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The Territories of Elaine Maisner

Excerpts from the UNC Press blog post, written by Laurent Dubois.


There were many times, during the inordinately long time it took Richard Turits and me to complete our book Freedom Roots: Histories from the Caribbean, when I told people that we were both grateful that our editor Elaine Maisner was being really Zen about the whole thing. People usually thought I was saying that metaphorically, using the term loosely. Then I would explain that Elaine really is long-time practitioner of Zen Buddhism. In a world, and a publishing industry, that is not always tolerant of the unruly and unpredictable ways that books get written, Elaine has offered generations of authors she worked with at the University of North Carolina Press the gift of her patience and wisdom.

Elaine arrived at UNC Press in 1994 after working at Yale University Press. She became a full editor in 1996 when she took over the Latin American and Caribbean studies list along with the food & regional trade areas of the Press, and when she also founded the Press’s religious studies list. Though Latin American and Caribbean studies was a new area for her, she quickly developed a keen and visionary understanding of the vitality of the field, and the ways in which it offered new ways of thinking about key aspects of the history of the Americas, and the globe – particularly the history of slavery, race, and emancipation. Starting with a first trip, which became a yearly pilgrimage, to the Latin American Studies Association Meetings in Guadalajara in April 1996, she began crafting a knowledge of the currents in the field and developing the networks that would be fundamental to her success as an editor.


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