Milk, pity and power

Cimon and Pero, also known as Roman Charity (c1625) by Peter Paul Rubens. Courtesy the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam Since antiquity, artists have depicted a perverse scene of a daughter breastfeeding her aged father. What does it mean? By Margie Orford, is a writer and journalist. She is the author of the literary crime fiction series the Clare Hart novels, which explore violence and its effects in South Africa, and have been translated into more than 10 languages. She is also an award-winning journalist who writes for newspapers in the United Kingdom and South Africa. She is an honorary fellow of St Hugh’s College, Oxford … Continue reading Milk, pity and power

At the Kremlin in 1943

Stalin presented Orthodox leaders with a proposal: the Soviet state that had destroyed their Church would bring it back Russian Orthodox Monks, Zagorsk, USSR 1958. Photo courtesy Cornell Capa, International Center of Photography/Magnum Kathryn David is a historian with the Office of the Historian, US Department of State. She was formerly a Mellon Assistant Professor of Russian and East European Studies at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. The views presented here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of the US Department of State or the US government. She is working on the book One Ukraine, Under God. In September 1943, as … Continue reading At the Kremlin in 1943

Earthships, Mormons, Doomsdayers and Weed

Credit: Peter Yeung Scenes from our Paris-based correspondent’s epic three-month road trip across these “dizzyingly paradoxical” United States. By: Peter Yeung “America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco and New Orleans. The rest is Cleveland,” the great American playwright Tennessee Williams is more or less quoted to have said (even if the provenance is murky). Perhaps fittingly, though by complete coincidence, Cleveland is exactly where I began a recent three-month odyssey across the United States of America — to my foreign eyes, at least, a dizzyingly paradoxical and dysfunctional nation that is nonetheless studded with pockets of brilliance, defiance … Continue reading Earthships, Mormons, Doomsdayers and Weed


Schoolchildren at the Kiyomizu-dera Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan, January 1977. Photo by UIG/Getty Japan’s Cold War education policy used religion to ‘make’ the ideal humans needed by its nascent economy. Did it work? By Jolyon Baraka Thomas – is associate professor of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Drawing on Tradition: Manga, Anime, and Religion in Contemporary Japan (2012) and Faking Liberties: Religious Freedom in American-Occupied Japan (2019). In 1932, Matsushita Kōnosuke, the founder of Panasonic, had an epiphany. On visiting the headquarters of the religion Tenrikyō, he was inspired by the sense of collective commitment he witnessed … Continue reading Hitozukuri

China Rises As The Ideal Civilizational State

The construction site of a new stadium project in Beijing. Dec. 15, 2021.(Kevin Frayer/Getty Images) In the Middle Kingdom, good governance is valued over indulgent rhetoric, unlike in many other countries, which has allowed it to evolve into a civilizational state that is both ancient and modern. BY ZHANG WEIWEI – Zhang Weiwei is the director of the Institute of China Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. From 1983 to 1988, he was an interpreter for the Chinese leadership, including Deng Xiaoping. The author of the best-selling book “The China Wave: The Rise of a Civilizational State,” he was … Continue reading China Rises As The Ideal Civilizational State

We’ve always been distracted

From Aldobrandino da Siena’s Le Régime du corps (1265-70 CE). Sloane MS 2435, f.1.r. Courtesy the British Library Worried that technology is ‘breaking your brain’? Fears about attention spans and focus are as old as writing itself Joe Stadolnik is an independent researcher, writer, and editor. He is working on a biography, ‘The Unsettled Life of Duarte Brandão’, and he writes occasionally for the Los Angeles Review of Books. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. If you suspect that 21st-century technology has broken your brain, it will be reassuring to know that attention spans have never been what they used to be. Even the … Continue reading We’ve always been distracted

The other Cleopatra

A silver coin dated 25-24 BCE featuring King Juba (REX IUBA) and, on the obverse, the Greek legend BASILISSA KLEOPATRA and a crocodile (associated with Egypt). Photo courtesy the British Museum Daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, she became the influential queen of a mysterious, abundant North African kingdom Jane Draycott is a lecturer in Classics at the University of Glasgow. Her books include Prosthetics and Assistive Technology in Ancient Greece and Rome (2021) and Cleopatra’s Daughter: Egyptian Princess, Roman Prisoner, African Queen (2022). You may not have heard of the Roman client kingdom of Mauretania, not to be confused with the contemporary African country … Continue reading The other Cleopatra

The most controversial painting in Russian history

Created in the 1880s, “Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan,” which depicts a father murdering his son, divides Russians to this day. KEY TAKEAWAYS Tim Brinkhof In 19th century Russia, writers spoke loud and clear. Instead of hiding their personal beliefs behind dense layers of symbolism, they wrote unambiguously about the social, political, and economic problems of their time. This made them somewhat unique in the literary world. Indeed, where the true meaning of books like Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness continues to be debated to this day, there has never been any doubt that Nikolay Chernyshevsky’s What is to be Done? is, … Continue reading The most controversial painting in Russian history

It never existed

Equestrian Oba and his attendants (1550-1680): detail of a brass plaque, one of many adorning the Court of Benin (in modern-day Nigeria), and plundered by the British Army c1892. Courtesy the Met Museum, New York The idea of a ‘precolonial’ Africa is theoretically vacuous, racist and plain wrong about the continent’s actual history by Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò is professor of Africana Studies at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University in New York. He is the author of How Colonialism Preempted Modernity in Africa (2010) and Africa Must Be Modern (2014). We should expunge, forever, the epithet ‘precolonial’ or any of its cognates from all … Continue reading It never existed

Women at the barricades

A propaganda photomontage, c1871 by Ernest-Charles Appert, depicting Chantiers prison in Versailles, where women of the Paris Commune were imprisoned. All images courtesy the Musée Carnavalet, Paris The transgressions of working-class women formed the revolutionary heart of the 1871 Paris Commune Carolyn Eichner is professor of history and women’s and gender studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is the author of The Paris Commune: A Brief History (2022), Feminism’s Empire (2022) and Surmounting the Barricades: Women in the Paris Commune (2004). Before dawn on 18 March 1871, the French National Army sent troops to the working-class neighbourhood of Montmartre in Paris, charged with retrieving the cannons left … Continue reading Women at the barricades