage, and data for top selling titles in each country. Available to UvA staff and students at (if off-campus please check your connection before accessing the database).

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Ruim 8.000 tijdschriften maken wetenschap zichtbaarder dan ooit

Nieuwe mogelijkheden voor open access publiceren

In steeds meer tijdschriften van grote uitgeverijen kunnen onderzoekers zonder aanvullende kosten open access publiceren. Publicaties vrij beschikbaar maken en een groot bereik geven wordt daarmee steeds eenvoudiger.  ‘Open up to open access’ luidt dan ook de slogan van een landelijke campagne die de VSNU vandaag start.

De afgelopen twee jaar hebben universiteiten in Nederland met onder andere de uitgevers Springer, Wiley en Elsevier afspraken gemaakt over de bekostiging van open access publiceren. Onlangs nog zijn er deals gesloten met Taylor & Francis, American Chemical Society, Brill, Lippincott en Thieme.

Call to action: Bekijk hier alle financieringsmogelijkheden waarvan UvA-onderzoekers kunnen profiteren.

Inmiddels vallen meer dan 7.000 tijdschriften onder deze ‘big deals’. Daarnaast zijn er andere tijdschriften en universitaire repositories (zoals UvA-DARE) waarin in open access gepubliceerd kan worden, zonder aanvullende kosten. Open access publiceren is daarmee een stuk makkelijker geworden.


Door in open access te publiceren stimuleer je hergebruik van kennis, zowel in de wetenschap als in onderwijs, gezondheidszorg, openbaar bestuur en andere beroepsgroepen. Tevens krijgen burgers dankzij open access kosteloos toegang tot kwalitatief hoogwaardige informatie en worden zij niet met betaalmuren geconfronteerd.

Meer weten

Wil je meer weten over de mogelijkheden van open access publiceren of hulp bij je open access publicatie? Mail naar het open access team van de Universiteitsbibliotheek:

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American Journal of Cultural Sociology

ajcsAs from January 1st – upon request from several staff members of the Cultural sociology programme group at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), the UvA Library has arranged a subscription to the American Journal of Cultural Sociology.

This scholarly periodical – one of the very few specialized in the field of Cultural sociology (Taylor and Francis’ European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology and Sage’s Cultural sociology also belong to the UvA-collections) – presents the research output of Yale’s Center for Cultural Sociology, whose co-director, Jeffrey Alexander, is also co-editor of the journal and one of the most influential researchers in the field (several of Alexander’s books are available at the UvA Library).

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New IHLIA exhibition at the UvA: Living by numbers

living-by-numbersA new selection of materials from IHLIA LGBT Heritage, the LGBT-heritage organization of The Netherlands, is now on show at the UvA Roeterseiland Campus Library.

The display cases in the reading room on the second floor – meant, as previously announced on this blog, to present items referring to the exhibitions programme at IHLIA main venue (IHLIA-square/IHLIA-plein, Central Public Library Amsterdam, 6th floor), and as such periodically changed – are now devoted to the AIDS Monument, unveiled on December 1st in Amsterdam.

living-by-numbers-2Both the monument itself (French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel‘s work) and its background – the now 35-years long HIV/AIDS pandemic and the fight against the disease – are the exhibition’s topics.

Directions and opening times Roeterseiland Campus Library: here. More on IHLIA, its history and collections: here.

Photo’s: Stefano Giani

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New Database: Anthropology Plus

We recently acquired a database especially for Anthropology students and staff. The request for this database came from one of the anthropology staff members and after comparing the journal coverage of Anthropology Plus with our other social science databases, I have to say that Anthropology Plus far exceeded the coverage of the other databases*.
From their website:

“Anthropology Plus is a broad and rich resource for education and research in anthropology and related fields. This database offers worldwide indexing of all core periodical and lesser-known journals from the early 19th century to today, providing pervasive indexing of thousands of sources, including journal articles, reports, commentaries, edited works and obituaries”

I hope this database will be appreciated by students and staff. I think it will be of particular use to new students because an anthropology database should make it easier to select relevant publications for a paper.

How to find this database**:

  1. Go to the library website:
  2. Select ‘databases’ (Below Quick links / Direct naar)
  3. Click on ‘Anthropology Plus’ (or first limit your selection to Anthropology databases to make this slightly easier on the eyes)


* In 2014 the library conducted an journal evaluation. From this evaluation, a list of journals that were highly appreciated by the anthropology staff was used to compare the coverage of Anthropology Plus to our other social science databases.
**Only for UvA students and employees

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Subscription to “Emerging trends in the social and behavioral sciences” extended

emerging trendsThe subscription to Emerging trends in the social and behavioral sciences, started in 2015 upon a request by the Department of Sociology, has been extended for the current academic year.

The Wiley resource, which has been intensively used by both UvA staff and students in the previous academic year, gives access to over 400 cross-referred essays drawn from anthropology, economics, political science, psychology and sociology. Off-campus access only for UvA-staff and -students (see here for more information).

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