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In the episode of Conversations from the Institute, we hear from Eyal Press, who is the author of Absolute Convictions: My Father, a City, and the Conflict that Divided America (2006), Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks, and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times (2012), and Dirty Work: Essential Jobs and the Hidden Toll of Inequalit…
 
For as long as humans have existed, we have struggled when a loved one dies. Poets and playwrights have written about the dark cloak of grief, the deep yearning, how devastating heartache feels. But until now, we have had little scientific perspective on this universal experience. In The Grieving Brain: The Surprising Science of How We Learn from L…
 
Games can act as invaluable tools for the teaching of the Middle Ages. The learning potential of physical and digital games is increasingly undeniable at every level of historical study. These games can provide a foundation of information through their stories and worlds. They can foster understanding of complex systems through their mechanics and …
 
Agents of Subversion: The Fate of John T. Downey and the CIA's Covert War in China (Cornell University Press, 2022) by Dr. John Delury reconstructs the remarkable story of a botched mission into Manchuria, showing how it fit into a wider CIA campaign against Communist China and highlighting the intensity—and futility—of clandestine operations to ov…
 
The British monarchy is at a turning point. Concise and engaging, Jeremy Black's A Brief History of the British Monarchy: From the Iron Age to King Charles III (Robinson, 2022) charts the very beginnings of British reign through to the longest serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II - and looks forward to the reign of King Charles III. Much more than a…
 
Sheikh Yusūf al- Qaraḍāwī is regarded as the most influential contemporary Muslim religious figure. His best-selling book, Al-Ḥalal wal-Ḥaram fi al-Islam ("The Forbidden and the Permitted in Islam") is perhaps one of the most widely read Islamic works, after the Qur’ān. The subject of jihad in Palestine is a salient feature of Qaraḍāwī’s thought an…
 
In Wandering Games (MIT Press, 2022), Melissa Kagen analyzes wandering within different game worlds, viewed through the lenses of work, colonialism, gender, and death. Wandering in games can be a theme, a formal mode, an aesthetic metaphor, or a player action. It can mean walking, escaping, traversing, meandering, or returning. Kagen introduces the…
 
Comedy is so frequently the topic of cultural dialogue, but it is rarely taken seriously as an object of study. Comedy Against Work: Utopian Longing in Dystopian Times (Common Notions, 2022) offers a major contribution to theorizing comedy but also thinking about the particular politics of the genre today. Work is a joke and often the butt of our j…
 
Societies that are throwing off the yoke of authoritarian rule and beginning to build democracies face a daunting question: should they punish the representatives of the ancien regime or let bygones be bygones? In her interview, Professor Ruti Teitel talks both about these choices and more broadly about transitional justice as a field. Her book, Tr…
 
It didn't always take thirty years to pay off the cost of a bachelor's degree. In Indentured Students: How Government-Guaranteed Loans Left Generations Drowning in College Debt (Harvard UP, 2021), Elizabeth Tandy Shermer untangles the history that brought us here and discovers that the story of skyrocketing college debt is not merely one of good in…
 
When Kasimir’s Malevich’s Black Square was produced in 1915, no one had ever seen anything like it before. And yet it does have precedents. In fact, over the previous five hundred years, several painters, writers, philosophers, scientists, and censors alighted on the form of the black square or rectangle, as if for the first time. Foreshadowed: Mal…
 
Women, Mysticism, and Hysteria in Fin-De-Siècle Spain (Vanderbilt UP, 2021) argues that the reinterpretation of female mysticism as hysteria and nymphomania in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Spain was part of a larger project to suppress the growing female emancipation movement by sexualizing the female subject. This archival-historica…
 
This book cuts new ground, challenging the assumption of law as an objective concept. It draws out the way that binary frameworks situate and create the notion of the individual in law, delininating responsibilities and rights between concepts such as the state / individual, public / private, care / disability and capacity / incapacity. In The Spac…
 
Dealing with the colonial archive entails acknowledging the inability to know everything, accounting for the archive’s limited and incomplete condition. Dealing with the colonial archive is not merely about stories of the past but also about the history of the present, and how it is interrupted by the past. — Irene Hilden, in conversation with New …
 
Along with football and religion, housing is a fundamental cornerstone of Egyptian life: it can make or break marriage proposals, invigorate or slow down the economy, and popularize or embarrass a ruler. Housing is political. Almost every Egyptian ruler over the last eighty years has directly associated himself with at least one large-scale housing…
 
A man is arrested for a single typo, a woman gets on buses at random, and two friends reunite in a changed world.... Diverse in form, scope and style, Amanat: Women's Writing from Kazakhstan (Gaudy Boy, 2022) brings together the voices of thirteen female Kazakhstani writers, to offer a glimpse into the many lives, stories, and histories of one of t…
 
A short guidebook to understanding and discussing privilege among vegans and vegan organizations in the wake of #metoo, including how to establish accountability while honoring dignity and ways to communicate effectively. In The Vegan Matrix: Understanding and Discussing Privilege Among Vegans to Build a More Inclusive and Empowered Movement (Lante…
 
Today I talked to Chris McMorran about his new book Ryokan: Mobilizing Hospitality in Rural Japan (U Hawaii Press, 2022). Amid the decline of many of Japan’s rural communities, the hot springs village resort of Kurokawa Onsen is a rare, bright spot. Its two dozen traditional inns, or ryokan, draw nearly a million tourists a year eager to admire its…
 
What is the journalism culture in Vietnam? What role does Sweden play in the transformation of Vietnamese journalism? How has Swedish media aid fulfilled its political aim to contribute to the democratic development of media in Vietnam? Andreas Mattsson speaks about how two media aid projects from Sweden were used to intervene in the development of…
 
The idea of legitimate political opposition is familiar. A decent political order permits citizens, parties, and coalitions to challenge those in power. Under such conditions, there is an ongoing nonviolent contest for power. Typically, the value of legitimate opposition is understood in terms of democracy. Here, the idea is that democracy is damag…
 
Today I talked to Chris De Santis about his new book Why I Find You Irritating: Navigating Generational Friction at Work (Ampify, 2022). Soon, those who qualify as Millennials or part of Gen Z will constitute 70% of the workplace in America. What kinds of work environments and interactive styles will appeal or repel them most? Among the suggestions…
 
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