Blackness in antiquity

To truly see black people in ancient art we need to look beyond the historically recent trope of ‘Blackness = inferiority’ Sarah Derbew is an assistant professor of Classics at Stanford University in California and the author of Untangling Blackness in Greek Antiquity (forthcoming, June 2022). In their memo ‘On the Abolition of the English Department’ from 1968, the lecturers Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (then known as James Ngũgĩ), Henry Owuor-Anyumba and Taban lo Liyong spearheaded an educational revolution at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. Eager to sweep out the vestiges of British colonialism from the university’s English Department, they proposed abolishing it, to be replaced … Continue reading Blackness in antiquity

When hope is a hindrance

For Hannah Arendt, hope is a dangerous barrier to courageous action. In dark times, the miracle that saves the world is to act Samantha Rose Hill is a senior fellow at the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities and associate faculty at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research and the University of the Underground. She is the author of Hannah Arendt (2021) and Hannah Arendt’s Poems (forthcoming 2022), and her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, LitHub, OpenDemocracy, Public Seminar, Contemporary Political Theory and Theory & Event. Edited by Nigel Warburton As Hannah Arendt and her husband Heinrich Blücher waited … Continue reading When hope is a hindrance

The South African model

What the United States and other settler societies can learn from South Africa’s push to create a nonracial democracy Mahmood Mamdani is Herbert Lehman Professor of Government at Columbia University in New York City and executive director of the Makere Institute of Social Research in Kampala, Uganda. His books include Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror (2009) and Neither Settler Nor Native: The Making and Unmaking of Permanent Minorities (2020) Edited bySam Haselby In the course of the struggle against apartheid, South Africans did something remarkable: they tried, with incomplete success, to destroy the settler and the native by reconfiguring … Continue reading The South African model

Who counts as a victim?

Innocent, passive, apolitical: after the Holocaust, the standard for ‘true’ victimhood has worked to justify total war A Dirk Moses is Frank Porter Graham Distinguished Professor of Global Human Rights History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His latest book is The Problems of Genocide: Permanent Security and the Language of Transgression (2021). Edited by Sam Haselby In September 1945, a month after the foreign ministers of the Soviet Union, Great Britain and the United States issued the Charter of the Nuremberg Trials, the chief US prosecutor, Robert Jackson, wrote an article for The New York Times Magazine to explain the impending proceedings … Continue reading Who counts as a victim?

Hopelessness and the Continued Use of Deadly Force

People march for Black life. But who marches for the principle of non-harming and non-killing?  By Zenzele Isoke While mourning the life of Daunte Wright, yet another Black man killed by a Minnesota police officer, people in the Twin Cities are now waiting for a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial. Chauvin’s killing of George Floyd sparked massive, multigenerational peaceful protests, the burning and destruction of cities and neighborhoods, and citizen-led attacks against police and governmental structures, banks, and local businesses in and around the Twin Cities, helping to initiate a long-overdue 21st-century reckoning with the ugly and death-dealing reality of race and anti-Blackness … Continue reading Hopelessness and the Continued Use of Deadly Force

After slavery

Abolition in Africa brought longed-for freedoms, but also political turmoil, economic collapse and rising enslavement Toby Green is professor of precolonial and lusophone African history and culture at King’s College, London. He is the author of A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution (2019) and The Covid Consensus: Edited by Sam Haselby On one of my first visits to West Africa, more than 20 years ago, I went to the Fuuta Djalon (also known as Fouta Djallon) mountains of Guinea-Conakry. These beautiful mountains range across high waterfalls, cliffs and lonely paths leading from one village … Continue reading After slavery

The science of terrible men

The pioneers of social genetics were racists and eugenicists: should we give up on the science they founded altogether? Kathryn Paige Harden is a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Her first book, The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality, will be published by Princeton University Press in Fall 2021. Edited by Pam Weintraub ‘What’s your favourite Woody Allen movie?’ Dylan Farrow asked the readers of The New York Times, before giving her account of Allen molesting her when she was seven years old. She challenged the continued acclaim for Allen’s movies: ‘Imagine your seven-year-old daughter being led … Continue reading The science of terrible men

Architecture has a racist past. These artists radically reimagined it

A new MOMA exhibit explores architecture and Blackness. BY NATE BERG It’s no revelation that Black Americans have been underserved by architects and urban planners. Systemic racism pervades the built environment–from segregated communities and freeways built on top of Black neighborhoods to prejudiced housing practices and a lack of Black representation in the development process. It doesn’t help that just 11% of architects identify as a racial minority. The question is not how this happened, but what to do about it. Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America is a new exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York that seeks to bring this question into new light. It focuses less … Continue reading Architecture has a racist past. These artists radically reimagined it

Gulf slave society

The glittering city-states of the Persian Gulf fit the classicist Moses Finley’s criteria of genuine slave societies by Bernard Freamon, adjunct professor at New York University School of Law and emeritus professor at Seton Hall University School of Law. He is the organiser of a website on the Islamic law on slavery, His most recent book is Possessed by the Right Hand: The Problem of Slavery in Islamic Law and Muslim Cultures (2019). He lives in New York City. Edited by Sam Haselby The six city-states on the Arab side of the Persian Gulf, each formerly a sleepy, pristine fishing village, are now … Continue reading Gulf slave society

The harms of gentrification

The exclusion of poorer people from their own neighbourhoods is not just a social problem but a philosophical one Daniel Putnam is a Furman Scholar at the School of Law at New York University. Edited by Sam Dresser In the Mission District in San Francisco, there’s a popular soccer field nestled between elegant Victorian homes and neighbourhood taquerías. Over the years, an informal system for using the field developed among locals. If there wasn’t enough space for everyone, some played while others watched from the sidelines. Once one team scored, the losing team would trade places with those who’d been on the … Continue reading The harms of gentrification