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In the 1770s, the American colonies were working up to a revolution. But while the colonists were increasingly dissatisfied with British rule, there was no general consensus on what to do about it. Thomas Paine saw a clear solution. In 1776, he published Common Sense. Caroline Winterer discusses Common Sense, a pamphlet that uses the language of th…
 
Sara Brown and Stephen Smith have edited a much needed and fascinating compilation of essays on the intersection of religion and mass atrocity. Their intent is not to theorize the relationship, but rather to explore how religious faith, institutions and leaders have participated in, resisted and remembered genocide and mass violence. The Routledge …
 
A standard way of proceeding in political philosophy is to start with some form of conceptual inquiry: we first try to figure out what justice, equality, and freedom are and only then we may eventually begin thinking about how these goods might be pursued and achieved. On this approach, although social activism is perhaps necessary to counteract th…
 
Shadowland: The Story of Germany Told by Its Prisoners (Reaktion Books, 2022) is a history of modern Germany told not through the lives of its leaders, but its lawbreakers. As Nelson Mandela said, “a nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.” Shadowland tells the sometimes inspiring, often painful stori…
 
The Vietnamese victory over the French forces at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, which ended almost a century of French colonial rule in Indochina, is one of the most famous events in the history of anticolonialism. How were the Vietnamese communists able to achieve this remarkable victory over a much more powerful colonial force? This is the question Chris…
 
In 1930, about 750,000 Jews called Romania home. At the end of World War II, approximately half of them survived. Only recently, after the fall of Communism, are details of the history of the Holocaust in Romania coming to light. In The Romanian Orthodox Church and the Holocaust (Indiana UP, 2017), Ion Popa explores this history by scrutinizing the…
 
Technocracy is the idea that experts should govern. For the common good, presumably. In fact, it's an idea as old as politics itself, and it emerges just about everywhere across the ideological spectrum. Technocracy is seductive. In fact, it's an idea as old as politics itself. This episode is the first in a three-part series telling stories of tec…
 
In this 2008 episode from the Vault we hear from fashion historian Anne Hollander, a longtime member of the Institute, and former president of the PEN American Center. Hollander was the author of Seeing Through Clothes, Moving Pictures, and Sex and Suits: The Evolution of Modern Dress. At the time of her death, in 2014, she was working on a book ab…
 
In this podcast episode, Greg Marchildon interviews Erika Dyck on the book she co-authored with Jesse Donaldson on an unusual chapter in Canada’s medical history. Entitled The Acid Room: The Psychedelic Trials and Tribulations of Hollywood Hospital, this book was published by Vancouver’s Anvil Press in 2021. This is a history of a private hospital …
 
Today’s guest is Jenny Mann, who has a new book titled The Trials of Orpheus: Poetry, Science, and the Early Modern Sublime (Princeton University Press, 2021). Jenny is Professor in both New York University’s English Department and the Gallatin School, and her work has been supported by the Mellon Foundation and the Folger Shakespeare Library. She …
 
For nearly two decades, the United States devoted more than $2 billion towards democracy promotion in the Middle East with seemingly little impact. To understand the limited impact of this aid and the decision of authoritarian regimes to allow democracy programs whose ultimate aim is to challenge the power of such regimes, Marketing Democracy: The …
 
This is the tale of one woman's journey of growing a community-supported farm from earth to plate. In 1995 Angela Tedesco bought a twenty-acre farm with the goal of growing food for her community, and for seventeen years she fed up to 180 families. Finding Turtle Farm: My Twenty-Acre Adventure in Community-Supported Agriculture (U Minnesota Press, …
 
It is often thought that the story of Tutankhamun ended when the thousands of items discovered by Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon were transported to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and put on display. But there is far more to Tutankhamun's story. Tutankhamun and the Tomb that Changed the World (Oxford UP, 2022) explores the 100 years of research on …
 
Captain Richard E. Evans was an American B-17 "Flying Fortress" pilot. He flew 55 combat missions and during that time was also chosen to fly British Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery to wherever the General needed to be throughout North Africa and Italy. Evans and "Monty" traveled together during a particularly dangerous phase of the war. The Al…
 
Royal Childhood and Child Kingship: Boy Kings in England, Scotland, France and Germany, c. 1050–1262 (Cambridge University Press, 2022) refines adult-focused perspectives on medieval rulership. Dr. Emily Joan Ward exposes the problematic nature of working from the assumption that kingship equated to adult power. Children's participation and politic…
 
Welcome to the new season of the Imperfect Buddha Podcast. After a well-earned and challenging summer filled with drought, war, political strife and ridiculous heat, we’re back in the saddle and raring to go with some intellectual stimulation aimed at the practicing life. Four episodes are lined up with Buddhist scholars, philosophers and practitio…
 
One of the greatest ironies of the history of Soviet rule is that, for an officially atheistic state, those in the political police and in the Politburo devoted an enormous amount of time and attention to the question of religion. The Soviet government’s policies toward religious institutions in the USSR, and toward religious institutions in the no…
 
Jane Satterfield speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her poem “Letter to Emily Brontë,” which appears in The Common’s spring issue. Jane talks about her longstanding interest in the Brontë sisters, and why this pandemic poem is directed to Emily in particular. She also discusses letter-writing as a structure for poetry, and reads another …
 
What explains the uneven meatification of diets in three of Asia’s core ‘emerging economies’? How and why is meat consumption changing today, and what role have American fast-food chains played? To discuss these questions and more, Helene Ramnæs, coordinator for the Norwegian Network for Asian Studies, is joined by Marius Korsnes, Kenneth Bo Nielse…
 
Juliane Noth’s Transmedial Landscapes and Modern Chinese Paintings, coming very soon from the Harvard University Asia Center (2022), tracks a relatively short but transformative period in ink painting that coincides with the Nanjing Decade, 1927-1937. In the book, Noth considers how artists negotiated the continuing relevance and development of a f…
 
Today, we speak with Waleed Ziad, about his book Hidden Caliphate: Sufi Saints beyond the Oxus and Indus, published in 2021 with Harvard University Press. Ziad is an assistant professor of Religion at UNC Chapel Hill and holds a PhD from Yale. In Hidden Caliphate, Ziad offers an incredibly rich, fascinating, and detailed study of Sufi networks. The…
 
Jewish Autonomy in a Slave Society: Suriname in the Atlantic World, 1651-1825 (U Pennsylvania Press, 2020) explores the political and social history of the Jews of Suriname, a Dutch colony on the South American mainland just north of Brazil. Suriname was home to the most privileged Jewish community in the Americas where Jews, most of Iberian origin…
 
Although much has changed in the United States since the eighteenth century, our framework for gun laws still largely relies on the Second Amendment and the patterns that emerged in the colonial era. America has long been a heavily armed, and racially divided, society, yet few citizens understand either why militias appealed to the Founding Fathers…
 
Greg Marchildon interviews Benjamin Hoy, author of A Line of Blood and Dirt: Creating the Canada-United States Border across Indigenous Lands (Oxford UP, 2021). Hoy’s book is a history of the infrastructure, policies, and personnel that were put in place over the past three centuries to create a boundary between the United States and British North …
 
Elaine Kachala is a strategic thinker and writer with over twenty-five years of healthcare experience with governments, agencies, and associations. She is also a children's book author. Her nonfiction book for middle-grade readers, Superpower? The Wearable-Tech Revolution, will debut with Orca Book Publishers on October 18, 2022. In her illuminatin…
 
Dancing Women: Choreographing Corporeal Histories of Hindi Cinema (Oxford UP, 2020), an ambitious study of two of South Asia's most popular cultural forms ― cinema and dance ― historicizes and theorizes the material and cultural production of film dance, a staple attraction of popular Hindi cinema. It explores how the dynamic figurations of the bod…
 
When Europeans came to the American continent in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, they were confronted with what they perceived as sacrificial practices. Representations of Tupinamba cannibals, Aztecs slicing human hearts out, and idolatrous Incas flooded the early modern European imagination. But there was no less horror within European bord…
 
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