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In September of 2019, Luis Alberto Quiñonez—known as Sito— was shot to death as he sat in his car in the Mission District of San Francisco. He was nineteen. His killer, Julius Williams, was seventeen. It was the second time the teens had encountered one another. The first, five years before, also ended in tragedy, when Julius watched as his brother…
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"Fascism" is a word ubiquitous in our contemporary political discourse, but few know about its roots in the ancient past or its long, strange evolution to the present. In ancient Rome, the fasces were a bundle of wooden rods bound with a leather cord, in which an axe was placed—in essence, a mobile kit for corporal or capital punishment. Attendants…
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Ingrid Piller speaks with Piers Kelly about a fascinating form of visual communication, Australian message sticks. What does a message stick look like? What is its purpose, and how has the use of message sticks changed over time from the precolonial period via the late 19th/early 20th century and into the present? Why do we know so little about mes…
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An enduring paradox of urban public health is that many communities around hospitals are economically distressed and, counterintuitively, medically underserved. In The City and the Hospital two sociologists, Jonathan R. Wynn and Berkeley Franz, and a political scientist, Daniel Skinner, track the multiple causes of this problem and offer policy sol…
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Appealing to Monster Theory and the ancient Near Eastern motif of "Chaoskampf," Safwat Marzouk argues that the paradoxical character of the category of the monster is what prompts the portrayal of Egypt as a monster in the book of Ezekiel. While on the surface the monster seems to embody utter difference, underlying its otherness there is a disturb…
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In his majestic and encyclopedic new book Slavery and Islam (Oneworld Academic, 2019), Jonathan A. C. Brown presents a sweeping analysis of Muslim intellectual, political, and social entanglements with slavery, and some of the thorniest conceptual and ethical problems involved in defining and writing about slavery. Self-reflective and bold, Slavery…
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How can we build a more equal economy? In Innovation for the Masses: How to Share the Benefits of the High-Tech Economy (U California Press, 2024), Neil Lee, a Professor of Economic Geography at the London School of Economics, explores the question of how societies have fostered and supported innovation. The book challenges conventional assumptions…
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Tudor Networks of Power (Oxford University Press, 2023) by Dr. Ruth Ahnert & Dr. Sebastian Ahnert is the product of a groundbreaking collaboration between an early modern book historian and a physicist specialising in complex networks. Together they have reconstructed and computationally analysed the networks of intelligence, diplomacy, and politic…
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Authorship represents a new area of policy-related work within higher education research administration, funding agencies, and scholarly journal publishing. Developing Authorship and Copyright Ownership Policies: Best Practices (Rowman & Littlefield, 2024) by Allyson Mower offers the unique aspect of combining details on copyright ownership as well…
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Max Ward’s Thought Crime: Ideology and State Power in Interwar Japan (Duke University Press, 2019) analyzes the trajectory and transformations of the implementation of Japan’s 1925 Peace Preservation Law from its conception until the early years of the 1940s. The law, which began as a state effort to tamp down radicalism and “dangerous thought” (mo…
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Stories of Our Living Ephemera: Storytelling Methodologies in the Archives of the Cherokee National Seminaries, 1846-1907 (Utah State University Press, 2023) recovers the history of the Cherokee National Seminaries from scattered archives and colonized research practices by critically weaving together pedagogy and archival artifacts with Cherokee t…
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In the 1950s, an obsessive firearms designer named Eugene Stoner invented the AR-15 rifle in a California garage. High-minded and patriotic, Stoner sought to devise a lightweight, easy-to-use weapon that could replace the M1s touted by soldiers in World War II. What he did create was a lethal handheld icon of the American century. In American Gun: …
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Can a song trigger a murder? Can a poem spark a riot? Can a book divide a people? Away from the gaze of mainstream urban media, across India's dusty, sleepy towns, a brand of popular culture is quietly seizing the imagination of millions, on the internet and off it. From catchy songs with acerbic lyrics to poetry recited in kavi sammelans to social…
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Swearing can be a powerful communicative act, for good or ill. The same word can incite violence or increase intimacy. How is swearing so multivalent in its power? Is it just all those harsh “c” and “k” sounds? Does swearing take its power from taboo meaning? Why is swearing sometimes so funny? In For F*ck’s Sake: Why Swearing Is Shocking, Rude, an…
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Carla Chamberlin and Mak Khan speak with Ingrid Piller about linguistic diversity and social justice. We discuss whether US native speakers of English can teach English ethically; how migrant parents can foster their children’s biliteracy; what the language challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic are; whether multilingualism researchers have a monoling…
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Robert Louis Wilken, the William R. Kenan Professor Emeritus of the History of Christianity at the University of Virginia, has written an intellectual history of the ideas surrounding freedom of religion. Liberty in the Things of God: The Christian Origins of Religious Freedom (Yale University Press, 2019) offers a revisionist history of how the id…
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Today I talked to Mara Josi about her new book Rome, 16 October 1943: History, Memory, Literature (Legenda, 2023). Rome. Saturday 16 October 1943. This is where and when the largest single round-up and deportation of Jews from Italy happened. 1259 people were arrested by the German occupiers and gathered in a temporary detention centre for two days…
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In his new book, Transnational Nazism: Ideology and Culture in German Japanese Relations, 1919-1936 (Cambridge University Press, 2019), associate professor of history at Carnegie Mellon University Ricky W. Law examines the cultural context of Tokyo and Berlin’s political rapprochement in 1936. This study of interwar German-Japanese relations is the…
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Mako Yoshikawa's Secrets of the Sun: A Memoir (Mad Creek Books 2024) contains a host of essays about her difficult, brilliant father. Shoichi Yoshikawa grew up in a wealthy family in 1930s Japan, but his mother died when he was five, and he died alone on the eve of Mako’s wedding. He had been a genius, renowned for his research in nuclear fusion an…
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What is the relationship between aesthetic presentation of thought and scientific conceptions of cognition? Torsa Ghosal’s Out of Mind: Mode, Mediation, and Cognition in Twenty-First-Century Narrative (Ohio State UP, 2021) answers this question by offering incisive commentary on a range of contemporary fictions that combine language, maps, photogra…
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In this episode of International Horizons, RBI director John Torpey interviews Marla Stone, a historian of Italian fascism at Occidental College, on the resurgence of the far right in Italy. The conversation delves into the origins of this resurgence and how Italy, a fairly homogeneous society, became a recipient of hundreds of thousand migrants, a…
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With the avalanche of information we get every day, closing down our minds and hearts seems to be the only way to survive. We close down to our inner experience by compulsively checking our devices. We close down to others by getting caught in echo chambers of outrage. But what if there's another way? What if being more open to life is actually wha…
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There is a popular notion that the Italian armed forces of the Second World War were an inferior fighting force. Despite the vast numbers taken prisoner, detailed studies of the experiences of these soldiers remain relatively uncommon and the value of this group to furthering our understanding of the Italian experience of war under Fascism is also …
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Evaluation has become a key tool in assessing the performance of international organisations, in fostering learning, and in demonstrating accountability. Within the United Nations (UN) system, thousands of evaluators and consultants produce hundreds of evaluation reports worth millions of dollars every year. But does evaluation really deliver on it…
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An Interview with Todd McGowan about his recent Emancipation After Hegel: Achieving a Contradictory Revolution (Columbia University Press, 2019). The book advocates for the relevance of Hegel’s dialectical method to questions of contemporary theory and politics. It seeks to disabuse readers of common misapprehensions concerning Hegel’s philosophy, …
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Archives are popularly seen as liminal, obscure spaces -- a perception far removed from the early modern reality. In The Crown and Its Records: Archives, Access, and the Ancient Constitution in Seventeenth-Century England (De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2023), Isabel Taylor examines the central English archival system in the period before 1700 and highligh…
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Paris, 1599. At the end of the French Wars of Religion, the widow Renée Chevalier instigated the prosecution of the military captain Mathurin Delacanche, who had committed multiple acts of rape, homicide, and theft against the villagers who lived around her château near the cathedral city of Sens. But how could Chevalier win her case when King Henr…
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