The Global Grapevine: Why Rumors of Terrorism, Immigration, and Trade Matter

Overview

Far from mere idle tales, rumors are a valuable window into our anxieties and fears. In The Global Grapevine, two leading authorities on rumor, folklore, and urban legend-Gary Alan Fine and Bill Ellis-shed light on what contemporary rumors can tell us about the fears and pressures of globalization. In particular, they examine four major themes that emerge over and over again: rumors about terrorism, about immigration, about international trade, and about tourism. The authors analyze how various rumors underscore ...

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The Global Grapevine: Why Rumors of Terrorism, Immigration, and Trade Matter

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Overview

Far from mere idle tales, rumors are a valuable window into our anxieties and fears. In The Global Grapevine, two leading authorities on rumor, folklore, and urban legend-Gary Alan Fine and Bill Ellis-shed light on what contemporary rumors can tell us about the fears and pressures of globalization. In particular, they examine four major themes that emerge over and over again: rumors about terrorism, about immigration, about international trade, and about tourism. The authors analyze how various rumors underscore American reactions to perceived global threats, show how we interpret our changing world, and highlight fears, fantasies, and cherished beliefs about our place in the world. These rumors, the authors argue, are the visible tip of a vast iceberg of hidden anxieties. Illuminating the most widely circulated rumors in America in recent years, The Global Grapevine offers an invaluable portrait of what these tales reveal about contemporary society.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"There is much that adds to our understanding of rumor in an era when access to information (and misinformation) has never been faster or more constant."—Publishers Weekly

"A flat world allows bad ideas to travel faster. Using illustrations ranging from the history of the vampire to modern rumors about terrorism, Gary Alan Fine and Bill Ellis explain what happens when cultures collide and they make you a smarter citizen of an increasingly connected world. If you want to spot the next whopper that appears in your in-box (or springs from the mouth of a television commentator) this book is essential."—Chip Heath, author of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

"In this readable, insightful book, Fine and Ellis offer a tight analysis of loose talk. They show how seemingly unrelated rumors—9-11 conspiracy theories, warnings about dangerous imported goods, and stories about stolen body parts—reveal a common theme: many people's discomfort regarding their growing experience with and exposure to what strikes them as foreign. Other analysts may cheer that the world is shrinking and getting flatter, but the stories we tell one another suggest that globalization remains pretty scary for lots of folks."—Joel Best, author of Stat-Spotting: A Field Guide to Identifying Dubious Data

"This is a brilliant piece of cultural criticism. Fine and Ellis rigorously scrutinize the rampant paranoid rumors of our time, explaining how and why these fantasies form, what they mean, and how we should deal with them. Everyone who listens to talk radio or uses the Internet should read this book."—Jan Harold Brunvand, author of Encyclopedia of Urban Legends

Publishers Weekly
Fine (Whispers on the Color Line), John Evans professor of sociology at Northwestern, and Ellis, professor emeritus at Penn State, examine “the rumors and legends that circulate about the risks of our interconnected world” in their treatment of the most ancient source of news. The authors explore its influence in the “intimidating global community” of the 21st century, particularly in the arenas of terrorism, immigration, international trade, and tourism; they make a generally persuasive case that since “rumor shapes how people think and then respond to the world,” its propagation “is a fundamentally political act.” Relying on shards of evidence, bits and pieces of hearsay, the self-styled “rumor scholars” analyze an array of contemporary rumors and draw some unremarkable conclusions: e.g., Americans are “of several minds about immigration,” have “mixed feelings about the exotic,” and are anxious about the economic impact of international trade. Even if Fine and Ellis promise more than they deliver, there is much that adds to our understanding of rumor in an era when access to information (and misinformation) has never been faster or more constant. (June)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199997442
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/1/2013
  • Pages: 270
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Gary Alan Fine is John Evans Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University. His book, Whispers on the Color Line: Rumor and Race in America was a finalist for the C. Wright Mills Award.

Bill Ellis is Professor Emeritus of English and American Studies at Pennsylvania State University. He is a Fellow of the American Folklore Society and has served as President of the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Rumor and Global Politics
1. Rumor and September 11th: Understanding the Unthinkable
2. A Riot of Conspiracies
3. Migrants: Disease in the Body Politics
4. "There Goes the Neighborhood": Latino Migrants and Immigration Rumors
5. Tourist Troubles: The Travels of Global Rumor
6. The Dangers of International Trade
7. Global Trafficking in Bodies
8. Whispers on the Borderline
Notes
Index

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